Imagine having a bicycle on which you have to pay the instalments. Not only that, the princely sum of Rs 225 had to be paid back to my dad in about a year of instalments, I recall. That's written up somewhere else, I guess. For the present you ought to know that the bicycle was bought for the sole purpose of getting me around faster than my favourite method of walking. It did, we went to several places, my bike and I. There's more of that coming.

So, get some money! Coupled with the mistaken notion that I had a bright future in advertising, poster art actually, and the fact that somewhere down the line someone bought me a box of paints and brushes, I started looking for work in the fairly unknown sector of Poster Painting. Dad was a loud and large member of the Church Choir and would go religiously (no pun intended) to practices. One of the equally loud and large members was Mary Fernandes. Mary worked as a P.A. to a Mr Joe E D'Souza — I use the E advisedly as the community was teeming with Joe D'Souzas.

One day Mary dropped in to discuss recipes with my mum and discovered I had this "flair" for painting posters. Next day I received a call from her asking me to drop in at the Dalhousie Institute to meet Mr Joe E D'Souza, a big noise at the said club. We met and he asked me to paint a poster advertising all the club events that were scheduled for the coming month. I was to use any ideas that I could get but I would be paid as per budget, the sum of Rs 10 (ten, for the numerically challenged or the disbelieving)! I happily cycled off to various stores to purchase the wherewithal, cleared the dining table and started work.

My nascent efforts at copying graphics off the Art van Damme record sleeves and interspersing them with colourful text, painfully copied from various "Lettering" books resulted in a night of joyous creativity. Next morning, poster carefully wrapped in dry newspaper, my bike and I headed towards the DI (nickname for you know where). With a song in my heart and a couple of daal puries under my belt I unveiled the work of art ... Mr Joe E (I had nicknamed him Joey by then, though he never knew it) looked at the poster and exclaimed, "No spelling mistakes!" as though it was my fault. He then peeled off a tenner (part of which was already spent on the daal purie shop) and passed it on to me.

Even in those salad days I was made to sign a green voucher and receive the money before me and my bike could make a quick getaway. And that's how poster painting came to take up several years of my night life through school and college and a few years later too.