If one were to compare Vespa’s fame to that of a car, it would rub shoulder with the Volkswagen Beetle. Lovers for the Italian utilitarian commuter turned cultural icon is vast and varied, with thousands of its patrons to be found in every country.
Bangladesh is no exception to this, and the local enthusiasts gathered up on July 1st to celebrate World Vespa Day 2022, an annual event celebrated by Vespaholics worldwide.
Members gathered near the ICCB Convention Centre at 300 feet at 8 am in the morning and started a colourful rally toward their destination, the Purbachal Ladies Club. Arranged by Bangladesh Vespa Community (BVC), over 200 Vespa’s, from original Genoan vintages, Indian sturdy LMLs to brand new Piaggio models, took part in the celebration. Participants came from far and wide, notable examples of that being the members of the Chittagong Vespa Club, who rode their trusty old steeds all the way from the port city. In solidary for their love of vintage two-wheelers, some timeless Honda’s from the Honda Roadmaster CD200 Club BD also graced the premise of the venue. Some modern scooters from multiple brands such as Aprilia, Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM and TVS also showed up to celebrate.
The day-long meetup under June's unendurable scorching heat was somewhat made bearable by the presence of a pool, which many of the members hurled themselves to after breakfast. A brief break for Jummah prayers was observed, followed by lunch buffet. The afternoon was kept entertained by musical performances, a raffle draw and a very special ceremony.
Abdul Quayum, one of the club’s veteran members, was awarded the 'Lifetime Achievement Award'. In commiseration of his achievement, his white T5 was driven onto the stage and refitted with a fresh set of wheels and tires. Vespa Community Bangladesh (VCB) started its journey 4 years ago but became active in the last 2 years.
Md Didarul Islam Sujan, one of the founding members of BVC, said, "The purpose of the Vespa Community Bangladesh is to connect all scooters enthusiasts from the virtual world to the physical world. In a virtual world, everyone is aware of each other, but they don’t get to know or meet anyone. In today's event, we have entire families, mothers accompanying their sons, daughter accompanying their fathers, ninety-years olds, eighteen years olds, and many more. This solidarity is the goal of BVC . "
“Over 244 different scooters of all types and models participated in the event,” Sujan said. “Although our main agenda is Vespa’s, we want to work with everyone. Asked what is the allure of Vespa, he replied “ For me, Vespa is an Italian brand. More or less all Italian items have a classic touch. The Italian natural curves on classic Vespa’s, its smell. communicate to you in such a way that it set itself a class apart from any other scooters. From the 50’s to the present, barring minor changes, it creates the same affection all over the world. Not just because of the looks, but for its characteristic.” adding, “Personally I think my passion for Vespa started with the movie The Roman Holiday after seeing Audrey Hepburn’s Vespa.”
Asked a similar question, Abdul Quayum, the club’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” winner, replied, “The facility on Vespa’s such as the spare wheel, the ability to carry a 25kg rice sack in the floorboard and a 50kg in the rear makes it stand out from the other options.” The ong-serving member, who has been riding Vespas since he was 14, also mentioned ease of maintenance, stating he can fix up all of his five Vespas with only hand tools. Quayum considers the Vespas a part of his family, which he maintains with his son.
The event was sponsored by Runner, the current official distributor of modern Vespa in Bangladesh. Other partners induced Vespa restoration shops such GM Vespa Società, LB Vespa and Deen & Sons Vespa, Petronas, Pran, Advergo Sports and Fashion wear, & Pushpodhara Properties Ltd.
BikeBD, along with Turbine, were present as the event media partners.