Sunday, August 23, 2009

Of Bikes and Biking

Of Bikes and Bikings

I was invited with Vishal to another Muslim wedding.  Vishal and I decided to go there on our own motorcycles. It was about 60 kilometres away and we left just before sunset riding, where we could, side by side in absolute perfect air temperature. It was exhilarating to be riding down long two-lane roads in the semi-arid desert. We were both wearing helmets for those of you concerned.  But the helmets protected us from the many insects we collided with along the way.  Sunset turned to evening as we turned off down some narrow dark roads looking for the light.  The light was the decoration of multi-flashing coloured lights that all weddings, Hindu or Muslim, use for such events. And way off in the distance we saw them.  At some point we had to turn off the paved road and go onto the hard sand, weaving in and out between the brush to the little village of Garda.

We arrived and were welcomed like heroes returning, ushered into a room and served tea, raisins and cashews.  It took us about  two hours of driving to get there, and we were still early for the celebration. Despite the lights and sound of people, there was a deep dark silence in the desert.  The stars here have their own sharp illumination. I’ll spare you the details of the event itself, save to say that after supper the music began, played by many international folk musicians from Rajasthan.  And I mean international.  Many of them had just come back from tours of Europe and one group from doing a recording at the BBC in London, England.   Needless to say we heard and saw some of the best Rajasthani music in the country.  I, of course, fell asleep on the ground sheet early on, even though they did use a sound system with the volume set to about 150%, I still managed to sleep.  If you recall, I was at this same village at a previous wedding where the music was also fantastic, but very intimate in a small room and live with no sound system. I prefer that way to listen to music.  Around 3am, I awoke feeling very refreshed and looked over to Vishal and asked him if he wanted to return to Barmer, but he had not slept and from the look on his face, I saw he needed to.  So he lay down and dozed off while I wondered into the desert, a dangerous thing to do as earlier that evening a poisonous snake was killed as it tried to come into the village. I just wanted to get right out of the light and sound for a few moments to feel the cool night breeze as I gazed into the heavens.  So I did, and I didn’t meet up with any snakes, scorpions or lions, tigers or bears.  I did hear a wild peacock in the distance calling out to me to come back.  That’s what they call out I’m told.

I wandered back into the village thinking I better get some additional sleep.  I found a blanket on the ground near our motorcycles, shook one out to get ready to sleep on it when one of the guys saw me and went and got me a bet cot with a mattress, blanket, pillow and bottle of water.  How very sweet it was of him.  He helped me put it in the shadow of a nearby house and I fell asleep looking up at the stars with the desert breeze gently blowing over me.  I didn’t think I would need the blanked, but around 5am I pulled it over me for warmth. An hour later I heard Vishal’s voice call to me to wake up, we had to go. He had to go to work that morning in Nagar, a village far off to the south of  Barmer.  I managed to get a cup of chai (the musicians were still at it!) and then we drove off into the sunrise though the desert. There was not any traffic at that time and we made good time back.  This was my first road trip, albeit a small one, but I got a taste of what was to come and I felt very good about it.



I have made an offer to buy a Royal Enfield Bullet 350 cc motorcycle from one of the local boys.  He is the son of a wealthy man and but he bought the Bullet without his father’s permission and now he has to sell it as his father disapproved of his action.  He paid 72,000 rupees for it new.  It has about 3 thousand kilometres on it so it is still new but I offered him 50,400 rupees, or 30% off the new bike price.  I await his answer, but as people have learnt of my offer I have been asked if I could sell the bike to them when I leave in 20 months.  I would take it with me back to Canada but I have inquired to the transport office there and it doesn’t meet the emission requirements.  So I have at least two offers to buy the bike I still don’t own. And just to make the situation a bit more humorous, today as I was driving back to my house on my little 100cc Honda Splendor, I met the guy with the very Bullet I want to buy.  He stopped when he saw me and asked me if I would sell him his bike back when I left India!  This is too funny, now I have three offers.  He hadn’t yet decided on my offer at that time.  But I hope to hear from him soon for the next negotiation.  This should be interesting.

“I love to travel, I hate to arrive.” – Albert Einstein


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