Motorcycles

Unlike many others in my generation I learnt to drive a car much before I could drive a motorbike. I perhaps a missed a vital stage of growth because of this. There is a culture and a group of friends that I couldn’t become part of because I did not ride or own a motorbike when many of them did. I drowned out any disappointment I felt of not belonging by taking up my astronomy and space activities up a notch.

I yearned for a motorbike again only when I read Robert M Pirsig in his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, said thus:

You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it any more, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so blurred you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it any time, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.

We recently got a motorcycle in my name – the Bajaj Discover 100 cc. It was purchased with the idea of intracity commute. It also partly fulfilled the purpose of certain reimbursements I would get from the bank.

I know how to switch gears and ride the motorcycle in a straight line. I can also take the straightforward turns that present themselves on the road. The trouble arises once I stop and have to start again. Knowing the traffic conditions in Mumbai, you would understand that this is not a good situation to be in, at peak hour traffic. No matter how much I try this impediment has not passed yet. I am still working on it.

One of the first places that I want to go to on a motor cycle is the Yusuf Meherally Center on the Mumbai-Goa highway. After that, I don’t really have any other place to go. But, this is a good thing to motivate myself to learn to drive a motorcycle.

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