Life in the Metro

Delhi MetroDelhi. Metropolitan. Cosmopolitan. A city that always sweats due to the heat and the constantly moving feet. A city of boiling blood, road-rash and rapes. Success or happiness is not measured on the barometers of ‘peace of mind’; it is the pace that defines where you shall be-heading (pun intended). Making Delhi sweatier and pacier than ever before is the breast-medal of Delhi that it bears with pride. Delhi’s ‘aan, baan aur shaan‘- The Delhi Metro! The one place where you understand that the true meaning of the great words, “A fart is much more than the noise it makes.”
Many a times have I sat down on a waiting bench or rather the parapet of an advertising board pillar and observed people running in all eight quadrants of the static space. The only way I feel to get past the rising decibels of fellow travelers/lovers is to plug in my earphones and go full blaze on my ear drums! As I see the people around me when I board the metro, I sometimes am at a loss of words. People of Delhi, my words can’t define them, but occasionally, my randomly shuffling playlist does.

Voices by Godsmack
Delhiites are loud. And the semi-Punjabi bred Delhiites like me, carve a very special niche for ourselves among a crowd when we start conversing. But it is not only these voices, it’s also the voice of a short balding middle-aged man with a white pin-striped shirt hanging half-way down as the fabric encounters his enormous belly, trying to negotiate with a client all the while staring at this girl who has put up a little too much maskara today. It’s also the voice of a frustrated girl trying to explain to her mother why she can’t come home for the weekend, (I don’t know either, sorry; I wasn’t paying attention), while she carefully skims a layer of her maskara with a tissue that is already blushing red with the kisses she landed on it to lighten her lipstick. The voice of a kid, wailing, who can’t explain to his parents that he’s suffering from motion sickness as he slaps his way on a sack of rice that this lean sweaty man just loaded as he plays some Bhojpuri classics on his newly acquired Chinese phone. Just as I look the other way, the song changes to….

Normal by Porcupine Tree
One is one of my favourite songs. A song that takes my attention a young girl reading a book, the likes of ‘Chanakya’s Chant’; smartly dressed, perfectly made hair, the color of her earphones matching that of her phone’s cover, pink and yellow nail-art… (That’s not quite normal for me, but it’s Delhi, come on.) Sitting next to her is a guy with stubble, wearing a slightly crumbled formal shirt, working on his laptop, eyeing the seat under the electrical plug-points, eagerly waiting for it to get vacated, so he can make a switch, yet at the same time, stealing short glances at his beautiful co-traveller fidgeting with her nail-art. At a little distance, near the doorway, a young guy, perhaps who just entered his twenties, wearing a cheap khadi kurta, rehearsing the lines of perhaps a play he is going to be a part of, murmuring under his breath and all the people around him looking suspiciously at him as he gives some animated expressions and occasional gestures. No matter how much I like this song, I change the song to the next track that plays….

Pretender by Foo Fighters
One of my personal favourites, not as a song, but as a category of people it draws my attention to. They come from small towns and are fascinated by the lifestyle of their peers here. They mostly travel in groups, coherent groups. But if you look closely, they are a group of couples. They find boyfriends/girlfriends very easily as is the sole necessity of their lives, they have just started drinking and smoking up and would try every brand of booze that has been ‘talked about’ before. Desperate and outgoing, they are a friendly race. They love clubbing, save money for it and are devotees of Shri Shri Yo Yo Honey Singh. Apart from the metro, they are also found in movie theatres, sorry, multiplexes, they call ‘em, loyal, as they are to whatever Bollywood craps out. They are loud, not Punjabi loud, but yeah, they take the lol- laugh out loud quite seriously as every half-witted joke in their group totally cracks them up. Oh and one particular characteristics of the girls in these groups, they are seen actually kicking or punching their male friends when they make fun of them. Lookout for them, especially those who travel by the yellow line a lot!

Behind Blue Eyes by The Who
This song is for the most entertaining category of metro travellers. You are sure to have either smiled or scorned at them if you have ever taken the train. Behind blue eyes, lies a boyfriend who wears a tight t-shirt and extremely slim-fitting jeans, and applies oodles of hair gel. The most common mark of identification of this kind is an over-confident extra energetic gut. He travels with his girlfriend, such that she is in one corner, near the door while he stands facing her and makes a third wall with one arm of his while the other hand is busy caressing her hair. How sweet!
Now if you travel a lot by metro, I am pretty sure, some of you might think this is one couple from the previous song, they might be, but I am not that keen an observer to know.

Arriving Somewhere but Not Here by Porcupine Tree
Then there is this group of commuters that are perfectly described by the title of this song. This is a busy breed of people. The sweat drenched beedi smoking average working class Indian. They are seen frequently changing metro lines, climbing metro station stairs by the threes, getting off at wrong stations and occasionally, fearing to get on the escalators. These are the people who deserve the metro the most only until they play crisp regional songs on their Gaffar bought cell phones or sneeze a perfect spray of saliva into the air.

India is a land of diversity, I was taught in class one, and Delhi its capital, I’d like to think I knew that before class one. So certainly, five songs on my playlist aren’t going to describe all the people who take the Metro in Delhi, but I hope I came close. Love us, or hate us, but we are Delhiites, with an unquenchable thirst for Bollywood masala chai, unfathomable love for cricket and incomprehensive respect for our women, we are people with a big heart and a small pocket and that is precisely why Dilli is said to be Dil-walon-ki! (Finally used that cliché! Yes!)

Adios till the next time. If you felt I stereotyped you with a group you hate, then you need to work on yourself; if you think you fit in well in a group, well, good for you. Hope God helps you find a seat in the metro! Keep commuting!

Open Letter to the Mayans by an Unknown Indian

Dear Mayans,

According to a prediction by one of you, it was supposed to be doomsday today. Even my half-witted ex-roommate knows that. The Mayan calender has ended and somehow the world hasn’t been interested in the rumors that were doing the rounds. Delhi has been very obedient though, and from what I gather, a small tremor of an earthquake was also felt somewhere yesterday. Or maybe it was just a fat boy running on the floor above the guy who tweeted that. I hardly care. I would have been happy. Very happy. In fact, every person in India would be happy if the world would have ended today.  Not only is the Indian cricket team at its worst right now and the captain has finally run out of his days of luck, but with the recent gung-ho about the Delhi gang rape, all Indians are be ashamed. What I’m doing right now is cowardice. Sitting at home, writing a blogpost. I’ve read many in the past few days. I’m fed up reading tweets, Facebook status updates, changing display pictures on Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter and all the debates in the news about hanging the culprits.

The rape happened in Delhi, which is a big city, and thus got reported so widely and spurred a national movement. Many such incidents happen in many small cities and go unnoticed, unreported too. We may conduct rallies, light candles and debate and discuss this insolent and heinous act but what good will come out of it, I wonder. Punishing the culprits this time, demanding a death sentence may help create fear in the minds of others, but will a person in a state of inebriety be able to remember the law? Or the punishment that he may suffer if he is caught? Definitely no. Then what is the reason, I wonder, why such acts happen? And what may the solution be? A couple of days ago, I read someone saying that we are the ‘Porn downloading‘ generation and we have no right to comment on anything. He’s partly right, I believe. We are that generation where libido levels are at an all time high. But has anyone really though why such incidents happen. Why our women are raped? The reason is simple. We live in a sexually starved society with a very poor sex ratio. The word sex is not uttered at our homes. Nor is sexy. A “Fuck it” wallpaper on a phone is looked upon as if the kid just committed mass murder. Cigarette smoking and ‘foul language‘ is censored on-screen. To protect the kids? From what? What if the father of a kid smokes? I’m sure you can’t have a day complete when you step out of your house and don’t hear people using words like ‘bhenchod‘ or ‘chutiya.’ Kids in school learn it from their friends and all the Govt. ends up doing by enforcing these hollow laws is prevent exposure.

Exposure is healthy; it teaches kids how to adjust. And the lack of sex education is one reason for the dismal state of affairs that exist today. Pre-marital sex is still considered a sin and women are objectified. Yes. This lack of sexual exposure makes men excessively lustful and desperate and it is when they lose control of their minds that they commit such an act as a Rape. I’m very sure that a rapist must have desisted his urge to force himself upon a woman on several occasions before he committed the crime. Then what is the possible solution? Will hanging of one culprit make sure that the rest of the people are always in their right minds? Will having women cabbies solve the problem? Not every woman who roams the streets at night can afford to take a cab everyday. And what if a group of physically superior men stop the cab and impose themselves on the cabbie and passenger? The problem is not in the women, how they carry themselves or how they dress up. It’s their life, it should be their wish. The problem is with the men. If the problem is having sex, then I suggest in a country like India, prostitution should be legalised. I know, I may sound crazy and there are many other factors why it is wrong, but the sexually starved land of Kamasutra is putting itself to shame with each passing day.

Our generation is angry but our anger is not channelised properly. Making a black dot as our profile picture won’t help. Educating our kids would. Changing ourselves would. Making our society sexually liberated would. We should have more of Sunny Leone’s and more of Dostana-like films. Thanks to these, and the press coverage that they garnered, words like ‘Porn‘ and ‘Gay‘ have found their ways into household dictionaries. I’m not saying don’t punish the culprits this time. Give them the strictest punishments; make an example out of them. But make sure that the people of this country are not raised in an environment where something as trivial as lust makes a beast out of a human.

I was so looking forward to ending this national shame that I was almost happy that should the world end today, my female friends across the countries would safely die. But it seems that even you could not deliver to your promises. Shame on you Mayans. Please predict the end of the world more appropriately the next time.

Hoping for a better tomorrow,
An unknown Indian

Demystifying Colors

Colors, or colours. How-so-ever you wish to spell it, for me, it shall always remain a mesmerizing word. No I’m not color-blind, unlike Mark Zuckerberg or Chris Nolan; I can recognize most shades, though I don’t think I am qualified enough to name them differently. I am also not talking about the documentary ‘Colours’ which was made by the Girls’ Hostel team at last Acumen in my college (Though it was the most celebrated documentary in a short-film competition). Parrot green, bottle green, sea-green or ‘as green as grass,’ I know all of you must be different, but I know you by only two names, light green and dark green. The only green that is different is, perhaps, the color of Aishwarya Rai’s eyes.  Same is the case with the blues; sky-blue is the same as ocean-blue, because if I’m not wrong, it’s the color of sky which reflects in the otherwise colourless water. Although I’d like to be the blue-eyed boy for my boss some day and get that extra zero at the end of my early bonus cheque. But I certainly have a thing against red, especially when the traffic lights blush at seeing me drive. Irresistible is the word they use for me, but Red is also the color of blood, the color of change and I always have the most mixed of feelings whenever I see this color.

I’m colored too. You’re wrong again if you think that I am talking about my much-talked-about dusky complexion, or if you think that I am trying to raise my voice against racism or Apartheid or any social cause, then as much as I would want to, I’m sorry, I’m happy the way I am and I don’t give a fuck to whatever you may think about me. But as seldom as I would care about you, I am concerned how I am to the world when the chips are down.

I am BLACK: Technically, Black is the absence of any color. Unable, at all, to reflect any light. I too am black. Unable to reflect the way you would want me to. Unable to react the way I should. Devoid of emotion? Perhaps, to a great extent, but then it also depends on what you deserve from me. Black is the color of evil. I’m no Lucifer myself, but yes, I am bad. I escape from the truth when it is easy for me to run; I drink and forget when it is not. I lie and I would love to see you fall. But for those who confide in me, come hither and see for yourself, how much light I can absorb. Maybe I’m not black because I have negativity. Maybe it’s just the negativity that I removed from your aura. Ever think of the halo behind your head? Who put it there, and whose responsibility is it, anyway, to keep it clean?

I am GREEN: The color of envy or that of the spring? From a cinematographer’s point of view, green is the color least present in human body, hence the green screens we use. I may not be that eco-friendly that I may be called green, but then again, I am green, even though I’m unable to perform photosynthesis and do not have chlorophyll. Nor am I the Green-Lantern, who’d help you like a superhero. Jealousy, then?  I’m no God, and my flesh and bones are jealous, of you, and the way you get everything you want so easily, yet you crib as to how tough life has been for you. The green-house effect works on me and heats me, but I’m not sure yet how much would it nourish me. I’m unfair, at times, and I let my whims take over, but how often do I not justify it. I may be green, but that only makes me human; and definitely not any lesser, if compared.

I am BLUE: Blue is the color of bliss. Blue, you’re said to be when you’re feeling low. But Blue for us, Indians, is a proper noun as Blue is the color of Team India. Even as they play in Whites, Blue is our blood when team India wins. The coolest of all colors, I’m Blue, both in moments of joy and sorrow, content and loneliness. Blue, I feel, is the color that makes me fluid, Blue is what attracts me to you, Blue is why I trust you, Blue is what makes us one. Blue is the color we should raise a toast to.

I am GREY: An achromatic color in an otherwise poly-chrome world. Grey is the color that describes human nature best. Somewhere between the extremes of black and white, I am Grey too. I’m good and bad at the same time. I half lie and half say the truth in the same breath. I was trusted and deceived, I have been trusted and have deceived, but I am what I am supposed to be. Yes I have been manipulative, but maybe I did it for the best of everyone’s interest. I can be secretive, but that does not mean I am hiding something. Revenge is not what I incrust under and revenge is never what I’ll root for. But I’ll curse you and say a silent prayer for you at the same time.

I am YELLOW: The color of fear, or timidness, at least that’s the way I see it- the weight of the world, the unsure feeling of the light going out, the flickering hope, the disposition of faith. I am yellow and I have the right to be wrong. I turn away when I should stand abreast, I think of myself when the house is on fire, who does not! I value things, more that people sometimes. Hold morals above emotions or succumb to emotions when ethic is all that is required, but I am weak and that is my biggest strength.

I am RED: Red is the color of blood. Red is the color of danger. Red is the color of rage. Red is the color of rebellion. Red is the color of love. The most sparkling of all colors, with the longest of wavelengths, who are we if not red? I may not have the deep voice of Walter White (of Breaking Bad) when I say “I am the danger,” but the colour that is missing from my cheeks, more than makes up for, in by head. I am rebellious and rules are not for me, unless I make them, but try breaking one that I have made and you are in for trouble. Bloodshed is not my thing, but sweat and blood, must be put together. Pink, they say, is another shade of red, and much as I hate the color, an occasional pink strawberry drink, does not make you gay (not that it is a problem if you already are)!

I am WHITE: When Newton observed the colored bands on a whirl wheel, he said that White is the presence of all colors. It’s the color that reflects all light that falls on the. The most ‘adjustable’ color there could be. It becomes one with whatever light you throw at it. White is symbolic of purity, the essence of poetry, the epitome of placidity, the reflector of tranquility. I am white, when I am honest to myself. When I tell myself the truth, pick myself up, dust and run again. White is my positivity, optimism, the gay charm, the truth. I possess all the colors, and that makes me white. I maybe a dull shade of white, but being white, is what matters.

I sometimes wish I could camouflage like a chameleon, and how simple life would be if I could become one with my surroundings, where I can be everywhere, yet no one can find me, unless I want them to. But if I can be so many colors at one time, do I even need to hide?

PS: The above thoughts are just my take on human nature through different colors, the reader is free to agree or disagree. Leave a comment, if you  disagree or vary from my opinion.

Deconstructing a Writer’s Mind

Vikrant Dutta with Meenu Mehrotra at the Social Potpourri meet up

A few days ago, I was fortunate to attend a meeting with two budding writers, Meenu Mehrotra and Vikrant Dutta in Delhi. As a blogger and an aspiring writer, I was keen to know the stories of these two writers and when the agenda of the meeting said ‘Construction of a Writer’s Mind’ which was organized by Social Potpourri, I was even more excited to know what goes on in that head of a writer that percolates onto the paper like a tin-shed in the Mumbai rains. It was quite interesting to meet some of the most creative and inquisitive souls at the meeting and then finally came the moment when Vikrant started telling his story and how he came about writing his first book, ‘An Ode to Dignity.’

For an Air Force officer, writing a book does not come naturally. Especially when it’s not a memoir, a motivational self-survival story and most importantly when it is written in approximately 300 pages of ballad. To add to its uniqueness, Vikrant Dutta is probably the only writer, ever, to have successfully published a whole manuscript in ballad. Kudos to that! Dutta went on to tell his story about how, he graduated from an avid reader to a writer, after being aspired his mother’s words of wisdom about how a dacoit like Valmiki could transform his life with the power of the quill. In pursuit of not being cast under the oblivion’s curse, Dutta too, started writing. Taking inspiration from the sonneteers and writers of verse, he started writing ballad and after years of perseverance, he finally finished writing his first book. To give you an insight, at the moment I would just like to say that the story is that of an army lieutenant falling in love with his superior’s widow and what transpires thereafter.

Meenu Mehrotra, on the other hand, is a Dubai based full time writer who has just launched her second book, Sunlit Hearts after ‘Lilacs Bloom in My Backyard’. With Lilacs Bloom in My Backyard, Meenu Mehrotra explored the lesbian relationship between two women protagonists in the story. Sunlit Hearts on the other hand deals with infidelity. Meenu prefers to stick to writing in prose and mostly writes about the life of women protagonists in her stories.

Now after a long talk with the two authors, I was rather surprised when I deconstructed the minds of the two writers. Sitting on the same sofa, they seemed to not only belong to two very different schools of thought when it came to their writing but even as they approached their writings for that matter. While Meenu is the quintessential writer for whom writing is sacred, something that gives her joy makes her feel closer to her ‘undiscovered self’ as she says, Vikrant was a first of his kind writer I was meeting. He confessed that he never enjoyed writing per-se, but he wrote, daily, without fail, and the end of it, he felt ‘relieved.’ People have different perspectives on doing the same thing, but never before had a met a writer who didn’t love to write. With Vikrant, I discovered a new way of writing, ‘Mechanical Writing.’ Whoever said, “When you’re good at something, never do it for free,” was right. With Vikrant’s story of how he wrote whenever he got time and that too in ballad gives a new dimension to the way we approach writing. Facts and figures are not something that he looks for in a book. And when he writes fiction, he says, that is not even important.

This brings us to a very deep question. Why do we do anything? Is it our ostentatious self or the desire for attention? Why do people chose a profession and then end up cursing it? Why do we change our priorities every now and then? And do we ever think of the people we walk out on while doing so? Writing is one example, to get to do something ‘mechanically’, what is it that motivates a person if he that. People worship their art, yet many ‘artists’ may just be doing it because they do not know of anything else that they’re better at. How many actors do we have, who only act because they’re good at it and not for the love of cinema? In this world of deceit, if I look around me, then are my friends really the people who love me? Or are they ‘mechanical’ friends too? Will they back-stab me or leave me for good if they find someone more interesting than me? Am I myself true to what I do? Will I leave someone/something for good if it does not satisfy me? Am I honest to the people I love? ………. I don’t think I can answer the above questions. Can you, for me?

Satyamev Jayate

Satyamev Jayate- Aamir Khan

It’s not usual that I take out time just a couple of days before my end semester exams to write a blog-post, but then some things in life can just not be ignored. Some people and the things they do are much too important and they deserve a mention. If you might still be thinking who I am talking talking about, then let me tell you, it’s none other than Aamir Khan. The second episode of Satamev Jayate, Aamir Khan‘s new talk show, just concluded and I must say ‘hat’s off’ is an expression that is so not enough to celebrate the halo that surrounds Aamir Khan.

Welcome to television in India. The most rotten form of mass media. Social responsibility of a medium as powerful as TV was being molested by the Star Pluses and the Sonys, the Ekta Kapoors and the Ronit Roys when suddenly one fine Sunday morning, the stars shine down and the same Star Plus that stabbed the minds of many a million Indians by starting the trend of the never ending Saas-Bahu soap sagas airs Satyamev Jayate, created by Aamir Khan. What was in it for the broadcasters was definitely the money associated with airing ‘Aamir Khan’ every Sunday morning, but was in it for us is what deserves an applause. By far, Aamir’s Satyamev Jayate is one of the very very few sensible things on tube that takes away or may just eases a little burden of being called an Idiot Box from the 40 inch shoulders of my LCD screen. Aamir Khan truly understands the meaning of social responsibility and and finally here we have a show that talks about the social evils of our society and brings us forward the first hand experiences of its victims. Simultaneously aired on all Star TV channels, for the first time, Aamir makes sure to catch the attention of every couch potato zapping the remote.

Aamir treats the subject of social abuses and atrocities with utmost seriousness, gives them the required incubation period for the viewer to fathom its depth and makes the victims comfortable by sharing their pains. Satyamev Jayate is not a TV show, it’s a movement in itself. With Female Foeticide as it’s subject in its first episode and Child Sex Abuse as the subject in the second episode that aired today, Aamir uses the most widely used mass medium, a TV set which has its reaches right from he slums of Dharavi to the rain forests in Cherapoonji and a language that everyone understands, everyone speaks. Call him the Oprah Winfrey of India or the Matt Damon but Aamir uses his star status in the best way he possibly could have. He does not compare your intellectuals with a ‘paanchvi paas’ student, nor does he endorse a game of shadows in a house commanded by a terrifying voice, Aamir personifies what Peter Parker’s uncle told him, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” It is a show for the masses, much better than watching a star grunt his way out of a video-game, much better than watching primer league games on TV. Satyamev Jayate has a reach that made my pro-gamer friends in H Hostel watch it, that made the TV in my hostel switch for the first time from anything except sports to Star Plus, that made #femalefoeticide, #childsexabuse and #AamirKhan trend on Twitter but most importantly, it made India think. It made India skip a heartbeat. It touched a paining nerve, a nerve that should be touched, wriggled and ostracized from the body.

Let’s all draw our sword from our scabbards and continue the fight that Aamir Khan is starting. For once, let’s all hail the guy who is not only the reigning superstar of Bollywood who tries to achieve perfection in the films he makes, but also dares to debut as a director with Taare Zameen Par and now on TV with Satyamev Jayate! And I would not disagree with Somik Sen (@bangdu on Twitter) when he says “Aamir Khan has single-handedly affected the business of all-you-can-eat-and-drink Sunday brunches.”

Kudos to you Aamir!

Birth of a Biker

Februaries in North India are cold. February, this year, particularly, was so cold that it was easily giving January a run for its money. I’m sure shopkeepers selling heaters and blankets would be having the time of their lives, so much so that at one point in time, even I contemplated a change in career those days. It was a weekend and I was staying back in my hostel, too afraid to have taken the risk of facing the claws of the inhuman frigidity that I would have had to face had I traveled 250km in a bus to go back home for  the weekend.

Internet was down in my hostel and I had already been spending nights at a friend’s room in another hostel, more to avail the luxuries of a smooth running net connection there than to spend time or enjoy his company. Grumpy and groggy, I was kicked out by him in the wee hours of a Saturday morning as his hostel warden was checking for unregistered sleepers. Anyway, I cursed him and exactly 4 minutes later reached my room only to find that the internet access-less neighbors of mine who had slept early the night before had woken up already and were reliving a 19th century holiday, playing cricket in the corridor right outside my room. Cricket at as early as 11 a.m. on a Saturday? Great! I switched on the hostel TV only to break the batsman of the 7 yard cricket game into harrowing laughter as even the cable was down. Just when I was about to declare that day the worst in my life, my friend Jordan came out of his room, walking unsteadily, trying to balance all six feet and two inches of his which was battling a massive hangover due to a party he had been to the last night.

People behave strangely in a hungover state. Some get happy, some sleepy, some irritable but he is one of his kind. He feels hungry. He suggested that we should go for lunch to Sagar Ratna. The cricket game came to a halt and the internet connection, I’m sure, for a second, would have considered regaining activity to save us from this blasphemy as the nearest Sagar Ratna was 40 km away and it wasn’t cold outside but COLD outside. Maybe it was the lack of anything meaningful to do on a weekend or what smote me that I said I’m up for it. Suddenly two more pairs of eyes left their fielding positions and ‘hell yeah’ came a collective reply from their mouths, the kind of ‘hell yeah’ that you hear when Angelina Jolie performs an action sequence in Tomb Raider or the kind when someone asks you to watch the LOTR marathon in one night and skip all the classes the next day!

Me (on the Pulsar), Jordan and Pupp

The next thing we knew was that four phones flung out from three pockets, many calls were made and two bikes and four helmets were arranged. The rides looked quite different from each other, one being a Royal Enfield Bullet and the other being a Pulsar 220, but we had people of every size and dimension in our band. We started from the college at around 2 pm, after a usual bike check up and refueling. Initially I was riding pillion and was excited as it was but my first road trip since I was a fairly new rider, having learned to ride the bike on a Bullet after I had felt quite embarrassing when even after being in college I did not know how to ride a bike, though the engineer within me could build one from scratch. Around half way into the journey, I offered to drive and Sachin, my friend who was driving it till now was quick to oblige. I wondered why! As took the handle and put the first gear, I realized, that I hadn’t offered to drive, but had offered to actually face the Antarctica like winds that blew right into my chest; and for a split second I thought perhaps they passed through me to my back. I was riding a bike on a highway for the first time in my life. I had only dreamed of it, but the feeling of doing so was much better. What matters is not the pace you drive at, but the peace. We had left Patiala, and were on our way to Rajpura, approximately 40 km away.

As we exited the state highway and hit NH1, the rules of the game changed. No longer were the trucks on the single road responsible for me to decide where to go; no longer were the horns of car drivers over taking me. I had more freedom than ever before and throttling just took me higher and higher. For a first time driver on a highway, as soon as I reached the 80 kmph mark, I felt the cool of the wind playing with my bike. From the numerous YouTube videos and biker blogs and TV shows that I had watched, I knew one thing for sure that my ride position was correct and so was my posture, but there was something that provided some resistance.

My pillion, Sachin, was perhaps the best pillion one could ever get, being an avid rider and a Moto GP freak himself, his weight was balanced and his body leaned perfectly to complement mine, but I had no idea why our bike was shaking. With no trees around the highway, unlike the single road that we had started from, I felt much more comfortable as the sun was now shining and my muscles started to relax a little bit. Jordan, who was driving the Bullet, with Pupp, his pillion and a dear friend of ours suddenly caught up, and overtook me. I was riding at a constant of 80 kmph, when a biker gang of some foreign tourists joined us. Two Royal Enfield Bullet 500’s one Kawasaki Ninja 250 and one Honda CBR 250 consisted of their entourage. As you would find, in any biker group around the world, nods of mutual respect greeted us and they flagged us for a pit-stop. We came to a halt and introduced ourselves to the group. That group of 7 were tourists from England and they told us that it was their 9th country that they were traveling length and breadth on bikes and they were going to Delhi and were looking for Jhilmil Dhaba that a friend of theirs had suggested them to visit.

Sachin and Pupp

We told them that they had been on the wrong side of the road and Zilmil was more than a 100 kms in the opposite direction. We were almost at the Haveli, where we had set out to dine at the Sagar Ratna outlet, and Matt, one of the guys driving a Bullet offered us to join them. We agreed, but only if they joined us for a South Indian meal first. They were up for it and we rode to Haveli and had lunch. We got talking over lunch and started sharing our experiences with bikes when Steve, the driver of the CBR gave me the Elixir of Riding a bike. He said, “Be the bike, and the bike will take care of you.”

After a light but fulfilling lunch, we left for Jhilmil Dhaba, Karnal which as the Google map tells me is a 118 km and a couple of hours’ drive. Steve’s words echoed in my ears as he offered to ride as my pillion on his CBR. I strapped and zipped up for the most memorable journey of my life. Negotiating turns and traffic, control and throttle, day light and night riding, Steve gave me a thumbs-up on all topics as I drove for the next 50 km or so before handling him the rudder and Boy! What a rider was he! I have only seen such balance on TV before in films like Torque and Dhoom and the next one hour was a ride of my lifetime. We had tea and snacks at Zilmil. We enjoyed the chill of the weather and the warmth of a freshly prepared Hukkah and headed back to Patiala as Jordan, Sachin and I took turns at driving the Bullet and the Pulsar. We reached Patiala around 2 hours later and we were freezing as the winter night was now taking a toll on our bodies. Pupp, unfortunately doesn’t know how to drive and after that day he started learning how to.

Some ride for the fun, some for the speed, some for the style and some for the thrill, but I ride because with every thrust of the piston, I feel blood pumping at a different rate inside my body. Thanks Steve! I shall always remember, “Be the bike, and the bike will take care of you.”

Ride Safe,
Adios

[Special Thanks to IndiBlogger and Mahindra XUV500 team for letting me share this experience]

Hope

“Hope is a good thing, its probably the best thing that man has”- Shawshank Redemption

Hope is not a virtue, it is a necessity
Hope is not a pavement, it is a journey
Hope is in the flickering light of a dying candle
Hope is in the folded hands of a praying mother
Hope is in the sweaty brow of a soldier
Hope is in the resolve of a father seeing off his daughter
Hope is even in the eyes that cannot see, the hands that cannot write, the lips that cannot smile, the tears that may not dry…

Hope is pretty much the only thing that we are clinging to in the times that we live in. Once upon a time, a man resolved to leave the world better than he had found it, today, it is a distant dream. Unthinkable, unimaginable, unrealistic… unless, we want it not to be so. Choosing pieces over peace, wrath over wreath and death over breath is an epidemic that is haunting us since long. Be it the environment, business, economy, politics or something as private as a personal relationship, the ability to pass a litmus test has been lost. Happy was the time when there was no electricity. The only fear of ‘warming’, was the water boiling on a stove and not global warming. Blessed was time when we slept every night setting up the alarm to wake up to a better tomorrow. Hoping against hope that team India will play well down under. Hope, is all I got, hope, is all I got!!