2. Foolish westerner and your ‘rules of the road’…
Buying a Motorcycle in New Delhi.
The first day we set off in search of a Royal enfield motorcycle that has the potential to take us around northern india.
We got some good advice and happened upon a place called ‘bullet wallahs’, right around the corner from where we were staying. Balu, the owner from New Mexico, and his italian wife Laura were a pleasure to deal with and were incredibly helpful in preparing us for the road ahead (ha ha, so we thought).
We bought a 1986 golden 350 cc Enfield bullet that had been completely rebuilt. A luggage rack was put on, as well as a back rest for the passenger, for about the price of a few beers. Also, in preparation for our proposed trip up to Nepal, we fitted a 21 liter tank. Gas stations are few and far between up there.
The adventure begins…
Once all the preparations were made we left new delhi at 7 in the morning toward Agra, just south of Delhi and the home of the Taj majal.
Riding through India is a blast, but getting used to the traffic rules (made to be broken here. In fact at times it seems that the only existing rules are your own personal ones for survival.) is how do you say, a royal pain in the ass.
Somethings you learn…real quick…like:
I once thought it was commonplace not to three point turn in the middle of a crowded highway, but not anymore. I once thought it was universally accepted that you don’t drive 50 kilometers/hour the wrong way on a two lane street, but not anymore.
And somewhere deep in the back of my brain I once considered passing other vehicles within inches on either side with no horn, 14 passengers packed on the roof, one riding inside the open hood and a goat in the back, bad form. But all my silly preconceptions of safety have all but melted away after spending time on a motorcycle in Delhi and Agra traffic.
Here not using the horn isn’t an option, as it is a declaration of presence on the road, and it is a necessity if you want to stay alive. Needless to say I’ve had had some close calls, but nothing life threatening.
I hit my first rickshaw (not my fault, like it matters though) amongst other things, and this is only going like 40 kms/hour. In case you ever come to india and decide to try your hand in this, a good piece of advice is not to stop for long in the event of an accident, even if you’re not at fault. Police just compound the problem, expecting ‘donations’ and such, and most things can be solved with a few ruppees anyway.
Surprisingly though, even though driving here can be taxing, there are not too many accidents. Everyone on the road are all stressed out and hypersensitive to everyone else, so quick braking and ‘go and let go, live and let live’ philosophy prevails. It is remarkable that even within the madness there seems to be some sort of order.