musings

 
 

Travel and Technology

The argument goes on, has technology improved our lives or has it made it more complicated?  In many cases, the constant access to people has brought them closer in terms of reachability, but taken them further away in terms of relationships. One area that I believe technology has actually helped is travel.

Again, this is purely a point of discussion depending upon the person you talk to. If you ask my father or his generation, they would say, nothing gives you better direction compared to physically asking a localite for directions. I swear by google maps or the GPS system for accurate travelling.

So when I was thinking about this, I wanted to list the major apps that are available to us in India for travelling. This is purely my list and I am sure there are plenty more , so I would love your comments to hear about them.

Google – I have put the mothership in here. Google as a platform has innumerable tools to help your travel. From Translate to maps, google is the true swiss army to make your travel simpler. I am not even alluding to the search engine which is the best place to search and research before or while you travel.

If you are flying down to your destination, Makemytrip and Cleartrip give you excellent choices in booking your flights as well as your hotels at your destination. With a clear and neat layout, they , to me , are the foremost in booking apps / websites in the market today.

You need to book your hotels, how do you find out which is the best? Tripadvisor does your job for you. Just enter your destination, and you will get a plethora of choices with ratings and reviews and pictures of rooms and amenities. I have gotten so used to surfing here that I dont book a place nowadays without checking here once.

All tickets booked? Rooms reserved?  What are the activities that you want to do at the destination? Tripadvisor can help you here also. But I find this gem of a site- Tripoto gives you a lot of neatly reviewed things to do in certain places.

And if you are a foodie, like I am, You cant be far away from Zomato. You could do a lot of research before hand and look at the menu of the restaurant before you even venture out of the home!

Yes, we are a pampered generation. Elders constantly bemoan the fact that we have no sense of adventure. I think we have no time! On the go research and being prepared will keep you ready with the entire itenary so that we can get the maximum bang for the buck.

However, one thing is for sure, if you are a tech freak, or a by-the-seats-of-your-pants navigator, it is very important to get out and start travelling.

 

 

Image courtesy :- https://alphacityguides.com/sites/default/files/307070828/8528528736_0ffb3e6316_kupdated.jpg

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Categories: musings, Travel | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Together, Forever and ever!

So, up came this very interesting concept that I needed to Blog about. About togetherness, about memorable times spent with your family, buddies etc, and as I sat down to pen a few words, I realized that all I needed to convey in terms of what my friends and family means to me has already been conveyed.

I have written about my family , as my biggest asset, how they have always stood by me ( not a small task, with the kind of crazy stuff that I am prone to do). I have written about my friends, my fellow bikers, with whom I have spent many a day travelling and trusting each other’s instincts. I have written about my Bikes and cars, with whom I apparently have more conversations than with my family! What else is there to write about?

I was on the road travelling to work when it suddenly struck me. Literally. My car thumped into a pothole and I cursed the state of the roads, as is my wont, before pursuing my thoughts. I realised , that the one constant in all my travels, be it on my bikes or my cars, have been roads.

We have always been together. My moments on the road, have been the most memorable to me. I have felt happy at the start of the journey, saddened at the end of the trip, exhilarated when zooming on the open highways, frustrated when I have been stuck in traffic jams , a plethora of emotions targeted to an obviously inane object , which most of us take for granted.

Each road has its own charm and attributes, be it the curves of a Ghat road, the openness of a national highway, the beauty of a state highway or the danger and adrenaline rush that an unpaved road provides. I promise myself this, the next time I get on the highway, and the road and me travel together, I will pay attention to its unique characteristics a little bit more than I have been doing so far.

On the NH17, we need to be just a little more careful because of danger lurking around each curve. Its rightly called the bikers nightmare!

Similarly, the NH4 is one straight stretch of road that seemingly never ends and is a speed demon’s paradise.

Personally, one of the best roads according to me is the coastal road all the way from mangalore, right upto goa. The beach on one side and the swaying coconut palms on the other side. This road will weave you  into a trance that makes you want to come back again and again.

Recently, on our trip to the Rann of Kutch, we found the roads in gujarat , mainly state highways , incredible! we were able to make double the time we normally make on other roads because of the quality of the roads and the fact that there was hardly any traffic.

So what I am trying to get at, is that no matter where you, go, your one constant companion is the road. Be it the asphalt that you refer to or the path that you take towards the goals that you set , embrace the road and maybe appreciate it a little bit more!!

Which is your favourite road?

 

https://housing.com/.

 

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Categories: musings, Touring, Travel | Leave a comment

Optimism – A gift for our future..

Optimism – A small word that encompasses a whole world. As Leibniz puts it, the feeling that this world is the best of all possible worlds.

Without Optimism there is no doubt in my mind that we would be living our lives in despair. Optimism manifests in many ways, optimism that India will lift the world cup once again, Optimism that even in the darkest of times, a ray of light will appear leading to better things, optimism that however badly you have done in your exams, you will get good marks due to a benevolent teacher.  To me optimism is an excuse that we constantly give our-self that life it is worth the hardships we endure daily.

When I look into my life, and try to find a single moment that embodies the optimism that I try to show , I fail. There isn’t just that one moment. Our lives are full of such moments. Life itself would be dreary if this was not so.

What I would like to , however, write about is the catalyst for this Optimism. In my life, I believe there is no larger catalyst than my family and close friends. A friend , a true friend is always there to give you a gee-up when you are down. He infuses a dose of optimism in your life so that you have things to look forward to. But the greatest dose of Optimism , at least in my case , is my family.

I am lucky to be born into a family that is very close. All my life, I have seen the family stick together through thick and thin, through good times and bad. Thankfully , the good times far out number the bad ones.

But let’s think about this. Is this a co-incidence? or is it a function of the attitude showcased by the family. Let me clarify, my family is full of worry warts. My grandfather was well-known in his circle as a tension master, even though he was super cool under pressure. My dad , even though exudes confidence and coolness , tends to worry his head off about small things. My mother is well-known as a cool cat, but when tense, she takes the role of the cat’s cousin – the tiger. But beneath all this, they are able to move along because they believe that even the worst of times will end and the good times will come back. That is Optimism for me.

So in summary, let me go back to the beginning. What is optimism?

As I muse and end this essay, I believe, Optimism shouldn’t just be just about the glass being half full or half empty, it should be just about the glass being there, fill it with the optimism that you exude and live life looking forward to the next day.

As Winston Churchill puts it “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”

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Dare to do! Start afresh.

India has changed. when we were growing up in the 80’s and the 90’s Engineering and Science ruled the roost. All other streams were for the people who could not qualify for the 2 streams or could not afford it.

Then the Dot Com phase of India boomed, software services came into play. Careers like BPO’s , Off shore projects started gaining credence and started putting money into the hands of the Young Indian. Luxuries became more accessible to common man/woman.

The other side of the coin is also that since there were so many options available in the market, the propensity to stick to a role or a job started waning. Fathers who had spent 30-35 years in a single Govt. job, had to grapple with sons and daughters changing their jobs every year, for salaries that were unheard of during their time.

This also meant that the rate of burning out increased exponentially. Illnesses that were once the bastion of the old people now reared its head in the lives of youngsters. Mid life crisis was not when one turned 45, but when one turned 30. Its one such Mid life crisis that brought a new meaning to my life.

I had already completed 12 years in a payment industry that was only 15 years old. As a “Veteran” aged 30, I believed that I needed a change in my life. Just married and entering the phase of life, where most would be happy to settle down and live a sedate life, I decided I need another member in my small family.

In came my Royal Enfield standard 500 Cc motorcycle.

This was the perfect way to #StartANewLife and boy did it Jump start a new life. On the bike, on the highway, with friends, I was able to see parts of the country I had only heard of. The adrenaline rush that a motorcycle gives you , the closeness that it brings you to the elements cannot be captured in words.  Not only a hobby , Biking started becoming a way of life for me. This started positively affecting my professional career also! I was fresh , full of life and looking forward to tackling the next day and getting through the day so that I could hit the Highways on the weekend.

I have heard numerous times that each person has a calling that he needs to answer to. If they are able to identify that calling, the word work takes a new meaning itself. Some of the lucky people are able to seamlessly merge their profession and hobbies and lead a very fulfilled life. Some of us may not be so well integrated, but we are getting there. In our networked cities, where everything is currently available online, with books , mobiles, clothes and what not available at the click of a mouse, we now have more time to spend doing what we love. Take for example a chore that each one of us is often burdened with – House hunting. Sites are now available , which are so evolved that house hunting becomes a pleasure and is no longer a dreaded task. A case in point is the New housing.com site. Literally something that we can look up to! Find out more about them in the video given below

I have managed to find my lookup moment in life, here’s hoping you do too!!!

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Healthy Childhood

Oft quoted and more oft ignored is the age old saying Health is Wealth. In our constant search for tangible returns, health is pushed to a distant second to the creature comforts that money can buy.

Healthy living was a practised way of life. eating healthy, breathing healthy, excercising was a part of life. some where down the line, shortcuts were used. The same food were made with frozen food, vegetables grown with pesticides, excercises were substituted by the idiot box, breathing healthy took a back seat to plain gasping for breath. and health took a toll.

 

When I was younger, and that was a long time ago, supplements were taken only as a measure to aid the natural immunity of the body. Even then, I remember sitting on my grandfather’s knee after dinner with my little spoon in my hand waiting for my spoon full of chavanaprash- a tasty black jelly that smelt of herbs and roots and tasted heavenly. The gooey gel would be religiously licked clean from the spoon and lips would be smacked in absolute tasteful bliss. Fond memories.

This practise also slowly was weaned away during my little sister’s time when the health hazards of the chavanprash was propogated by so called learned doctors.

I firmly beleive that what little of health that I have today has been contributed due to a multitude of reasons, playing outdoors, eating mom’s food, breathing healthy food, etc but also to this practise of a spoonful of health that I consumed for a long period of time.

My wife also tells me of a hectic childhood where playing and frolicking in the sun was a way of life, I need to ask her if she also partook of this nectar.

The reason I write specifically about this is that I now see a whole range of chavanprash’s available in the market. Specifically, the dabur brand, which has been long associated with this product has many such variants of the product.

I remember picking up a bottle in a mall, and was pleasantly surprised to see the ingredients used were primarily ayurvedic. ashwagandha, satavari, bala all proven in ayurveda to be very good for immunity building were present in a beatifully bottled pack.

A bit of research took me to their website https://www.liveveda.com/daburchyawanprash

Nostalgia struck again and I have picked up a bottle to try this package of natural goodness. Back to the future, back to the days of young, healthy living. I am not in the least saying that this is solely going to be resposible for me to attain the chiseled healthy look, but any help in this day and age is always welcome as compared to the dreaded doctor’s visit.

Here’s to a happy and healthy life ahead!!!

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Of friends, the highway, bikes and fun!!

Biking in india has moved on. With bigger and better bikes and new biking groups sprouting up every other day, kick starting a bike and hitting the highway has become another checkbox in the bucket list of things to do.

It’s been some time since I have been involved in what I consider a passion. Touring. Having travelled to the far corners of the country on two wheels , I can only claim to have travelled to these place. Exploring them and seeing them is another matter altogether. It is only recently when I have started to ride the highways with close friends and like minded souls that I have started the exploration of places.

Earlier , riding with large groups and clubs had its own charm. Just the feeling of being a part of 30-40 bikes on a highway and the head turning that ensued, gave you a high. However, it’s the question of moving and doing things that the majority of the group wants and in a lot of cases , forget about one’s own wants.

On a recent ride to the Kutch, we explored. 4 bikes, 6 bikers open highways and 1200 kms in 4 days. It’s no longer about having ridden 500kms per day but about seeing the beauty and the heritage that this country offers us. It’s about understanding the local customs talking to the villagers to see what is the best activity to do there, and going and doing it.

We explored a lost civilisation who taught us that rain water harvesting is not something we invented. It’s been there for 5000 years.

We explored the White deserts of the rann where we can practically touch our neighbouring country, noticing that the people on the border don’t really share the animosity that us city dwellers have towards this same country, even though they are more affected by them.

We explored the cuisine of the region. Oh boy did we explore the cuisine!

From convincing a vendor to let us cook our own food to making a hearty egg breakfast for all to jumpstart the day, to eating the famous thali meals that seems never to stop being served.

More importantly. We had potfuls of fun.

I guess what I am trying to say is this, As in most cases, it better to tour with friends you trust.
I know there is a lot of talk about brotherhood and such, but it’s just different when you trust and intimately know the rider in front and behind you. When you don’t need to explain why you want to do things a particular way, it’s just taken for granted and understood.

To all the new riders out there, a humble request, please try this. Get on the highway with and start exploring with friends. It will change the way you see the country and definitely the way you ride.

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Categories: biking, musings, Touring, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The BOBmc Rider Mania 2013 – The shillong chapter

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We hear of  Oasis in a desert. How that brings a smile to many a weary travellers face, how many search in vain for that drink?

We were 8 of us , riding on our bulls. We had ridden through 9 states for the past 9 days, travelled 3400 + Kms when we saw our oasis. Just outside Guwahati, at Jorabat, there was a huge sign signaling us towards the pitstop that the organizers of the Rider Mania 2013 had informed us a couple of days ago. This was the pitstop where we would re-energise ourselves with cans of Redbulls thoughtfully provided to the riders riding to the Rider Mania.

Our Rider Mania Started here.

What is Rider Mania ?

You have heard of Woodstock, of Sunburn or large congregations of like minded individuals pursuing their passion. The Rider Mania is our Woodstock.

11 years ago, a group of friends decided to ride to goa and have fun for a couple of days. They loved it so much they decided to do this every year. They Signed off shouting out same time same place next year….

The next year, more bikers joined in and during their meet , they decided meeting in the same place was not so much fun. Our country is so vast and varied, they wanted to travel to 4 corners of the country and still meet up with like minded souls. It was decided to make the hosting of the event a rolling trophy. All attending clubs would bid for the honour of hosting the Rider Mania the next year. The winning club would decide the venue of the event and plan out the entire Rider Mania.  Thus began the BOBMC RiderMania.

From 25 bikes in the first year, the 2012 event saw 750 bikes congregating in Gurgaon hosted by the Royal beasts. But to us riders, it’s the ride to rider mania that thrills as much as the event itself.

BobMC RiderMania 2013.

When it was decided that “The Royal enfield Riders association of Meghalaya” or RERAM Stormbringers as they like to be called , were hosting the 2013 edition, the moderator stood up and said “ guys, brothers, you are welcome to shillong, I cant promise you 4 star or 5 star facilities there, it will be raw, hardcore living. But I will promise you 5 million stars. “

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When we rode into the venue late on 18th evening, one day prior to the event, we were indeed surprised at the beauty of the place. The 2013 edition of RiderMania was hosted on the Sohra plateau , overlooking the Bangladesh border on one side and cradled next to the erstwhile wettest place on earth – Cherapunji.

The Boys at RERAM had worked hard and set up dormitories and tents on the plateau for the participants to stay. We quickly set up our tents and set about mingling with our buddies from various other clubs.

Day 1.

The first day of the event saw most of the clubs riding in from various parts of the country. There were clubs from Punjab, chandigarh, jammu, lucknow, Jamshedpur, kolkatta, assam, Nagaland , Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Nagpur etc etc etc.. almost every state had a representation. We even had a club come down from Nepal to attend the festivities.

Traditionally, the first day is dedicated to just meeting up with friends and catching up with each other and swapping bike stories over a hot meal. Some of us who needed to solve a few bike related problems, worked our way to the workshop set up on the site for this purpose.  There were stalls set up to sell biker goodies and these were a big hit.

The organisers had planned a small ride to a nearby cave for us to experience and the entire horde of bikes rode to the venue for an afternoon of fun and frolic. We were thrilled to climb down to some beautiful caves and see nature at its absolute best in virgin , untouched pristine beauty.

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As the evening set in, it was time for some music. Right in the centre of the venue was a huge stage with state of the art acoustics setup for a night of music and mayhem. The north east is famous for its rock culture and its music and it showed. Band after band kept performing and we kept dancing and loving every moment of it.  Needless to say, no one slept that night. Through the cold night, we had bonfires lit up and music blaring to keep us nice toasty and warm.

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Day 2

On Day 2 , the biking games began. We started off with a slow race. Keen competitive spirit and good natured backslapping saw 8 heats and a keenly competed finals capturing our attention for a good 3 hours. The lady riders were not to be left behind and they had their own slow race event also.

We then moved on to what was the signature event of the day- The Dirt track event.  There were more than 30 riders participating in the event. Each rider was given a Red bull and it seemed that it indeed gave them wings. The event was a thrilling one and a grand success , measured by the loud cheers when each rider passed by the huge crowds that had gathered to watch.

After a few serious events, it was time to let the hair down. Fun games like grab a banana while riding ( no hands only mouth to be used) brought many a smile to the onlookers face.  And then it was time for music once again…

As we prepared to leave the venue on day 3, we realized how much we had enjoyed the company of fellow bikers, whom we meet once a year, we interact maybe a couple of times during the year on the phone or via social networking sites, but a friendship is forged.  Promises were made to each other to keep in touch more often , but we know, whatever happens, we will definitely meet once again in one year – at the next Rider Mania. 

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Categories: biking, musings, Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Vodafone speed fest

I am a proud indiblogger and when they announced that the next blogger meet involved meeting Lewis Hamilton. I was silent. People who know me will take that as a very ominous sign. I am never silent..

To add to the experience one of us could be sitting next to the great one. The youngest driver to win the world championship… silence again.

To say that I would give an arm and a leg to get that opportunity is lying. I am sure Mr. Hamilton would require me to hold onto something when he is driving. I don’t think I can with just one arm and a leg.

Since I was a kid, long long long ago, it’s been a dream to sit with a racecar driver. Don’t believe me? Ask my school bus driver. I would always sit next to him. And he was one crazy driver. I don’t think Mr Hamilton had the chance to weave through the streets of India while taking care of 20 kids, and the morons trying to prove that the person driving the largest vehicle on the road is the easiest target to cut across. Nor did he have to ensure that the kids reach school quickly , not for the kids benefit but for his own sanity.

Nevertheless, we will know on Sunday if the lucky bloke sitting next to the world champion is the author or not, but for sure, when I am in his company, I promise….. I will be silent.

Categories: humour, musings, Uncategorized | Tags: | 5 Comments

Hair today gone tomorrow ……

When i was young, well younger… the 4 most dreaded words in my life were “You need a Haircut” . This would invariably be preceded by vicious tug on the guilty part and followed by an even more vicious clucking that would put to shame the alpha cock in most poultry farms.

Let me step back and talk about how this barber industry has progressed in my mind..

Long ago, and I mean loooong ago, the barber would visit homes. Apparently during these medevial times, he would cut the hair of his customers in the back yard of the customer’s home itself. Talk about home service.. His fee would be 1 or 2 Rs if lucky or a bellyful of food and coconuts from the yard.

I remember one such episode when we were staying in Trivandrum.  I was seated on a chair all weepy and hating the world for conspiring against my lovely tresses, and this thin reedy dark gentleman compunded the fear by standing 2 feet away from me and sharpening his scissors and blades. I still remember the sound of the blade being sharpened.

Going to the barber shop then slowly became a father son thingy.. Appa would take me to the barbers, and specify sternly what to do. The barber would ignore and cut my hair the way he wanted to. Remember this was way before hair and styling were being used together. The only styles you had back then were long , short or Amitabh Bachchan…  Appa would pay as if it were the most accurate rendition of what he had hitherto detailed to the barber.. Cost – 5 – 7 Rs.

Fast forward to the teenage years. It was important to look good.  I was foolish enough to think that a mane ,rich and luxurious was enough to hide the hideous body fat that I carried around. Therefore I would splurge on good haircuts- 30 Rs. Our barber shops slowly started becoming more welcoming. There were fans all around, huge mirrors, music ( bollywood only please). The barber was still the obnoxious character of old. Its as if the trade of not smiling and listening to you was passed on as a trade secret. Barber shops become hubs of discussion, where people would flock to just talk about the political scenarios currently affecting our country. His tools became modern. I just loved the one machine which would be gloved onto the hand and would vibrate at the flick of a switch. He would then run this hand over your hair and finally into your ears.. Ufff. that was bliss..

Fast forward again.. friends started losing hair naturally without having to visit the barber ever so much ( friends not me ofcourse). The barber shops morphed into something more of a service salon. It was not longer simple to visit a barber and ask for a haircut. You needed to know what exactly you required. The first time I visited a salon, my hair was examined by no less than 3 people.  They tut tutted and clucked , putting to shame my father in the earlier avatar. I was half expecting a refusal to cut my hair from their side. Then the bombardment started, ” Sir,  your follicles are weak ” – The whats weak, didnt know them things. Is it serious? Sir, you have no clue, we need to start the treatment immediately. I quickly succumbed to an attack of the shampoos and gels and it felt awesome… till i saw the bill… 750 Rs.  Hair follicles be damned…

Today, the cleverer , more mature me goes to the salon and asks to be trimmed, never cut, no damn treatments, a wash after wards and thats it.. My haircut costs me around a 200 Rs every time. The salon is air conditioned and has products from france that I can never hope to pronounce, so I stay away from it. My barber is a pimply faced youth who keeps his mouth shut and does his job. There is an LCD tv showing news channels playing all the time. I am Offered tea and coffee during the hair cut. The artist divides my head into zones and cuts my hair. Techniques are tried out , looks are styled and god knows what else, I come out looking more or less the same.

To me , getting a hair cut is an hour away from it all. Its about sinking into the chair and sleeping and not knowing what you are going to look like at the end of the hour. Its one hour away from the internet, the phones, from everything. Its about coming out of the barber shop and feeling nice and light.  After all, one thing that we all need to be proud of and happy about…. we still have hair to cut.. 

 

 

 

Categories: humour, musings | 4 Comments

Old vs The New

There comes a time in your life, when you upgrade yourself and those incredibly intimate things that are a part of you to a better model. In extreme cases its called a mid life crisis , where you try to do things that you should have done when you were much younger, or in most of our cases, its as simple as upgrading your tech accessories.

There are times when you get so attached to your belongings that changing becomes a task. Yes , I know change is the only constant in life, but that does not mean you should enjoy it.

I love my vehicles… the first love of mine was an ambassador car owned by my father.  KLO 7003… this baby was one year older than I was.  More than a vehicle of people , it was a Vehicle of memories. Dad had a sales job and his office was the car. On the drop of a hat, we would pack our stuff and get into the car to travel to unheard of destinations. The entire back seat was mine, Amma and appa would occupy the front. When we changed the car, 15 years later, I was heart broken.

I bought my own car later, the Alto. True to its ad, it was a let’s go car. 4 years later, when I upgraded to the Corolla, I actually talked to the car and asked him to behave with the new owner. Today my corolla ( eleanor) is as much a part of the family as anyone can be.

Eleanor is now 8 years old, she still roars ( anyone who has been driven in her will vouch) , she gets more cranky now during the rains, during looong rides etc.  But will I replace her? Not until I absolutely have to.

This bond is most apparent when it comes to my bikes.  I ride a Royal Enfield Standard Bullet 500 CC. Every bulleteer worth his salt will identify this beast as the Grand papa of the bullet line.  Thor , is now 9 years old and the technology in him is 50 years old.  Maybe my riding style has changed or he has become old, but in the last one year , there have been major issues with him in almost all the rides I have taken him along.  But will I let go of him. EMPHATIC NO !!!!

Thor- The Grand Papa…

What is the definition of a bond between a biker and his bike? I dont know about others, but my Thor is my sole companion on my rides. All the bikers who accompany me are there to talk to and interact when we stop for a break. But Thor is there with me at all times. He talks and I listen. I talk and he listens.  I have multiple friends who have asked me how I can start the bike , without getting hurt due to the notorious back kick of the bullet. I have, not once , been hurt due to this.  Every break down that I have had on Thor has been within walking distance of a mechanic or some source of help to rectify the problem. Maybe there is a practical reason for this, but I won’t hear of it. My Thor makes sure that I do not suffer more than I have to.

Theia and Me

I have just added Theia to my stable. Theia is Royal enfield Classic 500 , the latest engine from the stable of Royal Enfield. After 2000 Kms, I can vouch that she is far far more reliable on the long rides. Riding her is a pleasure and the pleasure is amplified when I hug the curves of Ghats on her. Ever since I bought her, all the new age Bikers have been having a go at me saying that the new age UCE engines are so much better and that I should have changed long ago.

I still Ride Thor , I will continue to ride Theia , one is not better than the other. One does not choose between their kids and love one of them more ( so I hear).

Passion ? Craziness ? , I will leave it for you to decide,  but for me its Love.

Categories: musings | 17 Comments

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