In a country where grown men’s parents don’t allow them to buy a two wheeler, I have chosen the strangest of passions!
“These 1000 and 1800 CC machines of the ‘dangerous kind’ are certainly not for women!” – I have heard people exclaim more than once, with shocked and at times disapproving expressions.
It’s amusing… to say the least, however, this is the lighter, fun side to my not-so-common hobby. I come from a family where “you can’t” was not a term my parents used. Fauji kids, we traveled the country, climbed every mountain and swam every river, celebrated every fall and got on motorbikes before our feet touched the ground and then we landed up in the sea of humanity in Delhi. The city came as a culture shock to me and I guess I came as a culture shock to Delhi. It’s from here really that the fun began. Since then it’s been a series of instances of shocked, amazed faces and moreover, some very upset guys! I am yet to come across a guy who will not be extremely uncomfortable being the pillion with a woman rider. In fact, the hint of a suggestion to do so gets hurt, indignant looks accompanied with a quick step backward.
The strangest looks and reactions however, are the ones I get when I’m on the road – and that’s quite often with rides every weekend, some outside of the city within a 500 kms radius. Not only do I get almost every guy on the road raring to race me, but also stunned stares from fellow travelers who suddenly see the kajal and mascara-lined eyes behind a helmet on a mean bike. My gallery of Kodak moments comprises of these! Guys nudge each other, women at times give the thumbs up sign and kids just wave happily.
I ride the Harley-Davidson Road King and love the long-distance trails of India, I regularly ride to faraway places in the country and have dutifully measured the roads from Delhi to Kanyakumari. I love this country for all its sun and all its shadow. I’m glad for the fact that there are many mascara-lined eyes behind helmets of the big bikes on India’s roads.
Once, in the middle of my return from Jaipur, I stopped at a roadside stall to get a cold drink. In a matter of seconds, the bike was surrounded by people – mostly men who were interested in knowing the mileage, weight and top speed of the bike – strangely, they debated the details with questions directed towards each other and not me. There was also this one old woman who was interested in knowing how my mother allowed me to ride a motorcycle! My nice neighbor also ended up enquiring if I was preparing for a competition. Why else would I be out at 6 a.m. on a wintry Sunday morning?
The fellow riders I ride with are by now used to my eccentricities but still never let go of a chance to pull my leg about the big hoop earrings under the Shoei helmet or pink socks under the reinforced riding boots.
Eccentricities aside, I sometimes wonder at the stereotypes we create for ourselves and for others around us. Everything we do is typecast, not because it’s a written rule, but because “aise hi hota hai” – it’s just the way some things are! Oddly enough, I get asked if I’m competing with the boys, or if I’m a feminist because I ride a bike! The questions surprise me because this is not about competing with anyone or belonging to any school of thought, it’s just about going ahead and doing what I love to do, without the excess baggage of socio-political influences or associations.
I have always believed that we are limited only by ourselves. We can’t do most things because we think we can’t and thus, never even try. Every achievement, incidentally, is right beyond that zone of naysaying.
Just the way I don’t allow my superbiker friends to persuade me not to Harley, I don’t let fellow H.O.Gs keep me from the superbikes.
So, I am a superbiker. I ride a 1000 CC bike and on any good day, flying at 275 kmph is part of the deal. I am a H.O.G and did not think twice before I undertook a 4000 kilometer journey from Delhi to Kanyakumari, or to any of the other places I’ve been, for that matter.