I hate cars, but a bit less than I hate trains, which is a bit less than I hate buses, but nothing compared to how much I hate planes.
When I was a kid, I used to remember the name and specs of every car I could lay my eyes on. The walls of my room used to be covered with car posters, not as much posters as shitty cut-outs from old newspapers, but you get the idea. I was far more fascinated with 4 wheels than I was with 2, but things changed rather quickly.
Like most people, I learned to ride much much before I learned to drive. I was not a natural at riding, I struggled quite a bit with the tiny 50cc Bajaj Sunny that was my first set of wheels at age 13. It was almost like a toy, I could pick it up with one hand. It had no power, and it smoked like a chimney every morning, after the ceremonial 50 kick startup session. The maroon piece of crap always smelt of unburnt petrol, and had an awful plastic feel to every part you could touch, with the engine perpetually covered in ooze.
The first time I rode it, I remember flying wildly out of control, my feet in the air, my hands on the handle, looking like superman.
I did something similar on my first geared bike, the Hero Honda Passion, the only difference being that I had a pillion, and I was not inside the comfort of my own front lawn.
My first car was the iconic Maruti 800, I was probably 16. By that time I had played an insane amount of Need For Speed Underground, and had intently watched my dad learn to drive himself, and then take us out to places over the years. This meant that when I finally did get my hands on the thing, I was completely prepared.
As my elder sister turned 19, my dad thought it’d be a good idea to teach her how to drive. I still remember him asking her to come out, trying to hide the fact that they were going for a drive, because he know I was a cocky sob who’d not let them go without me. I, being the cocky sob I was, immediately understood what was going on and made sure I was placed firmly inside the car even before it got out of the house.
The place where I grew up is more or less like a village, but one with brilliant roads, brilliant empty roads. We found one stretch that goes from the market to the Gurudwara to the park to the temple to another park, and dad gave the controls to my sis. She was in trouble.
Like most people, the 1st gear was her nemesis.
Every time she would let go of the clutch, she wouldn’t speed up enough and the car would cough up some blood and stall. The more she did it, the more it angered dad, and the more nervous she got. After a few attempts, she did get moving, and we were all ecstatic. She went for some distance in 1st, stopped, and then it was mutually decided that we had done more than enough for the day.
Time for the cocky sob to pitch in.
I immediately asked to be put in the driver’s seat. Dad was furious! Already suffering from a severe heartburn due to his beloved car being rattled about the asphalt, a complete nut to do it all over again was the last thing he wanted.
Obviously, the complete nut won.
At this point it might be important to mention that until I crossed 18, I used to be tiny. I remember that on all solar eclipses, my parents would yank me from my arms and legs, because apparently that helped. I was also fed a bunch of homeopathic shit to get me taller, and I quite liked those medicines, because they were basically just sugar.
So as I sat in the driver’s seat, all I could see was the dashboard, and a little of the road through the steering wheel. It makes me laugh now to think what my dad and sister must have been going through.
I cranked the engine, pushed the clutch, put it into 1st, accelerated, let the clutch go, went till 15kmph, pushed the clutch, put it into 2nd, accelerated, let the clutch go, went till 25kmph, pushed the clutch, put it into 3rd, accelerated, let the clutch go, went till 30kmph.
“Enough!” said dad.
So yes, I was a natural at driving, and I quite enjoyed it for the first 20,000 kms or so, although I was an extremely rough driver and everyone hated me as a chauffeur. Over the years I calmed down, and became a much more smooth dude, and did many perilous but successful drives through the bowels of Himachal, narrow, twisty, broken roads filled with supersonic Altos and buses.
My dad then bought a Hyundai i10 automatic, and I loved driving that too. The purist in me wanted to hate the auto gear box, but it was just so much more easier and so much more fun! I was not constantly worried about stalling, or being in the wrong gear at the wrong time, and I could enjoy the scenery so much more at peace.
This is one of my first memories of not giving a fuck about how I was supposed to feel about a certain item.
My experience with driving is far far less as compared to my experience in riding, and in the last year or so I have absolutely started hating 4 wheels. Most of it has to do with my move to bigger cities, where it’s such a pain in the ass to have anything that’s more than 4 feet long and 2 feet wide. I find cars to be extremely impractical, boring, unnecessary wastage of space, but that doesn’t seem to dissuade manufacturers from producing millions of them each year.
But my hate for cars is not the point of this article, the point is that you must not constrain yourself to just one mode of transportation.
I’ve seen this a lot, especially in places where assholes try to prove how big their balls are. Imagine that you are a biker, and you decide to instead drive to Ladakh and back, the vilification and the complete boycott from humanity that you’ll encounter is just epic.
You are not a true biker.
Well, fuck that.
There’s no such thing as a true biker, just as there’s no such thing as a true truck driver. If anything, your aim in life should be to try out as many different ways of going places as possible, because that’s the fucking point.
The biggest reason why I like bikes is because they provide me with a path of least effort to travel.
That’s it! I don’t worship bikes, nor do I proclaim them to be my life, it’s just that at the present moment, there’s no easier, cheaper, and more fun way to travel than 2 wheels. If tomorrow they invent a rat machine that claws through the center of the earth to go the other side, is cheaper, is faster, and is fun, I’d not take 2 seconds to ditch my Duke.
But I digress, the point that I’m trying to make is that it’s extremely important not to just stick to bikes, and here are the reasons for it.
1. You’ll understand their point of view:
Ever wondered what it feels like to a cager when he’s stuck in a traffic jam since an hour and you go flying past on your motorcycle, drifting in the dirt on the left, throwing some of it on his windscreen? That’s probably one of the worst things to experience in this world, especially if you are a biker yourself, and you understand how quickly you’d have gotten out of this mess.
It’s extremely difficult to be a car driver, because it sucks to be a car driver. You have to worry about parking spaces and traffic and curbs and speed breakers and buses and trains and other people. On top of that, you have to pay fucking tolls to go on a roads that look like mine fields. On top of that, you have to constantly hear either someone else’s music, or someone else’s whining about you going at 170 kmph and hitting the kid with your mirror shit.
Next time you come across a frustrated looking car driver, go over and give him a blowjob. He deserves it for not killing everybody on the road out of sheer frustration.
2. You’ll understand their behavior:
Now that you understand what a nightmare it’s to drive around on 4 wheels, you can then start appreciating the nuances of car driving, how they have to meticulously calculate their turning radii, how they can’t just slide their rear out and turn on a dime, how they have to maintain a good stopping distance, how they can’t just countersteer a bit and squeeze between 2 trucks, how they have to maintain their speeds uphill, and how they can’t just wheelie out the top of the mountain.
When you understand their behavior, you’ll have a better understanding of why they do things the way that they do. It’s basically about being an empath, being able to mimic someone else’s mind, their reactions, their fears. There’s a certain sense of accomplishment in being able to figure somebody out, without speaking with them, without even looking at them, but just by the type of vehicle they are in and how they are on the road.
It’s the ultimate kind of mind reading.
3. You’ll be able to better predict the future:
When you are on the road, not only are you aware of what’s going on in your head, you also have to aware of what’s going on the heads of people within a 30 feet radius around you. This is because when the shit hits the fan, which it always does, you need to be able to run the scenario in your head and make a decision, a decision that can help you live without a scratch, or die a twisty mangly death.
Riding or driving is completely about predicting the future, it’s a constant information processing program that your brain executes, and the output is what helps you decide what to do at every instant. The better you understand your fellow road users, the better you are able to predict the future. If you watch a 60 year old in a WagonR going calmly about his business in the left lane, you know you don’t have to worry about him crashing into your ass. If you see a 20 year old in a truck full of flammable chemicals riding your behind like a cowboy, you know you need to get out of the way.
You are a supercomputer, and the more information you feed in, the more accurate your result will be.
4. You’ll be able to survive:
Surviving India is a challenge, and a giant one at that. Only if you are your A game, and you able to control yourself and others on the road, while being able to predict the next moves of multiple opponents, will you be able to live past 19. It’s a death match out there, and there are far too many Indians for a few of us to have their head smashed in by a truck tire.
When you understand that a car can’t stop as quickly as a truck, or a truck can’t turn as quickly as a car, you are able to make informed decisions that increase your chances of not dying. You can read about other people’s experiences, or play as many simulators as you like, but to really feel the gut of someone else’s personality, you have to try it yourself.
Convert yourself into someone who instinctively knows how to avoid crashing.
5. You’ll experience life:
As great motorcycles are, they are an extremely tiny fraction of the entire sphere of experiences that we call life. There’s no point being stuck with just one thing, only because you were too stubborn and too stupid to experiment with other flavors of life. That’s like fucking a single pussey for your entire life, just because you have made yourself believe that’s the best one.
I understand that single pussey fucking is not the best example to give to an Indian audience, where it’s almost like an accomplishment, but I hope you understand what I mean. Limiting yourself to just motorcycles is stupid. I want to experience what the acceleration on a truck feels like, or how a train corners, or how a plane climbs. It’s almost certain that I’ll not enjoy any of them as much as I enjoy motorcycles, but that’s life.
6. You’ll truly appreciate motorcycles:
Every time I come back from a drive and look at my motorcycle, my love for it grows. Every time I’m stuck in a toll booth and watch bikes fly by, I smile. It’s only when you’ve lived different lives do you truly start to appreciate how brilliant a biker’s life is, but for that to happen, you momentarily have to give up on it.
I’ve never driven a truck, or much of anything else apart from bikes and cars, but I did once drive a tractor, and holy shit that was some fun! Although I almost broke my fingers off on the super hard steering, and the clutch engaged only when I stood on it, I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I only went till about 15 kmph. But I know that the more different vehicles I try, the more I’ll understand why I fell in love with bikes in the first place.
You only realize the value of something when you miss it.
Over the years of my riding and driving, I have become more and more compassionate to other road users, simply because I now know what they are going through. It’s very easy for me to be angry on a truck driver going at 30 kmph in the right lane, but I understand why he has to do that, and so I’m a much less frustrated biker.
That moment when you are peace with others sharing the road that you are riding on, is in my opinion, the true sense of motorcycling nirvana.