Roughly 250,000 Indians die every year in road accidents. That’s 685 people every day, 28 people every hour. More than half of these 28 people are on 2 wheelers, cycles, scooters, scooties, bikes. Most of them are stupid cunts that don’t pay attention to basic road safety techniques or etiquette.
Or are they?
It’s really easy to say “Oh she must’ve been without a helmet”, “I bet he was riding on the wrong side”, “They race on public roads and then blame others”, and unfortunately in many cases it might even be true. But how do you make sense of a situation where a rider more experienced than you, more aware of the bike’s and his own limits than you, more skilled at the art of handling a motorcycle than you, ends up in a fatal crash?
Surviving Indian roads is a lot trickier than you might imagine.
Helmet, jacket, gloves, boots, pants, help minimize the damage, so does ABS and other electronic aides. But nothing can save you from the single most dangerous threat to a rider’s life, something that’s totally out of anybody’s control, something that cannot be predicted, reasoned with, or fought against.
Being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I’ve said it more times in the past that I would like to admit, that India is a horrendous country to be a biker in. Riding is an inherently dangerous passion, and the danger is part of the charm. It’s exciting, it’s mental, but most importantly, it’s the wrong thing to do. Everybody around you tells you to stop, every experience you have everyday tells you to stop, but you still throw every logic out the window and keep at it, because it feels like being a rebel, it helps you make some sense out of an ordinary existence.
However, as ordinary as it may be, your existence is not yours alone. Your family, friends, they all are part of it, and your actions affect them. Which is why it’s so difficult to mark a line between following your heart and being a selfish asshole.
Nobody can contest the fact that riding a bike is risky, but then what the hell isn’t? You could be sleeping peacefully in your bed, away from all the troubles of existence, dreaming about a long life free of all danger and trouble, and a fucking jet ploughs through your window, kills you in an instant of deafening blasts and fiery inferno. People die in bullet-proof cars, unsinkable ships, uncrashable planes, all the time.
So then again, why do good bikers die?
Good bikers die because there is no God, there is no logic to human life, there are no rules. Good bikers die because everyone does, one way or other. Good bikers die because life isn’t fair.
Many people try to console themselves by saying “He died doing what he loved”. Sure he did, but that doesn’t make it any less tragic. Some others say “Whatever short existence he had on this planet, he spent it well”. Can’t deny that, but who decided his existence had to be this short?
For some reason that I don’t really understand, things seem fun when there’s a chance that they might go wrong. You can either have a perfectly cocooned life, free from all risk, padded against any possible threat, or you can actually live. They are mutually exclusive, with the only common thing between them being death, and its inevitability.
There’s no dearth of clichés that can be blurted in such a situation, but the fact remains that there are things you can’t explain, there are things that make you realize how insignificant you are, how powerless, and there are things that make you think about how inconsequential everything is.
I don’t believe in luck, or fate, or destiny, because all they do is make you trust that you don’t control your own life. As obvious a fact as that may be, I choose to remain ignorant to it. What’s the point of being when all you do is follow the current? But then again, what’s the point of anything? You could be a Noble prize-winning philanthropist billionaire tech overlord heart-surgeon MotoGP world champion tea-stall owner, but you’ll die too. People will love you and praise you and remember you when you are dead, but you’ll be dead.
I think I now understand why people buy into the ridiculous delusions of religion. Whatever helps you push through life, no matter how moronic, damaging, or psychotic, is a blessing. Truth is always painful, and there’s no bravery in facing the fire of life head-on, when ultimately it’s all in your head.
I guess the only thing you can say for sure in this chaotically unhinged world is that good bikers die because they live.