Getting Back On The Motorcycle

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I love motorcycles. I love everything about them. From the way they look to the way they sound to the wonderful feeling of riding in the wind to the courteous nod of acknowledgment that all oncoming bikers are expected to give each other. If you’re the proud owner of a motorcycle, you know what I’m talking about. In fact, any serious relationship I’ve ever been in, the man always owned a motorcycle. I guess we all have a type.

I should point out here that I don’t actually know how to ride one. This is also the perfect time to declare that I am the one of the world’s best motorcycle passengers (For details on this, read my other post, “Why Indians Make The Best Motorcycle Passengers.”).

This is interesting given that when I was 12, I was hit by a motorcycle traveling at high speed. My friends and I were crossing the street and the biker thought he wouldn’t need to slow down for us. That we would cross by the time he got to us. He was wrong. Not only did he hit me, he went flying in the air and I stopped the bike in its tracks (I was a thick-skinned little kid back then). We both hit the ground, lost consciousness and when I came to, I had lots of bruises most embarrassing of which was a big fat lip. It looked like botched plastic surgery. Nothing too life threatening, just enough emotional scars to have nightmares for a few weeks. I was very lucky.

In time, my fat lip went back to normal and I stopped having nightmares. My heart skipped a teeny tiny beat when I crossed the street (it still does) but all in all I didn’t act traumatized.

Until I moved to India for college where most people my age had motorcycles, scooters or mopeds because cars are too expensive. All my college buddies had motorcycles or knew how to ride one; except for me.

I thought I was over it, until one day one of my girlfriends needed me to run an errand with her. She said “Hop on! Let’s go.”  For a brief moment, I just stood there. I didn’t want to seem uncool but I kept thinking, “What if I fall off or get hurt again? What if we hit a cow? What if we hit a dog? A homeless child? A horse? What if an auto rickshaw runs into us? What if there is a 60 second torrential downpour?” All valid questions in India.

Just then a scooter passed us with a family of four. Dad riding, mom in a sari, perched sideways with baby in tow and little boy standing in front of the dad. A typical happy Indian family putting me to shame. How annoying. I decided I had no choice but to straddle on and say in an over dramatic tone “Let’s go.”

Initially, I was nervous and genuinely believed that I would fall off. Then I found myself starting to relax. With the insane traffic in India, we weren’t going that fast and there are millions of distractions. This allowed me to get accustomed to the idea and we avoided running to the aforementioned dogs, cows, children and horses. Luckily there was no short lived torrential downpour either. In the midst of all chaos that ensues on Indian motorways, I felt surprisingly calm.

Slowly, as we rode out of the city, and started to pick up speed, I realized that it was actually quite comforting to glide and lean with the motorcycle as it went around corners. To let go instead of resist. To just trust and be in the moment instead of over thinking it. In that moment, I felt extremely carefree.

This is why I love motorcycles and feel at home on them. To me, they’re symbolic of overcoming a fear and getting back on the horse (or this case on the motorcycle). Of course, it definitely helps that motorcycles are sexy. But whenever, something scares me, I just visualize a carefree ride on a motorcycle and it makes me feel better.

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