Sunday, February 19, 2017
Friday, December 09, 2016
Saturday, December 03, 2016
(forgotten in my drafts from mid December - better late than never!)
my bike's been giving trouble lately. she's spent the better part of the month parked at the garage, getting the equivalent of a heart transplant: new crankshaft, connecting rods, bushings, piston, block, timing chain, tensioner, clutch plates, and all variety of minor paraphernalia. so, while I waited it out patiently for fate and my mechanic to give me some relief, I've been living off public transport and the generosity of my friends who have lent me their rides whenever they could.
the last few days were with ajith's avenger. his was the bike I was the most excited about borrowing, as it was one of the options i considered long ago (when I was looking for the next bike after my pulsar, before I decided on the karizma). back then, I rejected it as I was sick of bajaj's quirks: some touches of bad design, and a reputation for bad longevity of the engine.
after a pretty successful run with the karizma, I've been thinking about my next bike. and i decided to approach the avenger with an open mind: it's been 4 years, and bajaj has done intresting things with the pulsar platform, so i figured getting my legs around it should give me the feel of things.
before I mounted it, I was nervous. after all, I had to ride it from powai to bandra in the peak of rush hour traffic, and i had an impatient lady waiting for me at the end of it. and yes, she was already done with her stuff and was killing time until I arrived. my main concern was the position of the foot pegs... would I be able to handle switching to feet on the ground from feet on the pedals quickly enough?
once on the road though, I was quite reassured. it was possible to get my shoe caught on the gear lever or get my ankle on the silencer when switching, but with enough care it wasn't a problem.
the riding position had its pros and cons: it seemed more relaxed, and having mirrors and other cars' headlights at eye level meant that I had a good all round view. the low seat made me almost feel like I was in a go-kart, and that made me feel like I was going a lot faster than I was. the engine was nice and smooth. the gears were so unlike the karizma that it almost felt like my foot was doing its job by itself and I was riding an automatic! the gear lever was too long though, so I ended up using it as a toe shifter only. old habits die hard, I guess. I reached my destination comfortably and without incident, and on the way home, my lady was also happy to ride pillion.
the next morning, riding to work without much traffic, I had a chance to explore the handling better. and that's when I was truly worried. the bike brakes scarily. it skids on light braking on tar roads in a straight line... at 60. on curves, anything less than a perfect surface is scary at best. that would have been a deal breaker, but I got a second opinion from a die hard avenger fan, who said the same thing: the avenger brakes and handles terribly. his "technique" was to ride slowly and use engine braking. lol.
anyway, I still had a couple of days more to go, and one important errand: transporting a rather heavy bit of luggage across town. the avenger handled that perfectly, with my fully loaded rynox (64L) saddle bags, a packed 90L backpack, and a pillion. the seat is roomy, so it doesn't feel cramped even with the huge backpack and the pillion. full points there. but I realized during the 3 hour ride that the seating position actually puts your weight on a weird part of your butt. I didn't have any aches at the end, but it did get rather uncomfortable.
so, in short: comfort, uncheck. safely, uncheck. ergonomics, check. load carrying capabilities, check.
my next bike? uncheck.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
(guest post by Shruti: she has now revived her own blog too: http://shrutidiaries.blogspot.in/)
Life ha a funny way of reminding you where your stand in the whole scheme of things. Thanks to the latest announcement on demonetization, i suddenly feel stifled and restricted. Though most of my big purchases can be done on cards, I feel restricted in terms of daily commute where only cash prevails. Walking to and from home from the railway station to save every penny worth ofchutta,eating only at restaurants that accept cards, disliking people when they shamelessly ask for cash post their services; these are just some of the many daily situations I come across post 8th of November, 2016.
But this post is not about demonetization (even the American version of demonetisation restricts my freedom of self expression). This post is about how life changes in a jiffy. In one moment, you are rich and comfortable with your cash, cards and the works and the next moment you are standing in never ending queues at the ATM for somechuttas.The worst part is the restriction on these cash exchange transactions and withdrawals. Ofcourse it wont be right to say that I feel like how people would have felt during the Great Depression but I seriously do empathize with them much more.
Life has changed overnight for many people. People whose business depended solely on cash have seen atleast a 50% drop. People have stopped going out often. Patients have suffered, waiters have suffered without their tiny tips and people like me are such feeling the heat of things when someone argues in a local train either supporting or defaming this move. There is blatant restlessness palpitating among the crowd. I am worried now. Worried for humanity, for justice and most of all I think we are going to relive the era of "The Silent Generation." The happy Millennials and iGeneration will need to re-read their history books to learn a lesson or two from their ancestors.
I suddenly feel a profound sense of helplessness. I am worried for my future. Just plain worried. I cannot trust anything anymore. In one moment, a government move changes my life, in one day my aunt falls critically ill and her world turns upside down. What do we humans gloat about so much? We are helpless on so many fronts. I have cash in bank but I can hardly use it. My aunt has the power and money to get her way out of things but today she is helpless in front of what sits inside her body. We are helpless if tomorrow an airstrike (just like the one in Syria and other war stricken countries) hits Mumbai. We will be homeless and poor in the tiny speck of a moment if our house collapses or our banks go bust. Banks do not guarantee our entire money. I know I read cynical here but what can this "Pale Blue Dot" do when an asteroid welcomes its way in?
Humans are a complex mix of vulnerabilities and strengths. Spirituality teaches us that the power of the Universe is also the power within us. Science teaches us the heavy realization of how seriously we take ourselves even though we are such a tiny speck on the face of this vast Universe.
All these years growing up, I had a sense of relief that let me take care of myself and things will fall in place. I also believed that life is full of choices and it is largely our choices thatmaketh thee.But I blindly ignored the possibilities of life changing experiences through fate. Some will not agree with me on this as they believe that it is solely their deeds and words that made them who they are today. But you cannot ignore the factors of getting a good foundation as a child, living in a conflict-free positive environment. That is where fate comes in. Maybe it is theill-fateof Syrians or Palestinians or even Kashmiris to suffer in an induced poverty and see their life savings burnt down due to a choice made by few men.
I hope my bubbly optimism surfaces soon and takes over this induced cynicism. I am amazed at how deeply things affect me these days. My sensitivity is to its fore. A good outcome of this though is that I am writing much more and I feel free in doing so.
Monday, November 14, 2016
I pity the plight of drivers of 4-and-more vehicles in India. being a biker myself, I'm constantly thinking about what the drivers around me see and sense before attempting a maneuvere. small things like flashing my headlight when I'm behind a car while I move to whichever side I'm overtaking from, and anticipating if they intend to give way based on the way they brake (it's not that difficult, the human mind is quite amazing in its ability to judge velocity and acceleration!), treating drivers on the phone with extra caution to and checking their blind spots instead of assuming I can always be seen.
yesterday, I had to ride pillion with someone for a fair distance (12 km). at first I was simply unnerved by his refusal to signal turns and his tendency to not brake early when an opportunity to overtake is closed... and i was gonna politely give him a bit of advice.
but eventually I realized the problem ran deeper: he simply wasn't thinking about the other drivers and vehicles on the road. about the fact that the average rickshaw brakes can't be trusted enough for you to to cut in between and halve its braking distance without warning, or that a car driver taking a turn can't see you in the rear view while turning, so if you weren't visible before he started turning, he'd have to emergency brake when you cut in halfway through the turn. or that if a bus does an emergency brake, there's some sort of obstacle in front of it that you better not make any assumptions about.
the sort of things you can't politely advise someone to start doing.
seriously, I wonder what was occupying the part of his mind which a safe rider would use to analyze the road.
how do you politely advise someone to ride defensively?