Saturday, April 25, 2020

riding in india vs riding in the uk

I was going through some of my facebook memories, and came across this one:

The start was the most interesting bit: riding in traffic. There were a few obvious differences there: the complete lack of personal space, the seemingly blind trust that everything will continue to move in a straight line at constant velocity unless indicated otherwise, no matter how close or badly positioned you are.

But there's something else that struck me: while watching the video, I somehow involuntarily felt like going WOT. Riding in Mumbai traffic now seems so SLOW! And I obviously know why: It's because my eyes and brain were literally tracking dozens of things, looking out for anything that might require corrective action. So much so, that it would be suicidal to take my eyes away from the road ahead to do a "lifesaver" (yes, ironic!).

UK riding on the hand, seems to be just "keep track of what's happening ahead of you, unless you plan to change direction or velocity" - and even then, everything is so planned and deliberate. Mirrors-signal-mirrors-blind spot-manoeuvre. You literally have 5 seconds before anything happens.

I'm curious to experience riding in Mumbai after a year of riding in Belfast. Will the lack of personal space overwhelm me, or will I just switch back into my old riding style as long as I'm there? Or worse still (and I hope not) will my trust in rule-following override the lack of safety margins?

I wonder!

Bonus video: blurry video of us riding in Ireland, last November!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


it's been a busy week (so far, work-wise), and i haven't been sleeping well either. woke up today almost palpitating, and as the day wore on, i felt so terrible i could barely get any food in me.

thankfully, i was able to wrap up work and relax for a bit. i don't remember what i was reading, but i eventually drifted off to sleep, head pounding, on the couch.

i don't know if i was dreaming, but something snapped me back awake. all i remember was this sudden transition from darkness to light (the light of the TV screen, that is), from silence to stars, by the cranberries.

it was so abrupt, that i thought i was woken up by the music turning itself on or something. but the music had been playing for the last half an hour or so, and i had only been sleeping for the last 10 minutes.

it was like being shaken awake without any physical shake.

and i can feel my pulse racing again.

ps: as i re-read my post, it seems quite random and arbitrary. maybe t's not obvious enough that i find the feeling of being violently woken up, without any external stimulus or being lucidly dreaming, rare enough to feel strange!

Monday, April 06, 2020

brake problems

I was in Mumbai, at my parents' place. Sitting astride Vicki, in Carly's usual parking spot. It was a bright sunny day. I did my usual check (brakes, lights). Everything seemed fine. I fired up her engine, and rode out on to the street. My brother was walking alongside, and I kept a slow pace with him (yes, that was one of the skills I had to demonstrate during my off-road manoeuvres test last August). We were discussing the list of groceries that needed to be purchased. And then, abruptly, he said, "let's go get them", and made as if to hop on.

I panicked and said "wait! don't hop on while the bike is moving! let me stop!", but it was too late. He hopped on nimbly, and the bike didn't so much as twitch! Reminded me of school days when he was so good at hopping on and off the bicycle (we had axle extensions that he would stand on) that I wouldn't know if he had hopped on or not. At that point, I realized neither of us were wearing a helmet. As I thought about which route would be least likely to have cops waiting around, I also thought to myself that two guys on a large motorcycle like Vicki would be rather conspicuous in these days of social distancing.

I made up my mind about which direction I wanted to go, and rounded a turn, when I came almost head to head with a speeding car (it was a white honda, I remember!) driving on the wrong side of the road!I slammed the brakes, and strangely enough, the front brakes didn't engage at all! The car swerved past me, and in that split second I figured the only plausible explanation was that this road had changed to a one-way during these months (years!) I've been away. I gingerly took a U turn, feathering the rear brake (another skill I had to demonstrate during the off-road manoeuvres test), hoping nobody noticed I was riding the wrong way. As I took the turn, I noticed a long queue of people waiting for a bus at the stop. The bus got around the corner, exactly the way I had ridden seconds ago, just as I was getting to it. The corner was a really tight one, and I had to brake again as the bus did not leave enough room to pass. Another hair-raising stop, thanks to the front brakes not working.

Made it around the corner, and Kevin got off - I decided to not take any more chances and ride the 100 metres or so home by myself. Tested the brakes now, and they worked perfectly, just as they did when starting off.

Got home, parked, and checked if there were bubbles visible in the brake oil reservoir. None.

That's when I kinda woke up. Heart still pounding from the dream.

The dream continued - I checked the CBS system by pushing one of the pistons of the front brake in, and then pressing the rear brake to check if it activated. It did. Really strange.

That's when I was conscious of the sun falling on my face, and woke up.

Checked my watch, it was two hours earlier than usual.

Tried to go back to sleep, but my pounding heart wasn't letting me.

As I got out of bed, I remembered Vicki does not even have CBS.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

days go by

it's been a little over two weeks since we've voluntarily confined ourselves indoors, except for weekly grocery shopping, and twice so far, walks.

i've never worked from home for so many days in a row in my life.

the last time i've spent so much time indoors was 26 years ago, when i was terribly sick.

i guess the biggest difference between then and now is that i didn't have any way of being in touch with friends (I could wave out to them playing cricket from my home, but i was so weak i probably didn't).

so this is different. an able mind in a somewhat able body. just cooped up indoors.

for one, i've stopped seeing the boundary between work and life. since both are in front of the same screen, on the same couch, i just multitask between the two.

my screen time is off the charts. i don't think i have looked at a screen for as long since maybe 2003.

and i'm pretty sure i haven't spent as much time on facebook in... forever.

it's a strange conflict i face now - my time online is well past the point of diminishing returns, but all the platforms i'm using are designed for exactly that - an epidemic of free time with not much to do. if i reduce my online time significantly, i will definitely have more free time for other things, but i won't be moving back up the curve of diminishing returns - it's going to be flat, because everyone else, including the people i want to be in touch with. is oversharing mindless stuff as much as i am.

one thing is for sure though - progress on my pet projects (the one i blogged about, and another one) have slowed down. focusing might help... because trying to find collaborators online has come to naught.

it's funny how society breaks down so easily, and the wave of boredom and listlessness can consume everyone to the point where few people seem to be getting anything of real use done.

these weeks have provided me a learning experience i would never have imagined. slowing down of time without having any physical/mental impediment has let me view the world in much more detail than i ever could.

i wonder if this is what growing old feels like.

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