Thursday, August 18, 2005

Some Thoughts on Motorcycles

Transportation is, unsurprisingly, a whole different creature in India than in the States. Motorcycles outnumber cars by a significant margin and operate according to an unwritten, apparently completely arbitrary, set of traffic rules. They weave in and out of traffic, blaring their horns pretty much constantly and do not concern themselves with petty issues such as the location of pedestrian toes. Also, you may not have realized this, but a motorcycle is, in fact, a family vehicle. Oh yes. More than once I have witnesses a motorcycle, quite literally overflowing with people--dad in front, mom in the back often with a child in arms, and a little one or two wedged in between. It is amazing.

My housemate Ethan owns a motorcycle, a massive metal contraption that he assures me is the smallest size you can buy. I have had the "opportunity" to ride on this bike on three occasions so far. Now, going up the mountain to my home is actually quite fun. We follow a gentle but persistently inclining paved road for about 15 minutes and I sit on the back, rest a hand on a bar behind me for balance, and enjoy the scenery. We're usually only going up at night and I can look out over the lights of the valley. Quite lovely, really, and I've become rather fond of the experience. Going DOWN the mountain in monsoon season is another story entirely. We don't take the nice paved road down because apparently that would eat up any time we save by biking. Oh no, we ride down the same weenie windy dirt path that I walk each day. And said path is frequently covered with wet leaves. So yesterday, on my first (and LAST) trip down the mountain, I white-knuckled the bar, closed my eyes, and prayed incoherent mutterings that involved things like "I'm way too young to die!" as we careened downhill. And about 2 minutes later, we were down and tooling along the road up to school, unharmed. But I tell you, I will roll down that hill before I ride that thing down again. Good heavens.


At 5:31 PM, Blogger Jim Lockard said...

Sounds a lot like the cyclists we saw in Thailand, Kate. Did you think so?

At 6:04 AM, Blogger Emily said...

I've had some weird motorcycle things happening here, too. There is a brand of mini-motorcycle called a 'monkey bike' that's about 1 1/2 feet tall and used by anyone over the age of 5 to go 25 or 30 miles an hour ON SIDEWALKS blaring muffler-free vengeance all the way! Haven't seen them piled with people yet, but I'll let you know when the manage to talk their mums on to going for a ride with them!


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