Traveling in India on a motorcycle

What could be more interesting than a two-wheeled ride in the land of elephants, banyans and sacred cows? The dream of such a trip excites the hearts of many motorists. The richer bikers deliver their expensive Harley and BMW from overseas here. Budget adventurers buy a vehicle on site. In most cases – this is a classic used by Royal Einfield “Bullet”, voracious, but powerful.

According to Indian law, foreigners can not buy a vehicle from their hands without a new registration or other formalities. But in India, the strings of “white masters” are neglected, and in tourist places you can buy a motorcycle without documents, which have already changed dozens of owners. There is a risk of falling on a police check, but the ability to smile, acquiesces penitentially , says, “Yes, sir, I understand, sir, sorry, sir …” (Yes, sir, I understand, sir. I apologize, sir.) The presence of a hundred rupee bill usually solves all problems.

The purchase of a motorcycle in the north of the state of Goa resembled a scene from the film “Brother 2”, where the main character had chosen a car for a trip to New York. “You do not look at the look, do you know what kind of engine he has ?! ” – I was assured by another half-dead Israeli “bullet” that was selling at a reasonable price. For some reason, in the touristy places of India, the Bulleta trade is mainly done by the mediocre threads of Sion. You can make an agreement with them if you are a good mechanic and you can check what kind of “Trojan” you are missing. I decided not to take a chance and after driving a little on a rented scooter in the neighborhood, I met an Australian salesman. A smiling Melbourne programmer, who introduced himself to Tony O’Brien, demanded an incredible 35,000 rupees ($ 700) for a shredded miracle.

The document related to the transaction was created by a piece of the tetra leaf on which it was stated: “I, Tony from Australia, I sold to Russia’s Grigori this motorcycle number this or that.” On top of that, several other similar pieces of crumpled paper were given to me, which Tony had in his day. Alas, the bulk of the seller-buyer chain has disappeared from history, so nothing linked me to the original owner, Burg Luxembourg, 15 years ago, who bought and registered this device in Madras. I was thinking of drawing a Luxembourg driver’s license on behalf of Photoshop for Burg Luxembourg, but I changed my mind (not so much because of natural honesty, but because you do not have an Indian policeman, give 100 rupees to Luxembourg and do not do not sin ).

My purchase looked like a hybrid of Rural tractor and Pelin Kin-dza-dza. He emitted the corresponding sounds when he (not the first time) could be started. To breathe life into a metallic monster, it was no less difficult to manipulate than Professor Frankenstein, who animates his homunculus. Insert and turn the ignition key, then another fuel cap key below, add momentum by twisting the idle bolt, use the plastic lever to zero the ammeter arrow, and then actuate start pedal, now help Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma! In the afternoon, in the heat, the bike was quite up, but in the morning, it took a long time “roll with a tambourine” before the monster reads the county with its roar. First gear is up, the next three are down. To find a “neutral”

The speed indicator of “miracle” does not work. The fuel level indicator being in principle absent, it was therefore possible to determine the remaining quantity only by talking about the bike from one side to the other. At the same time, it was strictly forbidden to fill a tank full because, during the day, the fuel was trying to boil and escape the tank and the carburettor in all directions, and in the evening, detractors were purging gasoline .

On the sides were metal arches for the chests or bags of the wardrobe – there were only backpacks. While crossing the hollows and the bumps, “Bullet” vibrated of metal, like a herd of bulls precipitated with bells around the neck.

The very first driving experience on Indian roads has opened up many perspectives. For example, the fact that the turn should be indicated not by an indicator, but by hand. In the case of traffic on the left, the right indicator flashing indicates the vehicle you are passing. In general, this sign is used by truck drivers, but a motorcyclist can start doubling when he decides to do it. In addition to the absurdity of the signals, in India, they do not observe the number and the distance, practice the double overtaking, ignore the double solid. First rule: who is stronger, he is right. And strength, as we know in textbooks, is mass multiplied by acceleration. In other words, if a truck rushes to a “counter”, that’s fine, but not you – stop . Fortunately, the speed in India is still lower than ours, otherwise, the number of trucks and the green branches “emergency” surrounding them on the road would be much more numerous. Higher than bus buses, only cows have priority. They are sacred animals, which means that all vehicles must give way.

Clearly, few Indian drivers have taken driving courses. The lack of theory is filled by an abundance of practices – even Japanese kamikaze pilots would envy the intrepidity of maneuvers on local roads. For the most illiterate, informative inscriptions are provided on the sides of the trucks. “Stop-signal” and the awkward image of a leg stomping on a pedal – so that the next driver knows that the red light comes on (if it is OK), it means that the truck is braking. “Use the horn” – if exceeded, press the horn; There are no mirrors for the truck or nothing is visible. The green arrow or plate indicates the side to be overtaken is on the right. “Save the oil, save India” (save fuel, save India), “Avoid AIDS” (avoid AIDS), “India is great”

Without relying too much on the rules of the road, Indian drivers hope to be able to count on the help of higher powers. Clinging to the lemon and red chilli bumper amulets, decorating the boards with protective symbols and swastikas, suspending the enchanted slippers, depicting demonic king Ravan frightening evil spirits or drawing his gaze to the taxi to see the car better and where to go. Inside buses, trucks and sometimes cars, install entire altars with statues of deities, garlands of flowers, flashing electric lights and incense.

Due to the lack of distance, the cars are constantly touching each other, so everyone rolls with scratches. But nobody is offended. Why be offended if karma is like that? Anyway, sooner or later, you’re scratching.

For a long trip, you must choose the time. The best is the morning, when the roads are empty and the sun does not start to burn, and the afternoon until 17 hours. Later, it is necessary to look for parking so that the stock of daylight is sufficient to eliminate unexpected breakdowns. It is dangerous to drive at night. First, Indians prefer to drive with the included driving beam, without thinking about the oncoming blind drivers. Secondly, in the dark, you can not see pits, cows, elephants, camels, black pigs (trying to pull bushes out of the way), cyclists, tractors loaded with long rods of sharp canes and benches with four wheels occupying all the way, offensive. dark street vendors rolled at home.

Another scourge of Indian roads – the police. But not those in white uniform, but wrapped under the asphalt, lying down. They are found in the most unexpected places, even on motorways. Their shape is arbitrary – flat to very steep mounds, on which you can easily break if you do not notice them in time. By passing in such a way, even at a minimum speed, you hit hard with the bottom.

The state of Goa is famous for its narrow, winding streets. When they are empty, it is extremely pleasant to ride them. But there is always the risk of a tourist jeep jumping out of the corner. These are carried quickly and, as a rule, in the center of the road. It is therefore interesting to stay on the lookout. The rest of Goa is a great place to learn biking and to look for “accomplices” on a long trip. However, I was not going to get lost in the bike, preferring to take a light ride with a girl, to be able to trace a route in the direction of my path and not go anywhere if I did not want to go there.

Next to Goa, separated by ghats (mountain ridges), is the state of Karnataka. Everything is different here. Many wide and direct roads, more space, no “toy” of the old Portuguese colony. On the contrary, one feels the breadth and power of true India. Bibikat from the oncoming Indians, flash headlights and wave your hand – welcome. To travel to another state had to pay. The policeman on the border between Goa and Karnataka did not even examine the technical passport (written in the name of someone) or the rights (the Russians, who were not even written in English that he had rights and not a student card), immediately required insurance, environmental certificate and something else that I obviously did not have. Fearing his responsibility for breaking the laws of Karnataka, the law enforcement officer said in a low voice, “Give me something small and go!” ( give me something and drive) “Little thing” turned out to be 300 rupees, but after a little negotiation, it fell to 100, the standard penalty for a minor violation.

The first serious step of our itinerary was the city of Gokarna – the holy place. There is a particularly revered temple associated with the lingam (ie the phallus) found in these areas, which is one of the symbols of the god Shiva. Everyone comes to Gokarna : tourists, pilgrims, crazy people. On vacation, temple trolleys are being rolled, on a wheel of which several motorcycles like mine could be placed.

After staying in Gokarna , we started to study yoga, convinced that it would be useful in the future. Indeed, during a long trip, the vibrations of a motorcycle can damage the spine as well as other parts of the body (including the soft ones). It’s worth doing regular gymnastics and stretching. In addition to all kinds of asanas (yoga postures), we also tried meditation. The latter, by the way, helps a lot to train concentration and attention, pledge of safety on insane Indian roads. Another useful thing practiced by the yogis is the nasal wash. Take a small plastic teapot with a saline solution (a teaspoon of salt for half a liter of water), then pour the solution into the left nostril (out of the right), then into the right. It’s better to squat. The nasal cavity is cleared of dust and soot from Indian roads. You can protect your nose from dirt with a gauze mask or cotton scarf. Without this protection, it is difficult to travel even in small towns and cities, it is simply impossible.

After Gokarna there were still many holy places – Krishnaite Udupi , Padubidri festive, Mangalore dusty, Daramstal hilly. In the last little visible village (for the uninitiated) – is the sanctuary of the Jains, professing one of the oldest religions on the planet. The Jains, as long as they do not abandon the world and do not become lost saints, they are very rich. They are merchants, jewelers, lenders. Daramstal owned several large free hotels for pilgrims (including foreigners), a museum of vintage cars and motorcycles, a museum of temple carts and just a museum of Indian antiquities that would honor any capital of the world. Back to Daramstale , a steam locomotive was offered by one of the Jains (since it was brought here only ?!) and by plane. In the main temple under the ceiling hung plasma TVs, so that pilgrims can see the priest’s manipulations near the altar, and on the walls were images and diagrams explaining how to achieve enlightenment using different types of yoga and chakra activation. It’s not so much the richness of the Jains that these stratagems intrigued me. In which other temples can you see the personal instruction program “How to know God in yourself”? In most places where I used to be, instead of instructions for spiritual growth, price lists for performing rituals were hung.

Motorcycle trip to Sri Lanka
The departure