Wednesday, August 25, 2010

She commands respect

Its beginning of 2009.
She is a curvaceous beauty, looking alluring in black with dashes of chrome. I just brought her home and am looking at her still unable to believe that I have actually taken the plunge and got into this commitment.

Pause your thoughts....
Before the readers start getting any thoughts about me getting into commitment, let me clarify ... I am not referring to a female of the human species. I am only referring to my motorcycle. I know motor cycles cannot really be classified as male or female ..but if I am riding one .. it has to be declared female.
After coveting the Royal Enfield motorcycle for several years and resisting the decision to buy one for several months, I finally made the decision and brought home The 2009 Royal Enfield Thunderbird. A beautiful, heavy (i.e. 170 + Kgs) and sturdy cruiser bike.

Play .....
I have parked it in the lot. The guy from the showroom had shown me a specific way to mount the bike on its main stand. It involved descending from the bike first and then using a handle above the rear Tyre and a lever attached to the main stand to mount the bike in place. That way the bike would balance on to the main stand effortlessly (even for some one with a lanky build like me). I followed the instructions religiously and the bike was set perfectly in place. The only glitch was that I thought it is not stylish enough if you have to descend from the bike first to mount it on the stand. After all other bikes that I had driven (i.e. a 100cc Hero Honda Passion), I would comfortable set them on the main stand just by one strong pull on the handle, whilst still perched on the bike seat.

So I start thinking there has to be a way to do the same to this heavy bird as well.
I sit on my bike and unmount it. Now I summon my energies to try and pull it up on to the main stand. First try ... the bike is just too heavy for me. Does not budge.
I am thinking ... hang on .. I am much stronger than I look. I can do this.
One more try. I pull hard on the handle with my left leg pushing the stand in place.
This time the bike shakes a little as if to indicate that I am angering her. However she refuses to get on to the stand. I say .. I can do better. One last try.
This time I summon all my energies and pull onto the handle really hard. The bike almost gets on to the main stand. However I am off balance due to the extra effort and the main stand snaps back in its place . The bike tilts to the left taking me down with it. It does not actually fall down as there is another bike adjacent to it which is steady enough to support it.

So there I am stuck between two bikes one steady and the other ready to fall on me.
I am like WTF ... day one and I have managed to get my bike to come down crashing on self without really riding it.
Some how I descend down from my bike (albeit still sandwiched between my bike and the other one). There is not enough space for me to turn around to grab my bike with both my hands. Now the bike tilts further downwards is pushing onto my ass (don't even ask how it came down onto my ass .. its quite too embarrassing already) . I can feel all the 170+ Kgs of kerb weight on the one hand still holding on to the bike's handle and my ass. Some how I push her back into the vertical position and this time I use the good old tested technique to set her on the main stand.

I realize that this is not just another 100kg kerb weight, 100 cc engine motorcycle. She is after all the Thunderbird. All 170+ Kgs of it and with the large (by Indian standard) 350 cc engine. Thus I need to afford her the appropriate respect. I have a look at myself. In the whole balancing act, I have managed to inflict a small burn on my right leg thanks to the bike's silencer which was still hot when this whole tussle was happening.

Next few weeks were spent getting used to the Thundering (not really a thunder as compared to other enfields .. but loud enough) of the Thunderbird. Every time I sat on her and started the engine, I could feel the rattling of the several moving parts and the thumping sound so synonymous with the brand. The thumping sound would start to make the heart want to pump in sync with the sound. Never again have I treated her like a 100 cc bike. If there is one thing that I realized, it is that this is one wonderful bike and she commands respect.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Ghostquake

Date and Time : around 1:07 am 17 Aug 2010

I am sitting on my couch in front of my laptop writing about one of my treks to a remote place called Harischandra Gad. I have just about finished describing a close encounter in the jungle. My brain is hyper on thoughts (read horror / suspense / thriller movies).
As I am contemplating the words on my next para, I have an eerie experience.

In a span of less than a second, I feel the rustling of trees outside the window of my living room, followed by the sound of the wind hitting the sliding windows and then a jerk on the couch as if some hit the couch hard. Startled I look around but there is no one.
Now my already hyper on thoughts brain takes two forms. First form the Rational brain (hereinafter referred to as "aaR") and second form the Paranoid one (hereinafter referred to as "Par"). Aar swiftly starts rationalizing the experience and comes up with 3 options in the order of rationale correctness.

1. A strong wind blew through the window and shook the couch.
2. An earthquake hit the area.
3. A burglar broke in and accidentally brushed a side of the couch before hiding in another room.

Before even Aar has finished ruling out options, Par supplies one more
4. Its a ghost.

I usually consider myself quite a rational person so Aar is always favoured to explain such experiences. So here goes the discussion between three (Aar, Par and me) of us.

Aar : Even though the trees rustled and the window shook, I could not feel the wind on my skin. Option 1 is therefore ruled out. It could be option 2.

Par : Earthquakes will usually mean a little more disturbance. I have seen enough discovery channel and I know that it usually involves at least sound of shaking utensils and crockery. I did not hear any of that. Besides since the whole experience lasted less than a second it is highly unlikely that its an earthquake.

Aar & me : Hmm ... In that case lets ascertain option 3.

I get up and check all the rooms, windows and doors. I even check on my mom (the only other person in the house at that moment) and she is fast asleep oblivious to my experience. I look out of the windows and nothing. Convinced that there is no sign of forced entry and that there is no one other than myself and my mom in the home I return to my couch.

Par : So it is my explanation. A ghost has entered the house.
Aar : No there are no ghosts. There is no such thing as God or Ghost. They are both creations of the human mind trying to blame the unexplained happenings of the nature on something supernatural.

Par : I am convinced that it was a ghost. If you can believe that there is ghost than like two sides of a coin you also have to accept the presence of God. Lets pray God and may the almighty give us strength to overcome the evil.

Me : Saalo AarPar ... Shut up both of you. You guys are scaring the living day lights out me. Ok its 1:00 am in the night, but that makes this whole discussion way too creepy. Lets go to sleep.

I then go on to switch of my laptop, relieve my bladder and come back to sleep on the same darn couch. I switch off the light and for the next 15 minutes or so I am lying there inside the sheets with only my face outside and my eye half closed. My eyeballs are moving to check out all corners of the room to spot any movement. Aar is still thinking option 3 while Par is convinced of option 4. The only light inside the room is the faint one coming from flashlight at a nearby construction sight. There is the shadow of the trees on the walls. No movement however.
Pretty soon I have overcome my momentary fears and am fast asleep.

Next morning at breakfast I narrate the experience to my mom (minus discussion with Aar and Par). My mom agrees with 1,2, 3 as possible explanations and dismisses all of them with similar arguments as AarPar. I stop short of telling her option 4 but then She adds a 5th explanation.

5. Since I was writing (and she is not particularly fond of my style) about some close encounter, my brain was hyper and I would have hallucinated.

Again AarPar get into discussions and Par likes option 5 better than option 4. Aar is still not convinced but with nothing rational in site keeps quite. I tell my mom to forget about it and carry on with my usual routine and go to office.

Towards the end of the day, just as everyone is winding up to leave for the day, a mail drops into my mailbox from the Firm's Corporate Security.
The subject reads "Security Advisory - Earthquake Respone...."

The mails body starts as below
"A minor intensity earthquake, measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale, hit Mumbai and parts of western Maharashtra early morning today at 1.07 am with Bapsai (Thane District) as its epicenter."

Aar has a last muhaaahaahaaa laugh.

This is a post from my other blog.
Original post can be found here