Monday, May 5, 2008

Moto Mayhem on the Streets of India

I don't know how most visitors to India get around town but I'm pretty sure it's not on the back of 125cc motorcycle. Most people have more sense than me when it comes to many things but my sense of adventure ranks with the best of 'em; so when Guru told me to get on the back of his Suzuki I jumped on, wrapped my arms around his chest, and prayed to every god inside outside of the Hindu pantheon.

Traffic in Bangalore is a finely ordered chaos and I got my first taste of it right off the plane. When Calum and I first arrived in town we were met at the airport by Vinnay (now a married man!) who hailed us a cab to take us home. Vinnay rode shotgun and gave the driver directions while Calum and I rode in the backseat and puckered our rear ends as we pulled into an onslaught of traffic. I swear our driver was on speed because he was sweating like a geyser and talking 90kph while bobbing and weaving through a motley assortment of wheeled conveyances: buses, dump trucks, scooters, three-wheeled "bug" taxis, bicycles, and, my personal favorite, the ox drawn cart. Hindi-techno-pop screeched out of the fried speakers.

The only reassuring thing about our taxi ride on the edge of death was that all the other drivers were probably just like ours, and even though ours was psycho, when psychos get together everyone is sane. The only people loosing our minds were Calum and I.

The scariest part of the journey came at the "Killer X," the spot where one exits the freeway. The off ramp was a welcome sight until we cut into oncoming traffic across the road to get to it. At the same we were trying to accomplish this stunt so were the people trying to exit from the other side of the road. Who the hell thought this up? I closed my eyes in fright as our speed freak driver cut the wheel into 1000 blazing head lamps, but I opened them in favor of witnessing my own demise. A bright light flashed, and as squealing tires skid across the asphalt, Ganesh, the elephant headed Hindu god of benevolence, touched my left cheek with his dripping snout and escorted me to a sandy bed.

The bed was hot and mosquitoes drained my blood. Ants nipped at my left elbow and the big toe of my right foot. Gnarly dreams, full of men with blue and white faces, showing me the way across the marshland. Crafty guides they were, crafty indeed.

So the next day when it was time to go sightseeing around Bangalore I was a bit nervous about riding on the back of a motorcycle, unprotected from the roving swarm of Indian traffic. Guru is a wonderful guy who's always smiling (which can be a little scary with other people). He wore a tight fitting yellow long sleeve shirt and brown polyester pants, all of which were perfectly synced by his mustache and JFK-esque parted hair. A happy bastard he was, and homicidal behind the handlebars.

I almost died 8 times that day: 7 times from impact and once more from cardiac arrest. We barely dodged a holy cow in the road, coming so close that its rank ropey tail hit me in the ear. Guru said that was a blessing but I don't believe the man.

As the day wore on and we put more kilometers under the bike I grew more accustomed to the heinous traffic. I started taking video from back seat and snapping pictures as we passed odd looking people and locales. {below: video taken of the Bangalore Capital from motorcycle}

When we came to the "Killer X" I wondered which god awaited me this time, hopefully not Shiva, god of destruction. I gripped Guru's shoulders tightly and he cranked on the gas. Smoke spewed and thunder pealed. The portal was breached. When we arrived home it was with Sanskrit markings on our palms and foreheads.


  1. Hello Justin,

    At a certain point in life, one should realize his own mortality. But the way you do it, seems like a little bit of overkill to me:-)

    Well, at least the holy cow was right. You are still alive afterall.... ;-)

    Greetings from Belgium,


  2. Hey Jerry,

    Its been a while my friend. How was your "business trip" through Japan? I trust you made it back safe to Belgium lots to report. It's great to hear from you!

    India was great and a little frightening. I recommend it to everyone.


  3. Sounds like you guys had adventures in curry land. Glad to hear that you made it there and back alive.

  4. Oh man Nate, India was amazing! The curry was spicy as hell (saving that story for a future post) and the streets were crazier than an Alaskan river during spawning season!

    India definitely quickened my spirit.