With the Patience of a Sadhu
Updated: May 8
Motorcycling in India is a little unusual and makes many people shake their heads. Without patience, no one lasts. My experience in India was lastly no different when I took off from Bangalore in October 2019. For an entire month, I had the opportunity to dive into a different world on one of Rajiv’s crème colored Royal Enfield Classic bikes. Riding out of Bangalore in South India, I was nervous about the traffic. Bumper to bumper. A metal avalanche. An insulting symphony of overturned horns and tuts.
I spotted a sign high above the road that caught my attention on day one. “Fol ow the t affic rules,” it read with letters dropping off a rotting board, ridiculing everything around me on the road. I think I smiled.
A playground for all
Highways in India are bustling. Humans, cars, trucks, motorcycles, bull carts, Sadhus, and animals alike. It prompted me to ride slow and respect everyone — the weakest and the strongest. Rules do not seem to exist. At least not the way a non-Indian or a non-Asian would understand them. It is everyone’s right to move forward and sometimes even back to allow maximum though often risky use of little space. And to rock the horns with ear-splitting persistence.
Once I allowed all the insanity around me to happen, I began to feel safer. I quickly learned how to move and stay with the flow, overtake on whichever side seemed appropriate, and use the horn just like an Indian without guilt. That’s when I started to truly and fully enjoy the ride and got carried away.
A radiant delight
South India is intense. And hot, loud, and busy. It is a world of its own filled with riots of colors and dazzling fragrances, most amazing curries, a myriad of purely vegetarian restaurants (where you wouldn’t even find an egg), ancient shrines, ostentatious weddings processions, incredible hospitality, and warmth extended by its people.
Where a smile, a helping hand, or an encouraging word is never far. Where devotees and tourists gather every morning to watch the sunrise, exactly where three oceans become one at India’s southernmost tip. Where people worship from their hearts. Lord Shiva. The great creator. To name just one. It’s a place to get lost. In a good way. In life and all its wonders.
“Busy roads”? The tuk-tuk driver repeated after me and looked at me in surprise when I came to a stop next to him at a traffic light in a busy town. “Busy roads?” he said again, shaking his head in utter disbelief. “It’s Sunday, Madam, empty. Holiday”. He smiled at me and took off happily. Like on many other occasions, I was intrigued by the Indian way of looking at things that often seem lightyears away from ours.
I returned to Bangalore a month later. So much richer in experience with so much more self-confidence and appreciation of all the experiences and encounters I have had. Riding in India is a challenge. No doubt. But riding there is also a reward. It is a unique way of exploring India’s richness and understanding. A great experience on a fantastic bike! Thanks to Rajiv and his supporting team. The services extended throughout the tour were incredible.
Route: Bangalore—Chennai—Pondicherry—Ramsewaran—Trivandrum—Kerala—Coimbatore—Bangalore (approx. 3000 km)
Thank you for reading!