Jeroen’s new hobby
 

New job, new country, time for a new hobby.

As most of you will know I’m a true diehard petrol head. I like cars, always have, always will. I love driving. In Particular I like old, classic cars. See my hobby page.


My current collection consists of a 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider, a 1982 mercedes W123 and a 2002 Jaguar XJR. All in storage in the Netherlands. And we also own a Ford Fiesta, I think? Not sure what colour, but Frances really likes it.

Above photograph courtesy of my biker friend Aashutosh

During our three years in Kansas City, I bought the above Jaguar XJR, joined the local Jaguar Club and bought just about any tool available from Harbor Freight. I love driving, but I enjoy fiddling with my cars just as much!


Still, started a new hobby there too. Something I always wanted to do; flying!


The first couple of weeks in India I spent investigating both private aviation as well as the Classic Car scene. My conclusion was that there is no private aviation to speak off and the classic car scene appears to be “all or nothing”. Meaning, either you buy and restore an old banger, or you have something really fancy, like a Rolls Royce that used to belong to one of the Raj’s.


One of my other hobbies has always been photography. For the last eight years I’ve been using my trusty Sony DSC-R1. Although it looks the part, it is not a DSLR, it is in fact the than top model of the Cybershot range. Still, it comes with an outstanding Zeis lens. And I know a few professional photographers who use this camera too. Still, after eight years, it was beginning to show some wear and tear, so I decided to get myself a new camera before we left the US. Got myself a very nice Olympus OM-D-EM5. Again, no DSLR for me! I’ve gone 4/3rd if that means anything to you. So just about all the pictures on this website are taken with the Olympus.


So with one hobby taken care of, I still needed to get some wheels, so I could drive and fiddle! Although I’ve never been much interested in motor bikes as such, I’ve always had an interest in the older, more classic type of motor bikes, e.g. Triumph, BSA, and of course Royal Enfield. Would you believe to this date they still manufacture brand-spanking-new Royal Enfield right here in India!


Long story short: I’ve got myself a real classic 1978 Royal Enfield! Frances believes driving a motor bike is only marginally more safe than flying a little plane. So I had to get a helmet, additional life assurance and I can only drive it around the block.


As it is, I have to wait for it a bit. I bought it on November 18th from Joga Motors. I had spoken to several people, including a colleague of mine who bought their Royal Enfields from this little company and were very satisfied. It’s owned and run by Mrs. Rana. She is totally in charge and knows everything there is to know about Royal Enfields. She will strip the bike, get it all repainted, the engine will be completely overhauled, new gear box, lots of new parts.


She has also kindly offered me one of her old Royal Enfields to practise. I’ve never ever ridden a motor cycle before. But hey, in my teens I rode a mono cycle in a circus and I’ve been riding bicycles for as long as I can remember. And only ended up in the hospital twice in the last three years in Kansas City. How hard can it be?


Joga Motors is smack in the middle of Karol Bagh Market.


Below the indefatigable Mrs Rana of Joga Motors. She’s explaining something important to Frances on Royal Enfields. Or they might be discussing her grand children. She’s equally passionate about both. The cupboard on the right holds various parts, still to be attached to various bikes

Above, the Alfa Spider on a a autumn trip in the Belgium Ardennes.














On the left, the Mercedes W123 somewhere in the south of France.











Below, the Jaguar XJR in the Kansas Prairie

Next thing after placing my order with Mrs. Rana was to figure out how I would obtain an Indian Motorcycle license. I’ve joined a very good Indian Car&Bike forum, Team-BHP. Lots of advice on what to do, where to go. I have learned one thing though; dealing with Indian officialdom is best left to the Indians. Simply put, as a foreigner you don’t have a hope in hell. Without Indian local knowledge finding your way through any bureaucracy is near impossible.

 

Just figuring out which forms are needed is a huge undertaking.  I went online and found three different official websites that were showing very different requirements. And then of course there are a few practicalities such as the fact that I simply can’t produce certain documents because I’m a foreigner.

 

I was very lucky to have a colleague at work who helped out. He visited various offices multiple times to figure it all out. One thing was for sure. I needed a medical certificate. This was one of those remarkable contradictions I found on the web myself when researching this adventure. The first governmental website told me I did not need a medical certificate at all. The second website I visited told me I needed a self attested medical certificate. The third website told me I needed a medical certificate signed of by a doctor. According to my colleague’s research we needed the third option. Luckily the colleague had a friend who was married to a doctor. So of we went. Very nice young lady. Lots of conversation between her and the colleague, in Hindu,  about what needed filling out on the medical form. My input on the questions regarding my general health was not required. They talked, gestured, wiggled their heads a lot, looked at me, looked at the form, looked at me, argued some more and then wrote something down on the medical form.

 

That was up until the moment they came to the question about “blood type/group”. What’s yours they asked? In all honesty I don’t know. This, as it appears, is not an acceptable answer in india. Apparently, everybody in India knows their blood type/group! They were very adamant that I had to know my blood type/group. But I don’t. Never had an operation, never had a blood transfusion. Even the two visits to the ER in Kansas City only required X-ray, pain killers and lots of stitches. Nobody asked for or told me my blood type/group. After much deliberation it was decided that we had to go with the highly unsatisfactory option “unknown”. When discussing with Frances later she told me it was “most likely B+”. Maybe that would have been a more acceptable answer in India, but not to me.

 

The last medical question created some more confusion. “Unknown” was certainly not an acceptable answer to “any distinguishing features?”. So I asked my colleague and the doctor what would be acceptable. Turns out in India you need to have a good size mole. Preferably in a place where it’s visible. You don’t want to have to drop your trousers in order to verify. But again, I don’t have any. After much deliberation and offering various other suggestion it was decided that I have a good enough scar on my right knee that will do nicely. So know I only need to roll up my right trouser leg in order to identify myself to Indian  officials!

 

The medical certificate got signed off by the doctor, stamped several times over, signed by me twice and I had to put my thumb print on it and a photograph which the doctor and I had to sign as well.


With all the paperwork well prepared we set off to the regional Delhi Transport office. My colleague’s meticulous preparations paid off big time. We were seen immediately by the head of the department who offered us tea. Then a few minutes at the biometric desk for the collection of yet another photograph and a finger print. I confused the poor lady at the biometric desk by pointing out that on my medical certificate it was my thumb print, not my index finger. Or did she want to see my scar? Through intervention by my colleagues we learned that she wasn’t interested in my medical certificate at all. Let alone my scar. Everybody knows you don’t need a medical certificate, so what’s with the medical certificate?


Next desk verification of all the personal details. Next a multiple choice knowledge test of my understanding of the Indian traffic rules. I was not aware of any traffic rules. I’m out every single day in my company bus and I’m absolutely sure that in India there are no traffic rules. There is no evidence whatsoever of anybody adhering to any sort of consistent type of driving behavior. It’s a continuous free for all, all the time.

 

But evidently, there are official traffic rules and I needed to get 6 out of 10 multiple choice questions answered correctly in under twenty minutes! I aced this test as I did 10 out of 10 in under a minute, surpassing my previous personal record with the Kansas DMV.


The Indian test was much more advanced than the American test. For starters, in the US I was given a test form and a pencil. In India you sit behind a proper PC and your test results are immediately shown after completion of the test.


Actually, I did find out the evening before that a test might be involved. So again, a bit of research on the internet found various websites offering a practice-test. It was a bit disconcerting though discovering that although the questions on the various websites were identical, the correct answers were not!


It’s easy to joke about, but it’s probably very illustrative of how this nation is still developing. Things that we take for granted, might not be so straightforward in India.


Take this question number 6 of my test:


Q: Rear view mirror is used:

    A1    For seeing face
    A2    For watching traffic approaching from behind

    A3    For seeing the back seat passenger


Obviously, in the USA, when you’re female answer A1 is correct as you do need to check your make up regularly. If you’re a cabby in NewYork or London, A3 is the correct answer, because you want to make sure your back seat passenger is not pulling a gun on you. In India the correct answer is A2. In practice nobody uses their rear view mirror at all. The only important thing whilst out on the Indian roads is to get ahead of the next guy. Once he’s behind you, who cares what the loser does!


Here’s another gem from my test. Question number 8:


Q: you are approaching a narrow bridge, another vehicle is about to enter the bridge from the opposite site. You should:


    A1: Honk horn, increase speed and try to cross the bridge as fast as possible

    A2: Honk horn, put on head light and try to cross the bridge as fast as possible

    A3: Wait till the other vehicle crosses the bridge and then proceed.


Without any doubt, all Indians when approaching a narrow bridge will honk horn, put on head light, put the pedal to metal and race across the bridge at neck braking speed.


Surprisingly in India the correct answer is A3. I know, bit wet, but it’s the law!


I came back to Delhi after our very nice Christmas en New Year stay in the Netherlands. First thing I did was to call Mrs. Rana and discuss the progress of my Royal Enfield. It was all ready to go!! So on Saturday afternoon I went over to her shop. It was during the rush hour and it was getting dark so I had one of the shop mechanics drive it over to our apartment. But on Sunday morning 0700am I took it out for its first spin. Not without some problems. Starting a Royal Enfield is something of an art/science/black magic and it took a while, but once it got going it did great.


So at long last I’m the proud owner of a 1975 Royal Enfield Bullet 350! Below the first pictures, on our drive in our apartment.

Four weeks into this adventure and I’ve done about 600 kilometers on my Royal Enfield. I’m pretty ok driving it by myself. But truth be told the Delhi traffic sucks. It’s just no fun. So I will get up very early on a Sunday morning and set off well before 0700 am to beat the traffic. Once outside town, things are a lot better. I’ve made several trips of about 90 - 110 kilometer. Bought myself a little Garmin Etrex 30 when we were in the Netherlands for our holiday. I get my (free) maps from Garmin Open Street. Great initiative where maps are made, maintained and updated by enthusiasts. Works remarkably well. The Dutch bicycle maps have a uncanny level of detail. Even the little alley next to our house is on it and you plan your route through it. How cool is that.


So I downloaded Delhi and surrounding areas from Open street and installed it on my Etrex. Works a treat. On Saturday I plan a route on my computer, put it on my Etrex and on Sunday I go “thumping” around Delhi. So far the bike has done well. I’m very pleased with it. But after 600 kilometers it needed it’s first oil change. And there were a few small issues that needed sorting. So it was back to Mrs Rana and Joga Motors. As usual very accommodating. Sorted everything in less than 2 hours and a 1000 rupees ($20).


In true Karol Bagh fashion my bike was taken apart on the street.

So here are a few more new experiences, some to do with the bike. The other day, after a nice drive I decided to clean my bike. I like cleaning things. Well, my things anyway, like cars, bike, bicycles, tools. So I had bought myself some polish, got some rags from Frances and went back out. Within minutes there were more then twenty locals gathered around me. My own driver and guard were in despair! Here in India men don’t clean their bike themselves, they have their guard, gardener or driver do that. Huge consternation as “Sir” was cleaning his bike!


Since then, I have learned that “Sir” is not supposed to change the gas bottles, the water bottles, fix the AC, the washing machine or do any DIY around the house. This is pretty frustrating. I pride myself on being able to fix just about anything, from a space shuttle to a tugboat to a Jaguar and from Frances’ hair dryer to the television set and the central heating. And I have, with the exception of the space shuttle, but only because NASA never asked. And we all know what happened with the space shuttle program. 


The problem in India is that even the simplest of job will require at least 4-6 guys supervising 1-2 guys doing the actual work. The quality of the work is in no way guaranteed, just by having a lot of people standing around, talking, pointing, wiggling their heads and all appearing very very busy.


Our Reverse Osmosis filter sprung a leak six times in as many days. After the fourth leak I dived under the kitchen cabinet to figure out what was wrong. Only to find they had forgotten to insert washers in the couplings. Again “Sir” was not supposed to do this, but “Sir’s” other options involved the foreman’s head and the monkey wrench. I’m very restrained, lucky him. Because I’ve swung more monkey wrenches in my offshore years then he’s had cups of tea.


But I’ve learned my lesson. Our washing machine was making a hell of a racket and was dancing around our kitchen floor. According to the installation crew which we called several times this was normal. No it is not, not even in India. So under pretense of darkness, so nobody would see, armed with a torch and my toolkit I crawled into the kitchen. The thunderheads had completely buggered the adjustable feet on the washing machine! Took me all but half an hour to fix it, adjust everything and the washing machine is now running very smoothly with minimal noise and stays in place during it’s cycle, any cycle including high spin thank you very much. NASA still hasn’t called though.


We are very happy with the assistance and support we are getting from the Ericsson facility team. They know what they do and they get it right first time with a minimum of fuss. So these days we call them for everything. I don’t even hang our own pictures. Sir is not supposed to hammer a nail in the wall. But the Ericsson facility team is hugely accommodating and will dispatch their handyman at  a moments notice. He’s very good and all our pictures are up and hanging straight.


Anyway, back to my Royal Enfield. I’ve been driving quite a bit. Below some pictures enroute.

This pictures were taken just east of Sohna. Sohna is about sixty kilometers south of us. It is situated in the foothills of Aravallis. In essence a big vetical rock. It makes for a good windy road up the hill

Earlier I wrote about getting my Indian drivers license. What might not have been clear is that all of the above only got me as far as a so called “learners permit”. Valid for six months and it allows you to drive under supervision of a fully qualified driver.


So the other day, my colleague spent some more time with Delhi officialdom, to begin to understand what was required to upgrade from a learner permit to a permanent driver license. Actually, there was less paperwork involved this time. A couple of forms that we needed to fill out on line, some passport photographs, and another stop at the biometrics desk to have my fingerprints taken. Again, nobody was even remotely interested in my other distinguishing feature, my scar.


The highlight of the day was the actual driving test itself! There were a whole bunch of applicants and they were all talking at the same time to the one examiner. He was inspecting cars, bikes, and instructing driving test candidates what to do. Through my colleague I learned he wanted me to drive to the end of the road, turn and drive back. Which I did, upon which my colleague congratulated me on having passed my driving test!


So now,  I am the proud owner of an official Indian Motor Cycle Drivers license. I feel so much safer now!

During the last week of March 2013 Ellen and Thomas stayed with us. Of course, both wanted to have a go on the Bullet. I took Thomas around our neighbourhood. Ellen and I went into Delhi, houses of parliament and India Gate. Nice drive at 07.00am on a beautiful Sunday morning.

Sunday the 7th of April saw the 2013 edition of One Ride. On that day all Royal Enfield riders are encouraged to go out and ride. So here in Delhi alone several rides were organised by several clubs and the dealers. I decided to join the ride organised by the Royal Enfield dealer Manzil Motors, in Gurgaon. About 20 kilometers from home and 3 kilometers from work. 75 Bikes and 102 people showed up at 07.30am. All lined up in front of Manzil Motors.

At 0730 we got a briefing, mounted and started up. At 07.45am Gurgaon woke up to 75 Royal Enfields “thumping” away!.

We drove down South on the NH8, then headed for Sohna and up Sohna hill. Two trucks had broken down and it was absolutely mayhem getting past everybody.  I had driven this route only two weeks ago by myself, see the pictures above. At two thirds of the way, just past Sohna, we pulled over to give everybody a chance to catch up. Although most of the bikes managed to overtake the trucks in the hills, we had a couple of cars, with tools and such, bringing up the rear, who took a bit longer. Nice stop, time to relax, chat and take some pictures.

After some twenty minutes our convoy was all complete and we set off again for the final leg to Surjivan Farm. It looked very familiar, and I realised I had actually visited this place during one of my very first Delhi exploration tours in August 2012. By car, but still. Surjivan farm is a nice place, we had a hearty breakfast. Relaxed, chatted some more and took some more pictures.

I’m very happy to report that everybody really liked my bike. Lots of people complimented me on the colour. It is nice! However, the balloon burst after lunch, when my bike was the only out of 75, that would not start! Luckily, lots of practical advise on hand. Eventually the Manzil Motor mechanics got it going but only just. Drove it back to their shop and they fixed it right away. Outstanding!


So, this was my very first bike tour. Despite the breakdown I thoroughly enjoyed it. Learned a lot about Royal Enfields, met new people, had a great tour. There was one awkward moment though and it wasn’t the bike not starting. Somebody for some reason figured out I was the second oldest guy in the group! I’ve only just turned 54 for crying out loud! The other “older guy”, apparently, was 58! Now that’s really old!



On 6th of July the Delhi Bikers Breakfast Run (DBBR) held another ride with the theme One for all & all for one. Ride with Jay Kannaigann. Jay Kannaiyan has covered over 100,000 kms since his journey began in Chicago 3 years & 3 months ago…riding through Latin America and Africa to finally reach India.


This breakfast run was to celebrate this extraordinary Indian biker as he concludes his trip in Delhi. Jay is a genuinely nice guy and has some amazing stories. Not sure how many bikes turned up, but it most have been well over 200-250. Starting point was at 05.30 at South Extension, one of the big shopping areas in Delhi. We set off and drove south towards Damdamalake, where there was ample time to admire each other’s bikes, eat breakfast and chat with Jay.

Jay and his amazing bike.

Left: some interesting modifications on Jay’s bike.



Below: South extension


Some eight months into this new hobby and I have raked up some 2500 kilometers. Not bad for an old git who never rode a motor bike before. On average my little day trips are typically maybe a 1.5 - 2 hour ride. Usually not more then about 75-100 kilometer at best.


Luckily, my favorite local Royal Enfield dealer, Manzil Motors, organized the perfect next drive for me late August. A 185 kilometer drive to Surajgarh. We’d be overnighting at the local fort, what else Fort Surajgarh. My bike had been suffering from a few niggling issues and I wanted them sorted. So a few days before we set off, my driver took my bike to Manzil Motors. On the day we were to set off, I arrived early at Manzil Motors to put my bullet through its paces. They had done an excellent job. The bike drives much better and all the controls feel nice and taught.


We set off a little later then originally planned. Rather than taking the National Highway 8, we went on more rural roads. I was a little bit apprehensive about that. I’ve explored quite a few rural roads around Delhi and they tend to be pretty awful. Just a dust track or a poxy, potholed, road was my experience so far. But the guys heading up our little group of seven drivers knew these parts and by and large the roads were actually surprisingly good! Apart from the countless little villages we passed and where we slowed down, we managed very respectable speeds of 80-90 kmh. Mind you, you need to concentrate every single second. Because there could be people, cows, dogs, goats, sheep strolling into the road. And there are speed bumps everywhere.


Still, it was great cruising, in a very pleasant scenery. We stopped about every hour. Quick drink of water, tea and a bit of leg, arm and hand stretch. If I drive more than one hour, my hands start getting cramped! I wasn’t the only one, and most of them were much more experienced drivers than me.

Ok, so here’s the story on my Royal Enfield Bullet: It’s pretty old, it’s from 1975. It was originally designed by the British. It was built here in India and it probably had a pretty rough live until I bought it and had it restored. So not the best of history.


So bits fall off, its only natural.


Luckily, Manzil Motor had a van with spare parts and a mechanic following us. They picked up all the bits that fell off my bike and screwed them back on during our rest stops.

The new Royal Enfields all have electric starters. Mine still has to be kick started. Kick starting a bullet is very easy once you know how. I thought I was getting pretty good at. Not so. Every time we stopped, shut down our engines I had problems getting my bullet kick started. So here I am, 54, 1.93 meter, 100 kilograms and I can’t get this damn bike started. We’re all dressed in heavy protective clothing, so just thinking about kick starting makes you brake out in a sweat. And this is India in August, still the monsoon season, High temperature, high humidity. As you can see on the picture the mechanic is a puny, little, lean Indian guy. Every time I couldn’t get my bike going after several dozen of tries, sweat pouring out of every pore, he would jump out of the van and start my bike with one fluent kick! Very embarrassing! So on Sunday morning, before anybody woke up, I had him teaching me the fine art of kick starting a bullet.


As we set off a little late it meant we drove in the dark for the last 45 minutes. Quite an experience. On the upside, you could not see the potholes, cows, speed bumps or anything for that matter. We just blasted onwards!  The Fort was a nice place.

This trip took place only a few days after I came home from Hong Kong. Stupidly I completely forgot to recharge the batteries of my camera. So all of these pictures are with my iPhone and a bit of Photoshopping to polish them up a bit. So for more and better photographs have a look at Manzil Motors Facebook pace.


We had a great evening. Good food, good company and several drinks, well actually there were a lot of drinks involved! The next morning we set off at around 0930am. We drove pretty steadily on. It was a very quiet Sunday morning, out in rural India. Great cruising!

Great drive back to Manzil Motors, Gurgaon were we all said are good byes and went our own way.

One of the seven drivers, Magnus, had a GoPro and put this fabulous clip together.


Thanks to Puneet Gaur and the staff of Manzil Motors and my new found Royal Enfield friends for a great weekend! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I must admit that by Sunday evening I was completely and utterly knackered. Two days of riding, the concentration, the vibration, the dust and the noise does take it’s toll. But it was absolutely worth it!

All of the above Distinguished Gentleman’s ride photographs courtesy of Wendy Knight, Kaushal Kishore and Zubair Idrisi


Lots of other publicity as well; have a look here:

On Sunday 29th of September 2012, we had the very first Indian version of the “DGR” or Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. The basic idea is you show up on your bike dressed to the nines. It was organised by the Royal Mavericks, of which, believe it or not, I am also a member.


A week before the event, we had a professional photoshoot for some of the PR activities that were to take place later. See if you can spot me. One of the best events I’ve been to so far!

On the weekend of the 26th and the 27th I set off on what was to be my longest drive yet. Organised by the Royal Mavericks, we set off to drive to Lansdowne, some 300 kilometers and back again the next day, another 300 kilometers. Most of it through rural India.


From Wikipedia:

Originally known a Kaludanda, after Kalun (Black) and Danda (Hill) in local language, Lansdowne was founded and named after then Viceroy of India, Lord Lansdowne in 1887, and by 1901 it had a population of 3943.[1] Lansdowne was developed by the British for catering for the Recruits Training center of the Garhwal Rifles. Lansdowne was a major place of the activities of freedom fighters from British Garhwal during British period. Nowadays, the famous Garhwal Rifles of the Indian Army has its command office here.[2] Lansdowne is one of the quietest hill stations of India and is popular since Britishers came to India. Lansdowne is unlike other hill stations as it is well connected with motorable roads but remote in its own way. It is situated at an altitude of 1,700mts above sea level surrounded with thick oak and blue pine forests in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand state. Lansdowne got its name from Lord Lansdowne, who was the then Viceroy of India during the period of 1888 - 1894. Presently, Lansdowne has the command office of the Garhwal Rifles division of the Indian Army.

On 5 November 1887, the first battalion of Garhwal Rifles migrated from Almora to Lansdowne. Lansdowne was the only city after Almora in the late 70’s. People of different culture and states came to do business in Lansdowne after it became popular. Today, you will see people of all religions at Lansdowne. The buildings and church of Lansdowne built during British India dates you back to pre independence period. Lansdowne is an ideal location for eco-tourism as it is well preserved by the government and the Garhwal rifles.

The salubrious weather and pristine environment of Lansdowne leaves an immortal impact on the tourists. It is the perfect place to meditate and rejuvenate your soul. Adventure activities like, trekking, bird watching, boating, paddling etc. can be done while a visit to Lansdowne. Lansdowne is one of the most popular hill station of Garhwal region when it comes to weekend destination.


It meant getting up at 03.30 and starting my bike at 04.00am to get going. Except it would not. Took me 15 minutes to get my bullet going. The rally point was at the Ashram fly over. Everybody in Delhi knows where the Ashram fly over is, except me. Luckily one of the other riders lived close by and I followed him to the Ashram fly over, where most of the other riders joined as well.

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Next stop was near one of the Radisson hotels about a 45 minute drive from the first rally point. The last few riders joined us there and also our support car. Meant everybody could chuck their rucksacks in the car, rather then to have to carry it on your back on your bike all that time.

By the time we set off again, it was just about to get light. Initially the first hour and a half is still very much driving through towns and sometimes heavy traffic. But as we drive on, traffic gets lighter and we find ourselves driving through a pretty rural countryside. We stop for some late breakfast.

This is how it typically goes, We drive for about 90 minutes and we stop to get some tea or water. Stretch our legs a bit.


It’s nice, no hurry and gives everybody the chance to talk and chat a bit.


Roads are overall pretty reasonable and we manage speeds up to 70 km/h on some stretches. As soon you hit a village, there will be heavy traffic, cows, dogs, kids on the roads. Lots of speed bumps. So average is usually well below 50 km/h, if that.

The last two hours we drive through beautiful hilly country . As stated above this is birthplace of a the very famous Garhwal rifles Regiment.

In the evening in our hotel there’s a DJ, lots of Indian music and a bit of booze, not much, but plenty of dancing!

In the morning some stunning views from our balcony and some of us go for a little trek.

Bullets waiting patiently in the dark

We leave it a little bit too late setting off again. We don’t get going until about 1600pm. By 1800 hours it is pitch dark. This is rural India and there are no street lights. Makes for an interesting experience barreling along on these dark rural roads with 16 Royal Enfield and our little support car in hot pursuit. Around midnight we reach the Radisson hotel again. First drop off point. This is where our support car leaves us and everybody puts on their rucksacks again.


Problem is my bike, which had been running fine, suddenly develops an electric problem. With still more than an hour to go, one of my friends who lives nearby the hotel offers me his bike to get home. He will keep my bike at his place. So in the end arrive back home at 0130am, on a modern Royal Enfield Thunderbird, rather than my Classic Royal Enfield bullet. But is has been a wonderful weekend, with lots of new friends and experiences.

NEW NEW NEW

My next ride is with the DBBR or Delhi Breakfast Riders. It’s not a club, more like a group of like minded individuals that like to ride together. I’ve been on numerous of their breakfast rides. Once a year they organize a weekend ride and this time (20130 I went along. We went to Alwar, known for it’s proximity to Sariska, a nature reserve known for it’s tigers!

With Josh leading the pack we made it to our hotel. In all honesty we never made it to the nature reserve. It would have ment getting up very early and we just had too much of a good time the night before. I got up on Sunday at a reasonable hour and still managed to get a few good shots!

The above picture has the distinguished honor of being the first DBBR picture depicting one of the events, without showing a bike!

Best Chai ever!


You drink your Chai in these little clay cups.


Once you’ve drunk your Chai, you just throw your clay cup on the ground!


Better then washing up!

Big thanks to Josh, for a an incredible experience. 500 kilometers of biking through rural India

First Sunday in April is an important day for Royal Enfield owners. Every year first Sunday in April is One Ride day. Every Royal Enfield rider in the world is encouraged to take his/her bike out that day and do some riding. Here in Delhi there are various activities, organized by the official Royal Enfield dealers and the various riders group.


I decided to ride with my favourite group of Royal Enfield enthusiasts, the Royal Mavericks, of course. I’ve been riding with them for some time. Always very well organized and they take extremely good care of silly old gits like me, who only just started riding a motor bike and haven’t got a clue! Below our rally point at approx 06.45 am.

The blue and white Bullet belong to a colleague and friend of mine and his wife. They’ve been in India for several years. Daniel had purchased a modern Royal Enfield and a nice one too. Still, when he saw my old classic restored Bullet he wanted one and so did his wife Anna. So they went to see Mrs Rana of Joga motors and ordered two beautiful Bullets. I’ve been out riding with Daniel and Anna a few times. This was their first Royal Maverick ride.

NEW NEW NEW


I’ve written before about the adventure of getting my driving license here in India. Here in India the expiry date for the license is identical to the expiry date of your visa. And the date of your visa is identical to the expiry date of your contract with your employer. That’s actually the same as it was in the USA. I guess if you run a bureaucracy such details are relevant.


Some months ago I signed up for a third year here in India. That meant new contract, new visa and a renewal of my drivers license. Again, my colleague provided outstanding support. Figuring out what the procedure was, getting all the documents sorted. The actual application for the renewal could be done on-line, including the payment of the renewal fee, about INR 250, say the price of a cup of coffee in Europe/USA. You could even make an online appointment to finalize the application for the renewal at the Delhi RTO (Regional Transport Office). When we showed up, we were very glad to have made an online application and online appointment. You don’t want to get caught in these sort of cues waiting for Indian bureaucracy, or anybodies bureaucracy for that matter


So we were seen immediately by one of the RTO clerks. He started hacking away on his computer, looked at all our papers and nodded happily and then the computer told him there was a “data discrepancy”. Something to do with online payments. We had paid INR 250 online, because that was how much it cost when we applied. However, the clerk’s screen showed we should have paid INR400. So the clerk calls the supervisor, who looked, wiggled his head, called his group supervisor, who wiggled his head then called his manager. The manager came, looks at the screen, our paperwork, wiggles his heard and calls his director. Who looks at the screen, wiggles his head etc. etc. It took 16 different levels of supervision before somebody admitted there was a fault in the system. No idea the chain of command at the RTO runs that deep, but there you are.


So, right after he made that statement the power goes down. Power outages are a daily occurrence here in India. Often several times a day. Luckily the RTO seemed to have a back up generator and within 20 seconds the lights came back on. However, their servers would not reboot!


In the end we convinced them that I would happily pay another INR250 just to finalize my application and get out! I’m so glad and grateful I have a colleague helping me out on all of this. It is really near impossible for foreigners to figure out all of this. Most of the RTO staff barely speaks English and my Hindi is worse then their English. Most signs are in Hindi too.

There are a few signs in English. And they are real gems. Like this sign on the right which is at the entrance to the room where you take your written test. Damn those pesky VIPs!

Other than the VIP sign, this is the only English sign in the RTO office.


I can only, in all honesty say, that the Delhi RTO office is far better, far nicer, better equipped and run much, much more efficiently then the Kansas City DMV’s office.


And that is no joke!


At one time the waiting times, in the cue at the DMV were measured in days! That’s right, days!