Riding a bike in Kolkata is a lot like being in the childhood show ‘Takeshi’s Castle’, at every random point there is a brand new obstacle, perfectly created just for you! Here are a list of annoying things faced by bikers everyday in Kolkata
(Geniuses who cross or walk on the streets without regard for traffic conditions) This has to top the list. Often on highways or even on city roads, one comes across these confused individuals (jaywalkers) who pose a serious threat to motorists, especially bikers. They literally don’t give a rat’s ass about oncoming traffic or even pedestrian regulations. Forget about using the Zebra Crossing. You’ll see these guys on their phones, texting or listening to music with not a care in the world. Some even stare into your eyes and cross roads with impunity, almost as if daring you to get anywhere close to them. I mean, how careless can you be ? You are endangering your life as well as those who are riding/driving.
India is the land of Pot holes. We don’t have Pot holes on our roads, we have our roads in the Pot holes. You’ll see them everywhere. Even on National Highways. Imagine you are riding your motorcycle on a beautiful road with smooth tarmac & hardly any traffic and you are going at a quick pace corresponding to the stretch of road. Suddenly you see a gigantic pot hole. This can turn out to be a very dangerous situation, unless you have reflexes that’ll shame Spiderman, because some of these aren’t potholes. They’re craters. From long forgotten Autobots vs Decepticon battles. While on the road keep an eye out for pot holes just like the coyote keeps an eye out for the road runner.
Nope, before keyboard warriors (and decent people) bash me, not all cops are stupid but some cops are really dumb (no offence). I’ve been asked to pull over several times by these guys when I’m fully geared up (safety first) and out on a ride. And as I stop, these guys instead of asking for my papers, the 1st thing they ask me is “Racing karte ho kya, itna sab kuch kyon pehne ho?” (are u racing? why geared up so heavily?). And I don’t know what to say. I reply saying “Sir, safety ke liye hai, girne se bachayega.” (Sir, the gear is for safety, in case I crash, it’ll save me). The next reaction I get is a cop version of ‘LOL’. I somehow don’t get it what these cops have against us bikers. Not all of us two wheeled motorists are street racing hooligans. We just like to be safe, hence the riding gear. Dear Cops, please take a note. When you see a biker who is sporting riding gear, he/she will usually always have her/his papers in perfect condition & these people follow rules and most importantly, We RIDE SAFE.
The worst part is the cops rarely catch four-wheelers!
Oil spills are the worst nightmare for a biker. Imagine walking down the familiar path into your home. Just as you open the main door, someone whams you with a baseball bat. That’s exactly the feeling you get when you’re taking a corner on of your favourite twisties, on a beautiful Sunday morning or even during a night ride and suddenly before you know it, you are like a scotch brite utensil cleaner sliding on the tarmac and wearing out your gear. If and when you get up, you see an oil spill on the road, and curse the heavens and the fabulous engine/vehicle which gift wrapped it for you. Motorcycle tyres are designed to grip our roads. And a layer of oil on the road will instantly deprive you of all the traction you have. Even the most expensive tyres wont be able to help you during an oil spill. Always keep an eye out for Oil Spills, and try and be prepared for them. Its an extremely dangerous situation to be in.
TRAFFIC & STRAY ANIMALS
Traffic can make even the calmest biker cranky as hell. Wearing a helmet in the heat and stuck between cars, autos, buses, rickshaws, cows, dogs etc forever, can really make you lose your nerve. Traffic blows a motorcyclist’s fuse.
Always be aware of animals crossing the road or strays. These harmless animals can make you crash and injure or kill you if you hit them. Always keep a check on your speeds while crossing towns and settlements, even village and forest areas. Be extra careful as every life counts, and this is one of many challenges you have to deal with. You never know, the life you try saving could just as well end up saving your own.
Most of you are going ‘yeah man!’. These buggers are super annoying. We absolutely detest you, if you, my friend, are a lane cutter. Its super dangerous, for you (but you don’t have the brains to understand) as well as everyone else on the road. While riding or driving one should strictly follow the traffic rules. Its for your own safety (DON’T YOU LOVE YOUR MOM?). These pests weave through traffic, follow an elaborate ‘racing’ ergonomic, varying between straight arms & stiff shoulders, feet barely placed on the tips of footpegs and weaving faster than the famous black mamba (these physics shattering techniques make Valentino Rossi blush. Honest). They don’t use indicators (often don’t even have indicators or headlights/tail lights) and are ready to challenge anybody to a race. Guys for heaven’s sake use indicators, please. Its there for a reason, its not just some trippy blinking pair of lights. Thank god for rear view mirrors, or else none of us would be safe from the wrath of the lane cutters. Be alert. Watch out for these organ donors.
HIGH BEAMERS & HEAVY HONKERS
Whats up with you honkers man? We already have way more than enough sound pollution, why would you add to it ? I know your vehicle has a horn, every vehicle has one. You don’t need to announce it. You need to chill bro. Same goes for the High Beamers. When you are riding on a two-way lane with traffic flowing both ways, one often comes across these weird guys who always have their high beam on. We are not impressed with your awesome lights, it makes us practically blind. Some vehicles have crazy light setups which are so powerful it can partially blind you for a few seconds. And a few seconds is more than enough to cause disaster. Its my earnest request to all you high beamers. Please don’t do that man. Not cool. You can kill someone just with your lights.
LEFT SHOE PERMANENTLY DAMAGED
If you ride a motorcycle regularly, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It really feels sad to see your left shoe take all the beating from the gear lever. Sneakers or sport shoes. Nothing comes equipped to handle the scuffing from a toe shifter. The options? Using a shifter sock or investing in proper riding boots.
RANDOM SAND ON THE ROAD
This is a very scary thing for bikers. Sort of like the dry cousin of an oil spill. On sand your bike WILL skid no matter what you do. Chances of surviving a patch of sand is slightly higher than an oil spill, but you need serious motocross/dirt track level skills. Always keep an eye out for sand on the road. Never try to go over it, always try to dodge it as much as u can. Also try slowing down before you reach the sand (never apply brakes on sand, NEVER).
These guys live the literal “THUG LIFE”. They are a bunch of irresponsible wierdos, who do not follow any traffic rules whatsoever. Even the cops are scared of them (for obvious reasons). Never mess with the “Auto Walas” these guys can gang up and go berserk. Hooliganism is served in every encounter with these wonderful specimens.
WANNABE STREET RACERS (CHENGRAS in short)
The “Chengras” as we in Kolkata locally call them are the lowest form of scum on the roads. These guys are extremely dangerous and are responsible for all the illegal street racing and stunting. These guys have no concept of wearing any safety gear. I’m sure all of us must have come across such people on the road. These guys are easy to spot. They ride three people or more on one bike, no helmets or shoes and have loud exhausts or sometimes no exhausts at all on their motorcycles. They have the worst dressing sense ever and are also known to carry weapons. These guys are dare devils. They do not fear death or dying. They only fear never trying (2Chainz and Wiz Khalifa probably have constipation now). These guys will push their luck to the extreme. Please do not get provoked if they come and try to mess with you. Slow down and let them pass and you shall live another day.
A biker’s life isn’t an easy one. India society is yet to get used to the idea of biking and the motorcycling culture. Bikers are good people. Happy and helpful souls, adventurous and passionate. We look out for each other on the road and offer help when we see anyone in distress. But the Indian road conditions make it a dangerous passion to pursue. One can never be too safe, but we try our best to be as safe as possible and also try to inspire others to do the same. On the road, Life may or may not give you a second chance but safety goes a long way my friend. So be aware, respect others & extend a helping hand whenever you can.
With inputs from Sagar Joshi
Feature image courtesy: Heart Broken Biker