Misadventures in India
A Daily Journal

The comically rude awakening of an American biodiesel engineer in New Delhi, India.

Published by: Colorado Biodiesel, Boulder, CO

*This book is now published on Kindle and for sale on Amazon.com

Excerpts from Misadventures in India
Written by Tom R. Judd

Delhi, India, 16 Feb 2006

"...............Rode the Enfield around a bit today. The contraption kept stalling on me in traffic and then wouldn't start again. Front brakes appear to be only for display as pulling with both hands and arching your back for maximum torque only produces a gentle turn, with the same speed as before (classic British design drum brakes). The rear brake works, but it just skids around, as those who ride know most of the weight of a motorcycle shifts to the front under braking, leaving the rear-end too light. The front end has issues, too; it goes into a death wobble at about 42kph (needless to say, I haven't tried any faster). The gearbox pops out of gear when you hit a bump and you have to play with the sloppy lever to find your gear again. These are all still right-hand shift too, so it takes some getting used to. Shifting is not as troublesome as the not having brakes issue, though."

"Luckily, red lights are only for decoration in Delhi. I'm not kidding in the least here, you just slow from 40 to 30, sort of look both ways and run right through, dodging cross traffic whilst they take a tack that narrowly misses you, completely ignoring the fact that you're not supposed to be there in the first place. Taxi's, bicycles, rickshaws, buses, they all do it. Not sure why they even waste the power on traffic lights here, at least the few that even work, since it literally does no good having them. Everyone just drives wherever there is space, whenever they feel the need, including the opposite lanes if they're less crowded than what is loosely defined as your own lane (what a silly concept), all the while honking to let everyone know they're ignoring any semblance of traffic laws. There are no lanes here and everyone just goes in whatever line will lead them to their destination the fastest. The Enfield "Bullet" I rode today had no plates or lights, brake lights (haha, good one), or mirrors. To be fair, no one has mirrors here, they get broken off within seconds of entering the road (or alley or sidewalk) and there are no earthly reasons to have them cluttering up your handlebars anyway. I really think it would actually be fun driving around in this traffic if I had a motorcycle that was reliable in the least (OK, so I'd also like brakes and a horn), but I'm still in shock that I'm even alive, let alone un-maimed at this point."

Delhi, India, 21 Feb 2006

"..............The Metro is the ultra-modern (overhead) subway system that has just come online here in Delhi. It is air conditioned, fast and cheap. Once the masses start using it, it'll be worn out in no time, like most of our own big-city subways. Right now, though, it's a new thing. The way it works is like this; you walk up to the ticket (or token, actually) window, ask for a fair to, say, Rajiv Chowk, they tell you how much, you pay, then they hand you a token that is electronically keyed for that destination. The way it works for tourists is; you walk up to the ticket window, ask for a fair to Rajiv Chowk, and then they say, "Rajiv Chowk"?, with an inquiring look on their face. You repeat, "Rajiv Chowk" clearly and precisely, the way they just said it, to which they again give a puzzled look as if you just said, "My underwear is made of cake." This continues for as many times as you'd care to pronounce and hear Rajiv Chowk repeated by them in perfect Hindi until you find yourself yelling something completely unintelligible (both to you and them) in total frustration. This is their cue to say, "Ahhh..., Rajiv Chowk. Yes." "Nine rupees." Not that I would actually do that kind of thing, myself, constantly in remembrance of times spent in Mexico and not expecting them to speak my language, but having to scratch my way through Spanish to be able to communicate. I've just seen this very thing happen more than once here, waiting in line behind a frustrated tourist to get a token myself, although the exact wording they'd use cannot be accurately recalled at this time. My own tactic at the Metro token window is to just go right to the worst pronunciation of "Shadipur" that is humanly possible and stare at them like I just said, "my underwear is made of cake," with a reassuring grin that tells them "hey, I have all day to dick off, how 'bout you?"

Delhi, India, 27 Feb 2006

".............Met Aaron at Madan's Cafe this morning before heading in. Madan's is one of our favorite places and certainly that of our emaciated cockroach amigo. This morning before heading in, the rear brake actuator rod on Aaron's Enfield stripped its nut off so it was just dangling on the bike and he had no rear brakes. Typical British machinery. The Whitworth threads come pre-stripped from the factory to save you the miles of wear and tear it might normally take to accomplish this. He pulled up to Madan's and did an imitation of Wylie Coyote trying to miss a boulder coming right at him as he tried to stop in front of the cafe and found he had no rear brakes. From what I've seen so far, the front brakes are purely ornamental on old British bikes, so his feet were the only brakes that were operational at the time."

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