Friday, August 28, 2009

The Harley Indian dream

The Hog's are here!!

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The Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company has finally launched a series of motorcycles in India. They intend to find and tie up with a dealer network around the country and start delivering their bikes to Indian customers sometime in 2010. Good news? You're damn right! Its about time we got some Hogs around here! Give me a fatboy over an R1 any day of the week! The coming of the V Twins is a time to rejoice, a time to reconsider your priorities, because they are all simply wrong. These motorcycles represent the very best things in life. Someone asked me why there is so much hype surrounding the Harley's. He had never seen one, but thought they were bad performers, and looked absolutely garish! He went on to speculate that when compared to the Yam's Hondas and Suzuki's, they were inferior and anyone with a Hog bought it simply for snob value!

My reaction to him was from the heart. It goes like this. A Harley is not just a bike, its an experience. Its the sound of life getting bigger, of your daughter running out at midnight, of a V Twin kicking life into shape, of the boys who you won't let your daughter date, of a midnight ride that lasts 3 days. There are those who will feel the call of the Hog, and then there are those who won't. Why should a bike be built just to be the fastest, or most effecient, or best to lean into corners, or anything else? Why can't a bike be built from the heart. Logic, economy, practicality be damned!
Comparing a Harley with a Japanese will not make any sense. They are different beasts altogether. A Yamaha R1 will get you to the finish line quick! But the Harley will get you there in style. Style forged in metal workshops by grease covered men wearing overalls with a cigarette hanging from their lips and a monkey wrench in their hands. Men who are not afraid to walk that dark lonely road at night alone. Men who live to ride, and ride to live.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jeep Alert

The image in this post is of a Mahindra jeep. One of the old one's that shares its genetics with the great jeeps of the past. A jeep that came to be associated with either Hindi movie police or with hill station-roaming romantic heroes. What do people think when they see a jeep like this? What are the first impressions, the first reactions to a machine like this. If you ask today's yuppie, hatchback loving, ipod toting youth, they'd sneer back with a sarcastic, demeaning retort that would include adjectives like old, obsolete, rust-bucket, ugly and may even suggest a one-way trip to the junkyard. These demeaning words would be a by-product of their conditioning. They have been accustomed to farting around in their petrol hatches, which they adorn with decals, aftermarket exhausts, spoilers and whatnot. Their ideal dream car would fall somewhere between a Bugatti Veyron and a Porsche 911. Splendid as these cars may be, they are objects that one can only desire, with no hope to own or drive them. When anybody (me) even suggests that a jeep like this is a beautiful machine, one that I am saving up to buy, one that gives me goose pimples every time I spot, one that I feel looks more beautiful than a bikini-babe in the Mid-day, the immediate response is one of utter disbelief. Parents, friends, strangers all unite in the collective debasing of this worthy machine with no respect to its heritage, its practical and no-frills outlook and its completely delectable looks. I may be mad, but I know when I am right.

A jeep like this is a work of art that was created in an automobile factory by men. Its the ultimate weapon that men built against bad roads, potholes and traffic. Its a throwback to the times when men drove machines built for real men. Men that understood that power steering and air conditioning were for the weak. Hard tops, doors, lumbar support, and soft suspensions were overrated. Aerodynamics, sensors and ECU chips are for aircrafts, not cars! Men drove these jeeps with the canopy down, the wind in their hair and the rest of the world would look at them and go "there goes the Man". Compare that to the cars we see today. Most of them are silver or grey, low, sound like an electric shaver, and try their best to insulate the driver from the wind, the sun, the cold and everything else in Madam Nature's handbag. Many others are either pink, green, aquamarine and every other colour that Maybelline lipsticks can dream up. People lose sleep over things like losing their car in the mall's parking lot. Simply because there are so many similar cars around that they cannot identify their own. What does this say for an individual's identity, "I drive around in the same car the rest of the world does". Why this need for uniformity, for blending in, for being well adjusted and for being recognized as "normal". Is it really that difficult to imagine a world where you drove a car that you could instantly identify as your own? A car that you spent the whole of Sunday tinkering with, and cleaning, and polishing, then ruined the entire effort by going for a joyride in the mud the next morning? A car that does not offer the comforts of your bedroom. No reading lights for the passenger, no music system to drown out the voices in your head, no drive computer, no power windows, no roof for God's sake! I'll tell you why. Because we are all sheep. Yes. You heard it. We will do what the sheep next to us in the herd does. We will do it without giving it a moments thought, because that is what sheep do. We will eat, sleep and die, just like the sheep around us. Pathetic, really. I'd rather be that sheep who got eaten by the wolf when he ran out of farm at night chasing butterflies.