THE GIFT OF A MACHINE — EXCERPT FROM DILLI MUMBAI LOVE STORY
Out below the clouds I rode, waving at the moon. On a black bike I rode, a dream that…
We were going to live that dream again. Soon. In a minute. The rain was beating down on us like crazy. The moon was a faint silhouette behind the clouds. You wouldn’t look up and say it was a full moon day. I wanted to hear the wolves howl, the trees creak, the wind rustle through the leaves ominously. But we were in Delhi, so I had to be satisfied with the rain. Cold rain. Pouring rain. Shearing, scalding rain.
They say if you haven’t ridden in the rain, you haven’t ridden. They say it true.
I tightened my jacket and put on my fingerless leather gloves. Oh did they look good! Cool and mean. I took the last puff from the dying cigarette, threw it in the mud, and glanced at Rohan. He was already on his Harley. He nodded. The cue. We were ready to burn the wet road below and our souls above.
I mounted the Triumph Bonneville Rohan had got for me. Shit! I was riding history man! I was riding History! This was the mean machine Marlon Brando had swaggered upon in ‘The Wild One’, James Dean had sizzled on in ‘The Rebel Without A Cause’, and on which Bob Dylan had crashed himself and almost got killed. Many others from Hollywood had ridden it in more recent times, but I wouldn’t take their names. They didn’t match up.
Riding a Triumph required character, required angst. A spirit to rebel. Taste sweat and blood. At least sing mean anthems. Chocolaty spies wouldn’t do.
We kicked. The machines roared. We waved at each other the Harley way. And the machine men were off.
A Harley Davisdon and a Triumph Bonneville together should have turned heads. But who knew? – We were among illiterates.
Some of our friends even ask what’s so big deal about a bike ride. What indeed? Bozos in cars. What would they know? They lived lives cooped up in a box. Insides fancy frames, metal or concrete. Their lives consisted of a few measly steps between different types of boxes. From a big box into a small one, back into a box again. Box, box and more boxes. And then a 7ft by 2 ft box in the end.
Their boxy lives wouldn’t ever let them feel the moment. When all is one – the man, the machine, the road, the moon, the rain, the wind, the dull roar of the engine. And there is absolute silence. The silence of sound. Of rain, wind, moon and the night.
When the man is almost in love, part of something intense and beautiful. It’s his night to live.
As Kundera wrote, bent on his bike, he is here and now… NOW… rather he is outside time… in heavens… unaware of everything, his age, his wife, his children… everything. He is nothing, no one. Just a piece of unbelievable joy floating through space… like a Mozart symphony… without fear, because fear is in the future, and when there is no future, there is no fear.
We were freed of fear, of the future. We were outside time. Outside worries, pain. They couldn’t touch us through the wall of total, intense, beautiful silence. It was a gift of perfection from outside ourselves. The gift of a machine.
Hunched on our machines, on this night, we were Men, seeking, drinking, being that perfection.
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