I have since long toyed with the idea of writing on the rapid nationwide proliferation of motor cycles. These two wheelers are not the issue per se, but have become one because of the people who ride them. Figures obtained from traffic authorities indicate that motorbike riders are one of the main contributory causes of road accidents and loss of life. This appears to be true as I am witness to how these machines are driven, under the very noses of the traffic police.

I have bundled motorbike users into three categories – Juveniles, the Compulsively Impatient and the Pillion Riding Record Makers. The first of these categories can be found anywhere and everywhere in the Land of the Pure. This group generally falls within the age bracket twelve to twenty five years, but I have seen younger and older individuals breaking these age parameters.

The first of these groups is characterized by young men, who scout main roads especially on weekends and holidays and then indulge in doing acrobatics in total disregard of what might happen to them. For all purposes it appears that their parents had perhaps decided that the only purpose in their life was to bring these offspring into this world and then leave them to the mercy of their juvenile impulses. I have on multiple occasions pulled up on the side of roads, at the sight of these circus clowns, one wheeling and weaving in and out of other vehicles in the prone position. I have, on such occasions said a prayer for their safety and cursed the administration for not having an effective monitoring and enforcement system that puts an end to such moronic bravado. This group also mocks traffic laws with impunity and perhaps feels ‘macho’, by not wearing helmets or following the rules of the road.

The second category i.e. the Compulsively Impatient consists of individuals, who have crossed the juvenile age limits and got into one career or another. Interestingly, this category includes individuals who may even be grand daddies. Their behavior is hallmarked by their compulsive endeavors to reach their respective destinations in the shortest possible time – though this destination may be eternal in nature. One finds them infesting roads and intersections adorned with traffic lights. They excel in taking short cuts by using the wrong side of the ‘asphalt’ (against oncoming traffic) and in performing motocross feats by either driving or hauling their machines over islands to reach the other side. They are at their best, when a traffic light turns red. It is here that they will squeeze through the narrowest space between two cars, a feat that would put the ghost of Houdini to shame. They will then inch forward to be the first to ‘take off’ as the light turns green. If any of them scratches the paint off some vehicle during this performance, they will either stand their ground shamelessly or wheedle their way out of the situation by seeking the aggrieved party’s benevolence. Even when the light turns green, motorists are advised to negotiate the intersection warily, because no one knows, when one or several of these ‘jokers’ might ignore the red light and appear out of nowhere. Many of these riders carry helmets as ‘emergency’ equipment that is to be worn only at the sight of a semi somnolent traffic policeman.

The third category of bikers is the one, which has evolved out of sheer economic necessity, converting their two wheelers into family cars. The very sight of these individuals carrying a wife and three children (one of who may be an infant) perched on the pillion or even the fuel tank, sends shivers of concern down my spine. My fears are aggravated by the fact that they have additionally acquired the compulsive traits of the Second Category. I am however hesitant to condemn them for the simple reason that they and their families have to get from one point to the other and they have the cheapest means to do so standing right in their backyard. I sometimes wonder as to why the Population Planning Department hasn’t used this phenomenon as one of their public service themes saying that a small family of three or perhaps four enjoys more safety, when riding a motorbike.