If there is one brand in India that has managed to create a niche for itself without spending a penny on advertisements, it is Royal Enfield. (There is Old Monk
, of course, but I don’t like to ‘mix drink and drive’!). Amidst the barrage of asinine bike ads, ridiculous names for bikes (Hunk, Glamour), and vehicles specially designed for men, women, children, and pet dogs, Royal Enfield has managed to stick out as a brand with immense recall value. Called ‘Bullet’ across the length and breadth of the country, Royal Enfield continues to churn out bikes that have encapsulated themselves to a legendary status. From hippie heroes of the 70s, to dapper grandsons of actors today, everybody looks up to Bullets as vehicles of God. A Bullet also automatically elevates your status into a hippie, pot-smoking Adonis (most often in your own mind!)
But scratch a little deeper, and you’ll find a harrowed, harassed, heckled owner. For, this is the sad reality of a Bullet Owner.
You’ve bought the bike, and you’re feeling like the king of the world. But little do you know, this is just the honeymoon phase. In a few days, you feel the first signs. You smell a little oil, only to look down at the engine and notice an oil leak. Just a minor glitch, you tell yourself, and carry on with your job of being the God of the world. In a few days, you realise the smell has been following you all around. When you cross stray dogs, they raise their heads and sniff at your bike. When you look down, you notice the entire area has turned black with dried oil and dust.
‘Just a minor glitch’, you tell yourself, and park your bike by the side of the road. You bend down to wipe off the leaking oil with a piece of rag cloth. In half an hour, you stand up – your shirt has black stains all over, your hands feel stiff and coarse. You smell of oil and grease, and before you know it, you are one with your bike!
When you own a Bullet, the relationship between you and your mechanic is an unbreakable bond. In fact, when your mechanic sees you, he flashes a wide grin, doing a mental calculation of all the goodies he’s going to buy his children that night. For you see, when you have a Bullet, you not only maintain your bike, but also run the household expenses of your mechanic. Your bike will demand a new repair every week, and nobody on earth will seem dearer to you than your mechanic.
A Bullet is not a Hero Honda. It does not rely on vagaries like low maintenance and quick repairs. A Bullet is a hand-crafted labour of love, and it’s no wonder that you have to shell out copious amounts of cash to keep it in running shape.
It takes you back to the medieval days of kings and knights, when there were favourite horses that were pampered and taken care of. If you are Alexander, your bike is Bucephalus. If you are Rana Pratap, your bike is Chetak (not the Bajaj variety!). No wonder then, that it needs to be pampered and well-maintained.
Let’s face it. If you purchase a Bullet, you have already given up hopes of mileage. Those are for lesser mortals. You are God; surely you can’t worry about such trivialities? Your Bullet gives you style, status, and instant eyeballs. However, mileage is not one of its strong points. So if you purchased the bike on EMIs, or borrowed money from somebody, you are in for a ride.
Every journey entails a mental calculation of how far the bike will go, where the nearest petrol pump is, and how much you shell out. Without your knowledge, you transform into a Shakuntala Devi – doing mental calculations at the speed of light. If your calculations slip up, the Bullet gives you a terrific opportunity to keep in physical shape as well. For when the bike stops, you have to push the monster yourself, using all your will-power and physical energy to move it a few metres. Yes. A Bullet helps you keep in top physical and mental shape.
Most people simply assume that Bullet riders get a lot of girlfriends. You can’t blame them either. I mean, the Bullet has a terrific brand image. You can hear it from a distance, and it symbolizes toughness and stability, both traits that women love. It is no wonder that Bullet riders are looked at as players. However, there is a darker side to it as well. Like I said earlier, a Bullet is not merely a bike, it is a horse. And horses have moods as well. So you’re enjoying a romantic ride with your girlfriend, she’s got her hands around you, and you are looking at her through the rear-view mirror, wondering how you two got so close so quickly (Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear).
And right then, thud..thud…thud…your bike slowly comes to a halt. You smile, get down, and bend down with the confidence of Valentino Rossi’s personal mechanic. In reality, you have no frigging clue what’s wrong. You think of your mechanic, and pray to God to help you out. You tinker with a few wires, poke at spokes, and turn some screws. But deep within, you know the truth. You know that you are like Shakti Kapoor in a high level Nuclear Science seminar – absolutely no idea what’s going on! You kick and you press, you turn and twitch, and if the gods above are kind, your bike starts off again. You ride along, smile, and try to make conversation. But deep within, there is a lurking fear that it might stop at any given point of time.
So that is it, dear world.
You see the glamour, the glitz, the style. What you don’t see, is a man whose morals, believes, and feelings have been twisted. He is a changed man. You know that loud, drumming noise that comes from a Bullet when it approaches you? That is the sound of the rider’s heartbeat, wondering when it might stop next. And yet, ask any Bullet rider if he’d swap his bike for anything, and watch as he frowns at you like you asked for his kidney. For you see, a Bullet is not just a bike. A Bullet is a friend, a brother, a spoilt cousin. It is your naughty son, your wise grandfather. A Bullet is your soulmate. And even soulmates have foul moods, sometimes!