After a delicious South Indian style breakfast of dosa (rice pancakes), daal and coconut chutney – I’m not in danger of starving here, but maybe of being forcefed until I burst – we changed Traveller’s Cheques and got a Vodafone prepay SIM card. Having left my iPhone at home, I’ve now realised the utility of having a smartphone, so tomorrow I’ll try to get a cheap one for email and GPS/maps. No time for that today though, as I had to get the bike.
Tony Bike Centre was the place recommended on a lot of forums for foreigners hiring Royal Enfields, and I’d arranged the bike in advance with the proprietor, Rajesh, by email. On arrival, the 2010 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Machismo, with luggage racks fitted, was ready and waiting:
Tony Bike Centre does a lot of rentals to tourists, and has a slick, professional operation. We went through a checklist of things on the bike (basically, a First Parade check, to any Army readers), then out to some kind of abandoned park cum wasteground, for a test ride, then back to Tony for an inventory of spares and tools, more paperwork, and payment.
It was the next bit which I was most apprehensive about: riding the bike back to Ram Nagar, navigating and negotiating Delhi traffic for the first time. Luckily, Rajesh had a good idea: one of the mechanics would sit on the back, help me navigate and give me advice, and then when I got to my destination, I’d give him some money for an autorickshaw ride back.
I hit the road during rush hour (although in Delhi, there’s not much difference between that and non-rush hour), and I wasn’t sure of the route from Karol Bagh back to Ram Nagar, so I was grateful for the mechanic’s presence on the back, and his gentle advice, which was mostly “nice and slowly” – basically, as long as you’re moving slowly and don’t make sudden, unpredictable movements, the rest of the traffic will find a way around you (with lots of beeping). To summarise: we survived, and despite a few stalls, made it back to New Delhi station where I dropped off the mechanic, thanked him profusely, and made the rest of the way back here on my own.
Tomorrow I need to get a phone, and some old canvas bags to store the tools, spares, oil, etc on the bike and a couple of other things, so I won’t be leaving Delhi just yet. Maybe on Friday. Here’s another picture of the bike:
Surprising thing seen today: a dog with mushrooms growing on its back.