This morning, at first light, I opened my eyes to stare at the ceiling. Today I would begin to practice with a scooter in traffic.
I rose and dressed, going through a litany of visualizations as I practiced stopping at intersections, turning, and weaving through traffic,in my mind. I had been educated to the dangers of riding a motorcycle from my Doctor grandfather and my parents. Later as a nurse I had seen enough limbs torn from bodies and brains-turned-to-mush to solidify the childhood indoctrination into a firm block of immovable concrete.
But now I was trying to break it up.
Riding a bike looks amazing and I have, long before, picked out all my riding leathers for the day I master the road. But, that isn’t why I woke up today ready to ride, in spite of my fears. It’s because in Asia, I really need the skill. Motorbikes and scooters are everywhere and a major source of transportation so either I end up hiring a bike taxi and riding on the back of one, or I drive myself.
I want to drive myself and can. Non-populated roads or parking lots offer no problems. It’s the traffic that freaks me out. It’s the freak-out’s that make me dangerous, and yes, I have had a couple of mishaps. But, it’s only because I’m afraid. Fear is a weird thing.
I walked into town to get breakfast before going to the bike-rental place and on the way…
wouldn’t you know it? A car hit a man on a motorbike, right in front of me.
It was the first accident I had seen in India and I witnessed it on this, the day of days. No one was hurt badly except the bike was a bit banged up, just like my resolve to ride. I shook it off and continued on.
After breakfast I began to wander a bit through town, delaying the going for the bike, when I saw the coconut juice man! Ah! Coconut juice! Yes! just what I needed before a big challenge.
The juice man cut a coconut open, put a straw into it and handed it over, when…
just in front of the juice stand….a motorbike was zooming down the road and THUNK!….it hit a cow that was trotting into the road.
Again, no one was seriously injured, but my resolve was now fast fading. What were the chances of seeing two bike accidents,in a row, when I was on my way to get a bike?
I decided to wait. I was shaken up.
The day meandered, I recovered and eventually was, once again, walking down the road to the bike rental place. Suddenly and to my astonishment,
a third guy on a motorbike missed a turn, careened across the road and crashed into parked motorbikes.
The crash left him stuck in a semi-handstand, his butt in the air and pinned down by his bike and the bikes he had hit. People rushed to his aide and eventually, though bruised and limping, he walked away.
Accident number three crumbled my resolve into a fine powder that I trampled upon on the way home.