Monthly Archives: June 2012

Enfield’s Open Weekend – won’t they do it here in Delhi?!

BBC News – In pictures: Classic bikes gather

Harley Davison

Royal Enfield’s annual open weekend


11/22/63 – Stephen King – Google Books

Sometimes, it’s really not the plot, but how you build up the story. Nothing could’ve driven the point home stronger than this book I’m reading. I’m somewhere halfway through this amazing read and perhaps the word I’m looking for is “drifting”. I’m drifting through this book. And by drifting I mean that perfect moment when you oversteer your ride, causing loss of traction, but not control. The Wikipedia article describes it amazingly well. To me it’s a zone. I get there sometimes when I’m reading, at others when I’m just sitting and thinking and one idea collides with another – an aha moment.

In this case, the book is a sheer pleasure to read, once you plow through the first couple of chapters. I don’t like the transport premise and I don’t like how Al keeps saying “buddy”. But that’s just the device King used – and who knows, by the end of the book, I might even eat those very words. For the half that I’ve just finished, I’d recommend the book heartily.

Learning how to teach

“Assume that Gurgaon is 20 kms from Delhi and Manesar, 40 kms. Midway between Gurgaon and Manesar is a small village called Keshunagar. How far is it from Delhi?”

Simple question eh? It took me over an hour to get one of my students to understand this problem on his own and then work it out. I made three additional examples changing names and distances, and each time he had a tough time of it. I guess it could be like showing me how to solve a quantum mechanics problem – but probably a bit harder… I’ve got year’s of training behind me. This kid has about 3 years of schooling – and he’s about 18 years old.

Working at Tara Homes, I’ve been trying to help a few of the adolescents with their Math skills. And in this time I’ve found that often even a simple idea can be extremely difficult to transmit. I’ve been meaning to write about this subject for a while now, but I’ve never found the inclination to write it up. Now that I have, I’m at a loss to figure out what I can learn from my experience – except that it’s only through practice that one learns.

Working with calendar dates posed a similar trial. First my ward had a tough time recalling how many days a month had, and then he had an issue computing the number of days between Jan 15 and Feb 15, or something similar. Again, I had to work through a few examples and let him examine his own way through it. However, one curious thing I found with my ward’s computations was that while he was ready to follow the pattern – and it was a matter of following the pattern – he had a tough time really understanding the operations involved. For example, when I asked him how much coke would he dole out of a 2 liter bottle of coke when sharing it between 10 guests – he fumbled with various numbers before he realized that division was the way to proceed. I’m hoping that laboring through the process, he’s understood when and how to apply division.

What I think I’m discovering is that the world is not as clearly seen by all of us. It applies to math and as easily, to politics. And with the varying amounts of knowledge and experience out there, I wonder how we can make things stick together.

Getting comfy with the Enfield

When I first rode the Thunderbird, I had to struggle just to maintain my balance and it came with a small measure of fear, that I’d jerk the handlebar too hard to one side or another, or mistakenly press the gear shift instead of the brake, etc. Yesterday, riding it in the early afternoon, I was amazed at how confident I felt with it after a couple of weeks of riding. I was doing a mental gear count, feeling the engine’s beat and monitoring how smooth the ride was. At times I almost feel the buzz  too – like I did a couple of times before. But I’m guessing that once my mind is a bit freer of the mechanical aspects of it, I’ll enjoy that a bit more.

One cool realization I made recently was about maneuvering out of parking. Often when your bike’s parked in an awkward position, you have to maneuver it and point the headlight in the right direction before kick starting it. I’d seen Enfielder’s do that by getting on the bike first. I thought they were being lazy. After a few close calls where I nearly dropped the bike, I saw the wisdom of sitting on it first myself! Experience, eh?

Insurance Convenience

And so, I’m beset by the woes of vehicle registration. This time I’ve got to go to Janakpuri because the number starts with DL 9. And in preparation the only document that needed work was the two wheeler insurance – a mercy! To get that I called an agent I knew last week and he blew me off.  I think I gave him a hard time for no fault of his own so he must’ve felt justified – but hey he lost on an easy deal this time. Next I tried looking online. From my previous researches, I was happy with TATA-AIG and ICICILOMBARD. I called up TATA-AIG since my wife’s car is registered with them. Please visit our office to get moving. No thanks, I’m a lazy guy and the previous insurance is still valid.

After that I called ICICI and after a 30 min call where they worked through the policy details I got a reasonable quote and signed up for it. We hit a small hitch when I found that I had only a debit card, so the agent directed me to the website and soon I had the payment form before me. I entered the debit card and netbanking details and ta da, my policy was ready. Took them a short while to send me the pdf copy of the policy – but hey, what’s two minutes inconvenience for a policy that’s delivered to your doorstep.

Next step is the visit to Janakpuri, tomorrow. Perhaps, with pictures too! And here’s a great John Mayer song that’s been stuck in my ear for a few days now:

John Mayer’s No Such Thing

Bullet busy-ness!

A couple of weeks ago, I finalized a deal to get my very own Royal Enfield Bullet. It’s a 2003 Thunderbird, with a different design from the regular Bullet motorcycle. I’d put in a good bit of research into motorbikes in India and after much thought, decided to go for a cruiser and there seem to be only two bikes that fall into that category here: the Enfield and Bajaj’s Avenger. I’m new to bikes and it took me a while to flesh out my impressions – but the overall idea was to have a bike I could take long trips on. This was a deciding factor – long trips mean that the bike has to deal with longer runs on the engine and a small engine just won’t do – so a 350cc or 500cc was the answer.

Choosing between Bajaj and Enfield, I decided to opt for the simpler design which I could, given the inclination, take apart and put back together. I hope to maintain the bike, with some guidance, on my own. So an Enfield it was – and then the rest was chance. I found a bike in decent condition that needed a bit of work to fit my needs.

This is what I started with:

2012-05-29 20.53.10

And I had a few things that needed fixing:

  • No mirrors
  • No Indicators
  • Twisted handlebar
  • Broken cup for the speedometer
  • Broken headlight glass
  • Some leaks from the gearbox
  • Locks that were a bit rusty and
  • A funny gearshift (way too much play here!)

With my good friend Zubin, I proceeded to get a few things fixed near Chirag Delhi – clutch, gear and the headlight glass. We got a bit of the twist out of the handlebar, but more work was needed – and I needed a Helmet! Zubin helped by lending me an old one.

After much delay, we visited Karol Bagh a couple of days ago. It was almost unbearable in the heat, but I was in luck. After buying the helmet from Veekay stores, I asked Kunal if he knew of a good RE mechanic. He directed us to Tribhuvan, who was in a small alleyway opposite.

With Tribhuvan, I prepped a rather long shopping list over the next 4-5 hours:

  • Rear indicator and lamp wiring
  • Mounting plate for the indicators and license, and nut bolts for the same
  • Indicators
  • Flasher (for the blinking indicators)
  • Indicator switch – mine was way too rusty to operate
  • Some washers for the leak
  • Mirrors
  • Handlebar
  • Lock kit
  • Speedometer cup

And I let him at it. I’d go shop for a bit and then hang around watching him and his associate work on the bike. It was amazing how rationally the bike was made –it’s to be expected, I know, but for me it was just amazing how he took bits and pieces apart and then put them all back together again. What he did was a simple matter than refitting the engine, but it was still fun learning about how it was all put together. It just inspired me to learn more about the bike.

So, with that, this is what the bike looks like now:

2012-06-13 19.20.05

And now, I’m looking forward to the next maintenance cycle to get it all fixed up for a tour.

I’ve been busy buying some tools for my trips and still have to organize a storage/saddlebag for it – it’s all quite heavy!

  • Spanner and box Spanner kit
  • Puncture Repair kit
  • Screwdriver

I still need to get some other bits as a roadie:

  • Clutch cable,
  • Accelerator cable
  • Brake cable
  • Spare tube

And more than anything, I need to learn how to make these repairs!

Luckily, I’ve found that I’ve got a good bit of Enfielders in my group of friends and we hope to convert a few more!