“Never take it, even if someone gives it off for free. It is unnecessarily heavy, manoeuvring is one hell of a task, breaks don’t function properly, and the sound is like all fart but no shit,” warned my friend an automobile expert. Well, when I want to do something, usually I ask two experts for advice and then do exactly what I want to do.
“There is no need to buy one. When other modern bikes are so advanced, why do you want to possess something that is so old technologically?” Said another friend of mine. I said, “I love the noise it makes, and the macho feeling it gives.” “Another important thing,” he added. “If you fall from other bikes, you can escape with mild injuries but if you fall from this you will surely break bones.” He warned as he had had his own experience of breaking his leg once falling from the mammoth iron mass.
I took a final call and bought a second hand Royal Enfield Bullet, a 1999 model, green colour from one of my distant relative. He was quite unlucky with bikes to be honest. Whenever he got a new bike, it would for some odd reason be stationed in one place for years together with none to ride it. Strange.
I sent my new machine to the service station and was all excited to ride it very soon. My brother-in-law, who was popularly known as ‘Bullet’ Babu in his hometown, was the one who taught me to ride a Bullet, he was a veteran.
Many a times I have wondered looking at his foot wear – ‘what kind of footwear is he wearing? I have not seen them in the market ever.’ He confessed – “The most difficult part of an Enfield Bullet is to start one,” (self starters had not come then). “The pointer on the amp meter should rest exactly at ‘0’ before you give that mighty kick,” he said. “If there is a slight mistake, the Bullet will give you a kick back that will pass through your heel, up through your spine till the back of your skull hurts,” he warned. “So how do we escape that?” I asked. “Hence the footwear,” he answered. It was made to order from a local cobbler who used lorry tires for the sole. And it weighed 3 kilos each for the mercy of God.
I neither wanted to take a chance nor could wear a 3 + 3 kilos footwear and walk. I wore an iron-toed Caterpillar to safe guard my feet for long.
Unlike other bikes, Enfield Bullet 1999 model has gear on the right side and brakes on the left side. That wasn’t much of a task to unlearn and learn, but then the brake system was a matter of concern. How much ever hard I pressed the brakes, the bike will stop 10 metres after the full brake is applied. Not a safe bet I would say.
Thankfully I didn’t get any kick back whenever I started the bike, may be being a science graduate – I made sure 10 times that the pointer on amp meter stuck to ‘0’ before I gave a kick.
I loved the sound, I loved the macho feeling it gave, but then the head lights and brakes kept me worried all the time.
“No I am not ready for a long ride yet,” I yelled at my wife the 2nd day when she insisted we should go on a long ride. But then she won. We went on a 150 kms ride – wearing our helmets.
The journey was comfortable, just that while going we would have once slipped because of sand gravel on a bad road. But we saved our legs because of the speed I was at.
We indeed had a good time, and on the way back we thought of spending the night at a jungle resort which was just 30 kms via the main road. And so we took the kaccha road….
The sun was setting fast, and it was getting darker. I was riding at a max of 30 km/hr, and my wife was humming some god forsaken song. There were none except we both riding on a 1950 technology bike through a thick jungle. It is said, humans have this mechanism inbuilt wherein you can sense the danger much before it arrives. I was starting to have this strange feeling in my stomach already, and I was 100% focused looking out for any danger……and then suddenly like at a stone throw away they came.
A herd of some 20 wild elephants crossed the road with such a mayhem that I thought I was already at the gates of heaven. We were just 10 meters away from the herd, and I was standing there on a muddy road completely confused with this 300 kilo two wheeler that had flickering head lights. The Bullet sound was probably just a tiny beep amidst the thumping of 80 mammoth legs and the trumpeting of the alpha elephants.
I had read a lot of documents and also watched a lot of videos about what you should do in case elephants attack you or chase you. Honestly my mind was like a just born baby – completely blank when I saw the tornado of dust they had kicked up. Except God’s name nothing came to my lips…and I don’t even remember which God I called that fateful day…Christian or Muslim or Hindu….
I asked my wife to get down immediately and pull the bike backwards because I was unable to turn it after it got switched off on its own. She tried her best, but could not move the bike an inch. For me looking at the elephants running across with complete madness – it was impossible to watch if the fucking amp meter stays at ‘0’ or some other number before I kick to start. And the fear always filled my mind that – what if it kicks back? I won’t even be in a position to run if one of the elephants changes its mind and direction and starts to chase us.
All the elephants crossed the kaccha road safely, and we decided to head home instead of trying our luck at the bloody jungle lodge. Thankfully the needle paused at ‘0’ and I could start the bike in one kick. But the story is not over yet.
The sun was down completely, no street lights obviously and our hearts were still thumping fast – mine more than my wife because my wife had not seen any videos of elephant attacks. She continued humming her song, and there was this 60 degree hair pin bend on the left turn. All my earlier bikes could surpass the turn at 2nd gear, but this shit just refused to do so. It slowed down, and slowed down, I tried to change the gear to 1st but failed, and this useless good for nothing machine just stopped and started to move back wards. I could not put the brake using my left leg as the vehicle was too heavy, hence I put the front brake with my hand – which was of no use either. I shouted on top of my voice calling my wife’s name 5 times in 2 seconds in total panic, and turned back and she was missing. I did see something rolling down the road. I could hear like flashes the bike expert’s advice ringing in my ears – “Accident means, you will break your leg.” Thankfully, I managed to push the vehicle to one side and fell on the other side. My legs were safe, my wife came running from some 10 meters away. I asked, “where were you”? She replied, “I fell off when you were trying to shift the gear from 2 to 1, and in fact I somersaulted twice backwards before falling flat on my stomach.” Thanks to our helmets – we escaped with minor bruises.
Few people stopped and assisted us to put the bike on stand. I started the bike once again checking if the pointer on amp meter was exactly on ‘0’ just that this time I had few drops of painful tears.
We reached home without any more adventure or accidents. I parked my Enfield Bullet safely in my basement in the year 2012, and it is still standing there with no one to ride it. Strange.
If you want to buy my Enfield Bullet, green colour, 1999 model with left side brake and right side gear that makes a thumping sound, please drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org