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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The call center man's dream: a road trip

Ever been tempted to talk about Royal Enfield motorcycles with the Help Desk guy in India?

Gary Pinchin did it. Here's what happened, in his words:

I live in the UK and have a 1999 350 Bullet I bought for 500 quid a while back. Needed a bit of tidying up but it's ready to go (well it has been since March). Only trouble is, I've been sidelined with a non-motorcycle related knee problem since February, which means I've not had a chance to ride it yet!

I'd been having trouble with my British Telecom broadband so I rang the help desk. The guy on the other end of the line says he needs to share the screen of one of the two laptops in the house to sort out the problem, so I hand him over to my partner.

Anyway, he does the job then she gives me back the phone and the guy says: "Do you work for Royal Enfield? I spotted some folders on the desktop with their name on on it." My partner does indeed do some work, dealing with the UK importer.

Turns out the guy is working in a call center in India and we strike up a conversation about the whole Enfield thing. The conversation went something like this:

Me: So you have an interest in Enfields?

Him: Oh yes, it's is my lifelong passion to own one.

Me: So why don't you buy one?

Him: I can't afford it. The price of a new Bullet in India is around £1,000 but the average wage is only £150 per month. How much is a new Enfield in England?

Me: Around £5,000 for the new EFI model. Just a bit cheaper than a base-model 883 Harley.

Him: £5,000 (in deep shock)! If you could afford to pay that much for a motorcycle in India you would be one of the richest people in the country. £5,000 would buy the very best luxury car here!

Me: Can't you afford an older model?

Him: It's not such a good idea. They always need a lot of work so it costs money for spare parts and repairs and my passion is to do a road trip. I don't want to keep breaking down. Have you seen the film Wild Hogs? I want to do that sort of road trip, just touring around. But the Enfield is a heavy bike and our roads are very, very bumpy. Have you been to India?

Me: No but I'd love to. I've seen what the back roads are like though. I bought Gaurav Jani's DVDs, One Crazy Ride and Riding Solo To The Top Of The World. They are truly inspirational.

Him: Really, I've not heard of them.

Me: Mate, you really must check them out if you're planning a road trip around India. Gaurav is in a club called 60kph Motorcycle Travel Club. Their website is just amazing.

Him: I will do that. Thank you so much for talking to me.

Me: No, the pleasure is all mine.

So, purely by chance, I've been talking to a guy in India who watches American-made motorcycle movies and loves Enfields and I'm telling him to check out Indian-made DVDs and websites on Bullets? Does it get any weirder? Sad thing is the call came to such an abrupt end when he had to get back to work, that I didn't get his name. But to bastardise an old Honda ad slogan, you meet the nicest people through Royal Enfield ownership.

Cheers. Hey, keep up the fine work with the blog!

UPDATE: Pinchin provided this picture of his Royal Enfield Bullet 350, a private import from India that still retains its Indian style front license plate. He adds:

"Sorry but been off-line sorting out wireless issues. Had to ring BT call centre again twice but no more Enfield chat!"

18 comments:

  1. That is fantastic! Sometimes the companies sponsoring the call centers don't even want you to know those people are in India.

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  2. What a great story! I love Wild Hogs as a movie, and my son and I have just watched Ghost Rider, another classic. I also have the Riding Solo DVD. But now my Enfield is sold (sad face!) and I am a Yamaha owner. Oh well....

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  3. I'd also love to get over to India, what an excellent place to visit. I cant say I share the enthusiasm for the wild hogs, I owned a HD when I watched it but even that didnt work to make me like it! But Gaurav Jani's films are marvellous, but horses for courses it'd be a dull world were we all the same!

    Malc.

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  4. I'm sorry mate, but i'm from india, and I have to say this : 5000 pounds won't get you "the very best luxury car". What it will get you is a tiny car, 800-1000 cc engine. Cars are MUCH more expensive (in the same currency) in india than in the US or europe.

    Also, most guys in india dream of owning an enfield ... its like most american kids, at some point, dream of riding a harley or sleeping with the 1990's pamela anderson.

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  5. Thank you for clarifying that. I imagine the fellow's reaction was along the line of saying the Enfield costs a lot more outside India. It does, but it's still in the lower price ranges, so the market can bear the cost. All best.

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  6. Hahahaha... that's funny... Gaurav's a friend of mine, and I'm planning a trip to Laddakh on my Enfield too. What an odd coincidence.

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  7. When we have a V twin enfield musket to buy?

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  8. I'm from India & now i live in Vienna Austria, I own a 1974 Royal enfield & dd almost north Indian tour except Leh Ladakh which i always wanted to :) how ever didn't get chance, anyways now i own a 535cc Royal enfield here. which is amazing.

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  9. From the pics iv'e seen of India, Americans can simulate that tour right here in the US.Find your local waste transfer station and ride your motorcycle around in it. I mean really, the place is a dump. The only places I've seen that are not covered with garbage is the mountains and the Tajmahal!

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  10. From the pics you've seen of India? You make a blanket statement like that and expect people to think your being witty with the "waste transfer station" comment, what a friggin tool!

    Listen son, at the tender age of 18 I was an Embassy Marine stationed in New Delhi. You'll not find a more polite and generous culture out there. T.S. Eliot wrote, "To understand a foreign country, you must first smell it". 37 years later, I can still remember and miss those smells. Here, all I can smell is McDonald's, Burger King and a whole lot of ignorance. Try living your life as a traveler and not a tourist and you may get a hint at what I'm talking about.

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  11. I totally agree with what was said above !

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  12. I am from India and like most Indian boys I too grew up dreaming to own a Royal beast/Enfield/Bullet (here there are more than one common name for this bike) some day. Unfortunately the bike is almost twice the price of most commuter bikes here - which give twice as good fuel economy too.

    Hence many like me just dream and never actually own the royal beast. It has been around for as long as I remember. My dad had a workshop once and used to fix Enfield as well but never had enough to own it.

    Thankfully now I am in a position where I am very close to fulfilling my dream. It is going to cost me close to 100,000 INR but we live just once... so I am going for it :)

    This is not just a bike for Indians. Before the Hondas and the Kawasakis ... this was the bike that ruled the roads. Though there were other bikes too - like the Chec bike Yezdi and Desi bike Rajdoot... nothing beats Enfield.

    Old 3.5 model of this bike was a known leg breaker. Its Kick used to hit back hard at times. Also older models were a lot heavier than the newer generations which has lighter parts and Aluminium Alloys engine.

    Men of Sikh community (like me) prefer this bike to any other... 'cause other bikes are for kids to play with. Enfield is what real men drive.

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  13. I am a 60 year old Indian - had a dream: to own a RE Bull. Just got my brand new bike inspite of facing a lot of ridicule from friends and colleagues. Luckily support from better half in equal measure. Its like, been there, done that and now doing it all over again. Great machine. Gradually losing my lower back every morning kickstarting the beast, but then, at my age, who cares, its going to go anyways.

    Ride into India on a Bull. You won't be disappointed. Whereever you ride, the road will clear up to make way for the Bull.

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  14. I know its been a while since all this has been posted, but i could'nt stop myself from commenting. I'm a 26 year old guy from mumbai, been riding my dads bike since i was 16 and love riding the bike everyday. Its an 83 model and has given me times where i feel like selling it, but then its impossible to live without your heart.
    I too work in a call centre here, but was never fortunate enough to speak to a fellow RE lover, but no regrets i share my passion with every other RE lovers and i hope to ride for many more years. Besides really like the comment made by the 60yr old from India,would be great to see your pic put here. Cheers

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  15. i share pretty much the same story like my anonymous friend above. my dad owned a RE Bullet 350 1982 model in Mumbai India. i too used to work for a call center in mumbai back in 2003. we tried to sell the bike a few times, but she wont let us go. i currently live in the US. i had the bike shipped uphere in 2011 and its absolutely amazing. most people dont know what it is. either ways they love it. David was kind enough to post my story on his blog back in August of 2011. heres the link to it, if anybody's interested...

    http://www.royalenfields.com/2011/08/r
    oyal-enfield-bullet-became-member-of.html

    so long folks. Happy Bulleting....

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    Replies
    1. Chirag, good to hear from you. Here is a working link to that story, if anyone is interested in your great story:
      Royal Enfield Bullet

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  16. Hi, I am also from India and worked in different call centers. I own a 1975 Royal Enfield 350 CC and had spent considerable time and money on it. Rode it to practically whole of north India except J&K and Ladakh :-(..... Now a family man do not get enough time to go on long rides.... but still manage some mileage on it....I would agree with RE lovers....this bike will drive you insane, to the point that one would like to dump it by the side of road....but you wont find it your heart to walk away.....In India, these days we have different bikes...Honda's, Bajaj, Kawasaki, Yamaha, KTM and Harley imports.....but RE still has a dedicated section of die hard fans and very strong following....specially the older heavier models...

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