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Monday, May 4, 2009

Royal Enfield stands tall in India

Taking a different route one morning, on my Royal Enfield Bullet, I became conscious that a car in the next lane was going no faster than I was.

Finally, I thought to myself, someone taking it slow to conserve gas. But then we came to a stoplight and the driver rolled down a window, pointed and shouted:
"I have THAT motorcycle. I have THAT motorcycle. In India!"

You could tell he wasn't a tourist; the car was too old to be a rental. He was clearly on his way to work and it was a thrill for him to see a bit of his homeland here on the street, being ridden by an American.

The importance of the Royal Enfield motorcycle in India can best be explained by an Indian. I came across how one man, apparently now a doctor in Canada, put it in his blog in 2006. (Interestingly, although this fellow maintains several blogs, he signs them all as "Enfield." His self-caricature from his blog is shown here.)

What follows is "Enfield" writing about about Royal Enfield:

"The Bullet 500 that I owned (in India) was first introduced in 1993, and went on to become the most desired, a green in the eye.

"In context of its role in the culture of Punjab, the Bullet can best be regarded an icon. The 'dugg, dugg' of its engine is just as much part of Punjab and the lives of its people as lassi, makki di roti, saron da saag, gidha and bhangra.

"Ever since the urbanisation of Punjab, a 'dodhi' (the milk vendor on a motorcycle) has been integral to the very existence of life in Punjab which had earlier been a predominantly farming state, and 90% of its urban population can trace their backgrounds to some 'pind.' People might have moved on to live in towns and cities but there is still a vital link that keeps them connected to their roots, and that is the dodhi, and the unmistakable 'dugg dugg' of his Bullet.

"Punjabis belong to a strong, robust, machismo race which is crumbling to the unhealthy eating, working, and living conditions of urbanisation. A Bullet, for these urban Punjabis, is the best reflection of their lost personalities.

"For some others, it is a stamp of authority. For some, it is sign of being macho amongst peers.

"For a few others, it's a magic wand when it comes to winning over girls! Above all, whatever their respective reasons, every Bullet owner prides in owning a piece of history, and the respect it commands!"

1 comment:

  1. I've had 2 similar experiences, one at the local Indian restaurant, the other at a gas station in Dallas one year when I was transporting my Bullet in the back of our pickup to our vacation destination. Both times it was "I had that same motorcycle back in India, how did you get one here in the US?"

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