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Friday, August 6, 2010

Broken Royal Enfield brought him wisdom

You've all heard the old joke about Royal Enfield motorcycles "Turning Men Into Mechanics Since 1898."

I like to think that learning which wrench to use is just one of the benefits of owning a maintenance-intensive Royal Enfield.

So I was pleased to discover that author David Oliver Relin attributes his sympathy for people to an unreliable Royal Enfield Bullet he bought in India.

Relin is the co-author of the best-selling book Three Cups of Tea. You've heard of it. It's the story of Greg Mortenson, whose Central Asia Institute builds schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Relin wrote the book with Mortenson, whose failed attempt to climb a mountain led him to "a meaningful path to follow for the rest of his life."

For Relin himself, the inspirational failure was with a motorcycle — not a mountain.

Relin told of his encounter with the old Royal Enfield in a discussion with an outreach program for the homeless in Madison, Wis. He's quoted on the program's blog, Streets of Madison:

"That bike was more like a couch than a motorcycle. It mostly just sat. It broke down constantly. Getting around with it was like trying to lug a couch," Relin said.

Repeatedly stranded, he was repeatedly rescued by people around him. They'd offer him tea and, remarkably, wisdom, including mechanical wisdom:

"With a piece of tape or wire, they'd get the bike running again."

For his full story, see Streets of Madison. It is a well written blog about a book club for the homeless. That's right: the program invites people who are homeless to join in reading the same book and then come to meetings to discuss it. The meetings feature events such as the talk with Relin, via Skype.

The blog even offers a link where you can buy copies of Relin's Three Cups of Tea, with part of the proceeds going to the Central Asia Institute and earning a discount on future book purchases for the homeless book club.

1 comment:

  1. I had a Royal Enfield once that tried to turn me into a mechanic, but I couldn't keep up. Instead, it turned me into a Triumph fan. The RE was pretty, but, yes, kind of like a couch. But very comfortable. Good description.

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