Sunday, June 24, 2007

Girls don't need helmets

I took my first motorbike ride last night, thru the hot, humid, dirty streets of New Delhi. We are couch surfing (http://www.couchsurfing.com) with a local guy, and he, his friend, Steve and I decided to go out to dinner. It was a ways from his apartment, and it's sweltering outside, so walking was out of the question. I wasn't crazy about weaving thru traffic, stray dogs, cows, and garbage on the streets of Delhi at night, but since everyone else seemed fine with it, and since it seemed the only option (both guys only own motorbikes), I decided to suck it up a bit and live on the edge. On our way out the door, our host (Vishal) and his friend grabbed their helmets, handed an extra to Steve, and started walking down the stairs.



"Umm, do you have a helmet for me?" I sheepishly asked.

"Girls don't need helmets," was the response I got. You see, in India, bikers and their passengers are required to wear helmets, that is, MALE bikers and passengers. Females are on their own. I obviously had quite the puzzled look on my face because our host turned to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and patiently explained to me that "men must protect their heads, and their brains." Obviously women's brains weren't as important. Pleased that he had addressed my confused look, he walked out the door. Downstairs, by the bikes, Steve and I both encouraged a hunt around the apartment complex for a fourth helmet, but alas the search yielded no protection for my head. Steve, in a shining moment of chivarly, tried to give me his helmet, but the guys were adament that he, not I, needed to wear it. So, I took a deep breath, and hopped on the back of the bike.



The ride actually wasn't as scary as I had anticipated, and I was surprised at how well my white-knuckle grip on the back bar kept me on the bike as we swurved thru traffic. Vishal was gracious enough not to go too fast, and he did a pretty good job of avoiding potholes and stones in the road. I can't say that the breeze in my hair was refreshing at all, though, with exhaust from trucks and auto rickshaws surrounding us, and dirt and dust flying into my nose and eyes (which weren't covered by face shields that the boys had on their helmets, I might add). It was a bit concerning that Vishal didn't seem to have a front or rear light, though, so I felt invisible on the road at 11 PM. Motorbikers don't obey traffic lights, or stay in lanes, or follow any rules really, and instead rely on their horn to alert others of their presence. Honk!- I'm right beside you. Honk!-I'm weaving between you. Honk!-we're turning left. Honk! Honk!-we're running a red light. Honk!-Get out of the street, stray dog! At first I was a bit annoyed by all of the honking, but when I realized that was the only way that other cars knew we were there, I wanted him to honk more, perhaps even continuously. I wished that I had my own horn, so I could help with the honking. Honk Honk!-Please don't hit the white girl!



Anyway, the fact that I'm writing this post means that we made it to dinner and home safely, with all of my limbs intact, although this morning I had to pick black sleepy dusk from the corners of my eyes. I can't say that I'm eager to hop on the back of another bike, though, especially in Delhi.

~Abby



Stopped at a gas station.....

6 comments:

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

Mandy Morell said...

We miss you! It sounds like you're having a lot of fun! Abby, take care of those brains, I mean if you're going to be a nurse, I think you need them :)

quinnmh said...

WOW! What an interesting interaction...I laughed pretty hard...my side hurts! My in-laws thought it amusing as well and I look forward to sharing it with Matt when he gets home. Take care of yourself out there!! And thanks for sharing...

Quinn

Kate said...

My first motor bike ride in Vietnam was the thrill of my life, I was so scared I spent the whole time laughing. Plus, motobike etiquette there is that a female can't put her arms around her male driver for safety/stability unless the two are dating, so you're stuck gripping the side of the bike. I'm sending you a virtual helmet to keep you safe.

Shannon said...

Way to stand up for yourself (kind of). Because I spent the day dissecting the face and scalp of my cadaver, I feel obliged to remind you how many VERY important nerves, arteries, veins, and muscles (including the levator labii superioris alaeque nasi- which allows your flare your nostrils) there are in your head....and is that a sunburn I see on your arm and shoulder?
take care of yourself kiddo!

Zoe said...

Sounds like you both are having a great time! I've loved reading and laughing at your entertaining posts. Take care of yourselves!