"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.