Bit of a roller coaster few days. Been making good time in our Canadian/German/Irish convoy, and we’re now well into the foothills of the Himalaya. The scenery is impressive, to say the least, and the temperature is a welcome relief from the plains. The villages and towns up here are much more peaceful than the larger cities down south, and some Tibetan influence is starting to show up in the faces, dress, and culture of the locals. I’m beginning to realize why so many people come to India and never leave the north.

But my bike is in trouble. Serious trouble. I had one mechanic tell me I might have to sink another $500 into it, then sell it and buy a different one, because the bike would have chronic problems. As you can imagine, I’ve sought a second opinion. I went to a shop that came highly recommended by every bike owner I’ve met in this area, and he told me that a few hundred dollars should do it, and the bike will be good to go. I’ve been stressing for a day or so, but  feel better now.

I suppose now is a good time to introduce you to the world of the Royal Enfield. This is a motorbike originally designed and built in Britain. It was brought to India during the 1940’s, I believe as part of the British arming of the Indian Army (which was, still to this day, the largest volunteer army ever assembled). The bikes are old school – manual, heavy as shit, and loud like a Harley four times the size. They are still built to the old British specifications, but now in Chennai. Mine is 350cc, which is rather small for motorbikes, but the bikes have a certain romantic authenticity. Especially when you’re riding them around India.

Despite all the upside, however, the Enfield has one big downside: they break. All the time. They are as famous for being unreliable as they are for being fun to drive. As I mentioned in my last post, I had a problem with mine on the very first day I drove it. And things have only gotten worse. I burned through a set of clutch plates on my second day, only to have issues with my clutch being over-tight – causing more problems with the new plates. Now that I’ve handed it off to a mechanic of some repute, I’m just praying things work out. I clearly got ripped off quite cleverly by my salesman in Delhi, but there’s little I can do about that now so I’ve shrugged it off and I’m not worrying about it. I’m going to get her fixed up and away we’ll go. Maybe I’ll name her soon. Any suggestions?

At any rate, I’ve uploaded a new gallery of photos here. I spent a day in a mountain town called Mandi with incredible views and a market surrounding a quiet garden. I wandered the market and garden, happening across a frenzy of action – free rice pudding! One turbaned old Sikh was furiously folding leaves into bowls, as two other men ladled the delicious desert and handed it out in a hurry. Apparently this happens once a week, though most locals were somewhat mysterious as to why a group of men pass out a few hundred gallons (they kept refilling the pot, over and over) of rice pudding to the townspeople. I found out later, from someone who had seen the same phenomenon in a different town, that it was to honour Shiva. Of course! Rice pudding for Shiva. Makes complete sense.

Either way, it was a tasty offering. The roasted cashews were a nice touch. Enjoy the photos!