Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The puffs have vanished. And replacing that huff and puff is the ever roaring sound that is the Bhutan Dragons Motorcycle Club. Quietly, the club has been doing what it does best – riding the freedom of the highways and bringing with them more than a dosage of goodwill; basic necessary amenities to select organizations, groups and individuals
Rider Who Seldom Rides But Writes
The Dragons passion for motorcycling is evocative of the protagonist and his son in Robert Persig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; give or take Jack Kerouac’s On The Road or the motorcycling diaries of Che Guevara.
One thing that binds them is the road, and nothing beckons the road like a thundering Bullet Enfield. This is a machine that commands respect, and in the case of the Dragons, respect and help, which they have brought about to many individuals since the inaugural ride in the summer of 2009 from the capital to Paro.
Today, after 17 rides, the Dragons have not only kept their helping hands busy on the handlebar but are venturing out more and more, identifying the needy, and bringing with them, ala Santa on Christmas, unexpected gifts of the magi. The Dragons delivered clothes for four families in Zhemgang, with quite a lot of people who had come to take a peep also receiving clothes. The items were put together from the riders, with X-Rider chipping in boxes of clothes.
They kicked-off and rode in twilight, with Dark (naturally because he is dark-complexioned) and Jigs (obviously because he is the cat and the living legend in the club for treating 400-plus kilometer rides as a warm-up) Riders coming in from Phuentsholing Point Rendezvous at Hongtsho. “It was a cold start. We broke our fast at good old Hongtsho with that infamous Bathup and Jumas. The road was icy but we survived, but had to break schedule and set up camp at Dagapela at the grounds of Dagapela Lhakhang. It was a good omen. The resident head lama gave us a surprise welcome reception Tea and snacks and permission to camp,” said Phantom Rider. “it was by miles the best campsite ever. The site had electricity running water, toilets, firewood for the traditional bonfire. We were truly blessed and no words can express our gratitude to our gracious hosts.” The tired Dragons made camp and slept besides the fire. “The weather was so pleasant thinking about Thimphu gave me the chills,” said Don Rider, the handsomest Dragon in the club as their compadres called him.
“The day after was an awakening. There was music in the air. But the handing over of the clothes was delayed because the recipients, poor folks, had to travel a long way from their villages. They had made a long journey. It was just such a humbling experience. But the more we do this the more we realize how much we are learning. In a way, they are helping us become better human beings,” said Don Rider. Another contemplative reflection was the fact that there were so many people in need of the most basic fundamental necessities. “It makes you wonder why we whine so much when so many of our fellow citizens don’t even have enough clothes. It definitely makes me contemplative. Today, I complain less than I used to, after seeing the reality that surrounds us, we must do all we can to help each other,” said Wind Rider, named so because he obviously farts. The Dragons left with the promise that they will be back and that when they do; they will bring in more boxes, with whatever people want to contribute.
The ride back to Thimphu had elemental interferences. It was snowing in Dochula. Jigs Rider rode straight down to Phuentsholing. They should name him Hurry Rider, as he is always in a hurry, quipped Rider Who Seldom Rides but writes. The magic number is 11 and for that, the Dragons are going “Day-Bumtaps” to Bumthang.
Some of the Dragons on the ride: X Rider, Jigs Rider, Swiss Rider, Dark Rider, Happy Rider, Rob (prospective), Lars (prospective), Gopal (Honorary Member) and Pale Rider
The Tool-Pros: Ugyen, Mon Bdr, Dorji Wangchuk and Gyem
Oddities: Dragons thank Lt Sonam Tashi for assistance with the aid in Dagana
• Swiss Rider pissed with his first flat tire in 37 years and resolution to knock-wood for luck next time and eat dried beef like the Bhutanese
• Dark Rider’s arrival atop a pick-up truck with cable snapped bike for company and finding out there were no spares but pushing the horse and the horse obliging
• Jig Rider's three golden rules that nobody knows or follows
• Rob Rider’s infinite appetite for food, beer and jokes galore; requiring an end
• Dark Rider's rousing speech that had everyone aroused and clueless; plus his impressive cartel connections, with even Dangdung –Zhemgang area bulls giving him the nod
• Lars' shooting skills from atop the bike and incognito disappearances
• Gopal's obsession with bar cum restaurants and conjuring firewood from nowhere
• Pale Rider and his soul-belting-cacophonic-hidden-encyclopedic mental storage of old Bollywood numbers depressing all and sundry