Monday, September 30, 2013

Sticking it to the 'men'

The best way to fuel my desire to do something is to tell me that I can't do it.  This almost resulted in my being disowned when I told my mom that I was going to skydive in Hawaii whether she liked it or not, because "what are you going to do about it?" (many hours of profuse apology later, we eventually reached a peaceable agreement and I jumped out of a plane at 14,000 ft. You're the best, mom!).  This week, I was told flat out by at least a dozen different men that women cannot ride motorcycles.

Oh really?

I’ve had a ‘need for speed’ since my dad took me 100 mph in his 1989 Mazda Miata convertible (shhh don’t tell mom) as a child.  In fact, my dad has encouraged this behavior as long as I can remember.  Just this past year we went for a spin at the BMW test track in a 414 horsepower M3, because nothing says father-daughter bonding like spinning out on the skid pad.  I got my motorcycle license 5 years ago (as soon as my mom would let me), and settled for driving a Vespa around Honolulu for the past 2 years.

The Ferrari of scooters
The point is, I have complete confidence in my ability to drive almost anything, including a motorcycle.  The men of India, however, had a very different idea.  I’ve been craving a motorcycle trip through the gorgeous countryside, so my friend Alexis and I set out to try to find bikes to rent.  Apparently, although the roads of India are full of men on motorcycles, it is extremely uncommon for women to drive them.  Scooters yes, motorcycles no.  We were literally laughed at, and told that it was "too complicated for us to possibly learn".  Another man had two friends with bikes ready to rent, but when they found out they were to be rented to women, the owners refused.  Patriarchy runs deep in India.  Helmets aren't even available in women’s sizes or feminine designs.  Even one seemingly westernized Indian friend asked, wouldn't it just be better if we rode on the back of a man's bike?

After several frustrating days, we finally managed to rent two motorcycles.  We were feeling pretty good about this accomplishment, and told one of our few supportive male friends we were "sticking it to the man."  He replied, "No no, you're sticking it to the men."

300cc's of bad-assery
Now that we had sweet wheels, we needed somewhere to take them.  So, we organized a trip to a nearby temple and set out after breakfast.  Two ladies on two motorcycles, and three men on two scooters (and one more man on a motorcycle).

Biker chicks
The temple itself (Somanathapura) was beautiful, with layers upon layers of intricate carvings.

Many carvings had deep spiritual significance...
...others were just ancient smut
We were of course followed by small children who wanted to take pictures with us

I'm not sure why they found me so funny
It was an incredible day, and one that I will never forget.  I think my favorite part of the whole experience was the look of confusion and utter shock on the faces of the men we passed along the way.

Our motorcycle gang

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