Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Not horny for Once

Yet another reason not to trust a BMW 1200gs for your round the world trip: faulty, phantom horn.

The horn on the bike has taken on a personality all its own, as if possessed by one of the 16,000 Hindu gods. Basically it decides to stop working at inopportune times. In India, any time you don't have a horn is inopportune. Trucks paint "horn please" on the back of their trucks and then throw away their mirrors. Everyone else just throws their mirrors away or folds them in. I'm not kidding, 80 percent of the vehicles on the road have no mirrors, everyone just honks at each other, and if you don't hear a honk you hog the road.

The horn first went in the narrow winding streets of old Bikaner. Just stopped working after 7 hours of constant use. Then it worked fine for about a week. Now it always works the first time I use it, then sometimes goes dry on the second try. So, I shift into neutral kill the bike, turn it on and start it all while coasting down the road to "reset" my gun for that one potential lifesaving honk. I have sometimes resorted to "honking" out loud with my voice in slow city traffic when fighting bikes, rickshaws and cows. Clara ends up laughing which kind of defeats the purpose. Sometimes the horn will work perfectly for hours and then die right before we almost do.

So, thanks BMW for selling me a bike worth 10 times all the Honda Heros on the road without the single most important safety device in India.

Oh, we also shared food and prayers today with the second most important Buddhist after the Dalai Lama, the 20 year old kid who walked from Tibet to here to escape the Chinese.

We are in Sarnath where Buddha gave his first sermon to his first five disciples about the "middle way" to achieve Nibbana.

Very serene and calm here, different from much of India.