The missing ‘rush': the narrative

It’s been close to 2 years since I left India – the same time it has been since I experienced genuine adrenaline rush. You know, the one that gets your heart so hot that you can feel it outside (no, I’m not being metaphorical). I’ve been addicted to that ‘rush’ as far as I could remember. As with most Indian children, there were very few means that I could exploit when I was very young. The most common was to ride your cycle fast down a slope with your hands in the air. Sometimes make turns too. Of course, the occasional accidents do scare you enough to stop doing it for a while. That’s the point though – the looming sense of danger is what gives you that rush.

As I grew up, more avenues were exposed. I lived in a relatively untamed environment. Fish was a major part of our lives then. And I imagine this craze with “kalar meen” was shared by children from other parts of TN as well (and probably, all of India). Some were so crazy that they wouldn’t care if it was a tadpole. But people like me, who wouldn’t settle unless it’s the real-2 inch long-thing, would stretch our permitted limits. Each class had its share of renegades who didn’t bother their teacher’s warning about what might happen if anyone is caught “fishing” in the “kenaru” near the school. Dindigul had several little pools and wells where you could “fish.” They were the unforgiving, ‘taken several lives’ kind of water sources – the ideal spots for us little wannabe ‘heroes’ to test our nerves. Some wells were so treacherous that you wouldn’t know difference between day and night once you’re in it. The neatly wound snake skins wouldn’t make the place any less scary. Not to mention, that’s where we usually learn swimming; with some ‘adult’ supervision, of course.

Then we moved to Madras. For a kid from Dindigul--not even Ooty, Mettupalayam or some exotic place like that--Madras seemed so lame. Only thing you can do is play underarm cricket in your street or pedal all the way to IDPL to have the ball lost in some bush. Oh yeah, you can also get on the terrace and spend all your money in some ‘kaathadi’ and watch it bite the dust because of a “deal.” But I can’t think of anything that could have replaced the things I had mentioned I did when I was in Dindigul. The times I almost drowned in the beach come somewhat close.

But it all changed when I got my hands on my father’s 100cc motorbike – I was 15 then. It provided a much needed upgrade to the stale TVS 50 I was riding around once in a while. For once I could hit speeds as high as 100 Km/h. As many teenagers, I didn’t care about holding a license. I didn’t till I was 21. But I took his bike to almost every corner of the city. The fact that I didn’t have a license made those rides a little more adventurous – helped that rush a bit more.

It got better during my college days. It was the time when we had group rides to Pondicherry, New Year nights to Besant Nagar and all the clichéd “adventures” most young men in Madras are known to go through. These occasions usually give you the opportunity to experiment with other bikes. But I always had a big fetish for Yamaha RX 100. I think all bike enthusiasts would agree that it’s the ultimate thrill machine for Indian cities.

I got my lessons directly from my cousins who had mastered the art of crowd control to crazy stunts with the bike. I got to own one myself when I was 21 – just when I got my license. The next two years during which I got to ride it, mostly in Bangalore, had some of the best moments of my life. I haven’t taken any drugs so far, but I think that’s how it feels to be high. When you are rushing through fellow motorists – like you’re travelling in a Star Trek space cruiser with the rocks and other objects disappearing in nanoseconds – your mind operates in a subliminal level. Only then would you be able to not worry about all the lives you put in danger. The top speed of my Yamaha was 120 Km/h 1.

In all my years of bike-riding I’ve had quite a few accidents. Most of the damage done to myself and to my bike(s). Nothing fatal though. To be honest, each accident would slow me down quite considerably. It will take at least a few weeks before I can go above 80 Km/h without getting all shaky and anxious. As if there’s a dog or a bitch waiting just to jump in (pun intended). This is what differentiates bike riding from most other forms of adventure – you can never get used to getting hurt, at least not thoroughly. You get methodical and systematic about how you fall, how you roll and even how you heal. But nothing that will quite make you feel like it’s ‘routine.’ Of course, I’m talking about myself here. I’m sure there are several people who can do exactly that – get used to getting hurt with no residual effects.

Driving, I think, is slightly different. When you’re driving, the whole “I might die” effect isn’t as obvious as it is when you’re on a bike. It’s mostly the ‘got to get home without any scratches or dents’ urge that gives you that rush. And driving is slightly more comprehensive in its experience. Good music, good company, reasonable comfort plus the rush - they are mutually elevating.

Ever since I got here, I’ve driven a few times. That’s about all the “rush” I’ve gotten. Even the fairy ‘ride’ in Niagara sucked. I’ve missed the daily dose for a very long time and it’s taking its toll on me. I’ll write about it from a pseudo sociological perspective in the next post. As of now, I’m just looking forward to my trip to Madras and hopefully get a half-decent second hand car when I return.
1The bike was tuned for high speed. It usually doesn’t exceed 115 Km/h, but it was a long sloping road and I weighed just 54 kilos (still do).


Options said...

Nice read. You weigh only 54, lucky you ! Sila peruku enna saptaplum weight podadhu...really envy you fellas !

I know the grass on the other side is always greener, but still, imagine getting to eat how much ever you want of whatever you want and still not gain weight ! Damn - Lucky you !

Anonymous said...

..and yes, agree with you about the crush everybody has for the's something else and doing those speeds and stunts like pull a wheelie along the besant nagar beach.

I remember sometime back, maybe back in 95, there used to be regular races aka drags, along the beach stretch in Elliots until residents got pissed and complained constantly, which brought speed breakers into place.

Those were some good days, seriously !

But, I guess after a couple of years that rush just grows out of you...! I mean after you get absorbed into work life, and your group of friends start discussing mutual funds, shares, real estate, and software.

Growing up can be a pain sometimes !

Anonymous said...

Wow Suresh. I am also 54.

Suresh said...

haha you're right, grass is greener on the other side, indeed.
I'm not a big "eating" person and I've loved and hated myself for that. Having a lean profile can be just as bad, if not worse, as being fat. I wanted to do a podcast (or vidcast) on it a long time ago. I hope I can publish it sometime.

You're right. This 'need for speed' dissipates as you age. At least in most cases I've seen. I wonder how I would feel 5, 6 years from now.

adhu seri :))

Thilak pratap selva kumar said...

Yamaha RX 100, they have stopped its production. Two stoke plus pollution..But it has great advantages like superb sound effect :)) and lightweight.

The Individualist said...

Man, I sure have competition for my 56 Kgs. :p

The Individualist said...

And yeah. Chennai sure is boring. :(

The Individualist said...

And talking about races, well, they sure do. I was talking to this auto guy the other day and he said, 'Sir, andha race ku polanaa vandi otradhula arthamella sir. Appo appo vettipaanga. Adhunaala veliya romba sollikardhilla. Anaa, sanikezhama aachunaa pozhudhu pogardhe theriyaadhu, sir.' And I went, 'Sigh and I write during weekends.' :p

The Individualist said...

And 'options', I would die to gain weight. Not literally, of course. But well, my point's made. Have tried gymming which, by the way, didn't entirely catch my fancy. Tugging and pulling random machines totally did not caught my fancy. I wonder how people manage to do it rigorously everyday. I've tried nv. My mom'd probably shriek out 'Blasphemy!' if she saw this. But yeah, that failed. I eat voraciously. Hell. I eat a lot. And that's failed too.
So what else does one do? :(
Continue being a narcissist and love oneself for being slender. :p

Anonymous said...

Chennai is boring, but Madras was not. Talking about near death experiences, is hanging on the foot board any less? What about wading in knee deep water at the slightest rainfall, not knowing if the manhole is open. I love Madras. Just like I love Gasquet without any reason.

Bala (Karthik) said...

Though RX is *The* Cult Classic, the meanest of them Madras bikes has to be the Shogun. It had consistently beatan the RX in the Madras "tracks". The 'beat' is better than the RX's. However, the RX is the better performing bike overall.
cha, ippo vara bike ellam bike-a????

Have you tried this in the ECR - switching off your bike headlights at night and riding??? SCARY!

Agree with Gasquet about the foot board experiences ('board adikkarudhu').

The Individualist said...

What about wading in knee deep water at the slightest rainfall, not knowing if the manhole is open.
Well, even today, each time it drizzles, this experience is very easily accessible. :p

The Individualist said...

Have you tried this in the ECR - switching off your bike headlights at night and riding??? SCARY!
Yeah, that's another good one. And as for footboards, a better one's when you are desperately clinging on to the bus with just one-tenth of your foot sticking onto the footboard and when someone casually kicks that bit that you have rested on the footboard and you fall butt down and the bus' rear wheels kiss your cheek on their way.
Happened to me once. :p
I wasn't exactly conscious of the following half an hour.
Too much rush. :p

Bala (Karthik) said...

~beatan = beaten

whew! That was some experience!!

Thilak pratap selva kumar said...

The Individualist,
I've had few Adrenaline pumping Near-death experiences. It's such a great feeling :)) Footboard will definitely top it in terms of longevity. But the best of the shorter ones has to be, the split-second tucking-in of the head on a speeding train, missing a giant steel post.

The Individualist said...

Haha @ 'the great feeling'. My mom'd freak out if she saw that phrase. :p
And yeah, another of the lesser 'rush' giving experiences is when you notice a bus speeding and you deliberately cross the road in such a way that the bus brushes past your nose. :p Done that?

Thilak pratap selva kumar said...

@The individualist,
Yeah, done that..Maybe not that close :))

Suresh said...

On the bike: Yeah, it's quite light weight. And yesh, Shogun has been able to beat Yamaha in straight races, but Shogun never had the traction or the braking that Yamaha had.

As GF says, Madras wasn't so bad. But Chennai got pretty bad. It's become hotter, stickier and a lot more pretentious.

Weight gain: It needs some serious commitment for people like us. Just eating something won't do. It should be protein rich (and general carbs and other stuff that people here consume consciously), have to work out to retain it in body and of course eating huge volumes and a little more frequently than the average person would help too. It's possible. Just needs a little more work than those with low basal metabolic rates (those who burn lesser energy at rest - to keep their organs functioning just so that you say alive. Ex: When you're sleeping).
Enna panradhukku we are always thinking about solving world's problems and the body needs more energy even when we are sleeping. Idhellam sonna ivangalukku puriyava pogudhu?

I weigh 54 when I'm tightly stuffed with food and water. Early in the morning when I get out of the bathroom I weigh around 52.

Foot-boarding in buses is nothing compared to hanging to train windows for 6 hours - from Bangalore to Madras, in the night :p. I've done it quite a few times. It gets terribly painful after a point, you forget about the "rush" because you feel like dying instead of hanging on any further.
May be that's why buses offer the actual rush. Because you always think that death is too soon to opt for.

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