Very recently, I read about a biker brother landing up in a brawl with local goons during a soloride. Such an incident is definitely avoidable. However, such situations are not under direct control. Just sharing some experience about how to avoid such a situation and how to react in case such a situation arises :-
1. Always and always travel in full riding gear, that means a riding jacket, good rugged trouser, boots, gloves, knee protectors and helmets. If not protection. ..It signifies that you are a guy who is a SERIOUS RIDER and not interested in nonsense. Sometimes a full riding gear may arouse curiosity and suspicion too … “This guy is racing” … but that can be obviated by not high speeding. Full riding gear will surely discourage stupid people to come and start creating unnecessary trouble.
2. Interact with locals but never ever comment wrt any local custom, religion or practise. Ask questions but refrain from giving opinions. You may often face questions like “Who are you ? What are you doing here?”. I often find young riders give brash answers to simple villagers like “What will you understand about riding?” …etc. These are stupid answers. Instead, a better answer may be “ I am a tourist here, I travel in motorcycles. This is a beautiful village”. A little bit of politeness and humility never hurt anyone. Also, if you attend some ceremony and see some activities and customs that does not appeal to your sensitivity, learn to keep your mouth shut. Unnecessary comments land maximum people in trouble. Remember “ The dumb has no enemies” … so learn to play dumb. See, learn, enjoy.
3. Be cautious about clicking photographs. In this age of mindless selfies and digital crap, be sensitive about clicking photos. Example, You may feel a village mom nursing her baby is a good photo subject, but high chances are that the locals might not like that. Think, before you click. When in doubt, it may be good to ask … “Can I click some photos of this old temple /mazhaar/burning ghat/ cemetry /animals” … etc.
4. Always and always carry valid id, licence and motorcycle documents. These documents will become your savior in difficult time. But remember, never take out documents in front of goons, chances are high they will tear them away, or just take them away and you will be in more trouble. Keep documents hidden and safe on you, and show them to some person of authority (say police, panchayat member etc) if only need be. If a local goon asks for documents, always say “ Ill show, but call the sarpanch first”.
5. Never ever drink and ride. Other than the obvious problem of lowered judgement leading to accidents etc, alcohol has other social problems too. If a local person smells alcohol on you, his first reaction will on all probability will be hostile.
6. If you need to stop, stop and park in a reasonably populated place, which has shops, dhabas, some semblance to civilization. Its best to avoid parking in absolute desolate places, where somebody may be lurking to hurt and mug you, and no help is nearby.
7. If some local checks you about your riding skills, parking place or taunts you … remain silent … He is trying for a fight … say sorry .. and move away. NEVER EVER GET INTO UNNECESSARY ARGUMENTS with any local guy. Avoid arguments at all cost. Usually all brawls start with an argument and therefter snowballs into a fight.
8. Never carry too much money … just about enough should do. Never ever make public display of your purse and the amount of money you are carrying. People may notice that and hatch some sinister plan. Also, its a good idea to make a secret pocket in your dress somewhere and carry the immediate requirement in the purse and the extra amount in the secret pocket.
9. Never ever look towards any woman /girl, and forget smiles and conversation. Will not describe this point but will surely warn you all …. max brawls are again about some issues wrt women. Best solution is AVOID WOMEN … period.
10. Be very careful of running children and farm animals and poultry. If you kill a farm animal or poultry, usually the locals will ask for an astronomical amount of money. Stay calm, negotiate and ask for the Sarpanch to mediate.
11. Smile, talk, communicate, be polite; but do not give the appearance of a “Vela” (useless bum) ..maintain a serious disposition. Useless meaningless talks and unnecessary jokes and sarcasm is best avoided in an unfamiliar area and crowd.
12. Never ever give out your ride or halt plan to strangers,including Facebook during the journey. Keep updating your plans and progress to a very close group of friends / family members. I have a whattsapp group of extremely close friends and family who has nothing to do with riding motorcycles, but are my closest. I usually update my plans and progress to them periodically. I recommend not to give live pics, commentaries and feeds on Facebook but to post during the Night Halt (but people may disagree on that).
13. In many parts of the Country, lots of people carry guns openly. It may be common to come across a Hunter in Arunachal Pradesh with a gun or some Goon Brigade in Bihar. Remember, Tribals of some parts of India are not controlled by IPC/CrPC but by the Tribal Act and hence they can and do use Firearms with impunity. Lesser said about the Goon Brigade, the better. Remember, AVOID PEOPLE WITH GUNS.
14. BE STRONG AND FIT … know some UAC (Unarmed combat ) / martial arts to get out of a situation and flee. Never linger in the scene of trouble. Get going as soon as possible.
15. Keep emergency and passing by friends numbers saved and handy in your mobile and in a notebook. Example. .. If passing through Guwahati, keep the police and Guwahati friends numbers in phone. Never hesitate to give them a call if in trouble.
16 . I carry a secret weapon (but not advising anyone to carry something if it’s illegal or you don’t know how to use it).
Ride hard, ride safe, RIDE UNAFRAID, RIDE STRONG.