Sunday, 5 March 2017

HOGging the Limelight



-Brian Mendonça

One has often seen on the road a cavalcade of motorbikes on Goa roads. Riding along with nary a care in the world, they epitomize the saviours of humanity. Of course when they are in packs they ride in the daylight with their headlights on (which is a little weird).

These riders bring out the travel bug in me. They ride free, they ride perhaps wild. With not a care in the world it seems, they seem to regard the world with disdain. Not for them a comfortable bed or the trappings of home. They belong to the great outdoors.

As they file along slowly in perfect formation, they are a force to reckon with. They are going to wipe out the bad guys and go after those who harass the damsels in distress.

Iconic bikes like the American Harley-Davidson, established in Wisconsin in 1903, have elevated the worship of their mean machines to cult status. To ride a Harley means to have arrived. The website for the Harley-Davidson Owner’s Group (HOG) uses an acronym which also stands for a pig. ‘The world was meant to be seen from the seat of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle,’ goes the tag line on the HOG website at www.hog.com

‘Hogging  the limelight’ is an expression to mean drawing undue and perhaps undeserved attention to oneself at the expense of others. It emerged from the nineteenth-century stage where an actor on whom the spotlight was more than others was seen as hogging the limelight.

Last month HOG organized a rally from Pune to Goa. Anand Pawar was one of the bikers. At Amboli ghat he had a tragic accident in the dead of night where it appears his bike collided with another vehicle.  Since medical care was inadequate at the primary health care centre he was moved to a government hospital at Sawantwadi where he breathed his last. This was the first time his wife Saroj was also accompanying him in a 4-wheeler at the rear of the formation.

There are conflicting reports about what happened after Anand Pawar died. His wife says the bikers abandoned her with her husband’s body and drove in to Goa (40 km. away), rather than heading back to Pune (400 km. away).  Another source says bikers in fact did give their statements to the police. The ladies in the jeep whose husbands too were part of the rally offered assistance to Saroj.

I did not see any report in the English print media in Goa.  Only Pune Mirror carried in Times of India, and online sources like scoopwhoop reported it. Despite the rally being such a prestigious event there was no arrangement for an ambulance. None of the bikers was carrying a medical kit.* Next time I look at those mean machines, I will remind myself there is a thin line between romance and reality. It is so easy to appear macho. It is also an illusion.
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*Namrata Dadwal, ‘Harley biker abandoned after accident,’ www.scoopwhoop.com, 19 February 2017; Published in Gomantak Times, Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 5 March 2017. Pix courtesy http://www.harley-davidson.com



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