To Shadow, With love8 min read

First published on my now defunct Facebook page on Sunday, 18 December 2011 at 03:59 UTC+04

Honda Shadow VT600
Shadow. On the way to Muscat, Oman.

(I wrote this when I was in the airport leaving toward Lebanon 2 days ago)

You might think not connecting to a shitty wi-fi in a world class city is a bad thing. I suppose not. I just realized, I could sit and work on my long-waited “note” that I’ve been promising myself to write. Sadly I’m not in a good spot in the airport. But I suppose I’ll try to get lost in a zone in my head that could filter out quite literally everything else.

I really don’t care who reads this (sorry, but I don’t!). So I’m going to write just for myself. In fact, I might not even post this (from my track record, I usually post it all the time, so … :P).   This note is for Shadow. With love. Some of you who already know me and my eccentricities already know who shadow is.   I like to usually tell you the state in which I am in when I’ve typed something. Usually I do that, to bring you in a similar state of being. And also to remind myself of that state. I am going to fly to Beirut in about 45 minutes from now. I decided I wanted to fly at around 5.00 pm today. It’s 11 pm now.   The reasons for my flight are beyond the scope of this article, and I don’t think Shadow cares to know. Although, in the most dramatic ways of explanation, I’m flying all the way to Beirut to declare my honest, pure love for my Wife. And truth be told, Shadow only stands my “assholeness” because he loves my wife more than me. Nothing more!   Here’s a funny thing though – my back pack list! a) A Palestinian Kuffiyeh b) An Afghani Pakul c) 2 Muslim round caps (those things that just sit on the skin of your head and are white) d) This laptop e) A coil of wire (I always carry wire… you NEVER know when you need wire – by the way, I once used the same wire in Sofia, Bulgaria at 3.00 am in the morning in a weird motel) f) A bungee cord – again, you never … never know when you need that. g) A small lighter (I still wonder how I always get that past security) h) A philips (+) screw driver (I still wonder how I always get that past security… although once the Syrian security… yes, the Syrian… those narrow unenlightened folks caught one with me!!) i) My jack Wolfskin jacket (thanks Augee :)) j) My che-guevara/einstein T-shirt (I’m wearing that now) k) My balls l) My nokia mobile phone   Ok, enough of this. But I’m going to be a weird case for the Beirut immigration, that’s for sure. If they decided to check my luggage… or my family history!   Ok and another cool thing… Beirut is where my parents (who I’m incidentally going to meet) fought a war 2 years before me and Leena were born. They fought against the Israelis. Soon I’ll fight a similar war hopefully somewhere in Palestine, if I don’t die of a silly road accident (which is the reason why I write this in the first place).   Ok, now to Shadow. My Honda VT600cd 1998 Shadow. The better part of me. The real soul in me.   You know, owning a bike is different than owning a car. There’s a bond that gets developed that’s way more personal and deeper than when you own a car.   The main reason for writing this is to try and describe however difficult it be this brotherhood between the Rider and his ride. This is for everyone who on a daily basis get on 2 wheels and pray somewhere in their hearts and heads that they be safe at the end of the trip. That somehow, everything goes smooth!   Here we go.   Brevity isn’t my cup of tea. But I owe it to shadow to make myself understood in a few paragraphs.   There was a guy one time who forgot to check the oil leak in his car. And while waiting at a traffic signal he spilled some oil at the junction. He continued on his journey not realizing that and later in the day got his car serviced and all was well.   About half an hour later a delivery bike (delivering a shitty McDonald burger) was crossing just that same junction. He was riding at a reasonable speed of 65 kph. His bike was properly serviced, his tires in excellent riding condition. The scorching sun didn’t allow him to see the reflection of the oil spill and he went right over it on a traffic junction. As soon as he rode right over it his front wheel skid and his steering completely cut to the right. In his instant reaction of saving his life he kicked real hard on the hard concrete floor 6 inches below him, quickly changing his gears to 2nd and revved the engine hard. The bike swerved back into balance and he continued on.   He parked just 5 minutes after that incident, went up, delivered the burger, got a shitty response from the owner of the delivery and continued on his way. Before he mounted on his bike again, he gave him a deep discerning look. Looked at the front wheel to make sure it’s dried up, gave his front fork a hug and said, “Thanks man!”.   He’s the only one who knows that he’d have been dead that lazy burgery afternoon. Everyday, bikers around the world, who ride for work, for commute or for long travels have the same thought almost after every trip-end. “Phew, that was close!”   Now, once you’ve had several of these near-death situations, you develop a bond with your bike that you’d probably not develop with anyone or anything else again. And every rider knows something important… he can be the most experienced, most amazing rider, but all it takes is a weird set of circumstances to get you killed. A sudden jam in the clutch wire, a burst of your tube, an oil slick, a drunk driver, a lose wooden log flying from the front of a truck or just a bad decision!   And so the life of a biker is. It’s very interesting to live like this. Because, somehow you then realize the importance of appreciating everyday that you are alive. Now statistically thinking, bikers don’t die more than car riders. But the reality is that in a car, you never think that a burst tire is going to kill you. You have a cage of METAL to protect you somehow. On a bike, you’re exposed to the elements.   I’ve ridden Shadow in hail, in rain, in sand storms, in strong winds, on patchy sandy roads, in chilly winters, in scorching summers, in busy highways, in crazy traffic, on long winding roads with nothing but the arid desert on both sides. And you know how nature feels when you ride. You can smell how the city smells. You can feel the real weather.   And there is this elevated sense of “knowing” your surroundings. You notice the bird that’s flying above you, the piece of paper that’s on the side on the road. You see the subtle movement of every car on the road. You know every bump on the road. Even the slightest ones. You notice small scatter of glass, a pebble, and a cigarette bud that was thrown from an asshole driver who cares less for bikers behind him. You notice them all. And you avoid them all. You navigate around them, swerving with your bike in constant conversation with him. You can’t afford to not be focused. You make 15 decisions in a second. The change of every gear, every curve you take, the speed at which you’ll turn, the gear you’ll switch to, the quick decision on how you’ll navigate between 2 cars, a truck and a speeding vehicle coming from the back. You make all these decisions. Sometimes, you celebrate a good day… you pat the side of the fuel tank and say, “Shadow, we did it!”. Some days, you’re back from a repair job and you’re riding him slow.   By the way something really interesting here: Your bike is like you Parent and your Child at the same time. This is real interesting. Here’s how. He cares for you, he keeps you safe and he ensures that the mistakes you make on the road don’t translate into disaster. He lets you get away with stupidity. But when he’s ill he needs your tender loving care. You take him to the best doctor (mechanic) there is. It’s always an important decision – should you take him to the rough mechanic or the soft mechanic. Different situations call for different mechanics. And you always look at him with worry. “You’re going to be ok, Shadow, nothing to worry about”. “I promise you a beautiful service job when I get my salary”. “I love you man and you’be ok right after we fix that lose chain”.   And so he becomes your child. You know, while riding him back from a repair job, you ride him slow. You’re usually looking at him and saying … Hmmmm You’re fine now. Hope you’re feeling better. You caress the petrol tank and say, Welcome back hommie! I am not joking! This is quite a normal thing. The reason why I’m telling you all this is to give you a realization of the friendship, brotherhood and bond you develop with your bike. Sometimes after a good repair job you’re elated. You smile and laugh… you say.. “Yeah motherfucka, you’re back you asshole!”   Anyway, you also discuss your deepest secrets. Who else will know of your deepest secrets than the guy who’ll be the last one to be with you when you die… if you happen to die on a bike accident. And so getting rid of your bike or selling it for a good deal is NEVER the right thing to do.   I almost made that bad decision! I don’t know how I had tried to even think of such a dumb ass decision. I would take no money for my bike. If you were to give me a BRAND New Honda Shadow in place of my bike, I will say, thanks but no thanks!   If you read till here, you have some weird affinity of reading my shit. I’m going to end here and I will write another note sometime later telling you about what’s next with Shadow. I had an accident. Thankfully, we both are fine. Shadow got himself fixed and now for the rest of us.   If you really are interested in bikes and bikers, I suggest:   1. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig (A Book) 2. Motorcycle Diaries (the movie is better to give you a feel for biking) 3. The world’s fastest Indian (A Movie)   Ok, good night. Dear Shadow, I promise to never think of selling you again. If all the parts in the world get discontinued, I’ll make parts to keep you going. And when I can’t keep you going, you’ll still be with me.  

Dear Hany, I know I gave you my word to sell you my bike. I’m sorry I broke my word. That’s not very honorable of me to do. But please do forgive my immaturity.

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