Let’s get right to it – I definitely am worried about what the immediate future holds for Amicus Partners. Bar qualifications, the falling rupee, ever changing travel restrictions – these are just a few of the things that already have, and will continue to, impact foreign study plans. No doubt, over the long term I believe that things will get back to normal, and possibly grow, but the short-term view certainly isn’t pretty.
Which is par for the course, I suppose, for any organization in today’s strange new world.
But there is also a larger, more general sense of worry that is harder to silence. It is a worry of the paralyzing kind, one which batters down hope, and which claws at you all the time. Incessantly. Taking up more and more space within your mind.
This is the worry that I find myself struggling with, and this is what I wanted to devote this column to. A column that, for once, has little to do with LL.M. applications or even legal education.
It has taken much soul searching (alright no more clichés), but I do seem to have found solace in a rather unlikely source – motorcycle travel.
Just stay with me on this one.
It means different things to different people, but for me, travelling on two wheels of the mechanized kind have resulted in fantastic learnings. These are travels that are not only about the memories made, and the places visited but also about the many lessons you learn along the way. Lessons that are as valuable to you while you are riding as they are when you are not.
The lessons are many, here are six that I think are the most relevant.
Lesson One: Look where you wish to go
This is one of the simplest rules of biking, and one whose simplicity often makes it the hardest to follow. You, and your bike, will go where you look. If you want to take a particular line, that is where you have to look.
I don’t know how and why this works but I do know it does.
Think about where you want to go, look in that direction, and that is where you will find yourself. Of course, there are additional factors at play such as speed, skill etc. but the lesson’s base utility remains.
Look where you wish to go.
Lesson Two: Let go of excess luggage
You can only carry so much on your bike. And after the first few trips, I realized that I did not even need half the things that I had taken along. I also realized that lesser the luggage, lighter the bike and hence easier to pick up when dropped.
The lighter the bike, the easier it is to manoeuvre this way and that. And lesser the luggage, the lighter the load on your arms and your back as you trudge towards your halt for the night.
Eventually, you realise that there are only so many “things” you actually need. This also means that you take greater care of what you have; you appreciate and value them more.
Alright, I will stop being meta. For now.
Lesson Three: The bad roads never last
They just do not. Sure, there may be times when every crater and pothole jars right up your spine, and your hands and eyes and legs grow tired but always, always, always know that this shall pass. In fact, you can even make this an opportunity to learn or practice a skill such as riding standing up, learning about you and your bike’s own limitations etc.
Just know that you shall hit smooth, buttery smooth, tarmac soon enough. Which, in turn, will also end.
What I am trying to say here is that don’t despair too much about the non-roads, and don’t get too happy about the paved ones either. Enjoy them for what they are, and you will be just fine.
Did I say that I would stop being meta? I may have been incorrect.
Lesson Four: Things, like your bike or your self-belief, will break down. And get fixed.
They certainly have in my case. Without a working bike, your travels are effectively over. And without self-belief, things can become quite unpleasant quite quickly.
Thankfully, both can be fixed. Of this, again, I rely on my own experiences.
If you do not have the professional skills for repairs, find someone who does. Just remember that even during the darkest of times, there is always a way out. A way that is often found with the help of someone else.
Which brings me to my next point.
Lesson Five: Ask for help. You will find it.
This has been one of the most beautiful lessons that biking has taught me. As a solo, novice biker with zero mechanical knowledge, my biggest fear has been a bike breakdown. Especially in the more rural parts of the country.
And yet, I have always (always!) found help, often in places where I least expected it. This holds true for non-mechanical help as well. Right from running out of money to being stranded on a tiny mountain road with a bike that refused to start, help has come.
I suppose technology has played a part here as well – in an always online world, getting heard is not that hard. But you still have to ask.
And finally, the most important lesson of them all:
Lesson Six: If you have to chase a dog down a highway, remove your helmet first.
Clearly, the most important lesson of them all. And one I only learnt after a curious canine decide to pick up my gloves as I was trying to pick up my fallen bike. He, that lovely creature may God bless his soul, then decided to trot away with me giving chase and screaming all sorts of politeness.
Eventually, he (the curious canine) lost interest, lay the gloves on the road and then wandered off to wherever he came from. Leaving me breathless, but thankfully not gloveless, on the side of the road. Panting into my helmet.
Which is how I realized that if I had to do that again, I would remove the helmet first. Makes it easier to breathe. Far easier.
And, some times, all we really need to do is breathe.