Having a rented a few vehicles across Europe and North America, I was stunned to be strolling out of the garage with the keys to a Classic 350 in my hand less then three minutes after walking in. No forms to fill out. No talk about insurance options. No lectures about petrol levels. Just hand over your passport and 700Rs (about $11US) and we'll see you at this time tomorrow.
This is an enjoyable contrast to western rental operations who require you to have a law-based post graduate degree in order to understand the small print, whilst piling on the hidden extras when you arrive at the desk that you've queued an hour for.
The design incorporates simple, classic curves and a speedo built into the headlamp, but it has been brought into the 21st century with additions like the button starter and sleek indicators. The exhaust runs low and straight, delivering a deep-toned putta-putta-putta that I'm convinced is good for the soul and, right from the start, you kind of feel like you should be trying to jump a barbed wire fence, Steve McQueen style.
Following the tsunnami, large sea walls were placed along the coast, blocking their view from the road, but once you scurry over you'll find an extremely long beach that is relatively undeveloped and almost empty. It's a nice spot to kill some time, but we had some weather moving in on us that was thundering away in the distance, so we made a run for home. We were unsuccessful.
About half way back to the ferry, the skies opened and we were drenched in seconds. This sounds like it would be a nightmare, but it wasn't cold and it gave us the chance to hold up and drink chai whilst watching the torrential rain. It passed soon enough and we headed home to dry off before it got dark.
The backwaters themselves just snuck up on us as we followed dirt roads that unveiled water masses fringed with palm trees. A few roads dissected the waterways, on which you are truly surrounded by Keralan scenery at its best. A couple of hours here is cathartic following the bustle of the city and we returned the bike ready to head back into the thick of it.
It was exhilarating in a "wind in your hair" kind of way and felt a lot like I'd had my blinkers removed. Noticeably cooler, it was easier to take in the surrounding vistas/chat to inquisitive locals.
On the flip side you also feel exposed, which would seem obvious, but on the dicey roads of India it's more poignant. As a result, the helmet-free ride isn't worth the risk to me. Oddly, riding this way still felt safer than taking the bus.
There are plenty of ways to explore Kochi, but a day on the a Enfield was special. The kind of special people write about (hence the blog post). For 24 hours a real piece of Indian vehicular history was ours and, even when we were redefining our understand of "wet" in a storm, we enjoyed every minute of it. If you have a license and are so inclined, I couldn't endorse this experience enough. You'll be boring anyone who mentions motorcycles with tales from your day for years.