Just inches away from the nearest vehicle – right down the dotted white line
Still crankin’ away at the word-mill… I’ll be posting bits and pieces from the book Zen and The Art of Moto Taxi Survival in the coming weeks.
Here’s a bit more from the introduction:
So, you may ask, what’s all this got to do with Zen, the French, Life, and everything else in the subtitle? And why should you invest the next x-number of hours in reading about my stupidity?
Well, here’s the thing with regard to the French – in my extended experience of dealing with Europeans both personally and professionally, since the late 1980s, I’ve learned a whole lot about what works and what doesn’t. And since working almost daily with French colleagues from 2010 to 2014, I’ve learned even more. I’ve watched movies and read a bunch of books. Everything from Peter Maille to Pamela Druckerman to Stephen Clarke, and a bunch of more obscure yet no less enthusiastic Francophile confessionalists. And yet there’s nothing like climbing on the back of a very powerful motorcycle, and spending 40 mind-numbingly intense minutes with a Frenchman, to bring home the lessons you gleaned from mere words on a page.
So, if you’re like me and you can’t resist yet another contemplation of the nuances of Gallic temperament and shenanigans, why don’t you join me for the next little while.
As for Zen, I’m not sure I can – or should – speak to that. In my mind, by its very nature, Zen precludes discussion of itself. Of course, you’d never know it from looking around online and finding so many voices coming up with so many different versions of truth about all things Zen. From where I’m sitting, putting my finger on the particularly “zen” aspects of this ride is a little like trying to get a small piece of shell out of the eggs you’re scrambling. It’s slippery business, and if you’re not careful, you can end up wearing your breakfast before it’s cooked, if you’re not careful. Those who are into the Four Noble Truths and tread the Eightfold Path with glee may find plenty to hold their attention. And they may even discuss amongst themselves. But I’ll leave it to my readers to do their own finger-pointing at what I’m mooning about.
Regarding Life, well, nothing makes it sweeter than a passing brush with death. And nothing makes your near miss seem more dramatic, than writing a book about it after you’re safely back at home.
Let the record show that I do actually regret making the choice to hop on that moto taxi. I understand why I did it, and it eventually came to make sense in a pragmatically twisted sort of way, but the record should also show I will never, ever do it again. At least, not that way. There were way too many close calls, and I was eminently unprepared for the ride I took – or the potential consequences of my driver’s various choices that could easily have gone south.
Let the record also show that I do NOT recommend that anyone without motorcycle riding experience follow in my footsteps. I’m clearly not going to stop you if you decide to do this stupid/crazy thing called being an inexperienced rider who hops on the back of a motorcycle with an untested driver in a foreign country and tears down the road at top speeds through snarled traffic. If you do this, yourself, and you get maimed, killed, or castrated, it’s on you. Consult your significant other. Consult your doctor. Consult your lawyer. But don’t come crying to me, if you do what I did and it ends badly for you.
Then again, if you’re an experienced rider – either driving or riding pillion (as a passenger) – taking a motorcycle from the airport could be the ideal way to get around. It’s probably a great way to get around Paris, too. Sure, it’s a little more expensive than a regular taxi – maybe 20 euros more on the trip from the airport – but for the time it saves you and the feeling of being out in the open, instead of inside a stuffy cab, I think it’s well worth it. Moto taxis are fast, convenient, and they can be a lot of fun. If your pilot knows what he/she is doing on two wheels, and you’re comfortable on the back of bike, I say go for it.
In any case, if you do decide to try it for yourself, make sure you have ample travel insurance that covers repatriating your remains to your home country, as well as providing for your funeral and the future welfare of your loved ones. After all, French motorcycle riders are – to be indelicate and possibly impolitic – fucking crazy. And you’re not going to be the one driving.
Enough flap. Let’s get started.