The sun looks like it’s just woken up, preferring to take it easy on this cold desert day. The light is soft, mellow and thoroughly beautiful with its rich warm glow bathing this mystical land. Fine sand sweeps across the narrow village road I’m on, in a subtly seductive manner. It’s almost like the motion a fine piece of silk has when it’s blowing in gentle winds. The sky is deep blue and crystal-clear, the air feeling exceedingly crisp as the morning temperatures hover around 7 degrees, and my mind is levitating in the freedom and peace that this morning gifts me. I glance downwards and see the legendary ‘Harley-Davidson’ tag written in vivid orange on the gas tank, the black paint making the contrast even starker. I revel in the moment, enjoying the muted V-Twin thrum as if it’s a heart beating. That very moment was Harley-Davidson’s best meeting some of Rajasthan’s finest. The sort of thing that could very well be what U2 had in mind when they had the genius moment for their hit – ‘Beautiful Day’. That good.
Rajasthan, the land of the kings, has a deep and enthralling history, not unlike the motorcycle maker here, Harley-Davidson. The erstwhile Rajput empire was known for its fearsome fighting skills, its valour and chivalry and protecting the Indian subcontinent from the repeated and much feared Islamic invasions. Spread across its 343,000-plus square kilometres are forts, palaces and temples that truly befit such a celebrated kingdom. Similarly, Harley-Davidson, one of the most illustrious motorcycle brands in the world, is worth a history book in itself. Founded in 1903, they were one of the few to have survived both the World Wars, the Great Depression, the fight against plummeting quality and the invasion of the Japanese motorcycles. Harley-Davidson and the state of Rajasthan both had their strengths – power, heritage, traditions and the ability to survive in testing times – but legends never sit idle, they reinvent and change with the times, and this is exactly what the two did.
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