Remember Neo dodging bullets in The Matrix? Groundbreaking multi-camera special effects saw Keanu Reeve’s character in the brilliant 1999 film, bending in super-slow-motion to dodge bullets fired at him. How we ooh-ed and aah-ed! Well, let me tell you: Neo, in all his black-trenchcoated coolness, has nothing on the way time freezes for Royal Enfield.
Built in India virtually unchanged from its British origins for over 55 years, the Enfield Bullet is locked in a warp. It exists in a slice of death-defying alternate reality, one where the country road is always smooth and winding and a blazing summer sun casts short shadows, where the air is thick with the scent of leather and oil and perpetually laced with the thudding din of big singles.
I can actually visualise an Enfield, handlebars flailing and swingarm flexing as it dodges the whizzing shots of modernity. Bang! The Vietnam War and the hippie era misses its tank by a fraction. Bang! The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War barely grazes its seat. Bang! India’s economic liberalisation and nuclear weapons test screams past its headlight. Bang! The internet and digital revolution is a blur just to its left.
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