Human brain is a victim of selfish gene. So after around twenty-five years or so starts the slow process of wearing it down and that accelerates from middle age onward. We think that is the mid-life crisis and start wearing colours, buy bikes and take up yoga. I feel that if we keep using the skills we pick up in youth then the brain remains alive. That is why I ride my cycle and bike(motorcycle) in traffic. Shout and jump around the house with no apparent reason. Try to climb trees, this is tough with current over weight condition but the attempts are on. Try to do things with the other non-dominant hand. They also say if you learn new things the brain actually improves. New neural pathways are created. Yes that is true. They showed it on TV with blue MRI images. So anything that is shown with white coats , expensive screens and on the paid channels is true. Especially if they show blue MRI Images. Same is not true anymore of internet though.
That establishes it, learning helps brain. Learn a new skill, new language, new route, new hobby. And on top of it, it feels sooo good once you do something with the new skill. Sing well, stitch curtains, manage seershasana (head stand, yoga), ride a super bike on a dirt road and … you know what I mean. In addition, learning opens a portal to that sub sect of people that allows for new friends to come to your life. And these folks will make you expand your world. Yet. It is so hard to learn new tricks when you are an old dog. Why ? It is all nice to say learning keeps you young, you are not too old to learn but look around, look with in. How many of us are learning, how often do we learn new things ? Learning is hard. Comfort and familiarity are so warm, cozy and accommodating. Fear is so terrible. Learning means exposing. Means you will fail. Means, few times, you have to listen to teachers half your age. But mostly learning is hard due to fear of failure and because you get into uncomfortable zone. Unknown zone.
Then how can you register to an adult literacy of any kind and then make it work? Few are born risk takers and they are constant learners. Few are more afraid of the midlife crisis than of failure so take up hobbies and persist. Few develop faith and religion and learn spirituality. If you have none of these then only interest, curiosity and passion can save you. Plus you need to surround yourself with kindred souls who can give support, encouragement, warmth and then the helping hand at right time to buffer you. Who you trust. So when my biker gang BAC Bengaluru put up the event for a DIY event with a promotional ride to Kanva I enrolled.
I learnt proper biking skills , long distance riding skills and formation riding with the group. I am probably the oldest active member yet from the very first ride the group led by Srinidhi took me in, and taught me without making me feel like a student. Now using the fabulous rapport with RV Bajaj put up this session to manage emergency fixes ( clutch and accelerator wire replacement, chain maintenance, wheel removal … ). That would come handy on long rides. And I would learn bit more about my bike. The trip later to the Kanuva dam would be a bonus.
The session at the service station on Mysore road near Nayandanahalli metro started with a slight delay ( we were getting better with time management off late but today not so lucky ). The Chief technician started demo on an Avenger with clutch wire removal. We all crowded around so most of us got slight view. I got the basics right. How to loosen the nuts, what spanner to use and how to release the cable from the hold. This was towards the side of engine. Next was the lesson to release the cable from the handle. The trick is to align the channels and the holes slide the cable out and then get it released. After that is was the turn of accelerator cable. This is more involved and tricky. Ashi bravely waded into it. And got tired so got the support of a stroll made from the disc of the disk brake and rods. It is neat but involved process that will vex and bore you. If you are not into bikes. For the biker enthusiast I plan to add a page with details on the process soon.
As the session was on there were mini conferences around the service station. I realized a session where you are not working with your hands, you learn superficially. I now know where to poke and prod but to able to do it myself will need more one on one teaching. We skipped the wheel removal as we ran out of time and went to chain cleaning. Normally we clean the chain and then lube it. Here the mechanic did both together. Mix diesel with engine oil, even the old drained oid is ok! And take a rag , soak it in the mix , hold the chain from below and pull it towards the engine. Till you see the clear steel. Repeat from the top. You need diesel and oil mix else the lubrications in O rings will run out and wear them down.
To overcome the hurdles to learning then one needs an ustaad (a master crafts man who is willing to mentor) who can hand hold you, tell you the right and wrong way of doing things. Motivate you, guide you. Normally for the skills that need hand, eye and mind coordination this is like apprenticeship crunched into training. If you have the interest and the ustaad is willing to spend time you can keep the learning. Even for pursuits that are more mind oriented than hand coordination you still need a mentor.
A supportive community is next link to success. A mentor can guide you but a peer can live
the pain and help you from more recent experiences. Will tell you how failure feels and how refreshing the light at the end of the tunnel is. On needs to persevere and slowly things will fall in place.
Having learned , peeped and talked our time out of the DIY we assembled for a brief for the ride to Kanva reservoir. Srinidhi thanked the RV Bajaj owner, the technicians and managers. They seemed happy to help us.
And then there was matter of responsibilities for the ride itself. Each ride, of more than 15 bikes, needs a lead, second lead, sweep, second sweep and a marshal. As he was running through the names he saw me and made me the lead. Remember, in the last ride to Leepakshi I was made the lead ? Now this time again I had to lead and now in a traffic filled Mysore road with a bunch for first time riders. Again Manjunath was to be the marshal.
Looks like the learning for me continues. I do need to get some lessons in leading. Here are few main points: Keep the new riders more to the front. Balance the speed to be swift yet for the formation to manage it. Decide on 2 file or 1 file formation based on traffic density. Overtake carefully , take care of fast, impatient approaching cars. Use rear view mirrors. Always. Indicate well for slowdowns and on clear paths for speed up. Sounds simple. But to be in the saddle, looking ahead for the road situation, looking in the rear view to gauze formation and then take these calls really gets those brain neurons working. I could “feel” my brain increase. Wish could take that blue picture then.
Other thing about learning is practice and repetitions. First time is all a blur of nervous thoughts and running chemicals. Fear of mistakes and embarrassment. Second time too all these are there but little less and your brain starts to sort things. Train those muscles and tune the timing. There are still mistakes but fear and embarrassment slightly diminished. Few helpful corrections and stern warning will speed the process. Lucky for me I got only the first kind of help. Practice improve the skills, builds confidence. It also give the first nervous taste of success. An encouraging remark from the seasoned and the look of respect from new riders is priceless. Also you own worth grows. That helps to keep the course for learning program.
As we started the days ride it was evident that the Mysore road traffic allows for only single file. Even that in the traffic is no mean feat. Wify with pillion was a comforting presence. Marshall was managing the traffic best he could. Srinidhi was spanning the formation, may be a guest lead ? With all this learning happening we came upon Ramnagar’s Kamat Yatri Nivas. The group stopped for a Kairali lunch.
The rest of the ride to Kanva held more learning, more time for the tarred raods to teach me not only about learning skills but also a tip or two about managing relationships. That is the story for part two of this in the next blog.