BENGALURU: This is the first time in 30 years that Niladri Mazumder doesn’t own a motorcycle. The president and COO of Seiko Watch India Private Limited recently sold his beloved eight-year-old Harley Davidson bike (the 23rd one in India) and is currently donning the glow of someone enjoying his “courtship period”. This, according to him, is the best period since he isn’t fully committed to a single bike and can take his time test driving other models. His inbox and messages are flooded with companies asking him when he’d like to come and check out the latest bikes available.
It doesn’t take much to guess that Mazumder is an ardent sports and automobile fan. His cabin at work is equal parts office, equal parts shrine. Two football club scarves hang on one wall, models of convertibles casually sit around on his bookshelf (filled with books on sports and the Indian freedom struggle), a tiny football paperweight holds onto some important papers and his red Arsenal laptop cover is quick to tell you which his favourite club is. Right next to the entrance is a Bangalore Pandhis (the motorcycle group Mazumder co-founded in 2010) biker jacket on a stand, almost like it’s placed there for those restless moments when he just can’t stop himself from dashing out for a quick ride.
“I come from a family of freedom fighters. I’ve grown up hearing how my forefathers were instrumental in the freedom struggle and how Subhas Chandra Bose stayed in our parental home once. So, risk and thrill-seeking runs in the blood,” Mazumder explains.
The senior professional’s love for biking began in college,when he bought his first bike, a Yamaha one, for `18,000. There was no looking back since then and the bike was his constant companion for 10 years. Interestingly, when he sold the bike, he was able to amass a profit of `3,000, showing just how much he looked after it. In 2010, the then 40-year-old got together with some of his friends and started the Bangalore Pandhis, which has 200 members today.
The core nine members of the group, Mazumder included, meet often for bike rides and given that his residence is close to a highway, he often zooms off for a 40 km ride on Sundays. Besides this, the extended group often travels together but unlike typical biker gangs, the members aren’t all men and outings don’t include just cartons of beer and cigarettes being split among themselves. “When we travel, our families and kids come along too. We recently celebrated one of the member’s son’s birthday together. We’re a family group,” says Mazumder with a smile.
In the eight years that he rode the Harley, no one other than Mazumder sat on the bike for even 100 metres and until recently, he was the only one who looked after the cleaning of the bike as well. But his moment of pride comes from the fact that in those 25,000 km, not once has the bike fallen. “Safety is something we take seriously in this club. We make sure we’re all protected at all times. As a rule, if anyone spots a member ever riding without a helmet, he’s asked to leave the group,”says Mazumder.
For the past two weeks, he has swung from being excited to jittery. Not having a bike has left him missing the reverberation of the vehicle, but this won’t last long. “I’m going to choose between three bikes and within a month, I shall be committed to either a Ducatti, BMW or Harley again,” he says with the joy of a child on Christmas morning.