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Celebrating New Year – on Motorcycle

January 5, 2012

“A Happy New Year!” shouted a young man riding on the third seat of a motorcycle at us driving behind them on the highway from the Chennai airport. The year of 2012 started with fireworks on the drizzly and humid night sky. We stopped at a gas station at 0:05 am, where the staff were celebrating a new year with each other and with customers. The cashier shook my hand when I paid with a big smile. I liked the way Indians celebrate a New Year.

How Young Riders Celebrate New Year – Indian Style

The three young men on the bike looked so excited, and also maybe intoxicated. New Year seems to be one of rare occasions that Chennai people can get drunk openly in public. Bars in Chennai usually close at 11pm, but someone said they open until 1am or 2 only on this day. There were so many drunken young men outside, riding on their motorbikes and zigzagging on the street or shouting happily to the pedestrians from the open window of their cars. They were so ecstatic that they even tried to touch us in the car running at 50 mph.

Policemen were visible at every intersections as well. When those tipsy young men on the motorcycle waved at two policemen at the red traffic light, I thought they were in trouble. Surprisingly, however, the policemen waved back to them, smiling. My driver said the New Year’s Day is special and the police files no case. They are there to make sure nothing serious happens, not to catch those who are celebrating the event by exercising their riding skills. I liked this as well.

Ref: “Marina beach Chennai – New Year 2011 Celebration-12” on YouTube

How Young Riders Celebrate New Year – Japanese Style

Three young men riding on one motorcycle and waving to policemen on the New Year’s Day – this picture reminded me of Japan. We have a very similar custom, although it’s getting less popular these days. It used to be a serious social issue in Japan, where groups of young riders, called ‘Bosozoku‘, ran on the highway to celebrate New Year.

The Japanese riders, with their traditional cultural values on harmony, hierarchy, and craftsmanship, ride as a big group with a very strict organizational structure on motorcycles and cars fully customized and artistically decorated. The police, on the other side, took this reckless driving as a serious offense to the public interest and put a full force to crack them down. A fierce battle between the Bosozoku and the police used be a New Year’s tradition in Japan.

Ref: “Bosozoku vs Police” on YouTube

Today’s Lesson

If you plan to celebrate the next New Year with reckless bike ride on the street, avoid Japan.

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