A necessary evil
From the eyes of a rather young and comparatively inexperienced person, a majority of the human race seems to be looking for something rather simple normalcy. Give them a steady nine-to-five job, a loving family and a roof over their head and they'll be content for the rest of their time on earth. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that to each his own, I say.
But then, there are people on the other end of this spectrum who find this whole business of normalcy a bit too normal for their liking. They sometimes choose to ignore the basic animal instinct to survive and put themselves right in harm's way to get their shot of adrenaline. In this past year of travelling I've met quite a few of these people, and have really grown to admire their spirit. Truth be told, there might have been a bit of envy too.
Subhamoy Paul riding his KTM 500 EXC in Leg 1 of the 2016 Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya
But the tragic death of Subhamoy Paul at the 2016 Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya got me thinking of the consequences of putting my life on the line in my search for glory. There was a barrage of difficult questions floating around my head, the biggest of which was my family. As soon as word spread of the incident, there was an eerie air of uncertainty. While we waited for further instruction from the officials, I met some people that had known Paul, who were still letting the news sink in. Death is not as common an occurrence at the Raid as it is at the Dakar. But it isn't a stranger to it either.
I suppose those who compete in motorsport, especially in events like the Dakar and the Raid, are perfectly aware of the consequences of their choices. But what most people find hard to understand, is if all the glory in the world is worth risking one's life. From what I've learned, especially in the past week, some people find life too short and too unpredictable to be worried about playing it safe. As cliché as it sounds, death is inevitable. The way I see it from my young and naive eyes it's a matter of choosing to go out on your own terms or on someone else's.
As harsh and as naive as this might sound, death is a necessary evil, especially in motorsport. Of course, it can be one of the hardest things to deal with! But it also puts us humans back in our place. Our race, in my opinion, seems to have a self-proclaimed air of invincibility around us after all these years of ruling the earth. Death keeps us grounded and reminds us that we actually have very little control over what happens in the grand scheme of this infinitely vast universe. Death is what reminds you to wear your seatbelt or helmet every time you hit the road.
That said, it can smite even the most cautious, as was the case with Subhamoy Paul, who was kitted with some of the best riding gear at the Raid. I wouldn't say that Lady Luck has so much a part in this matter as her equally mysterious counterpart, Fate. Given the uncertainty of it all, we're better off getting out there, finding our passion and pursuing it whether it's living a normal life or a death-defying one. This Raid has made me realise that I've found my sweet spot right in the middle of the two where the grass looks just as green on one side as it does on the other.