Skip to main content

Featured Post

The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Sons of Thunder: A Motorcycling Anthology - Book Review

Driving is not one of my passions, and motorcycles and I have no connection whatsoever. The nearest I have come to motorcycles is riding pillion with a couple of my cousins, and those opportunities were few and far between. Of the Bajaj scooter though, I have loads of memories.... again, not of driving, but of being driven... When I got the book ‘Sons of Thunder – A motorcycle anthology’ for review, I must admit, I hesitated for a while. Would I be able to enjoy a book that dealt with something I wasn’t really keen on? Would I be even able to complete reading it? But I was also curious. Here was a book solely about motorcycles.... how much could you write about them? So, I laid aside my inhibitions and decided to go ahead and find out just what 26 authors had to write about motorcycles!

Image Courtesy: Random House

Sons of Thunder – writing from the fast lane: A Motorcycling Anthology’, selected and introduced by Neil Bradford, is, in just one single line, the story of love affairs with motorcycles. Neil Bradford’s love for the machine is evident from the first few lines of the introduction, where he begins with a description of T.E.Lawrence’s (more popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia) garage filled with motorcycles. In fact, T.E. Lawrence appears to have been the inspiration behind the book. It not only opens with a quote by Lawrence, but the title itself has been taken from Lawrence’s names for his bikes – Boanerges – or Sons of Thunder, in Aramaic. Further, the book also includes no less than three writings by Lawrence!

I wasn’t able to find out much about Neil Bradford, other than that he worked in the publishing industry, but he has managed to put together an amazing collection of Motorcycling love stories. The book takes off with Melissa Holbrook Pierson’s ‘The Perfect Vehicle’, which, even in a non-bike-lover like me, managed to induce an adrenaline rush as I imagined myself, through her words, strapping on a crash helmet and speeding through the countryside. “So, this is why they ride” was a thought that crept in, and stayed in my mind, all through the book.

I had heard and read about Lawrence of Arabia. But reading about his love affairs with bikes and speed was something that gave me an entirely new perspective. The book contains three writings of his – the first is a beautiful piece, where he describes speeding over the English countryside, “riding a hundred miles for the joy of it and picking up the best food cheapest, over half the countryside.” The other two are excerpts from his letters, but no less interesting, especially one where he writes about his bike to George Brough, the owner of the company that manufactured the bike in the first place!

If reading Roald Dahl’s piece of riding his bike incognito when he was sixteen and supposed to be in school, made me smile, Ted Hughes poem about a young man crashing his new bike dampened my mood the very next moment. Robert Edison Fulton Jr.’s adventure in the Turkish desert or Alberto Granado’s travels with Che Guevara through Chile were a lot easier to read and enjoy since they were not just about motorcycles, but also about their travels, and there is nothing I enjoy more than a travelogue.

Especially interesting were the contributions by the women. Starting with the first one by Melissa Holbook Pierson, and then  Theresa Wallach (who, in 1935 embarked on an extraordinary motorcycle expedition from London to Cape Africa, with her friend, Florence Blenkiron), to Lois Pryce (whose 20,000 mile journey from the most northerly tip of Alaska to the limits of the continent of South America is documented in her extremely entertaining book, Lois on the Loose), each piece of writing is entertaining, but more than anything, they succeed in banishing the myth that motorcycling is just for the boys!

I can go on and on about the 28 stories that make up this book, but then you will miss the fun of reading it yourself. So, go ahead, pick up the book, and enjoy the experience of a rollicking ride from your armchair!

P.S. This book was sent to me for review by Random House India.


  1. Thats an interesting book. Must get hold of a copy. Thanks for sharing info about this book.

    1. You should really read it! am sure you will enjoy it a lot more than me!

  2. I'm so pleased that you enjoyed the book, Anuradha! There's been such an encouraging response from India to SONS OF THUNDER where motorcycle ownership is so immense and my friends at Random House India has been so supportive. You've really captured some of the flavour and enchantment of the extracts within your review and I look forward to reading more reviews stimulated by your generous coverage. Best regards, Neil Bradford

    1. Thank you so very much, Mr. Bradford!! I really enjoyed reading the book, and it was a pleasure to write the review.

  3. This one would be of interest to Vineet, and his club Bisons Ride Hard. I have forwarded the link to your post :) He is one passionate biker.

    1. Thanks so much, Zephyr!! I think I remember reading a post about one of his bike trips... I am sure he will love the book! and would love to know what he thinks about it..


Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

Gokarna Part II – The Five Lingams

We continued our Gokarna trip by visiting four other Shiva temples in the vicinity, all connected to the same story of Gokarna. The story of Gokarna mentions the Mahabaleshwara Lingam as the one brought from Kailas by Ravana, and kept at this place on the ground by Ganesha. (See my earlier post- Gokarna – Pilgrimage and Pleasure). However, the story does not end here. It is believed that, in his anger, Ravana flung aside the materials which covered the lingam- the casket, its lid, the string around the lingam, and the cloth covering it. All these items became lingams as soon as they touched the ground. These four lingams, along with the main Mahabaleshwara lingam are collectively called the ‘ Panchalingams’ . These are: Mahabaleshwara – the main lingam Sajjeshwar – the casket carrying the lingam. This temple is about 35 Kms from Karwar, and is a 2 hour drive from Gokarna. Dhareshwar – the string covering the lingam. This temple is on NH17, about 45 Kms south of Gokarna. Gunavanteshw

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis

The Power of 8 - The Ashta Dikpalas and Ashta Vasus at Khajuraho

The four cardinal directions form the axis on which a temple is built, and are thus the basis of temple architecture. Leading from them are the eight directions, which are believed to be guarded by the eight guardians, or Ashta Dikpalas . In the temples of Khajuraho, great care has been taken by the sculptors to carve the Ashta Dikpalas on the walls, both inside and outside. They not only guard the temple, but also look over us as we circumambulate the shrine, protecting us by their presence. They are augmented by the Ashta Vasus , celestial beings which represent natural phenomena. Together, they enhance the idea of the temple as cosmos, enfolding within it, all the aspects of nature, both, on earth, as well in space.