‘All the Gear, No Idea’ by Michèle Harrison

The cover of this book may not get your juices flowing, but the old adage very much holds true: never judge a book by…

A year around India back in the second half of the 1990s, on a locally sourced 500 Enfield, this is one of those books that you really should read even if you only have a passing interest in that part of the world. It’s very well written, by someone who is multi-layered and doesn’t bring any preconceptions to the table.

The premise is familiar enough; thirty-something, this disillusioned high-flyer thinks there must be something more worthwhile and sets off to find it in India. Using an Enfield certainly fits the romantic ideal, but deciding to hone your riding skills there, having only previously experienced a Vespa in London, certainly doesn’t. Nor was it normal to insist on travelling solo even when the odd amorous liaison en route could have made things easier.

What results is a diary-based recollection of learning on the job, but one that has been very pleasantly sewn together to create a really spirited tale. Harrison appreciates the architecture and the incredible diversity of cultures and landscapes within one nation. She refuses to learn about her machine ‘Big Thumper’ (innuendo intended) as repairs are required before and after accidents, whether with trucks, frisky sacred cattle or as a result of mountain tracks and river crossings. Instead she decides to learn the social skills necessary to get it repaired.

She inappropriately teaches kids to sing Jingle-bells in a temple, is forcefully pushed in front of a train and must battle with the constant question ‘man or lady?’ because of her height.

This book doesn’t set out to be sensationalist, far from it as the cover suggests, but it is somehow bursting with experiences. There are few pages that don’t absolutely engage. It’s a great read.

ISBN: 978-1541-2592-56
230 pages (£5.99)
Published by author (2017)