It was mid-October and the main tourist crowds had thinned out a little more, and I was busy trying to find a motorcycle. While originally I had wanted to bicycle these mountainous Himalayan roads, my experiences to Lamayuru west as well as Tikksey and Shey southeast suggested that anything moving fast than the creeping Tata goods carriers stood a better chance of not being swept off of the steep cliffs or clipped into the rocks inside the infinite doling of switchbacks. Climbing a mere 20 km per hour would do fine. But when asking around Leh, the standard response from the locals was that the tourist season was over, tough luck; might have had a chance while the Israelis were still here; or, that I’d be better off to purchase one in Delhi. I could also still rent but the logistics of hiring a bile for point-to-point travel made little economic sense, especially when you factories in the timing and costs of deadhead returns. And I was set on taking the Leh-Manali highway onto Losar and Dalhousie’s Hindustan-Tibetian highway beyond, far before stitching back into the real world at Shimla.
The best I could do was make handbills that stated: “Wanted to buy: 350 Enfield Bullet” of which I posted about 15 copies on light poles around the main bazaar, Moti Market and later, off of Changspa. The amount of attention we received when putting them up was hysterical, with dozens of passerby immediately stopping to read the flyer even as I wrestled with the tape. A typical response: “How much are you selling it for?”
“I’m not selling, I want to buy. Do you have a bike that you’re wanting to sell?”
“No.” A pause. “How much?”
“That would depend on the condition and year. You’d have to have a bike to sell.” I avoided talking prices both as a tourist and as an anglo.
By this time another passerby, mostly younger guys, would join the group: “How much?”
“Do you have a bike that you’re wanting to sell?” I’d reply.
“No.” A pause. “How much are you selling it for?” they’d ask.
“I don’t have a bike. I want to buy.”
“That would depend on the condition and year.” I’d continue, “do you have a bike that you’re wanting to sell?”
Clearly, the small sheet of xeroxed paper I’d been taping was confusing. Not only was “an offer to make a solicitation” a novel concept but here the gawkers seemed to be not only price takers but also generally curious about values, especially high ticket items: They might as well have been sizing up this foreigner and the world in rupees.