Shiva’s Slaves Run
March 2014 – Shivaratri – Shiva’s Slaves Run
It was that time of year again – time for the annual get together of Kathmandu’s favorite Motorcycle Gang, the Shiva’s Slaves. I used to ride an old Russian bike back in the 1980’s. The ’80s, ah, yes, those were the days to live in Nepal.
The psychedelic San Francisco scene, circa late -1960s, had done the time warp and was alive and well in 1980’s Kathmandu, reincarnated as the Rock & Roll Raj. Kathmandu’s homegrown motorcycle gang: ‘Shiva’s Slaves’ rode a motley variety of bikes beside the Russians, old BSAs, Triumphs, BMWs, a fire engine red, 1948 Indian Chief, a ’72 Honda 4, an Ariel, and several Royal Enfields. It was all tongue firmly in cheek, of course, but ‘The Slaves’ were an integral part of the Kathmandu expat community. Big-time dope smugglers, semi-legit antique dealers, funky trekking guides, Buddhist scholars and translators, hard-core, Everest-conquering mountaineers, raggedy-assed explorers, and various assorted drop-outs, drop-ins, and drop-unders – poets, artists, and photographers; hustlers and scammers; and all chasing the Asian Dream. Picture the Beat scene in Morocco in the mid 1960s, cram it to the gills with Owsley LSD, shake it up with high voltage rock and roll, and then spread it across a hash-soaked sub-continent, from the palm-shaded beaches of Goa to the tropical Himalayan valleys of Nepal. They called it ‘The Rock & Roll Raj‘.
I got to Kathmandu just in time for the Annual Shivaratri Slave’s Run. Luckily I ran into my old friend Johnny, an artist who now lives in Bali, when I went out for breakfast at the Northfield cafe. We rented new Royal Enfield 350 cc motorcycles for the run. I used to ride an old Russian military bike back in the day…a 1965 Planeta; 350cc, two-cycle with plenty of character. This time it was to be a two-day run up the back roads to Nagarkot, high on the rim of the Kathmandu Valley. It started raining on the way up, but that didn’t deter us. Ben Pritzker had two GoPro cameras on his bike, so he was able to film the ride:
It was a great run, one of the best, and I plan to be there again next Shivaratri.