The roar of this ‘Bullet’ is music to Vagator’s ears

Royal Enfield Motor Verse 2023 begins, as 2k bikers from across India converge in Goa for the annual gala
Riders enduring a competitive race during the festival.
Riders enduring a competitive race during the festival.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

They can be heard even before they are seen. And Vagator is on a high, propelled by hundreds of riders on their ‘Bullets’, making a beeline to where there is music, competition and comradeship of bikers who have come together from all over India to celebrate the annual Royal Enfield Motor Verse 2023.

With over 2000 bikers converging for the three-day Royal Enfield party – which first began in 2002 at a resort in Mandrem and shifted the next year to Vagator – the footfall has thrilled locals. One can almost hear the song of the TV commercial of yore – Yeh bullet meri jaan, manzilon ka nishaan… – ringing in the ears.

Riders enduring a competitive race during the festival.
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For 32-year-old Shehnaz, “Goa is a crazy place, the best place to be in,” and she is here with bike and friends who like doing similar things together during a break. “Everything happens in these three days,” says her colleague as they share a spliff.

The Enfield show, held annually in Goa, has seen the number of riders attending swell, prompting the organisers to acquire 30,000 square meters of land for the gala.

Light, colour and music were integral parts of the Royal Enfield show in Vagator.
Light, colour and music were integral parts of the Royal Enfield show in Vagator. Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

As bikers put themselves through various competitions, word buzzed around that they had occupied more land than they were authorised but that did not quell the enthusiasm of the participants.

“I love the bullet. It was the bike of my dream and despite having two bikes with me; it will always be my love. Even the poor service offered by the company will not stop me from joining this party,” confesses Baljit Singh Kocchar, who proudly displays his life-time member pass.

High footfalls led to traffic mayhem in parts of Vagator.
High footfalls led to traffic mayhem in parts of Vagator.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

Motor Verse 2023, as it is called this year, has Goa feeling the buzz of the Bullet with bikes streaking through all parts of Goa towards Vagator. “The splendour of this festival can be found in the participants who hail from every state of India,” observes Suchita for whom Goa is the melting pot.

“Goa is a beautiful place to ride. Safety depends on each individual because it is in an individual’s style of riding. The roads in Goa are bad, but definitely not worth crying over,” says Baljit as he brushes his beard to munch a burger.

Baljit Singh, who has earned a life-time pass along with his son.
Baljit Singh, who has earned a life-time pass along with his son.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

“It is the biker’s community that has made the brand Enfield and not the company. There is no service, there are no spare parts and yet there are thousands of people who love this brand and the company should not let the brand go to the dogs,” thinks Baljit who went from Pune to Delhi to buy one and later rode the bike back home.

“This is one festival where we make the maximum of money as most bikers prefer to eat from our stalls,” says Rukmini who is continuously frying omelets. “They like a quick bite have a smoke and are gone,” she adds.

Local business seeing happier days.
Local business seeing happier days.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

The first afternoon witnessed enthusiasts participate in various races with all safety protocols in place. As the sun began to set, two music stages – one with live bands from India playing soothing music and the other dishing music for beer guzzlers – played host to musicians from the country.

The Enfield festival is not just a collective of bikers but a place where companies linked to Enfield make temporary bearing in Goa during the three days of the festival.

Sahil Sheth re-defines happy times during the riders' meet.
Sahil Sheth re-defines happy times during the riders' meet.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

“Most bike owners start with weird requirements. We then mellow them down to their functional level and satisfaction of client,” explains Sahil Sheth of Bombay Custom Works – a company that specializes in modifying Enfield bikes.

“Prices start from Rs 1 lakh and can reach up to Rs 5 lakh or more. We normally modify only Enfield because of the nature of the structure of the bike,” stresses Sahil .

Riders enduring a competitive race during the festival.
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As the night starts growing older or as the clock hands veer towards 10 pm, the spirit at the venues reach a crescendo with bikers, male and female, after enough fizz and sufficient smoke reach a high that the bullet cannot pierce.

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