Surgeon who loves horsepower
The 50-year-old is a superbiker who uses his surgical instruments to clean the innards of his bikes; he also founded Group of Delhi Superbikers in 2000, which is perhaps the largest such group in India. Manoj Sharma writes.delhi Updated: May 19, 2012 23:55 IST
ENT surgeon Dr Arun Theraja uses instruments such as long forceps and operating headlight not just when he is in the operation theatre, but also when he is in his motorcycle garage. No, Theraja, head of the ENT department at Maharaja Agrasen Hospital, Punjabi Bagh, is not in the side business of repairing motorbikes. He, instead, is a superbiker. “Surgical instruments help me clean the innards of the engine. My bikes are like my children, I make sure they get utmost care and attention,” says Dr Theraja, 50, sitting in his OPD at his residence-cum-clinic in west Delhi’s Paschim Vihar.
When I meet him, he is dressed in a black T-shirt with the logo of GODS (Group of Delhi Superbikers), which he founded in 2000. His OPD has a Harley-Davidson motorcycle model, which also serves as a telephone, a motorcycle wall clock and a calendar of GODS. Dr Theraja, whose family comprises his gynaecologist wife, a son and a daughter, has also got the name of his group tattooed on his left forearm.
Dr Theraja is much more animated when he talks about his life as a superbiker than as a surgeon. He fell in love with biking after his father bought him his first bike, a Yamaha RD 350, in 1984, after completing his MBBS, as reward. “I used to drive it at 130km per hour on the inner ring road, which had little traffic those days. I graduated to superbikes in 1989 during my honeymoon in Thailand, where all top superbikes are easily available for hire. One by one I rode all the bikes that I had only seen in American magazines. My wife literally took a back seat during the honeymoon,” says Dr Theraja.
GODS, which was founded by him with two members today boasts of 63 members — mostly pilots, retired army men, CEOs and businessmen — making it the largest such group in the country. Every Sunday morning at 6am, Theraja leaves his house on his superbike, wearing full biking gear — helmet, padded jackets, gloves, trousers, and riding boots —for his weekly run on the Greater Noida Expressway, NH 8 or the GT Karnal Road with his group members. The Greater Noida Expressway, he says, is the best for superbiking in Delhi/NCR.
“I know the stretches of all these three roads like the back of my hand. I recently hit 280km per hour at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida,” says Theraja, who paid R10,000 for an hour’s ride at the circuit. “At that speed, it’s a tunnel vision. Your surroundings are just a blur. Riding superbikes is all about control, patience and focus. Their acceleration is ferocious, they can go from 0km per hour to 100km per hour in three seconds flat,” says Theraja, adding that there are many doctors in the US who are into superbiking, a hobby which has made him more focused in the operation theatre too.
Theraja says people are curious and stop in their tracks when they see his group of superbikers on the streets. “They gawk at us, and often ask about the mileage, speed, price of our superbikes,” laughs Theraja. The most expensive superbike in his group is a BMW worth about R20 lakh, and a Ducati, worth R21 lakh.
Delhi boasts of the highest number of superbikes in the country, and is the best city for super biking, says Theraja. “In Mumbai and Kolkata, the roads are too narrow and congested for superbiking. There are people sleeping on the streets in Mumbai, so one simply cannot ride a superbike there,” he says.
But despite wide roads, bikers in Delhi, Theraja says, have the worst traffic sense and have brought biking into disrepute. “Crime and hooliganism have come to be associated with biking in the city. I founded the group with the objective of promoting biking as a passion. We ride at high speeds only on the highways early in the morning and do not indulge in stunts,” says Theraja, who owns two superbikes: a blue 1200cc Kawasaki Ninja, one of the most coveted superbikes which he bought four years ago for R13 lakh, and a green 1,000 cc Kawasaki Ninja, which he bought last year for R11 lakh.
His bike garage at his Paschim Vihar residence also has a Yamaha RD 350, his first bike. “It is still going strong. I share an emotional bond with it,” says Theraja who goes on long biking trips three times a year with his group.
Theraja takes time out of his busy schedule as an ENT surgeon to take care of his bikes in the garage, whose shutter has the slogan ‘BHP: More is never enough’. In fact, the garage is like a little superbike museum: it houses his four bikes, boasts of over a hundred models of motorcycles, posters of superbikes, various maintenance tools, oils, lubricants, polishes, fuel additives, and an air compressor. “I spend at least half an in the garage every day, either in the afternoon after seeing patients or at night. I service all my bikes myself,” says Theraja, who even modifies his bikes himself.
Theraja is in fine fettle at 50 and has the gait of a military man. His passion for superbikes, he says, is only increasing with age. So, how long will he continue riding superbikes? “Till my body copes, there is no retirement age for superbikers,” he says. It is five in the evening, the time for Dr Theraja to take of his GODS T-shirt and wear the doctor’s white apron for his evening OPD.