5th September 2017.
I will never forget the day.
That was when I was affected by death in my immediate vicinity. I had been dealing with dead human individuals since 2013 in the anatomy dissection lab, but they were nameless faces, stretched out, rather forlorn on cold steel tables. The stench of death then just made me gag, but within an hour or two, I would be merrily cutting away learning about the niches and crevices in the human body which make us tick. This time it was different. I knew the face. It had a name.
They brought his body into the casualty late in the evening, and I heard someone pipe up in the local vernacular, “They found him hanging.” It was one of my med-school colleagues. Somewhere along the way, in the fast-paced medical school environment that India employs to train its doctors, this colleague of mine had decided to call it quits. I had joined him and a few others for dinner the previous evening and if anyone would have asked me then, I would have retorted that I dined with an individual who was quite happy. I was of course mistaken, and thus another great fellow had taken that dark and traumatic path into the great unknown.
I often wonder if I could have prevented this. I know I would have loved to have heard him out, sympathized with him, and maybe given him the courage to go on and fight the good fight.
Since ‘Manas’ passed, I have always participated in a global classic automotive event called The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. Its primary focus is to raise awareness for prostate cancer and male suicide prevention. But it also fosters individuals in the community to congregate and provides a platform for a discussion about men’s health.
Men are funny creatures. We don’t like to talk about mental health issues. ‘It makes us look weak.’ That’s been the traditional outlook and it has been glorified by our popular culture. The numbers speak for themselves, we lose one man every minute to suicide.
In the last 12 years, the DGR has allowed a lot of people to connect with each other and speak about this invisible demon lurking amongst most men’s lives. I know for a fact that it has prevented many suicides and a lot of stellar men still walk among us due to this event.
The global event has also had an impact on the classic motorcycle community and a lot more folks around the world have resorted to restoring a classic motorbike/ scooter and another piece of mechanical history is kept alive.
Of course, it is not an event just for the men, everyone who has a man in their lives is encouraged to come and join in the unique atmosphere the DGR creates. Mark Hawaa, a native of Melbourne, Australia who founded the DGR recently had another brainwave. Classic cars carry more people and look just as good as the classic motorcycles. Thus, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive was born.
For the first time on September 24th, 2023, Sydney shall host a DGD. The drive aims to start in Sydney at the north end and end at the campground in Bras d’or. So, shine up that metalwork and don on your finest and head on down to the most dapper event in the classic automotive world.
Who knows, you may even end up preventing another male suicide.