“We will have to amputate above the knee I’m afraid; now go lay down on that table over there like a brave solider.” The young doctor was sitting beside me and delivered the news with a mixture of pity and bemusement. The sheer joy of it was painted all over his sadistic face. The older doctor behind the desk glanced up from my shattered ankle x-ray. His glasses were perched on the end of his nose and he gave a nod as he fixed me with an icy stare over the top of them. What the young doc had actually said was, ‘No riding for at least two more weeks; and if you have to go to Chail, ride pillion. Let’s not take any chances with you!’ But to me it sounded like, ‘Hack off all his limbs and feed them to the flying monkeys, no anaesthetic needed. Nurse Ratched, make haste!’. Due to this injury I had already missed a ride with my motorcycle club into the Himalayas the week before. This was agonizing news, as today, the cast had come off my leg and I was hoping to join friends on a ride to Chail this weekend. Yet, after a thorough examination with hot pokers and long sharp scraping clampy things which had been administered lovingly by the younger doctor, a negative ride request reply had been given. To be honest, I couldn’t be sure it was the young doctor doing the prodding; the examiner was clad entirely in black leather with a cape and hood. But I am certain I recognized the cologne.
“ Do you ever get trapped inside your car at Walmart because there is a tiger wandering around the parking lot?” I asked.
“Really?” she replied.
“Yea, yea! Or do you ever walk out of your back yard and step in one of those rope traps that spring and grab you by your foot and hang you upside down in a tree?” I pressed. I had never been to India, I needed the info.
“You’re an idiot.” she laughed. “You are aware that tigers don’t roam around freely in cities, right? And these traps you’re talking about, I think they were in African jungles in the 1400’s or something and there are no Walmarts here.” She concluded.
“What?!?!” I was aghast, “No Walmart!!” India sounded like a strange and exotic destination for sure…no Walmart…imagine!
“Sometimes, do you have to pull over on the side of the road because of stampeding elephants?” I wanted all the basic information before I travelled to this alluring jewel of a country.
“Elephants are a nuisance actually” my then girlfriend Mrs. R. said quite casually.
“What?” I sputtered, all joking aside now, she seriously had my attention.“What do you mean a nuisance?”
“They knock over fences, trample your garden, in the city they hold up traffic…like that” Oh, there was so much I had to learn about India and I couldn’t wait to get there. This was going to be the trip of a life time. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any elephants on that trip. Lots of monkeys and a camel or two, but no Elephas Maximus Indicus. Nor on the next trip. It wasn’t until I moved to India permanently, I experienced the joy of seeing wild elephants and suffered the anguish of being in an elephant caused traffic jam.
I am Canadian! I am proud, I bleed maple syrup, love hockey and three down football; I ski and skate, I apologize too much, my favorite pass time is teasing Americans; back bacon, poutine and Nanaimo bars are the greatest foods on earth…believe it. Minus ten is not cold and there is nothing wrong with a beer with your breakfast if you are at the cottage or camping. I am also a Brit. A pompous, stuck up, tight assed, stiff upper lipped British subject; and bloody fiercely proud of that too! Go on, insult the Monarchy…you’ll see. I’ll gut you gullet to gizzard. But it’s not over yet, recently I received my OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) in my adopted nation and new home. Now I’m Indian too. Well, time to celebrate I would say! By way of indoctrinating myself into the culture, I have compiled this tidy collection of mild Indian irritants. Just for a laugh of course. Easily offended Indians may now exit to the left in an orderly manner (good luck with that) and as for the rest of my new compatriots, I dare you to call foul! Ah India, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways, One…
What follows is not a pretty tale. It is a true story however, sprinkled with a smattering of artistic license. A tale with tail so to speak. A story of sex, drugs and rock and roll…with vomit…and more sex. To sprechen in plain Deutsch, it’s a night on the Reeperbahn. So if par chance you are easily offended, or you are blind to the lifestyle to which I refer or you don’t like this type of story…that is to say, if it’s not your cup of tea, brand of digestive biscuit or type of lemon tart, then… piss off and don’t read it. Seriously, I mean, don’t get half way into the third paragraph, see the hookers, smell the vodka, and then realize it’s filled with the things that offend you. I’m telling you in advance…piss off now you silly git.
As it turned out, the Fish Food Treaty of 2014 was to be forged under the tutelage of my sister. Not surprisingly in the five months after the last incident preceding her arrival, absolutely nothing was accomplished in moving towards peace. Well, not nothing exactly. I spoke about it briefly once at the breakfast table and I did smile (somewhat crookedly) at a monkey in downtown Delhi….from the back of a Tuk Tuk…a fast moving Tuk Tuk…I’m positive he saw me…and waved back. Nonetheless, my sister was here and as expected, wanted to crusade deeply into monkey held territory. So we did; and with very pleasing result.
I suppose I could gussy it up and call it a disagreement. A differing set of values between species. Or perhaps I could say it’s a police action…the biggest euphemism for military conflict in history. The Monkeys would tell you it’s an invasion. I am a Wandering Hippy occupying their sovereign state and they are but simple freedom fighters defending their homeland. The truth is: you can’t put lipstick on a pig and call it a lady….you can kiss it sure, but it ain’t no lady. This is Asymmetric Warfare, plain and simple and I should be kicking Simian ass from here to the Taj Mahal…yet the facts are clear. I’m going to lose this war.
While it is true traveling by rail is slightly more civilized than flying, let’s be honest, for all their first class (that everyone can afford?), business class, air mile and free upgrade bull crap, airline passengers are treated as little more than cattle.…airborne bovine, drifting doggies, aerial oxen…that’s right, mobile moo cows. Yet train travel is not without its own set of challenges. The most obvious of which is you are on a train. The novelty of that wore off when I was ten years of age. During a recent forty-four hour steel rail odyssey from New Delhi to Guwahati, I was reminded in spades why I dislike long distance train travel so intensely.
Alright, here is our new Indian terminology for the day…..House Lizard. To be accurately used in sentences such as, “Lee…stop screaming like a ten year old girl, it’s only a HOUSE LIZARD!” Or “Why are you standing on the kitchen counter? Did the HOUSE LIZARD frighten you?” Look, I am not a girly man, okay? I can hunt, change tires and pull wings off flies like the best of them. But sneak attacks by flicky tongued, bog eyed, fast like greased pig lighting reptiles can be a little unnerving when one is not accustomed to it…and I…….am not. I don’t think it breaches any article of The Bro Code or involves me turning in my “Made of Authentic Hairy Man Club” membership card to admit that.