Good Energy

The guys at Good Energy have been really supportive and excited about the expedition, so much so that they have made a contribution which allows me to keep the blog regularly updated during the expedition, so they and everyone else can follow the journey. Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity sourced from wind, water, sun and sustainable biomass. CO2 from coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switch your electricity supply to Good Energy using this link and not only will you be supporting the pioneering community of independent green generators, but for every sign up they get they’ll make another donation to help get the bus around the world. It helps you cut your personal CO2 emissions, helps them grow a great business, and helps me get round the world.

Saturday, 21 August 2010


I’d never been in a punch up before I came to India, unless you count chinning Paul Morianni’s older brother Karl, when I was 13 at the Pool and Snooker Club. He kept moving the balls just as we were about to play our shots, he was goading us. All 3 of us got kicked out. I don’t know which one of us was more surprised when I landed one right on his jaw. Brawling in a pool hall aged 13 may seem like an auspicious start, but that was the last time for me. I didn’t like the shame of being a cast out, branded a thug, and, moreover, I was always afraid my glasses would get broken when the fists started flying.

But tonight was my fourth punch up since being in India. Something is let lose in me, perhaps because of latent anger over so many things, or maybe just because opticians are so cheap here.

The first one I was really a bystander that tried to protect the truck driver that had just almost killed me and his assailants, but that didn’t stop me taking a few good blows. Now hardened by Indian time, I look back with wonder at my naivety.

Then there was the time I parked by a water spring, on a narrow road and the truck immediately behind me curved round into the oncoming traffic, instead of pausing, and blocked everyone. Within minutes there were 80 cars in gridlock, but the truck driver was working it out. I in the meantime, somewhat arrogantly, decided that it was the truck drivers fault, and even if I moved the bus down the road the problem would just repeat there, further from the spring, so I was already filling my bottles quick as I could. Another motorist realised I was the bus’s driver and after exchanging a few angry words during which I antagonised him with my lethargic I’m-not-raising-my-tone-so-there’s-no-need-to-raise-yours-with-me tone. He grabbed my arm and yanked me towards the bus. In response I splashed him with the open half filled bottle in my hand. He slapped me around the head. I saw it coming, and took it with an acceptance that I’d been an arse and deserved it. But then seeing that I wasn’t going to respond he hit me again. Again I saw it coming but because I thought the first blow would have been an end to it, I wasn’t expecting it I reacted too slowly and got a second sting to my face.

I don’t want to hit this guy, but I want him to stop. How? He swung again and this time, expecting it, I used the ample time for his backswing to palm him off by pushing his face away sending him off balance. His stumpy arms flailed short of my face, while I poked a finger clumsily into one of his eye sockets. That was the end of it. The crowd dragged him off, and I moved the bus even though by then the truck had worked his way round so there was no more need.

Then there was the truck that was trying to overtake on a really dangerous section of night road. I didn’t want to let him past until there was a place that would be safe for him to pass without damaging me. The honking and flashing continued for a few kilometres until he eventually forced his way past me and to teach me a lesson he swerved to ram me off the road. I braked and because my bearing was already seizing, skidded sideways towards the verge, almost losing it into a ditch.

I was livid, but calm. He raced off. I took a moment to compose myself, angry but accepting. No harm done. Then up ahead a train crossing brought the traffic to a halt. He dived up the opposite side of the traffic, something which is infuriatingly common in India, and seeing a moment to set things even, work on some anger release, and give the guy pause for thought next time, I followed. As the driver stepped out of the truck I tapped him hard with the bumper as I pulled up. I then jumped out and calm as an arrow in flight, almost nonchalantly you could say, I punched him in the throat sending him stumbling backwards down the bank. As he came back up it was clear he was blind drunk, making me even more angry that he’d almost totalled my truck, my home and my life. I would have left it at that, but in the moment I re-evaluated what would be appropriate given he was now a drunk driver, rather than just a bad one. Simultaneously the realisation flashed in my eyes that I could get away with more tension relief, free of the risk of any dangerous retaliation. I slammed his head against his truck as he walked around me. And after he got inside the cab closing the door for protection I landed another neat one on his jaw from the road. Around me other drivers looked on with a confused dispassion. The barrier lifted, we all drove on. I let him go first so he wouldn’t have to overtake me again. I felt calm and just. And smug. With hindsight I should have thrown his keys into the dark bushes and let him sober up for an hour while he searched for them.

Tonight I finally got some attention from one of the long haired brown eyed Spanish girls. Clara had asked me from the next table to charge her IPod in my computer a couple of days ago and I’d stuck some more music on it and copied all of hers. Now we sparked up a conversation about bad girl rapper Maria La Mala Rodriguez and ended up flirting, maybe a little too overtly, in a roof top bar. Until a fat stumpy bespectacled Indian man in a shirt and tie took her to be a prostitute flirting for trade. Drunkenly he came over from his table for one, and asked her if she knew Tantra.

He held out a pack of cigarettes, “A present for the lady”, who’d misheard the initial approach, and it’s meaning. He tried to push it past me to her.

“We don’t want it” I grabbed it and sent it sailing over the balcony down to some street sleeper below. But he stood his ground in the face of my competitive client actions, and continued in Hindi, with guttural ludeness in his words listing things, positions or acts that she might perform, or reasons why he’d be a better client. I pushed him away and he circled back to his seat across the terrace.

I sat for a minute processing what he’d said and how inappropriately mildly I’d reacted. It welled up inside me. “Vamonos Clara” I said “No me gusta restar aqi.” I filled up a glass of water, and walked to the door via his table while Clara took the more direct route through the busy tables sensing my mood change or that I was plotting something.

“Hello friend,” he smiled broadly, the sexual fantasies reigniting in his eyes as he sensed my approach brought new opportunities that tingled from his body. Up to then he was just going to get water in his face.

“I’m not your friend,” The glass’s contents doused him and the mobile phone held to his ear, and as he flinched in his chair, my fist followed the water across the table into the bridge of his spectacles, “you cunt.” I didn’t raise my voice especially. The next table wouldn’t have made out more than mumbled drone before I calmly stepped past him towards the door and Clara, who was looking at me with controlled shock, rapidly piecing together what must have triggered my actions. We both walked unhurried out of the restaurant, calculatedly returning the cheery “Goodnight” of the waiter who’d not seen the punch.

It was more than he deserved from me, but he did deserve as much. I kept imagining him explain his cut nose to his concerned wife.

As we stepped into the slow elevator down from the 9th floor Clara went from shock that she could be judged so, to anger around the 8th floor, to a sincere and formal thank you mid way between the 7th and 6th, and then a considered action, she reached up to me and by the time we reached 5 we were kissing, a long wet kiss that lasted all the way to the ground.

Punch the bad guy, walk away cool as a Bollywood Hero, and kiss the girl. My walk-tall lasted through the foyer to the street. “My boyfriend arrives from Spain tomorrow Andy” she broke it to me on the pavement before there was any awkward embarrassment over where we were each spending the night. It was the moment to say ‘Goodnight Clara’ and ‘Goodnight Hero’ but the moment to say ‘Goodnight India’ can’t come soon enough. With it, I hope, will be a goodnight to this unwanted aggression so I can go back to being the specky geek that runs from a fight.

1 comment:

  1. your life's turning into a bollywood flick after all.


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