Another scene from my slightly chaotic and puzzling life
Earlier this year I went on a group motorbike tour in India. I booked a place on a trip around the Tea Plantations and Hill Stations of the Southern Ghats. It was terrific....but following a minor collision, I was faced with the above tricky dilemma....
The accident wasn't really Pete's fault. Pete was at the front of the group, as Tour Leader he had the satnav and it was his rightful position. Ok, he was maybe going a bit too fast and sometimes I felt that his positioning on the road was a bit suspect....but he is/was a good rider and I felt that he was a bit unlucky. Most of the blame lies with the bus driver....in India they have a whole different way of driving, it is all very tolerant and accepting; almost Bhuddist in their calm outlook of the crass stupidity/uselessness of other road users. Mainly because everyone rides/drives like an utter tw*t with absolutely no thought about any other road user whatsoever
A bus, going up the hill, had stopped in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere on a twisty mountain road, just before a bend. A bunch of people were getting on and off (not the same people getting on and off....that would be absurd; a different set of people were getting on....I know you know what I mean) A small group of cyclists also going up the hill had pulled out way too far to overtake the bus....and Flip Flop man on his scooter, also coming up the hill, had to move right out to the far side of the road to miss the cyclists. This is when Pete came belting downhill, rounded the corner, bashed into the scooter and sent Flip Flop man, his scooter, his wife and her shopping flying. Indian blokes tend to wear Flip Flops on all occasions; social, domestic, pleasure and motorbiking. They don't offer much protection in a crash...comfortable and stylish they may well be....but they are rubbish if you wipe out. As Mr Flip Flop had just discovered.
Mrs Flip Flop had obviously just been to the market; she had been perched side-saddle on the pillion of the scooter (modesty reasons...only the young lasses ride a bike or scooter normally....the young hussies!!) and she had been carrying 3 bags of assorted vegetables; onions, potatoes, cucumbers, chillies etc. She was completely unscathed but had dropped her shopping in the impact, the bags had split open in the crash and there was stuff all over the road. I arrived at the scene moments after it had happened: Mr Flip Flop was berating Pete for crashing into him, Mrs Flip Flop was actually beating her skinny husband around the head and calling him ( I imagine; I don't speak that much Hindi) a dopey twazzock for being on the wrong side of the road. Our medical man was trying to fix the graze on Mr Flip flop man's foot and our mechanic retrieved the scooter from the ditch where it had ended up.
Faced with this scene of mayhem, I guessed the most useful thing I could contribute was to gather up the spilled shopping. I found an undamaged bag and started loading up the veggies being careful to put the tomatoes on the top....nobody wants squished tomatoes.
And there it was.....in the middle of the road. A Turd. Amongst all the veggies was a Turd. Dark brown, almost unnoticeable against the dark surface of the road. It looked human in size and form ....but who would crap in the middle of the road??....surely, if you were caught short, you would crap behind a tree or at least at the edge of the road? There were some number of monkeys in the trees nearby. Maybe it was a monkey turd? But these were smallish monkeys...(Bonnet Macaques; give you a nasty nip if you get too close, but still fascinating to watch. I do like monkeys.) Could a small monkey produce such a human scale offering? And what to do with this turd? Was it originally in the shopping bag? Maybe it had some significance to the Flip Flop family....a religious artefact? an offering? a talisman? By its position on the road and the fact that it was surrounded by the spilled vegetables it seemed extremely likely that it had originally been in one of the shopping bags
I was now genuinely stumped. Should I put the turd in the bag and risk Mrs Flip Flop's anger and dismay when she got home. Her dumb husband had nearly killed her and now some smart-*rse had put a turd in with her rescued shopping. But maybe I should put the turd in the bag....maybe she would be heartbroken to arrive back home after such drama and find herself turdless, particularly if this exact turd had some deeper significance….I was beginning to get a bit stressed; what to do for the best??
Other people were starting to join in the veggie hunt...Mr Flip Flop now had a bandage on his grazed foot and been re-united with his footware, his scooter had been assessed and re-started; it had escaped with just minor damage to the paintwork. Mrs Flip Flop was smiling, she had secured a small cash payment to soothe her frayed nerves and repair the scooter. Pete's bike was utterly undamaged; they can absorb a lot of punishment, an Enfield Bullet.
Our Tour Guide, Niranja, (Indian fella from up North....a very cultured and intelligent man who could answer every question about anything) was loading up another bag of rescue veggies near to me. With an air of nonchalance he picked up a second nearby turd that had been unnoticed by me and popped it into his bag with the aubergines and onions. Reassured by this, I put the original turd into my bag, walked over to Mrs Flip Flop and handed it to her; the turd very prominent on top of everything else. She accepted the bag graciously and without comment.
Soon everything was sorted and our group resumed our journey down the twisty bumpy road and Mr and Mrs Flip Flop departed uphill towards their home
In our hotel later that evening over a cool beer I asked Niranja what were these strange brown things we retrieved from the site of the crash.....
"Tamarind; they look a bit like a turd, don't you think?" he replied, smiling
I have recently had a short stay in hospital; nothing too serious, thanks for asking
On the Ward the Nurses moved delicately amongst us broken individuals, a smile, a comforting word, giving some medication or general cleaning up. Always kind, always gentle yet somehow always separate from us
The Nurses monitored us with the help of the techno-trolley. This is a blue pole on wheels festooned with wires and tubes and a screen that records important stuff and it has a little blue wire basket that holds the Hot Ear Machine; the techno-trolley has replaced the thermometer under the tongue and the nurses dainty hand feeling my wrist to take my pulse. (Shame, but that is progress)
The techno-trolley is deployed several times each day; the routine is always the same. On goes the bicep cuff and a surprisingly uncomfortable pressure grips my upper arm and then slowly recedes. The little grey clippy thing goes on a fingertip and the Hot Ear machine is poked in my ear until it bleeps. Then, when I have been unhooked, the numbers from all these tests are written up in the file that lives at the end of my bed
But the mid morning techno-trolley visit is always accompanied by the Mid Morning Question...…
"Have you opened your bowels today?"
There is no eye-contact while the question is asked; why would there be? It is deeply personal and faintly embarrassing. Nurse busies herself on writing up the notes. An affirmative reply, then come all the supplementary questions as my poo is given marks by me for quantity, colour, consistency and star quality (I might have made that last one up)
I felt that there must be a cheap laugh to be had from this absurd situation, but how?
I wracked my brains and finally....voila!!. A plan formed.....
The following mid morning Cute Nurse arrived with the techno-trolley. On went the cuff...on went the little clippy thing and finally the Hot Ear Machine. Various bleeps and flashing lights, I was disconnected and then Cute Nurse began writing up the results in my file and asked the Mid Morning Question
I stayed silent, a model of studied insouciance.
And this is where Cute Nurse made her mistake as I knew she would
She lifted her gaze from the notes to my face.....I waited.
Then, after a few more moments "Yeah......you?"
"Yeah" she replied. And she started giggling. And giggling some more. Senior Nurse, who was passing, stopped to find out what the problem was. Cute Nurse, through her mirth explained what had just happened. Senior Nurse began laughing too.
Together, still laughing, they moved onto the next bed.
From now on I acknowledge the village where I was raised
But, more important than that......
Summer is coming, so please pop along to the 4th annual Barbeque at mine on Sat 16th June
Once again, set in the rolling pastures of my country estate here in the untrendy end of Gloucestershire.
Family friendly event, partners/kids welcome. Plenty of space for camping, B&B in the nearby village if you wish. Fine food, huge amounts of beer, pizza, World Cup on the big Screen and breakfast served on the Sunday morning