Nic goes to town.
by Nic Olson
So far, Saturday has been my ‘go to town’ day and today was no exception. It was Bob’s last day here, so I caught a taxi with him, said goodbye in the taxi, hopped on a bus and headed to Bara Bazaar. I hit up the town alone, for the first time, and it went as expected. I walked about 100miles, and most of it was uphill or upstairs, with chickens and cows biting my ankles and my shoes soaked in animal pee. I got lost a few times, only to figure out where I was after walking the same street, back and forth, about 6 times. I went to my favourite sports shop again, had a good talk with my friend, bought another soccer ball (Andrew is having bad luck with his soccer balls) and proceeded on. Numerous times I heard kids and adults alike, shout out the word ‘sab’ and point and sometimes laugh. I think it is important to learn the word that means ‘white dude’ in any culture, so you can laugh and say hello back. One group of small boys, seemingly fluent in English, stared at me for a while, until I looked back. One of them, who I could tell was a pretty well to do kid, with a big smile on my face, asked, “Can I have some money?” He and his friends laughed, so did I. I replied, “Hey dude, what do I look like, a walking ATM?” He lept at my jugular like a cougar, I knocked him down with my elbow, we proceeded to fight in the streets for a few hours. He said, “Time out man, time out!” I got up, shook his hand, gave him a rupee, and kept walking. Yeah, back off.
I bought a new sweater, and after about 4 hours of wandering around, looking at crap I didn’t need, I went to the taxi stand and looked around for an available driver. I couldn’t really find one, so one of them found me. He called out and I saw him. He asked where I wanted to go, I told him, he said it would cost 60 rupees. When he told me this I was amazed and would’ve said, “Yeah right dude OK. Get real. Whatever. Back off. OK.” if he knew what that meant. I would have said this because this journey usually costs about 150, so I had to figure all that out.. Apparently he couldn’t understand me all that well through my think Canadian accent. Durtlang sounded like ‘I need some Tang’ or something like that. Once he asked me again and again, and asked his taxi buddies, we figured it all out and headed out for a good, loooong trip with a new friend. His name was RBA. It stood for something, Retired Barracuda Astronaut, I think, but he said to call him RBA. He was not great at English, spoke some but said he was better at Hindi and Mizo. He was a 53 year old man, weighing 108kg, quite large, with teeth red as blood from his beetlenut. No, I’m not one of those really talented men of witchcraft that can guess your age and weight, he told me his age, and weight, as well as everything else you could imagine. He has 2 daughters and 3 sons, one daughter named Acey who speaks great English. After I told him where to go, and directed him which way, he started driving, and noticed some people that needed a taxi, and with an empty seat in the back, of course he picked them up, and went to the total opposite direction that I wanted to go. He dropped them off, picked up some more, and took them where they wanted to go, again, far away from where I wanted to go. Each time he dropped them off and collected their cash, he showed it to me, waved it in a ‘yeah, check me out, 50 rupees’ fashion, and said ‘Profit!! HAHAHA!’ On this little mini-journey he almost caused the death of a good 5 or 6 people. He was driving on the wrong side of the road, like usual around here, and almost hit a bus, head on, going about 40. The bus slammed on the breaks and swerved, so did he, and out spilled a lady from the bus, smoking her head on the stone ground, laying there for a while, and got up holding her head. People from the bus got out to see if she was ok, but he just kept on going. The entire time he kept patting me on the arm, kind of pinching it, and smiling.
Anyway, back to Acey, his daughter, the age of 22 who had an M.B.A. in English, if there is such a thing, that is what I understood him to say. He called her up on his mobile phone, and wanted me to talk to her, in English. I took his phone, talked to a complete stranger for a while, and gave him the phone back. He phoned her a good 20 more times, wanting to pick her up and wanting her to meet me, so we could become good friends and speak English, he said. During all this, he was driving everywhere, about as dangerous as you could drive. One time he stopped at BaraBazaar waiting for his daughter to come to the car, and we waited a good 15 minutes for her, constantly calling her. I kept telling him to get going, but he wouldn’t listen, saying, ‘Oh, just one more minute.” As he smoked the fag, chewed the tobaccy, and talked with his good friend the policeman. Under any other circumstances I just would have got up and got a new taxi, but he was a swell guy, and I made a new friend so I decided to wait. Along with this, I figured his 22 year old English speaking daughter might be nice to meet, if you know what I mean. You know, what I mean? I know, what you mean. Eventually I just told him to get going, he did, and we chatted on the drive home. He is a retired policeman who drives a taxi in his spare time. I bet, that in his spare-spare time, he solves unsolved Indian murder mysteries and writes romance novels. He owns a few other taxis, owns a few small shops, and is a self proclaimed business man. I think he may have started up a small business called Microsoft and sold it to some American guy, that’s what he said.
In conclusion. Retired Barracuda Astronauts are people you shouldn’t mess around with. That was the longest blog I’ve ever seen.