I’ve an Indian bank account which my father prefers me to use while in India, but he has a habit of making things more complicated and then blaming the bankers. I’m all for the mindless and merciless victimization of finance workers, but my father is able to make me feel sympathy for just about anyone he deals with – shouted complaints interspersed with sketches from his life story are embarrassing at best. In order to access my cash, I need a card, which is easy enough to do, but my account had been registered dormant after two years of inactivity, and paperwork was insisted upon, followed by a delay, too long, since I would be out of town by then. Dad shouted at them and kept on at me hassle them, which I ignored and took an auto-rickshaw to the main branch where I was assured the matter would be dealt with by a specialist. I learnt two things. 1) Pondicherry is massive, way bigger than I thought and 2) The specialist simply told me I was officially stuffed, and this was why. Hopefully my cash card will be here in a few days, and in the meantime, I’ll try not to burn through the cash pile I have.
Well, I’ll start trying after I find myself some wheels. Two, in fact, with a motor in-between. I chose a Honda Hero XTREME or something, largely because it was the shiniest and had a fuel gauge – don’t laugh, they’re quite rare on motorbikes, I’ve had one bike out of four that had one – and was gobsmacked to find that this 100-ish CC little toy was quick, smooth and chuckable. Indeed, all bikes are chuckable, in a down-the-road way, but when traffic comes from every which way but the direction you’re looking in, a bit of agility helps.
On that note, I should add that I caught up with my buddy Mischa out here a few days ago, having sent him to South India back in March, and found that he’d bought a brand new Royal Enfield, a fat donkey of a bike which corners like a shopping trolley. In his imperialistic, instant gratification, must have it now-now-now way, he’d insisted to poor Prakash, the driver who was ferrying him around the South, that he wanted a bike now-now-now, in Madurai, hundreds of kilometres from where the bike would eventually be living. Since Mischa has no address, speaks no Tamil, knows nothing about bikes and doesn’t hold a licence in any known country, it fell to poor poor Prakesh to register and get the bike sorted, and consequently, the bike has a temporary registration and needs to be taken back to Madurai (by poor poor poor Prakash) to get it registered. By temporary registration, I mean it has no number plate. Mischa managed to chuck the bike and himself onto the road a few weeks back, and he got away with it, but he and poor poor poor poor Prakash really do not need the cops sniffing around.
Anyway, back to the wheels. I rode over to Horrorville, which Mischa is experiencing all that India has to offer by largely staying away from it in the confines of Pony Farm, where he has a hut, a kitchen, a cat and frequent power cuts, which made riding in pitch black through Auroville trying to find him impossible, so I gave up, parked, and waited for him to find me on the donkey. Cool place, would have been cooler with more than two candles to light it up, but I got the picture. At least he’s away from most of the Horrorvillians.
Riding around in the dark is no fun at all and lethal to boot – everyone drives or rides with full beams, cars and trucks cut you up, there’s no respecting the safety of others (as Mischa found out) and many road users don’t have lights or reflectors, dogs run out at you, the surface might be covered in gravel or dirt and and and and it’s generally crap, all right? I left it overnight outside the A2B restaurant and calmed my nerves with a Ghee Masala Dosa, the high-fat masterpiece of South Indian snack food. And back before curfew – yes, the International Guest House has a 10.30pm curfew, fercrissakes, and it’s onto picture editing. I managed to nab a few hours in an internet café on Mission Street and managed to get a stack of pictures uploaded of my trainer’s new gym, and Korin & Oliver’s wedding last weekend. Hopefully they’ll like some of pics. That was a great day – feels very far away now. Oh, and I uploaded the quick story I shot on the family house yesterday. It’s on Facebook now.