Name: Rickshaw Rampage
Destination: Kannyakumari, India
Distance: 3,750 kms (2,340 miles)
Vehicles: Auto-rickshaws 125cc
Beware the bum gun
Behold the city of Pondicherry. A magical place where special tax breaks mean an already outrageously cheap bottle of beer is virtually free. In the circumstances it seemed churlish to send the bottle back on the basis the cap was rusty, and the brand on the bottle and the label didn’t match.
Everyone dreads the infamous “Delhi belly”. Despite being over 2,500 kms away, Delhi still seemed to be exercising its influence. As we headed inland the heat and humidity climbed substantially. We were in a constant state of perspiration and needing to drink lots of fluid to keep hydrated. But we also had to eat. When you order a roadside snack and the first thing they have to do is hammer it with a fly swat you know you’re on a countdown to drawstring drama.
Ordering the hottest curry in the district, in this case a Chicken Chettinad spiced with black pepper and chillies, certainly accelerated the process. About twenty minutes later the bottom fell out of our world as the world fell out of our bottoms.
Even with the luxury of a sit down toilet and double quilted toilet paper, the screaming hab-dabs is an unpleasant experience. In this particular “restaurant” the toilet was through a pair of saloon style swing doors which only reached down to about waist height. OK not so much a toilet as a hole in the floor. By the time you has assumed the strategic crouching position for ejecting a colon full of bum gravy, the whole restaurant could revel in your distress. More so once they clocked the look on your face when you realised the wiping facilities were your own hand.
In some of the plusher establishments we had the luxury of the “bum gun”. Basically a jet wash for the posteria. Being India though this inevitably meant the hose leaked so no matter how carefully you aimed the gun the water would jet out in about ten different directions meaning you left the toilet wetter and shittier than you entered.
Toilet time became a source of much amusement over the next few days. There were casualties galore. All carrying the same pale, clammy complexion and awkward limp of a person whose insides are in knots and whose ring piece feels like its been violated with a traffic cone.
Still, we had no basis for seeking sympathy. A fact which was put into stark persepective ad we travelled down the East coast.This was the Bay of Bengal. This coastline had been devastated in the Tsunami of 2004 and the damage was still abundantly evident. The smiley faces of the locals and the inquisitive and cheerful children belied the experiences they must have been through. Suddenly, moaning about a leaking brown eye seemed a bit vain.
We took a walk along the beach. The local kids immediately set about engaging us in a game of football whilst insisting they all had to be “Rooney”. We duly obliged. As we walked back along the golden sands and gazed out to the emerald sea the picture postcard moment was rather ruined by a local man who proceeded to squat and turf out a Mr Whippy of immense proportions. Unfortunately the tide wasn’t yet strong enough to drag it out to sea. We didn’t know whether to look on in horror or admiration that he’d achieved a level of firmness in his turd that we could only dream about.
Due to the prominence of the rally, the local Round Table society of wealthy businessmen often hosted the evening for us. Such events started off very sedately with a round of speeches followed by a performance of local dance and traditions.
The nature of the festivities changed somewhat once we’d consumed the contents of the free bar and introduced our own local dance and traditions. The President of the Round Table of Madurai has now discovered the delights of stage diving in to a crowd though we’re still not sure if they think the “Moonwalk” is a dance move or a disability. It was late to bed. Very late.