Thursday, January 04, 2007

Day 8: Standoff

"Get back in the Rickshaw Andy!" I heard Ivan shouting behind me.

They'd pulled out into the road and were driving up behind me.

"It's over lads" I said back, "I'm going to Calcutta"

A half-full water bottle wizzed by a metre behind me.

"Get back in the car shithead"

Nick's voice. I ignored it and carried on walking. As far as I was concerned Nick was in no fit state to drive but was too far gone to realise it.

The rickshaw crawled up behind and Nick got out and crossed the road to my side.

"What's wrong with my driving?!" he said

"You've got a race to win Nick," I said, "so why don't you get back in the ride and go win it on your own. I'm out."

"Why aint you coming?"

"Hasn't it entered your thick head, Nick? Someone has just died back there. DEAD. That was a result of dangerous driving. The thing that you're doing now yeah..."

"Who cares man!?" he screamed back "300 people die a day on Indian roads. They're just Indians man. It's just another one. So what if just another one dies?"

That was all I needed to hear.

"You're fucking sick mate. Get back in the rickshaw and go kill yourself an Indian. I've got nothing more to do with this."

I turned tail and walked.

I felt a hand grab the strap of my bag. Clenching my fists I turned around fully expecting to have to lay one on him.

"I've seen too many people die." he said as if absolving himself, "this just hasn't affected me the way it has you man. Get in the rickshaw"

"They're not obstacles put there for you to avoid Nick. They're people. Real Living Breathing People."

This guy sickened me by this point. His racist remarks from earlier had told me what he really thought.

"They're only Indian" he had said. "One more wouldn't matter" and "If they had any brain cells they wouldn't have so many accidents." and the other comments I wrote in my mini-notebook. Fucking sick bastard.

I was ashamed to be associated with him at all and this whole incident got me wondering - do ALL white people resort to racism when they are tired and frustrated? Do English-speakers, frusrated by their own lack of linguistic dexterity assume ignorance on the part of their hosts?

Nick has acted like an arsehole and insulted the Indians non-stop for the past few days and frankly it sickens me to hear this shit. It isn't funny, it's just ignorant. It's not as though he has made any effort to try to learn Hindi.

"Alright then," he said, handing over the keys, "You can drive. I'll sit in the back"

I knew this was gonna sting him and he'd still be backseat driving.

Ivan looked over and said I should come back in for the team. This whole thing was set up by the two of us and I certainly am not going to get back in on Nick's advice. But Ivan is a different matter. He's a sound guy.

"Sit in the back and shut the fuck up for a while and I might think about it"

The standoff was tense but finally Nick acknowledged that he did actually feel tired, and let Ivan take the controls.

In the back he sat there, wide awake and backseat driving. He slagged us both off for being pussies and said we'd both lost our nerve.

He kept ranting that we were all losers and we ignored him until finally he got bored and fell asleep.

He was absolutely fucked.

What a tosser.


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