Thursday, December 3, 2009

Man Down

My day started off like most any; I snoozed three times, choose my least wrinkled shirt, and gulped down a cup of chai while I searched the paper for the most amusing headline. It was a chilly commute on the motorcycle but I enjoyed the brisk air; it was invigorating. Half way into my commute I see a dozen or so cow about to cross the street 100 meters in front of me. Normally I wouldn’t think anything of this sight except this time it was different. These cows were going hammers to hell with a small pack of dogs nipping at their heels. I had never seen these huge (usually lumbering) beasts move this fast, they bucked at an all out sprint towards the street. As if the cold air wasn’t enough to wake me up the stampede decided to hang a right when it got to the road, setting them and me on a collision course.

Alright, as I’m writing this I’m thinking to myself this doesn’t happen, no one is going to believe you, if this is you bear with me because it gets even worse.

Of course I begin to slow down and formulate an exit strategy for myself from the path the cows had chosen. They were covering a lot of ground very quickly and left me with no other choice but to yield off of the right hand side of the road. Apparently the lead cow choose the left hand side (his left my right, you get the idea. We both pulled out of this game of chicken at the same instant and both chose poorly. Now in a dirt field with nothing but 15 feet between us I see his wild eyes and flared nostrils, and I realized that he hadn’t slowed down a bit. Fearing the business end of his horns I hit the brakes hard and laid the bike down. Ok, I crashed. I rolled out of the accident leaving the bike between him and me. He threaded the needle between me and the tea stand (more on that in a minute) and he and his posse rounded the corner, out of sight and out of my life, I hope.

Before I got to my feet I was surrounded, some lady I had never seen before was yelling, “James are you alright, are you ok” (everyone knows who I am) and the owner of the tea stall started asking me the same question in Gujarati. I tried as best as I could to explain to them that I was fine and that luckily the feces in my pants had cushioned my fall.

The bike had flooded and I laughed it off during the minute or two it took to restart it. I understand that usually the humor in something like this isn’t discovered for hours or days and sadly sometimes never. I had no such problem, from the moment I landed in filth I was smiling uncontrollably and laughing wildly. Happy to be alive and ungored.

So, back to the tea stall. It is a dirt field where 50 or so men were standing around drinking tea. The scene of the accident was about 20 feet away from the edge of the crowd. They stared blankly at this hyena that had just nearly been killed as he waved goodbye to them. No time to make small talk, I thought, and besides the ambassadorial role Fulbright had in mind for me does not include this audience…or does it. Back on the bike I realized that these same men had witnessed my accident two weeks prior. The very same people saw me three months earlier kicking my legs wildly in the air as I drove to avoid a stray dog that had it out for me. Statistically speaking, it is the most dangerous 200ft stretch of road in the world, for me anyway. I began thinking do all of these guys show up every morning for the tea? We’ll find out tomorrow. If the crowd has doubled in size and starts yelling, “get ready, here he comes” I will have my answer. For all I know, my morning commute could be the highlight of other people’s day. The kind of stuff bookies make a living off of. Maybe I could get the proprietor of this tea stall to sponsor my morning commute.

By the time I got to school everyone knew, and I do mean everyone. The director of the school came to see me within two minutes of my arrival to see for himself. He asked me if I was ok and had this look on his face like kids do when they are waiting for a clown to do something funny. The rest of the day was uneventful. A science fair where kids were sticking bare wires into outlets and using hydrochloric acid without safety glasses, pretty standard stuff.

As I write this I find myself completely exhausted, I spent a week’s worth of energy in about three seconds. I must take rest. The picture you see was ripped from the internet, I would have taken one myself but I was too busy crashing.


  1. Great story...unless you're his MOTHER!!!! :)

  2. I swear man, only you. I haven't been reading this much, but catching up this morning has been great! Glad to hear things are going so well. Take care and keep working on entertaining the rest of us office dwellers on the other side of the world.

  3. Dude, that sounds like it was more exilarating than your skydiving experience. I think you've just discovered your business opportunity. Glad you're still alive broski!