Benja: The Challenge
Goa Travel Blog› entry 12 of 22 › view all entries
There is a competitive element to the trip where teams can can earn points by answering questions on sites along the route. However there was no mention of any alcohol-based prizes, we have unsurprisingly binned that plan and invented our own competitions.
The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers are on a mission to steal as many spoons as possible. There is a daily 100 rupee competition I have with the Wookie to rate the Hungarian Fittie (the ex-Miss Hungary). And Torbie and Matt have invented the country of Moongaria. The national sport of these first two residents, is to moon a team of 3 Hungarian girls every time they pass them. And once they do pass them, they pull over at the first opportunity, hide in a bush, then chased them down so they can pass them all over again. Obviously with their butt cheeks flapping in the wind. There is a danger that both of them are going to end up with sunburn in places people shouldn't get that kind of exposure.
And of course, there's coconut bowling, where you try and bowl empty coconuts under the wheels of oncoming trucks – much more fun than it sounds honestly.
There's also opportunities to personally get to know the other participants, and I can confirm in this event Fran has absolutely pasted all comers.
We received our cursory 5 minutes instruction and we were let loose on a playing field that made turning out at a packed Murrayfield with nothing more than a St Georges cross on your chest, some furry dice tied to your balls and a feather duster in your hand, look like an absolute walk in the park.
For example, traffic lights. When they do exist, they are considered advisory, rather than any form of hard and fast rule. Optional you could say. Try and stop at a red light and you're going to have 20 tonnes of badly engineered Tata truck rearranging your ass. Hesitate and you could become a bumper ornament for a re badged Morris Oxford.
You are completely expected to use either side of the road to drive, and the painted lines on the road are there just to make foreigners feel a bit better. Essentially depending on your place in the tarmac food chain, you can overtake, undertake, weave, dodge and swerve to your hearts content. Especially annoying is the tendency for buses to overtake you just before they pull into their stop, slamming on their brakes and forcing a panicked leap into the oncoming traffic. Or some fella's house. The fun of it is that when you do overtake them as they're picking up passengers, they will repeat the same manoeuvre ten minutes later in the next village. And even give you a cheery wave as they do it the next time.
Frankly I was lucky I was still not completely recovered from the night before when we first set off. I would like to state now that I am a huge opponent of drink driving in any form, but as Mags said; “its probably better you were still mildly inebriated as it meant you had no fear whatsoever”. The decision on who would drive was weighing up a slightly disoriented chap who had experience dodging taxis on a scooter through central London every day, or Mags trying to use a hand held clutch for the first time in her life on the open road. Recklessness won, and we did survive.
In a tuk tuk you have 3 controls; the accelerator, the brake and the horn. I've always been very impressed how sign language is transferable between nationalities, so that a deaf Mongolian can converse quite happily with his Welsh counterpart, whereas try and get their non-disabled siblings together and old Gengis will think that “Daffodil” is something you eat. Now if everyone on the road spoke “Indian blast of the horn” the world would be a much better place. You don't even have to see the other vehicle, but by the note and pitch of the “Honk” your average Indian can convey a thousand worlds, from “Excuse me, my wife has just gone into labour and I'm in rather a hurry to get to the hospital” to “there's a great curry house up here on the left, and by the way, if you don't get out of my way you pasty little English waster in a 3 wheeler I'm going to flatten you in my big f*cking truck”. Truly staggering, it really is.
There are 2 things more scary than driving in India. The first is driving in India in the dark and your lights don't work. The second is being a passenger with Torbie. Young David Danger Torbet (believe it or not that's his real name after I gave him a middle name for his last birthday thanks to deed-poll. Sorry about that Mrs T!) has the most competitive streak in anyone I have ever met. Its a true quality that has lead him to success in life over the years, but it also means that he races everything anywhere. I put it down to his left-handedness and the fact he only just made the UK's average height.
Yesterday there were points where he had overtaken everything he could find to overtake on a rocky potholed mountain road with 300ft cliffs a skid away, and he was still trying to prove that you can drift a 3-wheeler at 50 kph round a blind bend. God bless the little terrier.
Mags told me an interesting fact yesterday. India has 1.2 billion people here, and if that was just 0.8 billion, they would economically be considered as developed as Spain. Frankly in my opinion they could add a couple more billion and they'd still make France look a little “uncultured”.
So, the only conclusion I've come to so far is that Indian traffic laws, or the lack of them, appear to be the most effective form of birth control I've seen since we decided the family dog was a little “frisky” and he came back from the vet with a high pitched bark.
Frankly if they keep driving the vehicles they drive, in the way they do, I suspect within 6 months the place will be empty. Which is a shame as both the people and the country are truly stunning.
So I'm told my favourite animal for eating is sacred out here. Quite what sacred means I'm not sure. Certainly when it comes to road rules our bovine friends are to be avoided at all costs. In fact the priorities on the roads are something like; Cow (sacred of course, even if they do have a penchant for sleeping in the middle of roads), Bus (big, fast and driven as if tomorrow is never going to happen), Truck (slow but brutal - usually driven by a drunk fella full of curry in need of a toilet pronto), Car (rarer, but when you do see them you suspect they are driven by one of Satan's blood relatives), Tuk tuk(that's us), Motorbike (usually knackered and driven by someone who to all intents and purposes, appears to be suicidal), Pedestrian (again, appear to be suicidal, probably as a result of seeing their dearest and nearest on a motorbike and wondering what they'd done wrong).
So essentially the cow is king. Big question is; “can I still eat it?”. In a country where eating with your left hand (Torbie being a leftie is loving this...) is as much of an insult as walking up to someone and giving them a good firm kick in the plums, I'm really concerned about suggesting this so called divine animal might actually make good 'eating.
But the thing that annoys me about the whole situation is not the fact a bus will quite happily wipe out an entire family to avoid an over-worshipped steak, but the fact that the cows seem to know. That's right, a whole field full of grass 50 yards away, and they'll still sit in the middle of the road. And you know what annoys me even more? The fact they've got a really smug look on their big tenderised faces too....