Greg: The wobbly head

Malvan Travel Blog

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Return of the Chennai

This was a phenomenon I was looking forward to after my previous trip to India in 2004; namely the bilateral cranial rotatory gesture that has to be seen to be believed. We suspect the head wobble developed in India in 1957 with the advent of the autorickshaw: already after only a few days of driving over potholes we are feeling our own necks loosen up and our heads starting to waggle freely. The GCSE answer to what the gesture means would be “yes” or “OK”. However, its signification is far more nuanced than this: indeed it is often simply a polite way of saying no. Every day we learn a new meaning. Examples include:


“Please stop asking me questions I don't really understand, the useful content of this conversation has expired and I want you to leave me alone now”


“Contrary to expectations and previous assertions we don't have any mutton mugalai but that is just the way of the world and its best that you accept it”


“I'm somewhat intrigued by this rickshaw rally, but having gleaned your country of origin, my  curiosity is satisfied”


“Although I'm saying the words '15 minutes', you should know by now that I mean something in th 5-10 hour bracket”


“You think I have just fixed your tuk tuk, but what you don't know is that I just pissed in your fuel tank, scratched my arse with your clutch lever and hid gerbils in your air filter.”

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Return of the Chennai

A-Team • David Danger Torbet and Matthew Brett  Robinson in a tuk tuk painted in tribute to the 80's TV show. Known for reliability (and smugness), aggressive driving and complete failure in waiting for anyone else.

Aravind • Lead organiser of the rally. Indian lovechild of Hitler and Stalin. Enforcer of 6am starts.

Badger Racing • Benja Hedley and Mags Gaynor. Known for wearing heavy overalls in 30 degrees of heat and trying not to complain, as well as ongoing electrical problems on a daily basis.

BCJ (Bad Chat Joe) • Name given to the individual with lowest quality conversation in a given group. Names after Joe the American who's normally the recipient of said title.

Chat • quality of conversation (see BCJ)

Coconut Bowling • officially recognised sport of the tukkateers.

The A-Team

Cows • Sacred but tasty. Enough said.

“Cut them loose” • Actively deciding to leave team mates behind as a result of a) their procrastination, b) their mechanical failure or c) your own hangover resulting in a total loss of patience.

Emergency roadside wombat • when the wombat just has to be let of his cave to take a call after a nasty prawn vindaloo, and there is no white telephone to be found.

Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers (The) • Two brothers (Sam,27 and Seth, 30ish) known for destructive behavior. Hobbies include exploding dead animals, setting off fireworks in hotel rooms, use of illegal narcotics, smuggling and knitting.

Faff • the art if doing unnecessary things at inopportune moments. Example “Where's Greg, everyone's ready to go? He's just popped off to have a shower.

” See Shareen / Greg.

Fumble • the art of breaking or losing things whenever physically possible. See Matt Robinson / Mags Gaynor.

Fumble Police • individuals keeping a close eye on the fumblers and returning them their mobile phone / passport / tickets / keys when they regularly leave them in bars / hotel rooms / tuk tuk / restaurant.

Kingfisher • local quality 5% beer. Tastes good, but there is a suspicion it may give you the Squits after 8 pints.

Kingfisher Strong • Uncompromising and brutal lager. 8%, tastes like the inside of an international cricketers jock strap and gives you enough of a hangover to contemplate suicide. Does however someone negate the impact of a journey with Satan's Chauffeur.

Marika • Assistant rally organiser.

Poorly endowed with organizational skill. Well endowed in other ways.

Mohican • the haircut de-rigeur of the discerning tukkateer.

Moongaria • Country of origin of the Moongarians. Yet to be formally recognised by the UN as a country.

Moongarians • Unwilling recipients of the ancient art of mooning

Pirates of the Currybean • Brad Kenyon and Shareen Elnescen...Elnashic...Elnascn...well, a surname I can't spell. Just Shareen will do. Known for pirate outfits and the extreme unreliability of their tuk tuk, “The jolly raja”.

Pot holes • The Indian national staple. Range from the “you couldn't drown a baby squirrel in that” to “tuk tuk killers”, there is always a gamble when they're full of water and one can't be differentiated from the other.

Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers
Enough pot holes can counter the effect of any quantity of Imodium. Solutions are two fold: 1) Drive round wherever possible, and where not control speed to a great extent. 2) Drive at them  as fast as possible and show that pothole who is boss. Also known as “The Shareen approach”.

Potholio • Derived from a combination of Beavis' Great Cornholi and the experience of hitting substantial potholes at speed in a boneshaking tuk tuk, Potholio is making frequent appearences in the villages, restaurants and clubs along our route. With his top pulled over his head and his arms aloft, Potholio will scuttle around and accost all comers with the question “Are you threatening me?”. It has been noticed that crabs behave in a remarkably similar way.

Return of the Chennai • Greg Unwin and Fran Swanwick. Know for faffing, top speed, sociability and more faffing.

Rickshaw • see Tuk tuk

Rikki Tikki Racing • Leigh and the Wookie. Two Americans, best known for doing some filming, pulling over into a Indian Naval base by accident with the camera still rolling, being arrested and causing an international incident. And Wookie noises...

Rotarians • a group of well meaning individuals who have supported us all the way. Essentially a club supporting good causes. However they have a darker side involving a love of unnecessarily long meetings, introducing every single person in the room everytime someone new gets up to speak and torturing audiences by spending 15 minutes shaking hands and chatting about Armesh Patel's new goat on a stage whilst tukkateers are made to sit and watch. Sober.

Rotarian drinking game • whenever the word Rotary / Rotarian is mentioned, all players must have a drink and rotate on the spot.

Satan's Chauffeur • see “David Danger Torbet”

Smokey and the Pandit • Steve Ballentine's team with Alex and Vinay. Known for crashing within 50 yards of the start.

Squits • Inevitably experienced by all tukkateers at incovenient and unplanned moments, this onomatopoeic descriptor denotes the tendency of excreta to resemble the contents of thali dishes.

Sumesh • DJ from local radio station, “Big FM”, a sponsor of the rally. Clinically insane.

Tukkin Crazy • Some good chaps over here - check out their site at:

Tuk tuk • see Rickshaw

Tukking in • see Fran Swanwick

Tukkus • Rickshaw based ruckus

Tukkateers • People partaking in Rickshaw based Ruckus.

Tukkaterring • The art of people partaking in Rickshaw based Ruckus.

“Using the Force” - allowing Greg or Shareen to drive in the morning after they've had less than an hour's sleep and are still stuffed to the gills with last nights booze.

White telephone • when you have to make a call on to the porcelain communication device. Eg: “That Mutton Masala is moving around a bit, I think I might need to make a call on the great white telephone pretty soon”

Wifebeater - “Suns out, guns out. It's wifebeater time baby” Preferred wear of the discerning tukkateer. Leaves amusing tan lines when worn excessively.

Return of the Chennai
Return of the Chennai
Return of the Chennai
Return of the Chennai
The A-Team
The A-Team
Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers
Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers
photo by: Rickshaw