Thursday, September 14, 2006

Saying goodbye to Daniel

At present, being in Vellore, there are many more foreigners around and, as they all live near each other, they tend to hang out a lot. Consequently, last night I found myself being invited to the leaving do of Daniel, a Bristol Medical student, whose stentorian English tones I had already heard in the library amongst the more prevalent lyrical tones of the local medical students, but whom I hadn't met. It seemed like a good idea and I asked how long he had been here. Two weeks was the reply. Wow, I thought, that's even better than me at Dalton surgery. I shall have high expectations of having a leaving do every Friday night as I go home for the weekend, when I get back to England.

It was a fun evening in a restaurant on a roof terrace overlooking Vellore, which does definitely look much nicer in the dark. The food was good (I had butter chicken masala and a paneer naan, washed down with a lime soda and Kingfisher Beer), and the company, of which there was an inordinate amount, owing more, I feel, to Daniel's English Public School boy looks, than his length of stay, was good fun. I sat next to three New Zealand students, also on elective, one of whom had had a traumatic time at the barbers shortly after his arrival.

After dinner, 5 of us, including the Party Boy were all going in the same direction and consequently shared a rickshaw. Sounds easy. The Vellorians do it, but their buttocks are considerably smaller than ours. I led the field, obviously, followed by Malin, who is also quite squishy, and we formed the seat cushions for Ture (a Swedish Nurse) and Triveni (an American Gapper). They said they'd never had such a comfortable ride. Daniel was sharing the seat with the rickshaw driver who had practically invisible butt cheeks but very sharp elbows.

Having previously thought I had already ridden in the Oldest Rickshaw in Vellore, I soon realised there was a new contender for the title. Not only that but it sounded as if the rickshaw driver tried to save money by mixing water with the petrol. The farting noises which emerged from the exhaust were truly astonishing. The imperceptible incline towards our destination must have felt like the North face of the Eiger for the poor phutting vehicle. Then we stopped for fuel which involved piling out whilst the driver put about 2 tablespoons of petrol in the tank. Off we went again. We did eventually make it amid much hilarity. I'm sure they put on these shows deliberately for the tourists. Below is a photo of the group the poor rickshaw driver agreed to pick up. We all, but especially me, look like we have at least one Special Need.

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It was a fun evening, apart from one million tiny things. Mosquitos. I don't even want to discuss them. I think they are the only things in India getting a square meal, mostly from me. To misquote someone who said it, my legs feel like a relief map of the Himalayas, only fifty times itchier. How the little bastards get a foothold on my slippery skin, goodness knows, they must be wearing galoshes. Certainly, they wear gas masks, or hold their long probosces as they dive in, because the air was so redolent of DEET that I practically passed out.

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