It does not pay for the Christian
to hustle the Aryan Brown
for the Christian riles
and the Aryan smiles
and he weareth the Christian down
and the end of the fight is a tombstone white
and the name of the late deceased
and an epithet drear:
a fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.
We are currently in a clapped-out resort town called Pokhara about 6 hours from Kathmandu by bumpy bus journey. It used to be one of the pit stops on the hippie ‘Journey East’ and there are still the odd aged whites who clearly never left. The town is on a lake and on a clear day, Annapurna can be seen in the distance. It’s beautiful, touristy and cheap – so, we’re in.
This morning the lads suggested renting scooters for the day and maybe going up to the World Peace Pagoda. We started heading up the street from our hotel, and I noticed we’d been joined by the German who had bumped into us in the street yesterday and taken us to our current residence. It later transpired that he and his girlfriend got a hefty discount for doing this, which I had suspected from the get-go. We haggled our way up the line of various ramshackle dealerships. The boys went for a place at the bottom of the road where they each got a superannuated Honda scooter for 350 Rs each. I went up the road to an Indian guy who did the same for 200 Rs and would take cash as collateral, for I have long had a fear of giving over valuable documentation to strangers. When he asked for a license, I silently handed over my Age Card and pretended to be deeply absorbed in my registration form. It seemed to work.
We set off, delighted with ourselves, revving and swerving dangerously around typically rule-free Third World traffic. It was about five minutes in that Knox took a tumble and came up with a long scratch in his thigh. We found a petrol station, then went to the bazaar to get something for Ed’s leg. We then spent the next hour doing hardly anything other than revving up what seemed to be the main drag of Pokhara, stopping the odd time to ask directions to the Gurkha Museum or to get a drink. One of the fun little details of renting an old scooter in Nepal is that they are unlikely to have a speedometer that works. This, coupled with the fact that there is literally no sign-posting of any kind means that, if there is a speed limit at all, then it is purely theoretical. I ended up just keeping to a rule that I keep up with the rest and hope that the bump i just felt under the wheel wasn’t anything with a pulse.
The end of the charade came when Sam decided to ride without his helmet and we were all promptly pulled over by the police and asked for documentation. Two of us, myself included, did not have our licenses with us and so were ordered to take the contraptions back to their respective owners.
I didn’t mind, considering that a fine or a night in a cell was more to the tune of what I’d been expecting.