We’ve had a lot of visitors at the office of late. All, no doubt to check out our credentials before an upcoming grant is finally signed over to us. Although not directly involved with the application or its implementation I am here to produce an M.I.S to track and record its progress over the next five years. One problem, I’m here until December then I’m back to sunny UK. I will be hard pressed to meet the deadline with essentially only a month and a small bit to complete it. Complete assumes I have started. No, he says full of aplomb. Despite various attempts to persuade the project manager to give me a clue, even a small clue, they have been met with assurances that all will become clear as October draws to a close. So, as a final last ditch effort to suggest now might be a good time to start planning I prepared a draft system to illustrate the complexity of the job and the fact that despite my best efforts in making it user friendly it will, nevertheless require user training. My presentation was met with considered silence and elicited the comment, ‘end of October we will start planning’.
Is this of interest to you? Probably not but it is too late to stop reading, you have got this far so may as well continue on. Back to visitors then. Yesterday we had a couple of truck loads of them arrive. Some from local areas to attend a meeting, others from mainstream India. Result, at the end of the day there is not enough transport to get everyone away. Being a very important guy around here, I’m one of the everyone group. Or, to put it more succinctly I am at the back of the queue. The very end of the queue no less. So at the end there is no transport for me. Now, there are no buses where I work, and the main road outside the office is a track more for easy movement of the thousands of cattle and goats than to move people about. I can either hitch a lift on the back of a likely looking cow roughly heading in my intended direction or stick around, hoping. Hoping for what, transport to return is what. Sitting on the steps pondering my fate, night starts to draw in and darkness is descending. No, stupid, rain clouds are assembling overhead is why it’s getting dark, not night arriving early.
Not getting depressed very easily I start to throw rocks and other hard missiles at the dog pack that is sensing dinner sitting on the steps. Until dinner starts heaving rocks at them, at which point they retire to a safe distance but still planning their strategy for achieving full stomachs. At that moment one of the smallest Indian guys here (he admits to being the smallest in his family at 5 foot 1 inch) taps me on the shoulder and says ‘come with me’. Being the obliging sort of bloke I am, I did. We head to the lean-to that substitutes as a garage. He pushes his motorcycle off its stand and says jump on. Here is where I consider my options. Invite the dogs to dinner, climb on a cow, sleep overnight in the office, commit hari-kari, or do the decent thing and climb on as I don’t want to upset him by refusing his offer. I climb on; a no brainer really, isn’t it?
By now evening is falling and dusk is getting duskier by the moment. My bike taxi driver is wobbling all over the track, missing the deep flood run offs on either side of the track by millimetres. Talking constantly and turning round to see me he rubs his eyes at the same time with a hand not where it should be ON THE HANDLEBARS. The track has some rather sharp and deep dips in it which I had earlier decided where there to help the natural water course run rather than a lack of interest in the track builders in bridge building. But in dim light it is difficult to see them. Ouch, we have just gone dooown and uuuuuup one and I am struggling to stay in my seat. ‘Are you comfortable Sir?’ he asks. Reply as you think appropriate. Approaching civilisation we now fag paper avoid hitting oncoming tuk tuks, wandering villagers and other mobile obstacles. Only as a last resort is the headlight switched on but only to see who we have nearly hit, or almost been hit by, and having determined that we are not hospital fodder the lights are switched off again. Until the next reportable near miss. What dumbo said this was a no brainer? We turn into the hospital grounds, not because he is giving up and presenting us prematurely as patients but because I live on the other side of the hospital.
As I dismount another biker pulls up beside us. Oh dear, I think my driver has really peed someone off and I am about to witness Indian road rage. But no, it is someone I recognise. Has he come all this way to say hello. No, he has come to collect one of the four brand new motor bikes stored in my reception room. Is that a typo, no, I have four bikes stored in my reception room. His pillion asks to see photographs of my family whilst the bike is sorted out. There is a mix up with keys so I have time to do the whole family album bit. Plus a rather embarrassing video of me doing my whirling dervish bit in Indonesia. Big smiles all round, the new bike is chuffing away contentedly, pillion is now the rider and together they ride off into the sunset, which in fact set some few hours ago.