theodoressmith

Homoromantic on a Motorcycle

In India on March 13, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I met my motorcycle taxi driver Satchit three days earlier, being one of the many yelling their services, while i walked the street.  On a few occasions in Arambol, India I was in need of a driver, the choice of whom usually based on convenience.  With three very vocal choices clamoring in front of me, I saw one man that caught my attention.  It wasn’t flash, humor or negotiations catching my interest.  It was his simple and aged appearance.  He was an older man, lines of time and experience carved deep into his thin and serious face, a thin and graying mustache the final distinguished touch.  This was a man that had survived years driving the brutal roads and traffic of India and stood with no signs of visible scars or limp.  If one can master this particular trade I believed it to be him.  This was my man and I knew it instantly.  This is the safest motorcycle ride in India.

Stepping closer to him I extend my hand, along with the words, “You’re my guy.”  He answers clearly confused but confidently, like I’ve taught him a new English greeting, “Yo-er-mide-gay,” shaking my outstretched hand.  For some reason I respond with, “I AM your guy!”  His blank expression helps me realize this attempt at conversation confusing and meaningless.

That’s how I met my guy Satchit, his motorcycle taxi as small and old as he.  Days later after meeting him and using his services, I’m on the run and Satchit my unknowing getaway driver.  Still asleep half a mile behind are crooks trying to squeeze me for money.  I’m not sure what hostility I face should they catch me.  I know it very unlikely and I do take comfort in that.  I do think about any paper trail or conversations with people that may point to me or my current move south to Kerala and come up with nothing.  I feel a new sense of freedom, smiling on the back of the motorcycle wind passing by, a sensation of flying.  Flying away and not looking back.

I make a promise to myself, a promise that I won’t back down from a fight.  I won’t be taken advantage of.  They won’t gain the upper hand on me.  Not again.  I’ve made many mistakes so far, but i’m learning fast.  I’m taking what was a vacation and turning India into my battleground.  Why is this a good decision?  That has yet to be answered.

It would be a lie to say that Satchit and I shared any rapport, our conversations together clearly riveting.  We have no relation beyond the fact I paid him money on a few occasions to drive me to different locations over the past week.  However, my thoughts turn oddly sentimental and dare I say romantic.  Homoromantic.  I can’t help but feel like a dame sitting behind him, Satchit my knight, as we slowly cruise away towards the horizon on his tiny Honda, more donkey than steed.  He is my hero, helping in my escape and starting a new chapter in my travels.  I begin drifting into thought about a possible new life with this man.  Satchit and Theo.  I start thinking about his life.  Is he married?  He must have a lady in Arambol, trimming his mustache, pressing his black tracksuits and polishing his white sneakers.  He can’t run away with me and leave his trophy wife at home.  I dream his 6 foot, curly blond haired wife with huge breasts sits behind him, the back of his head nestled firmly in her cleavage as they cruise the Arambol beaches at sunset, eating samosas and doing body shots of cashew liquor.  Clearly there is no room for me in his wild party life I’ve conjured up for him.

Before even making it out of town we stop at a service station.  By service station I mean a 3-walled thin metal shack with small engine parts, wrenches, oilcans and plastic water bottles of gasoline strewn about the hard dirt floor.  Satchit takes this time to oil the wheels for the journey and pick up his red helmet.  My heart melts a little, thinking he is concerned for my safety.  Getting on the motorcycle once more he wedges the one fractured helmet between his legs as we drive off.  The helmet is for him, the law requiring one on the open highways.

It’s a two-hour motorcycle ride east to the Madga train station.  I am traveling with only a large daypack for my two month travels in India.  However small and mobile my pack is compared with other travelers, it still weighs about 30lbs and is cumbersome on a motorcycle.  There’s a physical demand, pushing with 30lbs of pressure forward, adjusting and readjusting with every acceleration and squeeze of the brake.  My arms tire holding onto a rear seat bar behind my butt that I use for leverage.  I feel my eyes quickly drying out in the fast moving air.  I retreat behind Satchit’s bulbous red helmet for cover.  I regularly slam my forehead into the back of his helmet, with a dull thud, when he brakes hard in traffic.  I consider if that’s why the fracture marks exist on his helmet as they spider web across the outer finish.  I laugh at the logo staring me in the face.  It’s as modest a logo as I’ve ever seen, a seagull in flight.  His red helmet contains tiny shiny gold flakes under a clear cracked finish.  It’s like staring at a hollowed out bowling ball dipped in glitter.  I wonder if my forehead is now stamped with a combination of glitter and blood from my own skull fractures.

Finally we arrive at the train station, trains a new form of transportation for me in India.  I pull out my wallet to pay Satchit along with my camera.  I request one photo without the helmet, a photo memento i can carry in my wallet and later show to my grandchildren.  He shakes his head no.  After laying the rupees in his hand, he asks why I’m taking a photo of him.  I almost want to tell him everything that’s been running through my head.  The deep connection I feel and how if he asks me to get back on the motorcycle and ride away with him, I will.  Instead my answer to him as uninspiring as humanly possible, “Because I like taking photos.”  I want to snap more photos of him but he is already bored and driving away.  I watch as he disappears into the wall of traffic and out of my life.  He doesn’t look back.  Once again I find myself alone, tired and hungry in India, but I feel good, armed with a new confidence that things will start working in my favor, even without my road warrior guru, Satchit.Image

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