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house of glas

April 20, 2011

lunch.

April 19, 2011

a strange place to sleep

April 10, 2011

my new roommate - dognosed fruit bat, maybe after a night on the town...?

beauty in the small things

February 23, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers.

January 16, 2011

Yesterday I had my first crash. I was driving down 278 on my moto, when something slammed into me sideways, sending me and the bike crashing to the ground. In those mili seconds between slam and crash, all kinds of things went through my head. “Where did that come from? Will my $ 12.00 helmet hold what the saleswoman promised?  Will I loose a toe?” And also, “yeah, just what I needed! Does this mean I get to go home?”.

Once landed, a crowd of 50-60 people immediately gathered, some of them helping me to my feet, others just standing, enjoying the show. My first impulse was to take off my helmet, it felt suffocating. Someone started to lift up my bike and push it off the intersection. Others handed me bits and pieces of the bike that had come undone and also placing them into the basket. Some asked me if I was okay. “I’m not sure, I think so!” was all I could answer, actually trying to be funny and touching my head and checking my arms and legs.  I could see fuel dripping from my bike onto the ground. One man looked down and pointed at my feet, only then did I realize that not only was my right middle toe mangled looking and black, I was also missing that flip flop. Ever since I arrived here and started taking motos, first as a passenger then driving myself, this has been my big fear: that I would lose a toe (or even a finger) due to the recklessness of riding in flip flops. I also noticed he was smoking a cigarette and, panicking,  started to yell “Awt t’wer plern teh!!!”.

I think it was only in order to stop my mind spinning into overdrive in imagining toe amputations and explosions that I started to look around for the cause of my fall. Two young undernourished and stunted men with glittery baseball caps and their heavily loaded mint green honda were the culprits. Young men here are maniacal drivers. They must have been overtaking a car, speeding and overlooking me. When I saw one of them limping theatrically I wondered if this situation was just getting from bad to worse. How would you like to spend the rest of your life paying damages for the supposed injury of such a poor lout and his 30-head family? There is no doubt in my mind that I do not stand a chance of winning a case in a local court. My strategy was to keep my head down and do some limping of my own. In my mind I fiercly hoped that they were just as uneager to see the police as I. I continued to watch them, sneakily, out of the corner of my eye, while a friendly bystander began to rub snake oil onto my injured toe. I was much too distracted to stop him, when luckily the stunted youngsters had a short discussion amongst themselves, hopped on their bike and sped away. I wonder what was in those big plastic bags they had loaded…

In the meantime my bike was back on its two tires, the damage was minimal, after all. I was standing in the center of a group of still probably 30 or so people, all who were making me laugh, joking about the parts from the motorbike, of which noone could figure out if they belonged to my bike, and might be functionally critical. Someone quickly reattached the leaking fuel line and, after a few unsucceful attempts from my side to kickstart the bike, even did that for me. After we clarified that I wasn’t a tourist and that the bike is mine (I had no bike rental place to deal with) , we all agreed that it was still my lucky day. One of the bystanders, a nurse in white coat, looked me seriously in the eye: “Are you okay?” she asked once more, and, shakily nodding, I thanked everyone and wobbled off on the moto, into the sunset.

Today, I feel alright. The toe is sprained. And the kindness of strangers in everyday crisis situations in this country makes me love it once again and makes me happy to be here.

architectural contrasts

February 25, 2010

February 24, 2010