Friday, February 03, 2012

Gujarat India, Day 2, Comedy preamble

The middle two days of the 2nd Global... comprised field excursions to some excellent sites in the state. I was on Trip 2, which took in sites around Bhavnagar and beyond. We were assigned big coaches and bundled in in the early morning for the long drive. There were inevitable teething problems, mainly with a lack of understanding of the precise route and coordinating the various coaches, but nothing over drastic occurred and we saw plenty of superb birds and mammals.

Anyone who has been on guided bird trips will have encountered inevitable bad apples. A few of these revealed themselves very early on on our bus, mainly concentrated near the front. These included a lady from Serbia who had an extreme rage at the young man carrying her suitcase and shouted at him: "I will kill you!!" before she had even got on the bus. Then there was the multinational, multilingual delegate with toy bins from Mexico who declared to the whole bus that she had had "No booze, no sex, no drugs, no rock n roll!!".

Or take the US-based photographer Bhaskar Krishnamurthy, whom we were later told was our rep from FICCI but who strenuously denied he had any official role on the trip, in order to deflect from any criticism. He booked himself two seats on the crowded bus by laying out his sizable cameras/lenses (which he was never seen using), then had a hissy fit at an elderly American woman who dared to rest her breakfast box on one of his seats. He rarely even sat in one of the seats, preferring to stand or sit with the driver. Curiously, he was later to show a photo at the conference purportedly taken in "England" but apparently showing diving Cape or Australian Gannets...

Perhaps chief purveyor of comedy, though, was travel writer Tim Hedgley from Northern Ireland. He showed no interest in birds and rarely even left the bus. I have no idea why he was there. He was overheard using his phone to extremely rudely ball out the organisers of the trip he should never have been on. The overinflated opinion of this chap was later to reach the national press, disgracing his nation with his complaining about the rudeness and poor organisation he encountered. Here are some choice snippets from the bus from this character:
On birds: "The best cranes are those in Belfast which built the Titanic"
On politics: "Your president Andrew Jackson was born a few streets from me in Belfast"
[a reply in a gentle American voice]: "But all US presidents have to be born in US territory"
"That didn't apply back in the sixteen hundreds, when he was president"
On Indian food: "I like all your spices: garam masala, saffron, curry powder mix."

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