The most exciting blog post yet

Let’s see. I’ve had all sorts of awful things happen to me. I’ve had my head bashed open a couple of times. I’ve fallen from a moving vehicle at least once (thanks, Jeff). I’ve had a bit of my finger chopped off, as well as some of my big toe.

I’ve tore off all the skin from a knee, which is one of my earliest memories (Ah, Arizona). I broke my thumb. Just childhood stuff—life—lots of little nicks and bruises along the way.

It’s only the things that leave scars that seem to sear the memory. Stories that go, One time I almost caught a baseball barehanded and contused all the blood vessels in my hand, which would have made me almost lose consciousness, don’t last as long as the real thing.

The main intersection in Birganj, just north of the clock tower, around August 2002.

The main intersection in Birganj, just north of the clock tower, around August 2002.

For the most part, no one learns much from near misses. We just dust ourselves off, smile, and say, Boy, that was close.

My mother said I was accident prone and maybe I am. Most of the times I’ve had to go to the emergency room were not for exceptional reasons, unless you call cutting off the extreme quarter of your big toe while removing luncheon meat from an air tight container exceptional.

So yes, I’m afraid I’m accident prone. But if it eases your mind, I’ll reassure you that, in fact, I am bullet proof.

Or mostly lucky. Here’s how:

I’m riding back from town towards where Luke and I live. Luke is a N/192 PCV that lives directly across the street from me. Luke had gotten quite sick and I’d offered to get him some medicine and juice from the bazaar.

It was drizzling outside and I’m just cruising along the road, Mary Poppins-style with umbrella in hand and sitting perfectly upright.

The bikes in Nepal are replicas of Pee Wee Herman’s bike. True. The roads have numerous banners across them that have appeared in lieu of the Prime Minister’s visit to Birganj (that day).

Earlier that morning I went with Jane-Erie to her school. We hadn’t been at school long before the headsir marched all the students outside and ordered them to stand along the roadside, telling them that the PM would soon be coming to wave and smile for them.

At some point prior to the PM driving by, the headsir had the students begin clapping, which they did with an eerie robotic autonomy, like some machine that had been clapped-on itself.

The kids stood, moist and humorless, clapping as if they were powering the world. The kids clapped and clapped until, finally, the PM soared by.

I’m not sure if anyone could confirm if he was actually in one of the vehicles, which looked like they had been collected from the worst used car lot in Nepal, but I could tell it definitely affected the kids, who gladly ceased the clapping and went back to class.

I digress. So I was trucking along the main road, looking like Pee Wee Herman (or Mary Poppins, rather) on my bike, jingling my bell carelessly (actually, quite aggressively as that is the way) with my umbrella in hand, feeling purposeful with a basketful of juice and medicine, until a motorcyclist turned towards me, ramming my bike at a 20° angle, casting me forward off of my bike—not unlike Superman—across the motorcycle and motorcyclist and onto to the wet pavement (a good thing, I think) where I tumbled until I found my way underneath a rickshaw that hit and dragged me a few more feet until it finally just ran over me.

But you know what? Not a scratch on me. Well, two actually. Both were on my left hand and hardly mentionable.

I stood up, dusted myself off, and walked back to the scene of the accident. (That should illustrate the impressive distance that my body traveled from where my bike was struck, that I had to walk back to the scene. My bike’s front half looked a lot like an uppercase D.)

Rickshaws line the main road in Birtamod, Jhapa, on a cool morning in January 2004.

Rickshaws line the main road in Birtamod, Jhapa, on a cool morning in January 2004.

The motorcyclist was starring open eyed at what had happened. Running over a foreign development worker would not play well when the police arrived. Indeed, things would have played out badly for him. The cops came over and I explained in eloquent Nepali what had happened.

One of the cops calmly took the butt of his rifle and whacked the motorcyclist across the face, knocking him to the ground to the delight of the crowd.

That didn’t happened actually. Instead, the motorcyclist waited about four to five seconds and then got the hell out of there. When the cops showed up on foot (about ten seconds too late), they asked me if I got the cyclists’ number.

I contemplated giving a random number to make a martyr out of a random Nepali to pay for his fellow countryman’s transgressions against a hapless aid worker, but that was merely a fleeting idea.

The cop was upset that I hadn’t gotten the number, and I wanted to explain to him that I hadn’t been trained to keep my cool after being run over by a third-world rickshaw and dragged across the road. Peace Corps didn’t make us hold up logs in freezing water while a drill sergeant fired automatic rifles in our ears until the wee hours of dawn.

Peace Corps training did enable me to yell, Motherfucker! in the native language when I was hit, which I did.

And that was pretty much it. I picked up my bag from the road and found the juice I’d bought for Luke. I hailed a rickshaw (yes, you hail rickshaws), and loaded my bike and took it to the shop, which had it fixed later that day.

I went home, read a book, took a nap, and thought about what had happened over dinner. Wow. I almost really hurt myself. I guess I’m stilling waiting for that magic bullet.