When I arrive at their shared house in a quiet suburb of Sainikpuri there is a welcoming committee who want the full gory details of the crash, which is fun to re-tell now that it’s clear I’m in one piece. They have made up a bed for me inside, help me get all the gear and broken bits off the bike and immediately set about fixing everything.
Anoop, Nikhil, Utkarsh, Dhanush, Akhil, Nick, Alex and of course Swiss David swing into action while I collapse inside, exhausted from stress and lack of sleep. They strip down the broken bits of my bike and start hammering the bent box back into shape. A couple of guys (I think Nikhil, Utkarsh and Dhanush?) removed the original cast aluminium foot-peg mount which now looks like the scary liquid-metal morphing Terminator from T2 after Arnie had shot him. They took the bust bit of casting down to a metal fabrication workshop where a very clever man made a new mounting bracket from scratch out of iron, by hand. This released the brake lever which had been trapped by the bent foot-peg. They filed down the snapped clutch lever to make a comfortable round-ended short lever (which I now actually prefer to the original!) I woke up a few hours later and they helped me reset the handle bar again, check the alignment of the forks in the triple-clamp again, realign all the levers and switch gear, and re-glue the screen mount for the 4th time since Mumbai. Anoop has a wicked sense of humour; he and David seem to have a little bit too much fun hitting my aluminium box with a lump hammer and some bits of wood.
That afternoon they arranged for me to go to a medical centre and have my ankle X-rayed, Akhil chauffeurs me around Hyderabad to and from the medical centre and stopping to pick up supplies, then takes me back later that evening to meet an orthopaedic surgeon. The guys have arranged for him to come in to work at 7pm specially to see me and my X-ray results. He speaks excellent English and assures me that I haven’t broken anything but I’ve sustained a lot of soft tissue damage and stretched my ankle ligaments. He gives me some powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, telling me that for my size and level of injury the Ibuprofen I’m carrying will not bring down a fly-bite! He chats to us all about bikes, overland travel and European healthcare for a bit and then goes home without charging any fee for the consultation, instead leaving me with his phone number in case I need anything whilst in India. Try getting all of that done without appointments in an afternoon at the Royal Surrey in Guildford or Barnet General, and walking out with the personal mobile number of the orthopaedic surgeon! Akhil who has been ferrying me around all day is something of a blogging celebrity amongst the Indian biking fraternity. He’s written some fantastic scathing articles about all things good and bad in the biking world. His writing is brilliantly insightful and draws some hilarious parallels. He manages to liken owning a Royal Enfield to converting to Christianity, whilst getting a Honda is more like taking up Buddhism, you’ll have to read his piece to get it … http://riderzone.in/never-buy-royal-enfield/
After the medical centre we go shopping for drugs (pharmaceutical), an ankle support boot, a beer shop and some sustenance, then spend a hilarious evening sharing Kingfishers, munchies and stories, sitting on the floor of their sparsely furnished shared house; they only moved in last week and haven’t got any chairs yet! The conversation revolves around the wonderful world of bikes, bike trips, bike crashes, bike exploits, girlfriends, couch-surfing and the somewhat obsessive Indian girl called Sushma who flagged us down a couple of days ago on the basis that she liked motorbikes and instantly fell in love with Swiss Dave. She’s been stalking him ever since and even brought Granddad round to meet him yesterday, so we spent a few hours debating the details of the arranged marriage which he is about to get roped into and make bets on how many cows will be in her dowry! Nikhil is one of the funniest people to have a beer with, his stories of crashing cars and bikes are both hilarious and ridiculous but attaching your mate’s girlfriend to you using bungee straps to stop her falling off the back of your bike as she falls asleep is a visual image which I’ll never forget.
The next morning some of the guys have to go to work, David goes out riding with Nick, Akhil and Dhanush to find some dirt roads, and I resist the temptation to ride on the basis that my ankle can’t support my weight let alone go off-roading, my bent pannier boxes still don’t fit and after the events of two days ago I’m happy to not have to get on a bike right now. Despite my protestations that Utkarsh should join others on their ride off-road today, Utkarsh insists on staying at home to help me fix my bent boxes. The force of the impact ripped the plastic mounting hooks off and bent the body of the right box out of all proportion, twisted the lid and broke the locking mechanism, bent the base of the top box and knocked the hinge out of alignment. Great – that’s a lot of stainless steel and aluminium to straighten out. On the way back from breakfast on the back of Nick’s bike we stop to buy a rubber head mallet and some silicon sealant. I spent all day with Utkarsh using my butane soldering iron as a gas torch to super-heat the stainless steel locking mechanism and bend it back into shape. Then we attacked the other problems with my new rubber headed persuading tool. After much time, persuasion, heating, bending, gluing, fixing, trying and erroring we have the three boxes all reattached to the bike and an idea for how to make the bent lid watertight. When Alex comes back from his day job of running a bike luggage fabrication workshop, he literally brings his work home and fashions me a sexy short skirt on my box lid using bright yellow heavy nylon, double-tape and bloody strong glue. Blue Peter and Heath Robinson can kiss my arse; our fittings and fixings are pure Indian ingenuity!
David and the off-roading nutters return with Danush having tried (and succeeded) to out-do my injuries. He flipped his KTM 390 while playing in the sandy dirt tracks and has got himself an ankle injury which needs permanent strapping and a crutch! I can imagine the orthopaedic specialist thought he was being set up when the same entourage of fun-loving bikers from Sainikpuri turned up 24 hours later with a different patient but the same problem!
David and I are getting conscious of time, and the lack of it before we have to get to Kolkata to sort out a Burmese visa, find our way across North Eastern India to the border, and locate the other overland travelers who are going on our Burma crossing.
Leaving the Sainikpuri guys in their happy Hyderabad suburb on Thursday morning to head up the East coast is a really sad moment. Swiss Dave and I have become so attached to these lovely people, and I owe them an indescribable debt of gratitude for their help, time, hospitality and resourcefulness, not to mention their humour and joie de vivre. I’m already looking forward to getting back to Hyderabad one day, Keep in touch guys, and thank you for rescuing me