Hell Ride Landmark Bookshop
Colin Todhunter takes a hair-raising ride
Hell Ride Landmark Bookshop in Chennai's Spencer Plaza is said to be
Asia's biggest. But there is a problem. In terms of overall floor space,
it may be the largest, but much of it is taken up with music, furniture,
and various other non-book products. Strictly speaking, it is not solely
But who cares? Not me. I have a master plan. My book Chasing
Rainbows in Chennai was released there, and now sits proudly on the
shelf next to Harry Potter. But that is just the beginning; the plan
is to colonise the place with my products. Next on the list is the videogames
I recently came up with the idea for such a game. If someone will market
it for me, I could get rich, quick. It is based on a moped ride along
dirt roads from Calangute to Anjuna in Goa. It takes place in pitch
darkness. Of course, the moped is poorly maintained and has a low quality
headlight. The driver may drink copious amounts of cheap Goan beer beforehand,
so his judgment is impaired just enough to make the ride "interesting."
But, of course, drinking beer prior to embarkation is illegal and, strictly
speaking, is absolutely unthinkable!
Ready? Then, off we go. The driver has to keep his eyes firmly fixed
to the ground in order to anticipate the divots, excess gravel, sand
and potholes. But it's not that simple. As you are thrown up and down
and jolted from side to side, there are numerous distractions. Flying
insects get into your hair, eyes, ears and mouth. Cobwebs criss-cross
the lanes and also get into your hair, eyes, ears and mouth. As your
eyes begin to water from the flying debris, trees appear out of nowhere
in the middle of the road. Duck in time to avoid the branches or say
goodbye to your head. As you duck, dive, water and slide, packs of angry
dogs bark, chase and attack your ankles. And things just wouldn't seem
right without the cows, goats and hens littering the road. The odd vehicle
approaches from the opposite direction. You don't see any of this until
it all comes into the beam of your marvellous headlight about half a
metre before possible impact. And, of course, if you are male, as soon
as you get on a bike you think you are the greatest driver on earth,
resulting in over-confidence and excessive risk taking.
So there you have it. The bike is weaving and pitching to cope with
the bad road surface, and the on-coming trees, cows, goats and hens.
Half the time you only have one hand on the thing as with the other
you attempt to brush away the spiders, cobwebs, flies, crickets or whatever
eerie horror-insect that may be flying around in the dead of night.
Bursts of full throttle occur to out-manoeuvre the packs of howling
dogs (while you try to kick them away as they come too close to your
ankle for comfort). So in fact, half the time you only have one leg
fixed to the bike, eyes open, and mind on the actual road.
And the winner is...? Not the fastest time, not the one who gets back
first, not anything so mundane - but merely the one who makes it back
in one piece - cobweb-free, insect-free, rabies-free and with head intact.
Maybe the whole concept is just unmarketable - it is just too hard.
Where did my inspiration come from for such a hare-brained thing? A
moped ride in Goa? Well, I can't possibly say! Inspiration is a very
personal and unique thing that is sometimes best left unsaid. Any takers?
© Colin Todhunter July 2003
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