Touring India with an Enfield
There we were at the side of the road, stranded. It was late afternoon, it had been a difficult day, and we were going nowhere fast. Our trusty Enfield Bullet had developed problems that we had no way of fixing. The dodgy de-compression cable, coupled with the missing link to the accelerator had stupefied even the local mechanics, who had turned up fast and furious to assist us in our moment of need. After each mechanic tried in vain to get us going, they each abandoned us to the night, not wanting to get caught out themselves as the sun disappeared and darkness drew near.
We debated about it, and we stewed on it, then we worried about it as it really started to get dark. Darkness however, brought us our knight in shining armour as a single headlight appeared in the gloom. A tiny spluttering moped appeared with two largish Indian men desperately trying to stay on it. They stopped, and immediately I was impressed with how much weight you could get onto the smallest of bikes. They looked at our bike and spent a while trying to fix it, before deciding it would be an excellent idea for them to tow us to their village, some 20kms away. Now our Enfield was heavy, it's a fair sized motorcycle, it already had two passengers, and two full rucksacks along with an assortment of luggage stacked up so high it was a wonder we stayed upright. Undeterred, they tied a tow rope between the bikes and then proceeded to tow us to their village.
It was a sheer adrenaline ride being towed at night along a pot-holed road in the dark, but we were pleased at being helped, so we just gave demonic grins in response to their agitated hand waving signals. After what seemed an eternity, we arrived in a village just off the main road and dismounted our steed to the joy of all the villagers who had come out to witness this event. We were tired and we were filthy, and it was all a little overbearing to be welcomed into this small village in the dead of night. The larger of the 2 Indian men (off the bike) ushered us into one of the small homes and bade us sit down. We were presented with Chai and then introduced to his considerable family, and his neighbours and their family, and their neighbours and their cousins and so on. It turned out this guy was the village headman and he was obviously deeply respected, which was evident by the reverence with which others addressed him. He then promised us (with the little English he spoke) that he would fix our bike for us and we would soon be on our way. He instructed one of the crowd to go and get the 'mechanic', who duly turned up to inspect the bike.
We offered the use of our limited 5-piece tool kit, which the headman politely refused, undoubtedly knowing that such kits don't work. Anyway the mechanic spent hours messing around with the bike and eventually he appeared to have fixed the problems. With only a slight amount of cajoling the motorcycle fired and settled down to a nice smooth tick-over. We thanked the mechanic and politely tried to offer him some money, but the headman would have none of it,
"No" he said, "You are my guests".
I discreetly managed to whisper to the mechanic, "I'm happy to pay you for your time", to which he replied "Don't worry, I just hope it stays fine for you". Hmmm, I thought, you're the mechanic; surely you trust your own work? As if he had heard my thoughts he said "Actually, I'm not a mechanic at all, I'm a doctor, but they seem to think I can do anything".
As we sped off into the night I had to laugh at the sequence of events that led us into the hands of the Doctor that night, but was eternally glad that it was the bike that needed fixing and not us.