I'll never forget my very first time at London's Trafalgar Square. It was 2006, I was 24 and in possession of a white man afro to rival the best of the early 70s Jackson 5. "Don't cut your hair, it looks awesome!" my friends would always tell me. The same friends who now laugh hysterically when they see old photos of the younger, skinnier me and my extremely massive head of hair.
I took that head of hair to England and my first point of call after Heathrow was Trafalgar Square. The excitement of being in London for the first time and being surrounded by all that history came to a panicky halt when I felt something warm land on my neck.
I soon realised it wasn't just my neck and that my landscaped head-art had also taken a healthy smattering of pigeon poo.
And if you've ever had hair like mine, you'll know that pigeon poo + thick, curly hair is not a winning combo.
Darting into the closest building, my first experience of a classic English pub was not a pint, a yarn and some chips with gravy, but of liquid hand soap and washing my curls in the bathroom sink. Memories.
The Overnight train farter
Sleeping on overnight trains has never been my strong suit and I'd started to have regrets about those spicy bhuja snacks we'd shared with a tubby local, but this was India and I wasn't going to say no to authentic bhuja. It was about 4 in the morning and I'd finally fallen asleep in the narrowest of narrow bunks. With a flimsy sheet pulled over me and eight bunks to every crammed compartment, survival was as much the priority as sleep.Then just as I'd given up, I nodded off. Slowly the sounds of someone talking entered my dream alongside the clattering of train on track. Waking up, the jovial middle-aged chap who'd offered his bhuja was having a full-volume conversation on his phone.
He'd gotten up off his bunk and was casually leaning in the aisle, his ample belly and buttocks conveniently close to my face. That's when it began. I'd never witnessed a more perfect marriage of high-decibel flatulence and simultaneous nonchalant chit-chat. This was surreal. His laidback (yet loud) voice made it seem as if he was saying, "G'day Dave, great to hear from...Ffffffffaarrtt...you. How are Melissa ... Ffffffffaaaarrttttt ... and the kids? Me? I'm ... Ffffffaaaarrt...fine, just on a sleeper ... Ffffffaaaarrrt ... train to Bangalore..."
Didn't he care that he was waking up the whole carriage? Wasn't he embarrassed to be dropping loud, wobbly vibrations of such magnitude? His jolly likeability coupled with his complete lack of self-awareness made him so fascinating that getting angry and telling him to shut up was the furthest thing from my mind. This was gold.
It might be one thing to have an accidental windy release when you're laughing or maybe even on some sort of high stress business-related phone call, but the key here was how innocuous his conversation sounded. Our friend simply gave the impression he was catching up with an old buddy and had somehow forgotten the time of day, not to mention the seven other people sleeping within a three-metre radius. Or, for that matter, that he wasn't on the toilet. I liked him a lot.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's The Two, Coast Soul on Coast and writes the RoxboroghReport.com