Let me tell you a little story. Are you comfy? OK, then I’ll begin.
Last week whilst staying at a hostel in Delhi (the Stops Hostel, which incidentally was fantastic and you should definitely visit), we met a rather scatty Australian girl.
At first, she was great fun. A little strange, with what seemed like a million bizarre stories, but she was sweet, and so Alex and I took her under our wing for a night of Butter Chicken. That sounds dodgy, but I promise it was nothing sinister…
Over dinner we chatted about our plans for the next evening. We had seen that Alt-J were playing in a stadium in Delhi, and decided that as they’re one of my favourite bands, we would get tickets and go along. Like the nice, inclusive people we are, we asked if she’d like to join.
Later on we met some other Alt-J fans back at the hostel and all 5 of us bought tickets for the following night. 5 music fans, one epic night… ‘what could go wrong?’, I hear you ask.
The night started with a few drinks at the hostel, and the 5 of us hopped in a rickshaw, bound for the gig. A bottle of vodka and mixer made its way around the group, and I noticed that the girl was drinking a fair bit, but she’s an adult, right? NBD.
When we arrived, it was clear that she was pretty drunk. We found ourselves in the wrong line to pick up tickets, and after making our way to the front and finding out we had to queue up again, we were a little put out, but accepted that it was just one of those things.
That’s when the volume went up about 100 decibels as the girl whined ‘JUST LET US IIIIIIIIIN, GO AND GET YOUR MANAGER AND MAKE HIM GIVE US OUR TIIIIIIIIICKETS! WHY ARE YOU IGNOOOOORING ME? I JUST WANT TO GET IIIIIN!’.
We were all a bit embarrassed and after 5 or so minutes of this behaviour, we dragged her away to the other line. All the while she was screaming ‘I F***ING HATE YOU! I F***ING HATE YOU!’ to the guy behind the counter. Awkward.
Security to get inside the stadium was pretty tight. We went through 3 separate security checks, each time a little tighter. Any drinks, smokes, sprays, food, or anything else that wasn’t an absolute essential was taken from us. Yes, it was irritating, but that’s just the way it is in India.
One the third security checkpoint, I walked with the girl to the ladies’ screening area. It’s totally normal in India for women to be checked in a separate booth, away from the sometimes unwanted eyes of men.
The girl was, by this point, pretty hammered. She started complaining loudly about the amount of security, and then asking the security women if she could grab a few ‘sharpeners’ from the discarded odds and ends on the floor. They refused.
The girl went ahead and started helping herself anyway, first opening up a packet of chewing gum and popping it into her mouth, then spraying herself with a bountiful helping of body spray.
Except it wasn’t body spray. It was pepper spray.
As she generously applied the debilitating weapon to her entire body, the gas expanded to fill the screening booth. Everyone inside, including me, was completely incapacitated. People scattered and fought to get out of the ‘pain zone’. My eyes were burning, my lungs filled with the noxious gas. I fumbled blindly to open the curtain and get the heck out of there!
The girl was screaming like a female sloth on heat. She followed me out of the pepper box and into the lobby, collapsing on a pile of gym mats. Then came the horror.
Foaming at the mouth, and flapping her arms around like a clipped chicken, she writhed around on the mats, leaving a trail of slimy saliva. She proceeded to spit in every direction, including at unsuspecting passers-by.
Not knowing what to do, I got her a bottle of water, which she poured all over her body, screaming and twitching, until she was standing in a pool of black dye, running from her dress.
‘Let’s get to the toilet’, I offered, and took her by the arm to the bathroom. Pushing past the line of immaculately turned out Indian girls preening themselves at the mirror, she splashed water all over her body, pulling down her dress to wash under her arms, where most of the spray had settled.
Groaning and screeching, she then shoved past the queue of people waiting for the toilet and started spraying herself with what is affectionately known as the ‘bum gun’, the hose to the side of the toilet.
When she emerged from the cubicle, she was soaked from head to toe and still screaming. The other women in the toilet were saying things like ‘oh my god, what an idiot’, and ‘your sister needs to chill out’. Great. They thought we were sisters!
Obviously when I explained what had happened they all thought it was absolutely hilarious, and had no sympathy for the entitled white girl who thought that it was her right to help herself to things that didn’t belong to her.
I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.
The faint rumbling of bass guitar and drums told me that Alt-J had already started their set. In between the girl’s frenzied screams, I heard the soft sounds of Joe Newman’s voice and knew that I wouldn’t be going any further tonight.
When we emerged from the now soaking-wet bathroom, the girl continued to put on a show for the rest of our group, and for the security guards who had gathered to watch the spectacle and presumably decide what’s to be done next.
As she wailed ‘GET ME MIIIIILK!! GET ME AN AAAAAAMBULANCE!!!’, this is when my inner self decided just to get on and help her in any way I needed to, and then never associate with her again once my deed was done.
We were escorted outside, the echo of Alt-J in our ears, to a waiting ambulance. ‘TAKE ME TO THE MIIIIILK MAAAARKET!, she demanded over and over, as if pouring milk all over her body would somehow be the answer.
The 5 of us, not able to decide which ones should be the lucky ones to stay and enjoy the gig, all climbed in the back of the ambulance with her. The traffic, as is usual for Delhi, was terrible. The girl demanded that the sirens be turned on, so we could pass through traffic quicker.
With the blues-and-twos on, we made slow but steady progress, not to the ‘milk market’, but to the hospital, where she could get some proper help. All the way she was moaning ‘I DON’T WANNA GO TO THE HOSPITAL. TAKE ME TO MIIIIIILK!’.
We finally pulled up to the front entrance of a very overloaded hospital. Around half an hour since the incident, the girl had calmed her screams to a self-pitying whimper and looked to be making a recovery. Still, when we got inside, she proceeded to ham it up further, pushing to the front of the queue and demanding to be seen first.
The hospital was bursting at the seams with very sick people. It was chaotic and disorganised, and as the doctors wore normal clothes rather than white coats or uniforms, it was hard to know who was in charge, and who was treating whom.
There were two or sometimes three people to a bed, and when the girl was asked to take a seat, she removed it from underneath a doctor, sat down and started spitting on the floor.
The guys we were with volunteered to go and get her some water. When they returned with a bottle, she took a swig, swilled it around her mouth and spat it all over the doctor’s desk.
I was horrified.
When she was asked to take a seat on a bed instead, she sat down on a bed already occupied by an old lady, laying down and clearly in pain. She gave this poor woman a look of utter distain and when another lady waved her a greeting, she said ‘oh great, now I’m a tourist attraction’.
We were waiting for about 15 minutes when the girl, tired of waiting, demanded to see the doctor immediately. I watched as she gave a fake name and address (and boasted about it after the doctor had stepped out for a moment) and then was given a strong intravenous painkiller.
By now, a large crowd had formed and most wore an expression of utter disbelief and distain. I didn’t blame them. After she was fixed up, the girl looked directly at an elderly woman and said ‘well, she’s about 5 minutes from death anyway, so you might as well treat me first’.
The woman’s son, understanding English, stood in stunned silence.
Not wanting to wait one more minute, the girl pushed to the front of the nurses’ desk and demanded that she know what she was just injected with. They hadn’t even had a chance to process the paperwork.
Obviously bored with the way things were going, the girl then said ‘well, you have my name and address’, so you can send me the bill, yeah?’. The nurse was open-mouthed and said ‘yes, just go’.
Gleefully, the girl skipped out of the hospital exit, and announced ‘right, let’s go to the pub!’.
I was at boiling point. I could not believe what I had just seen! Not wanting to spoil the night for everyone (the other guys from the hostel were very sweet and we all just wanted to reclaim any semblance of a normal evening by this point), I swallowed my anger and piled into a rickshaw, bound for Haus Khaz, a lively nightlife area in Delhi.
For the rest of the night I avoided talking to the girl as she proceeded to get yet more smashed. But I did catch her at the end of the night, trying to avoid paying for the food she had just eaten.
Her reasoning? ‘I was hungry. Why should I pay?’.
So, what have we learnt from this experience?
Apart from the obvious lesson of ‘don’t be a dick’, which by the way is one of only 2 life lessons you’ll ever need, there are many things to learn from this appalling excuse for a human being.
1. Don’t drink too much
When you’re travelling, it goes without saying that you are more vulnerable than when you’re at home. You might feel safe enough, but you are in a location where you don’t know the local area nor the local people.
Luckily for this girl, she was with a very tolerant and very good-hearted group of people. Not everyone would ruin their change of seeing one of their favourite bands to help you rinse yourself off in the bathroom, or hold your hair back.
Some may even use it as an opportunity to take advantage of you. In my case, the girl left her bag on the side in the toilet whilst she ran in to spray herself down. I picked it up and kept it safe for her, but she didn’t even notice it was gone until we were in the ambulance and she screamed ‘WHERE’S MY BAG?!’
2. Don’t take things that don’t belong to you
Even if it looks like a perfectly innocent can of body spray, it’s not yours and so don’t take it. This goes for drinks too. The amount of times I’ve seen really drunk girls take drinks from people! Eugh! It doesn’t bear thinking about!
Ladies, keep your hands to yourself and you won’t get yourself into these kinds of scrapes. OK?
3. Keep your f***ing language clean
It’s not big and it’s not clever to go around swearing the whole time. It’s f***ing offensive to some folk, OK?
Respect other people, and you too shall be respected. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Again, this goes back to rule number 1 of life. Don’t be a dick.
4. Lose that sense of entitlement
Just because you grew up in daddy’s care in your middle-class little bubble, it doesn’t mean that you can carry on that way in the real world. This is real life. You are an adult. Quit the whining and wait your turn.
It will get you nowhere to act like that. People will lose respect for you. You will lose friends. You will end up in ridiculous situations which you’ll have to lean on others for. And guess what? They won’t be helping your privileged ass.
5. Tone down the drama
Unless you are studying to be on the stage, there is absolutely no need to act like a two year old. And just as I can see a two year old screams for attention when there’s absolutely nothing wrong, I can see through it in you, too.
I got a solid gobful of that pepper spray, and after 15 minutes or so of pain, it was gone. I know after 45 minutes you’re just MILKing it. (See what I did there?)
So, if you’re travelling now, or hell, even if you’re not, I hope that if you see any of this girl in yourself, you will stop and think about how it affects other people. And if you know someone who acts like this….. Have a word.
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