Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sigmund Fried

F Is For Fiat (And For Fright, And For Fried Eggs)


If you must put yourself between a) a car rolling down a hill and b) a cliff, there are two things you must always do. First, check that the car is rolling VERY slowly. Second, make sure the "cliff" is only six or seven feet deep.

Even then, I wouldn't recommend it. Been there, done that, so I know what I'm yarning on about.

Patrick and I have known each other since we were about six years old. We must have been about seventeen years old when the car-and-cliff incident took place. At that stage I still lived in India and every January our families used to drive out to the forests and national parks in neighbouring Bihar. They were exhilarating trips in the bracing cold of an Indian winter, down the historic, centuries-old Grand Trunk Road, leaving the city life far behind.

This was tiger country. One of our havens was Hazaribagh, which literally means ``a thousand tigers''. The air smelled different. The outdoors smelled different. And the food ... yes, the food smelled different. The smell of fried eggs and bacon reminds me of the hearty breakfasts we used to have out in the open, in the forest clearing that fringed the jungle cottages, far from civilisation.

We didn't go to there expecting to be at the Hilton. There was no power, so we used hurricane lamps. There was no heating, so we used log fires. There was no gas, so our parents cooked enough food to feed an army - on portable stoves. You want me to describe holiday heaven - that was it.

One morning, Patrick and I were sitting outside one of our cottages, each of us savouring a plate of fried eggs and rashers of bacon. To this day, I cannot tell you who noticed it first, but we suddenly realised my uncle's car, a Fiat 1100 D, was rolling slowly downhill from where it had been parked.

Fright? Naaaah, there was no time for fright. Believe me, mate, there was no time to think.

Because we had our mouths full of breakfast, it was not possible to discuss our next move. This was where instinct had to take over. We were young. We were fit. We were supremely confident. Maybe too confident.

The adults were not in sight. It was just the two of us who had to react immediately if the car was to be saved. We didn't have the keys, so there was no chance of opening the driver's door and hitting the brakes. Instinctively, we both jumped up, sprinted over to the car and positioned ourselves between the sliding car and the edge.

There was loose gravel on the slope and we dug our heels into it. Not the smartest or the safest thing to do, I know. But it worked. To be honest, though, if the tactic hadn't worked we could have still jumped out of the way. We then yelled at the top of our voices to the adults, who quickly opened the car, started it up and drove it forward to safety.

We still laugh about the way we reacted that day, all those years ago. And we still shake our heads about one other thing - all through that drama, we were still clutching our plates in our hands. And we hadn't dropped anything. You never drop fried eggs. Ever.

65 comments:

Max-e said...

Sounds very much like the kind of holidays I had as a child in Africa. Only difference is our car never tried to "escape", though on one memorable occassion the heat from the exhaust pipe set the grass alight - that also had a happy ending - if I had not spotted the fire we would have had a long walk home.

Mike said...

It happened to a man I used to know. He tried to stop his lorry rolling backwards down the road but it crushed him against a brick wall.

I'm glad you never dropped your food.... That would have been a real disaster.

david mcmahon said...

G'day Max-e,

I'm sure there would be lots of similarities. Both were Commonwealth countries ruled by Britain - and I'm sure we can relate to many instances in each other's lives.

The exhaust pipe story sounds like a great blogpost - how about it?

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

G'day Mike,

I feel his pain, I really do. And Patrick and I (six footers both of us) would never do anything so unthinkable as dropping our food!

Keep smiling

David

RUTH said...

A man and his breakfast shall never be parted. Wish I'd thought of F for Fright....I could have done my ghost post as my "F" post!!! :o)

Pope Terry said...

I've never had bacon and eggs, I'll have to try them one day but meat for breakfast never seemed right.

Was it the only car you had, i guess getting stuck in tiger country on foot would be bad.

Ali said...

Excellent post David. I used to love camping trips as a child, washing up in a small bowl with water boiled on the camp stove, eating hearty meals which somehow Mum always managed to create on a 2-ring camping stove, the memories are endless.

david mcmahon said...

Hi Ruth,

Even more true - a teenager and his breakfast shall never be parted.

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

G'day Your Eminence,

You'll have to get the chef at the bendigo Vatican to whip up a plate, tout suite.

No, I think there were about five cars - but we were probably 200 km from home!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Ali,

So glad you liked it. Wasn't it amazing what our parents could do on a portable stove!!

Keep smiling

David

bidarlah said...

now i am craving for big breakfast haha!

i did wonder if the eggs are real in the first pic...then the second says it all.

simon said...

fiat! Mnnnnnnn now that brings back memories!

Pijush said...

Hi David,

This is interesting one, I liked the colorful Shots, nicely composed.
I just want to mention that Tigers are disappearing from India slowly because of many factors. Thanks for sharing your experience in Hazaribagh, it will be nice if you can share some photos of those exhilarating trips.

Cheers
Pijush

david mcmahon said...

Hi Bidarlah,

Thanks for droppping by. Always nice to see a new visitor - so a very warm welcome to you and all the other first-timers who've taken the trouble to visit this week.

I deliberately posted the photographs in that sequence - so that people would wonder abou the first shot and then confirm their suspicions in the second shot that they were toys!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Simon,

Great cars - don't see 'em around much now.

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Pijush,

Will have to dig thru the family archives for those shots. Saw some amazing sights - must weave the into one of my novels!

Keep smiling

David

mrsnesbitt said...

I am hungry now!
Wonder what Freud would make of that!

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Your breakfast looks delicious (oops, its rubber). Actually it is a very colorful picture, well taken. Great story lucky you were young then ;-)

To the person who has never had Bacon and Eggs. Do try it sometime it is great way to start the day.

oldmanlincoln said...

That was an incredible read and all the way through I was thinking maybe one of the tigers would or was going to show up for a bite of breakfast. As it turned out the introduction was a lead in to the conclusion.

The really interesting part of this story is the one you didn't tell us and that is your friend then and now. Do you still see each other and talk about old times?

My oldest friend is 6 months older than me and nowadays is something of a hermit who never married but inherited his family farm and has allowed it to become something of hermit too.

I think it is amazing how friendships develop or erode. I had some close friends in the Army overseas and thought we would be friends forever. Not so. They disappeared forever. I wonder sometimes what friends are but temporary associates.

Thank you for visiting my blog and for commenting there. I appreciate it a lot.

david mcmahon said...

G'day Denise,

I was hungry when I was writing the post! You and I must be right in synch with ol' Sigmund!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

G'day Mike,

Really enjoyed your shots as well - as you can see by my comment!

Glad you liked the shots on the post. I deliberatly shot the first on as a bit of a red herring and posted the second to prove beyond all doubt that they were toys!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

G'day Oldmanlincoln,

So glad you liked the post. I enjoyed my visit to your site today - as you know!

Yes, Patrick and I have always stayed in touch. We saw each other about eight months ago in India, but stay in touch by email and blog comments.

I am still in touch with people whom I went to school with!

Fascinated by your wonderful phrase ``temporary associates''. Like I keep saying, I have much to learn from you in many walks of life.

Thanks for visiting.

Keep smiling

David

Victorya said...

I like the photos! More of your childrens' toys?

And no, as a teen you NEVER drop your food, good for you, and great story.

david mcmahon said...

Hi Victorya,

Thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed the post - and the revelation that we didn;t drop our plates!

Yes, I had to go hunting for an old container of toys for these two shots! Just a humorous twist on the subject!

Keep smiling

David

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Oh my goodness, it could have been so much worse, I guess, but still, that was close enough, eh? Glad you guys had your priorities right - breakfast should always come first!

david mcmahon said...

Hi Carol,

Do not try this at home!

Now that we're older, (and hopefully wiser!) we'd never do that again.

Or wait, maybe we would, just for the challenge ...

Keep smiling

David

WalksFarWoman said...

I love your memories David. After your book is published and becomes an international best-seller I want you to give up work and write posts for us all day long! :)

I'm not a camper but living in the Highlands means that you can be without power for long periods of time during the snow season so cooking by stove becomes a necessity.

Love your choice of photo!

Akelamalu said...

Not only did you save the day, you saved your eggs too!! :)

david mcmahon said...

Hi Akelamalu,

But I think Someone Else saved my bacon - literally and figuratively!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi walksfarwoman,

I hope you are psychic. I never expected my first novel to become a bestseller and it did. If the second one is released in the US and hits the bestseller lists, I would be happy to follow your wishes.

I just need Oprah's Book Club to pick up the novel. Who knows? Maybe one day ...

So glad you enjoy these posts and my (sometimes) humorous choice of pictures.

Looking forward to some posts from you on stove-top impromptu cooking!

Thank you for everything

David

just me said...

This only works for boys, who confidence has no boundaries. Wonderful story.

Suldog said...

That's a great story, David. The kicker - not having let go of your breakfast plates - was priceless.

Brian in Oxford said...

Cool....are you trying to win your own post of the day award with that one? :)

Suzi said...

Excellent story! I watched a man run over himself once, because he tried the same trick, but wasn't as talented or as lucky as you and your friend.

p@tr!(k said...

wow dave! well recounted as usual... you sure you were a journalist and not a born story teller? or is that the same thing? :D

by the way, a gentle correction: the incident happened in betla in the palamau forest reserve - (another tiger country close by - just a few hundred kilometres down the road for those who may want to know!)

and that was one of the best breakfasts I have ever had! cheers mate, and thanks for the memories! would love to be able to revisit with our kids now...maybe?

OldGuy said...

I love that story, it has everything. Drama, suspense, and a great surprise ending. I cannot imagine trying to stop a car from rolling off a cliff while trying not to drop a plate of food.

Craver Vii said...

I think I get it now. Ordinarily, you wear a gentleman's cloak, but in time of need, it converts to a superhero's cape. Good save, David.

I mean that for the car AND the breakfast!

dot said...

Cute story and I love the pictures. You must have a little one who cooks at your house.

Sue said...

Heh. I know Pat now, and imagining a 17 yr-old him clutching on to a plate of eggs while also fending a car off makes a most amusing picture!

Thanks for the laugh, Dave.

Hin Man said...

Extremely lovely picture. I am so glad to have found your site. A remarkable story to go with fantastic photo.

Colleen said...

David- this post is most excellent! I just love the way you ended it! You not only post great pictures, you post a clear picture in my head of the whole scene! Great:)

Nicole said...

Love the colour of your breakfast, at least you know your fried eggs are perfect for the picture... just don't know about the texture. Great story.

Squiggles Mom said...

Similar story though yours had a happy ending. In our case my grandparents old fiat rolled down a slope in the himalayas and straight into the ganges! It was fun watching it being fished out :)

david mcmahon said...

Hi justme,

All the girls that Patrick and I knew when we were kids would have done the same, done it better, done it quicker - and balanced plates of breakfast in each hand AND on their head!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Jim,

The funny thing was, I told the story EXACTLY as it happened - and even we didn't realise about the plates until it was all over!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Brian,

Sorry, I'll mend my ways!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Suzi,

Thank you kindly. I don;t think we were talented - just lucky!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Patrick,

Thank you for that gentle correction. Will have to fix the error as soon as possible.

Privileged to have been your friend almost all our lives - and yes, it would be great to take our kids there.

Take care and give my fond love to Piu.

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

G'day oldguy,

It was great fun - especially to be able to laugh about it for years later.

And Patrick and I never once thought it would draw such a great reaction from around the world!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

G'day Craver,

Gentleman? Dunno about being a gentleman!

I can spit ``tobacky'' with the best of 'em!!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Dot,

So glad you asked. I was going to photograph a real plate of friend eggs and bacon - then I remembered this old set of toys and dragged 'em out of the garage!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

G'day Su,

Thanks for visiting, for commenting - and for linking to this post.

Stopped by your blog some hours ago and added you to my blogroll.

Give Patrick a hard time about this story on my behalf, please!

Do keep in touch.

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Hin,

The picture was great fun - just a quirky way to illustrate the post.

So glad you enjoyed the post. Do keep in touch

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Colleen,

Thank you very much. Whn I first edited a national magazine in my twenties, I used to tell my fellow writers to ``paint a picture with words''.

They were an awesome bunch of writers to work with.

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Nicole,

Smiled broadly at that comment. The texture was very dodgy. Not something I'd do again as a culinary delight!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi squiggles mom,

Now that is a blog post I want to read, please.

Do tell me when you've posted the story!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Suzi,

Had trouble opening your site just now.

Will try again shortly.

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Nicole,

Loved your Wordless Wednesday shot - the mussels from (not) Brussels.

Couldn't log in and comment, though.

Keep smililng

David

p@tr!(k said...

Dave - here's a mail I got from a friend (Abhijit Ghosh), who by the way is also from NP and the bassist of the popular Bangla band 'Bhoomi' I had something to do with in their early days. Here goes: "good you told me .. i still drive a 1100D and that too without handbrakes :)"!!!

david mcmahon said...

Hi Patrick,

Wonderful email - made me laugh with great memories. Is Abhijit in the same group as Shomu (ex SPS and ex The Telegraph).

I actually spoke to Shomu when I was in Cal in October ...

Take care, ustaad

Cheers

David

p@tr!(k said...

absolutely dave! same band as shomu's from the very beginning. but much junior to you at NP. cheers!

Deborah Gamble said...

I thought I had commented on this blog, but I did one. I thoroughly enjoyed this post!

Anamika said...

This is hilarious. I read it sometime back but couldn't comment because of Internet issues. Today, I decided to come back and read it just for fun! And I'm going to keep laughing about it all day!

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