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Some Heroes Find Me Instead

I’ve been traveling for precisely three weeks now. And today I can say that I’ve had all the highs and lows that either make you want to travel further or make you want to go home to mommy.

I know my mom’s reading this and will probably freak out, but I promised myself I’d be brutally honest in all my updates. (So, Mom, I swear I’m ok, please don’t freak out. I’m sure you’ll call me when you’re done reading anyway, talk to you then.)

Today morning, I woke up at 6 am; excited to meet a remarkable woman in Pnom Penh. I’ll be sharing her story shortly.

I had a cuppa coffee, a small breakfast and spoke to the ‘girls in green’ (bar maids at the pub & guesthouse, where I’m staying) for directions to my destination.

I was advised to take a Tuk-Tuk, because the place was a bit too far to go on foot. I stepped out, was swarmed by a throng of waiting Tuk-Tuk drivers and I picked a young guy with a friendly face and reasonably good English.

We struck a fair deal, after the mandatory haggling that I’ve gotten a little used to in Cambodia. I was to pay him 4 Dollars to take me to my destination and bring me back to my guesthouse. He’d have to wait for me for an hour or so there. He readily agreed. This is the low- season and it’s slim pickings for the drivers.

A couple of days ago, on my bus ride back to Phnom Penh from Siem Reip, I bought a delicious Baguette from an old lady and I was thrilled to have gotten a bargain at 2000 Riel or 50 Cents. At the next stop, four British boys sitting behind me couldn’t help themselves and asked me if I’d only just arrived here. I said yes, and was curious why their first question was not the usual- where are you from or have you found a hostel yet? They told me, that they paid 2000 Riel for 4 Baguettes from the same lady and had quite a laugh at my expense. Oh well, live and learn!

Back to the story… After about forty minutes of going around in circles, I got off the Tuk-Tuk, spoke to a shopkeeper and got the proper directions for the address. I reached about twenty minutes late for my appointment, but the lovely girl was gracious, welcoming and generous with her time.

Fifteen minutes over an hour is how long I was in my meeting. My driver was sitting parked in the shade. He hurried out of the back seat and started the Tuk-Tuk and we were off. One stop at a gas station later, we arrived at Rory’s Pub and Guesthouse. He parked about 5-store fronts ahead of Rory’s entrance.

I handed over the four dollars and he just started yelling… “No no no, more than one hour, you pay more”. I said that it was barely fifteen extra minutes as a matter of fact and I swear I would have gladly paid him an extra buck.

But, before I could step out of the Tuk-Tuk… he threw the money back in my face. Literally. I was stunned. He then came around the Tuk-Tuk to the side where I was dismounting from and started screaming at me in Khmer and pushed me back against his Tuk-Tuk. I pushed back just as hard. It was an natural reaction! But, as he was recovering from my retaliation, I noticed that his eyes were blood-shot. He was sweating profusely and breathing very hard. Believe me, all this happened in under a minute but I recalled of a conversation from the previous night where a Kiwi expat told me that the drivers are usually high on alcohol or drugs while they work!

He picked up the money that had fallen on the road, screaming and cursing and came charging towards me. I screamed back, but I also started backing away from him and edging towards Rory’s. He followed me and I swiped his hand at least twice as he tried to push me on the shoulder repeatedly.

Some folks from Rory’s saw me and rushed out. This was the Tuk-Tuk driver’s cue and he was out of there like a bat outta hell.

I was pretty panicked. Any longer and the Tuk-Tuk driver would have taken a swing at me. If help hadn’t come from my new friends from Rory’s, I’d be writing this story from an airport, waiting for my flight back home. Possibly nursing a black-eye!

But, help did come. It came from an Irishman named John and an American lady called Nancy. The two of them fussed over me for an hour- offering hugs and beer and lot of attention to a sad little Indian girl.

The two of them made me feel safe and listened to me patiently as I angrily repeated the story over and over, mostly to come to grips with what had just happened!

Amazingly, a young guy who was built like bull, tattoos and piercing all over had witnessed the entire incident. He also stays at Rory’s. While he chose to sit back and watch as I was attacked on the streets in broad daylight, he did make it a point to come up to me later and say “Yeah, I saw you get in a fight with the guy, too bad really”… and walked away.

So, here’s the thing. I ain’t letting no Tuk-Tuk driver get the better of me. It’s sad that it happened, but as Nancy said… “Don’t take it personally”. And I’m won’t. I’m fine, I’m stronger and I’m staying.

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14 Responses to “Some Heroes Find Me Instead”

  1. Pankaj Mehta says:

    check this out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5-yKhDd64s

    stay inspired!!!

  2. mom says:

    I did’nt raise no chicken!!! Go for it tigress. You always were the fearless one.

  3. Matt says:

    good to see you resurface tithiya. to many more stories!! and have a safe journey

  4. Greg Harde says:

    careful! while you are there, do find time to visit the tuol sleng genocide museum…

  5. Nathan Walker says:

    117 for Local Police / 012-942484. be safe!

  6. Nupur says:

    I look up to u lady, give it back to them!

  7. Deppy says:

    Way to go Cheeteh !! u should have tasered his ass .

  8. Nandita Gupta says:

    Great going, Tithiya, keep on..though do be extra careful in future..

  9. Maggie says:

    You go on girl! My heart’s boiling right now at the tuk tuk driver, but you’re safe and thats whats important. Take care our hero :)

  10. Nandita Gupta says:

    May be helpful to keep a can of pepper spray, in case a situation gets extreme

  11. Priyanka says:

    Me n my dad were walkin to the nearest dhaba where we cud get tandoori chicken to eat….nearest wud b bout 2 kms….we got talkin n i asked him, what if i poke both eyes of some guy troubling me, n he was the only bread earner….. wud i go to jail???….he said no cuz it wud be an act of defense…..shrtly after that he said that the best thing to do in such a situation is …..”JUST KICK HARD between the legs n then lift up ur knee onto his head”…never got to use this technique though…..u might!!!!

  12. Baby!!!! God’s with u….keeping u in prayer.

  13. Ridz says:

    Too bad this happened! But you put up a brave front. Just learn from it and move on.

  14. natasha yadav says:

    i was angry and livid and wanted to beat the hell out of the tuk tuk rascal…….but thru the end of your so well written piece i was laughing……. :o ) big hug lovely and like mom said,,,, she didnt raise no chicken :o )

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