About one week prior to my flight I received a message regarding our India tour. The message came from a Saurabh Tanwar who, after introducing himself, asked if we had time to meet. Unfortunately, I was unsure of the schedule and it was all speculation until I arrived in India. As for his response, he proceeded to explain how he and his team would simply join us on the tour. If you have ever taken part in a similar project, or have any common sense, you would know that this isn’t a thing. So I explained to him that this was most likely not possible considering we were under contract, on a tight schedule and they would be paying for all of our expenses; it simply was not in the budget to be hosting others along with us. All I knew was that we had a five to six day work week followed by one travel day, and that time between would be scarce, but regardless, I would do my best to secure some time to train with him, his team and the local communities. This was all quickly disregarded as, just a few minutes later, Team Sanjuu had been tagged in a post from Saurabh’s group, Pathika, stating that they would be performing alongside Team Sanjuu during the Thums Up Toofani Zone tour. Moments later, I received a confused message from Nick, questioning the authenticity of the post and I filled him in.
After that day, Saurabh was in constant contact with us leading up to our departure. And by constant contact, I mean that if we chose not to respond because the information was confidential until released publicly, or we simply weren’t around, we would be bombarded with hundreds of messages starting with, “Hello, Andrew!” and ending with “FUCK YOU! WHY WON’T YOU FUCKING ANSWER ME ASSHOLE!” The last message I received from him before leaving was, “Don’t worry. I will just wait for you at the airport.” If I recall correctly, not only did he wait, he waited for more than a day. Fortunately for me, my plane crashed. However, everyone else was not so fortunate.
Upon arriving in Delhi I received a call from Nick, who had already landed, and I was assuming the call was to make sure I’d made it without almost dying a second time. “Hey, Andrew, buddy!” an unfamiliar, Indian voice pierced through the phone, “It’s Saurabh! Where are you, bro?” My heart sank. How in the world was Saurabh calling from Nick’s phone? Nick quickly grabbed the phone, explaining to me that Saurabh had found them in the hotel. Utterly confused and exhausted, I found a taxi and proceeded to meet the guys at our first stop: Ghaziabad.
Upon arriving at the hotel, I met our tour managers, Gaurav Arora, Vinay Bidalia and the rest of our working party, Akash Roy, Narender Rawat, Chetan Thakur and Neeraj Kumar; and was shown to my room, where I reunited with my team, met our bmx partners, Nick DiGeroloma, Spencer Bass, Scott Wirch and Joe Taberna, and was greeted by our new uninvited acquaintance, Saurabh Tanwar. Eventually, after some much-needed relaxation around the pool, the guys explained the situation to me.
We had avoided giving Saurabh any details of our whereabouts unless they were made public, but because Saurabh had already known my original time of arrival, we assumed he had guessed the others. However, when nobody else showed up at the airport, Saurabh began the hunt. The guys were staying on a huge strip, one that was littered with a sea of hotels. Ours was a sketchy little joint a few miles down the road and was essentially in a basement, heavily guarded by a very particular receptionist. While the guys were chilling in the room, a shadowy, yet familiar figure approached their open door. “Nick?” the voice said. “Saurabh?” Nick dreadfully replied. And that was that. Saurabh somehow managed to find three guys in the basement of a hotel, that was guarded by a receptionist who kicked out any individual who did not have a room in their name, within an infinite sea of hotels, and invited himself into our space shortly after. Honestly, I was extremely impressed and quite dumbfounded. I’m assuming he went hotel to hotel asking, “Have any white people?”
A few days later, everyone was getting tired of our self-invited guest. Our manager wanted him gone, as he had no money, was riding off of company funds and proved to be a huge liability issue. As for us, we needed our space. Our prayers were soon answered when the stench came. India is already a generally smelly place, not all the smells are bad, but there are lots of them. From ground-level sewage and poop piles everywhere, to subtropical forests filled with fruit, there are smells to be smelled. However, this smell was the worst; the one stench to rule them all.
After lunch, the four of us decided to head up to the room and talk about the upcoming performance, and handle some team business, but upon opening the door we were bombarded with a stench that could only be described as a pile of rotting corpses covered in feces, along with the dirtiest of creatures swimming in the filth. Essentially, it smelled like the worst shit. The stench was puke worthy, and that’s what we all did. After regaining composure, we quickly hunted through the room looking for the culprit of this stinky madness. We found it in the form of Saurabh’s shoes. We’re pretty certain that he must have stepped in poop on the regular, didn’t wash very often, and instead of cleaning, would just casually slip his feet back into his tennies. We weren’t exactly sure what to do, and Saurabh was nowhere to be found, so Chris, being the brave soul that he is, vanquished the beast by chucking the shoes down the hall.
Eventually, Saurabh returned and obviously, couldn’t find his shoes. At this point, our manager came in telling Saurabh that he needed to leave, but Saurabh insisted that he could not leave until he found his shoes. As guilty as we all felt, nobody could fess up to the fact that we threw Saurabh’s shoes down the hall. We explained that the cleaning lady must have taken them, which in part was the truth.
Before I continue though, Saurabh, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. Almost.
It was dinner time, and we found ourselves downstairs at this beautiful buffet filled with 5-star personal chefs who would create for us any dish we desired. And of course, joining us was Saurabh. Except it wasn’t just Saurabh, but Saurabh with my shoes equipped, giving him +5 asshole. Karma is indeed a bitch, isn’t it? I insisted he remove my shoes, and he told me that he simply needed them until he found his. That’s when Gaurav stepped in. Fed up with all the bullshit, he told Saurabh to remove my shoes, that they would find his shoes and that he was sending him back home in a cab. It was finally over, or so we thought.
Saurabh stayed in contact, telling us that his manager had work for us, and continuously asked of our plans, continuing his angry internet rage when we were too busy to respond timely. One night, while the whole crew was eating dinner, Spencer just happened to look toward the stairs and with sudden disbelief said, “Oh look, Andrew, it’s your friend.” This was a huge what the fuck moment and Nick shouted, “Saurabh? What are you doing here?!”
Not only was Saurabh back self-invited, he also had brought his manager to talk, which is something we specifically told him was not possible at this time, as we were already here on business and under contract. Once again, our request, and the fact that Gaurav told him to not return was entirely disregarded, and he happily ranted on about his projects and how it would only take a few minutes to talk. I told him that we did not have a few minutes, as Gaurav would be down for dinner and to discuss our plans for the performance, and would not be happy to see him. Sure enough, Gaurav went into a rage. Screaming, he grabbed Saurabh and dragged him out of his seat by the shirt and up the stairs, where the staff of the hotel, owner included, was presented with a dazzling display of one brolic Indian man’s hatred for another human being at its finest. Saurabh’s manager seemed to be genuinely confused as to why they were removed from the hotel by Gaurav’s additional threat of force and, despite apologizing, was told to fuck off.
We felt that was the last we would hear from Saurabh after he had come such a long way only to be thrown out, but, once again, it wasn’t. His spirit followed us all the way to Varanasi where he managed to weasel his way into the tour once again. But he sort of came to the rescue this time, as Chris had been taken out due to a nasty bail at the Buddha’s temple in Sarnath.
We were asked to find a one-day replacement, preferably in Europe as it would be less expensive to fly from there, and that this individual was not allowed to be of Indian descent. We looked everywhere, and nothing. It was such short notice and the pay for the day and duration of the stay wasn’t extremely enticing. Even though our hands felt a bit bloodstained, and it was technically against the rules, we had no choice but to reach out to Saurabh. As usual, he quickly got back to us, letting us know that one of his teammates was available, and as much as Gaurav and his team were against it, it was our only option. Being that nobody native to India was allowed to perform, the team had a do a bit of lying to fit the bill, renaming our replacement and claiming he was from London.
In the end, Saurabh kind of got what he wanted: Pathika did perform alongside Sanjuu, even if only for one day.