The Bangla-Dash (or how I became friends with the great Marc Favre)

I think it might have been Henry James who said “Tell a dream, lose a reader.” That’s a lie – I don’t think, I know; I checked it in Google and then changed George Eliot to Henry James in my draft. (And while we’re on the subject of confessions, when I found that I’d got it wrong I said to myself “Ah, of course – Henry James” even though I don’t know who either he or George Eliot is. I think one of then might have been, or still is, a woman, but that’s about as good as my knowledge gets.)

(I did a Literature degree at university.)

Anyway, what I think this bloke/woman was getting at was that a dream is the ultimate item of esoterica – almost nobody can relate to your starring role in a game of Gaelic football played between a team of creatures from Greek mythology and an assortment of your childhood heroes, including Sooty and Ricky Jackson (unchanged since 1991), played on a hybrid ground, one half of which is lined with silver ash, the other half of which resembles the Punt Road end of the MCG. Very few people care that you played as a ruck rover and had license to roam far and wide, taking both courageous last-line-of-defence marks while also slotting thirteen goals (not to mention the eight or nine Joe the Gooses you unselfishly popped over to Ricky Jackson). Very few people know who Ricky Jackson is, fewer still know what a Joe the Goose is, just about none believe that you could outrun or outmuscle a minotaur or evade a kraken’s tackle, and nobody gets the silver ash reference because you yourself don’t get it. Why the fuck are there trees on a football field?

If writing about your dreams is the worst thing you can do to your readers, writing about your mates would have to be a close second.

Seeing as this blog hasn’t taken off just yet, it’s mostly mates reading it, anyway, so I can afford to be indulgent. Don’t worry, I’ll stop once this thing’s getting 50,000 clicks an hour and attracting the attention of publishers  – some time next week, I imagine.

Anyway, one of my mates is Marc Favre.

I met Marc on my first day of secondary school. He tells me he sat next to me because I was drawing a cartoon person at the time. I distinctly remember entering into a conversation about cartoons before scoffing at Marc’s attempt at a cartoon man, telling him it looked angular. I copied his style from that day forward – I still draw cartoon heads like Marc to this day.

Ah, the memories:

His girlish giggle, so joyful that I went into a spiral of depression when his voice broke.

His poignant rendition of the jingle from ‘My Little Pony’ advertisements, which he once sang with my mother (she still says she ranks this moment ahead of her wedding and the birth of her two children).

The time he entered a Burke Road convenience store at 2.30 in the morning holding an antique canary’s cage with a juvenile komodo dragon inside it, while wearing cricket pads, an authentic native American feathered headdress, snow skis and bright pink zinc cream all over his (otherwise) naked body, and asked if they sold Horlicks.

His courage in the face of sporting adversity – barely a football or cricket match went by without me witnessing his shoulder slipping out of its socket.

Then, one day he was gone, his social conscience pulling him by the ear to Bangladesh where he was to teach English and French and Home Economics and Astrology and Glass Blowing.

He is, and always has been (excepting a youthful aberration where he told all who would listen that he had once won 132 awards in a single cricket presentation evening) a man of great humility, so it’s hard to get out of him exactly what he’s achieving in the subcontinent.

I’ve heard divergent rumours:

That he’s living in a hut on the Ganges and engaging in some some scary Mr-Kurtz-from-Heart-of-Darkness shit.

That he’s just been awarded his second Nobel Prize – this time for Peace, after getting one for Physics a couple of years back.

That he’s got married and had a child.

That he’s breeding okapis.

And that he’s actually not in Bangladesh at all, but working at Goodfellows in East Malvern as a shelf stacker.

I could probably verify the Nobel Prize one myself via Google, but I’m all Googled out. The only rumour I have been able to confirm is one that centres around something called the Bangla-Dash.

The Bangla-dash, I’m told, began as something called the Kolkata Walk, a four-kilometre stroll round a cricket ground in the Indian city of Kolkata, aiming to raise $20 for better quality pens in the staff room at the school Marc works for.   As he and his American ex-pat mate talked about the concept, they realised their goal might have been over-ambitious given the lacklustre nature of the fundraiser’s name. They workshopped alternatives like the Kolkata Brisk Walk, the Journey to the Centre of the Pitch, the Kolkata Slow Jog before settling on the Kolkata Dash. Marc, I’m told, tossed and turned that night. He also slept fitfully, niggled by the suspicion that he’d missed something.

And then, at around 3.30am he sat bolt upright as the elusive pun finally succumbed to his mind’s coathanger tackle: the Bangla-Dash. Of course – it had to be, even if it meant turning their modest amble into a monumental test of  endurance spanning two countries.

So that’s it:

From the 17th until the 20th of April 2012, one American and one Australian/Swiss are running 266 kms from Kolkata, India back ‘home’ to Dhaka, Bangladesh, hoping to raise enough funds to build schools and fund educational projects for the many underprivileged children of Bangladesh.

My thoughts? Mad as cut snakes. But is there anything more important in the world than schools for the underprivileged? Seriously, for a second, probably not.

Here’s the Bangla-Dash website.

Here’s my advice: donate if you can (and if you haven’t already).

Here’s my last word on the matter: good on you, Favrey – you’re a genuine one in a billion.

Haught fact of the day:

Dustin Martin once gave the ‘don’t argue’ to a kraken.

The Grape Men quote of the day:

“Back. Back. Back. Back. Back. Back. Back. Back. Baaack. Baaack. Baaaaaack! Back! BACK! BACK! FUCK! WHAT YOU DO?”

“I starting engine now?”



Who are the Grape Men?

Find out here.


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