Who Dat?

Back in the 80s, long before the X-Games existed, Tom Haig traveled the world as an extreme athlete. He visited more than 50 countries as an international high diver, doing multiple somersault tricks from over 90 feet.

That life came crashing down one Sunday morning in 1996. While training on his mountain bike, he smashed into the grill of a truck and became paralyzed from the waist down. But less than a year later he completed a 100-mile ride on a hand-cycle and traveled by himself to Europe and the Middle East.

Since then he has continued to travel the world as a consultant, writer and video producer. He spent six months launching a Tibetan radio station in the Himalayas and shot documentary shorts on disability in Bangladesh, France, Albania, Ghana and most recently Nepal.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Legend of the Purple Tunic

The Legend of the Purple Tunic commenced in a spirit of giving, but reached tragic end at the hands of the mob, profiteering from the light boxes to whom all humans now abide. But in this circumstance, none of the throng would be asking to leave Brittany alone; they would be asking for her head.  In the proper context, the Purple Tunic, would have been an insignificant footmark in an otherwise glorious fortnight of communal celebration in the center of the great mountain capitol, Kathmandu. 

But one reckless decision after another fated the Purple Tunic into a cancerous monster bringing shiver to grown men while nurturing women wonder if, indeed, its’ bearer was born of a natural mother.

The Purple Tunic was birthed by the hand of Bagus, a 30-year master at both dye and batik. Years earlier he offered a tunic as reward for the finest prognosticator of a global athletic competition. Although capable of intricate and detailed work, on this occasion, he became abstract, gay with both color and pattern. His brother Thomas, who would eventually bear the scorn of the Purple Tunic, was not the competition’s champion. That title was earned by William Crabtree, his minstrel partner in the legendary duo, The Tools of Ignorance. Thomas was only gifted the lesser of two tunics simply for delivering the champion his deserved reward.

Six months hence Thomas, stricken down in his prime one score earlier, was summoned to the grand Asian capitol to aid in the reconstruction of lives recently diminished by the hand of god shaking the very Earth upon which they stood. His arrival in the Orient was heralded as a phoenix rising from the depths of that despair in which the stricken Nepalese still toiled. But the curse of the Purple Tunic, ferried in a rucksack from the mountains of Oregon, would soon sink his reputation to that of a Noel’s gift of coal.

On the morn of the festival, Thomas drew the Purple Tunic from his satchel and sported it without note – nor reflection for that matter. His affliction left him short in stature and unable to cast a gaze upon the mirror which may have counseled him otherwise. His appearance was unkempt, but he thought it fashionable.  For the throng he was to cast himself into had traveled great distances for days without benefit of bath. Their afflictions also declined invitation in those auberges demanding finer clientele.

Upon arrival at the manifestation, Thomas, ignorant of his unkempt coif and feeling no disgrace of the Purple Tunic, established presence with the twirl of a dervish and the gunny whale of subterranean creatures. The afflicted rejoiced in a chorus of languages and gave loud credence to his lack of social convention.

Pursuant to his debut, a local, wise in the scheme of travel, approached Thomas about addressing a gathering of like-minded voyagers keen on improving transport for the afflicted. Thomas engaged the merchant and heartily agreed to share the depth of his wisdom at the rendez-vous on the morrow.
As the festival continued, Thomas made acquaintance with the glorious and passionate lot, taking part in the flurry of images created by the light boxes, paying no mind to the fact that it would be these light boxes that would instigate his demise.

As the sun rose on a new day, having not anticipated prolongation of his engagement, Thomas sheepishly adorned the Purple Tunic, hoping that the merchant, true to his word, would host a casual affair. He hired transport and was delivered to the domicile where he was pleased to witness, the finest of princesses, not among the afflicted (though she did suffer), but among all of the Nepalese. 

The damsel Amrita, greeted Thomas and give snicker to the Purple Tunic which now seemed to clothe a boorish cad, unawares to the royalty he was soon to address. She did not take pity on Thomas. Nay she championed his bravado and sidled up to her fellow afflicted as she, too, would bear evidence of discrimination to the gathering. As the dignitaries surfaced to chamber, Thomas, aware of the Purple Tunic’s attack on his reputation, elected to pay it no heed and addressed the elite of Nepal, and even the Ambassador of his own country, as if he were garbed in his finest splendor.

Even the highest in presence inwardly applauded the fool’s confidence, but it was not this group who would bring his undoing. It was their connections abroad through the light boxes who would provide the black powder for the fusils that would lay him decimated. Seated on the dais next to the Ambassador and the Princess, Thomas was conscientious in lecture, and to the surprise of those in audience, a keen speaker when called on in voice.

Upon excuse from the merchant, the courtisans rejoined for drink and cake. In his manor, Thomas claimed oblivious to the threats of the Purple Tunic and even suggested repast with the Princess. The fair Amrita accepted invitation and left with the brazen Thomas for a journey to the town center. Thomas, feeling he had escaped the fate of the Purple Tunic,  made quick haste to a barber for attention, much to the giddy delight of the princess and her acquaintances. The princess herself, spread the news of her new-found oaf by light box – and yay, even Thomas himself thought merry of the day and alerted his companions for comment.

Drunk with friendship, the gathering wandered the streets of ancient Kathmandu finding sustenance and drink at local pub. The Purple Tunic appeared to be giving Thomas luck at this juncture, but as he fell to slumber, the galaxy of light boxes drew end to his folly.

Upon the rising sun, The Curse of the Purple Tunic seared wounds in Thomas’s psyche. His reputation lay in tatters as the army from the light boxes rose to mock and defeat his arrogance.

Robert Erb, a colleague in the great Cascade wars of 20th century quipped:
“Come on, man. Keep it real. Looks like you were in a psycho-Christmas cookie fight. That new look needs some Brooks Brothers or maybe Vineyard Vine?:

Karen Hanson, the eldest of four comely sisters, oft the target of male pursuit exclaimed:
Hair looks great! But I am on board with all the other posts about the shirt...”

Vaughn Halyard, who mentored a much younger Thomas on the finery of serviettes, called of royalty, but not in a complimentary fashion:
Prince called about the purple shirt... PRINCE: "Tom... even I wouldn't wear that shirt"

The troubadour, Michael Bathke made reference to a thespian who is known best in drag: 

The dame, Christie Dooley, although an abstainer of both drink and spice, showed no inhibitions in her comment:
It's not really a shirt so much as a really ugly women’s blouse. Seriously if you're going to wear it you need to at least accessorize with some pearls and a nice hand bag.”

The speedster, Michael Dobrient, was as quick with his words as he is fleet of foot:  
She’s (Amrita) got to get you to ditch that shirt.

Thomas’s brother Daniel, long in the tooth in Tibet and the Orient, (nor a dullard on the affairs of Europe) chastised the arrogance of the Tunic in such revered company:
“Dude, there is nothing Asians hate more than Americans dressing like hippie slobs at meetings. Get your shit together!”

And in fact it was only Thomas’ mother, perhaps in protection of her own reputation who offered the sole positive note:
“I think you look very nice.”


  1. Rudely paraphrased! And yet a touch, a touch, I do confess.

  2. Yea, thy travels do open thee to misery!