Opinion » Alta States

All in — a fish tale about India, acting and mastering the green meanies



"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop and look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself: 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'"

- Eleanor Roosevelt

Courage comes in many forms. There's the physical kind. And the emotional kind. The scientific kind and the artistic kind. Even the political kind. It's one of our most vital traits — as the great narrative of human development has charted so well over the centuries.

To show courage in the face of overwhelming odds — whether David attacking Goliath or Juliet defying the Capulets... or even R2D2 taking on the Evil Empire — well, it's the one story-theme that human audiences, old folk and young, never seem to tire of.

Maybe that's why I'm so intrigued with this Fish Boulton character. I mean, the guy is bold in all aspects of his life. Whether ski touring or stage-acting, travelling, filmmaking or simply hanging out with friends, it's almost a creed for him... as in: "life's not worth living if I'm not scaring myself a little (or a lot) in the things I do."

But enough of my words. Let's listen to Fish recount how he ended up spending much of 2004-2005 crossing India by bike.

"It's pretty simple, really." Fish flashes his naughty-kid grin. "I just had to get out of town." And I can't help it. I have to smile back. "Seriously though," he continues. "The girl I was seeing at the time decided to move to Fernie. And I was pretty devastated by the break-up..." He lets a beat pass. Smiles again. "Meanwhile, I was getting into yoga — hard core, as usual — and I wanted to do a teacher training course. So I did some research and saw that there was a really good course I could take in Australia. But then I thought: 'why not go to the root of yoga and get a cultural experience as well?'" He laughs. "Sure, India. And on a bike? Why not? Sounded like a great adventure. But my Whistler friends thought I was crazy."

They had every right to think that way. Fish, you see, had never been out of the country before. As for his experience with Third World locales, "I didn't have a clue," he admits.

No matter. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. And Boulton started planning for his solo ride across one of the craziest countries on earth. "I'd done a lot of mountain biking, you know — mostly downhill stuff — but I'd never really spent any time road riding. That really didn't concern me much though. I figured I'd pick it up fast." He takes a quick breath. "So I found a good deal on a used touring bike, bought it and tweaked it out for the trip." He laughs. "Suddenly I was ready to go."

Just like that. And just like that, Fish found himself dropping into a world way stranger than fiction. "My initial arrival in India — I landed in Chennai on the east coast — was insane... a totally mind-boggling experience." A beat goes by. Another. "It was a life-changing trip," he says finally. "It was the worst of times and it was the best times... for sure."

He dredges up a few memories of his first night for me: "I remember coming out of the plane and into the main terminal. And it's just this big empty hangar with a conveyor belt and a whole lot of people standing in line behind this door frame — just a frame nothing else — and a guard standing next to it."

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