It took almost a day of travelling amidst green and tropical landscapes before the group reached Jessore in Bangladesh. Since it was already late, the champions wanted to sleep so they could have a full day of activity the next day. Jessore was too big a town to be chosen as a stop, but Zach’s insistence on attending a public exhibition of robots organized by the Japanese won over the group’s divergent will. Their ‘zombie’ didn’t seem to be the same anymore, he had talked for two hours to convince the comrades to go, selling it to them as the door-to-door vendors persuade people to buy, so much so that the others thought it was due to the trauma suffered inside the carnivorous plant. He had annoyed them so much, that the Italian and the German had proposed to put him on the roof of the off-road vehicle together with his ‘pro’ defecating creature.
In short, they would have to spend the morning in a chaotic and polluted city to take part in the exhibition, entitled ‘Artificial Intelligence as a substitute for the deficient human intellect’. That argument was not favourable to the others at all. In fact, Gunter was always ideologically opposed to artificial things and weapons, while Piero would have preferred a sexy date with a busty Bengali woman and Emma, a real man, finally all for herself, endowed with a ‘gigantic’ virtue like Superman’s strength- the resistance to her atrocious temperament!
The exhibition seemed boring from the beginning, with much silly chatter from various experts that would never come true, and few examples of anthropomorphic robots. There was a very beautiful woman cyborg who answered some questions, but so poorly evolved that she looked more like someone severely handicapped.
And lastly, an automated waiter who looked like ‘Super Mario’, capable only of walking and carrying small items; if one had asked it, using complex words for a certain liqueur, it would have served a couple of artichokes.
The most surprising thing was, perhaps, the presence of an all Japanese staff, with an average of about five foot four in height, except one, who instead stood at 6 foot four. The pianist robot gave the best performance, but that was the same as the 70s models, with no particular improvements.
Incredibly, a ‘lover’ robot was also shown, designed to replace men who were too weak or tired in bed, with a perfect body, an almost giant ‘drill’ and a duration program, from 10 to 200 minutes! Even the dimensions could vary, thanks to the detachable ends of various shapes, like those of warplanes!
Emma, who had a headache, turned, grumbling, to Piero who was quite absorbed in (one could say in envy of) the lover robot. “Do we have to stay much longer? Even when I was a child they said that in the future we would have had many robots to help us and that we would struggle less, but instead, it was the opposite, the robots cost too much, they do almost nothing useful, and we work more hours with lower wage.”
“Yes, I confirm that, if anything, the robots have made us to be paid less, and they perform the daily tasks worse than domesticated octopuses!” he said seriously.
”I believe that the Japanese want to use these incapable robots at home because they are too busy at work to make love or to do household activities!”
Then Gunter intervened with evident frustration, saying “Why build robots, when humanity is hungry and so many people still unemployed? And then, somebody created robot soldiers, as I read some time ago… what a horror! They are ready for the next ‘true’ war!”
Emma promptly replied “These asexual little men talk about ‘artificial intelligence’, but we have never even understood how the brain works and what intelligence is! Poor fools!”
Zach, offended, deliberated wisely “No, what you don’t realise is that only the simplest robots are shown to us here, there are excellent, far more advanced things that for various reasons cannot be revealed to the public, much more evolved!”
“Of course, sure, why not,” Piero corrected him, “robots so perfect that they replace us in mathematics, in sex, war and intellectual activities! And we, what do we do, the ornaments? All crazy! Robots are progressing, to be used by ignorant and retarded monkeys!”
“Well explained! Let’s leave’’, said the educated one, though also very much like a wild boar.
As soon as he was out of the halls, Piero started again, turning to his two friends (Zach remained there) “I would have had more fun at the city club for elderly people… what a nostalgia!”
“What were you doing with the old people of a club? Investigations on the infidelities of the ninety-year-old ones or the comic animator?” asked the German.
“Hooking up with women, and how good!”
“Women? Older ones?”
“No, I spent two afternoons a week there, taking the time to get to know people, becoming familiar. Then, when I found out that they had lonely and needy daughters or grandchildren, I made a direct attack into the family!”
There was a very long minute of silence, while the interlocutors looked at him stunned and open-mouthed. Then the Swiss said “I don’t know if you are a genius, or an imbecile, you know?”
To take revenge on the idiocies suffered from speeches in favour of the robots, on inhuman opinions and stances without a logical thread, that had damaged the naive soul of those who had put their trust in the technological exhibition, and even more, for having had to endure the performances of a group of robots perverted by the diabolical genius of the East, the young people (except the Briton, who re-joined shortly after) opened a shooting tournament to the ‘target of the rising sun’.
The Bavarian climbed inside the open back of a large drink vending machine to catch one of the busy Japanese staff from behind and tie him up. It ended up that he himself was the victim, immobilized by a door that no longer worked. When the oriental technician saw the machine shaking, cursing and making short steps, he thought about the evil spirits of his country and the likely wrath of that machine towards who knows what mistake he had made before, and so, ran away screaming, even in the face of science and modern culture as a cure for ancient superstitions!
The majestic Swiss tried instead something more banal, but not easy (even less profitable in score). She stood on top of a tiny building in front of the public stage where the experts were speaking outdoors, trying to hit the human target (Professor Shitsu Shitbun from Kyodo University of Mineto Campu) without being spotted. In fact, no one saw her, also due to all the mistakes she made with her big sniper rifle that caused a severe panic among the audience: one shot broke the glass of water in the old expert’s hand, spraying him, another one, made a shelf behind that fellow collapse, ending up crashing into a beautiful Japanese colleague with the skin of flower petals (but four foot seven tall, heels included).
On her last attempt, a bullet bounced off a cardboard wall straight into the scrotum of the well-known professor, who, poor fellow, vulgarly cursed the foreigners, women and robots, staggering away kicking at all his close colleagues, red and full of pain, while the audience laughed at him relentlessly.
The ‘astute’ Italian began to prepare a ‘rat trap’, but he did not notice that there was a large and aggressive guard dog behind, there for the exhibition equipment. The ugly dog studied the Italian in silence for a few minutes, sniffing him at close range. Shortly thereafter it bit his buttocks and the right ankle with enormous ferocity and ruthlessness. Piero screamed desperately but was saved by a very angry vigilante. Zach, on the other hand, had enjoyed his round, and also managed to gain 6 tournament points.
The unhappy party literally wanted to run away from Jessore, and, taking advantage of the early afternoon, loaded the long vehicle onto a ferry that would cross the wide Meghna river in just over an hour. The waters hindered the overland route to the next stop, close to the charming and decent town of Feni, which was not far from the borders of India, and Myanmar and the demoralized boys began to smell a ‘new air’: The Far East was getting nearer, small people, with small eyes, but with a big and racist ego. Fragile people outside, but steel inside, peaceful, but ready for the biggest violence. The long European noses smelled on the ferry (messy, crowded and old) the scent of the Buddhist temples, refined and majestic, the rice fields, the street vendors frying, even the pee of the children accustomed by the oriental mothers to do it on the sidewalks. Even more, their stunned sense perceived the smell of burnt woods, while clouds of smoke drifted over the river, that of floating garbage, and of the bodies of their companions and many foreign travellers, all somewhat suffocated in the far too narrow space.
While the poor men were patiently looking at the immense river at the edge of a forest area, a real black and white lightning bolt suddenly snatched an ancient silver coin of British Guiana right out of Zach’s hands! The latter squirmed like a mandrill but found no room to follow the thief; plus, it was a cunning, ‘crazy magpie’! The small animal, had not only taken away a small treasure, but it had also landed on a ledge of the naval mast, just 14 feet from him, to mock him with vulgar sounds and small drops of faeces here and there. A short time later, almost all the crowd on the bridge were entertained when the mischievous bird began a dance, with its legs and tail spinning, as if it were doing it on purpose. The coin was held in its mouth, and sometimes placed on the pylon where it was moving.
Zach, very nervous, without having uttered a word, meanwhile tried to climb the old iron to reach the crazy tiny beast. When he got very close, the magpie flew a few feet higher, hitting him in the eye with excrement.
Piero too, wanted to participate to make a ‘good’ impression, with the brilliant idea of using an air rifle. The sailors saw him immediately, believing he was using a real weapon, and promptly marched out to tie him up and have him questioned by the captain. Then Emma threw some metal shots by hand to try to hit the bird, but it dodged them, and they instead fell on the heads of the Bengalis on the other side, who began to throw pebbles, bananas, shoes and pens towards the boys, beginning a battle of ‘ferocious’ dumbasses. Meanwhile, the magpie, to foster that conflict, threw dung at those who remained passive to make them participate.
Nobody thought about the evil bird anymore, all turned to fighting as much as possible. Some objects also knocked against the Helvetic, but bounced very well, without causing her to feel pain. Only at the end, when the ship had almost arrived at the port, the ‘magician from Bavaria’, tired of uncivilized fights, and expert of the ‘green’ forces of nature, tried one last resort. He closed his eyes and held his belly tight, something similar to Buddha, pronouncing ‘anathemas’, very difficult to understand. After ten minutes something happened, to the immense amazement of the people of Bangladesh: the magpie suddenly dropped dead, falling to the ground along with the silver coin of the 1800s (in reality, its natural time had simply come). Many common people bowed to the blonde big-bellied one, and it was difficult for the daring young men to get both Zach and Gunter back. When two monks returned from there to their temple, they began to write some parables about the case, entering the Bavarian into history with the name ‘Blonde Buddha’ or ‘Buddha with hay hair and pig skin’.
As the day became evening, the Belcanto finally arrived in Feni and then stopped in a suburban village, a considerably prettier centre if compared to other places in that country. There were many areas grown with palm trees there, as well as several sports fields, accommodating ‘European activities’ including cricket. The oriental-style buildings were very brightly coloured, and the many temples seemed to have been there for a long time. The chaotic and greasy streets were pounded by hordes of motorcycles (which then crushed countless workers’ heads as they emerged from the manholes) and harmful insects, present even on the walls of the houses, on ‘shore leave’. One could also see various ‘out of style’ modern gyms, barber shops as small as a kiosk, women’s rugby and military colleges that looked like windowless museums, flower fields near landfills, and silent mosquitoes during the beginning of their night shift.
Taken by curiosity, the daredevils, before arriving outside the suburbs, made a quick visit to a gym that showed displayed on an advertising board: ‘Local contest for Mr. Muscles’. This time it was Piero and Emma who were the most curious: she wanted to see what those tanned short men of Bangladesh looked like in ‘muscular clothing’ (maybe, not only that), and he, if there existed in that remote country of the British Empire a man more sexy than he himself. Zach was completely devoid of interest, while the ‘magician’, now become ‘holy’, felt envy and antipathy, so much so that, when he saw the first participants, said to the others (with a pained expression, as when having a chat with a feminist or a communist) “All that riffraff has nothing to do all day? Wouldn’t they do better to increase the brain instead of the thighs?”
Emma, after a quick glance at the underpants and the buttocks of the muscled men, evidently disappointed, added “But, I didn’t know that besides being not so intellectual people they are also so ugly! They look like a kind of pygmies, black midgets, the tallest one does not reach my stature, nor the mass!”
And the Italian “But it is really very difficult, Emma, to get your mass! Indeed, I believe, that it is impossible for a man! However, they look like puffed bags, not men.”
She, hit by his words, with a naive smile, said “Those two in front seem two sick children, the bigger one, looking like a head of a human being attached to an alien black body, indeed that is dark gold colour!”
Zach, thoroughly fed up with the whole thing, barked “More than anything else they look like jerks! There is nothing beautiful or interesting in human bodies that lose health for participating in ‘female’ contests! Except for that sports equipment, which is truly respectable, I have nothing positive to say, just that I am very hungry, and that it is late, and when I am hungry, I become difficult and unpleasant!”
“No, no, my little one, do not get anxious, now mom cooks you something and gives you milk, if you want, as long as you do not frighten us!” The Helvetian interrupted him, cheerful and flirtatious.
After that short stop, now late (as always), as good friends, they cooperated to find a little inhabited and wild place, where they hunted the less indigestible birds. The next day, all four woke up after eleven o’clock in the morning, in need of that recovering sleep. They made a target round, taking advantage of innocent village peasants and their poor pack animals. The next morning, they faced a hard journey of more than 300 miles (created by ‘stubborn Piero’ who underestimated both the mountains and the forests, making that distance double and extremely dangerous) to enter the territory of Myanmar.