Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bar fight – the story

So as promised (and because I know everyone’s been patiently waiting for it) here’s the story of the bar fight we witnessed in London.

Bridget (my girlfriend), Abriana (my sister) and I were exploring the East London area visiting the popular Indian/Bangladesh street known as Brick Lane. Brick Lane is home to some of the best Indian/Bangladeshi food in all of London so we figured we check out what all the hype was about.

We got to the strip around 5pm but alas all of the restaurants weren’t open till 5:30. So we decided to visit the only Irish bar on the strip next to one of the restaurants we wanted to try, called The Archers.

The Archers is a small corner bar, with an inside wooden frame and hints of smoke in the air. The bar contains a few bar stools and some side tables for seating. A very no frills type of bar, serving no food just alcohol.

There were only 4 other patrons in the bar when we walked in. Sitting at the bar was an English man, probably mid 50s in age, and a Russian couple, around the same age. Another younger guy of Indian/Bangladeshi decent was at the bar too, coming in and out.

There were three workers at the bar, two females and a male, who was the manager of the bar. I walked up to the bar and the Russian guy was talking to one of the female bartenders who appeared to be Russian. He was asking her where she was from Russia. She basically ignored him and just poured the glass of vodka he was asking for. The Russian man paid for his drinks and upon getting his change asked for change in paper (he received coin pounds for change). When she said that that was his change he mumbled something incoherently and proceed to pound his shot of vodka. The bartender poured my beers and I brought them to the table where we were sitting, which was right behind the Russian couple.

Bridget and I with our beers moments before the fight erupted. The Russian man is behind my shoulder

No more than a minute later, the Russian man starts raising the back of his hand to the female bartender. The female bartender backed away and told the man to leave the bar. The male manager, a slight Indian man, about 5’5” tall and maybe 150 lbs soaking wet came over and took the man’s shot glass away and said something to the effect of “no more, you’re cut off”. The Russian man didn’t take too kindly to that, and grabbed a beer mug and smashed it on one of the taps of the bar. The Russian man was a bulking man, about 6’2” tall and easily over 250 lbs. Plus he was stumbling, incoherently drunk. He took the broken glass and started threatening the Indian male with it. In response, the Indian man broke a glass of his own and threatened the Russian man right back.

We decided at that point we should get out of harm’s way so we moved to the side. The Russian man proceed to drop his broken glass and pick up a bar stool. He cracked the bar stool on the ground, breaking the legs off. He swung the bar stool across the bar, knocking over a few more mugs in the process. Sensing this was about to get out of control, we quickly gathered our stuff and left the bar. Bridget, being the smart Irish woman she is, grabbed her beer and took it outside. My sister and I, left our beers on the table inside as chair swinging and glass breaking continued. Seeing that our full beers were sitting on the table, I ran back in, retrieved our prize possessions and ran back outside looking for anyone to call the police.

While asking the friendly Indian neighbors to call the cops we were left with blank stares. I yelled out, “can anyone call the police….anyone…policia?” met with utter silence. One person asked what’s going on in there and I said your bar is being destroyed. They shook it off like it was no big deal. It was like only gun shots may have prompted a call to the cops.

Peering back inside the bar, the Russian man went to the side of the bar to get behind the bar. The Indian man took a stool of his own to cut off his path. The Indian man held his own despite the 6 or 7 inch height difference, shouting to the male to leave. The younger Indian gentleman at the bar tried to calm the Russian down…but to no avail. The wife of course just stood there idly with no control over her husband. I mean if the guy was willing to hit a female bartender why wouldn’t he hit his wife?

In the meantime my sister decided to call the cops. The fight inside continued with another stool being broken and glass strewn about the floor. The bar manager had his back against the wall and fought off the Russian valiantly. Finally after 5 minutes of back and forth of jousting, screaming and pleading, the Russian man left the bar.

We walked back inside the bar and the bar manager was catching his breath and white as a ghost (maybe not white…but white as he could be for his skin tone). The female bartender started sweeping up the glass and picking up the broken stools. We informed them we had called the cops, which apparently didn’t go over well with them (seems like they didn’t want to be bothered). The Russian man stumbled outside and his female companion came back into the bar to get their change they apparently left on the bar! Some fuckin nerve huh? You destroy a bar, then come back in to get your change. In the states, they would have been tossed out in the streets and wouldn’t dare come back. But since this bar was “outmanned” size wize they had no muscle to enforce their own defense.

Anyway, the female bartender gave the lady back her change to avoid any further trouble. The couple stumbled away, going around the corner. I kept tabs on their whereabouts along with the other Indian gentleman who was helping to diffuse the fight. They had gone into a store next door and minutes later the cops had arrived (nothing like a timely arrival guys). We instantly directed them in the direction of the gentlemen but meanwhile it looked like nothing had happened to the bar. All of the glass was swept up, and the broken chairs were disposed with. The police were confused when they came in, but we had to point them to all of the broken glass that was swept up to even show an indication of the fight. I mean, really, I’d be like, look what that fuck did to my bar. Its like the bar manager didn’t even care.

The bar back to normal after the brawl

The cops eventually arrested and placed the Russian in the paddywagon. Apparently he had finished 7 beers at the liquor store next door by the time the cops got to him. That’s 7 beers in about 3 minutes if you’re counting at home. One cop came into the bar to take statements, and my sister, since she called the cops, was elected to go off and provide her statements.

The bar manager chose not to press charges against the Russian man. Instead of thanking us we basically got an annoyed look from them like we’re the ones who caused trouble. Well excuse us for caring, maybe you would have thought differently had your throat been slashed to your veins. You think they would have bought us a round of drinks? Nope. They just went about their normal business, albeit a bit shaken by the events that just transpired. I asked the bar manager if they have fights often and he said not really…that’s the first one he’s had in a year.

Anyway, after my sister was cross-examined by the police and gave her statement the cop told us to get out of the neighborhood by sunlight. Apparently East London is rough and tumble and not a place to venture at night.

Anyway, I guess you had to be there to witness the fight. I've seen my share of bar fights before, but never one that was such a mismatch in size. I had a camera on me and I was tempted to take pictures and video, but didn't want to have my camera confiscated as evidence. I would have tried to break up the fight as well, if I was in my own country and knew the bar. But in a foreign country trying to break up a fight between a drunk Russian and an Indian with broken mugs in their hands as weapons I was wise to stay out of it. Besides, I think America's done enough meddling in foreign countries...I don't need to add to that persona!

Stay tuned for my food reviews and other comments about my journey to the UK.


neil from the uk said...

bloody russians...always ruining everything here in england!

sounds like a normal bar fight to me!

hadrien2000 said...

Nice review! Btw, please say hi to Abriana for me. How is she?