Wednesday, November 5, 2008
My sincere apologies for being AWOL for such a long time. Not that anyone really missed me, I daresay. Obama, for instance, seems to have done pretty well without my presence. A word of explanation, nevertheless. I was hauled away to the eastern parts of the country (Bhubaneswar, Puri, Kolkata and Sikkim) more or less at gun point. The missus can be very stubborn in certain respects. She made me a deal, namely, that in return for not touching a computer or accessing the internet in any way for two weeks, she would leave my kneecaps unbroken. Ha ha. I am only joking. She did not say that. She only said that people who disobey her often find their facial features rearranged.
Going on vacation is always a chaotic thing with me. Last minute meetings, mail to send, forms to fill, cheques to deposit. The necessary evils of city life. Sheela finds all this very irritating. "You never plan anything. All your stuff is crisis management." Accurrate, but not the nicest thing to hear when you're trying to stave off a global crisis. Anyway, I managed to shove everything away just in time, saving my sanity and probably my marriage.
Beside the point, of course, but have to mention this. We were flying Kingfisher Airlines and they really do pamper you. The stewardesses are extremely buxom in relation to their uniforms, giving the impression that they are tucked into their costumes with some kind of modified shoe horn. At one point in the proceedings, Dr. Vijay Mallya himself comes up on screen and tells you he has selected the staff personally. You betcher. But I’m rambling.
Orissa is a lovely place. Bhubaneshwar, the capital, is very laid back. It had, at least when I was there, lovely weather.
Sheela of course wanted to go shopping. Orissa is very famous for its saris. We saw and bought something called Sambalpuri and Vichitrapuri and a couple of other kinds I can't remember the names of. Emboldened by the briskness of business, the sales guy showed us something in an electric blue, with lots of embroidery.
“What is this?”, asked Sheela.
”Pure Crap, madam”, said the honest chap, though I couldn’t see how such candor could be good for business. I said so to Sheela.
“He means 'crepe', idiot!” she hissed, and continued examining the sari.
Aware that there were no more brownie points to be won by hanging around, I shuffled off to another section of the shop where an earnest looking chap thrust all kinds of fabric into my face. He evidently considered me a promising sales prospect. Had enough, I thought. Turning 180 degrees smartly on my heel, I legged it out of the place. Rude, of course, but under the circumstances, unavoidable.
Young Gautham was outside the shop pigging out on some street food. I grabbed as much of it as I could, disregarding the lad’s protests, and shuffled off towards Vyaas who had a nice cold can of Coke, and hadn’t seen me coming.
Back into the car. Our driver had an interesting technique of driving. He would creep silently towards some unsuspecting cyclist or scooter rider and when he was like ten millimeters away, honk loudly. The victim would jump with a little yelp and race away for life, inducing great mirth in our charioteer.
Apart from that, Bhubaneswar had little to amuse or instruct. The food was excellent, especially sea food and the beer wasn’t too bad either.
The next morning we visited the pilgrimage town of Puri. Gautham piped up.
"Know what a good name would be for a barber shop here?"
"What?" Me, the sucker.
That boy skates on thin ice, I tell you.
More in due course.