Sunday, July 23, 2006
Instead of a siesta
Sunday afternoon, I’m home listening to one and a half people sleeping when I could have been at an Enthralling Quiz run by a Truly Erudite Quizzer, said quiz to be held in the manse of a Nice Lady who will Provide Refreshments (and Much Nattering). I am desolate at the Loss, until I Pause to Reflect and realise that I would have Known Nothing at the Quiz, thus shattering the remnants of my Reputation as an Elder Statesman in Calcutta Quizzing (thank you very much for pointing out that it’s “all in my mind”, I am not entirely insensitive to irony). Said reputation is already much battered because (a) I haven’t actually won a quiz since about May last year and (b) Do’B was short of smart lines at the last quiz and chose to dwell on how a certain “senior Government officer enjoyed his quizzing like a Cls. XI college student” (a species that exists only in my alma mater, where Cls. XI and XII are part of the college). That has rankled, though I am slightly mollified by his hat-tip (in his column in the Telegraph today).
Another deep dark reason for my not being utterly desolate is that I don’t want any more murukkus, thank you very much. (The Nice Lady tends to Overdo the Murukku Angle). Yesterday, on “Indian” (they had to rename themselves after a Kamalahaasan movie?!) I had the worst damn murukkus I have ever had in my entire life. For the three readers of my blog who have never been to
Anyway, the point about murukkus is that they’re spicy, they’re fried and they’re crisp. The average male will eat camel turds if they’re cooked that way, so you can guess how bad the in-flight murukkus must have been if I didn’t eat even ONE. In fact, the entire meal was almost the worst airborne culinary experience I have ever had. Not quite the worst – I was once served greenish chunks of meat on Aeroflot, was so hungry I actually ate half of one chunk before the gag reflex took over, and spent my entire first day in
So this meal had – Item, three pieces of chicken kebab, dried to sofa-stuffing by 29 re-heats and about as succulent as a feather-duster; Item, one small faux baguette, sliced lengthwise and stuffed with curried cottage cheese that had gone sour; Item, one unidentified round fried object that could have been a potato roesti or, on the other hand, the product of some ruminant’s alimentary tract; Item, something that was probably meant to be a shammi kebab but had morphed into something from The X-Files, if the cabin lights had gone off I’m sure it would have glowed radioactive green. I was reduced to wolfing down the shahi tukra. When even fried bread in condensed milk seems good, one has had an unique meal.
And oh – murukkus. Three of them, lurking next to the loaf like lethargic vipers. I could smell their menace. Retreat seemed the best option. I retreated.
The real WTF moment came earlier. In the terminal. After check-in, I turned left as usual.
Only to come up in front of a sign that says “The washrooms are freshening up. Together, we’ll make it happen”. WTF?! Are you inviting me to be part of a process that will culminate in a large inanimate AREA taking a leak? Compared to this, Kafka was stone cold sober all his life! The next sign is a little more comprehensible – “Toilets are under renovation. The inconvenience caused is regretted”. Yes, fine, but do you regret it enough to make alternative arrangements? How much would you regret it if three thousand passengers a day watered your plants, eh?!
I was a blur as I whizzed through security. Surely nobody could be daft enough to renovate all the loos at the same time? Sharp left, walk fast, there at the end aarrgghhhhh! They CAN be daft enough! NEVER underestimate moronicity!
I eventually found ONE functional loo, next to the door where they take passengers out (to identify their baggage, but am I the only one who cringes in expectation of a blank wall and a line of muskets?).
And there was not a single weirdo in sight. Did my last Delhi airport post offend them? Scare them off? Ah well ...
And all of Sunday we’ve been treated to continuous updates about a boy in a well. Poor kid fell in there on Friday and all the king’s soldiers and all the king’s men haven’t been able to get him out yet. But wait – the Chief Minister is on the spot, “Madam” has called, people all over the country are praying for him, spending money on offerings, throwing birthday parties for Prince.
There was an episode of “Yes Prime Minister”, the dog Benjy lost in the minefield on Salisbury Plain – does anybody remember that one? So yes, the politicos can’t afford to pass up this one, they need the situation, the bytes, the eyeballs. But the general public? Why do they have to come on in whiteface and cherry noses? Of course the TV channels go interactive. They invite calls. Text messages for Prince yield profundities like “They should get him out of the tunnel soon” and “You are the Prince of India”. And in all the coverage, nobody came up with the reason why they couldn’t just swing a crane down there and pick him up.
Some years ago, typically, this would have been a story in the left-hand column on the fifth page of the local papers. We’d never have seen it on the telly, let alone for hours on end (CNN-IBN held out for a while but eventually joined in the madness). Would we have missed much? On the other hand, if it hadn’t been for the media attention, the army probably wouldn’t have been called in, the rescue attempts wouldn’t have been so systematic.
Score one for the media, they probably helped save a life here. Now if only the world's morons would put their money in the right place instead of spending it on garlands and ghee.
I love murukku too, especially the fresh homemade stuff my friend's mom used to make, except they were Telugu so they call it "jantikaralu". And we have a family friend who's Bengali, married to a Telugu woman who always refers to them as "jantu koyek".
- Muruku isn't that bad, in very small doses.
- Airline food - I sympathise. I was on a Singapore Airlines flight a few hours ago, and the contrast, I'm sorry to say, couldn't be more stark. Food was very good and the wine selection was brilliant. If your's compared to an Aeroflot meal, I can only offer my condolences. I've never flown Aeroflot, but friends who have gave me very good advice on how to fly with them: take sleeping pills along, bring your own water, and those two along should get you through the flight safely.
- YPM - yes, that's a brilliant episode. Sadly, there was no Sir Humphrey with his wonderful machinations to enliven up the episode in India. I found the story a little overdone (and certainly didn't enjoy every local news channel in Bombay showing it as 'breaking news' each time I switched the TV on). Oh well.
About media, it reminds me of Amartya da's link between media, democracy and media. How India had less starvation than China because starvation deaths are newsworthy. But we have more malnutrituion because that doesn't make for good news...
You are so entertaining!
Swati - a first-class coupe in the Rajdhani is a holiday in itself.
Rohini - what a coincidence, I felt queasy too
T Rasa - you should have flown into Cal, could have made up for it at Nizam's
Bonatellis - I wasn't part of the school, I joined in Cls XI
Silverine - eh? That was funny?
Salil - I can do murukku in large doses, it just has to be good
Hutum - na na, the murukkus are a Fifth Column
G9 - been there, done that!
Progga - at least you didn't descend to (shudder) banana chips!
Bridal B - something that goes "crunch" when the world is soggy?
M Map - the KF flight timings aren't all that hot. Your first two points make a diff; at my age, if I see short skirts on girls where the AC's on, I feel compassionate rather than lecherous.
30in05 - thank you. (Why do I feel like I've just received a gift at a fete from the Lady of the Manor?)
Priya - think Frequent Flyer. Besides, I appreciate "succulent legs" only on the kind of chicks I get on a plate, thank you very much.
Ah the imagery... JAP, start pencilling for Calvin and Hobbes.
And get rid of the word verification. Deleting spams will help kill the time you otherwise spend pretending to work (supercilious smile)