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Sunday, July 11, 2004

Am flopped down on the trainer's couch, breathless after a frenetic first half of travel, trying to make amends for the lack of rest, peace and sleep. Have made quite a habit of waking at 4 AM now, when the majority of India's denizens knit the ravelled sleave of care, all that Alpha dreams state etc--it's an unearthly hour and the only time I've done this jig before is during my erstwhile student daysm, and what a struggle it was too !

Pune was a great drive on the to journey but a killer on the way back--scarcely any time to enjoy the weather , and I must begin to think that the time has come to pull the plug on these diurnal excursions , and consciously make them more protracted, more unhurried, more languid. Still, Dhole Patil Road cannot be miles away from the heart of the place and I must atleast pay obeisance to old haunts like Kayani & Budhanis, and the Venus cassette shop on Main Street, of course.

Discovered a new way to hit Bhopal and return on the same day--needless to add, at greater risk to life and limb via a hopping flight through Indore. Indore is many times worse than Bhopal although endowed with several times the crass commerce that is surely the hallmark of a happening city. The weather in Bhopal was expectedly divine, and I wistfully thought what I wouldn't give to just stretch and relax there, as opposed to work. The flight to Bombay was delayed by a couple of hours so did some acrobatics in attempting to squeeze into a hard place, without much success.

The third sojourn was to " the village of baked beans". Went there with a firm antipathy to the supercilious pretentious hubris of the city and there was precious little to indicate anything to the contrary. Yes, the climes are great and blessed with equitable temperatures, but credit for that aspect can hardly be attributed to any citizen initiative. Spent a delightful evening with Nikhil, a great friend from the past. The leaky drizzle did not dampen our resolve to traipse down the city by foot--MG Road & Brigade Road being the proud recipients of my lotus feet all the while renewing professional rivalries of yore ( classical HR versus IT palaver) prattle, banter and good-natured ribbing. I must say here that the darinage systems must exist, but I did not see 'em ( reminded me of that Wodehouse line about --In the summer, the river is at the bottom of the garden , and in winter, the garden is at the bottom of the river ). Decidedly,a shopper's paradise and although we did try our luck at Planet M & Music World ( the insolent help stating that he had never heard of Enya )and over dinner found that Italian was yet another cuisine that I didn't like.Also discovered some truisms--that I was a SINK ( single income no kids :)), that HR was not held in the greatest awe by the brainless twits who somehow are led to believe that they work, and that the city had absolutely no hotel rooms left. My friend is on the verge of moving on an L1 to the USA, and we will meet up when he next comes to Bombay.
Now I know I am some distance away from being a probable riposte to the Lonely Planet, but I am unequivocal about the fact that this was easily the worst airport I have seen. The frontage is upholstered by a tin roof ( wow, what an attractive way to lure FDI) , there is one counter to move in for the security check--which means that ay any given time, there are about 200 people waiting in tow ( it took me 25 minutes just to reach the gate )and hey, most charmingly, relatives and friends are allowed past the check-in-- so one can visualise the gruesome spectacle of the claustrophobic space teeming with multitudes of fat relatives, thin ones, tall ones , short ones. bawling, sprawling, running , sitting kids and an assortment of concerned elders exhorting their visibly embarrassed wards to sleep well, eat well and all of that. Mindless and insane--if this is the city that will catapult India to the top of the tech heap, then I rest my case. Finally, there was no security check--the insouciance of the person at the gate was refreshing but dangerous ,and just before we hit the tarmac. we have gimlet-eyed inspectors operating under Guess what, a Tin roof.

Disconcerted to find that two of three tapes I tried on at home last night squeaked==Police & Anka thus gave way to the earthy Reshma. FM fails me once more and I must now give WorldSpace some renewed thought.

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