It is not often that one gets to take off on a long holiday.
Especially if that one happens to be yours truly.
The last few breaks I took were hardly breaks. More hairline cracks than breaks really.
My propensity to holidays, leave alone long holidays, is as low as encountering a smooth stretch of road on the Western Expressway.
Incidentally, after facing much criticism on the ubiquity of potholes, the BMC made a wild announcement that there would soon be NO POTHOLES and that if anyone did manage to spot potholes they would reward that person Rs.1000/-, for each find
Stupid to say the least, but if I did something like that, and offered Rs.1000/- to anyone who caught me having a long holiday, you’d be richer by a grand this month.
Hold your breath, for I was away for an incredibly long break of 10 days.
You may breathe now.
Two unrelated events occurred in the recent past that worked together to make this holiday happen.
Both events happened in Mumbai. Both events occurred in a gap of less than a month. There was a charming girl in each of the events. And both events had such a strong influence, that I had little say in the whole holiday idea.
The first was a call from the Falldown girl, whom you are by now familiar with. She had called late one evening on a July Sunday and I promptly put her on the speaker to include mum, making it a sort of a conference call. After about Rs.120, while we were exchanging the usual bye-byes and take-cares, she declared, as a matter-of-factly, that her days amidst the Trees of Dehra were going to end soon.
Her closing line was, “Try to make a trip before I leave from here”
Silence fell on the Santa Cruz side of the conversation. We looked at each other, mom and I. We froze.
I got up and switched the AC off. Damn, I must find time to fix that thermostat.
The significance of the Falldown girls’ utterances will be lost on you if I did not update you on what happened a few weeks before this call.
It had to do with the other charming girl.
An incredibly pretty, Native American woman did something to me that was to become a landmark of sorts in my rather boring life.
“Where will you be going?” She had asked somewhere in the middle of our conversation, sounding sweet as honey.
“Shelton?!! Are you carrying enough warm clothes?” Her voice flowed like honey. She was getting sweeter than the Mysorepak from Sri Krishna Sweets.
“So, will you be travelling alone to the States?” Sweetness was by now overflowing and the Mysorepak and the honey were collecting around my feet.
I stared at her blankly. “Err…yeah” said I. Are you thinking what I am thinking sweetie?
“All alone! Well, it might get a lil lonely!” The honey ran between my toes and now was rising fast to my ankles.
She then looked right into my eyes as if she was searching my soul. She moved her right hand towards me. I was hardly breathing.
Her hand stopped midway, picked something, and rose delicately about a foot off the table.
I searched her face, looking for a sign of some kind. Almost instantly, a smile broke out, bringing cheerful dimples out of nowhere.
And her right hand slammed the object on my Passport while she said “Welcome to the United States of America!”
My eyes fluttered. Lips quivered. Eyebrows danced. My heart eased back into position from the throat and I skipped out of her office leaving shoe prints of honey and Mysorepak all the way out.
After Citibank and ICICI bank, it was now the turn of the American Consulate in India to confer on me some Visa Power.
My hungry employer (get it? No? Ask a Tam near you!!) sprung into action and did nothing. But warned me to be ready to pack up and “fly any moment”.
Given this warning from Hunger, the last line from the Falldown girl had deep implications.
“Sundar! We must go!” said mom after the tele-conference. She was the third charming woman in the situation, and she was still shivering.
The thought was compelling, I admit. After all, a chance to stay in a most picturesque setting in a most delightful city, at practically near-negligible boarding cost, was not one to say ‘pass’ to. Besides, the Falldown girls days at Dehra were numbered, and it seemed, so were mine in India.
That just about did it. And that’s when the meticulous planner in me swung into action and did some meticulous planning.
The broad plan was to visit Dehra, go around a bit, and come back. However, I was clear on my purpose behind the trip. Just the elimination of the need to drive mindlessly back and forth to Airoli, losing 4 hours of life every day, was a good enough carrot for me.
I went online before you could say dial-up and booked tickets before you could say VisaCard. In less than 20 minutes, the meticulous plan was sealed and served in the form of irctc e-tickets (or is it i-tickets? Sigh!).
Although the stage was set, the probability of me actually making that trip was a big suspect until 30th August when I actually boarded the train, which, very appropriately, I must add, happened to be the August Kranti Rajdhani Express.
When the sniffer dogs got off and the train finally pulled out of Bombay Central, the long holiday had indeed begun.
Unfortunately, that fact took 10 days to sink in.