So, after thanking DB for his help, I bid him bye for the day at the reception desk as he left to his room. As for me, roused up at being in a new place, like always, immediately upon reaching, I start making inquiries with the FDM if I can explore any place in Jaipur that evening. It's around 5:30 pm then.
FDM guides me to the Tourism Desk of the hotel and introduces me to TDM who has a small office at the other end of the reception area. I get to know that Choki Dani is the only place I could go to since the program starts there in the evenings and lasts till almost midnight. I am overjoyed that I get to spend the evening fruitfully, rather than resting.
At times, especially when in a new place, I feel relaxing is a sheer waste of time. I’ve got one life, and life is short so got to make the most of it and live it to the full. I am lucky not to be fighting to stay alive this day. I have the health and the opportunity to actually choose to do what I wish this moment and so am doing just what I am passionate about. If stopping by the woods and smelling roses is my wish for today, I must do just that. Only thing is I must be wary of the bee entering my olfactory system!
Anyway, to get back to the topic, after a few brief inquiries, I make my decision and pay up for an experience at Choki Dani.
TDM: Madam, the car will be ready to take you in an hour's time.
Me: Thank you.
Approximately an hour later, after a good shower, some tea and snacks in the room, I proceed to the reception area to hand over my room key.
FDM: Madam, your car to go to Choki Dani is ready.
[Gestures towards TDM]
Me: Thank you.
TDM: Madam, the car is waiting outside for you.
[Points to a parked white car quite a distance away]
Me: Thank you.
As I walk towards the car, I sense FDM behind me and in no time he catches up. He starts a conversation and it becomes clear to me that he's off duty from that moment. As I reach my designated vehicle, he’s about to depart, hesitates for a moment and makes a mention casually that he has not been to Choki Dani at all. I instantly feel sorry for him. There I am - travelled from
The chord of sympathy struck in me yet again. So, being the sentimental fool that I can be sometimes, I began to form mental images of this FDM having a large joint family with parents, grandparents, uncles, each with their 4 wives, a multitude of children, and all of them waiting for his salary to buy food to gratify the hunger of 25 hungry mouths. How can a man in such dire straits afford to waste his money to entertain himself at Choki Dani?
Me: I'm about to go there now, and the car is hired only for me. Why don't you check it out tonight if you wish to?
At this time, our moron, TDM reaches there and stops so close that I have to take a step back to steer clear of his breath nearby. Idiot. I would have taught you some manners and trained you if you were a new employee at my firm, but then I think teaching a chimpanzee would be far easier than you. Why have you abandoned your desk and come out, you moron?
TDM overhears me speaking to FDM. I notice a slight hesitation on the part of the FDM to accept my offer.
FDM: But my family is waiting at home .... [incomplete sentence]
He mumbles that unhappily. I shrug and let go of the matter then and there. At least I need not feel guilty anymore of enjoying the pleasures of travels while ignoring the wish of a man who had the responsibility of feeding 25 unfortunate and hungry people at his home!
Then TDM interferes.
TDM: But Mr. DB … [the sentence hangs in mid air]
FDM: Yes, Mr. DB. What would he feel if I were to accompany you in the same car?
So that's why he mumbled an excuse of his family waiting. Hey listen young man, I’ve exonerated myself by offering to help you fulfill what seems to be your hankering to be at Choki Dani as I had nothing to lose in the process anyway. Frankly, I do not care whether you come along or not.
TDM: Mr. DB would be upset if ... [incomplete sentence]
And then it became clear to me what FDM and TDM are trying to convey. To them, like with a few narrow-minded fools I’ve come across in my life, there can be only one relationship between a man and a woman if they are seen together at a hotel. The fact that they saw DB and me at the reception area earlier together made them presume I have some sort of a shady personal relationship with DB. So they were cautious in their approach with me. Dammit, why will I check into two separate rooms if that was the case? I have no qualms about sharing a room with whoever I wish to share it with. I've also shared rooms with friends while I have a platonic yet wonderful connection with them. But then, those are separate matters altogether and I shall try not to digress as I can see this post is already turning lengthy.
Anyway, I don't know why I bother to explain as I say:
Me: Listen, the fact that I got into the hotel with DB does not mean that I am travelling all along with him or that I have a personal connection with him. As far as I am aware, he's here on business as usual while I am a tourist here independently touring Jaipur.
The moment I utter those words I notice a change in attitude in both of them. Oh, body language conveys so much. FDM’s seems tolerable and TDM starts behaving like a Saint - A Saint Bernard.
TDM: (to the poor driver who is a mute spectator to all this drama) Go back. I will personally drive Madam to Choki Dani.
Hey, I am not scared of being alone with you or with anyone else here, ok? I am not one of your pallu-covered village belle who is vulnerable and scared of meeting a man’s eyes. This one here is fiercely independent and possesses steel grit. So don’t ever underestimate her strength, understand? I give a quick glance at FDM and he nods in a positive sign. After all FDM knows TDM better than me at least until that point in time.
TDM: (to me) Madam, I will drive you. I can be your driver-cum-guide.
You will drive me. Yes, you will drive me crazy soon at the rate you have begun. Why only driver-cum-guide? I guess the moron that you are, you can do the work of three - Curly, Larry and Moe. Yes, guides. I’ve seen enough of them during my travels. Some of them are as useful as a one armed trapeze artist with an itchy bottom.
FDM: (weakly and in a small voice) Madam, I could have accompanied you actually, you know.
Tough luck man. You got to learn to make quick decisions in your life.
I show no sign of acceptance or rejection and ignore them both. It takes few muscles to smile than frown and fewer still to ignore someone completely.
Other than voicing out firmly that I wish to start immediately, I let them sort it out. I chortle at the situation thinking I don't care if I have a guide or not, if FDM accompanies me or not, if TDM drives me or not, or if anybody accompanies me at all. Lately, I’ve got so used to travelling on my own, that I’m generally fine without any guide or help. All that I need now is a driver to take me around and bring me back to the hotel.
A quick discussion goes on between TDM and FDM. I am overhearing you, in case you are plotting to kidnap and then assassinate me. How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered? Simple. As important as me. My case is like Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares but there is a stupid song about him anyway.
At the end of the discussions and signing of the Treaty of
What follows then, in spite of TDM’s objurgating presence is a lovely evening drive to the
Normally am able to gauge a person's nature, more or less, within a matter of few minutes of meeting that person and in this case, I have already made my own 'unimpressed' impression of TDM in a matter of few minutes of conversation with him. At the same time the ever patient under the most trying circumstances and tolerant me is the kind who does not express displeasure at anything or anyone until I am irked to a certain limit beyond which it’s calamitous for the person in front of me.
I start taking a few pictures but at a point, TDM captures my camera and keeps clicking away to glory. I let him while thinking I can delete unnecessary stuff later as am having a good time now, and since it has become quite dark, I won’t bother much with photographs.
TDM continues blabbering and his true colors come out, one by one. He does not know that I am aware of the careless words he’s uttering during his never-ending rants. Dimwit. You are the kind of person that one could use as a blueprint to build an idiot. Go see a doctor to have your head examined. If you did, the doctors would surely confirm there is nothing in there.
He spoke about his wife and children and how happy they are in his village. Of course, she’s happy. That’s because she is far away from you, you moron.
Normally, on travels I enjoy talking to strangers and unknown people. In fact, I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations with strangers during my travels.
TDM: Madam, you know there was this lady from blah blah ..she was traveling all alone blah blah blah
I hardly respond and mostly ignore all his sentences starting with the word 'Madam' which itself is irritating. But I do not wish to tell him to feel free of the formality lest he get the wrong message. So I have no choice but to manage with the word 'Madam' for the rest of the evening. Stay away from me you dimwit. Your very avatar shrieks out to be someone who is a stupid person's idea of a clever man.
TDM: Madam, do you know a few months back there was this lady from blah blah blah, an NRI who was in Jaipur touring all alone all over
Yes, moron. I hear you. NRI. So? What do you expect me to do now? Give her a Bharat Ratna for bravery? Or arrange for her name to be recorded in the Guinness Book of Records?
On and on he keeps ranting. I hear him in bits and pieces until finally I almost “shut my mind” to his constant jabber. By the way I can do that. Shut my mind when I want to. I can sense ten people talking in a room and yet hear nothing if I don’t wish to – a talent that needs constant practice and honing, which I have been able to perfect over time. Want to try it sometime?
TDM: Madam blah blah blah
You tough-skinned nutcake. Does it not matter to you if someone responds to you or not? A conversation is not when one person talks. Twit. Can you stop blabbering?
TDM: Madam blah blah blah
I am busy now, can I ignore you some other time?
[to be continued]