The husband played a cat-and-mouse game or two before he sent me a copy of his blog to post. When the write-up finally arrived, it is a topic close to his heart (read: cynicism).
I am struggling to write an introduction for this one. Here is my one chance to get back at him for all the gibes I've endured since the fateful day of my marriage. A one golden opportunity to kick some serious ass. Yet, I have been typing and deleting words for the last half hour.
Yikes, he's just performed the most heinous act! There's a head in my sink! Oh wait, it's only hair, a head-ful of it! I'd better run. You go on and read his (hic hic) post...
Before I go on and insult a good few million people, let me tell you that when an Indian is going 'abroad' it usually means the USA, UK or if the stars are not so well aligned, somewhere in Europe. Preferably not the eastern parts.
The story starts as soon as the said person hears that he has to fly and starts the visa application process. Status among peers immediately goes up. 'Lucky bastard', becomes a common nickname. Furtive glances are cast and the thought that LB will make a lot of money jumps from one greedy mind to another. LB does a lot of shopping, usually for copious amounts of warm clothes, clean underwear and socks (one hopes). On the fateful day LB is to fly, the whole extended family turns up at the airport. Even uncles long thought to be dead and buried show up. It does not really matter if LB will be back before Kyuki Saas Bi Kabhi Bahu Thi airs the next week. Tearful hugs, blessings and lots of unnecessary advice later, LB enters the airport. LB usually has no problems with baggage rules. Every bag is carefully weighed at home, and every bag is invariably filled with pickles and packets of precious Maggi.
Nothing interesting ever happens on planes and airports everywhere are designed to suck the soul out of people who stray within a 10-mile radius. Except for cabbies. I'm willing to bet that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is more real than the Mile-High club. Imagine a few speeding frames in your head and LB is out of the airport and 'abroad'.
Remember the image of the quintessential Japanese tourist taking pictures of every damn thing in sight? LB and his ilk put Mr. Yamaguchi to shame. LB is crossing a street. Click. LB drinking out of a fountain. Click. Hot dog stand! Click.
Indian food suddenly becomes more important than air. (I've been dragged around on trams on a snowy weekend in a city where the collective population spoke 7 words of English in totality. Of course, we sought an Indian restaurant. Any Indian restaurant). If LB turns out to be vegetarian, then god help him. Any of the billion Indian gods would do. Oh, and the local cuisine be damned.
LB does have a list of touristy places to visit and this is generally accomplished with the equivalent of 2 dollars, 17 cents and a suspicious looking piece of dried potato. A thousand photos and some carefully chosen souvenirs later, there is a list of places to be crossed off LB's list.
Thanks to Levis, Lee, Nike, Adidas and others peddling their wares in India, LB doesn't buy any shoes or jeans for people back home. However, there are still shopping lists thrust at LB by relatives, friends, neighbors and colleagues. Ka-ching. Loads of chocolates are bought too, usually in duty-free stores at the airport.
Many boring days (or weeks or months) later LB heads home to a hero's reception. For years all of LB's stories will include amusing anecdotes of his fascinating stay abroad.
How can I caricature LB so well? Well, I'm Indian and I've been 'abroad' a couple of times and have had the pleasure of LB's company each time. Oh, and LB comes in all shapes, sizes, both genders and from any of the gazillion states in India.
I assure you I was not sitting on top of the moral tree when I was writing this. I may have been leaning on it and smoking a cigarette, looking awesome, but that's another story.
Looking forward to some comments on this one, definitely. Help me where I have failed.