The After Surgery Special

I (James) knew after I sold the Bullet in 2009 that I was never going to buy another vehicle to drive in Indian traffic ever again… …but that didn’t mean we were sentanced to being chauffeured around South India in cars and auto-rickshaws. It just meant we were going to have to go back to our comfort zone is all. Between my rather intense surgeries we did some searches and found a couple of bike shops online, epic-walked our little asses off, and ultimately found a cool bike shop that had exactly what we needed. Well…kind of. Our new bikes are both upright (Wedge-style) mountain bikes which are hard on our (not so young anymore) backs and necks and unlike pretty much everything else here in Hindustan, they were fucking expensive! Of course, we had to go see the new Star Wars movie because it’s the one English-language film playing right now and…well, it’s Star Wars! With the new bikes, downtown Trivandrum (nee Thiruvananthapuram) isn’t so far away. Only about 10km. Gulp. Let’s do it! And of course, we couldn’t stick to the main roads. They’re busy and freaky, so we were all about getting clever and using neighborhood roads. What we didn’t figure on was that the neighborhood roads are very much “back road” quality, where they’re not “country lane” or “field path” quality. In other words, rough, rutted dirt showing the stony bones of this granite and marble part of the continent. Also, it hadn’t been clear how much the main roads followed (or had created) gentle grades. The back roads were steep, both up and down like a yoyo belonging to a kid with ADHD. The ruts and watersheds made the downhills torturous to navigate, so you could go up a bad-ass hill and get no real[…]

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The 8-Year Walk

So we had to do it. We had to go back to the old neighborhood. What better reason to go than to grab some vittles from the Attugal Bhagavathy Temple’s chute for herding the faithful toward improved fertility. We, of course, stopped short of the killing floor in favor of veg-only meals ready. Eight years ago, we had this at the Hotel Abhirami: But the Hotel of our past is well and truly in the past, so we ate at the place next door and moved on. Another change in the neighborhood… Tis Dogville, the strange skeleton of a place, tenanted by the creatures you’d expect, given what we named it. The oddness of it’s architecture and the ferocious anger of it’s inhabitants (if you woke them from their happy slumbers) has been transformed completely. Only change is eternal. We walked the return route to our house on Pournami Nagar, which was almost the same but for having a new lofted roof of corrugated metal over the one where we hung clothing to dry. Then we walked up to the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, home of literally (in the actual, dictionary sense) the greatest treasure ever found. Look it up, it’s cool. That’s where we hung a left and headed into a neighborhood to meet Maya, who helped us find our home last time and took great care of us. We’ve touched base on and off in the years between, and she invited us to her house. She’s doing marvelously well, looking great and teaching yoga and doing ayurvedic treatments rather than sitting behind the reception desk at a hotel all day. Her daughter was off at school but her son brightened up the place too. In the few moments we weren’t walking (we’ve put at least 100 km on our[…]

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Dena’s Birthday!

They say it’s your birthday…It’s my birthday too! Or it was, yesterday. And a fine birthday it was, with a couple hiccups. What’s a hiccup to the will-to-enjoy, though? Hmm…there have been a lot of “will to…” type statements made, but am I the first to declare the will to enjoy? Not a chance. Okay, so it was my (Dena’s) birthday and we went to the beach. I wanted to put my feet in the sand and I put them in the sand of the Arabian Sea, mothafucka! Rich, reddish brown sand – but I don’t know why. I understand black sands beaches and white sand beaches. Gotta figure this one out. After we walked for many a kilometer, we caught a ride from an auto-rickshaw driver who let us out without charging us because he didn’t have a shirt. He was wearing a shirt, but not the usual tan color button down. Yep, still in a foreign land. Then we argued with a bunch more auto-rickshaw drivers and stalked off in rejection saying, Uber muthafucka, and one followed us agreeing to do the trip for meter plus Rs. 10 (for the return trip). So we went to the Kappi Shop, where our friends, formerly known as the Fam (Bijoy and Soumia), gave me a birthday papaya. This piece of fruit came from the tree just outside their restaurant (called a hotel here…it gets easier). When they had us over for thali lunch during the hartal, most of the food we ate came from the 12 acres of land around their house. When they gave me a birthday present, it was from the tree 20 feet from where I sat. I fucking love this place. To make quick work of the hiccup…bad dinner, complaint letter, immediate response and refund. Yep.[…]

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