Charged with finally climbing the Great Wall of China (see Being a Tourist – Home + Away), I found myself rather susceptible to further adventures.
Was catching up with colleagues in the Hong Kong office, when A piped up “Hey M and I are going to Vietnam this long weekend, why don’t you join us?” The plan was to meet in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), then tour the Mekong Delta, including a home stay on an island, spend another night in HCMC before flying out. Initially, I dismissed the notion as hadn’t been home for three weeks. However said, would think about it…
I recently saw a new film “The Lunchbox” or “Dabba” by Ritesh Batra starring Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur. It was a private preview screening for cast, crew, family and friends before the official world premier in Cannes this weekend. My interest was a chance to see my partner on-screen – playing the role of Irrfan’s boss. Irrfan’s character Saajan Fernandez is a taciturn claims officer in a public insurance company, about to retire after 35 years of service. Nimrat plays Ila, a young middle class housewife and mother.
The premise of the story is that Saajan and Ila’s husband’s lunch dabbas are mistakenly switched when delivered by Mumbai’s dabba wallas. Saajan, a widower, has a neighbourhood restaurant send him lunch in office. Whereas Ila carefully prepares her husband’s lunch, hoping to re-capture his drifting regard through the quality and inventiveness of her culinary creations. She is amazed one day when the dabba is returned home with the food so relished that the container was uncharacteristically licked clean!
The domestic activities part of day-to-day life here in India often strikes our guests as fascinating. So many services and little life luxuries that are simply not available or affordable for most folks in the west. However convenience comes with a price, and for me, the morning routine can sometimes lead to a serious bout of grouchiness with the incessant ringing of the doorbell.
You have to understand, I am decidedly NOT a morning person… it is best to not expect a coherent conversation until after my second cappuccino. However much I yearn for an easy morning ritual, I instead contend with a series of door bells which typically goes like this:
Often visitors provide the best opportunity to play being a “tourist at home”… exploring familiar sights with new eyes. A few years ago, I was fortunate to benefit from the reverse phenomenon in China.
During my first trip to China, I was battling a nasty cold. Undeterred, I still planned to see the Great Wall and enlisted the help of a dear friend from Canada – a bosa nova diva based in Beijing. She suggested we take a motorcycle tour – in theory a great idea. However, morning came and neither of us were in any shape to make the trek. The cold, dreary, overcast day didn’t help, however truth be told, we were just in no condition to do justice to one of the Seven Wonders of the World!