Monday, September 27, 2010

2001: An American Odyssey

I came to this country for the first time in 2001. I had a few reality checks within a week of my existence:
  1. I am not tall, broad or obese by global standards
  2. Neither am I a voracious eater, again by global standards
  3. Most parts of the country does not look like Times Square (or The Wild West, for that matter)
  4. Scantily clad gorgeous blondes are not likely to pounce upon you, your character or your virginity (or whatever is left of it) from every nook and corner
  5. Every stranger you pass is bound to ask you of your health and well-being with zero real concern about it
  6. You can not hail a taxi out of nowhere
  7. Burly police officers do not chase random criminals across any road
  8. On subsequent trips, I also came to know that you are supposed to do everything that a cohort of servants had been doing for you since childhood. However, staying in a hotel has its advantages, and I was spared, just this once.
There were surprises waiting for me in the hotel as well. There was a spacious bathtub, and of course I was tempted to fill it with water at first go. Okay, I know now that it was no jacuzzi, but then, decades of Hollywooding would obviously tempt you to do a Marilyn Monroe (yes, yes, the gender, but it's not about posing like her, it's about basking in the same glamour, only without the camera, get what I mean?).

So then, in I went, with a book (For Whom the Bell Tolls, possibly). Within a minute I realised a few things:
  1. I had completely forgotten about a certain Archimedes and his stab at glory. My volume exceeded the difference between the volumes of the bathtub and the volume of water in it, and as a result, there was a spill. This is more serious than it sounds, as American bathrooms are typically dry bathrooms, with no water outlet outside the pot, the sink and the bathtub. There is no drain in the dry section of the bathroom (okay, restroom), and hence if you spill water from the bathtub you either mop it, or wait for evaporation to take over. Room service wasn't really happy about it.
  2. Reading in a jacuzzi (or an adapted version of it, like a hotel bathtub) might be cool, but it's not really a comfortable option. Your back (and other entities below it) get shoved against hard porcelain; you move an inch, and you're very likely to wet your book; even trivial activities like poking your nose or scratching your back meant you'd have to raise your elbow, or any other wet part of your body outside the water, which would again make you wet the book.
But the most spectacular aspect of the bathroom was, in my opinion, the coffee-maker. I was impressed by the fact that it was placed next to the commode (I hate the word pot). I have seen only three things that compare to this:
  1. A funeral centre next to an old-age home on Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC.
  2. A vulture's nest next to a window (the very window of my mother's cabin during her hernia operation in 1993) of the sixth (?) floor of Belle Vue Nursing Home.
  3. An ill-reputed (supposedly) brothel close to Pradeep, famous for being flooded at around 3 PM everyday when the high tide water came in and for screening C-grade pornographic (again, supposedly) movies (though I clearly remember Vijaypath having a release there, first day, first show).
And even that wasn't all: next to the gallant coffee-maker, complete with instructions, neatly stacked and supposed to be replenished every day, lay four honest Styrofoam glasses, one inside another, upside down; and innocuous pouches of coffee, milk powder and sugar.

And then I examined the labels: the coffee said decaffeinated; the milk said non-dairy creamer; and the sugar said artificial sweetener. For a moment I thought whether I was an Abhishek impostor myself, looked at the mirror, verified my picture on the passport and calmed down. Okay, not the last bit.

I was catapulted into America that very moment.


7 comments:

  1. besh bhalo likhechho :) specially bathtub-er experience-ta. tobey ami bathtub-e ghumiye dekhechhi. pleasant experience. khali pore ghaar-e ektu byatha hoy.

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  2. Durdhorsho. Aekbar gym theke fire (walking up the hill, down the hill, and up the hill again throw a full day's wet, heavy snow) I slipped into amader dorm bathroomer bathtub, tortured musclegulo relax korte. Hothat jege uthe dekhi, size e chhoto bole (height pNaach feet kNachkola) kokhon slide korte korte bosha theke showa hoye gechhi.

    Naake aste aste jol dhukchhilo bole dhormor kore jege uthechhilam, noyto arektu holei sholil shomadhi hochhilo aarki!

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  3. lekha niye notun r ki boli???motamuti sob lekha e to ekdom hourglass figure-er sundori toruni..kothao medadhikyo nei..shuskong kasthong o na...:P
    jhorjhore tortore..mon kara..:)

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  4. I had a similar experience in Brazil in the bathtub but being a scientist I carefully pulled out the drain plug as I stepped in...Saved me from the evil looks of the room service :)

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  5. I cant believe i missed this post all this while... had a great laugh... Again brilliant writing

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  6. oshadharon...Mr.Mukherjee, cannot but praise the beatific usage of fantastic sense of humour and very very acute and precise observation.

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