Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Christmas from Rob

Hope you all are having/have had a happy christmas! I will tell you briefly of my Christmas Day in case some of you wacko's are inarested in that crap....

First off, I woke up bright and early because Glenn was up to go for his run. "Merry Chrithmaph."

"Merry Christmas," he replied. Right at that moment I thought, hey I shoulda got him something for xmas. Then he threw a crumpled up shirt at me. "Here, open your present." Figures. I actually thought of getting Glenn a present, only it was 1.7 seconds before he gave me his present. People are always doing that kind of thing to me.

"Huh what? Now? But I am still in bed.... Alright..." So I unfolded his shirt and lo I uncovered a compass. I can't tell you what a great gift this was. If we had had it at the beginning of the trip, we probably would've seen ALL of India by now, because we spend half our time lost. I'll admit it, I am not the greatest navigator sometimes. Especially when all we have to go on are crumby maps from our guide books and vague directions from people on the street. Then the whole time we also have to watch out for piles of poo, not get hit by traffic while walking on the wrong side of the road and ignoring rickshaw drivers and beggars. It can be a bit disorientating and sometimes all I want to know is what friggin direction is north anyway?

After Glenn came back from his run, his face looked like a guava. We went and had a terrific breakfast at Kashi Art Cafe where they serve you your own little bodum of coffee for 30 Rs. Basically they have a set menu and this morning for it was a mountain of fruit and some kind of really good loaf/cake that just came out of the oven. It is definitly a tourist place, but I am telling you they would be pulling in at least 8 dollars a plate in Canada. Their lunches usually consist of some kind of really simple and good soup and sandwich. Anyway...We thought we should do something cool for Xmas so I tried to rent motorbikes again but it was too late in the day and they were all gone so instead we decided we would try to secure some kind of turkey dinner. I knew that it would be an ordeal. Anything not straight off the menu in India is an ordeal. Like if you are at a restaurant and they offer honey pancake and they offer banana pancake and you ask for a banana-honey pancake which is not listed in the menu, then I really don't know what you are going to get. Even if we explain it a couple times we are never really sure if he will come back with what was ordered or if he will come back with 2 separate pancakes, one honey and one banana. One time I was at a place that actually had real espresso so naturally I wanted an Americano, which for those of you who don't know is just an espresso with a little bit of hot water added to it. At this joint you write down your order yourself but they didnt have Americano, but it is very straight forward so I just wrote out the recipe like this:

-Americano (2 shots of espresso + hot water in one cup)

That's pretty clear isn't it? And then when I gave the order to the waitress, I explained to her what I wanted. Can you guess what I got? 2 shots of espresso in 2 separate cups, no water on the side or anywhere. This kind of stuff happens all the time, and thats fine, you just have to get used to expecting to be disappointed. Then on the other hand you can be amazed with how awesome something turns out to be.

I kinda digressed there, but my point was that everything in India can be an ordeal, so steeled myself before I took Glenn's guide book and started dialing up high end hotels. The first one I called was supposed to be a bona fide 5 star hotel. After dialing 3 times because the call would not go through, finally I heard a voice on the other end. I asked if their restaurant offered Christmas turkey dinner. He yelled something in my ear, to someone else in the room and then put me on hold. No real receptionist at a real 5 star hotel would yell in someone's ear, I thought. I waited for a minute listening to the music in the phone which might have been India's national anthem or something. It sounded very patriotic. Eventually someone picked up the other end.

"Hello, Can I help you"
"Yes, I was wondering if any of your restaurants(they have 6 by the way) are offering christmas dinner tonight?"
"Yes, I am trying to find somewhere that offers turkey dinner..."
"Well what do you want me to do?" That made me laugh.
"I want you to tell me if you have turkey dinner."
"Where are you calling from sir?"
"Fort Cochin, Park Avenue Hotel..." Long pause. "Uh..Is this the Taj Malabar?"
"No, this is the operator."
"Uhh ok-thx-bye." Click.

This is what happens when you try to do stuff in India. The secret is, I hear, don't give up on your first try. I phoned the other two hotels we had and one said they were not doing anything special, that I could just have "a la card" and the other said they had a real roast turkey dinner--last night. At this point I was ready to just give up but Glenn told me to phone the first place again. Whats the point, I wondered, it's not going to work anyway. I dialed the stupid number and got the same person who yelled in my ear before. "Hello, Can you tell me if any of your restaurants offer a Christmas dinner?" Once again I got yelled at and was put on hold. This time though I managed to get through. The line was very quiet, but after 7 or 8 minutes I managed to secure a reservation at 2 o'clock for "Mr. Roe." I told her "R-O-B as in banana," but it didn't matter. It is not worth it to push points like that when you are in India, it just is not worth the effort. So what if my name is Mr. Roe. Anyway, the rest of the story you know from Glenn, and I have to go to bed because this place is closing. Tomorrow we head about 3 or 4 hours inland to a place called Munnar where there are the highest elevated tea fields or something or other, but it actually sounds very nice.

Bon Soir and Joie Noel.

Mr. Roe.


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