One Lump or Two

Pondy Bedding

By the time we landed in Chennai, we had been flying for more than 24 hours, combined, in addition to layovers in Seoul and Singapore. So despite the relatively comfortable flights and what seemed to be a sufficient amount of in-flight napping, Yoo-Mi and I were pretty well exhausted by the time we trudged through customs and went to collect our bags. It was nearing midnight, and we still had a three-hour drive to Pondicherry ahead of us.

“At least we get to sleep in our own beds tonight,” I cracked, invoking that payer of gratitude uttered universally by weary travelers returning home.

“Not funny!” Yoo-Mi shot back, laughing in spite of herself.

Sadly, this is about as funny as tragic, ironic humor gets (if I may say so myself). We hadn’t seen our little room-on-the-roof in eight months; but last we heard, it was still leaking under the soaking of November’s monsoon. And irrespective of how damp or arid, moldy or pristine, our fifteen square meters of heaven might be when we got there, our beds were never going to be any more comfortable than they are on their driest, freshest nights: thin and lumpy.

It is no exaggeration to say that I have spent more comfortable nights sleeping on marble floors (Bombay), park benches (Hiroshima, London), stairwells (New York), and granite shelves (Sierra Nevada) than on our Indian bedding. To paraphrase Ray Charles: “If it wasn’t for bad padding y’all, it wouldn’t have no padding at all.”

By 3:00 a.m. we were finally home, surveying the wreckage. Things were not nearly as trashed as we had expected, without being remotely as clean, dry, or orderly as I dared against all reason to hope. We decided to sleep until morning, and deal with the mess then. “At least we get to sleep in our own beds,” I mentioned one last time as sleep overcame discomfort.

Like many non-comics, I always find a joke becomes funnier upon incessant retelling.

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1 Response to “One Lump or Two”


  1. 1 Kendall Mau 1 December 2006 at 9:55 pm

    You 2 are truly remarkable. Sorry I didn’t get to see you again before you left. You know there’s always a hot meal waiting chez Kendall. Best of success.


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