Malgudi Days

Malgudi Days

More than one friend has complained that I have neglected to report on Tenzing’s visit to South India at the end of March. I have been a bit busy. But better late than never.

The trip was absolutely wonderful for all concerned. We met Betsy and Zing at the Chennai airport around midnight and, following their 20+ hour flight, put them straight onto an overnight train to Kerala. Our thinking was that if they were jetlagged, we could stay up all night and talk; and if they were exhausted, overnight train journeys always provide great sleep. Zing, of course was thrilled by his first chance to ride on a real train. He ran around Madras Central Station like the energizer bunny until the train pulled in at 2:30 am, no-doubt bugging the hell out of the hundreds of people splayed-out on the floor, trying to get a little sleep. If he wasn’t quite sure what to make of them, I’m sure the feeling was mutual.

We spend the first several days in a village in Kerala, staying at the ancestral home of a friend which has been recently restored and is run as a homestay. We spent our days walking the plantations and hills and swimming in the rivers. During one swim, we shared the river with six elephants, who were led into the water by their mahoots for an afternoon bath.

BJ to Zing: “Boo, try not to drink the river water.”
Zing: “Why mama?”
BJ: “It’s not so clean, and we don’t want you to get diarrhea.”
Zing: “I hope the fishies don’t get diarrhea.”

Our day in Kochin introduced Tenzing to one of his favorite things on the trip: autorickshaws. “Noonie, are you sure we don’t need to take an autorickshaw?” Zing would ask as we walked the streets. “Not right now,” Yoo-Mi would reply. “Well, you just let me know when we need one and I’ll call it for us.”

We spent a few days in Madurai, in the company of two of my favorite women in the world, Vara and Deepa Krishnan, and took the overnight bus home to Pondicherry. Zing loved the idea of a bus with beds and announced that he had slept very well upon our crack-of-dawn arrival.

The time in Pondicherry was low-key — a chance for BJ and Zing to meet our friends and see how we live when we are in India. Puru and Maya knocked themselves out with hospitality, as always, even inviting Zing to the Ashram sports grounds to run through the sprinklers on mornings when they were watering. One of his favorite pastimes was simply playing with the kids in the tiny lanes of Kuruchikuppam. Zing’s Tamil is not what it might be, but he found that a big-hearted “Namaste!” always served him well.

Sadly for you, the vow of silence prevents me from disclosing Tenzing’s favorite thing to do in Pondicherry. What happens in Pondy stays in Pondy!


1 Response to “Malgudi Days”

  1. 1 viral 8 June 2007 at 12:54 am

    this was great — was looking forward to hearing more, even if what happened in pondy stayed in pondy!

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