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The Quirky Life of P

Humor and satire revolving around Mr P- a fictional mix of an avatar of Mr Bean and the veritable Bertram Wooster of Wodehouse fame.

Archive for the tag “India”

Dances with elephants-Mr P takes a joy ride!

There is nothing wrong in dreaming about riding an elephant! Mr P wanted to ride an elephant, get his picture taken in that glory, and post it on Facebook. This wish had budded in his mind ever since he saw the movie Bride and Prejudice, where the hero and heroine rode on an elephant in the last scene. Mr P had thought it was pretty cool!

So this time on his tour to India, P visited the elephant park at Kottoor in Kerala. As soon as he reached the place, P booked his ride straight away. He was given a time to turn up at a spot for his ride and in the meantime, P decided to take a walk around the park. He saw several elephants – they ranged from very young, hairy ones to huge giants. It was then that P realized that all of a sudden he was actually getting quite nervous about riding an elephant. P began to feel that he needed to keep at a distance from them, even from the baby ones. The baby elephants were too playful and seemed to want to tickle his ears with their trunks! As for the big, adult elephants, he felt them giving him such deep looks as if they knew all his darkest secrets! Of course he had heard about how intelligent elephants were.

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He now started having serious reservations about the elephant ride but was worried that if he withdrew now, it would make him look like a coward.  So, when the time came, he made his way to the location with shaking legs. The mahout was waiting for him with a huge elephant.

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Faint heartedly, P gazed at the large mammal which seemed to give him a mean, disdainful look.

“Can I have a ride on that elephant?” Mr P asked pointing to a frolicking baby elephant that stood some distance away.

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“Oh! No sir! It is too small to carry people. We only use adult elephants for rides,” said the mahout.

With no way of escape, P decided to climb on top of the giant that had now bent down on its knees at the instance of the mahout.

“If Tarzan can do it, so can I,” muttered Mr P as he proceeded to mount.

Climbing onto the back of an elephant was indeed a feat and after several aborted attempts, P finally made it to the top. As the elephant stood up erect, he sat astride on its back. Those who have sat astride on top of an elephant would realize how wide apart you have to keep your legs! It was almost like doing the splits!

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As the elephant moved forward, P felt very uncomfortable, so much so that he decided to change his position to side-straddle. Slowly he moved his legs around and finally managed to get them both together and down on one side of the elephant. However, on sitting sideways he found that he had moved too much to one side. As the elephant walked, P kept slithering and sliding further down the side of the elephant every time it moved. His silky, smooth track pants only aggravated the situation.

P decided that falling down from the top of an elephant would not be an enjoyable experience. So a flustered Mr P then decided to return back to his original position and sit astride. He started moving his legs around once more. However, he had lost his sense of orientation in his anxiety and when he finished adjusting his seating, he found that he was sitting astride facing the tail end of the elephant! So P started to turn around again.

Changing one’s position atop a moving elephant is not an easy task for a person riding an elephant for the first time, but misfortune had not glanced his way, ……. yet. With the last move however, P nearly fell off and was saved only by grabbing the rope around the elephant’s neck. Somehow he maneuvered himself back on top. He was now lying prostrate on top of the elephant, facing its tail end and hugging the animal for dear life. Hearing a loud applause he slowly lifted up his head and saw that he had gathered a huge audience. A big crowd had gathered and was watching P’s antics on top of the elephant. No one could be blamed if they thought they were watching an atop-the-elephant-acrobatic show and were showing their appreciation with a loud ovation.

The elephant and the mahout however, had no such conceptions. The stressed probiscidean was getting very nervous and the mahout decided to end the joy ride. Very soon (though it felt like eternity to P), the elephant stopped moving and the mahout got it to kneel down. He gathered brave Mr P from the back of the animal. P had nearly fainted. A big cheering from the crowd got P standing up on his wobbly legs to acknowledge their appreciation but saw that the applause was intended for the elephant and the mahout. With an end to all the wriggling on its back, the Elephas maximus indicus breathed a deep sigh of relief and stood up.  The mahout and the elephant looked traumatised as they slowly walked away. They probably would need counselling! No pictures or videos were taken, so Facebook missed a hilarious upload!

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The Intricacies and Pitfalls of Indian Cooking and Mr P!

Mr P was in a flurry. He had a guest G, from overseas, coming for breakfast and he wanted to make an impression. Initially he thought he would make Dosa. Dosas in their simple form are nice, thin, pancakes made from ground rice and black gram made into a paste and fermented overnight.

Mr P’s cook could make somewhat well-shaped and tasty Dosas but unfortunately it was her day off. Mr P could never cook well-shaped, circular Dosas. He would have been happy even if they were not perfectly round but turned out at least in the shape of Sri Lanka or even Australia. Sadly however, Mr P’s Dosas were often the shape of India, America and some other countries of the world including New Zealand, Singapore and Japan! So when Mr P thought about it further he was not that sure about serving Dosa to his guest. Moreover, the last time when Mr P had tried to cook a Dosa all by himself, it had developed an attitude and a mind of its own and had refused to come off the pan.

Finally he had to scrape out bits of sticky mess from the pan which in no way looked anywhere related to a Dosa. In fact it had resembled the humble Upma. With this thought, Mr P’s mind that had been flitting like a butterfly in the garden of Indian breakfast gastronomy, suddenly settled on Upma.  

The Upma had become world famous when it had helped Floyd Cardoz in New York, to walk home with the award for Top Chef Master Season 3, of 2011. Mr P in all his humbleness was confident of beating any Top Chef Master in Upma preparation. After all wasn’t it a South Indian preparation and who else could claim to cook it better than Mr P? He also decided to make tea the Indian way to serve with the Upma.

Before continuing with this anecdote, let me impart this knowledge for those who are not aware of the intricacies of Indian cooking. Upma is prepared by adding roasted semolina into the correct quantity of water while it is boiling. The name Upma is derived from two words. The first word, Up for Uppu, means salt or salty. The second word is Ma and you have definitely got it wrong if you think Upma means Salty Mother!!!  

The term Ma stands for Mavu which means dough. So together Upma means salty dough and it is easy to guess that salt is a major ingredient. The required amount of salt is to be added into the boiling water before the semolina. Ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and sometimes onions are added to give flavor. In Kerala, plenty of grated coconut is also added.

The traditional Indian way of preparing tea or “chai” is by boiling water on the stove and adding tea leaves/powder directly into that water. Sugar is also added into that boiling water and the liquid is then strained and mixed with boiled milk.

“Easy meal to prepare” thought Mr P and roasted a cup of semolina for the Upma first. He then put a pot of water for tea on one burner and a pot of water on the other burner for the Upma. The cooking went off incident free and the Upma appeared to be alright albeit a little bit sticky.

Guest G arrived on time and Mr P served the Upma and the tea to his guest. We can imagine how lyrical Mr P would have been praising the Upma as a wholesome food and what a winner it was at the Top Chef Master competition.

G put a spoonful of Upma in his mouth. Mr P waited eagerly for a comment and the guest cleared his throat. “Interesting”, he said. G was in a cover-up mode and with a face devoid of any expression, hastily took the cup of tea in his hand. 

Mr P tasted the Upma then. It was slightly sweet. But was there any salt in it? No, not a teeny-weeny bit! Nil! None! Nada! The “Salty dough” was totally salt free, unsavory and unpalatable! 

“Where did all the salt that I put in the water go?” Mr P wondered. He glanced at G furtively. G had taken a big sip of the tea to wash down the bad taste of the Upma from his mouth…. 

A tortured look came over G’s face and he gagged…. in an involuntary retching reflex!

Mr P in Kiel amidst the throes of labour…..

Kleiner Kiel

The place where this tale took place was Kiel in Germany. Kiel is the state capital of Schleswig-Holstein and has a long ship-building and naval tradition. A group of Indian submariners were deputed there to get trained and be involved with the assembling of some submarines that India was buying from Germany. The navy men could take their families also  with them and it happened that a lot of the accompanying wives were pregnant. It is with one such family that Mr P stayed to save on boarding charges on a trip to Germany.

As his host officer could not take a day off from work, Mr P volunteered to escort the wife who had reached full term to the hospital for a scheduled check up. Three other pregnant ladies also then tagged along for check ups as their husbands could not leave work as well. So Mr P drove all four ladies to the hospital and after reporting at the reception they all sat on chairs waiting for their names to be called for the doctor to see them. While Mr P sat down, the four fully pregnant ladies sat on either side. Can you imagine the spectacle it would have made in that German city? No wonder the local people who walked in and went through the reception area looked stunned, stared and kept giving furtive looks at the four women and Mr P sitting in the middle. After getting a lot of these strange looks, Mr P realised what was happening. He understood that people thought all four fully pregnant ladies were his resposibility and he was to be blamed for their condition. Mr P felt embarrassed. He started to sweat and turned red. Somehow he got up and distanced himself from the ladies till all their check ups were finished and it was time to go home.

He had to go back to the hospital again a few days later as his hostess was going into labour and the husband was not at home to take her. After he phoned and the husband reached the hospital, Mr P planned to make a speedy exit. However a couple more ladies in labour were also admitted into the hospital at the same time and Mr P’s friend arrived with the other two husbands. The usual routine in the hospital was that these ladies would have to get out of their clothes and get into hospital gowns. They would also have to remove their jewelry and hand them to someone for safekeeping.

From one of the rooms a nurse came out and asked for the husband. Mr P immediately understood that it was probably for taking care of the jewelry. He also understood that only the husband could go in as the lady would be without any clothes. He rushed and summoned his host officer who was just coming in and took him to the room and hurried him in to see his wife. Mr P wisely stayed back.

Mr P’s friend who went in saw the lady and she certainly did not have any clothes on. But then she was surely wife,…………………………………………….. only to somebody else!!!

Funny travel incidents: Mr P, “Figura” and the lion…

LionsIn a previous post (http://avatarofmrbean.blogspot.com/2012/01/avatar-of-mr-bean-mr-p-goes-back-to.html ) Mr P had forgotten his parcel of party food on his desk because of all that Australian wine. It is no way as big an adventure that he had had through his interactions with a port wine in India, with the beautiful name of “Figura”. 

It was during his holidays in India that Mr P travelled to Diu, (let me settle your doubts right now. It is indeed DIU and NOT DUI) a union territory of India, that till 1961 had been under the Portuguese  for more than 400 years, where remnants of Portuguese culture still linger.The Portuguese are believed to take pride in their wines, especially the port wines. 

Now, Mr P had a very relaxing holiday on the beaches of Diu and bought two large bottles of the Figura port wine, one for himself and another as a gift for a friend back in Kochi. He then proceeded to travel in a car with two others to Baroda in the neighbouring state of Gujarat. This journey was through the road that traversed the Gir forests famous for its diverse flora and fauna and of course the Asiatic lions. Mr P was all excited about this trip and he would vehemently deny that he had been even a tiny bit scared! But he consumed half a bottle of Figura just before they departed from Diu – for courage!

Mr P sat in front with the driver and his two companions sat at the back. As the car wound its way through the jungle road, Mr P rested his eyes (Or was he in a stupor from the port?). His companions kept their eyes peeled, hoping and praying that they would see some lions, Mr P however, was praying that they wouldn’t. Every now and then he would open his eyes slowly to check whether they were out of the jungle yet. He would also open his eyes when he heard the others mention the deer and other fauna they were seeing. But by the time he roused himself and looked out, the animal would have long gone its way. It was during one of his “open eye episodes” that he thought he saw something in the bushes. 

“A lion! A lion!”, he pointed and then slunk down his seat in a crouch. 

“Where is it sir?” said the driver and brought the car to a crawl.

“Right behind that clump of trees”, Mr P managed to point out and slunk down again.

Now, a bus loaded with tourists and a car following it  came from the opposite direction and they stopped and inquired why Mr P’s car was stopping there. Seeing a lot more of his own species, Mr P gathered courage and blurted out that he had seen a lion and all the tourists got very excited. They got their cameras out and started gazing all around. 

The driver of Mr P’s car then realised that Mr P’s lion was nothing other than a portion of a big tree trunk and surreptitiously informed that to Mr P. To save the situation, a sheepish Mr P told the passengers in the bus and the other car that because of all the noise they made, the lion could have disappeared back into the forest.  Mr P was relieved indeed when his driver slowly started the car again and began to drive away.

To overcome the embarrassment and also to give him more courage, Mr P decided to take another swig of his bottle of the Figura. It was a very potent wine and he could hardly keep his eyes open. He was hoping to take the rest of the wine to Gujarat and said as much to the driver who was eying him curiously.

“No, you are not allowed to do that sir,” said the driver. “Gujarat  is a dry state”.

“What the…..!” Mr P shouted. He huffed and he puffed. And he brooded on what could be done. Rather than waste the wine on his companions or throw the wine with the bottle away before they crossed the borders into Gujarat, Mr P being Mr P decided to finish the whole bottle of wine then and there. A very inebriated Mr P fell into a slumber that was interspersed with nightmares of lions sitting on his tummy, which made him wake up and get the car to stop – so he could empty his bladder. It was during one such occasion that Mr P saw those two lions. They were slinking slowly across the road and Mr P gave a shrill ear-piercing cry.

“Lions ! Lions!” he shouted at the top of his lungs and jolted everybody else out of their skins.

The others looked eagerly to where Mr P was pointing and saw those two scared little puppies that appeared to be trembling, quite shaken by Mr P’s screams. They belonged to the dog or canine species (Canis lupus familiaris) rather than the feline species (Felidae panthera leo)!

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The story ends here and it is left to your imagination as to what could have happened with the rest of Mr P’s journey. Of course, it being Mr P, one can only imagine that everything would have gone incident free(tongue in cheek)!  

Of course Mr P would have had to go through a police check post into a dry state with a full bottle of the gift wine in his bags! What with all the lion encounters and the tryst with ‘La Bella Figura’, he had completely forgotten about that!

Did you?

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