DAY FOUR (22nd August 2007) : The Times of Victoria (?)
Ra and I took our leave from Zebi in the afternoon. It had been a very funny, adventurous one day trip we had had and both of us felt bad at having had to call it a day. (Incidentally, I forgot to mention that Zebi is putting a lot of my stupid, rotten and incredibly egregious stuff that I would not want to be reminded of as mine, to very good and productive use! Three cheers for him for recycling useless shit into products enhancing market value. Now there's an Engineer (or designer or whatever)!)
I had seen the Engineer's India Ltd. building while I was roaming around Delhi and had been reminded of Shandy being employed there. However, having not known his address and all, I had promptly forgotten about it all. Then Ra mentioned Shandy's residence to be close by and we decided to pay him a visit of sorts.
SHANDY has been the beacon of Victorian mannerisms and etiquettes in this boorish and uncultivated world. And he has been the only one to have known more about English language and history than probably a couple of retired professors in Oxford or Cambridge. Those who don't know him will freak out when they do. Those who do, will take comfort in the fact that he hasn't changed a single teeny-weeny bit!
He lived right behind the infamous charred remains of Upahar Cinema as a paying guest of a Surd who looks younger than Shandy but is actually 63 years old!
We met Shandy in his dhinchak A/C room and cooled off for a while. His 'errand boys' were from Bareilly and Kanpur (:P) and he talked to them in atrociously pronounced Hindi. He was a walking image of Lord Cornwallis treating natives with due deference, bearing the White Man's burden all the while! (Incidentally, Shandy's favourite writer is Rudyard Kipling). Ra and I just couldn't stop laughing. I wish I had a camera then!
The impeccable host that Shandy is, he took us to a restaurant close by and sponsored our lunch even though we were famished when we started. He then took us to the Deer Park which was close by. (It is a brilliant place by the way. If you're close to Safdarjung Enclave/Hauz Khas and have time on your hands, do visit).
We walked around the forest (yes, for all practical purposes it is a forest, right in the heart of Delhi!) spotting deer, peacock, ducks in their ponds etc while I told Shandy of the Series of Unfortunate Events from yesterday. He also took us to many ruins (they are right there in the Deer Park) dating back five hundred years or more and explained to us ignoramuses, salient architectural features and styles used in building them.
However, time was short in supply as Ra and I had plans to go to Gurgaon and visit my cousin Bittu Bhaiya there. So we hastily went to a Madrasi eatery and had some coffee (Shandy poured tons of sugar in his coffee...one two three four five six spoonfuls!) and took leave, I at least not knowing when I would see Shandy again!
1) I: What do you think of Delhi?
Shandy: It is a city of boors.
(I fondly remember another such instance which was Shandian in a very forceful way. We were being interviewed for entry into NewsWagon and Sahil asked Shandy "What do you have to say about the level of English in college (NIT Surathkal)?"
Shandy to Sahil : Deplorable(!))
2) Shandy: Mr Dwivedi, I must say your English is deteriorating
I : (Sheepishly) Well, I am going to the US.
Shandy: That explains a lot!
Forty minutes of standing on the AIIMS road convinced us that finding conveyance to Gurgaon would hardly be simple. In fact Ra backed out and after literally pushing me in a cab en route to Gurgaon already stuffed with fourteen people, he bade me goodbye. He had not known that his company badge lay safe, ensconced within the deep pockets of my bag and that he would have to return to Delhi to reclaim it.
Bear Hunt and Chicken curry in Gurgaon
It's too bad that I don't have pictures to prove it but the Power Grid Township in Gurgaon is so much like NGV (National Games Village) in Kormangala, Bangalore that I was surprised at the observation (actually it's a couple of notches above NGV in most matters).
It was decided that I would be rolling there and Bittuya would begin making chicken the way he used to in Nazarbagh. His culinary skills have not deteriorated with the passage of time and tasting the food in the night was a veritable trip down the memory lane. Bear hunt was also organised and time was conveniently expended in discussing important and unimportant stuff and making plans for the giant 29" TV that was going to be bought and the Playstation that would make its appearance there! Bittuya's roomie was from Lucknow too and somehow or the other, I have the feeling that country bumpkins always have a nice time together!