Monday Morning Musings

Posted on January 2, 2017 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

Sunrise Point, Kanyakumari, India.

“ So don’t be sad, cause two out of three ( 1 out of 3 ) ain’t bad.”

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad . Meatloaf


I had given a lot of thought before entering the convent. When a person reaches retirement age, they are far less prone to doing anything too adventurous. It is generally a time of reflection, relaxation and reminiscing. How about that for the “three R’s ?” But going through the front door of a convent requires contemplation, consultation and capitulation. One must take vows.

I am happy to report that the perpetual vow of poverty will not be necessary due to demonetization in India. If I can’t find cash in a city of ten million, then money will hardly be a temptation in a town of about 30,000 people.

Before travelling to Kanyakumari,  on my “ journey of discovery,” I gave it the good old college try and tried to secure some rupees to help pay my expenses. So, I spent my final two days in Hyderabad walking the streets trying to pry some money out of the ATM’s. Yes, I intentionally went looking for lineups because I heeded the advice of a woman I met one morning next to an empty ATM kiosk. “ No crowd. No cash. “

My first stop was a pleasant surprise as there were only about 15 people in front of me. Figuring that each transaction takes about a minute and knowing  full well that people carry multiple cards with them ( their own, their friends, granny’s etc. ), I estimated an ETA of about 45 minutes. The second surprise wasn’t so pleasant as the machine flatly refused to cough up the dough. It rejected both of my debit cards. Undeterred I moved on. I thought I must be suffering heat exhaustion and was seeing things when I spied an ATM with only two people in line. I thought about calling Rome to report a miracle. I was in and out in under 5 minutes. By the time I left, 25 people had quickly joined the queue. The last attempt yielded an all too familiar out. I was two steps from the finish line when the machine ran out of money. The trifecta completed, I decided that enough was enough and hoped and prayed that Kanyakumari accepted credit cards.

Much to my shock, they held a surprise going away party for me at my residence in Hyderabad the night before I left. I was a bit embarrassed that they would go to this trouble. After all, I had only been there two months which hardly warranted this type of treatment. It is very rare indeed that any of us are really surprised when we reach a momentous birthday and friends or a spouse arranges a covert gathering. You act shocked but come on, when you turn 100 , you know that even the Queen is going to acknowledge it. It is one thing to do it in broad daylight but in the darkness of your bedroom? Now that’s a real coup.

I had turned out the lights and was closing in on REM sleep when they attacked with a fury. Every mosquito in Manikonda, Hyderabad formed a guard of honor around my head. Earlier that evening, I had made the fatal mistake of not closing all my windows at dusk when mosquitoes are at their worst. When their leader yelled  “ attack”, I felt the full sting of their assault. Yes. I pulled the covers over my head but when it’s still 28  degrees outside, that loses its charm quickly. Instead of a restful night before a long day of travel, I swatted and scratched until the wee hours of the morning. Some party.

One more thing. I decided on my last day ( when I was not in an ATM lineup ) to do one touristy thing. I decided to visit Fort Golkonda, an important and historic landmark in Hyderabad. It is a massive structure and the view from the top is quite stunning. Of course, I walked there because it was only 5 kilometres away. To get there you have to go through a very narrow s-turned archway that is the width of three motorcycles.. or two auto rickshaws.. or 1.5 taxis. A pedestrian walks through there only if being chased by pirates. It was rush hour in early evening ( I wanted to get a good picture of the sunset ) when I arrived at the arches. Mercifully, they had  traffic cops at either end of the archway. I very carefully made my way through.

Once through the gates, you have to walk about another kilometer through a small town to get to the fort. To add to the congestion, this strip of real estate was under construction reducing passage to a motorcycle and auto rickshaw, or three hungry goats. This was the most dangerous walk of my entire two months… possibly in my life! There were times when I had to turn sideways and suck in my gut to make sure that I wasn’t going to get crushed. It was somewhat unnerving. I finally threw in the towel and as silly as it sounds, I accepted a free ride for the last few hundred yards  from a rickshaw driver who saw me in my hour of need.

This dude would have made Mario Andretti proud. He and his other passenger ( obviously a friend ) were joyriding through this footpath called a road. I am convinced that they were enjoying some recently acquired amphetamines as they played “ chicken” with every vehicle in their sights. I paid him 100 rupees to let me out.

I made a quick trip to the top of the fort. As I neared the summit, I heard a blood curdling scream. I feared that someone had gone over the side of one of the ramparts. This was followed by more screams and when I turned around, I saw what was the source of the consternation. There was a school tour of grade 9 girls. And why the pandemonium? A Bieber sighting perhaps ? No. The  sight of a 65 year old bald white guy had sent them all a twitter. I posed for selfies galore , made my descent and walked home in the dark… to attend a surprise going away party.

Happy New Year.

P.S. MAN COLD ALERT. As I write this, I am in the throes of a man cold. I will give you an update on Thursday provided that I live that long!


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