An old friend wrote from Paris the other day. “Life is wonderful”, he said. “There’s not much work and I stay at home a lot. I watch TV and cook biriyani. I am very good at both. My wife has stopped shouting at me. She shouts at the dog instead. Her taste buds remain French. She would rather have baguette than biriyani.
I am very worried about my driving licence – I don’t have one. These French, I tell you. They charge 1,000 Euros for a driving licence! That’s more than 50,000 rupees. I got my first licence in India when I was 16, and it cost 1,000 rupees. I didn’t even have to go for the test. The money was paid; the licence was home-delivered.
Office is okay. I got out of Kiev the day their presidential election riot was happening. I was worried the flight may be delayed. They now send me brochures and marketing data from Kiev. I suspect it is machine translated. It says things like “turbine excellent give electric wind”. Since I have to sell it here, there is no problem. I don’t know Ukrainian and speak very little French, and my customers don’t know Ukrainian and speak very little English, so I explain the turbine’s operations in sign language. They read the specifications and see the product and figure out the rest.
Everything else is fine except that the biriyani is beginning to show around my waist. I have started morning walks, but it spoils my day to see that the neighbour’s dog has chosen my car to do his poo-poo. It’s always there, just next to the front door. I think I will shoot that dog. Lucky for him I’m from India and not some other part of Asia. Otherwise I would have him on a platter.
You should visit Paris in summer. Life is wonderful out here”.
I wish I could take up his invite.
Life is great in Delhi too, I replied. It’s full of activity. There’s office and there’s home and there’s the adventure of driving between the two. Apart from that, it’s pretty uneventful. I find no time for cooking. And I have cancelled my cable TV connection. There was no time to watch TV. I eat vegetarian food. The fish market is some way off. There’s no time to go shopping for fish. I am suffering from fish deprivation.
For the rest, all is well. I have to make my tax plans. The deadline is near. I go for walks too. I don’t even eat biriyani. Yet my belly insists on looking like it’s well fed. Walking is great, there’s a park just behind my house. In the morning you can see a procession of joggers flowing through it. If you are careful you might avoid bumping into anyone. Today I saw a man in a blue office shirt and cream trousers jogging. It was very funny. I wonder whether he was jogging to office?
There’s only one problem with living in Delhi. Pesky insects are everywhere. It’s growing hot too, but the insects bother me more. There’s a line of ants next to my bed. I have been watching them for two days. Every time I sweep them off, they are back. I have tried to confuse them with turmeric but again they are there, climbing, driving me up the wall.