Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Despatches from Newcastle - I

Dearest Mother,

As you know by now, I have arrived here in Newcastle and settled in quite comfortably. The journey hereto was smooth, except for a few moments of extreme panic on the London flight when the flight teetered hither and thither due to turbulent weather. Or because a giant man was playing with it. Either way, those few moments were not really memorable and I spent them watching 'Fargo' intensely. Never before would William H Macy's face have been stared at quite as intently by anyone, not even by William H Macy. The immigration process, as I told you over the phone, was also hassle-free. The London-Newcastle leg was covered by two pilots with Bob Marley accents. I kid you not, Mother, they really spoke like Marley. I half-expected gentle reggae background music and all thirteen of his children to stream out of the cockpit as the pilots made their announcements.

If you'll recall Blanche DuBois' "I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers" line from 'A streetcar named desire,' Mother, that held true for me as I entered the city. Taxis being forbiddingly expensive, I opted instead to lug huge bags along behind me as I got on the Metro. A kind gentleman named Ian who often nervously licked his fingers and said 'Coom' offered to escort me to wherever I wanted to go from the West Jesmond Metro station. Then, after a while, he seemed lost himself and fetched another gentleman named Paul from a pub and Paul offered to drop me off in his car. Now, I know what you're thinking, Mother. "You could have been molested!!" All the signs were there:- Man who nervously licks his fingers and calls out to strange men, another man who offers lifts to strangers, idiotic stranger in a strange land. An explosive mix indeed. But my general molestability is so low, Mother, that I needn't have worried. Neither of them stole even a cursory lascivious glance at me. After a while in Paul's car, I began to feel a little offended, actually. Was I not worth even a perfunctory look, a default lewd once-over, a rudimentary salacious perusal? If you prick me, do I not bleed? (I do, so don't.) Anyhow, the ride passed off without incident and I was touched (only metaphorically) by Paul's and Ian's kindness.

It's been uneventful after that, Mother. My flatmates are Nigerian, Chinese, Chinese and Taiwanese respectively and we have a grand time not being in each other's way. Really, I have never met a more polite bunch of people living under one roof. One of the Chinese guys is particularly interested in my culinary skills and today inspected my tomato saaru closely to see if he could glean some information out of it. Speaking of which, my cooking has passed off without incident so far too. Having no access to ghee, I used butter for the oggaraNe for the saaru. It produced rather delicious results. However, I would advise against using steel pans for preparing an omelette, Mother. It is interesting to observe the reactions between yolk and oil on a steel pan but the resultant acrid smell is not quite the connoisseur's delight. Also interesting : how well chatnipudi goes with everything. I have used it with rice, bread and omelettes and it has coalesced perfectly with its platemate each time. The Taiwanese man prepares enough food for ten people and eats it all himself over one week. His skill is great.

As for classes, Mother, we have had just two so far and the low strength of my class is a pleasant change. I will keep you posted on interesting events, if any, therein. We are thinking of names for a website and some great suggestions (by me and others) thus far have been turned down (although I cannot imagine why) :
Extreme Poverty
Flatulent Firmware
Anal Bleeding
Gamebrosia (like ambrosia, but for games)
Hesitant Warrior
The Magnificent Seven
The Magnificent-But-Thinking-of-Retirement Seven
The Not-Quite-As-Magnificent-As-Before Seven
The Why-Aren't-We-Eight Seven
(the last four became invalid since one of our ranks came down like a mighty oak tree if a mighty oak tree could come down with chicken pox. He's out for two weeks. He will now be immortalised as the Chicken Pox Dude.)

We settled on something else but I was really keen on Extreme Poverty as a name. Has a ring to it.

All said, it's been a good time so far, Mother. Rains made their presence felt today, but none too threateningly. So you needn't worry. Further updates when I have anything to say. Do take care of yourself.

Your son,


Perakath said...

Next up-- her son's visit to St James' Park?

Arjun Sharma said...

Interestingly, there's a free visit planned by the university. So yes, maybe that's up next. Followed by a brush with football hooligans? I hope not. I would never survive that.

nivedita said...

Muy bien seƱor, sigue escribiendo por favor.

In other news, the auto I was in today flipped over. If I were you I would have produced excellent material on how eerie it was the one second when the auto was actually flipping. I think I'll remember it forever.

Arjun Sharma said...

My God, how'd that happen? Really glad you're ok.

Harish said...

The long website names reminded me of 'informationusefultoseniorcitizens.blogspot.com'.

Nisha said...

Nice pOST :) Good Luck Arjun !!

Su said...

You left.


The Darkling Thrush said...

:D sakkathaagittu. all the best. hope you are yenzoyying tha kaalezz like yennithing.