Digs, dogs & drama

A humorous book in the genre of anecdotal humour. It is compiled like a dairy of fun: each chapter an independent blob of humour.

The neighbour’s dog. The dramatic ultrasound scan. The wedding reception. Aloo parathas versus curd rice.

100% Shuddh Indian.

Events. Happenings. Experiences. Just day-to-day stuff.

Traffic Jam? Angry boss? Ruined Haircut? Power cut? Need instant cheering up? Any chapter will do. Rasam? Burger? Rangoli? Bollywood action? Want a desi smile? Start from anywhere in this book.

You won’t be able to put it down.

A decade ago, when in Japan, my husband and I stayed in a business hotel for a month. Now, the demarcations in Japan are clear-cut and specific. A business hotel is meant for business stay, which means that you wear a business suit, leave for office, return late at night, make yourself some green tea in the room, take a shower and sleep. The next morning, you grab a muffin from the tray in the lobby on your way out, back to office.

This was the definition till a dozen or so Indian ‘business’ people showed up in Kawasaki, Japan on work. They all checked into the same hotel, booking rooms for a month in advance. The manager, Lezaki san, must have been delighted with the bulk bookings, and sushi-ed and sake-ed all night. But, his joys were short-lived. A week into their stay, their families started arriving with bottles of pickle, bags of rice, stashes of papads, garam masala, and podi powder. These families comprised newly-married wives, slightly-married wives and wives with infants/toddlers.

They moved in with their respective husbands and unleashed a curry-tsunami like never before. Whiffs of rasam floated in the corridors as the fiery liquid simmered in the innocent kettles that were meant for the timid green tea. Some diligent ones cooked entire meals in that kettle. The humble kettle was washed and recycled to prepare rasam, then a vegetable and finally rice. At the end of the first week, the once shiny kettle was now a dark, sordid, scratched cauldron of evil.

I think the management of the hotel had an emergency meeting to discuss the grave issue. In the meantime people, oblivious to the crisis we had created, were roaming around the corridors wearing the kimonos that were meant to be worn in the privacy of our rooms, flashing underwear as they swished around.

At that point, I assume that there would have been a management huddle in the basement of the hotel, where they would have considered hara-kiri. Some of us, oblivious of their pain, were planning to celebrate a birthday party in the corridor on the third floor.

Naresh, whose kid’s sixth birthday was around the corner wanted to know if the hotel had a party hall. He has inquired politely with Lezaki san, who in response would have mustered all his zen-courage and responded in Japanese:

‘No, sir, we are a business hotel.’ (Distilling the true meaning after taking out the Japanese ultra-politeness, the entire sentence would have been: ‘Sir, can I put you in the dryer and spin you around till you understand that we are a Business hotel?’)

Naresh nodded, smilingly, and came up with Plan B, which was, decorating the corridor with balloons and placing chairs against the walls. Each room had a study table and chair and since we had around fifteen rooms booked, it was easy to get those many chairs. Some had to be dragged up the stairs, which was a tedious and noisy task. But, that was a minor discomfort in light of the final look that we had managed to achieve: two rows of chairs neatly lined against both walls. The party was a huge success: maggi being served in kettles, potato wafers and cold drinks doing several rounds. The cake was cut amidst loud rendition of ‘Happy Barday to You’ and we also had some nice party games like ‘tail the donkey’.

Lezaki san had by now put himself in the spin dryer, I guess.

A few weeks passed and now, Lezaki san seemed to have resigned to fate. He sometimes smiled at us. We of course, tried pushing our luck at the sign of every little favourable cue [Note: If he did not spit in our direction, we took it as a favourable cue]

One day Wonky jokingly said,

‘Let’s ask them if instead of ‘Moshi Moshi’, could the receptionist answer the phone with ‘Chepanddi’?’

I laughed out loud, and then fell silent.

If Naresh heard this, he would actually consider persuading them to do so.