I had been causing him excessive mental exertion, holding him hostage to a phone conversation he didn't want to be a part of, moaning about my physical exhaustion and discussing weird gastroenteric abnormalities. In my defence I was in this never ending journey [Leh to Delhi - don't ask how/why I was in Leh...recounting a month and a half of excessive activity (new job, travel travel travel, work, office gossip, new sights and people) is too much even for me]. And he is such a bully-able person that its infinitely amusing to bug him.
So here I was in an HRTC bus (Himachal Road Transport Corporation)...no not the recline-on-your-seat-watch-a-bad-print-ka-movie Volvos, I had the luxury of inhabiting the rickety squeaky khatara kind which vibrate in an obscene manner anytime the speedometer hits anything above 30, the kind you certainly don't want to be in when you've just learnt that your innocent little journey of 11 hours has metamorphosed into a 26 hour monstrosity. The interesting thing was I was sitting with a Spaniard (heh heh heh) - who nearly reached the roof of the bus - mere mortals like me barely reached his little toe. He turned out to be a diver (wow), photographer (yum) and ship propeller cleaner (there are such jobs?). He found my English "grand" (I swear it sounded sweeter in his toe-curling accent), the Bikaner peanuts "too spicey - you people are very brave to eat so many many chilly" and Dairymilk "mmmmm". And and and he was a MAJOR animal lover. I shall call him D.
In spite of all the stops and potholes, the cramped backs and squished toes, the inexcusably bratty kids and wailing infants, the decked up bride, who, it was a miracle wasn't baked in her sequined saree, the boy-man who couldn't stop playing "do you wanna partner" on loudspeaker on his phone, the journey wasn't a complete disaster. I guess it was the utterly challenging and entertaining task of carrying on two utterly opposite conversations that did the trick:
1) Describing D telephonically to my now very alert fone frand in very unflattering Hindi so that D wouldn't understand I was talking about him. "Woh bahut lamba hai. Topi bhi pehni hai. Lambe baal hain. Daadi bhi hai. Haan haan baal kaatwaane chahiye."
2) "Chandi (that's the best the Spaniard could pronounce my name) you really talk a lot on the phone. You have the pink pathera (pathera!!!) as your wallpaper. You must like animals a lot." How can you keep a straight face to that?
And so after a harrowing 26 hours I was ushered into Dilli sheher by the welcoming odour of the landfills near ISBT. Trust me at 6 am, you don't want your exhausted senses to be plundered by smells of that excrutiating intensity. I lugged my the as-tall-as-I rucksack to an autowalla. Suddenly I was engulfed in a pair of very long arms. The Spaniard was giving the dishevelled girl a bone-crushing hug. Sudden acts of unbridled affection can really throw you off balance. Especially when you havn't bathed for 3 days and someone who you thought didn't know you were a skunk in disguise suddenly hugs you. Sitting in the auto with the already stale air of Delhi hitting my tired eyes all I could think of was the number of times I'd felt too shy to hug people that I'd wanted to. Trust a stranger to put things into perspective. The not-a-stranger fone frand was informed that I'd touched still ground. I like to imagine that he sighed in relief.
In short I'm back. Not with a bang. Ok in a huff and a phew if you insist on sounds.