Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Durban & the Scum

I’m in every sense of the word not a salesman or an extrovert (neither an introvert). My selling acumen and abilities are Spartan or limited. Neither do I have the temperament to gate crash into a new bunch of people. Quite bad at developing acquaintances! Acquaintances are limited and friends can be counted on the fingers. And hence I prefer to travel alone and as far as possible avoid new people with whom I might have  to, let me say share a room, have food, or even move around. But then business demands and certain situations are not of  help. And I have to acquaint with personalities I met just a while ago. More often I ‘m afraid that my avoiding such company might be construed as haughtiness and hubris.
And consciously, I, on this trip to South Africa made my hotel reservations and even a few spare time and spare day tour of the country on my own and  by myself. No intrusions and I need not have to keep up with people I may not be fascinated to be with for long and in private.
But again I was mentally prepared to having to accept strange companies on this tour as work and situations would make it unavoidable.
That evening in Durban after the fair time, guys from the part of Tamilnad I now live decided to go out together for dinner and a drive through the city. I faintly pointed out that I may not be able to join them as I had an early morning flight to catch the next day. But the guys went to the extent of even suggesting that I reschedule the travel. I preferred to go along with them rather than rebook my flight. However I reminded them that I will have to be dropped back at my hotel by 10.30 in the night.
We travelled by car through the beautiful city , transfixing on me  its glamour by night while the car moved through the , the beautifully sprinkled lights of the city , the harbour below and of the many ships waiting in the ocean yonder to sail in was simply a beautiful reel of film being screened for me exclusively. My co- passengers were involved in animated gesticulating discussion on everything they can think of. And were commenting as experts in every realm of life. I soon was thirsting for a drink and sorely missed the bottle of Teachers Whisky in my hotel room. We were soon moving through the suburbs and then the guys decided that we go to a shopping mall which was quite huge. I sensed that they were in no mood to eat food. And had to tag on behind them like a lonely canine.
Finally after an hour of drudgery and trudging through the Mall they decided to go to a restaurant for dinner. I love food and zealously single out the restaurant that serves the flavour of the place I’m in. But these guys all wanted to flock to a Tamil restaurant and were talking loud about rasam, sambar and ravadosas. Goodness for once how I wished that those cuisine were never invented! No one asked my preference. I just wanted to get over and be back in the hotel. Mercifully the restaurant we went to serve alcohol and I tried to forget a forgetful evening with a few large Jack Daniels. Those guys were adept in talking loud and sounded very unpleasant .They did not generally care for the people around and the public place they were in. There was shall I say expert opinion on Green house gases and the ozone depletion. Soon the dinner was done and I insisted I be dropped back. And so we journeyed back and they were also eager to see me away as they planned a late night in some Casino.
On the way back at some point the discussion touched upon Durban and Mahatma Gandhi alighting on Durban shores more than a century ago. Somebody said that Gandhi went to South Africa to study law. Yet another fellow said that Gandhi was creating problems for the Indians in South Africa. Still another historian commented that Gandhi was parochial and only promoted Guajarati businessmen in South Africa and he was vilifying Tamil migrants. And to top it all one guy said that Gandhi was an arsehole and a scum. By then though my patience reached its nadir the car braked in front of my hotel. 

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