Friday, February 12, 2010

Javan coffee, Bacardi 151 conversations and nothing more

(If you don't have the patience or don't know me, scroll down to the pics)

Karan: The only thing we have in common is the blood in our veins; the antithesis of me – rational, teetotaling, thrifty and responsible
Nilo: My soul sister’s sister – only, we have no souls, I traded mine for single malt and she traded hers for a tripod; a Muslim – I’m not a communalist, but this is an important part of the story
QY: Colleague. Part Singaporean, part Chinese, part bitch, completely insane. Has forgotten the existence and use of pronouns.
A few locals
A few non-locals

Act 1
[Scene 1: Saturday, 7 PM. Company paid for Singaporean hotel room with a view that is heavenly and a mini-bar that empty. The floor is littered with peanut shells, miniature alcohol bottles, Nilo and me. Enter QY.]
QY: Are (you) guys drunk?
Nilo: [In earnest] No, we’re Indian. We like free stuff.
QY: [Puts her bag down on the floor. Guinness cans take a peek from within.] The mini-bar is not for free.
Nilo: Well, I’m certainly not paying for it and [poking me] he’s not paying for it, so you do the math Chinky. You have your pocket abacus on you, right? Or did you leave it behind with your pronouns.

[Scene 2: Saturday, 9 PM. KTV – Singapore’s answer to public-humiliation induced suicide – A ‘private’ Karaoke.]
QY: I’ll sing (my) Chinese-song [pronounced in a typically hurried oriental manner – chhainisssong] and you guys can sing (your) Indian song.
Nilo: There is NO such language called Indian.
QY: [Realizes her Eureka moment] Ah ah ah, yes – Hindu song.
Nilo: [At her wit’s end] Abe, kahaan se hai yeh?
Me: God knows. [Enlightened] Or perhaps, the Hindu God knows?

[Scene 3: Saturday, 11 PM. Outside KTV – 7 Mandarin, 5 English, 3 Hindu songs and 4 pitchers Guinness later]
QY: [Swinging her arms wildly] Do (you) guys want to dance?
Me: Karaoke ke baad agar yeh aurat dance bol rahi hai toh DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) hi hoga!
Nilo: Clubbing or karaoke-dancing?
QY: [Confused] To a club.
Me: [Regaining partial sanity] No QY. We’re going back to the hotel. Our flight to Jakarta is at 9:30 in the morning.
Nilo: Pu*sy!!
Me: [Re-losing regained sanity] TAXI!! Where are we going QY?

[Scene 4: Sunday, 9:15 AM. The same hotel room; re-emptied mini-bar.]
[Phone rings. Phone rings again. Phone perseveres, rings again.]
Me: [Groping for the phone] Huhlo!
Voice: Good morning, sir. I’m #@$* from the reception. This is to inform you that check-out would be at noon, sir.
Me: [Miraculously awake] What’s the time now?
#@$*: 9:15, sir.
Me: [Miraculously alive] NILO!! Its 9:15. Get up! We missed our bloody flight.
Nilo: [Without moving a milli-millimeter] It’s ok, mom. We’ll get another one. We have three hours to check-out. Go back to sleep.

Act 2
[Scene 1: Sunday, 4 PM. Karan has dozed off on one of the dingy rexine sofas at the at the Jakarta airport exit. His backpack is lying on the ground. Enter Nilo, me. She stops by the sofa and smacks Karan on the head.]
Karan: [Stirring awake] How can you guys miss an INTERNATIONAL flight? How? I mean, how?
Nilo: If you please, after 8 days we can demonstrate it again.
Karan: My flight arrived at 10:30 AM. I have been waiting for over five hours. Why is this city so humid? What is wrong with the currency here? Why is it so devalued? I will need a truckload of currency to buy a bottle of water here - Ten thousand rupees for a bottle of water. What is wrong with the economy?
Nilo: It’s not Rupees testy. It’s Rupiah. [Looking at me] Is he so annoying even at home?
Me: No, even more.

[Scene 2: Monday, 10 PM. Karan, Nilo and me are sauntering through a flea market.]
Me: [Picks up imitation sunglasses from a stall] Dolce & GabbUna? Hah!
Vendor: [Tries to make an ‘honest-man’ face; fails miserably] Original from China. Good Price. Only nine hundred and fifty thousand Rupiah.
Karan: See! The currency is so bloody f**ked. Nine and a half lakhs for sunglasses.
Me: [Facing the vendor] Too much! [does the Indian fake bargain walk-away]
Vendor: Ok! Ok! You be good man. For you, best price. Fifty thousand Rupiah.
Nilo: [Staring at me in disbelief] Did he just drop the price NINE HUNDRED THOUSAND Rupiah (INR 4500) because he thinks you’re a good man? [Addressing the eager vendor] He’s good, but I’m awesome. How much do I get it for?

Act 3
[Scene 1: Thursday, 6AM. Karan is throwing up into a paper bag in the corner of the train compartment. Nilo and I are looking at a map. A woman in the seat before ours is kneeling on the musallah (prayer mat) performing her morning Namaaz.]
Nilo: [Sneering at Karan] Doesn’t he take motion sickness too literally? You’re not supposed to get it every time you move, you know.
Karan: I can puke in your handbag, you know.
Nilo: [Ignores pukemon; her gaze is fixed on the woman praying] Isn’t it amazing that she is not ready to compromise on her faith even if she’s in a moving train?
Karan: When was the last time you prayed?
Me: Ouch!
Nilo: [Pretends to ignore] Wait. Hold on. Shit! Shit! Shit! We’re on the wrong f**king train.
Me: Huh?!?
Nilo: If she’s facing the right for her Namaaz, the west is on our right; and we’re moving straight ahead, which is the south. We need to go northwards, damn it! Pull the chain. [Panics and walks up to a lady wearing a hijab; enquires in flawless Urdu.] How does one stop the train?
Lady: [No response]
Nilo: [Howling] Largest population of Muslims in the world and not one speaks Urdu. [Switching to her pseudo-Brit roots and accent] How bloody fantastic!
Karan: Try sign language Einstein.

[Scene 2: Friday, 7PM. Restaurant in Cemero Lawang. The characters are in conversation with a German, and an Australian with a local woman in tow.]
Karan: [In a pretentious display of rage] Do you have any idea how badly you Aussies have been treating us Indians down under? There is one Indian murdered ever week because of the color of his skin. He is battered. His wife is brutally raped and kids burnt alive. Is this what you do to foreigners? [Screaming] Tell me, is that what you do?
Aussie: [Expressionless; shrugs shoulders] I’m really sorry for you mate. But, it wasn’t me!

[Attempting to change the topic] Anyways, so tell me. [Looking at the Aussie-Indonesian couple] I’ve heard that women in this part of the world love the white skin. They throw themselves at Caucasians? Is it true?
Indonesian woman: [Going red in the face] Grrrrr..!
German: [Butting in] Yes, it is. Such women are called prostitutes and they charge you a fee for throwing themselves at you. And, at times you get more than your money’s worth. [Staring at the Aussie] Right, mate?

[Attempting to change the topic yet again] We’ve all heard that French women are great in bed. What about German women?
German: They’re cold, lousy and more man than most men. The high point of sex with them is probably orgasm when they stick their hand out and yell “Heil Hitler!”

(The remaining scenes have been reserved for beer conversations)

Pics from the backpack. Any pic that is remotely brilliant is Nilo's work; anything fuzzy is mine. Click to enlarge. Blame pixelation on Microsoft Paint.

We climbed

Clockwise from top left (Smoker, flower, gusher, shaker)

We saw

Temples – Buddhist and Hindu; The water palace; Bahasa Ramayana; the Komodo Dragon

We ate

Line-wise from left to right – Fugu sashimi, ox-tail soup, fried abalone; Prawn-mee soup, durian (the smelliest thing in the world), silver fish fry; Martabak, fish and tofu, chicken satay.

We moved

Pretty obvious; in total 14 different modes of transportation had to used be on Java


In a random order – Bacardi 151 (observe warning label; it kills); “Zara sa jhoom loon main” on Karaoke; Nilo and her tripod - inseparable; German, prostitute, Australian; Bahasa Rock; Rules are meant to be broken; etc.