Friday, December 26, 2008

The Great (and Hastily Planned) British Roadtrip


Thanks to those lovely people at Easyjet, our Swiss trip came to an end before it even began - at Manchester airport's departure lounge. I cannot deny that I was incredibly worried about the value of the monopoly money Galiya and I earn our keep in (also known as Pound Sterling) in Switzerland, and was fretting and fuming over how much the whole thing would cost.

The previous night, I dreamt that we were going to Zimbabwe, and we were buying Zim $s from Robert Mugabe himself. We handed him our Pound Sterling, and Mugabe said, "Pound Sterling! Ha!!! I'll get you 20 Zim $s for a quid. Now, if on the other hand, you had Euros, you'd get five million Zim $s to a Euro."

But no amount of fretting over the costs could make up for the braindead moron at the Easyjet desk in the departure lounge not allowing Galiya to board the flight. She said, "This is a German visa, and you're flying to Switzerland." No amount of explaining that a German residence permit was valid in Switzerland inspite of it not having the magic 'Schengen' word on it would budge her, and because she was a complete moron, she refused to call Swiss immigration.

Hence, it was a very despondent couple that ended up on the train to Wirral to pick up our car from Jon's house, where we'd stowed it away. As we walked through the gates, neither of us had particularly pleasant thoughts running through our minds (or rather, Galiya's mind, and what passes for a mind in my case). But then, an incredible act of kindness on the part of Jon's mum changed it all!

She invited us to Christmas lunch - an offer we could not possibly refuse. It was far better than moping about at home ranting loudly about how unfair life was.

And better still, Jon and his family helped us plan what promises to be an incredible trip through Cymru (that's Wales for the anglophiles among you, you imperialist pigs!). The trip also promises to be far cheaper, as Wales uses the same play money we earn our little all in. And this trip is what this blogpost is all about:

And now, I can talk all about our planned trip to Wales, after all of the circumlocution that is my hallmark.

The primary actors in this trip are:

a) Siddhu Warrier: Intellectual prostitute extraordinaire, who pretends to be a writer.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Intellectual prostitute - and bore - from India"]Intellectual prostitute - and bore - from India[/caption]

b) Galiia Khasanova: Russian dyevushka unfortunate enough to be betrothed to yon Warrier.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A Russian Dyevushka who is kind to Indians who whistle incessantly while blogging."]A Russian Dyevushka who is kind to Indians who whistle incessantly while blogging.[/caption]

c) Vladimir Illyich Micranov: Japanese Samurai with socialist leanings, as evidenced by the duct tape on the roof.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Vladimir Illyich Micranov - soldier of the socialist revolution"]Vladimir Illyich Micranov - soldier of the socialist revolution[/caption]

d) Cymru/Wales: A beautiful little principality to the east of England.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cymru - Welsh for "This is not England, you bleeding idiot!""]Cymru - Welsh for "This is not England, goddamn you bleeding foreigners!"[/caption]

The trip is spread over four days, and each day's itinerary follows. Forgive me if this is boring, but consider this my initiation into the world of travel writing. Since I do seem to do so much of it, it doth make sense I try to write about it.

The routes we plan to take during this trip remind me of an old chestnut by G.K. Chesterton - Paradise by way of Kensal Green,
because I think it is the circuituousness of this route (and of the
roads therein) that make this whole trip so quintessentially British.
To misquote (horribly, historically inaccurately, and out of context) from the poem,

the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,

rolling Welsh drunkard made the rolling Welsh road.

reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the Sir,

night we went to Aberytswyth by way of Betws-y-Coed

night we went to
Llanelli by way of Hwlffordd.

The night we went to Caerdydd by way of Aberhonddu.

Day 1: Liverpool to Aberystwyth by way of Betws-y-Coed

This is where we shall pass through during our first day (Please click on View Larger Map to see the actual route):

View Larger Map

This night, we are staying at a guest house called the Shoreline guest house in a Victorian seaside town (now a university town) called Aberystwyth - it's hard enough to spell, so don't ask me exactly how it's pronounced. WLe couldn't find any pictures online, but the reviews on tripadvisor were good enough to convince us to take the risk. Also, the price, at £50 for the night, is pretty damn cheap (that'll probably be worth about €1.50 in a couple of weeks, so please come over, spend money in the UK, and help Gordon Brown save the world, oh ye continental Europeans).

Day 2: Aberystwyth to Llanelli by way of Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire)

This is the route we shall be taking on Day 2:

View Larger Map

Llanelli (pronounced - I think - something like Crhlanelli) was picked merely because of the sheer quaintness of this little B&B (Bed and Breakfast) we found there, called Beudy Bach (pronounced something like Baidy Bach). It's not terribly expensive at £60, but not too cheap either. But then, we're on our Gord-given mission to save the British economy, aren't we?!

The route to Llanelli was chosen because it goes through a national park that was strongly recommended by Jon's parents. Pembrokeshire was also the site of some WW2 era prisoner-of-war camps. I can't remember where I read it, but some of the Italian POWs integrated so well into Wales during their time there that they decided not to go back upon the cessation of hostilities.

Day 3: Llanelli to Caerdydd by way of Aberhonddu:

The route we plan to take on this day is:

View Larger Map

In the Brecon national park is present a mountain range called the Brecon Beacons. They are named thus because of the beacons the Welsh lit when the English came-a-invading. To paraphrase a Welsh person, the difference between the English invasions of Scotland and Wales was that the highlanders fought the English punch-drunk on whisky, while the Welsh went into hiding. From the looks of it, the fighting didn't make much of a difference, except for the creation of a large Scottish population in America. But I digress.

We spend the night in Cardiff in rather an unromantic place - the Hotel Ibis. But £39 for a night is too good a deal to pass up on, especially when it comes with free wireless internet access! ;) We look forward to Cardiff (Caerdydd for those of us who'd like to pretend to be Welsh) because of all that Jon has told us of its vibrant nightlife.

Day 4: The Return (or the detour to England)

We haven't quite planned Day 4 just yet, and aren't yet sure if there will be a Day 5. We will try to keep you posted.

The weather seems to be uncharacteristically sunny for all of the days we plan to travel - God's (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster's) way of making up for our Swiss disaster, perhaps?

Updates on Twitter:

For those of you who might be interested in tuning into (hopefully) regular updates on the progress of our trip, I should be updating my status fairly regularly on Twitter at . Yes, I'm trying desperately to build up a following on Twitter.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Kerala Communist Primer

This is the last post that shall rear its ugly head on This blog, due to inactivity, is moving to Wordpress -, hoping that the change of host shall result in a spurt of activity. Yes, it's rather like Ektaaaa KKKappooor affixing extra ts and Ks and as to get people watching. And I think it works; if it weren't for the extra Ks strewn all over the place, I can't imagine even most the addled housewife watching Kyonki Saans bhi kabhi bahu thi.

But if this blog must die, let it never be said that it did not die with an all-powerful bang (possibly from the barrel of a gun fired at me by a comrade peeved by what follows).

If you are ever to visit Kerala, you might notice these strange blokes in white, starched dhotis waving red flags about the place. How you react to this depends on where you're from.

If you're American, you'll probably dash a letter off to homeland security advising them that Indians are commies, and it's best to keep them out.

If you're British (and a member of the TUC), you shall shed copious tears as your mind harks back to the joys that Thatcher snatched away from you.

If you're from anywhere in the rest of India, you'll probably sit down waiting to see the police descend upon the crowd and beat the crap out of them for daring to protest. And be disappointed to note that the police are sloganeering themselves.

But whatever your particular persuasion, I am sure you would appeciate a quick primer on what the communists and other miscellaneous protesters in Kerala mean when they shout out loud as they block traffic on the main street.

1. Communistaykyam zindabad:
Translation: Long live international Communist unity.
What they really mean: Remember, Beijing is paying your bills.

2. Vidyaarthiaykyam zindabad:
Students of the world, unite.
What they really mean: What fun it is to spend all day out in the sun, instead of staying cooped up listening to the capitalist claptrap the bourgeois try to pass on to us as education.

3. Loka thozhilaalikale onnikyu:
Workers of the world, unite.
What they really mean: Let Kerala not be the only place where nobody does any work.

4. Poticheriyan vilangukal:
Translation: Break and cast aside the capitalist chains.
What they really mean: Bankrupt the idiot who's given us a job by protesting all day outside the factory.

Sakhakkalae munnott:
Translation: Onward, Comrades.
What they really mean: Let's protest until we have a dictatorship of the proletariat that puts an end to all of this meaningless protest.

6. Inquilab zindabad:
Translation: Long live the Revolution.
What they really mean: We know the revolution ended years ago/never happened, but we're not going to stop blocking traffic, merely because of trifles like that, are we?

Brought to you by the boys of the Sakhaavu Lenin Proletarian Reading Room and Youth Club, Thodupuzha, Kerala.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Impressed by Gordon Brown

I know the bloke's been getting a lot of flak, and his terror detention law is absolutely reprehensible, but he does seem sometimes to talk a lot more sense than most western politicos would care to in relation to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Wish he meant it, and if he does, wish Olmert would listen to him!

Monday, June 23, 2008

An ode to duct tape

Due to an unfortunate concatenation of circumstances, we decided we should open my car's sunroof yesterday. Now, this being Britain, my sunroof hardly got any practice over the years. As we tried to open it, the cable snapped, and the sunroof wouldn't close completely. When everything with the world looked gray, bleak, and cost at least £120, a little bit of gray in the name of duct tape dropped from the heavens.

An ode to duct tape (modified from Melody William's ode)

I have to say that my world is gray,
not because of compromises made
or morals in the shade,
but because of a sticky tape
and the way it takes shape.
There are so many uses
and not many abuses
of this great sticky mess
this component of my car
That keeps out the rain and the tar,
Keeps it dry as I drive afar.
Ode to duct tape, my best friend;
Ode to duct tape,
may the gray never end.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Stripped, Part I

Note to prudes and author's parents: This is a work of fiction. Honest.

I do not remember whose idea it was to start with. I have a nagging fear in the back of my mind that it was my putrid mind that came up with it to start with. However, arguing over who thought of it first is neither here nor there. All of us had to live through the consequences of the brainwave.

Now that the first paragraph has set the mood and got the reader all curious about what this tome is all about, it is probably a good time to get the elbow grease flowing (if flowing is what elbow grease does) and start at the beginning. Note: The author is well aware that his absolutely pointless digression here is likely to have chased away a large proportion of his reading public. However, he chooses to ignore this possibility as the possibility that he had no readers to start with is more imminent.

It all began when C decided to leave Europe and return to Mexico. That he missed Tex-Mex food, being called gringo, and wearing those wide-brimmed hats they are prone to wear in Mexico cut no ice with the rest of us who were to continue our stay in Europe.

'But', cried C,' go I must, cabron. It's been three long years since I last tried to scale the border wall into the States.'

'How about the Berlin wall, mate?', I rejoined, '... or Hadrian's wall. I'll give you that there are no trigger-happy rednecks with M16s to add to the thrill at either place – but you can make the adjustment, can't you?'

But no, C was obdurate. He refused to listen to reason, and had already found a bag large enough to stow away in. It was final.

Us Warriers have always been standard-bearers of the tradition of noblesse oblige, rather like the Woosters we copied it from. So I began to plot a farewell suitable for a king, or at least a C.

B (whose name bears not the slightest resemblance to a marked protuberance of the waist) suggested we drown our sorrows in drink. But given every one of his ideas seem to feature drowning something or the other (usually one's own liver) in drink, I ignored him.

After prolonged mental gymanstics, I arrived upon the perfect solution. Or what I thought was the perfect solution. So, I gave G a ring.

'Hi hon, I've come up with the perfect solution to our problem.', I screamed, literally bursting with excitement.

'That's brilliant. When's the funeral?', said she.

I was bemused. 'Whose funeral?'


To say that I was confused would be to put it rather mildly. 'But I don't plan on dying anytime soon, last I heard.'

'Ah right, so it's another problem you're talking about.'

'That's not the right line to take. I thought we conducted our relationship strictly on turtle dove lines.', said I, rather peeved.

'I'm usually not averse to turtle doves (or doves of any other sort). But the situation alters somewhat if you insist on blowing my ear off screaming.'

After having duly apologised for my slight, as I have been trained to, I went on, 'I meant that I think I know what we could do to bid adieu to C.'

Her ears pricked up at this (or at least, I think they did; it's difficult to tell over a voice-only phone line). 'What do you plan?'

'You know, we're going to Spain next week, yeah? And we've rented a flat, yeah? And you know that C and B are joining us there, don't you?', I said.

'I can't have forgotten, can I? Considering I bought you your tickets back, you freeloader!'

Though I cringed at the slight, I decided to let it pass. The idea was too good to hold on to any longer.

'How about we get a stripper to come over to the flat, rather like in American Pie 3? It would be a stag party, except he's not getting married to some unfortunate popsy.'

'The only unfortunate 'popsy' I can think of is myself', rejoined she. There was rather a harsh edge to her voice.

'Uh, should I take it that you don't like the idea...?'

'No, I bloody well don't. First off, how's it a stag party if I'm around..?'


'Oops is right. After all this time, don't tell me you've never realised I was a woman, and have been actively searching for places that permitted gay marriage now!'

My head swum at the bewildering complexity of the previous sentence. It was a minute before I managed to stutter, 'Er... sorry, darling.'

Silence ensued.

'So there's no question of bringing a stripper home, then?'


'Oh alright then.', said I, defeated.

'We could go to a club though, if you like...'

I ventured cautiously. Long experience had taught me to tread cautiously, especially in the wake of spectacular booboos of the sort I had just committed.

'Er... a club, as in...?'

'A strip club, of course. C can have his farewell lapdance there.'

A childhood full of nasty surprises of the 'Santa doesn't exist' sort had left me rather lacking in faith in my guardian angel. But it all came rushing back to me at this instant. Getting spousal (or soon-to-be spousal) sanction to enter the hallowed portals of a strip club is not something that one receives too often.

After resisting the (foolhardy) itch to ask if I were allowed a lapdance by a stripper as well, I hung up to continue the plotting.

To be continued...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

News and all that kind of jazz

As regular readers (if I have any left) are well aware, I have rather fallen out of the habit of writing quite as regularly as I used to. The era of my highest productivity harks back to a time when I was single, and entirely convinced of my complete inability to captivate a woman who wasn't (a) ugly as sin, and (b) younger than forty. As it has always been my considered opinion that what the human race needs most is the opportunity to have a good laugh at another's expense, I regularly regaled my reading public with (sadly true) stories of my ineptitude.

However, a serendipitous concatenation of circumstances has happily proved me wrong. Contrary to most predictions that I would die alone and be subsequently gobbled up by ravenous Alsatians (or Dobermans, if you prefer that), I did end up meeting a popsy who did not see such a morbid fate for me. That was a year ago, and my blogging frequency stands testimony to that. While I might – quite fairly – lay the blame for my unproductivity at her doorstep, I think I have been most suitably recompensed in several other ways.

After spending several months in bliss, during which I blew my savings up travelling around rather a large swathe of the old continent, a brainwave struck me sometime last Christmas. I had previously been made aware of how cheap everything was on Boxing day (which, to the uninitated, falls on the 26th of December).

'Hmm, old chap, what say you about getting hitched and all that?', said the fevered bit of my mind to the rest.

'Get engaged? Are you insane? Do you know how much rings cost!?'

'It's Boxing Day, mate. Discounts!'


So, the aforementioned popsy and I walked along to Princes street in Edinburgh, which wa s where I knew I would find the discounted ring my fevered mind spoke so highly of. But first, I had to get rid of her.

'Hey, look, Next has a sale!', said I.

'Cool, let's pop by and take a look.', said she, rather unhelpfully.

'No, I'd rather not.'

'Oh okay then, let's just walk around'

'No, I think they're selling lingerie there. And I'd rather avoid the embarassment of looking like a perv checking out women's underwear. You go ahead.'

After I'd got rid of her, I scooted off to the Swarovski outlet to pick a ring up. I hadn't bargained on one thing, though – a smiling helpful salesperson angling for a tip for her role in executing what is probably the most important decision in one's life.

After staving her repeated attempts to be excessively helpful, and trying not to blush as she kept throwing knowing looks at me, I managed to pick a ring that looked just about right.

Now, what a sensible bloke would do would be to book a place at a swanky restaurant for that evening, and take yon popsy there to pop the question. But I'm not a sensible bloke; worse still, I am parsimonious to a fault.

So, I dragged her along to a Starbucks and popped the question.

And incredibly enough, she said Yes!

(I got rather an earful for asking a question as important as this at a place like Starbucks, and did end up having to pay for an expensive restaurant. Also, my ring selection skills left much to be desired – we returned to Swarovski to exchange the ring for another.)

Anyway, there you have it, folks – I'm engaged to be married. :)

-- End of bulletin --

Friday, May 02, 2008

The White Tiger

This is one book I'm definitely buying. Arvind Adiga was a correspondent for Time Magazine, and he writes a fable that could possibly come true in the 'booming, shining' India we can't get out of our heads.

A few quotes from an interview of his by Arthur J. Pais,

1. The shameless way wealth is flaunted [in India] is extraordinary. Poor people [see] the money the very rich have.

2. The Indian economy is booming but the money was [is] not really getting down to the poor and the difference in the world between the rich and the poor was phenomenal.

To say that the divide between the rich and the poor, and the invisibility of the poor is an issue that has been `dealt with' is to trivialise its profound and perpetual importance. The problem is omnipresent, its manifestations keep changing

And most importantly and prophetically, perhaps:

4. India, amidst the hoopla and hype of the economic boom, the poor are more invisible than ever before, and the dangers of ignoring them are greater than ever before: The proof of this is in the resurgent Naxalite, armed rebellion in the heart of India, where communist guerrillas, fighting in the name of the poor, are waging a brutal war against the state.

Read the full interview here.