(Image courtesy: The Hindu Images)
“It was 2003, and I can still remember as it was yesterday. I can still smell the charcoal fire….”
Ok, I will stop with the Titanic dialogue. But yeah, today morning’s heavy fog in Bangalore, brought back memories of Delhi. It was December 2003, the winter before I defended my Phd in the US and returned back. I had come to the VLSI conference in Delhi, Bangalore (with a bag full of resumes! :-)). The conference was over in 3 days, and I had 2 more days. I wanted to see the Taj ; and someone in the family had recommended Panicker Travels – which was apparently the default travel agent for any tamil guy in Delhi, because some of the drivers spoke Tamil, stopped in Veg joints etc. So I called them up, and booked myself a one-full-day guided trip of Taj-Mathura-Vrindavan. It so happened that, Mr. Panicker did not have that many takers in that chilly weather, and so I was consigned to join another similar tour from some other travel operator (all transparently arranged ofcourse), but that is another story.
Now coming to the highlight of this post (and the subject line ofcourse). Once in every 3-4 hours, the bus would stop at a highway food joint for some tea/snacks/food/whatever; and ofcourse, the men went on to add free fertilizer to the fields behind the dhaba. In one of these joints, I spotted a road side fire, with a few guys sitting down (hmm .. how to describe this pose .. ah .. in a way, one would sit down on an Indian toilet!) around the fire, and warming their hands. I had always wanted to do this — and there it was, right in front of me. I jumped at the opportunity — Let me tell you — there are few other pleasures in the world, which can match this. The temperature was around 5 deg Cel, smoke came from your nose and mouth, even without a cigarette, and you toast your hands and body sitting in this unholy pose around the fire. I tell you again, there is no other equalled pleasure. Hmmmm.
PS: There is one distinct after-effect though. Once you get back to the bus, you realize that your whole body smells of charcoal, and the smell does not go that easily !