Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Notes From Atop the Peeling Roof-Top


A couple of Fosters and a dinner with mates like Rabi and Dorji is the kind of evening every man should be entitled to. A couple of company the likes of Phuntsok and Yonten is what makes up for a nice and long journey when you’re on the road which kind of feels short and sweet.
Here I sit, five good hours and a whole lotta conversation later, in the tropical climes of Phuentsholing, in a legendary hotel simply named Kunga (Ironic that the actual owner is one Mr. Babu Something I used to know as a kid growing up here). His son Ajay has taken the mantle. He now runs Kunga. I ask the old man if he knows a building called “Zomlha.” He looks like he knows the place but he is not quite sure. He starts ruffling his silver hair; he gives up and tells me to ask his son Ajay.
I tell him there’s no need to get hung up and that he’s earned the right to forget things.
“Yaadash Khotey Hai” he tells me.
“Lekyen Thick Hai” I assure him.
“Woh Zomlha Nahai Woh Zambala Building Hai Jaha Bhutan Obzerver Hai” shouts out Ajay. “Picture hall Ka Upper Hai” he directs me.
“Thick Hai” I tell him and wander off toward that direction.
I spot the building. It says “Zambala.” I see a poster with the ‘eye’ of Bhutan Obzerver. It carries the declaration, “The first bilingual newspaper that delves on social issues with in depth national coverage.”
I’m impressed. What more can you say about a weekly that has decided it is gonna be the social voice of the poor and the oppressed; the disenfranchised and the downtrodden. “We gave you the eye” I catch myself thinking…. “But then you guys decided to put those blinkers on and see what you wanted to see.”
Shit! I’m getting judgmental.
“And that’s how we all go blind” I tell myself. Then Gandhi’s insight hits me. “An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.”
I walk in calling Rabi on the cell. Dorji answers the phone. He tells me Rabi’s busy reporting. I enter the ground floor and ask him which floor are they at. He says the ground floor. I see the Obzerver eye again. It’s the office. I see Rabi. He’s wearing shorts and sweating a lot. I see Dorji sitting on a divan. We shout out at each other and do the manly hugs.
“Why you here?” comes the inevitable inquiry.
“Business of a very altruistic and optimistic nature” I tell them.
The rest of the evening we decide to spend over at the Hotel Peljorling patio. Meanwhile Phuntsok is busy gearing up for the trek he’s gotta make to Dorokha (where the Opposition Leader is gonna be- inaugurating a traditional bridge.)
We meet up after getting whatever gear we’re gonna need for the journey up-hill to Dorokha. I’m not gonna be able to make that trip. Then Phuntsok tells me the OL called him and that the bridge builders are waiting on us!
I tell everyone at the table “Jesus! How cool is that! People are actually waiting for us to come film them build the bridge!”
Then it’s back to everyday stories, a little bit of the dream I have trying to establish a monthly news-magazine and how we’re bloody lucky enough to have gotten these opportunities (with more than a little help from my friends).
We have rotis and chicken butter masalas for dinner. The darkness has really set in. The waiters are visibly impatient (they’ve gotta be in Jaigaon before curfew time). I finish the last of the Fosters and tell the boys we’ll break our fast together tomorrow morning at the same table.
Bidding the boys adios, I walk to my room atop the roof-top. The night watchman tells me he knows me. I look at him and ponder awhile. It’s the bloody beard! He tells me the same thing. “Apne Hum Ko Nahin Peychana Quinn Key Hum Mara Ap Yeah Mousche Aur Dari Hai.”
“Maff Karna Yaar” I tell him. “Kai Say Hai Aap?” I say and mean it. “Thick Hai” he tells me.
“Achha Hum Ab Sonay Jayangey” I tell him and wish him good night.
Five good long hours and conversations later here I lie, atop the roof-top of Hotel Kunga (I grew up here yet I never was where I now lie, to repeat it one more time: atop the roof-top of Hotel Kunga with a towel wrapped around me naked with the cool night time Phuentsholing vista around me). This was shower number two for me in less than five hours! (And I’m not the showering kind).
Sometimes a shower like the one I had right now feels better than sex; feels better than drugs. I don’t even wanna ponder beyond what I’ve already said…because it overwhelms the shit outta me! I was going “ooos” and “aaas!”
That’s how bloody good the bloody shower was!
And now you might ask or wonder what the heck am I doing atop the roof-top of Kunga Hotel in Phuentsholing at this time of the year: its hot, its dusty, its humid, its sweaty. Well, I’m here because…mmmm…let’s see…because my friend-brother-mentor and writer-in-chief tells me this- this morning: “Jurmi, you’re getting sloppy. I want you to go down south and do a whole lotta marketing. I want you to come back with at least 42 agreements signed by the companies we’ve identified.”
“Jesus! Is that all? A measly 42 companies?” I taunt him.
“Yeah. 42 fcvkin’ companies and you got a week to do that” says the man I consider the finest writer and ‘the media-pioneer’ in the dragon kingdom. Well what else can I add? I gotta hand it to him. He tells me “go for the fcvkin’ stars Jurmi; ‘cos you just might land up on the moon.”
Before I can retort he continues “And should you land on the moon get me the album Pinkus Floydus did and get it personally from Roger and Gilmore- with a customized autograph that should read: With love to Tosh- The Dark Side of the Moon.”
So here I lie- atop the roof-top of Hotel Kunga with nothing but a towel on. The mercury has dipped considerably and the fan fans me as does the cool tropical breeze that winds and airs in and out of these large-over-sized windows. It’s a bloody refresher! I been in Kunga before but all the view I thought they had was the view to the other rooms: gray concrete upon still more gray concrete. You’d have to stick your head out to figure out just how the weather was outdoors and even then you’d still be confused!
And after some odd couple of decades I find out they got a room that actually lets in all of Phuentsholing and beyond! Jesus! Why’d they not bloody mention it!
The room number is “16” and its right up atop the roof-top.
I look out these big windows and I see the Zangto Pelri in the park. What a big-little country we live in! This morning I woke up in my apartment at the Express Lounge Building and went to my offices. Now I lie in a tropical clime that borders the world’s biggest and most populated democracy.
With that I tell myself now I gotta catch some sleep. I’m naked. I’m clean. I’m refreshed. I’m listening to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ballad the song “Into the Great White Open.”
With that I tell myself I’ve blogged enough nonsense to try anything “meaningful” or “profound.” And really, in the end, what else is left to say? Yeah...Rabi did ask me if Manju found her Tigress. I say I don’t know and that the odds are equally good: she just might find a Yeti as she’d a Tigress. And that should she find a Yeti she should get married and get the bugger some razors.
Then I spot Rabi’s follicle-laden-jungles of legs, arms, shoulders and hands. I tell him I beat Manju to the Yeti and that I should call her and go “Manju…the Yeti’s right here, in Phuentsholing.”
We had a good laugh at that.
On a lighter note here’s a poem that emanated rather spontaneously as I lay in bed lookin’ out for mozzies:
“Good Night, Sleep Tight,
And Let All Those Itsy-Bitsy Insects Come and Bite,
A Drop of Your Blood, For Them; a Feast ofor Hours!”

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