Friday, November 27, 2009

A journey to 'Scotland' in India

For most of the journey I slept. It was either drift away or chuck up, so I drifted.... into bouts of fitful sleep where I constantly dreamt of falling off the edge of the world.
The closer we got to destination Coorg, the more relieved I felt. Motion-sickness had pretty much evaded me following a year of bus journeys not less than an hour long, cramped amidst kind (but mostly non-deodorant wearing) villagers. But for some reason it reared its ugly head on this trip.
Winding roads and twisted trees, lack of oxygen (or so I felt) and the smell of air-conditioning didn't make the situation any better, so I stuck my head to the seat and forced myself to sleep.
I nearly screamed and threw up simultaneously when told the coffee estate was another 40kms further than we'd thought. Prepared to kill, my hands clutched the sides of the seat and the car wound its way up the hill until we were lost in the clouds.
Three kilometres up a stone track in a jeep devoid of suspension, I looked at one pair of eyes obviously sick of the journey and another suspiciously silent and hidden behind sunglasses. The third pair alternated between the rough road and the cigarette butt. Fuming and procrastinating, I was probably vocalising what everyone else felt but politely chose not to say - screw this journey and screw the roads in slightly more explicit terms.
The cottages were bare, shorn of luxuries in the most literal sense of the word. I could already imagine rats and snakes crawling through the chinks in the wood. But I wasn't worried about that. Thanks to Mr Sinus, someone would be up all night looking like she was being asphyxiated. It obviously wasn't the brightest idea to sleep in a log structure of sorts with wildlife creeping in and you creeping out every time you felt like a leak. Heaven only knew where the loos were.
I was happier on the journey going back than I was getting to Coorg. Not because I hated the place, but because I enjoyed it. We slept in a four-bed room with attached bath (hot water and all), spent the night in the balcony feasting on Coorgi-style pork, chicken, pakoras and KF. The trek was one I enjoyed after ages, despite the invasion of leeches, some of which - don't ask how - got up my shorts and stuck to my thigh. Blech.
We saw our first white elephant in the far distance...
It rained and poured, I got drenched and couldn't breathe, my struggling respiratory system echoing across the room and ensuring it was a topic of conversation the next day. Huh
Our home for the weekend was nestled in a valley full of coffee plants and the clouds could be seen suspended mid-way between heaven and earth.
We ate "home-cooked" meals, drank lots of strong coffee, played 'guess the nationality of the new guest' and forgot we lived and toiled in a dusty city a hundred miles away...
I've never been to Scotland, so I'm not sure why it's called the Scotland of India, but Coorg estates are some of the nicest places to spend a holiday. Just don't drive there. Bring your chopper.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The miraculous making of a conditional cook

Ever since I've been thrown far far away from home on work, it's been taken for granted that I'd learn to look after myself. Part of that has happened, part still taking place. Even in college, there were people you had to learn to like, others who forced you not to like them and those who made your life living hell even though you wouldn't like to admit it.

But apart from all the humdrum of making life a life, something just doesn't fit. I've actually had to get down and dirty in the kitchen (take a check on those filthy minds, people) and cook my own meals.

At home with the omnipresent mother, there's never a chance that you'd get into the kitchen, whether she asks you to or not. At college, you have to put up with the hostel food and you aren't allowed into the kitchen, whether you like it or not. In your own tiny rented heap-of-clothes-and-beer-bottles-away-from-home you have to spoon your own food into your mouth whether it tastes like food or not.

Roommates have given up charity cooking for one reason or other. For whatever reason, I've put on the apron and got down to work. Logically since my grandmother is the world's best cook, my mum and aunts coming in a close second and the sibling a distant third (though he would think otherwise) I would have turned into an amazing cook among the likes of Jamie (at home or elsewhere), Curtis and probably Nigella.

But as fate would have it, I've inherited half my father's cooking gene. He makes breakfast i.e. eggs - scrambled, bulls-eye, omelette, boiled. He also makes rice, curry, fish and fries better than McDonald's. And that's about it. As for me, I make noodles - cup, Maggi, Top Ramon with cheese, tomato, peas, capsicum and maybe some potato. Note to reader: Quit making gagging noises. But, I have also devised other ways of surviving on one stop shop consumerism. Bingo Mad Angles, Twix, the odd Bounty, salted cashew nuts and cheese.

I've actually been on the lookout for Nature Valley bars for the past year and cheese nachos for a few months. They seem to be off the shelves. Cookies of any sort are good, as long as they've got bits of chocolate in them. Pringles are for when I'm feeling rich or slim, either of which is rare. Although I have only recently discovered the "joys" of working behind an apron, good food is rare to come by.

I ate some chicken at a restaurant some time ago and slumped into slurpy reminiscence of mother's thick steaks and beef burger patties, cold chicken salad, chick peas and Aunty Lee's spinach and corn quiche and stuffed squid. Scrumptious. In sympathy of your deprivation, I will kindly leave out Nan's bakes, Aunty Rachel's awesome chocolate gateaux and light eclairs and finger-licking dishes made by my mother's other sisters. Note to reader: She has six.

To my undeserved credit, I have managed a prawn and fish curry, thrown together a fish macaroni and cheese bake, a miraculously unscathed vegetable and prawn pulao, a hardly-get-it-right parsi style fish curry and a few veggies the recipes of which I conjure up on my own. After all, it's my own to eat.

Oh MOTHER! Where art thou?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

To those who "were there"

I want to thank you
Very sincerely
For showing me the kind of friend
I would not like to have
And more so, not like to be

You leave an unexpected brokenness
That only fools will dwell on
Perhaps I was finished with you
Before we even started
You're not even worth the pain

But haven't you realised?
You've caused a lifetime of damage
To someone who believes in close friendships
You are the thorn permanently stuck in flesh
That is bleeding the hurt away

Fly foul memory, away for eternity
Rest not on white hearts blinded by the ideal friendship
Take with you the thick palor of hopelessness
Take your pent-up, ghastly frustration
And vent it out on me.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I never expected it. Who hasn't had a fever and felt they were going to die, but not surprisingly, never really got there?
There had been a similar situation when I was 12. I thought I was going to die before my 13th birthday, or in all probability, on it. Nothing I'd eat stayed in. When my friends came to see me, I thought it might be the last time I saw them. I think I was laughed at when I voiced my concerns. Thankfully, I lived and learnt that it was "simply" a bad case of viral tummy infection.
This time it was worse. I was freezing, but it might have been the air-con. That really didn't explain the incontrollable rigeurs, splitting headache and weeping eyes. I don't like to cry in company, so every time someone looked at me quizzically I had to say "bad cold, watery eyes".
It went on for a couple of days after which I was admitted to the hospital. This was the most insane decision I thought my friend had made. I instantly felt fine as soon as the "admitted" word was mouthed. Slight fever, may be, but nothing a popped pill wouldn't help.
Still, it turned out to be my worst nightmare. I kept my friend awake for most of the night, screaming obscenities at no-one in particular and hospitals in general. I took about 5-6 jabs that night and they must have stolen a litre of my blood. Oh the pain, the agony! One of the jabs I bravely bore, silently, was administered "as a test", to see my reaction to the anti-biotics. I should have screamed my lungs out.
Two days later my left hand had mutated to accommodate a bucket of fluid just beyond my thumb. Bloody drips. It didn't stop there, no. They just squeezed, yes, squeezed out half my blood and shoved another needle into the other hand. The audacity of medical operations.
My mother finally arrived four days into my hospital stay. By then I was bored to death and the only words that came out of my mouth were: "I'm fine. I want to go home." No one listened.
Mum mainly cooked and told me what to do - how out-of-shape my house was, how she couldn't imagine the pig sty we lived in was actually something we lived in. She talked about recipes and what to cook, how to stay healthy and what to drink. The usual stuff mothers talked about.
Maybe it was mum's luck. After days of sucking on my blood for purely (so I would like to believe) sadistic purposes, they finally told me I had typhoid. Fine. So let me get over and done with it. I spent hours roaming the hospital corridors in the hope that the nurses would observe my perfectly healthy condition and kick me out without second thought. But they left me jailed for the rest of the week.
I was so happy to breathe fresh, clean, non-disinfected air. Aaahh. Wonderful. I'm never going back to hospital again. That's for sick people. I hadn't been there since I was born and I can't believe I went there and came out alive.
Anyway, for the record. My friend, constantly the victim of my discontented whining, thank you for braving the gross violation of conduct on my part and still staying my friend. Thanks (and no thanks) for the ride to the hospital in the middle of the night.
Everyone who visited me, brought food and kept me company (whether I was awake or not!): thanks a million. Much appreciated.
Doctors, nurses and staff of the hospital: How could you???? But well, I owe you.
Canteen: Gosh you suck.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Miss Neat

She's impeccably neat. Obssessively-compulsively neat with herself. I really couldn't say much for her home or work-station as I have been to neither.

But she passes by like a porcelain doll on stilts, placing one foot ahead of the other in an accurately-calculated step, down to the last fraction of an inch. Everything will be in place - her hair, make-up, necklace, earrings. I feel awfully uncomfortable in her presence.

She is hardly ever around, just passes by in a stately aura with a trail of not-so-neat almost adoring friends following closely behind. But you know when she passes. The air is broken with the friction between obssessively impeccable and incorrigeably untidy. There's a slight click-click on the tiles and Miss Neat floats by, swishing her hips carefully eyed by 20-odd pairs of male eyes full of hope and an equal number of female eyes full of perceived disdain.

I've had more than one opportunity (I'm not sure whether it classifies as one) of being in the women's rest-room when she walked in. They are usually quiet entries, where she sneaks up on you. Perhaps she does not want to be noticed for not having her make-up on right. But she doesn't know it's fine - exactly the same way it was when she arrived at work in the morning.

She will proceed to comb her hair that has already been combed, pull it through into a pony-tail or curl it into place. Her manicured hands and shapely nails will pull the zipper of her clean (disinfected?) handbag to rummage neatly - if one can do that according to the laws of life - through its contents and retrieve a lipstick. It's really not needed, but it seems like a ritual now.

Carefully, with deft hands and keen eyes decorated with mascara, she outlines her mouth and purses her lips for effect. I am way passed my comfort zone and really, don't see me as a stalker or confused heterosexual. No, this is not attraction. It is wonder, amusement, repulsion and awe all rolled up in one.

I sometimes have the urge to shake her like a rag doll to stop her from being so perfectly "Barbie"-like. But then I stop myself. She just might break.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Coffee break at work when it's raining outside

You sit on the steel chair lost in a large room full of others just like them, nursing a cup of free coffee. The deep smell wafts into your nostrils as you lose yourself in a maze of time, watching the rain drops fall in a movie-like fashion - slow and meaningful - outside the glass windows.

It's that time of contemplation, dreaming, hoping and pining. Your coffee break at work when it's raining outside. You realise you're hungry only on some occasions like these. Other times, you just sit alone and ignore time passing away. The atmosphere is so meditative when the clouds burst. Rain falling like a sheet against reality, screening you from what you wish to hide. You wonder about silly things. At least I do! - How big is a raindrop to grasshoppers? Do ants drown in the flood of a puddle? What would it be like if I was that small? Stupid existential questions of what ifs and how sos.

It still isn't nice having to go back inside when it's pouring outside. So you struggle to rise and help yourself to another thermacol cup, unmindful of the damage to the environment, arguing with your own mind that you deserve another shot of diluted caffeine. You slump back in your chair and revert to the comfortable vacuum of bored expression. Doodles on the table-top and eavesdropped conversations are such time-consuming and interesting passtimes.

You decipher gossip from the table nearby and feel good about your wonderful ability to understand the complexities of an unknown relationship just by listening to a stream of bitchy words. If someone you know passes by, you smile vacantly and get back to listening to the conversation, uninvited. It is still raining outside.

Alternatively, if you are the chatty sociable sort, you will still be in the cafeteria only this time with friends or colleagues. The conversation will be among yourselves and the bored loner seated at the table near you will be patting his back as you regurgitate gossip. You still spend hours at the table, eat the over-priced food, drink the free coffee, be anti-institutional and plan for the weekend.

Finally, whichever sort you are, you decide it's time to go. There's work a-pending and a boss to satisfy. You stand, stretch (as inconspicuously as you can), drag your feet to the office and give the world outside a last parting glance. It has stopped raining outside.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Bliss. Quiet oblivion. Unknowingness, fuzzy images (sometimes) surrounded by darkness. A curtain away from reality.

I try to fight the shadow, swim back to consciousness, reaching for the veil to pull away the darkness and see my window.

Tiny slits open. A flash of light, and grills, very conspicuous in my frame of vision. Steady breaths get steadier, slow with the rise and fall of my chest. I sink back into the darkness.

How long has it been? Half an hour, an hour, ten minutes? It feels like seconds...

I reach out again. A watch appears in my head, numbers and a voice, my voice saying "Nine. Work at nine."

Now I can imagine where things are... I see the window, the cupboard, the clothes. Though they have no clear outlines, I ready myself for the familiar.

With a great amount of energy and an equal measure of will power, I force my body to sit up. My head follows suit.

Hair obscures vision. I draw my hand mechanically, like the driver of a machine, wipe the hair from my face and let it fall lifeless. I lean against the wall and sleep again.

I jolt awake. I've had a dream, but that is not the reason for my wakefulness. Strangely, I am alert. My body is mine again and my head connected with it.

Refreshed, I stand, steady myself from the slight spinning. Then down a glass of water and I'm off to the loo to pee.

If I just had the time...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

To me

I know it's seems odd and not possible, but somehow I have the word 'journalist' written on my job profile.

As part of my job, as is with every journalist especially the arm-chair sort, there's not a day that goes by without calls. The constant introductions every five minutes, the repeating of names (like mine or Sholin or Jolandra or Balakrishnaprasad Subramania Kumaran Harisundar Chattopadhyaya, without insult to anyone or any community) over phoneline static, the interpretation of Hindi-, Bengali-, Konkani-, Kannada-flavoured English.

It was going great yesterday. Everyone decided to speak to me, although most times the conversation ended with: "I don't know much about this. Please contact Mr/Ms X, who will be in a better position to answer your query." I finally got the elusive Ms X and rang her up.

(Heavy traffic sounds. Honking)

D: Hello, may I speak to Ms X please?

X: Yes, speaking.

D: I am Dielle D'Souza calling from the P... A....

X: Who??

D: (very slowly, trying to be very clear) Dielle D'Souza from the P... A...

X: Yea? ok?

D: I'm doing a story on dolphins and I wanted your help. I spoke to Mr S and he told me you work with dolphins. (bla bla bla)

X: Yes, I do, but who did you say you are again?

D: I'm Dielle D'Souza from the P... A...

X: Is this a joke?

D: (to self) What?? Would I call sources to chat them up just for the heck of it? Waste money and time? Introduce myself to random strangers who will almost never get my name... and screw opportunities for developing a source like I did the other day?

D: (in conversation) No, this is not a joke. I'm sorry to disturb you but I'm doing a story on dolphins and was told you work with them.

X: This is an April Fool's joke isn't it? (laughing) Who's this?

D: (almost cracking up) No, this is not a joke. I'm really doing a story and I need your help.

X: (between bouts of laughter) I'm sure this is a joke...

D: No Ms X, it's not. (watching everyone around crack up incontrollably and finding it very hard not to laugh)

X: Listen (laughter), could you call me back at 8 o'clock please?

D: I really need your help. Will you be able to speak to me then? (to self: and not think it's an idiotic friend on an April Fool's loose-end)

X: Yes yes. Call me at 8.

D: All right then. Thank you.

(Puts phone down. Bursts out laughing)

Call at 8:05pm unanswered. Story up with someone else's two-line quote.

Happy April Fool's Day.............. to me!

Note: This post was not meant to hurt the feelings of anyone/any community. If anyone/any community does feel insulted, I apologise profusely.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April Fool's Day to U

Oh yea... April Fools Day. I've never really been made a fool of (intentionally, on this day.. otherwise.... yea!). I can't remember fooling anyone, except mandatorily my mom, other than someone we'll call U.

It was a pretty stupid thing but U got fooled anyway. It was over the phone of all things and U was completely baffled. U had called earlier and I pretended I couldn't hear. When U called again, I pretended like it was the first time U had called that day. U thought the first call had been placed to someone else and U had said things like "idiot" and "stupid" when saying "I can hear you". The only other person registered under 'D' on the mobile phone was probably Dean of the University.

Now, U wouldn't want things like that, would U? The call lasted about 10 minutes, seven of which consisted of "But I'm sure I called you. Who else could I have called? I know I heard your voice and you said you couldn't hear me" and "No... there's no one else at home and this is the first time this phone's rung all day. I was studying near the phone and if I didn't hear the phone, it means it didn't ring. Think logically, will you?"

Thoroughly confused, U put the phone down. I let it lie for a while because I knew U would spend most of the time wondering what just happened.

Surely, when I called again after about half an hour, U was still confused. I asked U about the problem in chapter 5 and U said it was left out.

I put the phone down, but not before saying "Happy April Fool's Day".

U pelted stones at me the next day.

Happy April Fool's Day to U!

I live for vacations

I really do live for vacations. It's the thought that I'll eventually be off again that keeps me going in the first place. Not the hope that I'll be first on the team, or that I'll get a salary hike next month (well, maybe that too!).

How far along can you go without a break? And I'm not counting weekends here. Those are the breaths of fresh air mandatory for your survival in this wicked work world, where you break through the surface at the end of every week to grab the life-giver.

Cynically, weekends are the days you're given off to recuperate so you can work the next week to the "best of your capacity". Don't for a second think they're actually wishing you a good weekend when Friday comes round the corner.

Weekends or week-offs (if you're one of those unfortunate souls who slog a six-day week) are the days unofficially assigned to you to finish your laundry pile-up, pay your bills, explain your late nights to your landlord, and cook for the rest of the next seven days. That's the only time you work for yourself. The days when you're the boss, not counting the landlord of course, and the state of your house clearly tells how much of a boss you are.

Too bad for those several years and a couple of kids into a marriage, where wifey dear is undoubtedly boss of home and hearth. For those, like me, sworn to a life away from home with room mates and flatmates, landlords and neighbours, it's the tussle to keep everyone happy including yourself, the hope that you'll make it through the week without a complaint that you left the gate open and the dogs came in, or the pulling of lots and unspoken authority on who should clean the dismembered rat lying outside your front door.

I've seen shared houses where logs on the wall spell out chores for the week down to who pays for the milk on which days. Horrible stories of money-hungry roomies and landlords who stake out lobbies and kitchens reminding you day after day that you owe something to someone. Worse, stories of how roomies are tricked into paying for another's bed and breakfast.

Strangely enough, it's an interesting world. One that you can get tired of easily, hate all-at-once, but never really escape. I suppose it's the human obsession with the fact that one must belong - to a family, to friends, lovers, spouses, God, past, present or future. It would be so easy to just float into oblivion. But then, would you belong to oblivion?

As I said, I belong to vacations. It's the closest to oblivion for me. I can leave the dirt of office politics and forced ethics behind and get to a time that I designed. No work, no laundry, no schedules, no tempered expressions.

Just me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Marriage plans

Knew that would generate interest and lead you here. Now that I've turned you into the Sucker For Today, you can read on....

Loads of people seem to be getting hitched these days. Rather bad time for an investment, don't you think? Sure it seems like you're saving money by sharing costs, but if you look at it really carefully it's not much more than cohabiting. With the damned strings attached.

Poor losers... anyway, my father has long treasured his Asterix collection and he's said he'll place them into my jealous hands as my "dowry".

The wheels are turning and if I am to get that collection before long, I'd either have to swindle my father out of it or get married.

Now pops is not one for getting swindled so there goes my option. The easiest way out is to catch some sucker, get hitched and ditched. That way, I'll have the Asterix collection, alimony and no tag-along.

Yes I know I can buy them all for myself. But the whole point of them being a collection 'inherited' with all the stains and memories just gets wiped away. I won't see that patch of oil on the corner of the book when I indulged in the forbidden activity of eating while reading.

The little bug that was mercilessly murdered as we slammed the book shut and squished around where we thought he might be... Later we'd open the book to see the splatter of the 'enemy'.

And the page I ripped in half as I fought with J over who ought to read the book and the face I had to look at when my father found out...

"The Magic Carpet" which has literally travelled across oceans and is hopefully now in Melbourne, and will stay there till I hop on a plane to go get it back...

The yellowed pages of hilarious creativity and friends we'd wished were real...

The little notes on the front page:
"Darling Dominic,
Happy birthday!
Love always,
13 March 1983"...

Or maybe my dad will get fed-up of waiting and sick of my consistent whining that he'll dump them on me one day... (hope!)

"These women are crazy"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It happened to me

There'll always be old faithful, whichever way you look at it. Book, movie, place, car, friend and your old shorts. It's your comfort zone. But, sometimes you just have to give them up.

I'd had a good swim and we were deliberating an idli-sambar breakfast. It was the end of the month and liquidity was nil. Even a packet of peanuts was a 'Do-I-really-need-it' situation. We got stuck at a traffic signal. A bus stopped alongside and I reached into the pockets of old faithful (not-so-deep, cottony, familiar) to see how much money I had. A coin fell out.

It was only a buck, but in this hour of financial crisis, it could mean the difference between breakfast and tummy-grumbling hungry. Should I have left it there for a beggar? Let it go since I'm an earning member of my family? But wait, that's the point. The sweat and blood that went into that Re 1 was my story. Ok, so I sub stories for a living. Yet, it's still my money and I wasn't going to leave it at a traffic light.

I hopped off the bike. There were only a couple of seconds before the light changed and I didn't want to be the reason a trail of children arrived late to school. Quick as lightning I scooped up the coin and hopped back on. There came a heart-rending scream, stomach-churning sound, a heart-stopping moment. Old faithful had given way. She couldn't take my selfish jumping about anymore.

So she left me sitting on the bike with a rip through her vital organs (the largest rip you've ever seen), the peeking of bright blue and shame-faced embarrassment from the beggars' curse. I couldn't get idli-sambar for breakfast that day. Horror!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chandni Chowk to China

Really, what the hell was I thinking?

We thought we'd go for Slumdog Millionaire, but when we realised the movie hadn't released at the theatre near us, we should have just had dinner and come home. But, no. We decided we had to do something on a Friday night and ended up whacking our heads in frustration over one of the most awful movies known to mankind - Chandni Chowk to China.

True I'm a new addition to the movie-watching club. True I don't know art from fart. True I have no idea how to critically assess the essence of technical virtuosity of bla di da in visual effects. But I sure as hell know this is not a movie to watch.

It's a movie that goes from nowhere to everywhere. A reincarnation of the great Chinese warrior Liu Sheng is born as a vegetable cutter with a Mangal Pandey handlebar mustache - a man who only knows how to cut potatoes, but loves Luck so much she decides to give him a miss everytime. Until he's cheated by a fake soothsayer called Chopstick (what???) and shipped to China. Among all the mish mash appears a perpetually weepy heroine who cries even when she's happy. For that matter, there's a lot more crying in this movie and it's not just from the audience who have by now wished they'd strangled the director. EVERYONE cries. And it's supposed to be a funny movie. Whatever happened to comedy?

The songs are terribly unbearable. Lyrics unworthy of nursery rhymes and seasoned actors 'acting' like they are drama school rejects. Some poor soul decides to get himself killed to take the script forward and incite the potato-cutter to learn Shaolin kung-fu in revenge. So eventually, the vicious skilled Chinese kung-fu villain is defeated by a vegetable chopper from Chandni Chowk. And so the story goes on to the happy ending of reuniting part-Chinese identical twins with their Chinese father who knows kung-fu and the subsequent opening of a Dehli-ishtyle food cart right near the Great Wall. Chop chop.

Any saving grace? Hell, no. Even the crowd in the cinema hall consisted of college-going adolescent boys complete with dry comments and gelled hair. Now, where's my lawyer?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shanti in paradise


I was sat down and told there was something urgent to be talked about, that it couldn't be left for later, that it all began because of me, and the final decision was mine. The next day I was whisked off to paradise by a group of friends.
We drove the 5 hours to Gokarna, stopping only for breakfast at a little roadside restaurant to have idlis and sambar with septuagenarians after their morning walk. I missed the country music, but it was well made up for by metal and trance to keep the spirits going.
You really must stop when you're on the hill before Gokarna. The 'om' of the beach is quite clearly visible and you certainly feel you're a million miles from nowhere on the empty road. You know that feeling when you're about get some place with the anticipation of a good time, don't you? Well, that was exactly it.
We stayed in one of the many mud houses and shanties that dot the beach. The owners rent out more willingly to firangs than to locals, but speaking politely in sufficiently unaccented Indian English should do the trick. There's not much to offer on the menu other than humus, eggs and pasta, but you don't need much apart from a cold beer and a sandwich.
The sand was lovely to touch and the water a perfect 'swimming' temperature. The gentle waves grew in strength with the rise of the tide and I could hear them thunder all night long. Remember the time at Palolem when we were in class 5? The thatched hut, the cold night breeze, the smell of salt and perfect peace? It was a trip to the past and I wished you were with me, so I could share the wonderful solitude with you.
The great part about Gokarna is the three beaches connected and paradoxically separated by hills. We trekked around them to get to Half-moon beach and then to Paradise beach. I spotted dolphins and then the cheer went up as the others realised they weren't just a figment of my imagination. From way up, I watched mum reprimand a playful youngster as he swam dangerously close to the rocks. I know you'd have wanted to just jump into that clear blue water and romp around with them. I did too. It was sparkling with the sun at the farthest horizon you can imagine. I was stopped short by the sheer beauty of earth meets water meets sky. Mesmerising.
It's a hippie paradise, just the sort you like. Freedom to wear what you like, do what you like, eat what you like. Those Rajasthani lamps you thought would look great in your dream house twinkle all over the place. In the night, the sky is clear and you can find Orion and the dippers (at least what I thought were the dippers!) without much difficulty. It touched full moon when we were there. Lucky us!
I spent a lot of time alone, thinking of you, missing you and feeling close to God. You've read my post on Him painting the sky, haven't you? It's quite the same emotion. I walked on the beach, felt the sand sift through my toes, sat on a warm comforting rock and looked for shells the way you used to.
My friends gave me a wonderful birthday gift and I'm really thankful for that. I had a great time and want to go back there soon.
I know you're just the same as when I left you - confident, responsible and free. Me and my self rolled up in one.

Keep in touch

PS: The next time I go there, you're definitely coming along. :)