Travellers Tales

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Ruin Sorbees

Meant to be read aloud (for the full effect).
Its amazing, you will understand what 'tendjewberrymud' means by the end of the conversation.

The following is an actual telephone exchange between a hotel guest and room-service, at a hotel in Asia which was recorded and published in the Far East Economic Review.....

Room Service (RS): - "Morny. Ruin sorbees."

Guest (G): - "Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service"

RS:- "Rye..Ruin sorbees..morny! Djewish to odor sunteen??"

G: - "Uh..yes..I'd like some bacon and eggs"

RS: - "Ow July den?"

G: - "What??"

G : - "Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry, scrambled please."

RS: - "Ow July dee bayhcem...crease?"

G: -"Crisp will be fine."

RS : - "Hokay. An San tos?"

G: - "What?"

RS: -"San tos. July San tos?"

G: - "I don't think so"

RS: - "No? Judo one toes??"

G: - "I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'judo one toes' means."

RS: - "Toes! toes!...why djew Don Juan toes? Ow bow inglish mopping we bother?"

G: - "English muffin!! I've got it! You were saying 'Toast.' Fine. Yes, an English muffin will be fine."

RS: - "We bother?"

G: - "No...just put the bother on the side."

RS: - "Wad?"

G: - "I mean butter...just put it on the side."

RS: - "Copy?"

G: - "Sorry?"

RS: - "Copy...tea...mill?"

G: - "Yes. Coffee please, and that's all."

RS: - "One Minnie. Ass ruin torino fee, strangle ache, crease baychem, tossy singlish mopping we bother honey sigh, and copy....rye??"

G: - "Whatever you say"

RS: - "Tendjewberrymud"

G : - "You're welcome"

Driving in India

For the benefit of every Tom, Dick and Harry visiting India and daring to drive on Indian roads, here are a few hints for survival.

They are applicable to every place in India except the state of Bihar, where life outside a vehicle is only marginally safer. Indian road rules broadly operate within the domain of karma where you do your best, and leave the results to your insurance company.

The hints are as follows:

Do we drive on the left or right of the road?
The answer is "both". You start on the left of the road, unless it is occupied. In that case, go to the right, unless that is also occupied. Then proceed by occupying the next available gap, as in chess. Just trust your instincts, ascertain the direction, and proceed. Adherence to road rules leads to much misery and occasional fatality. Most drivers don't drive, but just aim their vehicles in the intended direction. Don't get discouraged or underestimate yourself; except for a belief in reincarnation, the other drivers are not in any better position.

Pedestrian Crossings:
Don't stop at pedestrian crossings just because some fool wantsto cross the road. You may do so only if you enjoy being bumped in the back. Pedestrians have been strictly instructed to cross only when traffic is moving slowly or has come to a dead stop because some minister is in town. Still some idiot may try to wade across, but then, let us not talk ill of the dead.

Blowing your horn:
is not a sign of protest as in some countries.We horn to express joy, resentment, frustration, romance and bare lust (two brisk blasts), or, just mobilize a dozing cow in the middle of the bazaar.

Keep informative books in the glove compartment. You may read them during traffic jams, while awaiting the chief minister's motorcade, or waiting for the rain-waters to recede when over-ground traffic meets underground drainage.

Night driving and trucks:
on Indian roads can be an exhilarating experience (for those with the mental makeup of Genghis Khan). In a way, it is like playing Russian roulette, because you do not know who amongst the drivers is loaded. What looks like premature dawn on the horizon turns out to be a truck attempting a speed record. On encountering it, just pull partly into the field adjoining the road until the phenomenon passes. Our roads do not have shoulders, but occasional boulders. Do not blink your lights expecting reciprocation. The only dim thing in the truck is the driver, and with the peg of illicit arrack (alcohol) he has had at the last stop, his total cerebral functions add up to little more than a naught. Truck drivers are the James Bonds of India, and are licensed to kill. Often you may encounter a single powerful beam of light about six feet above the ground. This is not a super motorbike, but a truck approaching you with a single light on, usually the left one. It could be the right one, but never get too close to investigate. You may prove your point posthumously. Of course, all this occurs at night, on the trunk roads. a.. Daytime driving and trucks: During the daytime, trucks are more visible, except that the drivers will never show any signal. (And you must watch for the absent signals; they are the greater threat). Only, you will often observe that the cleaner who sits next to the driver, will project his hand and wave hysterically. This is definitely not to be construed as a signal for a left turn. The waving is just an expression of physical relief on a hot day.

Occasionally you might see what looks like a UFO with blinking colored lights and weird sounds emanating from within. This is an illuminated bus, full of happy pilgrims singing bhajans. These pilgrims go at breakneck speed, seeking contact with the Almighty, often meeting with success.

Auto Rickshaw (Baby Taxi):
The result of a collision between a rickshaw and an automobile, this three-wheeled vehicle works on an external combustion engine that runs on a mixture of kerosene oil and creosote. This triangular vehicle carries iron rods, gas cylinders or passengers three times its weight and dimension, at an unspecified fare. After careful geometric calculations, children are folded and packed into these auto rickshaws until some children in the periphery are not in contact with the vehicle at all. Then their school bags are pushed into the microscopic gaps all round so those minor collisions with other vehicles on the road cause no permanent damage. Of course, the peripheral children are charged half the fare and also learn Newton's laws of motion enroute to school. Auto-rickshaw drivers follow the road rules depicted in the film Ben Hur, and are licensed to irritate.

The moped looks like an oil tin on wheels and makes noise like an electric shaver. It runs 30 miles on a teaspoon of petrol and travels at break-bottom speed. As the sides of the road are too rough for a ride, the moped drivers tend to drive in the middle of the road; they would rather drive under heavier vehicles instead of around them and are often "mopped" off the tarmac.

Leaning Tower of Passes:
Most bus passengers are given free passes and during rush hours, there is absolute mayhem. There are passengers hanging off other passengers, who in turn hang off the railings and the overloaded bus leans dangerously, defying laws of gravity but obeying laws of surface tension. As drivers get paid for overload (so many Rupees per kg of passenger), no questions are ever asked. Steer clear of these buses by a width of three passengers.

One-way Street:
These boards are put up by traffic people to add jest in their otherwise drab lives. Don't stick to the literal meaning and proceed in one direction. In metaphysical terms, it means that you cannot proceed in two directions at once. So drive as you like, in reverse throughout, if you are the fussy type.

Lest I sound hypercritical, I must add a positive point also. rash and fast driving in residential areas has been prevented by providing a "speed breaker"; two for each house. This mound, incidentally, covers the water and drainage pipes for that residence and is left untarred for easy identification by the corporation authorities, should they want to recover the pipe for year-end accounting. If, after all this, you still want to drive in India, have your lessons between 8 pm and 11 am-when the police have gone home. The citizen is then free to enjoy the 'FREEDOM OF SPEED' enshrined in our constitution.

Having said all this, the accident rate and related deaths are less in India compared to US or other countries!!

Choppy Skies - A white-knuckle flight on Air Zimbabwe

This is a true story published in the Chicago Tribune "Travel" section for Sunday, June 6, 1999, in a story entitled "Choppy Skies - A white-knuckle flight on Air Zimbabwe" by Gaby Plattner.

It seems that Plattner was traveling with a backpacking group through Africa as they found themselves waiting in Kariba airport for a flight to Hwange.

"Our flight was delayed, so we settled down to wait. And wait. Three hours later, we were finally told the plane was ready to board. Air Zimbabwe bought many of its planes secondhand from other airlines, and the one we got into was no exception. Dirty and ancient, the medium size jetliner was clearly one that no one else had wanted. Inside, we settled into the seats with 80 or 90 other passengers and waited. And waited some more. Finally, the pilot's voice came over the loudspeaker. "We're all ready to go ladies and gentlemen. However, we've been waiting for the copilot, and he still has not arrived. Since we've already waited so long, we're just going to be flying without a copilot today." There was a nervous buzz throughout the cabin. He continued, 'If any of you feel uncomfortable with this, feel free to disembark now and Air Zimbabwe will put you on the next available flight to Hwange.' Here he paused. 'Unfortunately, we are not sure when that will be. But rest assured, I have flown this route hundreds of times, we have clear blue skies today, and there are no foreseeable problems.' No one in Plattner's group, doubtful as they might have been, wanted to wait any longer at Kariba for a plane that may or may not materialize, so they stayed on board for the one hour flight.

Once the aircraft reached cruising altitude, the pilot came on the loudspeaker again. 'Ladies and gentlemen. I am going to use the bathroom. I have put the plane on autopilot and everything will be fine. I just don't want you to worry.' That said, he came out of the cockpit and fastened the door open with a rubber band to a latch on the wall. Then he went to the bathroom. Plattner continues: Suddenly, we hit some hard air and the plane bucked up and down as we flew into the turbulence. Nothing too bad, but the cabin was shaken hard for a few moments. The rubber band snapped off with a loud 'ping!' and went sailing down the aisle. The door promptly swung shut! A moment later, the pilot came out of the bathroom. When he saw the closed door, he stopped cold. I watched him from the back and wondered what was wrong. The flight attendant came running up and appeared to be terrified. After a few seconds they both tried to open the door. But it wouldn't budge. It dawned on me that our pilot was locked out of the cockpit. I later learned that cockpit doors lock automatically from the inside to prevent terrorists from entering. Without a copilot, there was no one to open the door from the inside. By now, the rest of the passengers had become aware of the problem, and we watched the pilot, horrified. What would he do? A nervous chill was felt in the cabin. After a moment of contemplation, the pilot hurried to the back of the plane. He returned holding a big axe. Without ceremony, he proceeded to destroy the cockpit door. We were all glued to our seats as we watched him swing the axe several times. Once he managed to break the lock from the door, he reached inside, opened the door, and let himself back in. He calmly sat down and put on his seat belt. Then he came on the intercom, his voice a little shakier this time than before. 'Ah, ladies and gentlemen, we just had a little problem there, but everything is very fine now. Air Zimbabwe has plans to cover every possible event, even pilots getting locked out of the cockpit. So please relax and enjoy the rest of our flight!' "