Tuesday, December 25, 2007

monkeys are good, not great, or: boring christmas eve much improved by friendly south africans

you'll noticed that i've taken the liberty of grossly abusing the concept of a 'subtitle' to mash together two completely separate thoughts. first, compliments: you are very observant! second, justification: i'm feeling nostalgic for college.

i'm in the himalayas this weekend. yesterday, i had some tiny adventures. here are the highlights:

  • food out of a dixie cup: not so bad!
  • monkeys: good, not great
  • indian guys who get skittish when addressed directly
  • cool south africans significantly improve christmas eve dinner

tiny adventure #1: food out of a dixie cup: not so bad!

i set out for a walk yesterday afternoon. about 20 minutes up the road, there's a decent strip of stores and coffee shops, interspersed with lookout points across the himalayas. there were tons of people running around, chattering loudly, taking pictures, and snacking. most people were snacking on one of three things: popcorn, ice cream, or tomato soup.

i must tell you about the magic of the tomato soup. all of the food kiosks here have that machine that usually houses the slurpee slush at 7Eleven. the one that has the clear plastic basin at the top with giant stirring arms, and a spout at the bottom for convenient dispensing.

instead of dispensing a half-gallon of cherry-flavored ice into a basin with a straw stuck in it and that requires two hands to hold, these dispense ultra hot and spicy water-based tomato soup. when you hand the guy 10 rupees ($0.25), he turns around, picks up a dixie cup, fills it from the 7Eleven machine, and drops some chives into it before he hands it to you. it's steamy and super salty and satisfying.

tiny adventure #2: monkeys: good, not great

all along the road, there are tons of monkeys. monkeys traveling alone, monkeys traveling with friends, monkeys that are big, monkeys that are small. some are breaking things apart and eating them, and some are galloping ahead. india is great because there are always some random animals hanging out. in delhi they're cows, in shimla they're monkeys.

how cute you are! i said to one in particular yesterday. you have fur all over your face! i see you quietly munching your fruit. you look lovable. i smiled at it, and gave it a friendly wave. the wave was the same wave i give to those i genuinely like, but have little to no interest in becoming close friends with. like this monkey.

then, crazy monkey lunged at me and i yelped and hopped back. he also got scared, squealed, and jumped back. we gave each other the 'what the fuck is wrong with you' look with the big eyes and half-scared, half-angry eyebrows. this won't work, we said to one another. i tossed my hair at him as i whipped around, and we went our separate ways. stupid monkey.

tiny adventure #3: indian guys who get skittish when addressed directly

later, i found my way to the institute of advanced studies, further down the road. it's a huge, gorgeous, gothic building and expansive grounds with lots of ledges where you can perch and see the himalayas. i scouted out a good spot and continued reading tess of the d'urbervilles, which i bought for $1.80 on the shopping strip. i read for a couple of hours.

around 1:30, three indian guys wandered to my ledge, leaned up on it, and started chattering and giggling. i heard one of them squeak, 'excuse me, ma'am?' because i don't believe in acknowledging people who don't have the balls to speak at appropriate volumes for catching people's attentions, i kept on reading. they chatted and giggled for a few minutes more, and then i heard it again. he said quietly, 'excuse me, ma'am?' again i ignored them, and they talked and laughed louder than before. finally, he won command of his voice and said loudly, 'excuse me! ma'am!'

i looked at him and said, 'yes?' they giggled. 'you are not from this country?' he asked. 'no,' i said. 'where are you coming from?' 'states,' i replied. more giggling. he didn't have anything more to say, so i went back to my book.

they started to get sort of loud, so i hopped down from the ledge, got my ipod and scrolled to the new indiefeed hip hop podcast i just discovered. it is so awesome! as i was putting in my headphones, i glanced at the boys. they were all staring directly at me. i stared back and said, 'what?' tittering. 'seriously. what do you want?' they averted they eyes, exchanged glances, and giggled coquettishly.

i sighed loudly, looked at them and said calmly, 'you guys are like a bunch of little girls. giggling all the time. you're irritating.'

they stopped laughing and left soon after. i put on my Ice Queen tiara and continued reading about tess in peace.

tiny adventure #4: cool south africans significantly improve christmas eve dinner

my stupid luxury hotel held a huge christmas eve buffet dinner last night that was mandatory for all guests. nothing like a giant gala dinner to highlight the fact that you're traveling alone and make you feel all awkward and squirmy about it when you were feeling fine before.

i had been sitting at my table for a few minutes when a lovely girl came up to me and said, 'hallo. i noticed you were dining alone. would you like to join me and my mother?' i looked over at the table she had come from and saw a friendly looking woman waving at me, similar to the way i wave at monkeys and some people.

i said, 'why yes, i would. that would be lovely. thank you so much for the invitation.' it was as though i was accepting an invitation to dance at the netherfield ball.

after about 15 minutes of conversation, i was able to confirm that they were, indeed, really cool. monique (the mother) was a lawyer, and laura (the daughter) was currently in law school. laura races horses professionally, and monique used to. they also breed horses, and have about 23 right now. they say that you can tell when a horse is going to be great around the 6 year mark, and also that they eat too much. we drank wine, talked politics, and rated all of the desserts.

a pretty good day.


Blogger Yodaskin said...

You just reminded me of my favorite Dr. Seuss book. I think it went like so: "Ten little monkeys drumming on drums! Drum monkey drum monkey drum monkey drum! Something something bah bum bum bum!" I'm sure it facilitated much bedtime hypnosis by my parents. Thanks for the memory!

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how old were the dudes?

yodaskin, that is very catchy.

3:28 AM  
Blogger Rita said...

(I am reading these posts all out of order.)

Your monkey adventure made me snort out loud.

4:44 AM  

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