3 years

The Travel Issue 2018

The Great Desi Boorist

Illustration
Saurabh Singh
Jug Suraiya is a columnist with The Times of India
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Remember? How we scratched our names on Taj? Or was it Ajanta?

ARRE PINTU, YAAR, have you seen this ad they’re showing on television about an eight-night, seven-day tour of foreign, air ticket, hotel, Bombay thali cooked by bona fide Brahmin maharaj, sacred thread and everything, all included?

What’s that? Where in foreign? Arre, yaar, foreign is foreign, only, no? What does it matter where it is foreign. It is all same to same.

Before we used to go to Goa, which is also foreign, having people with funny names like Fernandez, and Souza, and Miranda.

But after that mantri called us ‘scum of the earth’, and all because we were doing soo-soo on the road, we decided not to go there anymore, after I looked up dictionary and found out ‘scum’ was an Angrezi gaali.

Now we have to find other parts of foreign. So let’s go, taking kiddies and the missuses also. Tali doh!

Ah, here is airport. Let’s do dhakka-dhooki and get to head of security check queue. Now we’re on plane. Very nice plane. What, one of your kiddies wanting to do soo-soo and bathroom is locked? No problem, ji. Just tell kiddie to do soo-soo beside the seat.

What? Kiddie has done not just soo-soo but also big job. No matter. Just snap your fingers and call air hostess to clean it up. That’s what these naukranis are for. And while she’s here, tell her to get us a drink-shink. I’ll have scotcha, Patiala, mind. What’ll you have? Oof, oh. Never mind the missus not letting you have drink- shink. Tell her it’s not Tuesday, so having drink-shink and eating meat-sheat is okay. Specially now that we are almost in foreign.

Oh, how nice foreign is! Only trouble with foreign is there are no paan shops. What? You are carrying paan with you, along with gutka? Oh, you are a very my dear fellow! Let’s have some. I am dying to do paan-thook on the street, just like home only.

Pintu, kiddies! Pay attention! Guide is showing us very famous old monument. How old is very famous old monument? Very old, older than your nani-ma’s nani-ma. What’s it, famous for? It’s famous because it’s old. Don’t ask silly questions.

Quick, Pintu! Guide is not looking. Let’s scratch our names on wall of famous old monument. ‘Chintu and Pintu was hear’, so that whole world will know we have also been foreign.

Remember? How we scratched our names on Taj? Or was it Ajanta? All these old monuments so same to same. Very confusing.

Now guide is taking us to very special scenic spot to watch sunset and listen to birdies singing. What a fine scenic spot! What a fine sunset! What a fine singing of birdies! It makes me want to do my famous Shammi Kapoor imitation. Yaaahooo! Chahe koi mujhe jungli kahe. Yaaahooo!

Arre? Why are people covering their ears and running away? Maybe they’re too young to remember Shammi. Maybe I should have done SRK instead. Next time.

Now we have checked in at hotel. Very nice hotel. What, you kiddies have finished your chips and don’t know where to throw empty packets? Oh, ho! Just throw them on carpet.

What a fine hotel room! What a fine hotel bathroom! With not one but two- two potties, one big and one small beside it. Big must be for big job and small for small job.

But no lota. How to wash bottom without lota after big job? Wash it in the wash basin. That’s why it’s called wash basin. It’s to wash your base in.

Pintu, Pintu! Now is our chance! Both missuses have gone to do shopping- wopping, taking kiddies with them. Now we can go to hotel bar for drink-shink, so what if it is Tuesday.

Do you know why a bar is called a bar? Because we like to go to it bar bar. Heh, heh! You like my joke? Tali doh!

Oh, what a fine bar this is! And what a fine girl is sitting all by herself at the bar! And what a fine short, short skirt she is wearing!

I think I’ll go and line maaro with her, Pintu. You just sit here and watch me go and line maaro with her.

You watched me line maaro with her, no? And you watched how she showed me her middle finger?

Showing their middle finger to someone is how people in foreign places do namaste.

Now you go, and line maaro with her and she’ll do namaste to you too.

You’re back very quickly, Pintu. That was a very fast middle-finger namaste she did to you. Oh, she didn’t show you her middle finger? Her big boyfriend came and showed you not his middle finger but his whole fist?

Oh, ho. Maybe it’s time we left this bar, and went to another one before that big boyfriend comes and shows me his whole fist as well. I wonder if showing their whole fist to people is foreign people’s way of saying Tali doh!, like we do.

You can never say. Because, after all, all foreign people are ajeeb. Like those chinki-looking foreign people who come from a foreign place called the Northeast.

Anyway, it is very nice to be back in our fine hotel, where the kiddies and the missusses have returned from shopping-wopping.

What all have you bought-shought? Jeans and T- shirts for the kiddies and fancy underwears for ladies for the missusses? How fine is that, eh Pintu? They make very fine fancy underwear for ladies in foreign.

You did haggling-shaggling over the price with the shopkeeper, no?

What, no haggling-shaggling over the price?

Oh, I see. You didn’t do haggling-shaggling over the price because you did not pay any price.

You made the kiddies wear two-two jeans and T-shirts under their old jeans and T-shirts, and you wore two-two sets of underwears under your old underwears and walked out of the shop? What a fine idea.

Chalo, Pintu, let us also go do shopping-wopping tomorrow. Shopping- wopping is great fun in foreign where people are so bhola-bhala and trusting-wusting.

Not like back at home, where people are very chalaku, especially those customswalas who open up all your bori-bistras when you are returning from foreign.

So when we go back home, we must again wear two- two of everything under our old clothes and hope to get past those chalaku customswalas who’ll want to make us pay duty.

Duty, shuty. Our duty is to avoid paying their duty.

Challo, ji. All good things must come to an end, and today is our last day in foreign.

We are all ready and packed. Missusses, kiddies, have you packed all the spoons and forks you picked up from the breakfast buffet? And the towels from the bathroom? What’s that? You tried to pack the TV too, but it won’t fit in the suitcase? Not to mind. Must not be greedy.

Eh, Pintu, see how these friendly hotel bellboys carrying our suitcases, and the doorman calling taxi for us, are all holding out their hands. How do they know our desi custom of doing Tali doh! to each other?

Tali doh! bellboys! Tali doh! doorman! Arre, they are looking angry, I don’t know why.

Nice to be back home after foreign, and eat ghar ka khana again. And tell our next door neighbourers what a fine time we had in foreign.

And look, look, Pintu! We have become most famous! Open magjin has done big-big article on us!

Only one thing I am not understanding. We went foreign as tourists. Why are they calling us boorists here?

Oh, a boorist is a very special kind of tourist? They’re saying we are very special tourists?

How kamaal is that. I’ve always wanted to be very special.

Tali doh!

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