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Romance

Sharavanan asked his wife, Krithika, what she would like to have for their first wedding anniversary, falling due shortly. She, thrilled by the offer, expressed her desire to go to Hongkong, now in China and a part of China. He surfed the net for flight tickets, hotel and other arrangements. So sad! He was advised not to go there, as the beautiful city was now under turmoil and was facing terrible violence due to local issues. It would take quite sometime for the city to come to normal terms. He asked Krithika, ‘Then what next?’ She too was quite disappointed. Hongkong, being a hot-spot, much sought after, commercial tourist destination, was her first choice. When that was ruled out, she had to settle for something less. He suggested why not go to Singapore instead. Being citizens of America, for them, going to Singapore was much easier too. Even visa restrictions were far-far less. She agreed but half-heartedly. Unfortunately, air tickets to Singapore were fully booked a month in advance. Urgent and last-minute bookings were available but, only at exorbitant rates. If cost of tickets alone were so high and would guzzle up major part of their savings, then, what about other expenses like, stay, to and from transfers, commuting, boarding lodging, etc. etc. So, the very idea of going to Singapore had to be dropped. What next?

Krithika lost her interest. She would propose some place and he would dispose it off on some other grounds. So, best would be to leave it to his better senses and reasonings. She asked him to fix any place of his own, as per availability and as per their budget constraints. Finally, they settled for India, their ancestors’ country. In a way, she too was happy. Something less than her choice only, but still, it was one of some Southeast Asian countries!  From the internet they gathered that except Kashmir, anyplace in India was okay.

Whole lot of places, -- east, west, north, south, go any direction; small town big town, why so much, even village tourism with bullock-cart drives, swings in tree- branches, was available. They decided to pick one place from each direction. The tourist guide they had fixed, had given them an itinerary of mixed varieties, --- beaches, trekking on hill stations, resorts, forests, deserts, monuments and a few temples too. The guide suggested that they could start from Nagpur, a medium sized city, located at the centre of India, then go east, then north, then come to western side and finally go down south.

The tourist guide was a good salesman too. Because, in his email, he listed out all big and small places of interest throughout the length and breadth of India and for covering them all, one might easily require more than a month-long stay in India. Both Sharavanan and Krithika were not ready for such a long entourage. Moreover, the crispness of week-long or say maximum of ten days’ trip, certainly would not be there, in a month-long tour. May God forbid! If in case, any of them fell sick, the entire charm of holidaying, would be lost. That too, in the worst case, if it happened to be their wedding anniversary day, nothing needed to be told further! So, they wrote back to him and advised him to make out a trip of a fully packed seven-day trip, with requisite boarding and lodging, in addition to inter-state air / train tickets. What to do! They could not do justice for month-long trip. After all, it was in their lot to settle for something less.

The couple landed in India and the guide received them with a bouquet of flowers. He told them that it was just a touch- down glimpse of India and he had ensured that important places were covered in a nutshell. If needed, they could alter or extend their stay whenever or wherever needed. They started their tour from Nagpur. They went around places like Hyderabad, Aurangabad in central India and then proceeded to east. Having covered Puri beach and Jagannath temple, they said,

“No more temples” But Konark was an exception. It was not a temple. It was a protected monument of high calibre and a ‘somewhat’ like of it was there at Khajuraho, though they did not visit that site. Then they proceeded to Darjeeling. Journey by Mountain Rail was meant to take them up the hills, but virtually it was taking them to Heaven. The picturesque landscape and green meadows made it, all the more spectacular. The busy traffic on the road by the side of railway track was something very unique. Sharavanan thought that the guide did a full justice to their programme by mere inclusion of this hill town. He asked Krithika. She said that she had gone for trekking in Yosemite Mountains in America. When compared to that place, this Darjeeling mountain, including the trekking was something less. ‘Take it as one less.’ For him trekking was a first-time sport. So, he asked her,

“Do we need to stay longer here?” She was quite willing to. But if they did so, they would miss out other places in their itinerary. She simply said,

“Let us say we are done with this ‘something-one-less’. Let us be going ahead. Many more things are waiting for us”

The guide had earmarked Chandigarh, Shimla and Amritsar for Northern India. The hotel receptionist at Chandigarh laughed at them. She said,

“Having come to India, how can you miss Taj Mahal or New Delhi? Even if you skip Delhi, you should not miss visiting Taj Mahal, that too on a full moon day. Visiting Taj Mahal on a moon-lit night is an experience by itself. If you miss Pinjora garden of this our Chandigarh city, nothing is lost, but not the case with Taj Mahal. Don’t ever miss it, as, it is one of the seven wonders of the world, a must-see place specially for romantic couples. It was built by the Mogul emperor exclusively for his lady love. A wonderful poem in pure marble. A masterpiece, romantic love anthem.” By so saying, she turned her laptop to Krithika and showed her the beautiful Taj Mahal. Taking the cue from her, they came to Agra.

The change in their tour was worth the trouble, as they both stood awestruck in front of the mausoleum. As evening approached, more and more people gathered by drones. Yes! It was a full moon day. The entire area was drenched in the glowing golden yellow moonlight. The Taj Mahal built in white marble was a wonderful piece of beauty. A natural wave of romance was set, in the air, as could be seen by the couples assembled there, some holding each other’s hands, some embracing… The photographers made a brisk business. No doubt, selfies were in vogue and in plenty. Both Sharavanan and Krithika enjoyed this part of their tour to their utmost satisfaction. Why not! Above all, it was their anniversary gift to themselves. For once, it was something more, --- not something less!

A little more portion of the tour was yet to be completed. The guide had fixed Kerala for their southern sojourn. While staying in Kerala, Sharavanan read about a piece of news. Brazilian Ambassador to India was searching for a farmer by name Vergheese Tharakan in Thrissur, Kerala. The uniqueness of this farmer was that he would produce tons and tons of Jack fruits, but would not sell them. He would give away the rinds of fruits and keep the seeds for nurseries. The saplings were only sold. The Brazilian ambassador wanted this peculiar farmer to supply him 33 kilograms of Jack fruits. The ambassador was hosting a dinner to his guests on the happy occasion of their nation Brazil’s Republic Day.  ‘Dose de Jaca’, a popular dish made out of ripe jack fruits was to be served to the distinguished guests. Needless to say, Vergheese Tharakan sent a consignment of fruits and as per his philosophy, no charges, fully free of cost. The honour and recognition he got for his gesture, he rightly attributed it to the farming community of India. Brazilian dish ‘Golibada’ was offered to Vergheese Tharakan as return gift.

Sharavanan had tasted Dose de Jaca but not Golibada. He liked the sweet Dose de Jaca very much. He was sure that he would not get that same Brazilian dish here in Kerala but, certainly he could get Jack fruits. He wanted that Krithika should also like the fruits as much as he would. Oh! It would be very nice. She had a nasty taste for durian fruits. But this Jack fruit – may be belonging to the same biological family, is far- far different in aroma and taste. With great difficulty, he managed to get good ripe ones and offered to her. Wow! She relished them. He asked her,

“How is it? My special gift to you on this auspicious day of wedding anniversary!”

She replied coolly, Ok. Fine. But not so great as my favourite Durian… something less than that.” And she winked. She also added,

“Had you given me a memento, ’marble piece of Taj Mahal’ which I wanted to buy there, I would have acclaimed that gift as “Something more’ or simply “one plus”. So, what! Jack fruit was not bad. Something, just one less.         Sharavanan asked his wife, Krithika, what she would like to have for their first wedding anniversary, falling due shortly. She, thrilled by the offer, expressed her desire to go to Hongkong, now in China and a part of China. He surfed the net for flight tickets, hotel and other arrangements. So sad! He was advised not to go there, as the beautiful city was now under turmoil and was facing terrible violence due to local issues. It would take quite sometime for the city to come to normal terms. He asked Krithika, ‘Then what next?’ She too was quite disappointed. Hongkong, being a hot-spot, much sought after, commercial tourist destination, was her first choice. When that was ruled out, she had to settle for something less. He suggested why not go to Singapore instead. Being citizens of America, for them, going to Singapore was much easier too. Even visa restrictions were far-far less. She agreed but half-heartedly. Unfortunately, air tickets to Singapore were fully booked a month in advance. Urgent and last-minute bookings were available but, only at exorbitant rates. If cost of tickets alone were so high and would guzzle up major part of their savings, then, what about other expenses like, stay, to and from transfers, commuting, boarding lodging, etc. etc. So, the very idea of going to Singapore had to be dropped. What next? Krithika lost her interest. She would propose some place and he would dispose it off on some other grounds. So, best would be to leave it to his better senses and reasonings. She asked him to fix any place of his own, as per availability and as per their budget constraints. Finally, they settled for India, their ancestors’ country. In a way, she too was happy. Something less than her choice only, but still, it was one of some Southeast Asian countries!  From the internet they gathered that except Kashmir, anyplace in India was okay.

Whole lot of places, -- east, west, north, south, go any direction; small town big town, why so much, even village tourism with bullock-cart drives, swings in tree- branches, was available. They decided to pick one place from each direction. The tourist guide they had fixed, had given them an itinerary of mixed varieties, --- beaches, trekking on hill stations, resorts, forests, deserts, monuments and a few temples too. The guide suggested that they could start from Nagpur, a medium sized city, located at the centre of India, then go east, then north, then come to western side and finally go down south.

The tourist guide was a good salesman too. Because, in his email, he listed out all big and small places of interest throughout the length and breadth of India and for covering them all, one might easily require more than a month-long stay in India. Both Sharavanan and Krithika were not ready for such a long entourage. Moreover, the crispness of week-long or say maximum of ten days’ trip, certainly would not be there, in a month-long tour. May God forbid! If in case, any of them fell sick, the entire charm of holidaying, would be lost. That too, in the worst case, if it happened to be their wedding anniversary day, nothing needed to be told further! So, they wrote back to him and advised him to make out a trip of a fully packed seven-day trip, with requisite boarding and lodging, in addition to inter-state air / train tickets. What to do! They could not do justice for month-long trip. After all, it was in their lot to settle for something less.

The couple landed in India and the guide received them with a bouquet of flowers. He told them that it was just a touch- down glimpse of India and he had ensured that important places were covered in a nutshell. If needed, they could alter or extend their stay whenever or wherever needed. They started their tour from Nagpur. They went around places like Hyderabad, Aurangabad in central India and then proceeded to east. Having covered Puri beach and Jagannath temple, they said,

“No more temples” But Konark was an exception. It was not a temple. It was a protected monument of high calibre and a ‘somewhat’ like of it was there at Khajuraho, though they did not visit that site. Then they proceeded to Darjeeling. Journey by Mountain Rail was meant to take them up the hills, but virtually it was taking them to Heaven. The picturesque landscape and green meadows made it, all the more spectacular. The busy traffic on the road by the side of railway track was something very unique. Sharavanan thought that the guide did a full justice to their programme by mere inclusion of this hill town. He asked Krithika. She said that she had gone for trekking in Yosemite Mountains in America. When compared to that place, this Darjeeling mountain, including the trekking was something less. ‘Take it as one less.’ For him trekking was a first-time sport. So, he asked her,

“Do we need to stay longer here?” She was quite willing to. But if they did so, they would miss out other places in their itinerary. She simply said,

“Let us say we are done with this ‘something-one-less’. Let us be going ahead. Many more things are waiting for us”

The guide had earmarked Chandigarh, Shimla and Amritsar for Northern India. The hotel receptionist at Chandigarh laughed at them. She said,

“Having come to India, how can you miss Taj Mahal or New Delhi? Even if you skip Delhi, you should not miss visiting Taj Mahal, that too on a full moon day. Visiting Taj Mahal on a moon-lit night is an experience by itself. If you miss Pinjora garden of this our Chandigarh city, nothing is lost, but not the case with Taj Mahal. Don’t ever miss it, as, it is one of the seven wonders of the world, a must-see place specially for romantic couples. It was built by the Mogul emperor exclusively for his lady love. A wonderful poem in pure marble. A masterpiece, romantic love anthem.” By so saying, she turned her laptop to Krithika and showed her the beautiful Taj Mahal. Taking the cue from her, they came to Agra.

The change in their tour was worth the trouble, as they both stood awestruck in front of the mausoleum. As evening approached, more and more people gathered by drones. Yes! It was a full moon day. The entire area was drenched in the glowing golden yellow moonlight. The Taj Mahal built in white marble was a wonderful piece of beauty. A natural wave of romance was set, in the air, as could be seen by the couples assembled there, some holding each other’s hands, some embracing… The photographers made a brisk business. No doubt, selfies were in vogue and in plenty. Both Sharavanan and Krithika enjoyed this part of their tour to their utmost satisfaction. Why not! Above all, it was their anniversary gift to themselves. For once, it was something more, --- not something less!

A little more portion of the tour was yet to be completed. The guide had fixed Kerala for their southern sojourn. While staying in Kerala, Sharavanan read about a piece of news. Brazilian Ambassador to India was searching for a farmer by name Vergheese Tharakan in Thrissur, Kerala. The uniqueness of this farmer was that he would produce tons and tons of Jack fruits, but would not sell them. He would give away the rinds of fruits and keep the seeds for nurseries. The saplings were only sold. The Brazilian ambassador wanted this peculiar farmer to supply him 33 kilograms of Jack fruits. The ambassador was hosting a dinner to his guests on the happy occasion of their nation Brazil’s Republic Day.  ‘Dose de Jaca’, a popular dish made out of ripe jack fruits was to be served to the distinguished guests. Needless to say, Vergheese Tharakan sent a consignment of fruits and as per his philosophy, no charges, fully free of cost. The honour and recognition he got for his gesture, he rightly attributed it to the farming community of India. Brazilian dish ‘Golibada’ was offered to Vergheese Tharakan as return gift.

Sharavanan had tasted Dose de Jaca but not Golibada. He liked the sweet Dose de Jaca very much. He was sure that he would not get that same Brazilian dish here in Kerala but, certainly he could get Jack fruits. He wanted that Krithika should also like the fruits as much as he would. Oh! It would be very nice. She had a nasty taste for durian fruits. But this Jack fruit – may be belonging to the same biological family, is far- far different in aroma and taste. With great difficulty, he managed to get good ripe ones and offered to her. Wow! She relished them. He asked her,

“How is it? My special gift to you on this auspicious day of wedding anniversary!”

She replied coolly, Ok. Fine. But not so great as my favourite Durian… something less than that.” And she winked. She also added,

“Had you given me a memento, ’marble piece of Taj Mahal’ which I wanted to buy there, I would have acclaimed that gift as “Something more’ or simply “one plus”. So, what! Jack fruit was not bad. Something, just one less.         

December 13, 2019 18:51

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