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200311-India-20-29

Last known shot of Deep as a bachelor!

Rajesh and Geetha will be travelling to Mangalore by bus late at night, so we have chosen to fly after all. The idea was to see what Rajesh and Geetha were intending to do and possibly travel together. They have prepared some Indian breakfast for us: idlis, a vegetable chutney (which tastes peanutty) plus masala chai (recipe: boil water, chuck in cardamom pods etc., chuck in tea, boil, chuck in milk, hey presto). They don’t have any breakfast themselves as they will have breakfast around 11am. Then they drive us to the airport. The road to the airport is lined with prestigious offices, finished or in the process of being built.

The flight is in a small turbo-prop plane. The seatback is too low for me, finishing well below my shoulders) and I have to sit bolt upright. Still manage to nod off though. From the air Mangalore looks like a very ordinary town. The area nearest the beach is covered with palm trees, houses dotted between them (or rather, the leafy avenues of Mangalore are lined with palm trees). What look like refineries and processing plants are scattered around the outskirts of town. Deep has come to meet us at the airport and takes us to the hotel. This is in the same mould as many of the hotels we have stayed at (Mansingh, etc.) Several others are staying here, but we’re the first to arrive, apart from Geoff Goodman. On our way to the pool we meet two other guests, Damir and Damirka, both Croatian but living in the Netherlands. Outside the air smells of dried fish, and it is hot and sticky, but the pool is warm and pleasant. Afterwards we go for lunch inside and meet Geoff, Damir and Damirka, and John Peto and Beth. Deep turns up later. I think he has been shuttling back and forth, picking up people arriving at the airport and inbetween it all trying to spend time with his family. Whilst he is smiling he seems nervous. I can’t make out whether it’s the prospect of the wedding itself or the behaviour of his western guests, GG especially who seems totally unwilling to adapt his behaviour to Indian customs and is a typical loud-mouthed American.

At 6.30pm we meet Deep and the others again in the lobby, to take the ladies saree-shopping. I expected a small visit into town for a walkabout or tea/lassi/beer but it was purely shopping, with six blokes helping three women to choose sarees – I think we all felt a bit odd. Ness quickly found a colourful saree (or shalwar kameez?), Beth had more trouble and Damirka went for a tailored one, I think. Then it was back to the hotel, drinks in the (wood-panelled!) bar and dinner in the restaurant. Deep was keen to have dinner together but I could tell that he was not at ease, fidgeting, laughing nervously. He needed to be back home and had to leave after the starters. Accompanying music (live) was a choice selection of greatest hits, Michael George, etc. Dinner was very nice but Deep’s selection for us was mostly meat dishes; normally that would suit me just fine but over the past few weeks I have adapted my diet to more vegetables (and spicy) and found this to be too much meat! Conversation inevitably turned to Deloitte and I despaired! We made an exit after settling our bill.