India Vlog 2005: August 10

Having arrived late at night on the Shatabdi Express from Jaipur, Ross and I crashed at the Connaught Hotel. We were both tired and cranky the next morning, and I had a hard time convincing her that we had to check out of the hotel by noon, even though our night train to Mumbai wasn’t leaving til 5 pm.

Kishore, our driver from Uday Tours, suggested that we go hang out at theImperial Hotel, which turned out to be a good idea. The Imperial is gorgeous with old paintings and memorabilia of the Raj, and has several good restaurants, including the much-acclaimed and very fine Spice Route, where we had a pre-birthday lunch for Ross.

After lunch, my classmate Nitin met us for coffee and, in the course of a rambling conversation, gave me one of the finest compliments of my life. He told me, based on my writings, that I’m a very keen observer of India. Since Nitin is Deputy Press Secretary to India’s President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, I value his opinion in the matter. And he’s not given to idle compliments, so I was extremely flattered.

That night, on the Rajdhani Express, I had another great compliment: Ross asked me to tell her the story of my not-quite-completed fantasy novel, Ivaldi. The telling took a couple of hours (it’s a complicated story), and she listened raptly throughout. Now she wants me to finish it and get it published.

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