We left the Gordon House around noon; the hotel driver took us to Yuti and Sumeet’s house. It was a long drive, so we had plenty of time to observe Independence Day celebrations. Street vendors were selling cheap plastic flags, and everybody had at least one. I saw one dwelling that was just a sheet of blue plastic stretched between a wall and the pavement – with a flag tucked into the top. It seemed indicative of India’s mood that even someone living on the street in a tiny triangular space felt proud enough of his motherland to buy a flag to celebrate her independence.
Our original plan was just to drop our luggage and join Deepu for lunch, but Ross decided she’d rather stay at Yuti and Summet’s and sleep. So it was just Deepu and me for a long conversation over an amazing lunch – one of the best meals of the trip, at a restaurant called The Patio. Deepu wanted me to have authentic Mumbai-style food, so we had tandoori crab, a “dry” dish of curried shrimp, and a “wet” dish of curried fish, all of it amazingly good. I was also amazed at the service. Indian restaurants are oversupplied with staff, so we were constantly being offered fresh fingerbowls, our water being poured, etc. Not that the attention was unwelcome, especially the fingerbowls as we peeled crab and shrimp by hand.
NB: NOT on the menu!
I spent the afternoon with Deepu and Shilpin talking of this and that, then their driver took me back to Yuti and Sumeet’s, where we ordered in Tibetan food (I had absolutely no need to eat!) and watched the Ashes cricket test match on TV, which Sumeet (a former cricket professional) and Yuti tried valiantly to explain.
When that was over, it was time to depart for the airport in Yuti’s car, which had just had its wiring totally redone after being immersed to the roof in the Mumbai floods. The upholstery had been cleaned and sterilized, but a faintly swampy smell lingered, and when we alighted at the airport I realized that the seat of my jeans was damp, a final souvenir.