Thursday, November 4

no supper for you, minstrel

Somewhere in the east of Sri Lanka; there is apparently a lagoon which emits singing noises (well, musical sounds) on moonlit nights. I'm not sure if it still does, but at any rate, no one knew how the phenomenon occured for sure. The most popular theory was a certain type of mussel (oyster, eel ? not too sure about the species, but you get the general idea) was responsible.

When you walk around strange cities, you often get this impression that you're being followed. It's a bit surprising for me to feel a target; I usually dress worse than the locals and I don't look wealthy enough to be worth a mugger's time; but still... that prickly feeling at the back of the neck shouldn't be ignored (popular fiction says so). Then again, the prickly feeling might just be the unaccustomed feel of longer-than-usual hair, so one never can tell.

Now watch me seamlessly tie these unrelated stories together

While in Kathmandu, I was taken to this fairly fancy restaurant which promised an evening of ethnic Nepali and Newari cuisine accompanied by local dance items and song. While it was quiet when we got in, the place filled up pretty fast and soon, the entire hall was a hubbub of noise. Before long, a bunch of noisy Spaniards (or so I thought at the time) came in and they did their own song and dance routine while waiting for food. It seemed to be a tour group and they all just ... sang. In Spanish. Much to the consternation of the people supposed to do the entertainment. They recovered and did their own song and dance numbers later on, but I felt that the Spanish chaps had (unintentionally) upstaged the planned entertainment pretty well. It was a tour group, comprised mostly of females in their 40s and 50s (or older) and they seemed to sing wherever they went, on general principle. I have aunts like this too, so I could sympathize with the agonizingly embarassed glances cast around by the younger members of the tour party.

Fast forward a few days, and I'm at the terminal waiting for a plane out of Kathmandu. (Aside: The Nepali airport security are perverts. Be warned. They are quite enthusiastic about frisking people and they don't even wear gloves. The more graphic stories, I'll keep for offline consumption, I think). Anyway, waiting at the terminal, I suddenly hear rather more noise than usual, accompanied by clapping. Lo and behold, it's the singing Spaniards again. The terminal was too quiet for them, so they decided to liven it up. They did it rather well too (rather strange to hear familiar tunes, strain ears to catch the words and realize it's in Spanish). The same bunch. They turned out to be Mexicans, part of a tour group to see Nepal and North India.

Fast forward to Bangkok. Same noises, same crowd of people. My aunts and this lot would get on like a house of fire. Like a bunch of drunken businessmen at a karaoke bar. Like a crowd of starving minstrels singing for their supper. The question is, are they following me, or am I following them ?


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