Yes I AM alive! It's hard to explain how blog-holidays occur ... It starts with a gradual lapse of interest in the Internet because of using someone else's dial-up connection, followed by an increasing need to clear e-mail back-logs, which results in less overall time surfing or engaging in any non-e-mailorious activities ... and soon ... no blogging at all. *sigh*
Well, I'm back in harness now and also back in Delhiberate. Returned on Tuesday afternoon, on possibly the only flight to scrape through the fog that day, thank goodness. I'd had a surreal journey on account of a 14-hour stopover at Heathrow -- a scheduled stopover, but surreal nevertheless. Everyone told me I should take the opportunity to run into town and spend time with my uncles and cousins BUT ... I had realized well in advance that I wasn't going to be compos mentis. Look at this way: my Virgin Atlantic flight left Boston at 19.45, arriving in London around 8.00 a.m. after a 7 hour flight. Do the math: it means that as far as my body-clock was concerned, it was 2.45 a.m. While it's true I'm a night owl, and am often awake at that hour, I'm not really capable of social interactions at the time! So I figured I might as well save my relatives the annoyance of talking to a walking corpse (i.e., me) and just hang about the airport.
For company I had a newly acquired electronic Sudoku game and also a tiny MP3 device (lest anyone grow envious, NO, this was NOT an i-Pod or any of its fancier avatars, but a tiny little thing called a Zen Nano, 1 Gb and fairly user-UNfriendly) onto which I had downloaded an entire audio-book of shortstories. There were the shops in the arcade and a very lively Starbucks outlet and a selection of other eateries as distractions, but of course, like every tired traveller since the dawn of time, the only thing I REALLY wanted was a place to lie down and sleep. Heathrow isn't entirely hideous in this respect because it's got vast seating areas and some banks of seats are created in such a way that it's possible to recline full-length (i.e., four seats in a row with no armrests separating them). But only a few are like that and of course they are ALWAYS occupied, so I had to make do with being curled up like a prawn, using my backpack as a cushion, over the seat adjoining mine. There were lots of other transit-prawns strewn about the place, so I didn't feel even slightly self-conscious.
Between playing Sudoku, listening to stories and guzzling various Starbucks products, I managed to stay afloat. The flight boarded at 20.45 -- and it was packed to the rafters -- and my seat mate happened to be a rather portly Sardar. The seats were right at the back of plane -- the very last two -- and for that reason, slightly narrower than the rest. This meant that the two of us were squished together like incestuous Siamese twins and I am ashamed to say I actually considered asking the nearest hostess for a change of seat -- not because my fellow passenger was unpleasant in any sense, he REALLY wasn't -- but just that his physical size and the miniature seats guaranteed that I would be a basket-case by the time we landed. Very fortunately, he must have had the exact same idea -- and he acted upon it more speedily than me by finding a friendly Punjabi lady who was willing to exchange places with him. Once he and his mates were sitting in a row, they proceeded to spend the entire flight (a) getting drunk (b) trying to get further drunk but being frustrated in this attempt because the steward announced that they had run out of drinks (c) staggering about in the vicinity of the toilet.
Considering the 14-hour ordeal, you'd think I might have just fallen asleep, but ooo nooo, I am far too much of a movie hog. I'll watch the inflight movies on a plane if I have to pin my eyelids back, rather than sleep through! Especially on the London-Delhi flight (yes, this is an unabashed plug for VA, an airline I absolutely ADORE) is that you get FIFTY FILMS to choose from and you can watch 'em at your own pace, fast-forward, fast back and over and over again, just as you wish. I had already decided I was going to watch a movie called LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE -- I'd read about it on the Boston-London flight, on which it was NOT on the menu -- and I was thoroughly satisfied. It's about a totally dysfunctional family on their way to California from (? Albuquerque, I think) in their even more dysfunctional van, just so that their youngest member, Olive, can compete in a beauty pageant for the under-teen set. Olive wears big-frame glasses, is tubby around the waist and may even have a mild case of buck-teeth. But she's got a container-load of personality and ... well, I'm not about to give the plot away! Alan Arkin plays the role of the grandfather from hell -- but a sweet-pickle hell -- just like the rest of the family, mad but in a curiously adorable way.
The flight circled above Delhi for at least an hour, waiting for the fog to clear -- it looked like a blanket of fleece beneath us -- but once we were down, the queue at immigration moved so fast I was through it and out the other side before I'd had time to wake up. E was at the airport to collect me, and soon enough I was home and having lunch. After which I dove into bed and slept for about two days ...
There's really SOOOOO much to tell, especially about my time in Vermont, that I just know I'll never get around to it. So I'm going to end* this post with a photograph from the Fellini-esque Thanksgiving dinner we had at Stone's Throw Farm, at which the item featured in the picture at the top of this page was an ingredient. Believe it or not, that is a MUSHROOM ... an oyster mushroom, grown by the person holding it, Glen. I was completely mesmerized by the sheer size of the thing -- and it tasted great too. Glen also talked at great length about the fascinating life and times of a mushroom-farmer -- but it'll take much too long to go into all of that, so I won't. I'll just have to return with pictures of the turkey and the sunset and the pig and -- oh! I've just GOT to end this post RIGHT NOW! I promise I'll be back quite a bit sooner than I was the last time.
[*-- though I placed it at the BEGINNING. I didn't want visitors to miss seeing it merely because they found the rest of the post boring!]