Saturday, September 19, 2009


I felt famished as we landed. I eyed the chipotle hungrily and ordered for one. Bread Sourdough , Chips Jalapoeno , drink – Pepsi. I couldn’t believe my ears that was me ordering. There was no way I was going to eat all that. I had never done that before.

I did. But then I could barely stand up. I wasn’t sure if I should feel happy on my achievement or feel sorry for my predicament. I had a meeting at 4.00 and all I wanted to do was sleep.

I am in Texas. Home of the lovable George Bush. You would know about him if you loved Disney.

The cab driver was a ruddy old cowboy with a hat larger than anything I had ever seen.
He tipped his hat a bit, bent his massive frame a bit more and his creased face broke into the warmest smile I had seen. He became ruddier as he smiled. I imagined a beetroot with a hat on.
I wasn’t the only one smiling though.

“ You got a strange accent there.”

“ Yes strange.”

“ strange as in?”

“ accent”

“ which country do you come from?”

“ India”

“ as in red India”

“ No as in brown India.” Fortunately the hotel wasn’t very far.

I love the hotel. Its elegant.

I showered, shaved and put on a crisp white Oxbridge shirt to go with my suit. I eyed myself critically as I knotted my tie. Must make a lasting impression.

This time Frank gave me an appreciating look.( I have my own quirks. Like to hire the same cabbie for the whole day. So Mr. Beet root has a name.)

Austin convention centre.

He looked at me incredulously. “You going there?” “yes why?” “You don’t look that type?”

“ as in?” I was learning his language fast. “Well they all are a bunch of unwashed, unkempt gangly kids there. The school going kind.”

This was weird. I thought conferences are all suit and tie affair. So what if it’s a Gaming one. Alas , Frankie was right.

They were staring at me as if I had walked into a nude beach with a tuxedo on. Wake up uncle Rip Van Rinkle. Things changed while you were sleeping.

Thank you Frankie. YOU are more my kind than THEM. so I invite him for a drink in the evening. He takes me to a charming quaint bar. More cowboy hats and ruddier faces greet me. I feel like I walked into one of my childhood favourite series Olivier Strange’s Sudden.. I am waiting for some one to pull out a revolver and shoot.
But they all are warm and boisterous. I explain to a bunch of guys my predicament since morning. Well we have an unofficial motto “ Keep Austin weird” one guy explains as they break into another round of laughter. “ welcome to Austin”. I smile. This is home territory. Anyone who drinks will understand what I mean. All the beer guzzlers are united by a common bond of brotherhood. Nothing is weird anymore. not even Big Ole frankie who gets ruddier as he drinks.

But wait. The night is not yet over. I enter the elegant hotel and meet with the charming manager. She changes my room as the internet is not working in this room. Again after another one hour I notice that the faucet is not working. She apologizes and now gives me a massive double room instead as a gesture. We can learn customer service from these guys.
This room is perfect. I set the alarm for four and go to sleep. Its been a great day.

The phone keeps buzzing gently. Far from the shrill ones when we were young. The one which made you jump out of your skin. Surprised I pick it up. As I say a sleepy hello, choicest of abuses are hurled from the other end at me for being a two timer and a jerk and then silence and then sobs. Another round of abuses as I tell her that she is talking to the wrong person. “ you a%^*&. Why didn’t you say that before?” before I could explain that she never allowed me, she slams the phone.
Its 3 am. I try to sleep again. Before I fall into the arms of Somnos, the god of sleep, the alarm goes off. Time to shower and leave. Got to catch sleep in the flight.

As I am having coffee, frank calls from the reception. I am pleased as punch. He’s bang on time.

I shut my laptop , switch off all the light and as I am leaving on an impulse return back and switch off the ac, my groggy brain too blank to realize that they will all close automatically once I remove the card. Bingo! That triggers the fire alarm making me jump a feet. I am horrified. I jab every button inside the room. Nothing happens. I rush with my things to the ground floor wary of the guests next to my room. The sound is deafening. But the reception is locked. Recession. Cost cutting. No manager in the night shifts. They only come at 7am. No security either.

Frank roars with laughter. “ This is a big hotel. Someone will take care. Let them earn their bread.”
He says non chalantly.

As we reach the airport, I offer my hand for a shake. He brushes it aside and covers me in a massive bear hug. I feel for a few crushed bones.

Its my turn to grin. I love Weird. it’s the normal that scares me.

I love you Austin.


  1. Very interesting read, right from the word go…:)
    Whether it was about how much you ate…the cute conversation with the ruddy old cowboy cab driver….”wake up uncle Rip Van Rinkle”…your disturbed sleepless night…I’ve been smiling through it all:)

  2. Thanks Suruchi Glad you liked it.
    Austin is a great place