I have returned to the Island and am in somewhat of a daze.
As I age traveling across multiple time zones wreaks havoc on my weary body and it takes longer and longer for me to recover. My journeying has been a combination of both business and pleasure.
Business in India - and then pleasure in Nepal.
Actually it was business too in Nepal but dutiful business in which I take a great deal of pleasure. I will have a short respite in Singapore before next weekend when I will return again to both India and Nepal.
I will be visiting Nepal with my younger brother Richard who like me – has bonded with the Himalaya and its people. We do what little we can to create some opportunity for some Nepalese children. We do this by opening some doors to education – something that it important to us but is critical to the Nepalese. There are some very bright young minds in Nepal who just need a sniff of a chance to reach their potential.
It is always a bit of a shock to my system returning to Singapore from India and Nepal. Things like electricity and air conditioning and food that I so easily take for granted I marvel at - and I often wonder what the mountain children would think if I could miraculously transport them here.
I think they would be shocked.
They would be speechless.
Anyway – I arrived back on the island very early on Friday morning having taken the overnight flight from Delhi.
As is always the case, I bought a bottle of Old monk rum from the Delhi airport to take back for my deranged Danish neighbour Jens.
Any appreciator of good Rum would be fond of Old Monk. It is famous in Bombay and throughout Maharashtra. This is where it is distilled.
It is iconic.
My English colleague and friend Chris describes it as like drinking Christmas pudding.
It is very sweet.
He loves it.
It is very powerful and has a kick like a mule.
I do not like drinking it at all and am not much of a drinker of anything alcoholic. I am not anti-alcohol but I just don’t much like the taste of it nor do I enjoy the sensation of being drunk.
I don’t mind the odd glass of red wine.
I very much like the name “Old Monk”
I like saying it and I like writing it.
I will therefore write it again and I am saying the name out loud as my fingers tap on the keyboard of my Mac.
The name “Old Monk” has resonance and it offers up a happy image. There are bottles available that are moulded in the shape of an actual old monk.
They were a special release.
They were a dedication piece.
I have one.
It has pride of place on my bookshelf.
Whenever I am in Bombay I always make a trip out to the Grand Hyatt hotel.
The one in Santa Cruz.
I travel there specifically for one of their specialty dishes. It is a roasted leg of lamb. The lamb is flambéed with a cup of Old Monk as it is served at your table.
It ignites with a ‘whoosh’ and the succulent meat falls of the bone.
It is spanking.
It is worth the travel.
I always have a bottle of Old Monk in my kitchen and I make a fairly wicked custard flavored with just a nip of Old Monk.
It gives it a kick.
You can put it on your ice cream as well.
Old Monk is versatile in cooking.
No pantry should be without it.
The bottle I bought in Delhi was for my neighbour Jens. I think I may have already mentioned this but I often repeat myself.
I often repeat myself.
I have described Jens many times before but I will do so once again. Imagine if you can an enormous and fat and hairy Viking with wild and unkempt hair and a bushy red beard. His eyes are normally bulging and he has crooked little yellow teeth. The Dane normally roars around the place on a Harley Davidson motorcycle wearing a motorcycle helmet that has two small horns stuck to the top of it.
This is Jens.
His whole upper body is covered in thick mats of hair and there are many prison tattoos scattered over his torso. I have used the term 'prison tattoos' because they are crude and non-artistic works that appear to have been done by someone other than a trained tattoo practitioner. Someone who I strongly suspect is most likely a convicted serial killer in a Copenhagen prison and who used the ink from a ballpoint pen and a blunt needle.
I know good tattoo art when I see it as my son Tom has much of it.
He is all inked up.
After I had unpacked and showered I thought I would pop down to Jens apartment and give him his rum. There was no answer when I knocked on his door so I went down to the swimming pool.
Jens often sits poolside and he occasionally swims.
Well not swims exactly – it is more like floundering in the water like a furry walrus.
I was correct and he was there reclining on one of the pool lounges dressed in a bright yellow pair of swimming trunks and a horribly stained singlet with a “Tiger Beer” logo on it.
"Good morning Jens" I announced.
I was somewhat startled when I heard the word "Modderfokker" bellowed from behind me. I was so startled that I nearly dropped the Old Monk.
When I turned around there was another Jens. This one was fully clothed and was holding a half-drunk bottle of beer.
"Dat is Dag my tween brodder skeepy modderfocker" the lunatic Dane responded.
"Ah Dag is back"
"Ya ya" both Danes cackled.
Jens then roared some guttural Scandinavian sentences to the other Dane who then belched and muttered some guttural Danish back.
"For fuck sake Jens" I replied.
"I have told you before that it is quite rude to be speaking Danish to me when you know I don’t understand a word."
"Ya ya skeepy modderfokker" Dag responded.
Both Jens and Dag call me 'skeepy' in reference to 'Skippy' who was a famous television kangaroo. He calls everyone 'modderfokker'.
Jens - not Skippy.
Kangaroos do not talk.
My automatic spell-check function keeps changing the word "skeepy" to "sleepy" and it is beginning to really piss me off.
It just did it again.
Jens twin brother was openly salivating at the bottle of Old Monk that I was holding. He has tasted the Indian Rum before and like his deranged brother has an insatiable appetite for alcohol.
I think they are both alcoholics.
Dag said something guttural again in Danish to his brother - which caused Jens to cackle insanely again.
"Dis is Dag" Jens said to me.
"Dis is Dag?" I repeated.
"Ya dat is Dag" said Jens.
"Ya I arm Dag" said Dag.
The name 'Dag" was pronounced "Darg" by both brothers. 'Dis' is of course 'this', 'dat' is 'that' and 'arm' is 'am'. They are spoken thus when one is Danish and mad and is speaking in English.
Writing the words phonetically is sending the spell check function of my laptop into overdrive.
“I know that is Dag Jens. We have met before”
“Dat Room is for me ya ya?” enquired Jens.
“Ya ya” I replied.
I have spelt the word Rum as Room as this is the way that the Danes pronounce it. I also tend to slip into the Danish “Ya ya” when speaking to the twins.
I know that “Ya” is “Yes” but I am still unsure whether doubling it up is a Danish thing or simply the madness of the twins.
I don’t really care either way.
The Dane that is Dag looked suddenly startled and his insane brother Jens appeared alarmed.
The two security guards of the complex in which we live – the Sikhs Raj and Raj had come marching up to the pool and stood opposite me snapped to attention and doing elaborate salutes.
Both Raj and Raj are aware that I have had my run-ins with Jens before and they have taken a vow to protect me from the madman. Mr. Tan - the Building Manager of the complex in which I live - incorrectly informed the Raj that I was someone of importance in our Condominium - which I am not - and since they started on the job they have been incessantly saluting me.
"At ease guys" I commanded.
Saying this is the only way I can get the Raj to stop the salutes.
"Good morning Raj and Raj" I said.
"Good morning Mr. Peter sir" both of the Raj's replied as they dropped their salutes.
Jens was eyeing the security guards warily. The Raj are very big boys and Jens has called them 'modderfokkers' many times before. My relationship with Jens has been checkered in the past - to say the least - and the Raj are well aware of this. I have previously instructed both Raj and Raj to shoot the Dane if necessary but they informed me that they were not permitted to carry guns in Singapore and they could not do so.
I have written about the Jens saga and the two Raj many times before so there is no point in elaborating any further.
"Is everything being alrightest Mr. Peter Sir?” a Raj asked.
"It is fine thanks Raj" I replied.
"This is Jens twin brother Dag who is visiting from Denmark"
Raj and Raj nodded politely, Dag grunted and Jens shuffled about a little nervously muttering 'modderfokker' to himself.
We all stood there silent for a moment. The Raj were at ease but they had a protective and assured air about them and Jens nervousness seemed to intensify. The Dane who is Dag was looking a bit more timid too but he was still eying my bottle of rum.
"Did you know that in the English language a dag is a term than can be used to describe someone who is a bit nerdy and it is also a matted piece of shit that hangs from a sheep arse?" I said to the Danes and the Raj's.
I said this because there was a bit of an awkward silence and also because it is true.
In Australian slang a dag is indeed a person who is considered to be somewhat uncool. The term 'daglock' refers to a dung-caked lock of dried faeces tangled in the wool that hangs from the hindquarters of a sheep.
It is most commonly abbreviated to the word 'dag'.
The word 'faeces' is also not being recognized by the spell-check function on my laptop computer. That is weird because it is most definitely a real word that means excrement or shit.
I am also very serious about the Australian-English uses of the word dag.
If you have any doubt look it up for yourself.
My comments elicited some more guttural Scandinavian between the twin Danes - and the Raj seemed to tense up a little.
"Vee are going now skeepy modderfokker,” Jens announced.
“Our moomy is cooming today” added Dag
“Your moomy?” I enquired.
“Ya ya” the twins nodded in unison.
I had forgotten that Jens had told me that his mother was also coming to visit. I am very much looking forward to the woman who begat the twins. I have a vision of her being a wild Hells Angel looking woman and it will be very interesting to meet her.
"Please bring her up to my apartment when she arrives Jens." I replied – then I handed the bottle of Old Monk to his brother Dag.
I have no doubt that the brothers will devour the entire bottle in one sitting.
They love the stuff.
“Ya ya” Jens replied.
Dag grunted and cast a nervous look at Raj and Raj then the two brothers did a hasty retreat.
I chatted for a while with the security guards for a while before retreating myself to my apartment to write all of this down.
The two Raj saluted me again when I said goodbye and they were still saluting as I walked to the lift lobby and went back up upstairs.
I have done a lot of arriving and leaving in the past week and it is the leaving that I find the saddest. When I left my friends in Kathmandu I told them I would be back in about ten days.
I told them this because I will.
Be back in ten days.
The Nepali for "Good Bye" is Bidha Pau. I always find it a sad phrase when I am leaving.
So I like to add “Ma Turuntai Karkanchu”.
It is Nepali for "I will be right back"