The Cheapo travels a lot.
He travels to fill the deep chasm, the unquenchable hole in his soul.
To say he has the wanderlust would be a gargantuan understatement.
Another day and age, when the world was simpler and the INR-$ ratio wasn’t so high, Cheapo would have been a globe trotter.
Well, a globe waddler, to be precise. With that epic back that he has and with pain a constant companion, anything other than waddling is as ambition too high.
But back to that wanderlust.
For some, its the destination that matters, for some its the journey.
With Cheapo its both.
You see travel allows the Cheapo to at least momentarily escape from the misery that is his life – and no he is not speaking of hi fi spiritual concepts, but rather about his loneliness and the goddamn freaking pain.
Like, Mr Tolkien said while writing the song of Aragorn –
- All that is gold does not glitter,
- Not all those who wander are lost;
- The old that is strong does not wither,
- Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
- From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
- A light from the shadows shall spring;
- Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
- The crownless again shall be king
Cheapo likes to wander, but the Cheapo ain’t lost. He just wishes that he was lost, or more pertinently that he could lose the pain.
But pain or no pain, he wanders.
And the more he wanders, the more experiences he has.
Now, there is a saying – clothes maketh a man.
Of all the sayings, this one is probably the worst.
Clothes do not make a man. Clothes just cover the body – and we all have the same body, just different sizes, shapes and colours.
No, it is the soul that makes a man – its whats inside that counts, its whats inside that stays forever.
And the soul takes its nourishment from experiences.
The more experience you have, the richer the soul, the richer the soul, the richer the life.
Sitting in your office all the time doing great work may give you loads and loads of money, but it won’t give you a life.
So the Cheapo travels, and the Cheapo gets experiences – some bad, some good, some so painful that he collapses.
So the Cheapo decided to leap into the arms of memory and come up with a list of his greatest experiences while traveling.
Every Tom, Dick and Gudduda makes lists of 10.
Cheapo is no Tom, Dick or Gudduda.
So he will make a list of dozen, and since he loves bakers, he will make a list worth a baker’s dozen.
13. International Man of Collapse
Sun rises, rain falls, Cheapo collapses. Its one of those fundamentals of life.
But what makes life interesting is not why or how Cheapo collapses – its more where.
The Cheapo collapses almost everywhere – he collapsed in Jantar Mantar, he collapsed on top of Humayun’s Tomb, he collapsed in Palitana, he collapsed in Kumbalgarh, he collapsed in bangalore. Hell, he even collapsed in the Sunderbans.
But his second best – the Cheapo can laugh about his collapses and because the Cheapo has a sense of humour, so can you – collapse was on Ajanta.
Ajanta, one of the wonders of human civilization, a place that attracts millions of people from all around the world.
And Cheapo managed to steal the glamour from all those exquisite murals and works of glorious art by collapsing and creating a mini-international incident.
To quote from https://fatunclecheapo.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/a-is-for-ajanta-e-is-for-ellora-m-is-for-murder/
“And then you get off the bus and go on a half an hour hike to climb to the caves.
Now, if you are a young, fit, healthy, vigorous, energetic individual, you are going to enjoy the hike and the views.
However, if you are me, you will semi-stagger semi-crawl semi-lurch you way up like an one-legged zombie on an acid trip during an earthquake and once you reach the top, you will promptly collapse and cause a minor international incident.
It was like an episode of medicine sans frontiers with Japanese, German, American, Spanish, British and other nationalities fanning the Fatman, feeding him water, shading him, wondering about 911’s Indian equivalent etc – while true to form the Indians pointed and laughed (“hehe, mar geya hoga, bhenchod!”).”
12. Ringa Ringa Roses, A Pocket full Poseys, Atchoo Atchoo, The Cheapo Falls Down
The Cheapo does not like the sea – fish poop in the sea. He also does not like the sea because the world’s garbage gets dumped into the sea.
He specifically does not like the Bay of Bengal because the Bangladeshis pee and poo in it.
But when he went to Vizag, and stood on the beach, and there was rain- he decided to take the plunge so to speak.
Not to go into the sea, por favor, but to book a motor boat and go loitering on the sea.
It was fantastic, the salty sea air blowing through the Cheapo’s beard was ethereal.
The Cheapo could not resist the temptation and stood up and “I am the king of the….SPLASH
The Cheapo fell down, down into the bosom of the Bay of Bengal.
[He knows swimming, and he was wearing life jacket and the motor boat people came and rescued him immediately, so unfortunately he is still alive]
11. Wind in the Willows
Talking of wind in the beard
10. Rampant Ramparts
There is a saying – Do unto Others What You Want Others to Do Unto You
There is another saying – Vodka, Connecting People
The Cheapo experienced both in Jaisalmer.
The Cheapo had hired a jeep to take him to the sand dunes. He wanted to interact with a camel (more on that later).
We all enjoy these kinds of journeys don’t we?
But we forget one thing – the drivers are humans too, with their own problems – and in case he is a youngster, with his own lovelife and associated drama.
My driver was a young laddy.
He was sad, nobody stays sad with Cheapo around.
After my subsequent confrontation and interaction with the camel, we came back and I invited him over to pour his heart out over a bottle of Smirnoff.
Hey, the Cheapo is good for more or less nothing, but at least he can lend an ear to a fellow human being.
A small act of kindness.
Result – he took me to his friend’s place on top of the Jaisalmer Fort. His friend – a chef in one of those la-di-dah hotel/restaurants on top of the fort.
Free food for the Cheapo on a rampart of Sonar Kella; the Cheapo munching on delicious food while gazing over the desert at sunset.
Kindness -when it goes around, it comes around
9. Top of the World (Palitana)
Cheapo’s mother has a thing for Jain temples. Don’t ask why? She loves Jain temples. So when she hears that there is a Jain temple in the vicinity, she has to go there.
That’s ok when the temples are at ground level.
The problem occurs when the temples are at the top of a hill – a hill that has 1600 steps.
This was Palitana, a Jain pilgrimage place in Gujarat. The mother wanted to see this so much that we came to a place called Bhavnagar and stayed there for a couple of days; Bhavnagar being the closest city from Palitana.
The Cheapo did not know that there were 1600 steps, when they reached the bottom, it came as a massive surprise.
There were dandis available of course. For a small fee of INR4k they will carry you on a sedan chair up top.
4k too much for poor old Cheapo.
For a small fee of INR 2k they will carry you in a, well this thing
The prices are steep, but a smile in the mother’s face is priceless – especially since her whole life has been a series of disappointments when the Cheapo is concerned.
So, the mother gets a seat.
And the Cheapo starts climbing.
1600 steps – only one Cheap.
Its a foregone conclusion people.
The Cheapo collapses.
But, like the Terminator, he got up.
He collapses two more times.
But, by Ctulhu, he made it to the top – torn socks (no shoes allowed on the hill), bleeding feet, screaming legs and a back on strike.
But he made it to the top.
[Its a different matter that he had to be carried down]
8. What Goes Up Must Come Down
The Cheapo is a lot of things – most of them bad. But a coward he is not.
There are only a handful of things that he is truly afraid of
- Women in general and Jyotika Khullar in particular
That’s right, the Cheapo has altophobia, he is terrified of height.
So, naturally, when he was in Panchmarhi, and when he saw a parasailing place, he had to try it out.
YOLO after all.
They say face your fears, fight your fears.
Well, the Cheapo can’t fight snakes -that’s animal abuse.
And the Cheapo is too scared to fight Jyotika Khullar.
So that leaves height.
The only problem was that while he was up, his pants fell down.
Cheapo’s friend, who was on the ground and filming the thing, got so scandalized by the sight of his ass, that she ran away not only from there, but also from Panchmarhi and from Madhya Pradesh.
Sigh, nobody likes’s the Cheapo’s ass.
7. Holy Rats Batman (Deshnoke, Bikaner)
Its a temple – Karni Mata – where rats are worshipped – nuff said
6. Bad Badami Bad
As you might have figured out by now, the Cheapo collapses. All you have to say is ready, on your mark, get, set and the Cheapo collapses.
But the Cheapo has good recuperative powers. he has good bouncebackabaility so to speak.
So, whenever he collapses, he takes his meds, he drinks some water, waits for the pain killers to take effect and then he lumbers on.
On his own.
There has been only one time where his recuperative powers deserted him – and that happened in Badami.
And it happened after a trek of 3 hours.
Sandesh Raju and I started from the lake and trekked to see cave paintings in a, well, a cave a few miles away. There is no road, its all rough terrain.
The Cheapo walked, and the Cheapo walked, and the Cheapo walked.
One by one his muscles shut down, but he walked.
And he reached.
And Que Sera Sera
The problem – he did not have his meds with him, ergo no recuperation.
Ergo he could not walk.
There was only one thing to be done.
Call an emergency rescue vehicle.
But there is no road, so no proper vehicle.
So what came?
5. A Tale of Two Cities (Catacombs in Paris)
Paris ain’t one city. there’s the city of the living
And there’s the city of the dead.
The city of the living is full of arrogant sods.
The dead don’t care.
The dead don’t judge.
The dead don’t criticize.
The dead don’t hate.
The dead accepts.
4. Camel 1 Cheapo 0 (Jaisalmer)
Told you that the Cheapo will come back to the camel.
You see, camels are weird animals. Just like alpacas, they stay with humans, but pretend to have some epic disdain for humankind.
Unlike the noble hippopotamuses, camels don’t care.
And Camels like Newton, especially his 3rd law.
So, when the Cheapo climbed on a camel, there was only one thing that was inevitable.
Camel goes up, Cheapo goes down.
After 5 minutes of Cheapo shouting “Is the camel hurt? Did I hurt the camel?” and the camel owner shouting “Are you hurt sir? Did you get hurt sir?”, it was time for attempt 2
As it turns out, three times was the charm.
3. Cheapo at the Opera
2. Cheapo in Wonderland
Ever since he was Fat Wee Cheapo, Cheapo had a dream. He wanted to go to Angkor Vat.
Cheapo went to Angkor Vat.
- Asses to Asses
Nobody seeks the Cheapo
Nobody picks the Cheapo
Nobody wants the Cheapo
Nobody comes to the Cheapo
It was Bangalore.
It was the Palace Grounds and Rudra Pratap Singh’s farmhouse.
The Cheapo had gone with Sandesh Raju to check up on some horses and ponies. [Cheapo has adopted two abandoned ponies – one of them has passed away, the other one is going strong, healthy and hopefully happy]
Cheapo, Sandesh, Mr, Singh, and few others were standing in a huddle looking at the ponies/horses and discussing their health when all of a sudden Cheapo felt someone nudging his ass.
He turned and it was an ass!
It was a three legged donkey and it wanted the Cheapo to pat it and play with it.
Nobody seeks the Cheapo
Nobody picks the Cheapo
Nobody wants the Cheapo
Nobody comes to the Cheapo
Out of all the men standing there, the ass picked Cheapo.
Cheapo hugged the ass and played with it.
The Cheapo was at peace.