Punjab! Curry! Curry!
So, it’s the final leg home and I’ll be writing today on the fly. I’ll do my best. We shall begin with last night…I had to return the rental car this evening. I dropped Jan at the Airport Motel run by some nice folks from India. Once I dropped the car off, I had to figure out a way to get back to the motel. There was a shuttle from the rental agency to the airport. From there I figured I could then catch the motel shuttle that swung by the airport every 30 minutes. Easy peasy.
I jumped into the Alamo shuttle to the airport and it was just the driver and me, an enthusiastic Cardinals fan. Sensing a baseball soul-mate, I said, “I’ll pay you $20 to skip the airport and take me to my motel.” I was thinking it would save me a long wait and was cheaper than a cab. He bit. Off we went in his gigantic shuttle. He didn’t have a clue as to where he was going. He is used to driving long lazy loops around Lambert Field. Once more, Siri was of no help. She kept shouting orders for him to get on the Interstate. However, his type of shuttle was banned from the Interstate. Siri wouldn’t listen to this line of reasoning or oaths. My driver finally gave up and took me back to the airport. I paid him $10. We were both dejected.
I waited around for a bit. A lot of smokers in ‘ol St Louis. It was hot. It was humid. I said, “Bah!…I’ll just get a cab.” So, off to the cabbie stable I went. The fella from the first cab in line launched himself in my direction, I handed him a card from the motel and off we went. I discovered he was from India because I asked him: “Where are you from?” he said, “Punjab.” “India?” I asked? He nodded. I thought that a lovely coincidence since my motel was owned by the nice people from India and even had an attached restaurant called…India. I tried to make conversation. All the English he seemed to know, which wasn’t really English, was the word, “Punjab.” I can’t bear the thought of not being able to communicate. I was trying hard to think of some common ground, a cultural marker, anything to break through the silence. Finally I remembered that spice from India that my assistant, Shiela, is so fond of. I smiled and blurted out, “Curry!” That was it. Nothing before. Nothing after. Just a loud, lonely and aggressive noun. He looked in the mirror at his grinning passenger. He seemed perplexed. Perhaps he thought I was speaking of Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Maybe I wished to speak of “the American basketball?” Regardless, the “Curry” eruption gained us nothing. Awkward silence. Then for whatever “heaven only knows” reason, I said it again: “Curry!” Why? I couldn’t tell you. It had to be one of the most peculiar and boring cab rides in history. “Punjab!” “Curry!” “Curry!” The politically correct set would be horrified at my clumsy, cultural appropriations. I was horrified.
It didn’t improve. He dropped me off by a massive gate behind the motel. When I say massive, I mean 10 feet tall with punji sticks on top for good measure. I was literally fifty feet from the back of the motel but I saw no way in. I began to hike. The fence worked its way back to the frontage road, about a mile in length. To make matters worse, the only way to get around the fence was to follow the road back that my friend, Punjab, had taken to get me to this dead end. That was about a mile as well. Was he offended at my curry query? Did he not like curry? We’ll never know. I called Jan and had her haul the phone to the front desk where I explained my dilemma. They said that they would send the Hotel Shuttle. Sigh. Just then, a confused looking couple drove up to the same dead end. I waved them down and blurted out my predicament. I asked them if they were staying at the motel. They said yes. I asked if I could hitch a ride. They seemed hesitant. I said I understood. By this time I was pouring sweat and looked a bit crazed – a rat in a maze. The husband finally said, “Jump in.” The wife gave him a dirty look. I thanked them profusely and then helped them navigate their way back through the labyrinth to the motel.
It was hardly worth the effort. The motel was a stinker – literally. I usually don’t bother to fill out the survey forms from whatever travel site I happen to use. It feels like gossip. However, I thought it my duty to alert the general public. Even though it was billed as a non-smoking motel, it seemed to be a suggestion. I wrote in my remarks, “Smoker’s Paradise!” “Perfect place for college partiers and man outings!” It was a brutal review. I smugly hit send. A few moments later I was sent a “Thank-you” notice for my review of the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis – a first-rate establishment we had lodged at the previous night. Whoops. Thankfully, the lies I had told about the wrong hotel are untraceable. But now you know. Blessings…CJ