Ch. 11, Lunch and Launch
A good holiday is one that is spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours.—J.B. Priestley
We’re late, of course. Kolkata traffic assured that. My imagined Hindu deity in charge of schedules and itineraries and timetables must still be belly-laughing when we reach the RV Ganges Voyager.
The dining room serves lunch from noon to 1 P.M. By the time all of us are on board and have exchanged our laminated boarding passes for our room keys, have enjoyed a glass of fruit juice, have made use of the cool, wet cloths offered on a tray, have left the used cloths on another tray, have deposited the empty juice glasses on another tray, have removed our street shoes for cleaning so we don’t track mud and whatever throughout the boat, and gone to our rooms for a moment, it’s close to 1:30.
|Bhadami Tikka --Indian Almond cake|
Because we’re the only customers, the dining room has held lunch for us. The problem is, we’re behind sailing schedule and that means we will not reach our first port of call in time to visit before it’s dark. Management is extremely apologetic when it cancels that stop, but I take it in stride.
That gives me an afternoon to unpack, download my photos onto my Surface Pro tablet and label them. It also gives me time for a much-needed nap. I’m free until five o’clock and then there will be a Vantage briefing, a welcoming cocktail party, and a port talk about tomorrow’s itinerary, all before dinner.
Unpacking doesn’t take long, nor does downloading the photos. The boat is moving upriver now and I open the sliding glass doors to watch India go by.
|These guys are harvesting sand from the river bottom with baskets attached to long poles. The sand bags are stacked in the center of the boat.|
|The sand will be mixed with cement for mortar.|
|Passing a village.|
|I think this boat is loaded with rocks. Good thing the river is calm because there's not much freeboard there.|
Occasionally people are surprised that I travel as a solo traveler. While I love to travel with my friends, I tend to stick with those friends rather than seek out others in the group. So traveling solo is good for me and makes me come out of my shy shell. Also, other singles might make the effort to join me. This is what happened at the first dinner on the RV Ganges Voyager.
I'm sitting by myself and Dinesh "Nish" Patel, born and raised in Kolkata but now living in Chicago and operating Mayflower Tours, asks to join me. What a stroke of luck. Now I have someone to tell me what I am eating.
We are joined by Brian and Sandy from Colorado. During the discussion about Indian food, Nish says he tends to eat vegetarian and says he feels better physically. That reminds Brian of a joke in which a patient makes the same claim to his doctor and the doctor responds, "What I see is your sallow complexion, a big belly, and lots of flatulence."
Dinner is not a buffet but a fixed menu with several choices, and white table cloths with waiters in uniform. This is a learning experience for them as well as for us. I think tomorrow night will go much easier for some of the young waiters.
At the reception, Dinesh says, “India is a feeling. You will need a holiday when you get back.” The canapés served with cocktails look and taste like tater tots to me, served with a bowl of catsup. Apparently catsup is a popular condiment in India. All our Air India meals included a packet of catsup.
|I swear these are tater tots served with catsup.|