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   I have always had good friends... (August 25, 1993)

I have always had good friends. When they go abroad, they bring me after-shave lotions. That I do not use after-shave lotions is another matter. My bathroom shelves are filled with after-shave bottles, rows upon rows of them. I cannot give them away, because it is not nice to give away things that friends present you.

Some friends bring scotch, which is sensible. A few bring congnac or wine, which is even more sensible. The wife, when she goes abroad, brings clothes, mostly for herself, but a shirt or a trouser or a pair of shoes for me. Which is silly, because they are either too large or too small, and, since I do not wish to hurt her feelings, I am often seen in loose shirts, tight trousers, shoes that either pinch or flip-flop on my feet.

When I go abroad, which has been about four or five times in my life. I rarely buy anything. Clothes, I discover, look better and are of better quality in India than abroad. Also, except for Bangkok, they are much cheaper in India, and even in Bangkok buying them involves valuable foreign exchange. Personally, I think, few clothes are more comfortable and suited to our weather than a Proline shirt or Raymonds trousers.

I occasionally buy a bottle of liquor at Dubai airport (I have never been in the town), but always on the outward journey, never while returning home. I do so to carry with me when I am invited for dinner by some friend in England or America. I never do so on the return journey, because I hate going through the Indian customs with the officer eyeing the bottle. I find it very humilating, for him and for me.

Our costoms officers are the first beggars that tourists find when they arrive in India. Outside the airport, they meet more beggars, who, perhaps, have more bonafide reasons for begging.

There are few other things that I care to buy abroad. Possibly an electronic typewriter to help me with my work (after Facit and Godrej, using one of these is like driving a Rolls after an Ambassador), but that you can buy only once. But there are alwaysribbons to be bought for the typewriter.

As with Dubai town, I do nto care to visit Singapore, which is another place meant only for shopping. But I enjoy visiting Hong Kong, there is so much variety of food in that place and not just Chinese food. For the same reasons of food, I also like to visit France, for French, Vietnamese and even Algerian food. England I like for its pubs. The England pubs, with the pub grub, the pork pies, the steak and kidney puddings, are a culture unto themselves. I spend all my money there, though they are not so expensive. Naturally, I do nto have money left for shopping.

 
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