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   An American friend is visiting India for the first time... (April 30, 1996)

An American friend is visiting India for the first time and is staying with me. I sent to receive him at a Shara airport in the early hours of this morning and bring him home.

"Geo, I am sorry to drag you out of your bed at this hour. You must have worked hard yesterday and been looking forward to some sleep," he said.

"Don't worry," I told him, "Yesterday was a holiday."

"But yesterday was Monday -- a holiday! Oh, I see, just as the Arabs have Friday as their holiday, instead of Sunday, you have Monday."

"Not every Monday," I said. "No, we don't have every Monday as holiday, htough most Monday s, we do. We also have Sunday as holiday."

"That's awful nice," said the American. "Today, I am going to sleep off my jet lag, so you don't have to worry. And tomorrow, please don't put yourself out for me. I understand you have to work, I'll take care of myself."

"Tomorrow's a holiday," I said to him.

"Tomorrow! But that's Wednesday!" said the American, looking surprised. "Ah, like the Jews, as they have holiday on Saturday, you have on Wednesday."

"We have holdiday on Saturday s also and it has got nothing to do with the Jews. First, it was second Saturday of the month for government servants, now all Saturday s for everybody. Wednesday is an extra holiday."

"Youhave an extra holiday in the middle of the week, that's very sensible," the American said. "Wish we could have it also, but we cannot afford it, especially in these time of the recession. The Congress would throw a fit. Your economy must be very healthy to have a general holiday right in the middle of the working week."

"No, the economy is not healthy, but the opposition would throw a fit if the government did not declare a holiday tomorrow. Actually, the opposition is the government now, so that, perhaps, may not apply. I will clarify things to you later, I do not want to send you home with wrong information."

"I am here to learn," the American said. "Then, I take it, besides tomorrow, which is also a holiday, you will be free for the weekend, Saturday-Sunday."

"It is going to be a long weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday," I said.

"They have long weekend here?"

"Not always, but most of the time," I said. "So that top executives can go away to their bugalows in the hills, and lesser executives for three days and two nights in Goa, package holidays. The poor, of course, stay at home and enjoy, waiting for banks, shops, cooking gas supply agents, law counrts to open on Monday so that they can resume their normal life."

"It seems a lovely country to live in," said the American. "So, you are off to work this morning."

"No I have taken casual leave," I said. "I get 15 days C.L. and 15 days S.L. and I am not allowed to accumulate them."

 
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