Temple Bar, Dublin

The Roadster

Temple Bar, Dublin
Temple Bar, Dublin

     After wandering the streets of Dublin till the wee hours, I stumbled into The Temple Bar and ordered a Guinness.  The place was nearly deserted but the old school wooden bar, double arches overhead and winding staircase to a mysterious upper level hooked me so I lingered.  The Guinness came foaming at the bit and I sipped letting the roasted barley calm my nerves and give me hope.  My fatigue gave me pause to ponder the meaning of my life and the dark stout revived the extinguishing lights of wanderlust dimming within.

It was in these exhausted moments of reflection that a strange character strode in from the dark street.  He wore a heavy Hemingway beard with a cap that had the word Roadster scrawled on the bill.  He took a seat at the bar a few chairs beside mine and ordered a drink.  As he waited, he turned to me.  He sensed my immigrant status and it piqued his interest.  “Where you from?” he asked.

“The States,” I said wondering where this admission might lead.

“Ah, the States,” he said as if he were reading his lines for the big screen.  Then he smiled and drank half the glass of beer without a pause.

“You a local?” I asked.

“Oh yeah.  Local through and through.”

“I like your hat,” I said wondering if there might be a hidden story lurking somewhere beneath the word Roadster.

He smiled at that question and pointed outside the window.  “The roadster is out yonder tethered to a hitching post.  Care to see it?”  He winked and wondered if I understood.

“Sure,” I said having no clue to the meaning of ‘out yonder tethered to the hitching post’.”

With that little encouragement this provocateur led me on a fascinating tour of his wild blue roadster parked down the street, a mean machine fit for any back street racing challenge.  And from that episode in this little bar came the story I wrote called The Roadster (in my book entitled: Teatime in Old Havana.)

(P.S.  Has anyone been to this pub or met an interesting character at a mysterious bar)?

The Ambulance Driver

Jugaads

I was eating some cashew nut macaroons at the Dhanalakshmi Bakkery in Tuticorin India recently.  The afternoon was hot as the passersby flittered here and there on a thousand unknown journeys in this Indian port city.  I gazed with a sense of wonderment from my bakery shop window seat at the complexities of life and the conundrums of daily existence.

I was lost in these musings and the crunchy sugary macaroon tip that hovers with sublime grace over the gooey cashew crumbs when I saw him go by.  He was singularly focused.  He wove through the street traffic like a magician appearing and disappearing behind this truck and then that cart of produce.

He pedaled his ambulance cart, a strange kind of tricycle with a caged space behind him for patients in desperate need of medical care.  They call these mechanical inventions jugaads in this part of the world.  They are real world improvisations, contraptions made of dreams and elbow grease and late night tinkering behind some corner store.

I paused in mid crunch, putting my macaroon down and simply staring.  The driver was intense.  He didn’t sit on the make shift seat; no, he pedaled upright with a sense of urgency as if the gods themselves had commissioned him to hasten to some wounded soul without delay.  He looked straight ahead seeing nothing but the imagined patient lying wounded or bleeding on some distant river bank or factory floor.

If I could have done so, I would have leaped from my seat at the bakery and rushed to follow him.  Where did he go?  What did he find?  I will never know.  But it was this frenetic scene outside the bakery where I sat nibbling a macaroon that I conceived the the story of the pearl diver out on a mission to save the world only to find himself the victim of love’s snares and foibles.

(P. S.:   Has anybody tried an authentic macaroon?  Tell me about it).

(Read the story in Teatime in Old Havana)