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Road Trip Part 2 May 21, 2006

Posted by espritnoir in Humour, Random Thoughts....
1 comment so far

(Apologies for posting this so late…Hope you enjoy this…!)

Afternoon siesta over, all of us men who had stayed behind for the night, decided to get some shopping done ahead of our impending trip to Patan, the town where the engagement was the next day. No ladies or kids in tow, six men – three of us cousins, our two uncles, and one extended family member – decided to explore Baroda in whatever little time we had. So we drove around the market place, looking for sweets to carry for the engagement, and kolhapuri chappals and mojaris (traditional types of Indian footwear) to go with our Indian ethnic wear for the ceremony the next day. One of our uncles, a local, took us to this small dim lit lane, where 3 or 4 footwear vendors had their displays lined up on the pavement. After haggling for what seemed like hours, between the six of us we got nine pairs of mojaris and kolhapuris. I think the guy shut his shop early that night. Shopping in Gujarat without haggling is like killing the joy out of shopping. Gujaratis, like the Chinese, just love a good bargain. I think they love bargaining, more than the sale or purchase itself. I have come to a conclusion that if they don’t haggle, both the buyer and the seller feels cheated out of some great exotic pleasure that they would have otherwise derived from the sale. But I’ll get into that some other time. Time to move on.

One thing I must confess here. There’s a certain thing about small towns that I really like. They always have a unique flavour of their own, a local charm, if you will, that makes it stand out from the rest. Especially to an outsider from a city like Bombay. A metropolis can undoubtedly serve you everything you wanted on a platter, but almost always at an intangible cost for your dreams, a hidden cost that is dearer than the tangible price you pay for it. Bombay can make you emotionally jaded at times. I’m not saying the city hasn’t got a spirit; a true Bombaite / Mumbaikar will never accept that. Scrape off the grime and dirt, and underneath it all, the city is all heart. It’s just that amidst the daily race for survival, the small things get hidden beneath the millions of masks the people have to change everyday. That’s something you don’t have to worry about in small towns. Sometimes, small town do change their original personality and start losing touch with their own identity, and that’s a sad thing to happen. In my opinion, it happened with Pune, though I’m sure more Puneris will not agree. But I don’t see that happening with Baroda. Well, not yet anyways. The quaint little town, like so many others in small town India, seems to have sprung up overnight, instead of being built with thoughtful planning. And as a consequence, it still retains an old town feel and look to it. It may have been possible that only the area I saw in the twilight was that way, the rest of the city may be different altogether. Maybe I will go there again sometime, and write some more about it. Definitely in the winters. No more Gujarati summers for me.

Well, come Sunday, and we were to leave at 5:30 am, but a funny incident (funny, only in hindsight) involving my cousin, the bathroom and an overflowing tap that refused to be shut, and soon threatened to flood the house behind us delayed us by almost an hour. Put six men in a bathroom with faulty plumbing – mind you, none of us have every fixed anything beyond a loose TV remote battery cover in our lives – and suddenly everyone’s an expert plumber. Thirty minutes trying to fix the leak, but no success. Somebody suggested shutting off the main water supply. No such luck, that doesn’t work. Back to trying to fix the tap. Its now an ego struggle between the lifeless tap and the men who won’t give up. Tried stuffing the mouth of the tap with a cloth but the mouth’s too narrow. Back to the wet drawing board we went. In the midst of the chaos, my uncle and cousin managed to knock off the tap with a wrench and spray the water all over the bathroom and beyond, effectively giving the rest of us a second shower. Finally we plugged the pipe with a thick piece of wood, in a move that involved cutting off a branch of a tree in the courtyard, with a Swiss Army Knife! This reduced the flow of water to a harmless trickle. Ten minutes spent congratulating each other on a job well done and passing out the cigars, and twenty minutes cursing the guy who messed around with the tap in the first place, when we finally realized we were behind schedule by over three quarters of an hour.

Finally, 6:40 am on Sunday morning, we left for Patan, where the engagement was to going to start at about 10:30. Four hours to go, and having been told that the distance between Baroda and Patan could be done in 2.5 hours tops, we were relaxed. So, we start off in shorts, t-shirts, and floaters, generally looking like a bunch of yuppies in search of a watering hole on a Saturday night in Goa. We’ll get there and change, no big deal. Well, that was the plan anyways.

So, we were finally off. The journey to Ahemdabad was pleasant, and fast, as it was an expressway all the way through. The fun began after A’bad, where we realized that none of us knew the road ahead to Patan. Well not exactly anyways, we had been asked to ask directions and find our way. So, after the first turnoff out of the expressway, we look around for people to ask for directions. 6 guys, mind you, asking for directions. This is bound to get interesting.

As we pass through ‘The City of Flowers’, Gandhinagar, the capital city of Gujarat, we look around for somebody to ask the directions. First guy we meet, we roll down the windows and ask him for directions. Well, at least my uncle from Bombay did. Let me tell you one thing about my uncle. He is one of the coolest dudes around. Real fun to be with on most occasions. And quite sporting. And claims to speak Gujarati. When I say that, I mean he speaks Gujarati the way people say Arnold Schwarzenegger can act. Ask Arnie goes beyond “I’ll be back”, he’s quite entertaining to watch. Totally unintentionally, of course. Same’s the case with my uncle. He speaks the Bombay version of Gujarati, which is a bastardized mix of Hindi, Marathi with a smattering of Gujarati thrown in as a garnish. It’s miles and miles away from the actual dialect spoken by Gujarati people in remote interiors of their home state.

So, a conversation between my uncle and the locals we meet along the way goes something like this :

Uncle (with a cocky grin on his face, stating “I’ll have us on the right way in a moment”)
Avo, Patan jane mathe kauno rasto che? Rough translation : “Sir, What road goes to Patan?”

Villager : weofpw ejpjwfwfmfmwe j fpwefpw ejewfk wfwjefwekm dk. Saamjhi gyo?
Translation : There is none. My uncle is completely taken aback by the volley of Gujarati that the guys just threw at him. But to save face, he pretends he’s understood everything, and smiles back to him, and says, “Okay, now I know where we are. Move on ahead, and I think it’s the next left turn.”

So, we roll up the windows and move on ahead, hoping that what my uncle “translated” was right. After one and a half hour of asking directions in Gujarati, and driving numerous locals up the wall with our absolute understanding of their language, we were hopelessly sidetracked. At that point, two HUGE truths came and struck us bang smack in the face.

One, this uncle couldn’t understand one word of the super fast-paced Gujarati dialect that these guys spoke!

And two, sleeping in the back seat of the Scorpio, was our uncle from Gujarat, who spoke and by that logic, presumably also understood, the local dialect! In the midst of all our idiocy, nobody had thought of getting him to ask the directions!!!

After individually hitting our foreheads with our hands, the rest of us finally woke him up, and told him what he needed to do. The hero that he is, he put his head up, mumbled something in Gujarati, (and when the other uncle didn’t understand a word that he said, we knew that we had found the right man for the task!), and promptly fell back to sleep again.

A few minutes later, the hysterical ranting of the rest of us brought him around, and he finally got up, and asked some people around for some help. And got us on track. And promptly fell back to sleep.

With all the diversions, and tea breaks and other nuisances, by the time we saw the first milestone, that said “Patan : 20 kms”, it was almost 10:10. The women, who were already at the venue, had been calling us every six and a half minutes, since 9:00 am, trying to figure out where we were. The engagement was about to start in about 20 minutes, and we were still on an isolated piece of road, about 15 kms away! God, were we in trouble!

As we were getting closer to the final destination, horror of horrors, we realized that we were still dressed in almost our chaddi – baniyans, and dared we enter the engagement like that we would most definitely be quartered and killed, first by the girl whose engagement it was, and then what remained would be fed to the dogs by our respective family members.

So, there’s only one thing to do. Desperate situations call for desperate measures. We found the next isolated spot on that road, and possibly for the first time in the history of Patan, six grown men, discarded their yuppie fittings, for ethnic formal wear, about 10 inches off the road! Our modesty was only protected by the limited cover offered by the SUV, and the assorted trees and shrubbery around. I’m sure the couple of locals who passed us along the way, probably thought we were either a bunch of lunatics, who got our kicks out of undressing in public, or a bunch of thugs changing into our costumes before pulling a heist on the local petrol pump. The fact that we stood there in our shorts and ganjis, hooting and waving out to them as they passed us, didn’t help higher us in their esteem either.

So, a result of quick thinking, and making the great wide Patan landscape our changing room, combined with some deft driving on the last stretch of our journey, to avoid some cattle, goats and other assorted four-legged beasts, who came out of nowhere to try and delay us further, we reached the venue with five minutes to spare. From then on, things flowed along smoothly, the engagement went off great. Lots of photos, lots of sweets, and tons and tons and tons of ice cream. I have never seen so much ice cream being fed to somebody as the couple was fed by all the family and friends. In all I think they must have been forced (very lovingly, and all in jest, off course) to gore down about 2-3 litres of icecream. God, if I ever get married in Gujarat, I’ll make sure there is no ice cream on the menu. Or aamras for that matter. At all!

Well, from there on, things were quite sedate. In the evening, we said our goodbyes to the other family, and took proper directions from them to find our way back. Luckily, they gave direction in Hindi, so everybody understood, and we managed to make the journey back to Baroda quite smoothly.

A night halt at Baroda, and the next morning, we left for Bombay. Nothing much to report there. After 2 days of driving in the sun, running around to find chappals, packing gifts, fixing overflowing taps, dressing up on the roadside, too much of icecream and aamras, and of course the engagement, we were all pooped out. All in all it was great fun. When all of us family meets up, there’s never a dull moment, and this road trip was no exception.

The only thing that kind of put a damper on spirits was a news that we got on our way back to Bombay. Soon after we had just crossed over to Maharashtra, I received a phone call from my mom, who had flown back to Bombay the earlier evening, to check up on us. Apparently, a couple of hours after we had left Baroda, some communal tension had sprung up there, and a curfew had been declared in parts of the city. Over the next few days, lives were needlessly lost in the city, as the dark side of humanity raised its ugly head. Sad, how some places and people that seem so simple, and welcoming one day, can suddenly turn into cold and heartless, in such a short time. All my sympathies to the innocents that got in the crossfire.

Well, that’s about that. The wedding’s probably going to take place in December in Bombay, so there may be no road trip. But all of us will be getting together once again, and I’m looking forward to all the craziness then…

Road Trip – Part 1 May 6, 2006

Posted by espritnoir in Humour, Random Thoughts....
1 comment so far

Warning : This one is long, and winding, and may not have any point…but read on.

A big hello to all of my regular readers, yes all three of you!;) Had a hectic last week, and the previous weekend was even more so. A cousin of mine was getting engaged to her boyfriend in a remote little hamlet in Gujarat last Sunday. And that gave me and my extended family a reason to go out on a road trip that well, though not quite what they make movies out of, was fairly memorable.

Totally NOT according to the original plan and seating arrangements, made 4 weeks ago, or the altered plan made a fortnight ago, or even the “finally final” plan made the night before we left, Saturday morning saw 2 SUVs loaded with enough bags to last out a month long seige of Mars, filled with clothing, gifts, snacks, water bottles, cell phone chargers, cameras, and other assorted paraphernalia, not to mention 14 people, head out into Baroda, our first halt en route to our final destination.

We started off quite early, and were soon cruising across the national highway connecting the two states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. This was the first time I was driving on NH8 (Bombay – Ahmedabad highway), and I must say I was impressed. Not only is the road in near excellent condition for most of the journey, but also the surrounding countryside, although not picturesque, is quite scenic, in a desolate, isolated kind of manner. If you are a good driver, you would do well to notice the vast landscape that whizzes past you as you cut the miles ahead of you. Small thatched-roof huts, stray cattle, small hotels advertising cheap and tasty food, rush by you only to disappear from sight, and be replaced in seconds by other huts, cattle and hotels. Probably the best part of driving down a highway at 120 kms an hour, is the fact that if you want to see something, observe something, you have to do it instantaneously. You can’t think twice, take your time about it, or go back to it. A milestone once gone, is gone forever. Kinda like life, only a lot slower and lot less uncertain. At least behind the wheel of a car, you usually know where you’re headed. Where most of us are headed with our lives, well, that’s as good as anybody’ guess.

Moving on, if you enjoy driving as much as I do, I would strongly recommend a road trip down this route. Do a quick weekend getaway to Daman, where, I have heard, you can sink into a cozy hammock put up between 2 palm trees on the beach, and sip on a cool beer or two, all afternoon. The road to Daman, and beyond is even, and has just the right amount of curves to stop it from getting too monotonous, and on a good day is peppered with just enough traffic to keep you alert without taking away the simple pleasures of driving.

There are a few such routes from Bombay that are worth driving down, especially if you have a good SUV (I drive in the family Mahindra Scorpio, and I love it), a good music system and good company of friends who know how to enjoy the simple joys. For a really memorable short journey, the Bombay – Pune Expressway is an excellent drive. Get some friends along – not too many though, maybe just one or two – and head out towards Pune at 5:30 am in the morning. Once you cross the McDonalds at Kalamboli, you get on to the Expressway, and from there on it’s one of the best short-to-mid distance drives around Bombay. But to really enjoy a good Sunday morning drive, don’t drive all the way to Pune. Drive at a fair pace, and enjoy the great landscape the surrounds you. If you are not too rushed, you should drive into Lonavala (about 90-100 kms from Bombay) by 7:30 in the morning, just in time for breakfast. Head for one of the hotels, for breakfast (I like the Vallerina, just below the main bridge that runs through the small town, “the hotel with the Valley attached”, as their brochure states) Once you’ve had a relaxed breakfast of fluffy omlettes and hot buttered toast, head out onto the road towards Amby Valley. That’s a fairly winding road up the mountain side, and you pass Bhushi Dam on the way, where you can spend some time. Drive on beyond Bhushi, and after about 20 minutes of winding uphill, you’ll reach a Lions Point (I think that’s what they call it). Its an absolutely flat table land extension that juts out of the mountainside, where you can park your car, and just look at the small town that you left behind. Its especially pretty in the winters, when the early morning fog hangs so low and so thick that you can actually feel the early morning mist if you put your hand out of the window, and try to grab on to a small piece of the clouds. In winters especially its quite chilly up there, and to lie back in the car, listen to some good music, and forget your worries for an hour or two as you stare into the vast gray morning sky ahead of you, is something I guess the closest you can get to heaven. If you havn’t done it before, you should.

Similarly, there are some other really good drives, for longer distances. Bombay – Ahmedabad is one of them. So is Bombay – Hyderabad, down south. Its about a 16 hour journey, and the road again is quite good. And so is Bombay – Bangalore, or so I’ve heard. I haven’t driven down that road before, and plan to do that trip soon. Also, Bombay – Goa. But that’s an altogether different story. I’ve romanticized about driving on the Bombay – Goa stretch for so long, that I would require a couple of posts just for that:)

Anyways, on the subject of road trips, one word of advice for those planning to take drive out into the country, especially one involving a lot of children and tons of luggage. Decide the seating prior to departure, and rotate the people on a regular basis. The last thing you want to hear when you are driving down the road at 120 kms/hr, is somebody whining about how he isn’t getting enough air in the back. And to be perfectly fair to the kid, its no fun sitting in the back of a car for hours with all the luggage dumped round him. So, take some trouble before hand to make a proper seating arrangement, with the rotations evenly spread out. Its worth the trouble in the end. It saves you the pain of having to stop at every half an hour, and listen to somebody complain how bad it is in the back.

So, the drive was good, and we managed to make it across the harsh and hot Gujarat landscape to reach Baroda by 3pm in the afternoon. Since we had been traveling with the AC on for almost the whole journey, we weren’t quite ready for the heat that greeted us the moment we got out of the car to enter my aunt’s – our hostess in Baroda – house. The heat hit us in the face – and everywhere else – like a brick wall, made with burning hot bricks. Less than ten minutes out of the car, all of us were dragging our asses on the ground, as even moving from one room to the other was too much effort for the body and mind. The rooms were a furnace, and even though we were sitting under the ceiling fans, it felt as if something was slowly sucking the life out of us. People in Bombay who complain about the humid weather here, should be made to spend one afternoon in Baroda, during the summers. The next day they’ll be singing praises about the weather in Bombay. Well, since we really didn’t have too much of an option there, we tried to bear it as best we could, and fell out flat on the beds. Luckily only a part of the whole group – all the ladies, including the engagement belle, and her father – was going on ahead to the town where the engagement was going to be held, it gave us guys the chance to catch some shut eye, while the others made their way ahead in one of the SUVs.

(And that’s part one. Will continue this ramble in my next post…)

The Revenge of The Bulk! February 5, 2006

Posted by espritnoir in Creative Writing, Humour.
5 comments

As I pushed away the empty plate that carried the greasy remains of what used to be ghost dum biryani, I let out a sigh of sheer contentment. If Heaven was a food item, an excellent biryani with succulent morsels of mutton would probably be it. And as I lingered on at the table, wondering whether I could prolong my lunch hour by just another 20 minutes to indulge in something sweet, the regular maitre’ de seemed to read my mind and came up to me and suggested “The chef highly recommends the sweet dish today – hot gulab jamuns with a side order of vanilla ice cream, Sir. Nobody quite makes them like the chef, Sir.” And, as I loosened the belt on my trousers by one notch, I knew I was going to be late to work by more than just 20 minutes. Aaah, Heaven, sinful Heaven.

2 servings of gulab jamuns, (nobody could have had just 2 jamuns, they just melted in your mouth. In fact, the first bite that I took, I actually thought I had bit into just the syrup, until I could feel the taste of the jamun trickling down the back of my throat. Amazing!) and a couple of notches later, I started walking back to the car in deep content. The rest of the Friday looked too tempting to spend behind a desk, so I called in and told them I was going home, as I was feeling slightly out of breath and felt an attack of asthma coming though. I was due a lot of leave anyway, and had been stressed out working almost 16 hours a day for the past 3 weeks for a major event for one of our key accounts, so it wasn’t too much of a moral dilemma to lie. And come to think of it, I did realize that I was feeling slightly out breath, and was feeling slightly giddy. Must be all that rich food over the last few weeks. Business lunches, social dinners and with my taste for the good life, second servings of everything was a must. But I wasn’t worried too much. I had always been fat, since I was a kid, so my body was used to this. My heart just pumped faster than most guys my age, so it knew exactly what was expected of it. But, that out of breath thing had been bothering me a bit for a while now. Come to think of it, my calves ached while walking too. Must remember to check it out with my doc. Mental note, call up doc. Hope he hasn’t shifted his office in the last 2 years. It was conveniently located near a small bistro types, which served the best Chicken A la Kiev in Bombay. Just right. Just one cut into the chicken breast, and the melted butter just oozed out and mingled with the mashed potatoes and steamed veggies, with an aroma that seemed to fill the room up. Bliss. And I put my thumb and index fingers together and raised my hand to my lips, to make the universal sign of the kiss, the way the Italians do it.

And that’s when I noticed it for the first time. Strange, I thought, I never knew my hands were so large. Funny how you don’t realize these things earlier. I mean, they seemed slightly bigger than usual. Maybe its just my imagination. Anyway, I had reached my car, and I did the beepbeep thing that let the car know that I wanted to get in, and opened the door of the Ikon. I liked this car a lot, Comfortable and fast. But I was thinking of upgrading it to a bigger car. Lately it felt slightly cramped. I patted my belly and hind parts, and smiled to myself. I’m not all that bad, I mean, I wasn’t a Sumo wrestler. Well, not yet, anyway.

Hmmm…funny, had somebody fiddled around with the seat position in the car? I couldn’t seem to squeeze into the space behind the steering wheel. Nobody could have messes around though. I had just unlocked the car myself, and nothing seemed to be missing. Nobody around, the car park seemed empty. I slipped out off my jacket, got down on one knee and tried to push the seat back to the farthest it would go to, but it was strange. It wouldn’t go any further. Now I was irritated. You just cant grow that fatter, just by having one lunch. And I had driven that car myself in the morning. And was it just my imagination again or were my hands even larger than before? God, even the trousers seemed to be a lot tighter around my waist now. I tried to loosen up the belt further by a notch, but as my now definitely huge fingers fumbled with the belt, I was struck with the awful truth that there were no more notches to go. Damn, what’s happening today. Why is everything going wrong?

And then it happened, just like in the funny scary movies. I felt a sudden heaving feeling in my waist, and my stomach just bloated up by a couple of inches. And then a button popped off my new shirt and flew off into the distance. In other circumstances, it would have been quite funny actually. But, this was crazy! I MEAN BUTTONS DON’T JUST POP OFF AND FLY ACROSS THE STREET!!! Then another, and the top one threatened menacingly to do the same.

WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME!??!

Jacket in hand, I tried walking away from the car. I couldn’t get in it anyway. Not the way I was looking by now. Bloated fingers, a waist that probably measured halfway around the Equator, shirt partly open, trousers threatening to rip at the seams. By now, a cold sweat was running down my brow, and I had broken in to a run. Well, it was more of a fast waddle really. The way I had once seen a penguin do, in a funny video clip I had sent across to friends over email. But that was hilarious, this was plain FREAKY! I just couldn’t be seen like this. I had to find a place to hide. WHERE???

As I came out of the underground parking lot, I saw a coffee shop around the corner. I remembered the numerous days I had spent there nursing a coffee and chocolate doughnuts. DOUGHNUTS! ARE YOU CRAZY? I said to myself, HOW CAN YOU EVEN THINK OF DOUGHNUTS AT THIS TIME! I was doing the Buddy Love – Professor Klump transformation (you remember the scene, from The Nutty Professor, where his lips, hands and other body parts all start arbitrarily swelling up. The only difference was that I was already a Klump going for a new world record in the upsize Sumo wrestler category) and all I could think of was DOUGHNUTS!

Nobody in the coffee shop, and the bartender had his back turned to me, so I managed to slip in without causing any shocking reactions.

I could just picture the reports on the late evening news as they towed me away in a cage :

“The Missing Link found in Bombay City. NDTV reports.”

“KingKong masquerading as mild mannered event manager for past 10 years. Exclusive on Star News”

“Parents baffled. ‘He was found in the foothills of the Himalayas. We just adopted him’ sobs mother! Aaj Tak brings you the parents side of the story”

“Is it Elvis? Is it the Michelin Man?? No, it’s THE BULGING HULK! IT’S THE BULK!!!”

I waddled to the bathroom and barely squeezed in, and was relieved for a few moments that I could fit in comfortably. But the way things were going, for how long? Later. First I needed to catch my breath. I wheezed in and out, trying to get some air into my lungs. Barely. Something seemed to be in the way. Then I saw my reflection in the mirror, and realized that my double chin had now given birth to a couple of more baby chins of their own. No wonder I couldn’t breathe. Must be all that layer of flab. I quickly undid the collar button of whatever was left of my shirt, and tried to take in as much of air as I could. Slightly better. But my waist was still troubling me. Maybe I needed to let them off too. God, I hope I can get out of here without having to break the walls down. In the few minutes that I was in the bathroom, the distance between the walls seemed to have shrunk. But that doesn’t happen, and NEITHER DOES THIS. People just don’t BLOAT UP!!!

And just as I thought I was going to be stuck here for good, something started happening. I began breathing slightly better. The walls started going further away. Was I…? Could it be possible…? Yes, I was returning to my normal size. GOD, IN HEAVEN, I WAS BECOMING HUMAN AGAIN!!!

Around ten minutes later, I was back to my usual size. I still had slightly bloated fingers though, but not too obvious. My shirt was a mess. My trousers luckily were slightly better off. I tidied myself up, and prayed that the jacket sufficiently hid the plight of my shirt. Almost 30 minutes after I had walked into the loo, I looked myself in the mirror. And after what seemed like ages, I saw a person I recognized. But just barely. For, the strange truth was still trapped inside me. I would never be the same again. Who knew what would release the creature that lay within. What would trigger off the transformation from me, as I saw myself right now, into the Human Bulk? Would this be my secret forever, would this be my curse? Was I a comic book character now? Would I get super powers too? Maybe they could make small action figurines of me, with those stylish capes. Hmmm, I wonder?

With these and a million other questions in mind, I made my way out into the world again. A few people had come in by now, and as I made my way out, I was sure that everybody was looking at me. They could see the Bulk, I was sure of it. But actually nobody bothered to look at me for too long. Not more than the usual stares that came naturally for somebody my size. With a sigh, I walked up to the bartender, who knew me well. “You okay, sir? I noticed the door was locked for a while.”

Feebly, I nodded to him I was okay. “Feeling slightly off. Nothing much. Give me black, to go.”

“Anything else, sir?”

“Throw in a couple of those chocolate doughnuts as well. Its been a rough day.” Well, it had, okay. And if you cant have comfort food in times of stress, when can you have it?

As I stepped out into the real world again, I was almost back to normal. I must have imagined it, that could be the only explanation. Christ, I was sure it was stress, nothing more. I laughed. The Bulk. What a secret identity to have, I thought, as I bit into the last of the chocolate crusted sugar. Hmmm. Tastes good.

And then, to my horror of horrors, the last button on my shirt popped off…

The Bulk is back!