The Air India flight to Madrid was uneventful. Just the usual minor hiccups that I am sure all Flight Stewards are trained from their cribs to handle. The toilets clogged up within 10 minutes of take-off, since wizards haven’t really figured out toilet papers, or flushes; the food got over 30 minutes into the flight, because Diana had not eaten a single morsel in the last 45 minutes (she’s a Daayan, remember); Stoppgappi turned the person next to him into a newt (or as Stoppgappi said later, upgraded him intellectually); and yes, of course, their checked-in luggage got sent to Madurai instead of Madrid. As I said, just an average day in the life of an Air Indian!
At Madrid Airport, Tiplu’s family had sent a car to pick them up and drive them to the village, which was around 6 hours away, as the dragon flies, and 3 hours as the taxi drives (Dragons get distracted at the drop of a hat, and so keep diverting to investigating such droppings mid-flight, causing frequent scares on the flight path for other dragons. Only the Italian dragons are not concerned by these sudden brakes, accelerations and detours, because…Italians!)
Since Tiplu was too young to have a driving license, his cousin (son of his mom’s jethaani’s sister) Dheelu was the driver designated to deliver these VVVVVIPs to Granada, safe and sound, or just safe, because I don’t think many people would be able to hear even a single sound after spending even three minutes with Dheelu, forget three hours, that too in an enclosed car. For Dheelu had a simple approach to driving, whenever a car got in front of him, he let out a loud roar of challenge, and the car quickly moved away (the ones who didn’t had to deal with burned-to-a-crisp boots of course). It would still have been fine if Dheelu’s roars would have been restricted to that, but as soon as the car moved away, he would let out a loud roar of triumph and jubilation. Thankfully, Stoppgappi remembered an ear-muffs spell (which trans-migrated those military green ear-muffs from Mumbai that auto-drivers and doodh-waalas wear in winters. (Mumbai winters! HA HA HA HA HA HA…Sorry sorry, I am again digressing like those distracted dragons, shame on you narrator.)
And so it was, that after the longest three hour journey of their lives, Stoppgappi and Diana reached Tiplu’s village near Granada, safe and, wonder of wonders, sound!
At this point, I would like to use my discretion as the narrator and stop using Stoppgappi’s full name, it is quite a mouthful, and takes too long to write, so we’ll just call him Raju from now on. Oh no, but one Raju was a Guide, and another one was Mighty, so Raju won’t do. OK, let’s keep it simple, we’ll call him Gappi. Bass, no more discussions, Gappi is final.
So, as I was saying, Gappi and Diana reached Tiplu’s village, where Tiplu’s entire family, their neighbours, their Panchayat, and their Sarpanch had gathered with saffron and rice to welcome them as their saviours. After a hearty lunch of paella (prepared by Tiplu’s granny) and paraanthas (prepared only for Gappi by Diana as he is not very experimental when he comes to food), Gappi decided that it was time for their afternoon power nap, so that they could recover their strength (and their appetites) for the evening’s meal…erm…mission.
And after a short power nap of 4 hours, Gappi and Diana were ready to sit with the villagers and understand the situation, which turned out to be thus: After the wizard Henry Higgins’ curse, rainfall had stopped completely in Granada. Their only source of water since the last five decades had been private contractors from Mumbai, who supply water to thousands of housing societies in Mumbai all year round, and took up the contract for supplying water to Granada too, at just 500 Euros per litre.
Now dragons are rich, but not THAT rich. They had been selling their eggs, also known as pumpkins in the rest of the world, for a long time to be able to afford this water, but now, their coffers had run dry, just like their wells, and their baaltis. So they sent out all the youngsters of their family to various corners of the world (they were slightly weak in science and geography, and so unaware that the earth cannot have corners as it is oval, unlike wizards, who are know-it-alls!) to try and get help to reverse Henry’s curse. All had failed, except Tiplu, who had brought back Gappi and Diana.
“We even tried cloud-seeding,” said Tiplu’s dad Herrera, “but despite dropping seeds of oranges, mangoes, tomatoes, peppers, and even beans, there was no rain to be seen.” Gappi was distraught at seeing the poor condition of these villagers (and their atrocious general knowledge), and so, took an akhand pratigya or unbreakable pledge (just like Bheeshm Pitamah in Mahabharat, who swore never to marry or sire a progeny in his lifetime) that shook the mountain to its core-“I, Stoppgappi, son of Startgappi, do solemnly swear, that all Indians are my brothers and sisters…Sorry, wrong pledge. I, Stoppgappi, son of Startgappi, swear on all the wizards that have come before me, and on all the wizards that will come after me, that I will not have another paraantha, or a drop of Mango Milkshake, till I have brought rain back to Granada…and neither will Diana!”
Errrr…excuse me? Did Gappi just take a pledge on behalf of Diana? Remember, the one who finished off a galley of food in the plane as she had not eaten for an entire 45 minutes? Did he now…really? And had he forgotten that she was a Daayan, who could grow up to a height of 80 metres? And gobble him up alive, like a mosquito, if she hadn’t been a pure vegetarian? Why on earth did he do that for?
“Why on earth did you do that for?” cried out Diana, in a mournful, yet ominous, voice. And it was then that Gappi remembered all the points mentioned in the above paragraph, and almost fainted in fear. But if it is one thing that Wizarding School teaches you that is helpful in the real world (amongst the very few practical things that it teaches), it is –Lying with a straight face! So Gappi looked her in the eyes, and said, “Don’t worry Diana, I have done all the calculations, it will take us all of 17 minutes to resolve this issue once and for all,”
Though Diana was a powerful Daayan, she was a bai after all, and had a touching blind faith in the powers of her Stoppu Baba. She meekly asked, “How will you do that Baba? Do you have a spell to summon rain?” Gappi replied, “No, I have something better, a spell to summon the Rain God, Indra.”
Saying that, he immediately started chanting complex Sanskrit shlokas (For time was running short, it was already 23 minutes since Diana’s last meal), and in less than the time it takes to prepare Maggi (i.e. 5 minutes, the 2-minutes claim is brazenly untrue and misleading), there was a loud thunderclap, and out popped Indra Dev, literally from thin air.
Gappi now said, “Oh God of Rains, Filler of drains (during Mumbai Monsoons), Snatcher of chains, Tarzan of Janes….By the power vested in me by watching Ramanad Sagar’s Ramayan on Doordarshan, I hereby command thee to bring rain on this parched and famished land in Spain!”
Indra kept staring quizzically at Gappi for a full 30 seconds, and then said,”Mhala English maayeet naahi (Marathi; Translated in English: I don’t know English). And that completely stumped Gappi, since he knew no Marathi beyond…actually, beyond nothing…he did not know ANY Marathi).
But Gappi was nothing if not resourceful. He quickly pulled out his mobile, enabled data roaming (data charges on international roaming are highway robbery, so he always kept data off when travelling abroad), and used Google Translate to start a conversation with the Lord of Rain & Thunder.
He then quickly explained the problem to Indra (or as quickly as was possible given the linguistic and technological constraints), the Rain God heard him through, and replied, “I would love to help you my child, but I am sorry, I am an Indian God, I do not have a Work Permit for Spain. If someone came to know that I had worked my miracle illegally here, I could be jailed, or worse, fined 5 Million Euros.”
Gappi begged and pleaded, but to no avail, and it was then, that the famished Diana had a brainwave, and said, “What if this village moves to India?”
Both Indra and Gappi stopped mid-sentence (there was a lag in the conversation due to the translation software), and started looking at Diana as if she had lost her marbles (which she had, actually, while playing with her sisters when she was 3 years old, but that is another story). But Diana stubbornly refused to back down, and elaborated, “What do these dragons need more than anything else to survive? Water. Can they get it here? No. So what is the harm in relocating this mountain, and this city to a place where they can get more water than they would ever need? And please decide fast, because I am REALLY hungry now, and in another 30 seconds, I will start eating you up one by one, starting with you Indra Dev, that rotund tummy of yours looks really enticing!”
And what followed was the shortest Extraordinary General Body Meeting (or EGM) in the history of the world, taking all of 22 seconds to decide that the village would be shifted to India, lock, stock and barrel, and no dissent would be brooked.
And in the 28th second, Gappi used the teleporting spell for the first and last time in his life, since he was routing Indra and Diana’s magical prowess through himself (Indra being an illegal immigrant for all practical purposes, and Daayans being extinct for the world), and Granada shifted to Maharashtra, Diana ate a truck-load of Maggi, and Indra used his legitimate powers to bestow rainfall over the village, immediately leading to two consequences- Loads of joy and happiness and singing in the rain on seeing rainfall after five decades….followed by a barrage of curses due to the flooding in the streets, overflowing drains, rotting rice, clothes not getting dried in time et al!
So that brings us to the end of this adventure….but wait, my readers with their keen sense of observation will ask, “Where is this Granada in Maharashtra, and more importantly, where are the dragons, and why haven’t we seen them yet?” But they forget that Dragons are magical creatures, and to see them, you need magic in your blood, like Gappi and Diana had. To ordinary human beings like you and me, Dragons would appear like just normal people, going about their daily chores. Only, keep a lookout for the little clues, for if you hear loud, incessant honking from a car on the road, maybe it is our friend Dheelu, roaring in reality at a car which refuses to make way, or a car that does!