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HELICOPTER

The helicopter was always going to happen. I knew it, he knew it, everybody watching knew it – but first there was a little ceremony to go through.

‘Oh, no, sir,’ he said, shaking his serious face.

Here we go.

‘Oh, no – it’s not possible, sir. I can’t let you on the helicopter without a permit, sir.’

I feigned shock and horror.

I had the ticket; the reservation was secure; the Dogster seat, one of only five, already engraved with my name. I had it all – except for permission to enter Sikkim. My travel agent had brilliantly arranged for me to pick that up in Gangtok – the only minor problem being that, in order to get to Gangtok, I had to enter Sikkim.

What to do?

Wiggle your head and wait.

I remained placid throughout, took the ‘well, I’ll just sit here on my luggage and wait for this to sort itself out,’ attitude – as opposed to the ‘argh-h-h, what a crisis! I’m going to die, let me kill you,’ approach.

I’m learning.

Having danced that unnecessary quadrille, our attention immediately moved to blame. Well, it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t his. Blame lay with the idiot travel agent that had placed us both in this situation. We would have to torture her.

This we did by mobile phone.

‘You remember that Sikkimese permit you arranged…?

I looked at the helicopter man. He looked at me.

‘The one I had to pick up in Gangtok…?

After she’d calmed down I passed the phone over and let him do the torturing. I’d had my fun. They chattered then argued then shouted in Hindi while I sat down on my suitcase. I wasn’t going anywhere. I was going to sit here till I died. Of course, after a flurry of calls between my weeping agent and some official in Sikkim, the helicopter man relented as he and I always knew he would. Such little consternations happen hourly in India.

We helicoptered up and over plains then hills and valleys, the Dogster like an over-excited school-boy in a cabin with four terrified businessmen. I was the designated tourist and happy to be so – I’ve given up being cool when I’m happy. These moments don’t come around all that often. Dog was having fun.

Mrrrroo-o-o-owww – zooming down the valleys, mroooo-o-o-o, thwack, thwack, thwack!

Doggy loves a helicopter.

Da Da Da da dee, Da da da Duhhh!

‘Apocalypse Now’, he thought excitedly, ‘Apocalypse Now’.

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