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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Memory Dump: Half Way in a Week (Continued)

Dawson Creek, B.C.

If you get to blogging as a way of clearing the memory of unimportant but interesting non-business items that you do not want to forget, it becomes difficult to stay away from your blog for long.  This past week's abstinence had begun to drive me into a state I call "cluttered mind syndrome," and important stuff was being forgotten, such as my half-helmet (which I lost in a memory-lapse, way back in Ohio).  It was on...

Monday, June 17th: Baltimore, MD to Streetsboro, OH

Striking camp is a task that well-demonstrates the learning curve effect, and this was my first tenting campout in several years, and I had a lot to relearn.  As a result, I did not leave the Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland until 11:00.  I-70 begins at Baltimore, and is a beautiful ride west across Maryland before turning north and connecting to the Pennsylvania Turnpike about midway between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  The sky was blue, the air comfortably warm, and the bike rebalanced thanks to an improved packing job at the campsite. Rocinante and I made good time to the Ohio border, at which point I had to decide whether to stay on I-76 toward Akron, or to take the right fork toward Cleveland, and I-80.  I had not looked at a map, and had no computer nor GPS along.  I felt I knew the lay of the land pretty well, and could certainly get to Chicago by dead-reckoning.  So, knowing Akron to be about one hour south of Cleveland, I chose I-76.  Then, it started to sprinkle.  Fortunately, a rest area was just ahead.  Before the rain began in earnest, I had parked, taken off my helmet, put it atop my backpack to shield that from possible zipper-leakage, and gone into the building, where I found a rest room, a bench, and a talkative caretaker who owns a 1968 Harley Sportster.

Thirty minutes later, the rain was still steady, though less intense than at its peak.  I needed to get rolling, as by this time it was after 6:00 PM.  I looked at the map on the wall, and saw that the Akron route was problematic.  Akron was still a long, wet way away, and from Akron there was no easy route to the northwest.  I would have to jog northeast to find I-80/90 toward Chicago.  I asked my caretaker friend about motels in the area.  He told me that the next exit, Ravenna, had nothing much to offer, but that if I could take Rte. 14 north to Streetsboro, only 14 miles in the rain, I'd have several choices, and that I could pick up I-80 there.  I went out to the bike, put on my full-face helmet against the rain, and rode off with my half-helmet unsecured atop my backpack.  Sure hope whoever finds if has a use for it.  It would make a damned fine bird's nest!

That is how I ended up at the America's Best Value Inn in Streetsboro, the first hotel to come into sight.  It offered a standard room at a fair price.  And, next door was a restaurant, so I would not have to ride to dinner.  I'd had enough riding for the day, and I wanted a beer, which I never mix with motorcycling.

The restaurant was called Rockne's, and though they say it was not named after the great Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne, the walls were decorated with sports photos, and the TV screen above the bar was showing the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament.  So, I sat at the bar, next to the only other fellow there, a young man of perhaps 38, with an Asian countenance.  I introduced myself, and he said his name was Michael Hamada (or something close to that).  I asked if that were a Japanese name.  Mike said, "No, I am partly Thai."  I asked, "Like Tiger Woods?"  We laughed.

As our conversation progressed, of course I mentioned something about my time in Romania,  perhaps in reference to my golfing experiences there.  Mike picked up on my mention of Romania, and said, "I work for Michelin.  I was posted to Bucharest for a year-and-a-half, from 2009 through 2010."  Our ex-patriot periods in Romania had overlapped, though his had been spent mostly in the Bucharest-Sinaia-Brasov corridor, and mine mostly in Cluj and northwestern Transilvania.

We shared anecdotes, until Michael had to leave, at which point he said, "Sarut mana!"  I said, "Noapte buna!"  (Romanian friends, please advise: does one say "Sarut mana" to another man?  I thought it was an affectionate and respectful way to say goodbye to a lady, meaning something akin to "I kiss your hand.")

The next morning I arose early, and found an Indian woman behind the desk.  I asked if she were Mrs. Patel, which led her to ask, "How did you know?"  Seasoned road warriors like me all know that the Patel clan has come to own almost half the economy hotels in America, and other Indians another 20% of them.  So I said, "I have estimated in my travels that 70% of the hotels I stop at are Indian-owned, and that 70% of their owners are named Patel.  Point-7 times point-7 is point-49, so I figured I had about a 50% chance of being right."  She laughed.  "You are quick ... a precise thinker," she said.

At that point, I told her that less than two days before I had been invited to make my first trip to India in August, in order to do some work at a business school in Bangalore.  She asked which school, and I told her, "XIME, the Xavier Institute... ."  "Oh!" Hema Patel interrupted.  "That is Prof. Philip's school.  They are quite famous.  They insist on teaching to a world standard!"

Not a coincidence in sight, eh?  (I sure am glad I took the wrong road and got caught in the rain.  And that helmet was at least seven years old.  Ready for replacement, right, Merlin?)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. Stay safe. And keep posting!


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