Surrender in Spain
Condé Nast Traveller India|October - November 2020
FOUR YEARS AGO, IN MADRID, AN ELDERLY SPANISH aristocrat invited me to her house in the countryside to spend a weekend—we were social acquaintances. On the way up, she drove on the wrong side of the freeway.
Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

Huge trucks and lorries, as they hurtled in our direction, began to honk in panic. I wondered if I had drawn out my will. I looked at the aristocrat: beady-eyed, rail-thin, hunched, clutching the steering wheel, cursing in Spanish.

An exit in the freeway led to a fuel stop, where she looked at me and said, “I really like you.” I thought she said this to calm me down after the freeway incident, the sort of reassurance one gives to a child after a scolding. Then she repeated the words, this time making intentions clear. She was well kept for 78. I was 38. I wanted to say: You’re old enough to be my grandmother. The hipster in my head wagged a wokesignalling finger at my face: Don’t be ageist! The weather forecast for our destination, when I looked at my phone to avoid her gaze, was “cloudy with a stray t-storm”.

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