In case you are a fan of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, carrying a towel with you today may set you apart from the casual readers. For today, my gentle or otherwise readers – is Towel Day. May 25th is two weeks after May 11th which is the date on which Douglas Adams died. If you ask, why a towel, this space tells you by quoting the “books” –
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
As for me, I think I am going to walk around with a Palakkad Thundu. It’s a handloom towel made in and around Palakkad – though am no longer sure if it’s still handloom. Either way, it’s one of those soft cotton varieties that is right for Indian weather. Dries fast and folds up into a neat little bundle. Very non-intrusive when you travel. In case you want to potter around another space that does nothing but talk of life, the universive and everything please go to h2g2 – the online community which has user generated content to gobble.