Watch Expeditions: The Search for the KaviRama Jubilee
"There are no dangers greater than those encountered while in search of rare and precious treasures. As brave souls lead expeditions outfitted according to the necessities of survival, none are more treacherous than those on the great continent of eternal mystery - India." - Lord Toddfrey Bottington, 1922
"Excuse me dear sir, but might you have a color map of India?", whereupon a rather obese young woman righted herself in apparent indignation while gutturally acknowledging my presence. "Yes. Aisle three just below the huge hanging sign announcing "MAPS OF THE WORLD". "Thank you, Madam".
Presently I found the perfect map, complete with several distinct colors and containing scales and really descriptive words like "Bengal" and "Bhutan". Best of all, the very area where legend had it that I might find my treasure was clearly marked in yellow, making it all the easier to find. Time, afterall, was hardly on my side. Word was already out that the KaviRama Jubilee had been spotted amongst the possessions of a Bedouin and it is common knowledge that Bedouins do not collect - they trade. Soon this Bedouin would trade with me, assuming there was to be any of "me" left. The pursuit of this rarest of Jubilees was to be my most dangerous horological expedition ever!
As knowledge goes, there is little of it regarding the KaviRama, and that which is known is hard to confirm, with IWC disavowing any record of its existence. Oh, but it does exist, for I have seen it and recorded its numbers and all but owned it but for one brief moment when it and its previous owner disappeared into thin air while I excused myself to a bagno in Firenza - not the first time a bottle of vino has come between me and a timepiece. At any rate, my sources have lead me to this latest adventure and it is herein that I wish to share my story.
Arriving in Bombay, I was expecting to be met by a young guide named Madhu who would transport me to Nirjaleep south of the Bundhu Ravine, the area where the Bedouin had last been spotted. According to Madhu, Bedouins are hardly ever seen in this part of the world and he suspected a wrong turn someplace around Nepal. Did Madhu know of my mission, I inquired? "Ah yes, you seek a treasure no man has ever sought". "No", I replied, "I'm looking for a friggin' camel saddle. Of course I am seeking a treasure no man has ever sought. Jeeezzzz!" This was going to be a very long journey.
The ride from Bombay to the Bundhu Ravine was 1123 kilometers, plus or minus an early death, depending on the food and/or the weather. It was told that if one did not prevail, the other surely would, but I had at least booked passage in "luxury" class - meaning a car with air conditioning.
As Madhu wheeled around to the "Pick'em Up" zone, I was pleased at the beautiful car so little money had provided. Madhu insisted that a photo be taken so as to prove I had actually ridden in such a nice vehicle. Moments later we wheeled away to Madhu's uncle's house where the real value of my money became all too apparent.
"Geet, Geet, Geet", Madhu yelled while I tried to pry an explanation as to why we had stopped. "Geet? What is Geet?", I implored. "Geet is my uncle. We come to pick up his truck for ride to Bundhu". Well, of the two trucks sitting there, I hoped at least for the one with the pretty sign, fearing nothing worse than a untimely death in an otherwise nondescript old truck.
The ride to the Bundhu Ravine was long and torturous and replete with brushes with death and old women selling naans. Fried in ghee, they stayed in one's system for only a short while and stops along the way were frequent and unpleasant. Only the dream of the KaviRama Jubilee could keep me resolute amongst such misery. On the eleventh day of a journey which started in the eleventh month of the year of the Elephas Indicus, we pulled into Nirjaleep, the closest city to our final destination, exactly eleven minutes late. Madhu's tip would be adjusted accordingly.
The next morning me, Madhu, and a man named Kamalakar packed up for the Ravine and the Bedouin with the big shiny watch. Kamalakar was a man we had met the night before who claimed to be a descendent of Lord Vishnu and quite familiar with IWC. We carried goods for trading consisting of two goats, a GPS radio, 2000 rupees, a Masonic ring and a pair of Hickey-Freeman trousers with reverse pleats. Bedouins are known to have a weakness for reverse pleats, but no one could quite explain why.
Kamalakar was tall and suspicious and asked to see proof of the KaviRama. He claimed it was at best a fake and at worst a myth. To shut him up I showed him the photocopies I had hurriedly taken in Florence the year before and it seemed to silence him - for a while. " I know Hannes Pantli personally, you know, and if there were really a 'RaviKama' Jubilee, he would have told me". Yeah, right.
By late afternoon we had reached the area where we expected to find the Bedouin and my prized treasure. Standing upon the edifice of a rock ledge looking east toward the Straights, we listened carefully for any signs of life among the desolation. "Listen, listen!" Madhu said. "What's that smell?"
"Carcassi" instructed Kamalakar. "The Bedouin eats with great bravery". Following the acrid odor of a burning substance unknown to us all, we made way down a rock path to the opening of a shallow cavern in the side of a hill. At last. There he sat, welcoming us with pipe and tea, as we gathered around his dung fire in the sweltering heat. "You have come for the KaviRama, no?" to which I nodded my head asking "You still have it, no?" Smiling, he reached into his robing and withdrew the watch I had dreamed so long of owning. "Yes, here it is. Like New in Box, so we make trade?"
Upon our arrival, I headed straight for the Interior Ministry and must admit I was quite impressed with how nice it looked. The Interior here had been contracted out to the Moroccans for their superior sense of style. The carpets were magnificent and the tree outside provided a nice welcoming touch. Madhu took yet another photo which was later used against me as I tried to leave the country.
Two goats, 2000 rupees, and a Masonic ring later, the KaviRama was mine at last - No. 856 of 1000. Look it up. Check it out. Despite what anyone says, it's right there in the archives.