By Melvin Sterne
The laptop was gone, the cellphone was gone, the jewellery, her passport and credit cards, and the dress was gone. The rest of it could be replaced, but not the dress. It wasn't that it cost a lot, or that Ellen couldn't get another like it it was made in India, and she was in India, forchristsake, Varkala Beach, in Kerala, and there were vendors all up and down the beach hawking dresses and hats and sandals and drums and waterwings and God-knows-what-all-else. But this dress was the dress that her husband, Simon, bought for her from a street vendor on High Street in London when they were on honeymoon. It had been bright pink when new, with maroon elephants and palm trees alternating in rows that, in turn, faced in opposite directions. And it wasn't like Ellen hadn't gotten her money's worth. The dress was sun-faded to almost beige and worn nearly threadbare, though in a pleasant, comfortable way, like a shapeless old pair of jeans that miraculously spring to life when you put them on. But it was Ellen's favourite dress. It had its quirks: the fringe on the hem, the right strap that twisted itself into a knot if she wasn't careful when she put it on, the buttons that (if you looked carefully) didn't match, and the stains (Ellen could tell you the how and why of each of them). There was something about these flaws that Ellen found reassuring. The dress had history.
Ellen reported the loss to the hotel manager, and he dutifully jotted it all down. He was a short, thin, dark man, with oily black hair and a thick moustache, a sloping flat forehead that suggested stupidity. He promised to promptly summon the police inspectors though he doubted they could (or would) do anything. He was trying his best to look serious, but he came across more like bored or annoyed. Ellen tried to explain the importance of all this to the manager, that it wasn't just the documents and cards and phones, but that the dress had value sentimental value. He looked at her blankly. "You can buy another dress in town," he suggested.
"Since you lost all this, you should pay for it."
The clerk shrugged. "Madam should lock door."
"The door was locked," Ellen replied.
"Then how thief get in?"
"That's not my problem," Ellen said. "The hotel should make sure that people like that aren't in the building."
The clerk wobbled his head, that curious Indian side-to-side wobble. "How to do? Valuables can be kept in hotel safe. Beside, lady shouldn't get upset. These are only things. All can replace."
"Why thief take dress?" the manager asked.
"I have no idea," Ellen said. "Maybe she liked it. Maybe he or she wrapped the other things in it. That's not the point," Ellen said, her voice trembling. "It was my favourite dress. My husband gave it to me. You can't replace that."
The manager affected a beatific smile. "All things must pass," he said. "Even favourites. Better than that lady drown in ocean, yes?"
"Don't pull that holy crap with me!" Ellen shouted. "If it it's just money, you won't mind if I don't pay my bill."
The manager opened a drawer and produced a tattered paper wrapped in a brittle, yellowed plastic sleeve. Tapping with his index finger he pointed out to Ellen item five which clearly stated: 'The Management is NOT responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen personal items. Valuables can be locked in the Hotel Safe.' "We can pay 250 rupees only," he said, "refund for one day as a gesture of good will." He closed the drawer and walked away with an air of indignant finality.
Outside the hotel, Ellen ran her fingers through her hair and squinted into the sun, tried to guess the hour. It was hot and humid. Ellen decided that it was past midday. Though she slept later and later the longer her 'vacation' dragged on, and her sense of time had never really recovered from the shock of jet lag. There was a faint breeze from the south, and the palms lining the walkway swayed and rustled with it in a sound that complimented the roar of the surf rushing along the sandy beach at the base of the cliff below.
It was good being on vacation, she thought. She wasn't tethered to her cell phone. Didn't wear a watch. Factual time was of no consequence. One day was as good as the next, one hour not much different from the one before or after. In India, time was relative, anyway. A business that "opened at 10" might open at eight, noon, or not-at-all. Same went for closing time. Time was what you wanted it to be, and Ellen liked that, the uncertainty of it all; except when the unpredictability degenerated into irresponsibility, like the items lifted from her room. Thank God she had at least kept her cash in the pillowcase. She wasn't destitute. But straightening the mess out would be a real problem. Especially in India. Ellen crossed her arms and frowned.
India. The other day she had gone to put on her sandals and found a spider perched on top of them. No ordinary spider, this it was red and hairy, nearly four inches across. Ellen knelt down on the floor and eyed it. As a little girl, she had been terrified of insects. Her brother and his friends used to torment her with them endlessly. But her father told her to face her fears, and to demonstrate, he found a spider in the garage and let it crawl all over his hand. "See," he said. It won't hurt you."
Slowly Ellen extended her hand and caught the spider as it dropped from her father's hand, then watched as it dropped from hers, hanging by a slender thread until the wind blew it to the wall.
Everything in India had the potential to be a surprise, every day, every breath, even the most commonplace occurrences. It kept things interesting and new. Ellen tried to shoo the spider, but he (or she?) raised up on its back legs and stood its ground. Ellen wasn't expecting that, but she admired the spider's courage. She decided to keep it as a pet. There was a clear glass pitcher in the room that ought to work, but how to get the spider inside it?
She found a drinking glass and trapped the spider. She slid the 'Do Not Disturb' sign under the glass and picked it up. But when she tried to drop the spider into the pitcher, it clung to the sign and flipped onto Ellen's bare leg. She shrieked, and in a moment of panic both dropped the pitcher and slapped the spider with her hand. The spider, dragging a broken leg, scurried under the bed. Ellen found it and crushed it with her shoe. Later that day she mentioned the incident to a couple of Israeli tourists. "Those things are quite dangerous," they said, "among the most poisonous insects in the world. If it had bitten you, you would have died." Funny how that happens. Things bite you and you die. What a way to end a vacation.
Ellen walked to the edge of the cliff overlooking the beach. She took a deep breath and looked down. Though it was only fifty or sixty feet high, the base was littered with jagged, volcanic-looking boulders. A fall would be nasty. Ellen wondered if someone blundered over the edge (and with so many stoned tourists milling around, it had to happen), would they survive? So many ways to die, she thought.
A street vendor approached her with a half-dozen assorted hand-made drums slung over his shoulder. Ellen looked him over. He was very dark, like most southern Indians, with a scruffy, thin growth of teenage beard. But his eyes were shining and his teeth bright, his lips parted into a wide grin. He was barefoot, his shirt and trousers unwashed, his skin oily; yet he carried himself with a kind of tattered, ragamuffin charm. He rat-a-tatted lightly on one with his fingers, then thudded with the heel of his palm on a louder, base drum. "You buy drum, lady?" he asked.
"No like drum?"
"I like drums just fine, I just don't play them. And I have no room for one in my luggage."
"No problem. Can send home. I ship."
"I'll bet you do," Ellen said.
The boy unleashed a surprisingly polished flourish on the drum, then stood staring at Ellen expectantly.
"Lady no have home," Ellen said.
The boy cocked his head and squinted at her. "Why lady no have home?"
Ellen bit her lip. "It's complicated," she said. "My husband took it."
The vendor nodded, though Ellen doubted he understood. "This my home," he said, his left hand gesturing along the beach in a sweeping motion. Then his shoulders drooped, the smile faded from his lips, and he took on a crestfallen expression.
Down below, a colourful crowd of tourists had scattered along the beach, keeping, for the most part, a respectful distance between one another. There was an array of faded beach umbrellas leaning this way and that, casting shade for mostly the older, cancer-conscious bathers. But there were also the tragic, terminally hip young people, the flotsam and jetsam throwbacks to old hippiedom, soaking up the sun into buckskin tans. At the far end of the beach a group of Anglo tourists had joined with a group of Indians in an impromptu game of beach soccer. They came from all over Europe, Ellen thought, though she had met a fair number of Israelis and Australians as well. The girls wore bright bikinis, the boys, whatever. Ragged shorts were in, and lunges. Spandex was out. They wore an affected, disheveled look; dreadlocks, braids, topis, tattoos, necks knotted with strands of pooka shells or Tibetan prayer beads; noses, navels, nipples, eyebrows, and God-knows-what-all else pierced. The boys sported washboard abs, though they were mostly starved thin by South-Indian vegetarian diets. The girls, well, it was no wonder local Indian men came to leer at them. What beauties.
When Ellen was on the train from Cochin someone stole one of her bags grabbed it from under her seat and bolted out the door as the train pulled away from the station and she had lost her swimsuit, among other things. It was black, a one-piece Speedo, suitably modest, fit for lap swims at the health club back home in Oakland. In Varkala she bought her first bikini since she was 22 and a newlywed, touring Europe with Simon.
They spent that one idyllic summer the summer he bought her the now-lost dress hopping from country to country: Ireland, Scotland, England (where Simon was born and his family still lived), then France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece; drinking and sunning their way around the Mediterranean. Now Ellen was 35, and 35-year-old body be damned, even she wasn't tight and perky like the blonde beach bunnies, she wasn't bad, either, and the suit complimented her. It was pink and green and gay sky-blue, a floral print, not something Ellen would have picked out under other circumstances, but not so gaudy that it stood out here. She had expected to see the girls running around half-naked, topless, or at least in thongs. But when she was shopping, she overheard two French girls complaining that the beach guard had made them go up and buy more modest suits. It was a scam, actually. The huts and vendors sold all kinds of thongs, but when the girls bought them, the beach police confiscated them for violating 'modesty' laws. The cops sold the thongs back to the vendors and everybody went away happy. Except, maybe, the girls. Life in India.
India was a peculiar place, Ellen thought. You could see a sadhu walking around the train station naked as the day he was born, people shitting and pissing wherever they felt like it, but a woman couldn't show too much skin on the beach.
"Me bad day," the boy said, holding Ellen steady in his gaze. "No sold drum." And then he extended his hand to Ellen and said, "We jump?"
"Sure," Ellen said, "what the hell." And she took the boy's hand, and they took one step back, then three quick steps forward before they stopped abruptly and, looking each other in the eye, burst out laughing. "How come you stopped?" Ellen asked.
"I was jump, stop you," the boy replied.
Ellen let go of his hand.
They were standing near the rough-hewn stairway that led down to the beach. There was a sign posted there, red and white letters in flowing Malayalam script. Ellen pointed. "What does this say?"
"It say," and the boy paused, considering his words, "Odi zhoorika."
"And that means "
"It is, how you say, when the water pull you two times in different way."
"I see. I suppose they post the sign in Malayalam so the locals don't drown."
"May-be," the boy said. "What you name?"
"Hello, Ravi," And then, Ellen added, "Would you like some lunch or some juice?"
Ellen had slept with three men since she left California. The first was an old friend from college who had married into a wealthy Maharastran family and opened an import/export house in Bombay. Wally was the only person Ellen knew in India, and she had looked him up the day after she arrived. He was still married, though not happily enough to remain faithful to his wife. But Ellen sensed he was committed enough to his children (and his business) that she knew better than to ask him to leave. They slept together one afternoon, after which Ellen resisted his advances.
The second was a Dutch tourist Ellen met in New Delhi. His name was Claude and he was nearly 60, grey-haired and bespectacled, with a careless, rumpled, professorial look about him. And he was a professor of art history, touring India taking photographs of and documenting Moghul period court painting. Claude spoke flawless English, and though he talked incessantly about himself and his work, Ellen was tired of travelling alone and hungry for company any company and she slept with Claude out of boredom than hunger. In the morning, Ellen dressed and left Claude's room without waking him.
The third was an Indian lawyer she met at a coffee shop in Chennai. He was short and chocolate brown, with dark, wide, mysterious eyes and thick eyebrows. He reminded Ellen of Omar Sharif. He also was married, and though the affair was impulsive on Ellen's part, she pursued it with a relish she had not experienced before. Hamish took Ellen shopping for silk saris and gemstones, took her to all the best restaurants, and came to her room every night. He couldn't get enough of Ellen. He stripped her slowly and teased her with his tongue from her lips to the tips of her toes. He rubbed her body with silk scarves scented in perfume, then made love to her for hours. Afterwards she would fan her hair out on his chest and press her face into his belly and stroke him softly, marvelling at the contrast white skin makes when laid on brown. And on the morning she boarded the train for Trivandrum, Hamish came to her hotel visibly moved, pressed into Ellen's hands a bouquet of flowers and a small gold charm of Ganesh tied with a black thread, "To keep you safe on your travels." He paid her hotel bill and insisted she take his cell number. "Please call," he said, but she hadn't. She watched him standing, visibly stricken on the platform as the train pulled away.
A lot of things had gone wrong since then, beginning with the knot on the charm Hamish gave her. It was poorly tied, and when Ellen was in the loo on the train it came undone and she watched in horror as the gold Ganesh rattled down the pipe and fell to the tracks below.
After that, one of her bags was stolen. And now her hotel room had been robbed and she'd lost her credit cards and passport, laptop, cell phone, and the dress. Thank God she had taken Wally's advice and kept hid her cash in the pillowcase. And now she was alone in Varkala, and she had a thousand bureaucratic knots to unravel, and she was eating Thali with a hungry teenage boy, and her period was ten days late.
Ravi ate like he hadn't eaten in days.
Ellen found south Indian food tasteless and bland, watery, and she soaked up the juices of a vegetable curry with a piece of warm chapati and nibbled at it indifferently. Ravi chatted about growing up in Kerala, a grade-school misadventure involving a headmaster's daughter. This resulted in his expulsion from his school and his home. He talked of sleeping on the beach at night, his dreams of getting a better job. His voice was pleasant, high-pitched and thin. Ellen's thoughts were half-a-planet away.
It would be morning in London. Simon, her husband, would be sitting at the table eating wheat bits and reading The Times. Their twins, Sonia and Camille, would dress in their room and eat standing in the kitchen, harried by Beatrice, their step-mother, to "Hurry up or you'll miss school." Not that they would mind. From what Ellen could gather in their hastily-snatched telephone conversations, they found their classmates snobbish and the discipline of British schools stifling. Simon worked all the time and Beatrice was "a bitch." They wanted to come home, to America, but Simon had obtained a court order making them wards of the state and awarding himself temporary custody complete with a child-support order against Ellen that the State of California gleefully enforced.
When Ellen and Simon first separated it was more of a relief than a shock. It wasn't that he was a bad husband, it's just that he and Ellen had grown apart. Ellen couldn't pinpoint a moment when she could say for certain that things changed. They spent seven decent, unspectacular years together. The demise of the relationship had been less dramatic than, say, a sunset over the Arabian Sea. It was more like the bay fog creeping inland after dark, when Ellen would suddenly realise that she had taken a chill and wanted a sweater. She and Simon had become wrapped up in their careers the money game. He was into software and Ellen, hospital administration. They had a home in Palo Alto with a 650,000-dollar mortgage and two new cars. At first, they began missing evening meals, then whole weekends, and then both with greater frequency until one night Ellen couldn't remember the last time she and Simon had made love.
And then there were the text messages. She would see Simon hamming away with his thumbs at his phone, but to who? He phone locked now. He often took calls and then went outside or into another room or the garage. It was pretty obvious, really. What was the point of staying on?
The distance between them seemed, to Ellen, like a yawning chasm that cut her off, not just from Simon, but from her own life. But what was her life? Once upon a time it had been college and dreams of a career, and a kind of bohemian carelessness, impulsiveness like that which led Simon to spend their dinner money on a pink dress because Ellen looked "stunning" in it and the dress was "made" for her. And they had actually gone to bed hungry that night because Simon and Ellen had forgotten their traveler's checks and credit cards in their hotel room, and by the time they returned, they were too tired to go out again.
The lady who sold Ellen the dress was from Rajasthan, and she made Ellen promise that she would visit India someday. And later that summer, Simon and Ellen read The Drifters to each other on the train, finishing it the very night they arrived in Pamplona. And they swore to each other to be faithful to their dream, no matter what. Before they separated Ellen used to stand in the bathroom in the morning and trace the deepening lines in her face and wonder what was her dream, and where had it gone; and what had become of the girl in the pink dress? Then Simon got the restraining order. Or his lawyer did.
Ellen moved out, bought a small house in Oakland, close to her work. She could spend more time with the children, she said. And though Ellen attributed the "downsizing" of their lifestyle to the divorce, the truth was, she wanted a smaller, less complicated place. It was less work, less to worry about. In the settlement, she gave the big house and all its furniture to Simon.
The first year Ellen and Simon shared the children, alternating weekends and holidays, though Simon did nothing extraordinary with them, and showed no more interest than he had shown when he and Ellen were a couple. But their energy shifted when Ellen began dating; and more so when Simon's girlfriend, Beatrice, moved in with him. She was a regional marketing director for Jaguar Motors and fellow British ex-pat.
That might have been the pivotal moment, Ellen thought, when Beatrice officially entered into the equation. Suddenly Simon wanted to be a model father. He questioned all of Ellen's decisions. He could provide a better home in Palo Alto than Ellen could in Oakland. He could afford private schools. His insurance would pay for counselors to help Sonia and Camille adjust to their new living arrangements.
"If you can afford counsellors, then I'll take them and you can pay," Ellen replied.
"That's not the point," Simon said. "Perhaps since I can afford them, I should have custody."
Custody. A curious word, Ellen thought, used primarily in two contexts, children and convicts. Perhaps criminals should be made to suffer, but children? The whole thing seemed absurd. Shouldn't they work this out like adults, with the children's best interests at heart?
It was her turn to have them last Christmas, but Simon threw a fit. He and Beatrice had booked rooms at a trendy resort in Cozumel. They wanted to play on the beach. They asked about Ellen's plans. Ellen hadn't given it much thought, but on the spot she decided to take the children skiing in Tahoe. What was the point? She didn't have the money and they couldn't ski, but she did have a Visa card and they could take lessons. But the trip turned into a disaster. By the fourth day the girls were bored stiff. They had never been athletically inclined and hadn't taken to skiing like Ellen hoped. They complained about the cold and Ellen maxed out her visa card buying them overpriced ski parkas and pants. Sonia caught a cold.
Then Ellen went out by herself one afternoon, left the children with a video, decided to take on a double diamond run. Getting off the lift she caught a ski and fell, creating a pile up of snarling ski-snobs. The operator stopped the lift. In her haste to regain control, Ellen struggled to her feet and found herself sliding backwards down the backside of the mountain into out-of-bounds territory. She tried to stop, crossing her skis, but the soft powder gave way incrementally, a fraction of an inch with every movement, sending Ellen slowly, relentlessly, down the steepening slope and away from safety. A crowd of gawkers gathered on the summit looking down. Several shouted advice. None of it helped.
Suddenly Ellen didn't care anymore not about the mountain, the children, Simon, none of it. She turned and felt a thrill as she accelerated down the slope, and for just one moment she was a real skier, lifting and turning smartly, gliding effortlessly, knees together and bent, her calves coiled like springs. Then she clipped a buried stone and fell, tumbled once, rose out of the fall on her feet but out-of-control, careening wildly down what was no longer a smooth slope, but a series of rocky shelves. She saw the tree and in practically the same moment, hit it, and when she came to, it was with a cruel stab of pain in her right shoulder. She was being lifted into a stretcher by the ski patrol. She gasped and sat upright, then collapsed. One of the medics took a scalpel from his first aid kit and peeled back Ellen's jacket and sweater to reveal a compound fracture of her collarbone. Ellen felt hot blood on her face. Her right eye was knotted shut and her lips were torn and swollen. She felt with her tongue and missed a tooth.
She had a severe concussion. For a day-and-a-half Ellen was in and out of consciousness. Even after she 'came to' she was disoriented and woozy, with the mother of all headaches. She made her way home a few days later with nothing to show for her troubles but a bottle of codeine tablets, 30 stitches, a brace to keep her clavicle immobilised, and 20,000 dollars in medical bills on top of the cost of the vacation. And that was just the beginning of her troubles.
Simon was furious. The children must have given the authorities his cell number because he and Beatrice were in Tahoe the morning after. They took the Sonia and Camille home, and before Ellen was out of the hospital, Simon and Beatrice had quit their jobs and spirited the children to England, where Simon filed for custody, citing Ellen as an unfit mother and charging her with criminal neglect.
Back in her room Ravi traced the scar on Ellen's lips with his finger. Except for his scruffy beard and a thick patch of black pubic hair, he was almost hairless, his boyish skin smooth and tasting slightly salty. Ellen rolled over on top of him. She was taller and heavier than Ravi, the first time she had been with a lover who was not physically in control of her. She pinned him to the bed and kissed him, ground against his thigh until she felt him grow hard again. She knew that by evening every vendor on the strip would know what happened. The gardener had seen her lead Ravi into her room, and she had halfway expected a mob of indignant hotel employees to break down the door demanding that she leave.
From Mumbai to Chennai to Trivandrum she had endured countless leers and gropes and pinches from Indian men who seemed to think that Western women were fair game. This wouldn't help matters, but what difference did it make? One minute you have a job and a house and a family, and the next you come home and your children are gone, and you're off work for six weeks, and the debts pile up, and then hospital is bought out by an HMO and your job is lopped off in an orgy of corporate cost-cutting, and your soon-to-be ex-husband the one making 90,000 pounds a year traipsing around Europe with a trollop making even more sues you for your share of the cost of supporting the children he stole. And just to make sure, he charges you with criminal neglect and files a lien against your house as community property so that you can't sell it or refinance it. Even her lawyer said that Ellen was fucked. She suggested that the best thing Ellen could do was to capitulate, go to England and face the charges, hope to get supervised visitation, at least until the courts sorted things out.
Instead, Ellen sold her car and furniture, threw a few things in an old backpack, and went to India. The pink dress had been the first thing she packed, and when it came down to it, the only thing she owned that she still cared about.
Ravi hadn't wanted to go. Silly boy, Ellen thought. Give them a taste and they go hog wild. She wondered if he was a virgin. He hadn't seemed afraid. Still, she had given him a real education, obliged his every request and added a few of her own he hadn't dreamed of. But you only live once, right?
She got up from the bed sore and wet, took a quick shower, dressed in her bikini, threw a wrap around her hips, and set out for the beach. Ravi followed like a newly-weaned calf bawling after its mother. Ellen ignored him. He stopped at the steps the guards below would not let vendors onto the beach and he knew it. Ellen waived casually, coolly, and headed down without looking back. It hurt to walk. So this is how men do it, she thought. Love 'em and leave 'em. And why not? She remembered an old song that played on the radio when she was a girl and began to ad-lib her own version:
Hey I'm the kind of girl, who likes to run around
Ellen dropped her things in a heap without taking note of where she left them. She walked slowly, carelessly, almost drunkenly; then faster until she reached the water, diving into the first wave that rushed towards her. She emerged from the water and threw back her hair and felt it sting her back. She laughed out loud, felt the sand scrape between her breasts; the swollen labia throbbing between her legs. The sea was hot, and it felt good, a kind of cleansing, a baptism, and she plunged into each successive wave with increasing exuberance until she could no longer touch the seabed. Then she swam with strong, practised strokes beyond the place where the body surfers bobbed and waited for the next foaming ride to shore. But Ellen didn't want to surf. She rolled over onto her back and floated languidly, straining to lift her toes out of the water. With each swell she rose to where she could see the beach with the sunbathers and umbrellas and blankets and kites. And when the crest passed, she plunged into the trough and into her own quiet world of pale green water and blue sky, and Ellen realised that this was the first time she had felt alone since she came to India. Everywhere she went there were crowds pressing in on her, fighting her for space, for air. They pinched and groped and swarmed around her like mosquitoes. Even in her hotel there was always something: the throb of music from the bar downstairs, or the grunting of rutting couples in their beds in the rooms above or beside hers.
And when Ellen was alone, she was haunted by faces: Sonia and Camille; or Simon and Beatrice; or the square, haggard, Germanic face she invented for the English judge who would someday decide their fate.
There was something comforting about the way the waves rose and fell like breathing, the warmth of the water, the subtle tug of the tide that pulled her northward along the cliff, out towards the point where the bay bent back east and the palm-lined shore receded into an indistinct haze. It was like a body memory, Ellen thought, like returning to the womb, turning back the clock to a time when everything was perfect. She remembered a night with Simon near the end of their honeymoon, somewhere in Greece, when they made love on the sand of a deserted beach, under a blindingly-white full moon. That was the night they conceived the twins.
Above her, thin streamers of high clouds took on the pink and orange of sunset, and Ellen turned towards the west, where from the crests of the waves she could see the red disc slipping into the sea. When she turned back towards land, she could barely make out the sound of the pounding surf, and above that, the far-off laughter of children at play, the shouts of the surfers, the shrill whistles of the lifeguards, now running along the shore, arms waving, sounding their alarms. And when she turned west again, she saw the sun, a sliver of deep rose red, nearly submerged beneath the waves. It was the sun and moon that made the tides, pulling this way and that. What was it that Ravi had said? The tide that pulled you in different ways? The dark sliver of land on one side, the thin, bright light of the sun and the sky on the other. From the top of the crest Ellen could see all this, but from the bottom, between the waves, there was only the deepening blue of the night sky. If she stayed long, she knew, and stared hard enough, she would see the twinkling light of the first evening star. She could almost make it out.QLRS Vol. 22 No. 1 Jan 2023