Amazing Race

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he book task. They get directions to the bookstore. Zev and Justin are the next to get to the stall, and Justin leaves it up to Zev: "It's your day, buddy." Zev opts for the bookstore as well.

The Goths, the sisters, and Ron and Christina arrive at the statuary shop, which spills out into the alley and is being loudly serenaded by a drum-and-clarinet combo. I think the educational aspect of The Amazing Race might be occasionally overstated, but at least it's taught us all that wherever you go and whatever you do outside the United States, there's probably a band playing. There are several plain white statues of the four-armed, large-bellied, elephant-headed deity, one naked with a pink-painted upper body and feet on a blue pedestal with a brown otter or some other small mammal at its feet, and another painted one decked out in clothing, jewelry, and headpiece. They get right to work, and of course Kent refers to it as "pretty in pink, much like Vyxsin and I." Ron and Christina decide to dig out their ear plugs, which I wish I had a pair of to block out Ron's bitching about the noise. Christina tells him to focus. "That's easy for you to say. Jeez, good grief," Ron says, somehow driving the stock of earplugs both up and down simultaneously.

Flight Time and Luke are still at it. Flight Time says this is "the hardest thing I've ever done," which is kind of surprising coming from a professional athlete. I'm pretty sure any given workout he's ever done since he was sixteen would be the hardest thing I've ever done. He has a flashback to their failure and penalty in Prague during TAR15, and says they made a pact not to do that this time. Well, I should hope so. Luke is also running out of juice, even as he continues to fill himself with tea. And his spirits aren't lifted when Flight Time gets it right. Margie even high-fives Big Easy before telling Luke to keep going. The Globetrotters get out and get a cab before even realizing the clue is in the cap. They hand it up to the driver, who knows where it is. "We gotta go fast," Big Easy says.

Luke is literally sobbing now as he keeps bringing cups up to the front, to no avail. Then he walks back to Margie, signing, "It's hard, it's hard," and we can see the whole long table is only half empty. And it has seven fewer right ones than it had at the beginning, as an extra bonus. Margie hugs Luke and tells him he can finish. The sitar band is long gone, but there are about a half a dozen guys in white uniforms and red turbans and sashes watching this display with varying degrees of patience, as Margie sends Luke back to finish. "But I'm not sure he can," she confides to us. Join the club.

Coming back, he's still crying with his head on the table while Margie keeps telling him to finish, and getting a little teary her own self. Margie reminds us of Luke's tendency to get frustrated if he was at a task too long (flashback to his pantsless surfboard tantrum in Hawaii), like we need reminding. "He feels like he let me down, but I'm so proud of him," Margie weeps. Is she talking about now or two years ago?

Back at the actual race, where other people are actually racing, Gary and Mallory have arrived at the school. They soon find the office of the headmistress, drop off the books, and get a clue sending them to the Fountain of Joy. Phil explains that this is in what the closed captioning claims is spelled Mada, "the largest park in Kolkata." It is indeed a sprawling expanse of open space, especially for this city. "Searching the area near the Fountain of Joy, and the Victoria Memorial Hall, teams will find the Pit Stop for this leg of the race. The last team to check in here may be eliminated." They'd better not come from the direction of that big stand of trees Phil is waiting right next to, then, or they'll never see him. Gary and Mallory run back out to a cab.

The Goths are busy decorating the eyes of the statue. "We draw on eyebrows every day," Kent interviews, as he and Vyxsin model their own eyes. "It was kind of like getting ready in the morning," Kent interviews. At the task, he says, "Now it's time to accessorize," marking the first time anybody has ever been equally excited to say that word as they were about the word "booz-ums" in the same day. He gets to work on bracelets and armbands. Meanwhile, Kisha and Christina are discussing whether Ganesha's belly comes from being a goddess of fertility or just generally having a gut. I'm going with the latter, Ganesha being a dude and all. Ron is still complaining about the band, which I think is getting as close to him as he can just to annoy him, and making me wish I'd learned the clarinet.

Jet and Cord are getting the runaround in their search for the bookstore. Zev and Justin find it first, and Zev asks vainly for a bag. They carry them out and pick out a driver who Justin thinks looks pretty fast. "I don't know about his Boston hat," Zev says. They get directions from a passerby, and as the rickshaw pulls out, Zev is riding with his head hanging out the back door, until the wheels hit a bump and thumps his skull on the top of the doorframe. Ouch! "I feel a little claustrophobic but it's for a good cause, delivering books to a school," Zev says. Not that the school wouldn't have gotten the books anyway, or even needs them.

Jet and Cord are still making their way down the Kolkatan equivalent of Charing Cross Road and eventually find the bookstore they're looking for. They load a rickshaw, get directions, and ride off. Jet complains about how slow the bicycle driver is going, and sticks one leg out the back door to push against the pavement for extra speed. Every little bit helps, I guess.

Luke is still at it, and has at least made a huge dent in the cups that were left. But he appears to have hit the proverbial wall again. He goes fetal on the floor until Margie comes and picks him up for another hug. He says she doesn't know how it feels, and she admits as much, "But I know how you'll feel if you don't finish." Because he's been feeling it for the past two years since Maui. He agrees, "Mom, I can do it. Mom, I'll do it." The uniformed staff gives him a supportive round of applause, like Luke is an injured player getting back on the field. Since he's the only one left anyway, he stacks a bunch of bowls onto a tray and carries the tray up front, drinking one after another in front of the auctioneer and showing him the bottoms of the empty cups until he gets it right. "You got it," the auctioneer finally whispers. Margie whoops and the staff applauds, and it almost seems like Luke's actually the last to know. A couple of them try to pick him up a little, to the extent that a tall, athletic American can be picked up by these guys, and they clap him right on out of there. In the cab, Margie tells us how proud of Luke she is. Not that he cares, because he looks exhausted. There must not have been much caffeine in it after all.

The Globetrotters find the tea stall in seventh place and decide on the art Detour. Where Kent and Vyxsin are finishing up nailing the bangles to the statue, and get their Pit Stop clue in second place. Jen/Kisha and Ron/Christina are also doing the finishing touches, and Jen and Kisha are the next to finish, putting them in third, with Ron and Christina in fourth place.

Margie and Luke make it to the tea stall in what is unsurprisingly last place and decide on Hindu Art. Meanwhile, Zev and Justin are being driven through the streets while their driver persistently honks his asthmatic bike horn at the oblivious traffic. Soon they're at the school, and they get the books in and receive their clue in short order. Back to a regular cab, asking to get to Victoria Memorial fast.

The Cowboys also get to the school and go in through the uniform-crowded playgrou

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Amazing Race

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