The Athens agenda: A Snoopikus mystery

by - July 18, 2014

I put the cassette into the old cassette player and hit the Play button. Instantly a familiar voice enveloped the room.
“Good morning, agents Roshan and Snoopy. There has been a development. The head of IMF has lost a valuable family heirloom. Intel indicates that it is in Athens right now.. Your mission should you choose to accept it: Find and intercept said package. Mission NIYAN-LATAOST depends upon you. Travel expenses have been added into your account. This message will self-destruct in 5-4-3-2…”

The voice petered away with a mild fizzle. I turned to agent Snoopy. He sat there with a bored look, chewing the cassette player nonchalantly.
“Sigh. I will never understand how they allowed you into the IMF. We are a covert organization which only takes in individuals of high intelligence, acumen and impeccable credentials. How did you get in?”
The dog looked up at me with those evil eyes as he flossed his teeth with the cassette tape. “Beagle quota.” He said, simply walking away with his tail in the air.

I shook my head and logged onto my regular travel site. “Mumbai to Athens.” I typed in the search section. The rate came up on the screen after a minute. Hmm… sounds reasonable enough. “Snoopy, I’m going to book my ticket, okay? You will have to come via the cargo container in a box, I’m afraid.”
Agent Snoopy strolled back into the room with a grin. “Please check your mobile.” I checked the newly received message.
“In view of unexpected fall in revenue owing to decreased sales of fluorescent lungis in the second quarterly, the International Mallu Federation (C) cannot provide you funds beyond Rs 1 lakh for Mission NIYAN-LATAOST. Also the dog is in charge for this mission. Obey him.”

“WHAT?? This is nonsense. I should take orders from you?” I stare at him defiantly.
“After the fiasco you created when you chose the jersey colours for our ill-fated Mallu IPL team, they felt that I was more suited to the task.” He replied. I grumbled as he sat on my chair. One poor colour scheme choice and I was branded for life!

“Watch this,” he said, logging onto another site. , I read as he typed with his pudgy paws. He typed in the same date and destination I had typed in earlier and we watched as the results showed up on screen.
“Big deal. It’s the same flight. We could have booked it from my site.”
“Yes,” he said with a smile. “The exact same flight.” He then pointed at the screen. I stared at the two pages side by side.

A certain famous travel planning website offers a best of 60k.

Skyscanner offers the same for well... see it for yourself.

The exact same flight. Both ways. Only available for nearly Rs 13,000/- less at his Skyscanner site. “This is why I’m in charge.” He guffawed as he clicked to book our tickets and I stormed away in anger.

The next day, I arrived at the airport early. I was dressed in disguise, as was the universal protocol of the IMF. I had chosen to wear a toga, having studied extensively on the Greek culture by reading my Asterix comics. I dialled a number and waited for Snoopy to pick up.
“Brrrrrring brrrrring. Brrrrring Brrrrring.” A phone rang beside me. I turned and looked around but there was nobody there, save for a few people at the security clearance near me.

“Psst. I’m in here.” I heard a voice and looked towards the X-ray scanning machine. Amidst the various suitcases, two familiar eyes peered out of a parcel with holes in it. The cover on the parcel depicted a Greek royal dog statue marked “Fragile. Handle with care. Throw dog bones and chicken burgers in here to avoid Egyptian curses.”
“Oh good lord.” I mumbled to myself as Snoopy winked. I watched as two airport attendants gently carried the ‘package’, stopping at the food court to buy snacks and KFC burgers and throw it into the gap placed suspiciously below where I had spotted Snoopy’s eyes.
By the time we landed in Greece, I was determined to prove myself to be at least his equal if not better than him. The first step, as it turned out, involved changing from my toga to pants since nobody wore these dresses here anymore. Snoopy grinned as I got into the cab.
“Laugh all you want… we still need to find a good hotel, you know. These cabbies might fleece us or send us to their relatives house and claim it is a hotel.”
“We don’t do such things, sir.” The taxi driver said menacingly, staring at me from his mirror. I slunk down into my seat. Sitting beside me, the mutt leading OPERATION NIYAN-LATAOST tut-tutted.

“Forgive my friend,” he said with a heavy Greek accent. “I am Snoopikos ChompchomptheMuttonChopopos. This is my ignorant Indian slave, Roshanibos DumbIgnoramusikos. He has no idea of our rich Greek ways, my friend.”

“Chompchompthemuttonchopopos? Are you related to Dukifos DobermaneatBiggerBonesikos?” The taxi driver said, delightedly. Snoopy… I’m sorry, Snoopikos nodded and the two chatted with each other, looking at me occasionally just before they guffawed louder. Finally, Snoopikos turned to me.
“You want hotels? Here, look at these.” He said whipping out his laptop once more. He went back to the Skyscanner site and clicked in a few buttons once more with his paws.

“See all this. Every hotel in Greece is listed here. Based on rating, facilities, distance from main locations of the country. Pics of the inner rooms and personal reviews of people who have actually stayed there.”

Talk about being spoiled for choice!!

“My site could probably have done that too, you know.” I said, grumbling.
“Sure,” he said, “but can it give you this?” I stared at him as he pored through the hotels around us before choosing a hotel and clicking the “Book” button.
Instantly, the site moved to a new page and I stared dumbstruck.

Only 1 lakh forty six thousand saved... yawn!

“I’ve just saved Rs 1,46,000! That is more than our entire budget!”
“Exactly, my dear DumbIgnoramikos. Why stay in a budget hotel for more money when you can have a Jacuzzi and five star service for so much lesser? In fact, there were even better priced hotels around but I decided we could afford to live lavishly with the money we have saved.”
I had no reply to him. What could I say, honestly? 
A meal fit for a Greek God... or a man and his dog!

That night, as we dined over pork souvlaki, almond rice and the traditional tsatsiki, in the hotel’s pristine restaurant with the iconic Temple of the Olympian Zeus staring down upon us, we received further intel from the Mallu Federation back home. Well, something which resembled intel, anyway.

Temple of the Olympian Zeus. 
The Sms Snoopy received was suitably cryptic. “To Snoopikos: Find the arena where the great legends once roared and hummed. The circular disc of NIYAN-LATAOST must be retrieved.”    
I would like to imagine mine too held some deep inner meaning. “To DumbIgnoramikos: Feed Snoopikos properly.”

I was still relaxing in my Jacuzzi the next morning when Snoopy came bounding in and jumped on the bed. “Eureka! Eureka!” he screamed as I dove in deeper to preserve my modesty. “I have solved it!” Put a toga on, our taxi awaits.”
When I finally got into the taxi, it was the same driver from before. He smiled graciously at Snoopikos before frowning at me. I turned to Snoopy as he gave instructions to the driver and we headed off.
“I don’t get it. There are so many famous monuments and stadiums here in Athens. How do you know which one it is?”
“Elementary, my dear DumbIgnoramikos. You see, the clues have been staring us in the snout the whole time. “A family heirloom lost to a Keralite?” Please! You and I both know that we frequent the Gulf more than any other country. Greece was always an unlikely destination for somebody to bequeath a heirloom. Ergo, I deduced that this was not a mission of actual international proportions but rather one of personal importance. The reduced budget furthered strengthened my doubts. He was paying from his own pockets, not our IMF funds. Reduced fluorescent lungi sales, it seems. Everyone knows fluorescent lungi sales cannot reduce as long as our Mallu population maintains a constant demand rate of 300 lungis per individual per year, taking into account the 10% ‘pass a lungi to next generation’ policy as well.”

I stared out the taxi window as he spoke. There in the distance, I could see it. A surprisingly familiar stone theatre atop the citadel I had viewed last night from my hotel room.      
“I’ve seen that place before. How is that possible? Was it in the Asterix comics?” I asked Snoopikos.
“Oh, you naïve human. I agree that your only connection to Greece and Athens is via the comic book and the vague knowledge that Olympics is somehow connected to this country. And yet you seem to find the place familiar, don’t you?”
“Yes. Why is that?”
“Remember my message last night. The arena where the greats roared and hummed. You imagined Roman gladiators or Greek athletes. But you would never feel sentimental about Greek games, you agree? So how about other activities?”
I stared at the open air amphitheatre as our hired taxi approached. A signboard showed the name in the local language and in English as well.
“Odeon Herodes Atticus, Acropolis.”
“Acropolis…” I muttered, the light started to dawn slowly within my head.
“Yes. Acropolis… where Sinatra, Sting, Pavarotti and Elton John have all sung over the years. The great legends who roared and hummed. Of course, there’s only one thing you would remember from your teenage days associated with this magnificent amphitheatre , I assume.”
I stared at Snoopikos wrote our mission codename on a piece of paper.

He rearranged the letters of the first word and separated the second.
I stared at it, comprehending now.
YANNI – Live At The Acropolis: The Original Soundtrack.” 

The circular disc. “We are here to get a CD??”

Yanni at the Acropolis, 1993

“I spoke to our IMF boss while you were still dressing up today morning. Turns out the Yanni CD belonged to his wife and she loved it. Her dad had got it autographed by Yanni decades ago. He broke it accidentally three nights ago when he mistook it for a beer mug coaster while drunk. She’s been searching for that CD since two days ago. He contacted her dad and he revealed that the autographed CDs were no longer available online but ‘duplicate’ autographed CDs of all the legends were available at a small store beside the legendary amphitheatre.” Snoopy pointed to a store as the taxi stopped. “That one.”

“Lolakuttios Original Duplicates – 100% guarantee.” The board of the tiny store proclaimed proudly.
The taxi driver sniffed in disdain and turned to Snoopikos. “That shop not pure Greek either, brother Chompchompthemuttonchopopos. It is run by his type.” He said, staring at me.
“Lola kutty… yup, had to be.” Snoopikos nodded.

He turned to me. “Our mission will come to an end shortly, Roshanibos. This taxi is then ours for the day. Adding his fares, we have used up Rs 84,000/- . We still have Rs 16,000 left in our budget and a hotel booked for another 48 hours! So where do you wanna go – Myrtos beach? Santorini? Parthenon? Monastiraki – no wait, that’s a flea market and I hate fleas!
Myrtos Breach

What do you want to eat – Mousakkas? Baklavas? Youvetsis- wait. Why does that have the word ‘vet’ in it? Ooh, decisions, decisions! Anyway, I will be right back. You stay in the car. Sit. Sit, boy, sit. Do you want me to roll down a window for you?”

I stared at the beagle as he went into the store to buy the CD. I had to hand it to him. He had taken me on a trip to one of the most amazing places on Earth on less than a lakh rupees. We had saved nearly twice the amount - Rs 1,59,000 – that we had actually used  thanks to the Skyscanner site he had suggested. We actually had excess money left over which we could use for our next mission now!
There really was only one thing left to do... have a banquet to celebrate, Asterix comic style!

Authors note:  
This post is a part of Skyscanner travel wizard activity at
No Snoopys were harmed during the making of this blogpost.

Update (26 August '14): 
This post won me Snoopikus the runner-up prize in the contest.  

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  1. Hahaha! That was a hilarious one, Roshan. Very creative and very novel indeed!
    All the very best for the contest :)

    1. Thanks Shilpa.. wanted to do something different :)

  2. Roshan! I cant stop laughing at ur account. :D :D :D but very intelligent course of action. Agent scoopy gives a run for money to all the other best agents in the world. Superb! :)

    1. Agent Snoopikus would agree, I'm sure. I need to best him atleast the next time if there is another adventure... till then, no other job but to iron flourescent lungis !

  3. Anything to do with dogs and Athens will get my attention, every time! Clever way to incorporate a humourous tale with a sales pitch. Well done! :)

  4. Superb Roshan! Why don't you start a detective series with yourself and Agent Snoopy as the detectives or better still publish a crime thriller with the two of you solving the mysteries. I promise you I will be the first person to buy it.

    Looking forward to seeing you win this one. Btw give my luv to Snoopy.

    1. Sigh... the main reason would be the embarrassment of watching myself get defeated by Snoopikos time and time again!! :)
      Perhaps someday soon..

  5. Wow that was some imagination. wtg Snoopy!

    1. Sigh... why doesnt anyone root for the underdog ( no pun intended ) here.... ME!!! :D

  6. This was super hilarious and innovative! I could vividly picture Snoopy bossing over you. All the best for the contest :)

    1. Thanks Vinodini... Snoopy is a laugh riot in real life too.. seemed only fair he got his leading role here.

  7. That 'Author's note' took the cake :D Excellent effort !

  8. What punches! I think this post is written to make us all look less talented. IMF, Mallu, Lungi and those out-of-box words in between. I think I have to skip this contest. :(

    Simply brilliant!

    1. hehe... thanks for the high praise, Saru :D Lets see if Agent Snoopikos can actually deliver on hifi claims .. then definitely will look to make most adventures with him in the future.

  9. Agent Snoopy acted too intelligent... Skyscanner may wanna adopt it as their brand ambassador...

    1. I wonder if I can get them to give me some royalty! :)


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