B. A lesson a day

​Week 2

Having moved into a comfortable apartment almost half a year back, I had snuggled cosily into the laziness that comes hand in hand with the luxury of being in a place like this and not having a regular job. All errands including necessary ones like getting the electrical repairs for the house done remained pending, until today that is. Repeated visits by the electrician provided by my apartment association led me to the local electrical supplies shop a zillion times. 

Bulbs. What use are these bulbs without new holders. Holders. How will you fix them on the wall without chakapiece (don’t ask!). Switch. How will it work without new wires. Actually the wires are fine. You need a new fan…  And so on until well prepared with a list of everything I could think of, vetted by my electrician I went for the final time to the shop and procured everything I needed. 

So today, unhampered by the relatively sad news I received this morning, I set about getting the repairs done. Telephone, fixed. Done. Carpentery work, done. Electrician… Aah the bane of my existence.

11am after repeated calls to the maintenance office, the dude arrives, waistbelt in place and looking mighty happy with life in general. He rants off a list of things he remembers from the previous visit and when I say I have all of them, he looks impressed. He then procures a ladder that almost breaks the one functional light in my living room, climbs up and starts to dismantle the lampshade and fix the multitude of things he asked for. Wires, chakapiece, holder, cover, light… And then he asks for the screws. SCREWS! The one thing I did not think of. I let out a sigh of exasperation. The dude gives me a look of pity and says, “Dont worry madam. I will get.” And then he rants off in the local tongue something about the association office. Exhilarated with the dude on the ladder swooping to my rescue much like a knight atop his horse, I danced with joy. Seeing the expression on the dude, I quickly regained my composure and asked if I need to call the association office and tell or ask them for the screws?

With a quick bounce he was on the floor yelling repeatedly in the local tongue again. When he saw my bewildered expression, he took a deep breath to relax himself and said…”Screw. Secret.”

Aah! So he would secretly procure the required screws and save me all hassle. My hero!

He then returned to fixing the other problems and reached an impasse. The switch was working fine. The wiring was ok too. Must be the regulator. “Need new regulator” He yelled with the same excitement that Archimedes had when he finally took a bath. Judging by my expression, the dude decided he better make the fan work before crazy lady screams… or worse, dances. So he fixed it directly to the switch and told me NOT to use it unless during an emergency.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what constituted as a fan emergency. I understand our generation’s obsession with gadgets and luxuries. But would we really ever be in a situation where we just HAD to have the second fan in the room on? Or is it for a quick cooling down while wearing my shoes to step out? The 30 secs my lift takes to reach the ground floor also instigates me to switch the lift fan on. Why? When did we get this way? Is nothing ever enough? Or are we restless enough to need to do something or have movement around us all the time? I remember a time when I was a kid growing up in kerala and during the scheduled power cuts in peak summer, we used to sit outside on the veranda enjoying the evening breeze and lightly fanning ourselves. Have those days of simplicity vanished along with the feeling of communism?

Sigh! With my fan on full and the radio blaring music, I now sit and ponder. What a switch. 

Secret switches and fan emergencies. We learn something new everyday!

A. Sounds a lot like cabbage

​I’ve always wanted to be a writer and a director. Needless to say I never had the talent or confidence to do either. So I got into acting in my spare time, since it came naturally to me. 

Recently in my spare time I decided to dabble in a bit of writing. I called myself The Columnist, mostly for the purpose of restraining my writing to the length of a column but also because it sounds pompous. Like I have a regular column in a newspaper or magazine. Like Shobha De. Anyway, since I still don’t have the confidence to go public with it, I thought I shall share it here. Shall try writing something once a week. Here’s hoping it works.

Week 1

Walking up the road from my house one afternoon to meet my mom at the junction to run some errands, I crossed paths with some school children playing holi on the pavement. To avoid getting colour on myself I stepped onto the road. Now, despite having a school and a moderately big apartment complex, this road has very little traffic or crowd, except in the evenings when it converts itself into a food street complete with food trucks and instant chaat shops and what not.

This particular afternoon, a lady on the better side of 50 was bent over sweeping the road in front of the school. Irritated with the noise the children were making and the numerous other worries that were bothering her, she muttered to herself as she tried hard to pull a rag that had embedded itself well into the tar with the relentless heat. She struggled valiantly with it with one hand, gripping the bag in which she collected the waste tightly with the other. 

Set your mind to it and nothing is impossible! 

The tar gave in, the rag came flying out and the woman looked mighty pleased with herself. I smiled as I watched this and was walking past her when she suddenly turned and threw the rag at me. I stopped for a moment, surprised by the mere unpredictability of the act. The woman realised her folly and apologised profusely.

How many times in life have we unnecessarily picked up garbage from somewhere and flung it on some unsuspecting victim? Tensions from work vented out on a poor waiter, doorman or even our own family. Stress of an upcoming meeting released on the poor cab driver stuck in the same traffic jam that will probably reduce his earnings for the day. He in turn will probably vent out at the next customer he picks up and so on… We all unknowingly pick up these unwanted pieces of baggage and pass it on. Its like the amount of baggage in the world is a constant and we are all a group of immature people playing passing the parcel with it.

The rag by itself was harmlessly lying on the road believing itself to be no different from the tar. Maybe it was harmful for the road and by clearing it up, the woman was infact doing a good deed. Possible. But why then did she not put it into the bag in her other hand that was for the very purpose of collecting garbage? Why think of throwing it on the road side and then collecting it while sweeping? Especially when you cant be sure that it will not fall on someone else in the meanwhile. Or fly away onto an oncoming biker’s face.

I paused for a moment, regained my composure, smiled at her and said, “Its ok. Its just a rag.” Here’s hoping that she doesn’t carry any baggage from that incident because in this game, when the music stops, there are no winners.