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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

21 August, 2004

The Power Play

My initial enthusiasm which frothed like a freshly opened bottle of wine, dwindled into nothingness and then bloomed into a spurt of anger because, our buildiing at the edge of civilisation, developed a power snag.

Voltage went down to such an extent that tubelights went into a tizzy never to recover like a lady threatening suicide, and succeeding. The old faithful incandescent lamps paled like the promises of an alcoholic father to the fun-starved kids. My computer promptly died and the only thing that breathed fire was the TV which I watched into the wee hours hoping the power would be restored some time, for I had blogs to write.

When the first birds chirped tentatively, I realized the tubelights all around in our sparsely populated outskirts were on, had been on the whole blessed night -but the dimness of our lamps started sounding like an endless song of mourning : more frustrating as the source could never be pinpointed.

The electricity guy with his mobile phone came to life around the time when schoolkids have gone and the milkman is sourly placing bags into their predestined slots. Promised to come an hour later, but wasn't seen till three hours later. Some more frantic calls finally made him scoot down to the poor transformer that always hiccups like a moronic child fed brandy, every rainy day.

Suthar is a thick-set dark-skinned earnest man who rides his 80cc moped as if it were a battle tank with 2000 BHP between his legs. His facial expression tells me, if I cross the path, that I must have lost my mind, to take liberties with the mother of all bikes when it comes roaring down the street... I'd better watch out or else.... ah, now I know. He thinks like Calvin of Hobbes series. His reality seems like the dark side of the moon to me. My reality is utter fuzzy nonsense to him too. We love each other. I always make complaints, he always attends to work half-heartedly.

This time around he came alone, for he is always with his Man Friday who will climb the parapet wall, take the hugely long pole with its funny shaped front hook to lift a piece of thickish copper wire that can be gingerly coaxed into the drop out fuse which is always blown. For a hundred reasons.

Our earnest electrician hates trees. I love trees. He chops down the sexiest amongst creepers draping the ugly cage around our transformer, that somehow reminds me of the hungry and pitiful faces of the condemned in the concentration camps. I love the sensually green draper and he yells to the chowkidar, a mysteriously silent Nepali who loves chopping trees too. Rapists, I whisper to myself.

They make me bring a knife to start the gang-rape of green and orange and dull red, brighly lit creatures... In the mean time, Suthar has figured a way out to fix the broken fuse wire. He asks the chowkidar to get up on the wall, so thin that even a cat would find it dicey, and instructs him. Plain stupid. Amazingly idiotic. But he makes his remote control work.

Lo and behold, power is restored. I tell him repeatedly that hanging a wire with a piece of stone, is a primitive thing to do. He gives me spurts of dirty looks as if shooting them at me with an AK-47, and shrugs his shoulders and scoots off to the next emergency.

It is Thursday when power is switched off in our area leaving blogs boiling in my head, and ideas clashing within like two communities overcharged with someone's silly rhetoric.

Power dwindles into the dim lit bulb routine before I can connect to the internet. A spate of feverish phonecalls and Suthar realizes something better has to be done. He scoots right back. He makes his official assistant go up, who briskly fixes the broken wire, now hanging away from the insulator, appropriately.

Bring to my mind the story of the poorly paid assistant of such an electrician who got the 11000 volts shock and had to get both his hands amputated. I try to tell this to the earnest faced electrician who shrugs my story off before it can grow to adulthood.

The problem is fixed, but the insulator remains broken, has been like that for a year. Should I complain to the main office ? He shrugs again.
" Tock nahin hai..."
Talk nahin hai? I wonder.

With gestures he shows a heap of imaginary insulator.
Ah, Stock nahin hai... okay. I give up.

Power is restored. I promptly restart the computer. Before I can connect to the internet, power is gone.

When I ring up Suthar on his mobile phone I can hear the laughter in his voice. Thursday saheb, I just switched off the power.

Sick and fatigued, I abandon the computer.

Cheers

Max

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