Thursday, April 23

Goodbye Cold World

Folks, I have seen hell and let me tell you, no bright lights or tunnels made an appearance.

Amravati district in Eastern Maharashtra. Where the temperature on Tuesday was 45 degrees C without even trying. The district project coordinator we met on the day phlegmatically remarked that we were lucky since the temperature on Monday was 47 degrees. Uhuh.

I have experienced such heat only when I lived in the UAE. Even there, we had the good grace to exist in a cucoon of air-conditioning, only venturing outside in the evening. In Amravati, any work worth doing gets done between 5 - 10 am after which time only desperadoes and the suicidal are on the roads. And us of course... the intrepid cast of 'Social Workers sans Frontiers... & Brains'.

Just after we'd attacked a very good roadside dhaba & started on the visions of a beautiful siesta, one of the people I was touring with insisted on being taken for a drive.
At 2:30 pm.
Right.

In what I suspect was a fit of malevolence, the long-suffering coordinator decided to fulfill the chap's request by driving us to the hill-station of Chikhaldara. No doubt a normally delightlful journey, the winding roads and hairpin bends on the journey were then negotiated at a speed of around 65 kmph. This, the afternoon furnace (heat being too mild a word) along with the feeding frenzy that had just taken place ensured that one of the other fellows along on the trip thrice pleaded in a quietly determined tone for the vehicle to be stopped. After which, the lunch, mid-morning snack and breakfast proceeded to decorate the landscape in a fashion similar to Jackson Pollock's work.

Needless to say, I could not wait to get out of there. For one, I had begun to have out-of-body experiences while being wide awake. I think. For another, missing the train would mean waiting at Amravati for another 24 hours, during which time this blogger would have been 'well done' in the steak terminology. On a side note, if there is one thing I hate with a passion, it is the summer sun. My dream is to live in some cold, blustery port city in the far north where days of sunlight are a rarity & hence welcomed. Anyway, while waiting at the station, I received a call from my boss. Apparently we've landed a new project on preventing child labour. I will be coordinating (at least in name) this project, quite likely meaning monthly visits to the district where the work will be undertaken.

The district selected for the work to commence ? Amravati.

Song for the moment: Burn - Deep Purple

Wednesday, April 15

No rest for the wicked

Readers, the somewhat short hiatus from posting can be traced to a few things. For one, I recently moved house (a nice 1 BHK in Santacruz) and the tandaav that goes along with instigating said move left me wishing for nothing more than an endless row of the chilled stuff... and some sort of self-respecting body metabolism that doesn't scream "double chin & beer belly is happening" every time I drink a few sips. A few sips, mind. Sigh....

Also, for reasons unbeknowst to me, I've been assigned the chore of accompanying some consultant chap as he meanders around the NGO's project offices around Maharashtra. ISO certification or some such nonsense. Since my responsibilities in this matter have so far involved doodling on the note pad & valiantly avoiding the urge to catch up on forty winks at the table, you can safely assume that your lives are more exciting. Except if you are someone who gets paid to watch paint dry on the walls, maybe. To cut a short story even shorter, self mooches around Dadar station at odd hours with bag in hand, hoping to miss the trains but never actually working up the nads to ensure that this happy eventuality occurs. Latur, Osmanabad, Amravati and Mahad are left on the agenda for the month... & I'm thinking even jolly old Julius wouldn't have shimmied around this much on his Roman conquests. But alea jacta est & whatnot.

In the midst of this largely self-invented melodrama, I have still not managed to find a saxophone teacher. My illusions of Bandra as a cool place chock-full of musicians, is fast evaporating to be replaced by an image of how my dear sax will most likely end up being used as a vase. Or some vital component of an Ikebana arrangement. As if these slings and arrows were not enough, getting to work from Santacruz is becoming a tricky issue. From Bandra, it was all cut and dry; walk to station, cross over to East, take bus, get to work. Reverse on the way home. From Santacruz, the instruction manual now reads - walk to station, wait in line to buy ticket (yes, I know a season pass is available... %@#@ you too !!), curse idiot in line who thinks the ticket window is some sort of confessional booth, get ticket, rush to appropriate platform, jump into running train, get off at Bandra (west, that is), cross over to east, jump into bus, get to work. Whether I want to go back from work is now up for debate.

All of these travails pale in comparison to what occurred at lunch today. I have, through extensive use of charm and etiquette, ensured that left-over pohe from breakfast (whenever made) will be reserved for me at lunch. Today, humming a catchy tune, I made my way to the canteen, only to be told that the pohe was over. For a second, the birds ceased to chirp, dark clouds hovered & the brow was furrowed. The regular menu was begrudgingly accepted and I proceeded to eat. Only to see the walrus (the colleague who sits next to me at work... don't ask) happily masticating away on what suspiciously looked like the missing pohe. My missing pohe. Another colleague confirmed my suspicions and the canteen was silenced for an instant by a blood-curdling war cry.

Big time vengeance is assured, reader.

Song for the moment: Bleeding me - Metallica