Reader, I type this post with a strong control of my considerable command over invective. Amravati, that odious spit of land in north Maharashtra was visited again this weekend. That's right, this weekend. The district coordinator for our project there, a creature who quite likely is channelling Judas, Benedict Arnold & any other traitor you'd choose, specified the weekend for ISO analysis. The last week was no picnic at work either, so my mood on Friday evening as I awaited the train at Dadar was one of thunderstorm proportions. Not helping my mood any was the ISO consultant.
A boatload of people either hate or love their jobs. But I have not yet met anyone who's job is his philosophy and vice versa. Except for the ISO dude. This specimen has to be met to be believed. I say met because by sight he probably resembles some jolly Santa in his middle age. You know, before the white hair, ho-hos and the reindeer... Once this dude starts talking however, stopping him is impossible. Believe me, I've tried. It's like trying to stop a break in the Khadakwasla dam with cellotape. Now, while no one will ever accuse me of above-average cranial activity, even I understood early on that I should not, under any and I mean ANY circumstance give this guy a chance to start preaching. I mean, if you think you could be dying, die. Don't ask this windbag for help. He qualifies as the reference to 'a fate worse than death'. Even so, being careful to the point of petrification, a man needs to breathe. Or move. During which time, some slight suggestion of sound may escape from you. That's all he needs to start off blabbering about how he knows the best method to do this, achieve that and whatnot. I'm just waiting for the day when this personage accosts some random unfortunate in the men's room and instructs him on how best to answer nature's call. Or perhaps break wind.
Anyway, my strategy when I've to accompany the town crier is to take a load of books, my mp3 player & enough batteries to comfortably power a city for 3 days. The moment we're on the train, I plug in the earphones, whip out the book and pointedly ignore him. Even this does not stop him tooting his horn every now and then, mind you. On this trip however, ISO-man, the dastardly district coordinator & Amravati itself came together to leave me... well, you know what they say - जब किस्मत ही गांडू, तोह क्या करेगा पंडू ?
First off, it was the weekend. Having to travel all night on Friday when I could have been otherwise employed was bad enough, but the fun does not end there. You see, to get to Amravati city and beyond, one has to hop off at a plague-spot called Badnera Junction. At 5:30 am. After which, a very sleepy, increasingly despondent blogger has to make it through the day listening to the coordinator spin tall tales about his efficient work & have ISO-dude counter him with suggestions about how to better himself. It's like the argumentative chess game from hell. The only difference being that in a chess game, both players have sort of a 50 - 50 chance of winning. But ISO-man is the Deep Blue in human avatar, so no ordinary mortal stands a chance. Someone hearing-defficient maybe, but no one else.
After 2 days of this brouhaha, if people were pious, truthful and all that, they'd admit that precious little actually got done. IF. We make our way back to Badnera Junction on Sunday evening & I don't know... the fates were trying to indicate that the fun wasn't over, I guess. Because it rained... poured like the rain of our dreams, venting nature's fury on an indifferent earth, accompanied by dark-grey skies & lightning bolts. I tell you, if a voice announced that the crack-o-doom and judgement day was upon us, I would have believed it. ISO-guy would no doubt have some ideas for nature on how to achieve a 'quality' Pralay, but that should surprise none of you by now. So, accompanied by this band-baaja, we get dropped off at the station at 8:00 pm, well in time for the 8:45 pm Samarasta 'Super-fast' express. Just as we're getting to the platform, a voice, which will probably haunt my dreams for years to come, announced prettily that the train would be late by 2 hours. I suppose it should have occured to someone to enquire against which snail the train's speed was being touted.
I reached for the earphones & book before she'd completed the announcement.
2 hours later, the same voice announces purposefully that the train is now delayed by 3:30 hours. I give up on the earphones & other paraphernalia and begin to pace. The stray dogs on the platform begin to give me looks of pity. Or scorn, I don't know... it was around 12:30 am. At about 12:45, just as I begin to draw in a deep breath to really let rip into life, the universe & everything else (to borrow a phrase), the train sneaks in, shamefacedly & shifty-eyed. At this juncture, I was ready to discover that Bogie A2 had been left back at Howrah & that we'd have to travel in the pantry car.
I reach Kurla around noon the next day, attempt to find a rickshaw & make the next blunder. I agree to share the rickshaw with ISO-man, a decision akin to allowing Bluebeard to commandeer your rowboat. About halfway to Santacruz, I gave up & began to contemplate an afterlife where I'd never have to run into anyone who's heard of ISO standards. Or at least, this pontificator. Who knows... perhaps he's dreaming of instructing the dudes up and downstairs on how to achieve efficiency.
Oh and just to round things off, a migraine came a-visiting yesterday evening.
Song for the moment: Sound of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel