Do you see an empty space between the branches of the tree? Well, what does it look like? Please stretch your imagination and see if you can give it some shape. In a village near a place called Cuncolim, in Goa, few friends who were out for a walk one evening saw such a space between the dense foliage of some trees at a distance. The first one exclaimed “Eh, what is that there on the trees?” The second one said “yes, there is something”. The third one’s imagination was better, “looks like a ghost”. It looked like a “divine apparition” for the fourth, who felt it is better to have gods than ghosts and the faithful fifth, confirmed that it was Jesus Christ. In no time the place was crowded with thousands of devotees praying and chanting. The nearby national highway was blocked with vehicles. One sensible fellow, who felt that the lord will never risk venturing so close to his flock, if he knew them as he should, (he was also sensible enough not to say it aloud), suggested that they ask the local priest to confirm the presence of Jesus. The priest, who possibly knew the lord better, seconded the opinion of the sensible fellow, but expressed his doubts in a “sitter on the fence” manner and got away with his limbs and life intact. The faithful, who did not intend giving up the Lord so easily, took the matter to the higher authority, the bishop. But the Bishop was out of station and the lord (who did not possess either PAN card or driving licence)had to wait to have his identity confirmed. Meanwhile there were discussions as to why the lord chose to visit Goa? Did the “Sell the raindrops” campaign of the five star hotels and tourism department even fool lord Jesus ? One person who believed in world welfare said “lord Jesus has descended on the earth to save humankind from terrorism, global recession and nuclear conflicts.” But another, who had a somewhat narrow vision and whose property the government had acquired for widening the highway, said “Lord Jesus wants to sensitise Goans about the wrong policies of the state government, including widening of the NH 17 and displacement of people from their village”. Clever fellow. He found a free advocate in the form of Jesus. Who knows? The sentiment may catch up and save his property! Report in Navhind Times dt 25th July. Matter has undergone some alterations but the quotations are as they were. I do not know if Jesus is still with us. Page 3 of Times of India to-day, only mentions Deepika padukone, Arshad warsi and Anil ambani as the celebrity visitors.
Counterfoils of credit slips and cheques, receipts of water, electricity and phone bill payments, receipts given by the paper boy, Gas man and the cable fellow, all these and other such pieces of paper go into the second drawer of our TV table. The pile also includes tax deduction note given by the bank, premium payment receipts from insurance companies, pension certificate issued by the treasury, account statements and other useful material. Once a month I decide to sort them out, keep whatever is useful and discard the rest. With twelve decisions a year passes and the drawer fills to the brim. When it is time to file my tax returns I put the whole lot in a plastic bag and hand it over to the person who prepares my returns. This year, the gentleman refused to prepare my returns unless I gave the papers properly sorted out. (People are getting fastidious.) He says that his business is not to sort out trash, but to present the sorted trash in a form acceptable to the tax authorities. So, I dumped the contents of the drawer on the ground and started sorting the pile. I tore all the useless bits of paper and kept others aside. I handed over the neatly bunched papers to the accountant.
He called me after a day. “Doctor, where is that TDS certificate from Karnataka bank?” “Everything is there in the lot that I gave you” “Everything else is there but for the TDS certificate” “OK, please prepare the returns without that TDS certificate. It is a small amount any way” “You can’t do that. You have shown it last year and will have to account for it.” I called the bank and blasted the clerk for not sending the certificate on time. “But sir, you collected it yourself last month. You have signed the acknowledgement” (Curse these bank fellows. They have this bad habit of making you sign for everything.) I asked my son if he saw this certificate. I enquired with my wife. “I know where it is. It is in the dustbin. You have torn the certificate along with other bits of paper when you were sorting out things. You are absent minded. Don’t bother others. Apologise to the bank and request for a copy”
My computer is also absentminded and acted similarly while sorting out trash.
It is six years old. That is approximately 120 years in human terms. It was taking a long time to start, was very slow and was not able to reach some sites at all. One of my friends said that it would work better if I reduced the load and suggested that I delete all unnecessary files. He said that I simply have to select the files and press ‘delete’. “An idiot can do it. You definitely can” He encouraged.
I started the job and the computer started interrogating me. “Do you want to delete this file?” (Silly question. If I do not want to delete, why will I press ‘delete’?) “Are you sure?” “Do you want this to be available for other applications?” “Are you sure?” “Do you want to delete all the off line content?” “Are you sure?” “Do you want to delete all the online contents?” “Do you want to delete all the objects?” “Do you want to delete all the cookies?” I really do not know what these cookies have got to do with my computer. As far as my knowledge goes they are things that you eat and are supposed to be good. Also, nowhere were there provisions to say “don’t know” or “Can’t say”. It had to be “yes” or “no”. What do I do if can’t answer with yes or no. I am not a computer professional. After sometime I could not make out what it was asking and simply typed “yes” and “no” alternately. Once, I even typed “do as you please”. After a long time it said “All files deleted” and I typed “Thank you.”I was happy that I had been able to unburden my computer and could make it’s job easy. I switched it on the next morning and was expecting it to jump into action with extra vigour. But it remained sleepy for a long time and then gave out a message “one of the important files required to start windows is deleted/corrupted. Check system 32//reboot/reinstall”
I had asked the stupid computer to delete useless files and it had deleted it’s life.
I asked my son to do something about it. He told me to dump my desktop in the dustbin and buy another one. Meanwhile, he said, I can use his lap top (‘HIS’ lap top for which I had paid through my nose) if I assured him that I will not delete things and meddle with the system unnecessarily. Arrogant fellow. I told him that I need neither his services nor his laptop and that I will take care of things myself. Now, I had to call the computer agency. They usually send a goofy looking fellow who wears a cap reverse and wears an ear ring. His pant will be a foot too long and it will bring all the dirt from the road into my house. But my computer responds if HE presses the keys and I really have no other go.
Just then there was a patient. He had a bridge for his front teeth and the bridge had come off. He wanted it fixed urgently as he could not go to work without his teeth. As usual I recorded his name, address, telephone numbers etc and enquired about his profession. He was a computer mechanic and he had come along with his bag full of magic CDs which have the power of bringing computers back to life. God send! I told him that I will fix his teeth immediately if he can fix my computer. Good old barter system! He sat for an hour in front of the computer hitting keys and inserting and removing CDs and brought it back to life. I thanked him, repaired his bridge and glued it back in position. He walked away with a big smile. I attended to the other cases in the clinic and started the computer again. It struggled for ten minutes and gave out the message “one of the important files required to start windows is deleted/corrupted. Check system 32//reboot/reinstall”. I hope that the computer fellow’s bridge falls off again and brings him back to me. I really should have used a weaker cement.
Since my son had left his lap top at home I decided to make a quick posting on the blog. I need to erase all traces of my use and keep the thing back as it was. I have to work fast but this lap top does not co-operate. I am used to hitting the keys of my desktop with a hammer to get the letters on the screen and the cursor on my desk top moves an inch if I drag the mouse one foot. This cursor jumps a foot and out of the screen if I move my finger as much as a millimetre and this thing types on it’s own even before I touch the keys. I have managed to say what I wanted to, without allowing it to dictate terms, but it is tiring.
I have to resign to my fate and call the goofy fellow from the agency who comes carrying half a truck load of dust (muck, if it is raining) on his extra long pants. Bye till then.
I like the rainy season. I think I have already mentioned it a dozen times and I also understand that it does not mean that I should torture everyone with rainy season posts all the time. Hence , I decided not to torture everyone and target only those who are willing and who can read kannada. We were on the road between Margao and Quepem and came across an enchanting stretch of green. The camera was on hand and for once, in working condition. It had stopped raining for a moment, and so, I decided to get out and try my luck with the camera. As I got out of the car, the batteries fell out. The cover of the battery compartment is broken. My son informed that I need to keep the batteries in place by pressing a finger against them. As it is, I need a dozen fingers to operate his camera and am always two short. Now, I was short of three fingers! Meanwhile I had to keep an eye on the busy road if I did not intend ending up in the same condition as the camera. I arranged everything and was about to focus and click when the camera went off. My son said, that once switched on, it remains so for a few minutes and if the operator is not fast, gets bored and shuts itself off. I switched it on again and arranged myself and it started raining. I had to get into the car. By the time it stopped raining and I got out again, the other occupants of the car got bored and stared grumbling. I am writing all this so that you understand the odds at which I have been able to get the pictures and why I am thrilled to see them and eager to share my thrill with those who are willing. If you are willing, please go over to’kaaDu haraTe’ at www.maatu-kate.blogspot.com.
It is now a month after the first rains. The monsoon, which showed it’s face and disappeared for about twenty days, reappeared last week and has begun it’s job in right earnest. It is almost raining non stop. The cement side walk leading to my clinic has turned slippery due to the growth of algae. I slipped and almost broke my back this morning. It is time for the monsoon to take a break and allow me to go out and scrub the side walk and trim the overgrown branches of the rose bushes. My patients have to watch their feet so that they do not slip and at the same time have to look out for the rose branches extending on to the sidewalk trying to rip their faces off. I water these plants every day, dig around them, pour manure, pamper them and they grudgingly grow a few inches. Once it starts raining, they wake up suddenly and make up for all the inactivity through the year. I see hectic activity everywhere. Even though most of our surroundings have turned into a ‘concrete jungle,’ there is still some greenery left. We call it green but ‘brownary’ is more appropriate. The rain has washed them clean and has doubled the quantity of green. The green growth has covered all the trash that we have dumped in the neighbour’s plot.(in the true tradition of any civil society) The creepers spread on to the trees and cover them completely obliterating their shape and turning them to heaps of green. Electric poles and cables have a festoon of green leaves. Even the laterite brick on the compound walls is sprouting green adding to the effect. I enjoy all these sights walking in the rain early morning while the world is still asleep. I managed to get some pictures without drenching the camera. With Shruti’s guidance, I have tried to insert the pictures where I want them. If you are seeing this post with pictures at appropriate places, Shruti is a good teacher and I have passed.
Do you recognise this object in the photograph? Yes. It is a mirror stand having four wobbly legs waiting to topple at the slightest nudge and shatter into pieces. A valuable addition to the umpteen number of other artefacts occupying all the available space in our house, causing clutter and gathering dust. This is MY description, being conveyed to you in the strictest confidence. I do not want this description to reach my wife’s ears/eyes and jeopardise a marriage of twenty five years, which, though has wobbled occasionally like the object of discussion here, has not toppled. According to my wife, it is a beautiful piece of art carrying loads of aesthetic value that could offset the effect of all the eyesores that I have managed to create during the construction of our house (with my stupid idea of building a house without the help of an architect) and bring about considerable improvement in the general outlook, by simply standing in one (and the only available) corner. And the shopkeeper’s version is “ this my friend, is a dressing mirror having a container for storing combs and cosmetics, carved out of ‘teak’wood from Punjab and having intricate and very delicate inlay work all over.” He assures us that it is very stable and requires the services of three elephants or two bulldozers (if you do not want to be cruel to animals) to topple it.
It was nearly twenty years back that we saw this object in one of the shops at the Margao market. It was love at first sight for my wife. “See that mirror. How beautiful!” “Indeed it is nice” I agreed. Our marriage was just 3-4 years old and I still had an L board. “Shall we ask how much it is?” “Why not?” I too have this habit of getting to know the price of things that we may or may not intend buying - just for the heck of it - and did not think twice. “We don’t have a good mirror in our house.” The tube in my head just started flickering. “Eh? oh, yes .” I replied. “If it is not very costly, we can buy it. Is it not?” The tube lighted up and I did see the pot hole but it was too late to swerve. We asked the price. It was 1500 rupees and my salary then was about 2000 rupees. I told her that we have a choice between the mirror and food for twenty days. She was also a novice and had a lot of faith in her husband’s judgement. She gave up easily and I was out of the pothole without falling. Those days, I had the absolute control of the handle of our scooter and my pillion had not learnt to drive from the backseat and so, I could and did avoid that street till I was sure that the mirror was sold.
Many years later an exactly similar piece was seen in the same shop once again and it attracted my wife like a magnet with double strength. Ten years into marriage she had realised that the set of questions like, “Is it not a nice thing?”, “Should we buy it?”, “what do you say?” were all counterproductive and had delegated them to the dustbin. She also had controlling stakes in the finances and running of the house. “See, that mirror is there again. I was a fool to listen to you the last time. I am going to buy it now” “Should we not ask the price?” “We had asked it last time, is it not? It may be a little more now and I CAN MANAGE.” I frantically prayed for inspiration and got some. “OK then. If we HAVE to buy it, yes. But you should tell me where you are going to keep it. I do not want to add to the junk that we have piled on the loft.” At that time we were in a two bedroom flat. Three fourths of the living room was my clinic, and the remaining space was occupied by a sofa which served our guests and rarely, a waiting patient. No chance there. Next was the kitchen. Just the thought of placing such a piece of art in the kitchen with all the clutter there was an insult and even if the object didn’t mind the insult, there was no space whatsoever. One of the bedrooms had a pair of cots and two cupboards. We could place the mirror in the space between them, if we decided not to open the cupboards ever and if we could climb on to the cot over the headboard. So it was ruled out. The other room had our dining table with four chairs, an easy chair, two cane chairs, a small writing desk which was being used by my elder son, a sewing machine and a washing machine. None of them would budge an inch to allow a newcomer, whatever be the aesthetic value.
My wife was trying her best to find some accommodation when I was granted the next installment of inspiration. I told her that our younger son, an expert climber, would find the mirror stand tempting and challenging. I said that we may end up not only with broken wood and glass, but also broken limbs and skull. She loved the mirror but loved her son more. She gave out a deep sigh and came away turning around again and again to look at the mirror till it was out of sight.
Thereafter , once we saw an younger brother of the thing in a shop at Panaji. It was similar in all respects but was considerably smaller. My wife’s heart was not ready to accept the dwarfed version and she enquired with the salesman if he can procure a bigger one. She even offered him an advance but he said that they had stopped making the bigger ones. I thought that I had seen the last of that mirror and secretly arranged an ‘Abhishek’ for Lord Balaji, who had just then come to reside in the newly constructed temple near our house. I never ever imagined that he would deceive me after accepting my bribe. He has started learning from his disciples.
Fifteen days back when we went to Margao this mirror was standing again in it’s corner in the same shop. Now, we have a larger house and though my wife has tried her best to fill it to the brim, it has one last corner empty. She knows the finances in and out and some of my patients who owe me my fees, have the habit of coming in at odd hours and if I am not present, hand over the money to my wife. Our children have grown up, and even though sometimes I get doubts about their intelligence levels, I am sure that they do not attempt to climb over this mirror stand. My wife , now, is fully seasoned and “I will ask my husband” is reserved for occasions where she is sure that her answer is negative, but do not intend saying so.
She was not going to squander this last chance, and asked for the price. On hearing the price, she felt that the piece was worth it but would be even more attractive if the price went down a bit. I told her to go and bargain with the shop fellow. I was holding on to the faint hope that the fellow may not budge and that my wife may refuse to buy at the price quoted. “How can I bargain for that beautiful piece. It is actually worth what he is asking for. I have asked him so many times if can get it for me. And that fellow is so decent and courteous. I cannot go there and bargain with him. YOU DO IT and if you are not capable of getting the price reduced, I will resign to my fate and buy it at whatever price he quotes.” And that was an order. If you do not understand this sentiment, ask those who love to eat chicken but cannot bring themselves to kill one.
There was absolutely no chance of preventing the acquisition. If I bargained, I may at least be able to reduce the damage to my purse. So I went to the shop, bargained with the fellow, and to my credit, could bring down the price a bit. So, at last, my wife is the proud owner of this object d’art and I do hope that with it’s presence, it will bring about a skyward revision of aesthetics and goodwill in our house and will make my wife overlook all the eyesores and irritants, starting with yours truly.