Monday, October 26, 2009

May his tribe increase - 2

When I was in second standard, I had read the story of a buffalo. I believe it was wallowing in the muddy water in a state of bliss. The owner thought it had enjoyed enough and was trying to get it out. He called out but the calls were ignored. He took a thick stick and hit the buffalo hard on its back. It made a big sound.

The buffalo felt it heard something and thought, “I hear some noise close by”
Second blow “I think someone is hitting something”
Third blow “Am I feeling anything on my back?”
Fourth blow “I feel a stick!”
Fifth blow “Someone hitting me, must be the master” and it slowly got out of water.

We were just like this buffalo in realising that there was something wrong with our new sofa set.

My wife had ordered the set after a search spreading over, believe it or not, twenty years! If I explain the process, it would be a novel on its own and I have no intentions of keeping you occupied for a week.

We were very happy that at last someone in this world had been able to produce something to suit our living room and installed it with due ceremony. The arm chair, a cane chair, a metal folding chair and two very old stools which had served in our living room over the years were considered unworthy companions for the new sofa set and were sent to spend their remaining life in the back room. We repositioned the TV and the telephone to suit the sofa and changed the window curtains to match the cushions. At last we had comfortable seating in our living room and we spent almost all our time at home on the new sofa and repeatedly exclaimed how comfortable we felt. Once I got carried away and slept on it putting my feet up and was severely admonished for my lack of sensitivity.

It was about two months later that my son first mentioned that though the sofa was very very comfortable he needed to re adjust his position every now and then to enjoy the comfort. But we believed that our sofa was next only to the mother’s womb and asked him to shut up and practice proper sitting posture.
Mr James Herriot, the veterinarian - author, writing about the inconveniences that he had to face in the cold barns of Yorkshire while calving, writes that if you need to know the most comfortable place in a barn, look where the cat is. Our son is our house cat. When he shifted to the swing, we should have known that the sofa is doomed. But we were not sharp enough. It was just the first blow.

Another two months went by before I discovered that if I sat on the sofa for long I started sliding down gradually and ultimately found myself in a very awkward position with my back on the seat and only the head on the backrest. I had started pulling a small foot stool closer, to rest my legs which were hanging without support. With lot of hesitation I expressed some doubts about the sofa but it was rubbished by my wife. She said that I am unable to remain stationary in a place for long and need to blame my fidgety limbs for that. I was not sure of myself and thought maybe she is right.

Some more months later I found my wife sitting on the sofa, sideways, with her back resting on the arm rest and her feet stretched out on the cushions. She said that she had better view of the TV screen that way and that she might have shifted to that position without her knowledge while she was preoccupied with the programme!

So, it was more than a year by the time we started getting serious doubts about the comfort level of our sofa and tried to find out what was wrong. After measuring the legs, seats, backrest and arms and experimenting by stuffing newspapers behind the backrest, below the cushions and elevating the front legs by placing magazines beneath them, we pin pointed the trouble. The seat of the sofa was higher at the back than in the front instead of being the other way and the inclination given to the back rest was more than normal. One and a half years had passed by the time we decided that our proud possession was defective.

We were very much upset. My wife cursed the carpenter and the friend who had recommended him. She cursed herself for buying the sofa and blamed me for agreeing with her decision without argument and fight, thereby eliminating chances of change of mind.

The sofa did not come with any guarantee/ warrantee, and I had not even kept the hand written receipt. More over we had no face to go to the manufacturer and point out the defect one and a half year after it was purchased. We had to live with it. But every time we sat on the sofa, we were reminded of our misfortune and so, it was shifted out of sight to my waiting room. My wife said that since my patients are very much pre occupied with their tooth ache and were prepared for bigger discomforts like my treatment, it did not matter if the seat was also a bit irksome. But I noticed that even when the waiting room was crowded, this sofa was empty and people preferred to stand outside in the compound rather than sit on it.
I knew that there was no point in complaining about it , two years after buying it, but could not resist the urge to tell the makers that they had bungled up our sofa and that we fools had failed to notice their blunder in time . There was nothing to lose anyway.
When I visited Margao the next time, I went across to M/s Keni enterprises and casually informed the clerk that we were not at all happy with our purchase. He said that he would inform the owner and get back to me. I did not expect anything more from him.

I was very much surprised to find an elderly gentleman at our door after two days who introduced himself as Mr. Keni, the proprietor of Keni enterprises. He said that he had come to see the sofa about which he had received a complaint and had brought his chief carpenter with him. He sat on the sofa for some time, asked the carpenter to take measurements, agreed that it was defective and apologised for having delivered a defective piece! He said that correcting the defect would mean almost redoing it but assured me that it would be done at the earliest.

The next week he sent a vehicle to collect the sofa, and fifteen days later we received our sofa back in brand new condition perfectly done. It had been dismantled, repaired and re polished. In the bargain, all the minor chippings and major scratches caused by my hammer, my son’s dumbbell and younger son’s cricket bat had also been eliminated. I am sure that Mr. Keni had incurred considerable trouble and expenses but he never mentioned anything and only called to enquire whether we were happy with the outcome.

I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and he brushed it off saying “This is how we maintain our reputation and relations.”

My car is still awaiting a new motor for the ‘power window,’ eight months after I was assured that it would be done in a week. My son’s lap top is with the service centre for the last two months awaiting arrival of a mother board or father board or whatever that was defective. I have paid a considerable sum for ‘additional warranty’ on both these and am yet to derive any benefit out of it. When this is the state of the world I am living in, I just can’t help expressing my heartfelt gratitude for Mr Keni and wishing “may his tribe increase.”

PS: I have no particular interest in trying to increase the population of our already over populated country by my wishes. When I was in high school, we had a poem which began “Abu Ben Adam, may his tribe increase! Awoke one night from a dream of peace!.” It was one of the very few that I have been able understand till date. I liked the phrase for no particular reason and have tried using it when I got a chance.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Going Bananas!

“Oh god, this banana and the bird story once again”

Please don’t clutch your head, curse your destiny and the day you started looking at my blog. I am not saying anything about the banana and the bulbul. I posted this picture only to share the pleasure of looking at home grown bananas. Mind you, the pleasure will be only of LOOKING AT and not eating.

We cut this bunch and hung it five days back and it is ripening now.

About a dozen is reserved for the almighty as our offering. (Gratitude for what he has given and inducement to give more).
A dozen for the lady who gave us the sapling. (You need a plant to get bananas. Right?)
A dozen for the neighbour who never talks with us but let the plant lean on to his compound. (Actually the bunch was hanging in his space on a flowering plant and spoilt it)
A dozen for a friend of mine whom we consulted about the right time to cut the bunch from the plant. (He made three visits and is our consultant)
A dozen for the other neighbour who was looking at the bunch hungrily every day. (If we eat it with out sharing with him we will get stomach ache – so the saying says)
A dozen for the family who gave us a dozen out of THEIR first bunch. (Good will. Return the courtesy)
A dozen for my in-laws who are leaving today. (very orthodox. 70+. Don’t eat anything prepared out side the house. They have a 18hr travel ahead. Both diabetics. Will eat only plantains which their physician has warned them never to touch)

People who know about bananas say that if a bunch is of good quality it will not contain more than 60-70 fruits. i have not counted the fruits. If our bunch contains fruits worth eating, I am not likely to get any. If I get any it is not likely to be worth eating. So, I am trying to be happy LOOKING AT it.

Friday, October 16, 2009


One of my friends is an elderly gentleman in his sixties but filled with the energy, enthusiasm and abilities of thirties. Confident. Always right. Knowing everything and no doubts about anything.

When I reversed my car into the roadside ditch and managed to push it deeper with my efforts to get it out all by myself, was looking foolish and helplessly wringing my hands - he came, he saw, got into the driver’s seat, moved and kicked all the levers and pedals simultaneously and brought it out in a minute. He also gave me a lecture about reversing and retrieving cars but I was not in a condition to absorb the knowledge.

When my neighbour’s toddler pushed a pea up his nose and started wailing, all of us were running helter skelter clue less as to the course of action, expecting the child to choke and die any minute. We were searching for the doctor’s number (which was nowhere around) and were attempting to remove the pea by hook or crook using pins, chisels and screwdrivers. Our man heard the commotion, strode in confidently, assured the parents that there will be no harm as the child can breathe through the mouth if only other helpful neighbours allowed it to do so, held the child upside down by it’s legs, patted it on the head and got the pea out. A lecture on safe parenthood and first aid followed.

Another friend bought something in the supermarket and the clerk swiped his card for Rs 20,000 instead of Rs 200. The owner of the shop brushed off the incident, quoted nonexistent rules and regulations and packed my friend off with an assurance that once the money is realized, the excess will be returned. Friend returned home meekly and spent a sleepless night. Our dynamite heard about it, pumped courage into the man, dragged him to the store by his collar, twisted the ears of the owner and made him cough up Rs 19,800 on the spot. A lecture on proper care and cautious use of credit cards followed, Along with an advice not to bow down to ‘dadagiri’.

I always wished I had at least a fraction of his dynamism, foresight, knowledge and confidence.

He and his wife were going abroad by an early morning flight and he had planned to drive to the air port and leave the car with a friend living close by. They had finished their packing and kept all the necessary things together so that there will be no confusion or rush in the morning. He had checked the car the previous day and was satisfied that everything was in order.
He opened the car door in the morning and called for a piece of cloth to wipe the mist from the windshield. His wife came out with the cloth and just then a gust of wind pushed the main door shut with the keys inside.
All the luggage, the documents, the tickets and the keys were neatly placed on the table. All the windows and doors were latched securely.

When I answered the doorbell at 4.00 in the morning, I found an entirely different person whom I did not recognize at all. His shoulders were stooping, face had shrunk, he was sweating even in the early morning cold and cursing himself repeatedly for his stupidity. He had the phone numbers of all the help – the carpenter, the fabricator, the lock smith and so on but everything was inside the house. The whole world was peacefully asleep, It was getting late and he did not know what to do!
As we usually do at such times we started going round and round the house hoping for a miracle. There was another gust of wind and somewhere a window shutter banged. We ran there and found one shutter open but there was the grill. I remembered that I had treated a man for tooth ache recently who had said that he was a carpenter. I managed to retrieve his telephone number from the haphazard entries of my day book. (I note the telephone numbers of all my patients but it never goes into their records). Just a few days back he had woken me up at three in the morning and so I knew he would not refuse my request. He arrived in ten minutes, removed the grill, entered the house and opened the door. The couple reached the airport on time and I was happy that I was of some help for them.

My friend was happy that everything ended Ok but was cursing himself for being careless and leaving a window unsecure!

I always longed to be like him but had a cheap thrill seeing him looking stupid and silly like me for once!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

No Thoughts

It is nearly two weeks since my last post. Once the final draft is done and the piece posted, the mind is free. It remains so, for three to four days. Then some sort of mental itch starts. It is time to start the next post. A bit of mental scratching keeps the itching at bay for another three or four days. But as days progress the itching gets stronger. I try to get relief by physically scratching the head and expect my action to produce some thoughts but it only produces dandruff and takes away some more hairs from the already thinning head. Now I really need to put in efforts to find something for the blog. I have noticed that I do get some ideas for a post when I am walking. There is some sort of a connection between my legs and brain. No, please do not conclude that my brain is below the knee caps like some sardarji’s brain. I am almost sure that it is in my head but somehow connected to the legs. So I walked nearly twenty five kilometres in three days. In fact, once I went so far during my morning walk, that I had to take an auto and come back home. The walking only wore out my sandals and worsened my knee pain. No thoughts.

Then suddenly out of the blue some idea got into the head and something started brewing. But some personal matter got into the gas pipe obstructing it and the burner went off. I haven’t had time to see what happened to the ingredients. They might have turned cold but I have not emptied the pot and am sure they are still there. Once the obstruction is cleared I should be able to cook up something. Till then, bye.