Spontaneous Generation - Oct. 27th
We’ve been trying to set-up Pratap’s apartment for a week now. Sue hasn’t wanted to stay here. Now I understand why. The place smells like a sewer, the toilets don’t work, and the power doesn’t work. However, lunch for two nearby at the Tibetan-Chinese restaurant "The Rice Bowl" costs 166 rupees ($5), and includes a high-class beer.
This evening we moved into Pratap’s place. About 9 PM Sue opened the fridge and yipped. I spent the next 10 minutes chasing an entire cockroach farm. The biggest one was about 4 inches, and when I finally got him out of the fridge and onto the floor, I grabbed a bottle, and whacked him. The bottle broke, and out poured some corn syrup, and a dead 4" leech. Then the cockroach woke up, and I had to sever him in two with what was left of the bottle. Sue calmly cleaned up the mess. The next morning I couldn’t shave, or shower, because of course no power was available.
Oct. 28th
Setting up the house in Indiranagar has become our first priority in life.
Any guess why?
Seat Covers: Oct. 29th
Sue bought car covers for the Maruti today. She went to three stores. The first one was for 3500 rupees for something resembling white terry cloth. The second store had the usual collection of fashion crimes, brown, beige, flower prints, and vomit-green. The third store had hundreds of options, and after some discussion, Sue chose a blue sea-wave pattern. Then the work began: "I was escorted to the only chair in the place. There were 20 guys milling around doing the usual imitation of people looking busy. I asked how the seat covers would be made, and they said, "Don’t worry madam, half-hour madam." (Where have I heard that before...). Then a swarm of small under-aged children got to work. There was one child per door, and one child in the middle of each seat. The smaller the child, the more able they were to squeeze into the small places in the car. The children’s tools were the usual collections of 200 year old hammers, 10 year old shears that had been left in the monsoon for all their life, etc. - the kids started to snip, and then sew, and presto a half hour later - seat covers." Sue was given the obligatory white-woman’s Pepsi with a straw, to which she had the obligatory white woman’s response; take out the straw because it’s been reused, wipe the top of the bottle, and then proceed to drink directly from the bottle.
I heard my first Indian joke today. A chap comes into the sales room I’m shopping in. He is obviously a friend of the salesman. "I would like to buy a microwave oven." "Wonderful sir, now would that be veg or non-veg"? "Non-veg, of course, who the hell is vegetarian these days"!
KEB, the Karnataka Electricity Board has announced that it is cutting power 50% to all of Karnataka, (the state in which Bangalore is located). Stated reasons include, non-collection of fees for irrigation pumps, free electricity to KEB employees, reduction in hydroelectric power due to shortage of annual rains, etc. In 1995 power availability was 60% of requirements. The 50% cut reduces power availability to 30% of requirements. The KEB’s slogan is "We aim to provide better service". This claim suggests that in Karnataka power will be available in the next 5 years instead of in the next 10. However, the KEB has not approved a new power project in the last 5 years.
My friend Subramanian has been diligently working on getting Pratap’s place up-to-snuff. He’s replaced all the light bulbs (although without power this doesn’t matter much). He sent in a plumber to replace the "gee-zer"; after much inquiry I discovered that the geezer was the Indian pronunciation of geyser, and that a geyser was a hot-water heater. While replacing the geyser, the plumber fell and smashed the sink and mirror into smithereens. The next day we got a new sink, and the toilet was fixed. They replaced the mirror with a new plastic job, and hung the mirror so that Sue can just see the top of her head. I can’t see anything. After all of this work, and blood and tears, I’m ashamed that I can’t stomach staying here.
Today it’s more work on getting the place setup in Indiranagar. I’m exhausted from working, but I still have more HR work to do. Oh well, it's either work on the recruitment ad, or go to the banana show (600 varieties of bananas!). I am mostly working off of my four 1-hour laptop batteries, and my travel habits are now largely determined by where I can get reliable power. There is a story about a robot at MIT whose sole function in life was to wander the hallways in search of a power outlet, plug himself in, recharge, and then wander some more. I am that robot.
We visited the other Apple expatriate, Graham, last night and he was without power. His incredibly expensive 2.5 kv portable generator had failed, and he couldn’t get it to work. His house is huge, very modern, very clean and very new. He has a full oven, and four burners. I’m jealous. In his back yard, he had three 8-foot trees with lots of green coconuts. They looked like an old woman’s breasts, gravity being an inescapable force. Ravi laughed when I called them young coconut palms. It turned out they were mature papaya plants.
Pratap’s place and us have parted ways. Because power is non-existent, I can’t shower, because I can’t get hot water. Because power is non-existent, we can’t keep the lights on to keep the bugs away. Last night, after killing about 10 3" to 4" cockroaches downstairs in the apartment, I went upstairs to crash in bed, only to find a relative of the dear deceased on my pillow. After watching the cockroach do the four-minute mile on our bed, I grabbed the phone, making sure not to sit down anywhere, and made a reservation for us at a hotel. The hotel was recommended to as having "the cleanliness of the Oberoi (a 5-star hotel) at only a-third of the price". After a quick check-in, we went to sleep, safe and sound, while listening to a band outside playing "La Cucharacha, la cucharacha...."