Thursday, March 24, 2005

Gremlins

One would not expect inanimate entities like electricity or the weather to have a sense of humour, but trust me, they do, and they are forever playing practical jokes on me. In fact, one of the reasons I am here now is because of that great practical joker - electricity.

Now, if you are in Pune, you would know that there are these three-hour power cuts five days a week. We thus equipped our UPS to supply slightly more than three hours' power supply for two computers in the office. And well, the diabolical sonofanelectron ensures that it stays away from the circuits - four four and a half hours - till one (I switched off this one in a bid to outwit my aggressor), and then the other computer conks off, thus dumping a solve running on it. And then, when the cooling fans in the CPU come to rest, and my curses cease to bounce off the office walls, back comes the electricity, and don't tell me I was only imagining the gleeful cackle under the conduit wiring. That was when I ditched everything - for a while, at least (my bosses read this blog) - and turned to my Blog for comfort.

At home, the most common prank is in the form of a power cut when I've just entered my apartment with my packaged dinner. Then begin a series of chaotic events I have come to call "find the plates, candles and matchbox before the food becomes cold and soggy". I stumble over the odds and ends strewn across the place - shoes, books, newspaper bundles, the occasional cockroach trying my socks on, et cetera - attempting, in vain, to find the candles in the feeble light of the ancient Panasonic GD75's LCD display. I seriously think my candles are also involved in this little joke, because each time when the power is back, I think of the most logical place to find the candles, store the things there, and even attempt a dry run with the lights off, to see if I can really find them in the dark. After all this, the candles simply scuttle away on the backs of those cockroaches I mentioned, or roll off into the recess between the kitchen stove and the wall, or find a way to disappear into tears in the fabric of space-time, until my food gets cold and soggy.

After finally locating the candles, lighting enough of them around to be able to read (I cannot eat alone, so I always carry a book around to kill time and the taste of bad food, something that the waiters in the restaurant close to the office find very amusing) , I settle down with my latest novel, and try and chomp down the cold, soggy daal-chaawal and scrambled eggs which taste like the hen never, ever sat on them. And without fail, - and I am not making this up - when I have swallowed the last morsel with superhuman effort, I hear the familiar, contemptuous buzzing of the fluorescent tube just before it floods the living room with light, seeming to say, you fell for that again! How thick can you get?

Sometimes, just for variety, the power would go off unexpectedly, just before I press my office clothes in the morning (I finally got ahead of this one by joining a company where I am not required to wear formals), and after I'd selected the least wrinkled shirt, donned it, tried ineffectually to "rub" the wrinkles away, and finally preparing for the final sprint down the stairs and the screaming ride down to the office so I could swipe in on time, the power comes back just when I'm flipping the switches off.

And that is just one half of the story. Wait till I tell you about the weather. Oh, the weather.

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