To start with, neither do I live in any place called ‘Sitlapakkam’ nor is this based on a place that might be called so. I picked up the name just because it sounded sort of rhyming with a
The last couple of days, the weekend I was waiting for, so that I could catch up with some well-self-earned rest (read “sleep”), ended up me being restless and sleepless. Thanks to the electricity board, especially the way (Do they have a way? It is more like random experiments!) they go about doing those “power cuts”. Most part of the day on Saturday left me gasping for breath as the heat seemed to be creating a vacuum at ground level. The trees too seemed to be facing the same predicament and they remained static. Ironically, when I moved in to this apartment, the most appealing part of the option was that there are so many trees around; there is one just outside my bedroom balcony and another on the other side of the road. It was like “trees… trees… everywhere… not a hint of breeze to feel”. And it remained that way the whole weekend! The house broker had promised that this area has “a lot of important people” and so, whenever there is a power cut, the power supply would be restored immediately! Ah, they are good candidates for being Candidates. Anyway, the trees cheated me and the “important people” had mysteriously moved out from this area – the EB probably knew their movement and decided not to restore the power supply.
The power cut actually starts with a taunting game of phase-switching (or whatever it is called).
“Since you anyway have three phases, you can live with power on only one or two of them, right? So, we decide to play around with them. Ok?”
And so, it starts with making you move from room to room to sit under the one fan in the house that would work. And then, suddenly, there will be a complete shut down. You sit patiently doing more than one of the following: wondering “what is happening?”; cursing “them”; commenting that this is all due to the changing climate (“you know that Kodaikanal is very hot now? The silver falls has become dry?”); wondering if you could call the EB and enquire (I googled and found that they themselves had asked, quite interestingly, “During Power failure, whom I should complaint?”);searching for all the magazines to fan yourself; busily scratching and slapping yourself as a result of the mosquito bites… yes, that brings us to the mosquitoes...
Mosquitoes come in the complete package deal when you opt for Chennai. No amount of burning those coils all around you or switching those Rani Mukherjee’s those-that-even-work-with-open-windows mosquito repellents will help you. I missed to contribute the last time we organized a blood donation camp in our organization. The gods probably decided to punish me! If not for the eventual loss of blood, your arms and biceps would be well developed due to the frenetic fanning and slapping and scratching routine. Mosquitoes are supposedly attracted to sweaty bodies. Here is the uncomfortable equation:
(1) Chennai -> Welcome, mosquitoes
(2) Power cut -> no fans -> sweat
(3) Sweat -> Welcome, mosquitoes (as proven already)
(4) Sweat -> open windows hoping for breeze
(5) Open windows (sounds paradoxical, right? ;) ) -> Welcome, more mosquitoes (based on (1) )
(6) Sweat -> Welcome, more mosquitoes (based on (3), (4), (5))
(7) Power cut -> not even the marginal help from Rani Mukherjee’s mosquito repellents -> Welcome, more mosquitoes
(8) Power cut -> irritation
(9) Mosquitoes -> irritation
(10) Power cut -> #@^%#$ (based on (1) to (9))
Nothing more to prove! Q.E.D.
Ok, back to the taunting game. Just when you sit furiously fighting nature in the various forms as described above, you suddenly find light at the end of the tunnel… or rather in some room. With an exclamation of “Ah! Thank God!”, you pick up the mat and pillow and walk sleepily to a room where the fan has started rotating with a moan and as the light bulbs keeps flickering due to the low voltage. But “they’ decide to continue the game… a few minutes, and that phase looses supply. Move back to original step of waiting patiently... cursing…scratching… till some other phase lights up, only to go off again in a few minutes.
Well, I had to go through this stuff for hours (and days)! In between these phases of phase-switching, there were a few moments when I could not even utter the “Ah! Thank God”. The power supply would go off even before I could acknowledge it!
There I was, waiting for the heavenly power to arrive! A few dogs were barking here and there. Are dogs too the target of mosquitoes, I wonder? The sound of the ubiquitous “mosquito bats” from across the street. They sound like diwali sara-vedi’s. A child crying somewhere in the neighbourhood. And then silence. Not sure how the mom forced the kid to sleep. How do people manage to sleep in this condition anyway? I wonder, as I wait sleeplessly. Lost in all this, I suddenly realized that it’s been well past 2 in the night. And no sign of power being restored. May be this is how the sailors in the past felt during their long trips on sea: “Where is the land?”
God’s delays are not His denials. So, finally the power supply was restored, though it was past 5 in the morning and already bright outside. Not sure if the Sun woke up early due to mosquito bites. Slumber sweet….. WAIT. It is not the end of the story. A couple of hours of sleep, and then, yes, the power cut again! This time, instead of the mosquitoes (which had fortunately gone to sleep after a mega feast) it was the blazing sun that added to the discomfort. So, I remain, sleepless…
Disclaimer: Any resemblance to any area called Sitlapakkam is a coincidence, but not unintentional. No animals were harmed during the making of this blog (coz mosquitoes are not considered ‘animals, right? :) )