Posts Tagged ‘Panduranga’

Rat. Parkour. Kitchen.

by Pam

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Last night there was a rat in the kitchen. He didn’t have the long slithering black Manhattan-trash-pile-on-the-hot-summer-night tail that makes me want to scream and pass out; he was more like a giant-sized field mouse. A Beatrix Potter creation with soft brown fur who would have been perfectly at home sitting on a pin cushion reading the newspaper. But still, he was a rat, a five-inch long disease-carrying rat… apparently built on springs.

The rat launches himself from the table, bounces off the back of a chair then flies to the window five feet away, scrambles up the blinds and disappears. By now my screeching has gotten Phil’s attention: “We have rats !” I shout, as he hurries downstairs. “Rats – BIG rats,” I point at the window blind.

Phil grabs a paper bag, I grab a cow whip that the maid laughed at me for buying. I whap at the blind while Phil stands ready to catch the varmint in the bag. I whap again: nothing. I open the blind then let it roll open.

Phil sees a shadow dash into the kitchen on the other side of the room and shouts, “Fucking hell, that’s a huge rat !” We run into the kitchen just in time to see him slip behind the fridge. Phil muscles the fridge away from the wall. The rat darts across the floor to the water cooler. We scream like seven-year old girls.

I smack the water cooler. The rat flies over the microwave to the towel rod below the cupboards. He scampers the length of the cupboards. When he gets to the stove he leaps three feet to the window, and scurries to the top of the blind. Cow whip – check. Bag – check. He peeks at us over the top of the blind, and we’re pretty sure he’s laughing, great peals of silent rat laughter, because this is hilarious. The two of us are doubled over, howling.

After seeing this rat in action, both of us know we haven’t got a chance in hell of catching him. It is impossible not to be impressed. He may be the most efficient being we’ve seen in this country to date, the first creature who appears to know exactly what he’s doing (in this case, evading his captors), and is going about it in the most ergonomically streamlined way possible (see “parkour” in the Wikipedia; or watch the opening sequence of Daniel Craig’s James Bond movie, “Casino Royale“).

I tap the blind and he launches himself from the top of the window into the sink full of dirty dishes. He bounces from a soup bowl into a saucepan, then tumbles over a tea cup. Our kitchen has become an Indian Tom & Jerry cartoon, a live rat theater production of Ratatouille. He escapes and we can’t stop laughing.

Phil and I look around the kitchen. “Of course we have rats,” he says. “Look at this place.”

Dishes in the sink, trash on the floor, food on the counter. The maid doesn’t really get the whole “clean” thing. She is great at mopping the floors, but seems to be baffled by things like glass counter-tops and emptying trashcans. She’s nearly as bad as I used to be at doing the dishes directly after dinner. Phil and I have trained ourselves not to complain about each other, so we forget to complain about her.

The maid and I need to have a talk.

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We Like The Baby

by Phil

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Our maid’s 12-year old son Harish grabbed my Canon 5D and started shooting, but only after he thrust his 6-month-old baby nephew-with-no-name into our arms. The baby is like catnip; whatever you ought to be paying attention to (like the whereabouts of your camera or whether you left the stove on) goes right out the window when that baby is in your face. This is no accident; we believe that this is a deliberate maneuver. And one of these times soon we will see it coming. These are some cute kids man.

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This is Not My Beautiful World

by Pam

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We wake to the shrill grinding sound of rebar being cut, in the construction site just outside the window. That sound is soon overtaken by the cacophonous grind of a cement mixer, which is again overtaken by the crashing gush of a truckload of rocks being emptied onto the construction site. A cloud of white rock dust presses up against the windows. This is not my beautiful world.
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The construction site next door is active from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Thirty sari-draped women balance trays of wet cement on their heads while a dozen half-naked children play in the mountain of sand. Another twenty or so barefoot men scoop rocks and bend rebar and are digging six giant pits in the red earth. They are building a three-story shopping center. From my dining room window this looks like an archeological dig. I have just found out that the construction will take one year. Huge buzz kill.

We chose this place because be could live like Columbian drug lords for what a one bedroom apartments costs at home, and because it was a quiet sanctuary away from the Bangalore choking traffic and relentless noise. Now, we may as well be living in the middle of the road. Every surface of our house is coated with grit. I’m beginning to suspect that this is why the owners have chosen not to live in their dream home.

Pack your earplugs and dust masks and come for a visit!!!

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Harish, Baby-No-Name, and Sai Baba.

by Phil

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Harish is the 12-year old son of our 30-year old maid; baby-no-name is her 6-month old grandson, the son of her adult daughter (not seen in these pix).

Harish is on summer vacation, visiting his mother here from his school-and-village-and-ashram at Puttaparthi. He is being educated (programmed ?) by Sai Baba’s system there, and is full af wondrous tales of Sai Baba’s miracles: “Sooo many miracles, Uncle! He pulled 3 tons of lingam from his mouth! And if you dance really, really nice, Uncle, he will put his hand to his chest, and a golden chain will appear for you!”

Sai Baba has undoubtedly done well by his followers here in India, numbering 6 million or more: hospitals, infrastructure, water, food, and schools like the very one that Harish attends (worldwide numbers are hard to verify but have been stated to be between 5 and 50 million). However, he is also under the shadow of many scandalous accusations involving murder, sexual abuse of children, and plain old trickery. We can’t help but wonder if Harish’s innocent and enthusiastic good looks may lead him somewhere bad; and we also wonder where else he might otherwise be. It’s a tough problem. Despite the persistent accusations, Sai Baba is fairly untouchable here politically, due at very least to his tremendous number of followers in India and around the world.

As for baby-no-name, it is apparently not uncommon for the Hindu people to wait from 12 days to up to a year to name a newborn child here; at some auspicious date during that time, there will be a naming ceremony . I kind of like that idea: give the child some time to make his essence known, and learn what his name wants to be, rather than immediately impose a name that is more arbitrarily determined.

The BBC has done a thorough exposé of Sai Baba, check it out here.

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Our Loveless Kitchen

by Phil

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You remember how gorgeous our house is ? Here is the one exception: our kitchen, the most lovelessly executed room in this otherwise beautiful dreamhouse.

It boggles the mind, for a Californian, to see a kitchen like this: small, mean, gray rectangular room, fluorescent lights, meager stove and sink, cabinets little more than chucked at the walls, sharp edges everywhere, and no ornament at all. Where we come from, the kitchen is where the cool people hang out at parties; it’s where PIE is made; people talk and commiserate and chop veggies and zest lemons; wisdom is passed on, and life is lived. It’s the heart of the house.

This upper-class Indian home starkly reveals a different mindset: the kitchen is for somebody else. All the assumptions and attitudes that follow that single statement are distasteful to put into words; and thankfully, there’s no need: it’s all expressed pretty effectively in very structure of the house.

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Our New Neighbors

by Phil

They arrived at midnight and fired up the machinery. It was deafening, and the smoke was toxic. This was the view from our front porch.
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And just for giggles, here is the same photo, “in miniature,” after using some post-production tilt-shift trickery:
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