Landline Telephony.

This post has been inspired by this fascinating report in The Guardian. Having used these Phone Boxes any number of times during my visits to the UK, I can relate to the writer’s take.

I have a landline connection from BSNL. I have had the pleasure of using this number since December 1990 when we moved into our current home and it is a simple number to remember. I have two instruments, one fixed and another with a portable handset kept conveniently close to my recliner chair.

Unfortunately however, except for one friend who too has a landline, nobody other than the phone company ever calls this number.  Many of my friends who used to have landlines have surrendered their connections for various reasons.  I use it to call landline numbers of shops and establishments from where I need some service but, even these are simpler to reach through my mobile phone.

Cable TV, WiFi providers, water conduits and drainage chutes all fight for underground space and inevitably, the landline telephone cable gets cut repeatedly and it takes for ever to get repairs done to it and so, most of the time we are without a landline connection.

I have been nostalgic and am also more comfortable with the landline but, the sheer convenience of the mobile phones and the fact that most of the time the landline does not work, has made me also to reconsider my position. So, I tried to approach the BSNL to surrender my connection but find no way of doing it online and perhaps will have to go personally to their office to do so. I am however determined to get it disconnected one way or the other.

Are you still using a landline telephone? What is your experience?

The Weather.

For the first time since I started to live in Pune thirty two years ago, the summer season has forced me to instal an air conditioner in our drawing room.

Two factors are cited the foremost being global warming / climate change and the deforestation on the mountains that surround our city. The cool breeze that used to come down from there, has disappeared and now we are paying the price for that folly.  We get hot winds instead.

The past two weeks have been particularly bad as apart from the heat, in the high thirties low forties during the day, humidity has been high for our plateau climate and that has made it more uncomfortable for us. Dry heat is less debilitating whereas the humidity saps one of one’s energy.

As I write this, it has been over cast and the high has been 38 deg C and forecast to be 25 deg C during the night. Humidity at 51% is very high for us.

As my readers know that I am a Pluviophile and I am impatient for some heavy downpours. Our monsoon season that normally starts by early June seems an eternity off.

How is the climate where you live?

Six Degrees Of Separation.

All of us know about the famous Six Degrees Of Separation. This idea was proved to me by a series of coincidences.

I received a phone call from a gentleman, let us call him HP from my community. He spoke to me in our common language and syntax to establish his credentials and introduced himself as the cousin of a cousin twice removed from me called TM. HP said that TM had given excellent reference about me to him and that I was sure to be of help to him. I have not heard from TM in decades but was vaguely aware of his existence in Mumbai. HP came straight to the point and asked if he could depend on me to find out some details about a young man from Pune where I live too.

The enquiry was to establish the suitability of the young man as a prospective groom for HP’s daughter. This is not something uncommon in India where arranged marriages are the rule rather than the exception still. I said that I would try my best to find out about the young man given some time and then the discussion took on a different character.

HP wanted to know about my background and when he heard that I had spent most of my working life for a particular company, he was shocked and informed me that he was the cousin of a gent called TR who I had known too, and he wondered how someone like me could have worked in that company. He informed me that TR had been unfairly dismissed from service by the company following which he had died within a few years. I had not known about this as I was not in Mumbai where all this had happened and had already left the company to pursue other interests.

I was however intrigued and called up some old colleagues to get the story and was given the correct story about the dismissal.

The intriguing part of this tale is the degrees of connections that came up in the form of relatives, albeit distant and ex colleagues.

Remarkable isn’t it?

Food, Exotic Sweets.

For those of you who do not know, I am an Indian with roots in Tamil Nadu. Yesterday was Tamil New Year Day. Rather than go through the hassles of making a traditional sweet to bring in the new year, I decided to get something that my daughter in love would not have ever had before. Since my late wife had her roots in Andhra Pradesh, I decided to get something that she had liked very much and had ordered for it well in time.  The goodies came from a village called Atreyapuram and are called Putharekulu.
The rolls that you see inside are not tissue paper but, look like it.  They are sheets made out of rice and this video will show how it is done.

The version that I procured contains different types of sweet stuffing and one of them exclusively dry fruits.

Incidentally, as I write this, it is Bengali New Year. My daughter in love is half Bengali and half Maharashtrian. The Bengali half, her mother, is with us to celebrate both the new years. She in turn has made a traditional milk / vermicelli sweet dish called Payesh for the occasion.

These are the most satisfying treats that I am having after a very long time. Brings back many memories including one of actually seeing and helping in making putharekulu being made at my late wife’s maternal home. And the Payesh is the icing on the cake too! Total bliss.

An unusual Family Tale.

I have known KS and his younger brother DS since my school days.

KS is a year older than I am. He worked in many jobs after schooling and brought up two sons to the best of his ability. The elder son Surya, did extremely well in his studies got scholarships and graduated from one of India’s top IITs with a B.Tech degree and like many of his contemporaries emigrated to the USA where he has flourished. The younger son Chander was able to graduate in humanities and got into the Civil Service with a Chennai posting where he has provided a home and care for his father since the death of his mother ten years ago.

DS on the other hand, failed to get through his matriculations examinations despite three attempts and became a seaman in the Merchant Marine and disappeared from India after a big showdown with his father who had scolded him for not studying enough. His parents and KS gave up all hopes of ever seeing him again some fifty years ago.

I received a phone call from KS yesterday to relate to me the following story.

DS landed up in Chennai some days ago and after much searching using all possible resources was able to locate KS and called on him two days ago. It was a grand reunion with much emotional scenes and reminiscences which went on for a few hours. It turned out that DS had settled down in Europe after getting married to a European and is now a citizen there. He has apparently established himself well with his in-laws and now manages their family business.

Chander hurried home from his office after a phone call from his father about the visit of DS and met his uncle for the first time. It was soon time enough for DS to depart and before he did, he told KS “You are very lucky. I wish that my son was like yours.”

Chander overheard this and became very emotional and at the door as DS was leaving hugged DS and was in tears. DS consoled him and asked him why he was crying. On Chander telling him that he was crying because he was overwhelmed by the praise he received from DS about wanting his son to be like him, DS without thinking said, “I was talking about Surya who has done so well in the USA” and left.

Naturally, Chander was inconsolable with the snub. It took many hours of comforting from KS and Chander’s wife before he could be pacified.

KS wanted to share his own angst and called me to vent on.

I too was and continue to be amazed at the thoughtless comment made by DS. Had I been in his shoes, even if I had originally meant the comment about Surya, I would have used the opportunity to praise Chander for looking after his father in the latter’s old age etc. I suppose that such thoughtfulness does not come easily to people who have been away from the family for decades.

What would have been your response had you been in DS’s shoes?

No, I Am Very Much Alive!

The day before yesterday was Makar Shankaranthi. It was also the birthday of a now 72 year old ex colleague of mine KPS,  from Ahmedabad.  A very dynamic young man when I had first met in 1972.

I sent a birthday greetings to him on WhatsApp and expected a thank you response from him which did not come the whole day, nor was WhatsApp showing the blue ticks showing that the message had been seen by the recipient.

It had still not been seen yesterday morning. I was beginning to get worried as people of my age do when messages do not get responded to.

I rang up again at 1.00 PM when to my great relief he answered but when he found out who it was calling went almost into a shock as he had received an Obit Notice about my demise just last week from some other ex-colleagues still around. I told him that I was most decidedly not calling from Vaikuntha and that I was very much alive and kicking. I also chided him for not responding to my message and two earlier phone calls when he answered that he was busy with Makara Shankaranthi matters. This little clip being the most significant part of the festival and which had kept him occupied.

He was flying kites!

Later in the evening he sent me a message as to how the confusion took place. Another ex colleague with a name very similar to my surname but of two first and surname had died last week and all of us got the obit notice about his demise. Since KPS read the notice without his reading glasses and rather absentmindedly, he had mistaken the notice to be for me demise.

 

Has anything like this happened to you?