The Machines Fight Back, and I Lose!

My story begins in Oslo, which is a weird place. Beautiful, but definitely weird!

This happened on my first day there, just a little over a month ago (man! Where has the time gone?!) when my friend Ashi and I went to check out the famous Vigeland Park. I’m probably going to sound like a plebian to some people here, but I gotta say, I don’t get that park! The sculptures are just weird and it looked like the artist had a massive issue with babies, not to mention other things!

I mean… what the hell is this?!

The guy sure doesn't like babies!

Man kicking off attacking babies… erm…?!

And how scary does that baby look huh!?

Evil baby!

Evil baby!

Anyway… that is not what this post is about. This post is about my search for a toilet in this crazy park! You’d think parks come with public toilets, but not this one! Though the park had a couple of signs pointing to what seemed like toilets, all of them led to dead-ends and private office-like structures that were locked from the inside and showed no sign of habitation. I’d drunk quite a bit of wine before setting off on our stroll around the park and really needed to pee, so I was getting quite desperate for a loo and Ashi, sympathetically ( or cos she was laughing at me and wanted to hide it) walked ahead to ask other people while I looked around close by. Finally, someone pointed out to a structure around the bend up ahead and said we’d find a loo there.

I walked up there and saw the sign on the door with relief and ignored all the other  signs on it (something I would regret doing very shortly!). I opened the door, walked in, and no sooner had I closed the door that the toilet started ATTACKING!

THE Toilet!

THE Toilet!

There were nozzles in the corners that started spraying cold water at me, starting at an angle so it could reach me just at the beginning of my calf length boots, and working its way down to my feet. Obviously, I screaaaaaaamed like a banshee! Ashi heard me and panicked, yelling from the outside asking if i was okay while I was scrambling around trying to avoid the jets of water and simultaneously trying to dry myself using toilet paper (the only paper available in there, they didn’t have napkins). Then the spraying stopped, but it still wasn’t over!

I felt like I was inside a hair dryer! Air was now being jetted out from the nozzles, pushing away the water from the floor (and towards me). I tried to dry myself as best as possible with the TP and then dump it into the loo, but the toilet itself was fighting back as well!! The loo was now spewing out air!

So the long rolls of toilet paper that I tried to throw into the loo were flying out like streamers, with just the wet ends stuck to the seat. Try as I might, I could not stop the air, or flush the paper down or do anything really!

There I was, standing in the middle of a wet-now-but-soon-drying loo, dripping with what smelled like mild disinfectant, and fighting with the toilet to throw TP into it! I knew I was fighting a losing battle and just ran the hell out of there!

Poor Ashi was standing outside anxiously, waiting for me. Of course, I’ve never seen a person laugh as long as she did when I explained to her what had happened.

Turns out it is a paid toilet, one that cleans itself after every use. The person who used it previously hadn’t closed the door properly, so the toilet, in its limited intelligence, did not realize that a human being had already left. When I walked and closed the door, it assumed that that was when the toilet was empty and started the self-cleaning process. I had unfortunately become a part of it.

As I was walking out of the park, still damp, freezing and probably in the beginning stages of mild PTSD, Ashi chuckled and said “Well, at least it makes for a good story!”.

*grin*

I suppose it does, doesn’t it?

Advertisements

What Doesn’t Kill You…

I was possessed. By Pain.

That’s the only way I can describe the past couple of weeks. Stress from various aspects of my life settled around my shoulders and my muscles twisted in protest, and stayed that way. It was debilitating, the pain. I thought I was going to die from it! Never have I experienced something so crippling and relentless! At one point, I swear, I was crying to the Gods to just kill me and end it all (I know I know… sounds melodramatic… but you have not been through what I have, so don’t judge!). My body, like the rest of my life, seems to have a flair for the dramatic. It’s like my chiropractor said “your body… when it goes over to the dark side…. it goes really dark!” 

I was so defeated that one day I burst into tears at my chiropractor’s office, bawling about how tired I was of the damn pain and everything. She patted me on the head and said that I was letting stress get to me.

Dark and twisted… that’s me! *sigh*

I wasn’t even bothered about travel anymoreAnd when *i* don’t care about travel, you know something is terribly wrong!

But the good thing about me is… hope never dies! I’m basically a positive person (though sometimes the positiveness is buried in pretty deep). So though I had given up on life and was waiting for the sweet release of death and all that, I finally got a bit tired of waiting, and gave in. And I guess giving in helped release the stress a little bit… enough to make me get out of bed and do a little yoga… and try and begin to get in touch with the rest of the world that I was ignoring (and did you know, if you ignore the world, the world ignores you right back… very easily? It’s not very good for the ego, but there you go.)

Anyway… I’m a bit better now… not completely alright, but on the road to recovery. My doc’s asked me to take it easy for a while and not stress. I tell the woman that I’m trying, and that’s the best I can do right now.

So in order to make up for all that negativity in my life, I’ve got plans for not one, but two trips! One short, that I’m planning with the gang for the Eid hols, and another one for the end of the year, that I’m planning with a couple of girl-friends, one that I am very excited about (hurrah for excitement!).
Life is painful, quite literally sometimes… and right now, I don’t quite see the point of carrying on… but my damn positiveness has kicked in, so I smile through the  pain, and hope for the best.

Free Will

This incident came to me when I was reading this post by Scribblehappy. Seriously, go read the post! It says everything I want to on the matter. 

I remember once, I was talking to this girl I went to college with about abortions. She is a religious fanatic who believes that abortion is equivalent to killing and was actually sending out mailers and getting people to sign an agreement to appeal to the govt to make abortions against the law.

My opinion was that she was allowed to have her opinion and was free to do as she pleases with her body and her beliefs, but it shouldn’t be forced upon others. It was my body and my choice as to whether to abort or not. She disagreed, told me that that was wrong, that everyone who was pro-choice was WRONG!! That they were KILLING and didn’t know any better, and shouldn’t be allowed to KILL!

“What about if a girl gets raped and she ends up pregnant?” I asked.
“If God has willed it to be, then she should accept that! If she doesn’t want the baby, there are many orphanages or adoption centers she can give the child to.”

“So, you’re saying that not only does the girl have to go through the physical and mental trauma of having been raped, she should carry her rapist’s child for 9 months inside her and undergo the emotional and physical stress that comes with being pregnant and giving birth as well? And then once a baby is actually born, give it up to an orphanage, where what? He’ll become another Oliver Twist?! ”

Had she seen any of the orphanages to India? Did she know what the population of the country was? Did she have a clue as to how many children don’t have access to even the basic necessities in life, like clean drinking water or air, or a place to live, where they can feel secure? Do you know of the atrocities being done against children, one of the reasons being because there were too many children and not enough people to care for them? So many of them don’t go to school cos they are forced to work instead, don’t have a safe place to sleep at night and are literally starving to death.

“God will care for him” she said, a bit more uncertain this time.

Riiiight! 

That was the last I spoke to her.

We weren’t really that good friends anyway!

My Parents’ Home

For the longest time, I didn’t really see what the big deal was about visiting Kerala. When people talk about going there as if it is an exotic holiday destination I find it slightly amusing, considering it is my parents’ home and I’ve always gone there as a kid during summer vacations.

Of course, when I went as a child, it basically meant spending half my time in a white ambassador, being driven around from place to place and visiting countless relatives and giving them “gifts from the gulf” (just call me Santa Claus! :P). I was used to getting pinched on my cheeks and them asking me if I remembered them from when I was 2 yrs old (I didn’t,duh!).

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself ! My grandma lives in the middle of a sleepy little village, in an old house with a lovely large verandah where you can sit and watch the heavens open up during the monsoon rains! The raindrops fall thick and heavy, and I used to watch the the earth soak it up and then overflow into puddles and little rivulets of brown water that eventually get soaked up by the thirsty trees. Guess that explains why the place is so vividly green!

The front yard was shaded by huge mango and jackfruit trees  and there were lovely bushes of jungle geraniums, hibiscus and fragrant jasmine flowers bordering the yard. Beyond the border was a tangle of wild trees and bushes and I was asked to never venture out there on my own (for fear of snakes!).  The flora and fauna spilling out of the place was amazing! For a kid who lived in the desert in a tiny little apartment where the view had nothing more interesting to offer than sand coloured buildings and parked cars, this was all very fascinating!

We had all kinds of fruits and vegetables growing in our “garden”. My aunt used to pluck pineapples from the heart of the thorny shrubs and make me the most delicious pineapple juice ever!  It was thick and pulpy (yeah, I like pulp!) and sweet as honey! I used to be on a steady diet of fruits there – jackfruits, custard-apples, guavas, rose-apples, bananas, mangoes… oh! the mangoes!

My granma’s sister who lived up the hill (a 2 min climb away) from her, used to have a little vegetable garden where she used to grow fench beans and tomatoes and chillies and root vegetables like yam and tapioca. She used to potter around the garden in the mornings after breakfast, to figure out what to make for lunch! I used to follow her around, see her pluck the fresh veggies and turn it into a lovely meal in the afternoon – delicious!

We used to keep chickens and rabbits and goats and cows, not to mention dogs… and I used to “help”  take care of them by “walking the goat” and trying to milk the cow (didn’t work!).

It doesn’t feel like that anymore when I go to Kerala. I feel quite the outsider – the stubbornly-single, independent(said in a bad way) girl whom everyone immediately places as ” not from around here”.  The endless questions that intrude on my personal space and defy the bounds of social norms – Why are you not married? Why is your hair brown? (! ! Born that way?!) When are you buying a car for your mother? (Why the hell would I wanna do that after the way she drove here?!)

We have a flat in the city now, which is where I spent most of my annual 2-week long trips there. Things are very different now.

But I get why people want to go there I guess. The place is beautiful, in a wild, untamed way. The beaches are still lovely,  the weather is balmy, the food is as amazing as ever. And the monsoons still beat down on us like it always used to.

I guess the major change then, is me.

monsoon in kerala

Desperately Seeking a Silver Lining!

So you know about how I’m car-less now right?

Okay… so the insurance company gave me a replacement vehicle to use for while my car was recuperating – a zippy little hatchback tiida.

Two days ago, I was driving out of a crowded parking lot (what is with me and parking lots?!) when this dude in a land cruiser  backed into my car.

Yup! There I was… in another accident! I couldn’t believe my luck! I mean… I’d just gotten this car!

I was so angry that I started crying! I just sat in the car and bawled like a baby till the cops came! I then morosely explained to the cops what happened (it was the other guy’s fault obviously, so he’ll have to pay for repairs) and just waited for them to write up the report and give me my green paper ( I get a red one if it’s my fault).

I was an hour late for a meeting, but didn’t want to cancel. I hadn’t had lunch, and was famished after my sobbing episode. So on the way, I stopped by Starbucks and wolfed down a four-cheese melt with roasted tomatoes and a toffee-nut latte. I think I ODed on the cheese thing… felt a little sick afterwards… but that didn’t stop me from eating a bar of kit-kat later that evening and dining at Ping Pong with the gang!)

Okay… I think we’ve established from the above paragraph that I’m a stress-eater! :P

Anyway… I’ve been feeling a bit wary about this year, which is no surprise, considering all that has happened (a lot of which has not been mentioned here!) and I’m trying  to come to terms with the fact that this is just the beginning!

Earlier today, I read a line somewhere about how people who pray are fundamentally optimistic, and hence, happier people. I can’t remember exactly when, but I’ve stopped praying for a while now. I’m not sure if that means I’m any less optimistic ( not sure how optimistic I was to start with!) but I think it makes sense to leave things with a higher power. If I can’t control it, I’ll leave it to the Big Guy to deal with! So, less things for me to worry about… and my shoulders will eventually thank me for relieving them of the unnecessary burden. At least, that’s what I took back from the article.

And it makes more sense than the traditional methods of prayer I’ve seen many people do where they’re like ” God, I will pray to you for an hour everyday and offer the temple/church/mosque half my salary/an arm and a leg/my kidney etc if you do this for me”.

There are no conditions with prayer! There are no bribes or threats! You pray for yourself! For your relief. For strength to get you through the crap that the Good One has decided to dump on you for whatever reasons. In the hope that someday you will be able to look back, connect the dots, smile and say ” Duuuuude! You da Man!” :P

Let’s see how this works shall we?!

The title for this post was inspired by this book