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Tray of New Gods
I used to be an obedient stand –behind- my -wife kind of sender of prayers to our Hindu pantheon of Gods. I admit in the beginning it was my entire fault. Everything that went wrong with my life was my fault. Still my Gods did fail me. They made other people millionaires and not me, why? They say Mongol genes are running rampant in ninety percent of Asia’s population. So maybe Ganesha does not approve of my Genghis Khan chromosomes. Anyway things are not working.
I came to this northern city chasing an IT dream. I must admit I have a good job and a good wife. Things froze at that. I am caught in a strange vortex of infrastructure failure. It’s my fault. Why did I live in cities where things worked? Getting bad habits is so easy.
Now people hate me for complaining about the lack of electricity in Gurgaon. “Grow up man, this is part of life.” My work is all deadline based. My life depends on the internet. Some senior manager got netted in by the beautiful legs and smile of a senior executive of a new Internet provider company. I have to work now at a snail’s pace as a consequence because the net (pun intended) result has been bad. My lap top gets all heated up because of the hot cabin I sit in. It just shuts up.
I decided to change my Gods. The old ones were not working.
“What are these things in the prayer tray?” asked my wife. Let me explain the prayer system. Incense is burnt in the tray and an oil lamp is lit. Then the tray is swung in a circular motion in front of the pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. There is a deity for each of our demands in life. These deities are as human as real people to Hindus having heard very interesting stories about Krishna, Ganesha, Shiva, Parvati, Rama, Sita, Laxman and Hanuman. The mythology exists in two books read by every devout Hindu-The Ramayana and The Mahabaratha. Today there are numerous television plays enlightening viewers about stories of these great Gods.
My wife’s question reverberated in the prayer room. ‘What are these things in the prayer tray?’
“The God of Electricity represented by my old voltmeter and the Internet God represented by photographs of Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, the Fathers of the Internet.”
Immediately there was a Schism in our home. She immediately pulled out her Gods from the tray. Now I understood how religions split into rival factions.
“At least give me that one tiny Ganesha’ I begged her
‘You are a heretic. I will make a report to our Punditjee (priest)’ my wife said.
I put my Gods on a separate tray and burned some incense. That day the internet ran with the speed of lightning and there was no electricity failure.
This is it. I am forming a new religion. People will flock to me. I surveyed other pitfalls in my life. My bank account! Lakshmi was unhappy with me. I clipped out an old photograph of Warren Buffet and put it in a tiny frame. This I placed on my tray of new gods. As an after thought I added Mukesh Ambani and Azim Premji. Next day I got bonus shares from all the companies I had invested in. This was working.
I was the new Messiah. I had seen the light.
I could fix any thing with my prayers. The population! I should fix the population. I stuck a family planning red triangle on a cardboard and placed that too on the tray. My wife looked at me. She thought I was going mad. I remembered Joan of Arc. She too was scoffed at but made a saint after her death. I went to sleep happy. I liked the idea of my beatification.
Alas my world came crashing down next morning. ‘I’m pregnant’ said my wife. I looked at the red triangle in disappointment. The Sensex lost a thousand points the same morning. The color red flowed entirely through my holdings. The office generator packed up just after the net stopped working. I took out my old booklet of Hanuman Chaleesa and my string of 108 beads.
“Jai Hanuman Gyan Goon Sagar—-.” Just then my boss walked in. He admired my stoic nature in the office. I was praying in the disastrous situation while others were wailing and crying at the lack of electricity and the internet.
I got that long pending promotion. I threw away the volt meter and respectfully stowed away the photographs and the red triangle. My place has been restored behind my wife in the prayer room and the infidel tray thrown on to the scrap heap.
So what would one do if there were no electricity on a Sunday? No television. Lots of time on hand and you are all alone. Breakfast without a coffee machine and a blender. Boil an egg, make a sandwich. What next? Read a book.
Mow the lawn. Do not have the energy today. So? Still no television. Meet some friends. Might lead to some heavy beer drinking and eating. Really have to shed some pounds.
Make something interesting on the gas? Frozen food on the gas? I really do not know real cooking. I have no fresh vegetables that I can chop and perhaps make a soup with some chicken thrown in. I’ll eat some ice cream.
Now what? Still no television. The internet is knocked out. I have the laptop to write a few pages before it too gives up the ghost.
I have to step out. A cool summer breeze. The sun is behind some clouds. I will sit down under the big tree in the lawn.
Mr. Jones too walks out. “No television,’ he says. It is the first time we have actually talked to each other except for the occasional ‘how’s it going?” etc. etc.
He is a chess fanatic. I do have some moves in me and he brings a folding table and a chess set. We sit and play all afternoon under the shade of the tree. This is a big breakdown. Mobiles are knocked out too. So no one knows what has happened any way. Mrs. Jones brings us lemonade and chicken sandwiches and she sits down on the lawn near us. She asks all the questions about me that must have been pent up for a month. Where is Lina? Where are the kids?
I tell her that Lina is designing and helping re-decorate her parents’ house and the kids are with her and they will be back today.
She, I am sure does not believe me.
It is five in the evening now. I have somehow blocked Mr. Jones in the last game and he is scratching his head when there is a roar of a car in my driveway. It is Lina and the kids. The chess game is abandoned and I help pull all the stuff from the car and into the house. Mrs. Jones helps too. The kids are really flummoxed by the lack of electricity. They just cannot believe it.
At last everything turns on with a thump, the refrigerator, the television and the air conditioning.
Could I really have survived another hour’s power cut? God knows but I sure had a great day out in the open. Mr. and Mrs. Jones too loved the picnic in my lawn. I am sure we will be better neighbors because of the power failure.