Mail a Fide

Two Hour Letter Posting


If you are homesick and thinking of coming back to India, think again. Arret! Stop! Achtung!Parada!

 My printer’s ink cartridge was stolen (yes of course this can happen too when you are here) by some good for nothing person. I had to send a letter urgently. It was a Saturday. Post offices close by noon on a Saturday.

Why did I need to send a hard copy? It was a government department and their email address was defunct. Reason? They cannot handle so many emails. They would also get trapped because then they would not be able to deny having received the letter.

I typed out my letter and mailed it to my email address.  Now I had to go to a cyber café and open my mail and print the retrieved letter. Unfortunately there is only one cyber café in our locality. The owner of the shop depends on his helper to open the shop. The gentleman decided on that day to come in late.

I made two trips to the market. I lost one hour in that. Finally when the cyber café was open the two computers were already occupied by some internet surfers. I waited twenty minutes to access and print my mail. While the letter was being printed there was a power failure. I looked at the café helper. ‘Don’t worry back up will kick in.’ I sat there not worrying but worrying despite his smooth command. Finally, of course I had not brought an envelope, my fault. The stationer seeing a morning prey refused to sell a single envelope. I had to buy a packet of twenty envelopes which I am certain will last me a life time.

I got into my car. Someone had parked behind me. It is a paid parking. The attendant searched for the owner and found him eating samosas in a nearby shop. Finally I could get out. Lo and behold a traffic jam. Two gentlemen of whereIknow not were disputing their rights of entry and exit. I decided to take the long way around and reached the tiny post office which I am sure only the neighbours and I know about. There are no signposts anywhere marking its existence. It is a secret post office.

I began writing the address on the envelope at the Speed Post counter. ‘Hurry up’ said the lady, ‘I am closing in two minutes!’ I scrawled quickly.

‘Seventeen rupees’ she said peremptorily. I gave two tens.

‘I don’t have change.’

I dug through my wallet and came up with the exact amount. Time of mailing 11:59. Why Speed Post? It has a tracking number and you can check when the letter was delivered to the government department so that they will not be able to deny it.

Sadly, they did deny it. They told me to sue them, glared at me and sipped at their sweet tea.

You are welcome ladies and gentlemen to a country where you are helpless against red tape. You are just a human body existing in a limbo land of despair and apathy. You have rights but you have to fight for them every time you step out of the house. Welcome to India. The system works only for bureaucrats, civil servants and politicians.

Power less on Sunday

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.