Following a rapid sequence of events which would make great fodder for another, exhilaratingly long blog post, I’ve ended up in India again, this time for a few months. Of all the god-forsaken places, I’ve ended up in Coimbatore. Don’t get me wrong, CBE is not that bad. That’s why our family decided to build a house here. But that was sixteen years ago. Now, it’s no longer safe, with all the thefts and murders that have been going on in the neighborhood the past few months. It’s extremely crowded and cramped, and empty properties are fully encroached upon. (Note that I’m comparing it with a CBE of fourteen years ago. Which is impractical, I know. But this is just a rant.) It’s not pleasant, beautiful or welcoming anymore either. Well, I almost take back the pleasant part because the weather is still kinda great; I give it another fifteen years.
Many things have changed from fourteen years ago, when I actually lived here for two years. My school, for example, was a reputed one at the time and had difficult entrance exams that made it hard to get into. We had multiple state rank holders and a great bunch of teachers that made the school desirable. But one year, for some reason, the management changed. And the whole establishment went downhill from there, and took with it the wonderful Arun ice cream store that was so strategically placed right near our school. The school still exists, the store has since disappeared. It’s apparently the last school anyone would go to now. It makes me very sad every time I drive by the school.
And then there’s the long arm of a certain political party headed by a certain learned tamil poet, which I really do not want to talk about here. Let’s just say, Kejriwal should be doing some digging around in the area I live in.
I encountered a new device that I was very fascinated with when I came here a couple of years ago for a visit.The tamil engineers have finally invented a deadly weapon for the nighttime terrors that are the blood-sucking mosquitoes. After Tortoise, Odomos, Mortein and the like, we have the mosquito bat, popularly referred to as The Kosubat on the interwebz. It is a worthy opponent to the buzzing mosquitoes, and Tamilians particularly enjoy trapping the the pesky, pregnant creatures in the futuristic, electric field that is present in these racquets, with a quiet, murderous satisfaction. What better than killing the future generations along with the females? The mass killing of mosquitoes in every home does not seem to have deterred its breeding though, or helped it evolve into some kind of mutant killer resistant to electricity the same way they started resisting other chemicals. Another victory for engineers, yay!
What is surprising is that this kosubat has not incited the wrath of the animal welfare organizations in the city, which jump at the defence of every rat, pig and horse.When I say horse, I’m not exaggerating because there are stray horses in the streets. Yes, really. Stray horses. See. Infected stray horses, pregnant stray horses, wild stray horses, meek stallions, and cute foals.But stray horses, nonetheless. And if you say a word against being attacked by any one of these(oh yeah, they attack you), you will be fined, cracked down by PFA(or any other organization you could think of), and even arrested. As a result, the stray animal population has increased by manyfold. This also includes dogs infected with rabies that have bit many people and killed a couple. For some reason, there are no human rights organizations here.
Had I been a part of a human rights organization, I would ban brushing teeth in public. But citizens here take brushing in public to a different level. Every morning, between the hours of 6.30 and 8, I see men of various levels of wakefulness walking into stores while brushing their teeth and walking back with milk/something-or-the-other/Cadbury Fruit and Nut today, in a span of ten to fifteen minutes. The fact that I physically cannot stand the smell of toothpaste, the sight of that foaming at the mouth or the flavor Wintergreen makes it even worse. The entire world is a giant smokescreen for these people who, I take it, have never looked into a mirror while brushing their teeth. This also holds true for those who walk about indoors. So, kindly refrain from brushing your teeth away from the sink in my presence and I promise I’ll be nice to you.
Something else that seems to be totally normal and acceptable is the use of vehicles carrying speaker cones that blare out advertisements for shops being mispronounced by the men in the vehicle. I have not heard of any other place where this process is a part of society. When a new store opens up, there are advertisements and freebies, of course. But today, yet again, at 8am, I heard someone in an auto inviting everyone with their servants and pets(are you even allowed to speak like that?) to the neighborhood shop because it’s friday. I’m not sure how their profits are affected by this kind of advertising, considering it sure as hell makes no sense and creates a lot of disturbance so early in the morning. Seriously, is this commonplace now?
Yet another troublesome thing that happens constantly is how the tv loses signal when it rains. Granted, the dish is on our roof, but it still pisses me off to no end even though I watch about 30 seconds of television a day. Of course, Murphy is awesome. Every time you watch something super interesting like the great climax of a Sivaji Ganesan movie or Arnab Goswami yelling at a panelist, your tv goes bust. And when you expect it to go, it’s crystal clear. When Nilam struck, dad watched tv all evening, what with IAC’s third expose and all.
Not only do I get text messages about every new plan Airtel has, I’m also constantly inundated with phone calls about phone schemes and extra “credit” into my account. This, in addition to texts about what “sale” Jet Airways has or how many electric cookers and sewing machines I’ve won. Telling Airtel on the phone that I’ve already told them multiple times to not call me about promotions never works as every time, there’s a new person calling and they have no idea that I’ve already told them not to call. Where would they find someone who can add an extra field for comments in their database? Telling them in person to not call produces same results. So I’ve resorted to more devious ways of not talking to them. Nothing intimidates Airtel employees as much as the English language. Every time they call and say, “Madam, naanga Airtel office-larendu call pannarom”, I reply, “Err.. I’m sorry, I can’t understand you.”.
Invariably, after two seconds, the reply I aways get is, “Ok madam, wull call you back later.”
PS: I don’t hate Coimbatore, I just don’t like it very much.
PPS: I do not live in the heart of the city. I’m in the outskirts, on the way to the famed Marudamalai.