Monday, May 31, 2010

Drama At Number 48

If you happened to be looking toward Delhi this afternoon and saw a mushroom cloud, I can explain...

I find myself at one of those times in life when everything changes quickly and one of the changes is that I am moving (more details on where, when and why later – for now, I am keeping things a bit on the DL). And like many things, what seems easy and organized well in advance becomes a nuclear meltdown in the last seconds without the benefit of having a single one of Charlie’s Angels around to kiss some serious ass of those who are suddenly all over my nerves. It all started when the landlords got word that I was moving. I told them, via a translator and even that seems to have gone completely in one ear and out the other. But, once they saw that I was separating things and using my terrace to organize boxes, suddenly my life turned into a market. I would catch them looking through stuff while asking “go?”

So today, just when I am about an hour or so from getting the last few things out of the house, they bring up the electricity bill which I have yet to pay. Yet to pay since I agreed with their son, via the same translator, that they could take out of the security deposit. No sense giving them money only to get a lot more back two weeks later. I thought everything was cool. Suddenly, the entire family is upstairs, claiming I have not paid rent, mad at me for selling my bed to someone else instead of them (not that they once asked me about it, mind you) and going through the last of my things, which I have promised to someone else, telling me I should give as a gift for their daughters wedding. As if they even know what to do with champagne flutes. And that is after paying the most rent for a year, having the least amount of privacy.  And the shopping went on.

“You keep?”
“I take?”

Each question accompanied with hopeful expressions as though they were holding the key to happiness in their hands and I was the only thing standing between them and sheer bliss. Who knew a dish drainer could create such joy? Or that an empty bottle of L’Oreal shampoo would get smiles and looks of longing so extreme, I could almost imagine her flinging her hair around saying “I’m worth it!” And while that was happening, their little dog was running around, jumping on everything and kept making a mess of things while everyone else decided they were thirsty from all the discussion of money and luxury goods shopping and started asking me for water. I had about seven bottles sitting out since my fridge had just been taken away, so I could hardly say no. I had visions of throwing the full bottles at them, but instead I yelled at everyone to get out, I did try not to yell, but nobody was paying any attention to anything I was saying. The only thing I have left is that they fear me when I get angry, it seems. That is only thing they seem to understand and understand perfectly. Don’t mess with the gora or he will cut you!

I finally got them all out and shut the door so I could calm down. A few minutes later, there was a knock and I opened the door to the question, “Face cream?”, which came from the son who can never come upstairs without asking for a beer, face wash, sunscreen, cigarette (even though he knows I do not smoke) or complimenting me on how young I look in what little English he speaks. “You very nice sir” is one of his more regular comments to me. He compliments my skin, my hair, my body, my clothes and it all just makes me so uncomfortable. Then the mother comes back up and starts shopping again. These are people who are complaining about two or three hundred rupees (about four to six dollars) and yet want me to give them everything I am not taking. They want the power inverters, and all sorts of other pricey electronic equipment, but they want it for free, as though I should give it as a gift to them for letting me live here with almost no privacy, paying 15% more rent than anyone else. Yeah, it seems like a good deal to me. It is that kind of “gimme, gimme, gimme” mentality that just makes me explode.

Anyway, it all got sorted and now I am just waiting for a friend to arrive and to get the rest of the stuff out of here and then I am off to the first stage of a new life and a new adventure…

Stay tuned... More details coming soon…

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wasp Happening

Picture it if you will, me, sleeping all peaceful and innocent like, visions of sugarplums dancing in my head interspersed with Glee inspired numbers breathtakingly choreographed around yet another perfect rendition of some song I pulled out of my very own show choir catalogue when the unthinkable happened. It was just before five this morning when suddenly I felt a stab in my arm. Maybe not so much a stab, more like a hot poker skewering my hand. I jumped up, turned on the light and there they were, the two or three wasps sitting on one of my pillows, just millimeters from where my face had been. As I took in what happened, I noticed that my room was buzzing with Airbus 380 sized wasps which seemed to have taken an interest in me. I pulled on some shorts and t-shirts and then the dizziness started. The room seemed to move and I noticed the sweat on my face and my body felt cold. I figured I knew what was coming.

When I was a young boy, I had been stung by a wasp and a minute or so later, I passed out cold. I felt this was what was going to happen again, but I didn’t want to collapse in a wasp-infested room. I decided I would try to go outside and put a bit of distance between them and I before I fell into an unconscious heap. It turns out I didn’t collapse, but I suddenly found myself outside at five in the morning, with no water to drink and no shops open and my whole body pumped up on adrenaline. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go home, and this being Delhi, nothing opens much before ten. Sometime before six, I spotted my landlord outside having a cup of chai and joined him while trying to explain about the wasps. Nobody in their family speaks English and I don’t speak Hindi, so I tried using hand gestures and simple words… “many bees… very many… make the sting, sting, sting… Ow, o wow…” which was received with a warm smile and calls for more chai. Finally I got hold of Lata who then spoke with the landlady in Hindi. The landlady for some reason thought Lata was talking about a bunch of cats that had come in the night. I finally dragged them upstairs and when I opened the door, it was like something out of a movie. It turns out, there was a nest in the small hole in the wall just under my window. There was another nest inside the electrical hole in the ceiling just outside my door and to make matters worse, another big nest I had not yet seen. Wasps were everywhere. So what does my landlord do? He takes a broom and starts swatting. Then he takes some newspaper and using a large branch, tries to smoke them out. The wasps were not having it started dive-bombing the place while I decided it was time to vacate the scene. An hour or so later, he called me back up and it seemed they had gone, so I went back to bed all wasp free… Or was I?

About two hours later, I head out to meet Lata for lunch and I see them, the wasps were back. They were already visibly rebuilding the nest that had been knocked down, and there were dozens on the wall next to the newly sealed off hole where their nest had been. So, I decided to take matters into my hands and bought some bug spray, came home this evening and let my inner Terminator run rampant. I sprayed a random corner hear my window and was SHOCKED when about fifty or so of them came bursting out. I had no idea they were there, obviously nest number four. I stood on my terrace and kept spraying, soaking down every nook and cranny and any wasp who dared cross my path, including the one that had the audacity to land on the front of my shirt, causing me to scream a bit like a girl and run back, stumbling on the floor, bug spray going out in every direction. But now, two hours after that ordeal, there seems to be not a single wasp near my place. I do imagine them, all lined up along a wall, binoculars pointed at my window, just waiting for the opportunity to make their move.