Sunday, October 21, 2007

and time runs still

Villagers are exasperating if you are talking numerical facts. What is your name, gives you an accurate if reluctant answer, the person shying away, specially if you have whipped out a pen and notebook, as if the act of recording his or her name itself, is likely to see them in trouble.

But try asking, what is your age? 30, 35, 40, 18, 25, all by the same person, in a span of a few minutes.

What time is the puja? 7 pm, 11 am, 5 pm, 3 pm, 8.30 am, that was 5 different people with 5 different anwers at the same time, in the same room.

When is the feast? They are cooking for it now, today, now, it's happening, it's on Monday, it's tomorrow, it was yesterday. Again, 4 different people, same place, same time.

When will the electricity come back? In half-an-hour, after two days, at 10 am tomorrow morning, at 2.30 pm this afternoon, maybe never. You can't get irritated with them about this, though, because they really don't know themselves. Their power supply is apparently in the hands of an electrician, who turns the switch on or off, as he pleases. Sometimes, he goes home for lunch and an afternoon siesta, and takes the weekend off, forgetting that he has to go back and push the switch.

The farmers threaten to go and beat him up after the festival is over. Which festival is not clear, the one tomorrow, or the one week after, or the one in the next month, or the next year, or the one that was meant to be last month, but is being celebrated now, because the police permission for the procession and immersion has come in only last week.

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