Too much rain means sausage overdose

Too much rain means sausage overdose

Once in a year or two, nature’s massive heart beats. In 2017, it was in September – three days of incessant rain made for an extended drum-roll of a heartbeat. The life-blood of this planet coursed through every proverbial vein and artery. Everything was washed and renewed, and much was destroyed. A few mountainsides were swept away. Some trees realized they were too old to live. Some innocent birds and their hatchlings went with them. As humans we attempt to understand and explain such events from our various perspectives of insignificance. First through religion, and now through science.

But in our life here in the mountains, the main consequence of the extended downpour was an extreme consumption of sausages. You see when the rain happens at this scale, the power lines somewhere snap, needing days to be repaired.  So if you have a freezer full of cold-meats, a binge automatically starts. It helped that a friend and his daughter were visiting, although only one of them ate meat. We don’t have full power backup here – just a solar inverter. One evening we discovered that a wire from the solar panel had come loose, and that night was spent by candlelight. For the grown-ups it was vaguely nostalgic, but for the kids it was a complete picnic with Sausages and Salami completing the experience.

The impact on life was bigger than just sausages of course. A boring old mountainside was suddenly transformed into a gushing waterfall.

 

Our landlord, neighbour and general provider of everything, Mohan da, normally collects water in two large tanks. He then pumps the water upto the overhead tank. But with the power gone for three straight days, he was unable to pump the water up. So the overhead water tank was soon empty. That meant no water in the taps, flush tanks or geysers.

We had to fall back upon a more mechanical and primitive lifestyle for a bit. The first day we skipped bathing. The next day we filled up buckets full of water and lugged them up to the bathrooms. Our maid got a 10 litre can of drinking water from the natural spring. We lit the chulha to heat the water in a tin container. My friend and his daughter too jumped into the rustic experience with much glee, blowing into the hot coals of the wood fire with a pipe to keep it going. It was a fun spell while it lasted.

This winter nature has continued with its ways, and the same boring old hillside is now covered in snow. The humans struggle to understand and explain. And a few of us simply accept and enjoy it. I see the snow as nature’s way of asking us to chill.

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Us Vs Them : The Selfie Stick divide

Us Vs Them : The Selfie Stick divide

It makes people argue, revile each other, demonstrate extreme intolerance, and sometimes resort to violence. The world seems split by it. No, not religion. I am talking about a much more rational divide – the selfie stick.

You either hate it or you love it. Spiritually an atheist, in this case I naturally gravitated to the anti-selfie stick side.

I know people who own the mechanical misery, and some are alright. They probably see me as this otherwise normal guy who – strangely – hates selfie sticks (SSs).

And while normal, I can’t wrap my head around owning one. Even when I was heading out for a long motorcycle ride alone through remote Himalayan countryside (see https://uncityblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/ladki-beautiful-kar-gayi-chull-at-15300-ft/ ) I refused to buy one. I asked my community of fellow mountain-dwellers if I could borrow one (strangely, that was okay). Nobody in these parts had one so I made do without it.

This strong dislike needed more clarity. I could feel it but couldn’t explain it. I reached out to fellow SS haters, and asked them to explain their dislike for the Vexatious Wand.  The responses ranged in vehemence, eloquence and cuss-words. Kamal described it’s use as “This stupid obsession to capture everything with one’s faces front and center, or in an “artistic” corner of the frame”. My brother Vikram called the SS the “staff of Narcissus” and it’s users ugly. A grudgingly tolerant Roy Abraham* said “If humans, who are clearly still very work in progress creatures in terms of evolution, need the crutches of a selfie stick to celebrate life or themselves, I’d say let them have it. Even if they appear a tad stupid holding it.”

But my friend Bret Waters was the one who nailed it. “It’s selfies that I hate.” He wrote “We live in a world of narcissists. The dictionary defines narcissism as “excessive interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance”, and I’m pretty sure that taking pictures of oneself all day fits that description. The camera is meant to be pointed outward, capturing the amazing world around us. Spending the entire day with the camera pointed the other way is psychotic. Selfie sticks are simply an extension of this (pun intended). I hate the fact that if you go to any tourist attraction today people are not soaking up the natural and cultural monuments around them, they’re focused on using their selfie sticks to capture images of themselves. It’s bizarre. E.g.  Yesterday we were at Strawberry Fields, the John Lennon memorial in Central Park in NYC. Instead of treating it as a memorial to quietly reflect, people were swarming all over it, adjusting their selfie sticks to take pictures of themselves. It’s weird, and it’s disrespectful.”

I saw the light. It made perfect sense that none of my uncity neighbours have an SS. No narcissist would choose to live 50 miles from the nearest half-decent salon or beautician or mall. Although I know this avid trekker – city girl – who always gets her eyebrows done before a trek. Go figure.

Now, I am mostly pretty accepting of personal freedoms. Using the SS is a personal decision. Of course there are arguments to be made in favour of users of the Pitiful Pole. Maybe the users are just super self-sufficient or fiercely independent. Maybe they are natural-born historians who like to chronicle everything visually and the Blasted Bestiality helps. Or certain situations – say paragliding – demand its use.

Whatever.

I still don’t like it. And if I see you use one, my instinct might be to ding you on the head with it. After all, I am not the Pope. Not of any organized religion, anyway.

*The guy who wrote this post, along with his more tolerant friend Roy Abraham are hosting the Himalayan Writing Retreat next month at a gorgeous Himalayan locale. It is a selfie-stick free event. You can learn more at https://uncityblog.wordpress.com/retreat/ .