Friday, March 12, 2010

You Can't Win Them All

Sleep had evaded me. It was cold, the charpai was uncomfortable, and those darned Bollywood tunes went on all night. Sounds of life chirped and chattered around us, but I lay in bed. A bell ding-donged softly, as if someone was hitting a metal plate with a spoon. I sat up, witnessing a pink sunrise peaking above the distant hills. A marvelous 7 am. Let the day begin.

The morning chill was soon replaced with comfortable warmth as we went about our morning duties. The position of our home is such that we can see everyone and everyone can see us. As I brushed my teeth a tractor heading to NREGA work passed through the dirt road in front of us. A few girls grinned in recognition. A boy shouted “Hi!” I shouted back, “Ram Ram!”

Yet another afternoon of Baneda shopping ensued – a buck, a broom, more candles, lots of vegetables…we hoped to have a hearty dinner tonight. Yet we all know that hope is a dangerous thing. In our case, hope died a merciless death in the form of a leaky kerosene stove.

At first, it only leaked from one place. We tightened the screw and after 15 failed attempts finally managed to get the flame going. Boil water: check. Make poha: check. Eat poha with great relish knowing it could be your last meal of the day: check.

By the second time we need the stove, the onions, potatoes, and green peppers were chopped, waiting for the all-important flame. Unfortunately, the stove remained adamantly nonfunctional. Nand Ram came up and assisted us with the light connection. When he discovered our culinary predicament he took the stove outside and pumped it vigorously. Kerosene poured out of who knows how many orifices. He opened the bolt where the spring was attached. Half the apparatus clunked in the metal cannister. Our machine was officially broke.

We poured the extra kerosene back into the cannister. Maybe the Baneda shopkeeper will give us another one...I doubt it. So our dinner was chopped raw veggies. With salt. I was angry, disappointed, definitely frustrated. But negativity never did any good. At least our energy-saving CFL bulb was working. You can't win them all.

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