A few days back I sat at my home whiling away the 'destined' hours of darkness, it being our 'turn' (the 'turn' for load-shedding that is). The candle-lit room hardly seemed to belong to the twenty first century. In fact it could easily have been a room belonging to any of my ancestors in the medieval times. I was idly watching the looming shadows thrown all around by the flickering candle light (which can convert the most nondescript of rooms into a horrorscape!) when scenes from 'horror' stories or movies that I had ever read or watched crowded my mind! I tried to shake off the images but the gloom and the flickering shadows provided too perfect a setting and the images not only clung tenaciously but looked distressingly real as well! To make things worse, a dog howled right outside my window making me jump out of my skin; a stab of primeval fear went through me and the hairs on my neck stood up in fright! Immediately after I felt quite silly and looked around sheepishly, hoping that no one had seen me 'jump'.
There are no dragons and giants and evil spirits in real life, not in these times, I chided myself! I smiled as I recalled childhood tales of dragons and giants who would demand a human sacrifice every now and then with the whole population fearfully awaiting their 'turn'. I couldn't help drawing a parallel with the modern day 'descendant' of those dragons and giants, the load-shedding monster that we all present ourselves to by 'turn'! Only thing, I mused ruefully, is that invariably a dragon-slayer or giant killer would ultimately arrive on the scene in these stories and vanquish the monster, whereas no 'David' seemed likely to appear in our case to slay the 'Goliath' of load-shedding and save us from our 'turns'!
The very next day, however, the long awaited 'David' arrived on the scene. Well almost. It was my friend who breezed into my room while I was sipping my morning cup of the national beverage, Nun Chai – the Kashmiri salted tea.
"Nun Chai!" he said, gazing at my cup of tea with undisguised malevolence. "But for this our power crisis would be over!"
"Nun Chai? What has this got to do with power crisis?!" I couldn't quite make the connection.
"Well there was this engineer on the TV some years back – mind you not some low-rung still-green-behind-the ears upstart, but the Chief Engineer himself – who said so!" he asserted.
"He said that our power crisis is all because of this Kashmiri salted tea!"
"And how is that?" I instinctively withdrew the hand which had been approaching the cup.
"You see it takes ages to brew this tea and it is not unusual for that to be done over electric heaters all the day long. Imagine the electricity wasted!"
"Are you suggesting that we stop taking 'Kashmiri' tea!" I bristled at the blasphemy. This was literally getting to be a 'storm in the tea cup'! I was on the defensive now, being a connoisseur of sorts of the saline brew.
"No not that! Besides I am not the one who is saying all this. It was the Chief Engineer himself. The fellow is bound to be an expert on the issue!"
"Expert indeed! Since when did they include tea making in the engineering curriculum! How did this idea occur to him in the first place?1" I said as a vision of the Chief running around with a steaming cup of the 'Kashmiri' tea in his hand and shouting 'Eureka!' rose to my mind.
"Nobody said anything about giving up the 'Kashmiri' tea," he tried to pacify me. "The Chief had worked out a solution. He seemed to have put in a lot of research on the issue. It is said that he almost issued orders that henceforth tea should be brewed in pressure cookers. In fact the department was all set to printing the recipe as a supplement to the consumer card! The department was also considering installing pressure cookers in all homes instead of the consumption meter which has been a consistent failure anyway."
Well it did look like the worthy Chief had come with a permanent solution to the power crisis! A blissful picture of a 'turn' free future rose to my mind with a tea brewing pressure cooker whistling merrily in the background. Why the fellow deserved a Nobel Prize for adding a new chapter to the technology of power generation and what is more, for elevating the humble tea-urn to a status higher than that of the Leyden jar in the history of electricity!
But then it seems that the theory was not implemented (because of the volatile political scenario in the state probably!). But with genius like this the department is likely to come up with more power saving devices in future, like say rubbing your hands – and those of others as well – to keep warm in the winter months!
Innovative genius indeed!
(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at email@example.com)