Monday, 15 January 2018

Water in Agra

After a day long sightseeing in the ever present dust and smog of India, I decided to take bath after reaching the hotel. I got into the bathroom but I could not take bath immediately because the hot water took time to come out of the tap. Upon asking to the reception it was told that the hot water side of the tap needs to be kept running for about three minutes or so. It was a waste of water but winter is cold everywhere. 

When the hot water started coming out of the tap, the rituals of bathing began. After the soap which refused to leather was applied, it was time to rinse it. When the water was got in contact with the hair with soap, the hair became hard and bundled up instead of becoming the other way. The water tasted weird too. Even the eyebrows stuck together in a white sticky mess. Applying more soap and water worsened the condition, implying that it was the soap and water that was the main cause of the problem. 

When pthe room service came it was confirmed from the waiter that the water in Agra was like that. He said that Agra is famous for two things Taj Mahal and its water. The later one I had to experience it first hand. Only shampoo can be used to wash the hairy parts of the body but not soap. I learned from experience that soap used for washing clothes could be used for taking bath as I saved myself from the sticky mess using a remnant of Rin soap that I carried to wash clothes. 

Brushing the teeth was another problem as the water would leave a bad taste overpowering the freshness of any toothpaste. Unexpected rinsing of the mouth would make you throw up. I do not know about the purity of water with regards to the germs but it looks clean and the content of the minerals is confirmed. Other then the bottled mineral water I dared not drink it. 

Next time if you are planning to visit Agra, to have a closer look at the Taj Mahal be prepared for the water flowing through the tap. Other then that the monument itself is breathtaking and worth a visit. It evokes a sense of awesomeness and it would make you overcome with amazement with its beauty, the geometry, the symmetry and intricacies of the design. 

The not so beautiful surrounding enhances the beauty of the Taj Mahal and it stands out like a lotus flower in the muddy water. The view from the rear, from the other bank of the Yamuna river was awesome and less costly. 

The two lovers whose carnal remains occupies the center of the Taj Mahal, would not get a peaceful rest anytime soon as thousands of people throng the palace everyday to have a glimpse of the mark of the man’s love to his wife. The tribute of the powerful and wealthy to his beloved, standing the test of time and personifying ‘I love you forever’ of a single person but not forgetting the sweat and skills of each individuals involved in building the monument ages and ages before.   

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Layers of security - check in.

The initial fear was that whether the tickets were really confirmed. The booking was done online and I have a severe trust deficit for the online thingy, perhaps due to seeing so many fake stuffs and websites lurking in the virtual world to pounce on innocent and gullible people. The website that booked my ticket, was however, not fake as I got my boarding pass. 

The way till the boarding pass was a zig zag path made in the hall with a portable tape. The barrier marking the zig zag path was not threatening or strong but not a single person tried to cross the barrier as the followed the queue towards the counter. The line moved one or two steps at a time. 

In the first counter it was just a visual and speculative security check of the luggage. I was asked whether I was carrying and sharp objects and whether the bags were packed by myself. My negative and affirmative answer respectively must have satisfied the security person or I did not looked like a nasty person that I was let to go after a customary visual scan. 

Another shorter queue had already formed near the counter where the boarding pass and the luggage were weighed and checked in. When my turn came I handed over my passport. 

“What time is your flight?”

“At twelve o’Clock.” I have seen that in the email I received and that time was the base time, like h hour in military, where all my movements were worked backwards and started my journey from my apartment. 

“Which destination does your transit flight go from Moscow?”

“India”.. after realizing that that answer must be too broad, and it might threaten my boarding pass I narrowed in and said, “New Delhi.”

When he was about to handover my passport along with boarding pass back. Something struck him about the visa. 

“Where is the visa for India?”

“We do not require visa to visit India.” No I was not going to give him lectures on why Bhutanese do not require visa to go to India and vice versa. Neither am I going to tell him about the SAARC countries and the agreements there off. 

Obviously he had never heard of Bhutan before. His ignorance wasted my precious couple minutes, thank god I came there well in advance. He tried to call and confirm from his supervisor. In the mean time I also told him that I have never heard,  rather known up-close, about  Israel before I came here. There are many countries that we do not know and we club them together in big mass as continents. 

I would never want to know the exact location and differences between Slovenia and Slovakia just as I would not delve deeper into Estonia and Croatia. But when people behind boarding pass desk does not know it and wants to confirm it, it hurts. I am sure I wasn’t the first Bhutanese to travel through Tel Aviv, I maybe the first Bhutanese to get boarding pass through him. 

Finally I got my boarding pass and proceeded to for final security check and to check in the cabin baggage or the hand baggage. The bags were sent through the x ray machines and I passed through the metal detector gate. After that I had to find out the gate, mine was B3, before going there I had to go to the line of machines to scan my passport myself and I guess photograph was also taken simultaneously. They called it biometric machine. I must have scanned three times because the success signal was in Hebrews in red. I cannot read Hebrew and red for me was not successful. After three flashes of camera lights from the robot I could find the language option for English. It was too late I already scanned thrice. 

In the last counter with the final obvious question - “Where is Bhutan?”  I mounted on the travelator, being too lazy to walk and proceeded to my gate to wait to board the plane. 

On the travelator I was thinking that a insignificant man from an insignificant country was provided an opportunity to see the world and to contribute to the peace keeping mission of the United Nations. As we travelled you see the world and more than that a person behind the desk, going nowhere sees you and the country through the passport that you are carrying. 

I am sure that he will google up ‘Bhutan’, later during his leisure after he finishes with the levels of the video games that he was busy playing behind the counter. He got a real quick thumbs. I use my index finger. The difference between writer and the gamer, I guess. 

I will be always taking flights without videos and TV screen as this provides me time to have a power nap and a time to write such rubbishes. 

Friday, 29 December 2017

The Dutch, Argentinean and Slovenian Flu.

“I was down with the flu”. I messaged to explain the long gap, without messaging. This is the age of connectivity. The world had become smaller due to availability of so may apps to keep in contact with the people. There used to be a time, not long ago when I was away on course in India, I had to queue up near the PCO, a public telephone booth, to make a call and keep in contact. Now the PCO, or better than a PCO travels with me in my pocket.

“Even after taking so many vaccination shots….” , My son remarked. True to his remarks, before coming here I got vaccinated for so many deadly diseases. Left shoulder, right shoulder, left shoulder until I finished all the doses. Some were painful some where not. After couple of shots, I could watch the needles going through the skin, into the muscles and the nurse emptying the syringe filled with concoction into blood streams. But flu was not fatal.

I have suffered from flu before, but I have never experienced the flu like this before. I don’t know whether it was Dutch or Argentinean or Slovenian flu. I would, however, prefer to call it Dutch flu. For I was sure that I got it from a Dutch colleague of mine. We travel in same car, windows all closed and work in same office. It was the Argentinean guy who was first struck with the virus. As suddenly as he was struck, he was alight. Then it was the Slovenian guy. He was not cleared for quite some time. The Dutch guy was the last one to catch it before he delivered the virus to me.

The back aches, as if I was carrying a heavy load the whole day. Even lying down does not help the pain subside. It is accompanied by funny fever. Funny because it shifts from hot to cold in a matter of moments. One moment you feel too cold and you wrap up with blanket over the warm cloth and the moment later you feel too hot that you have to take off everything. I guess the virus disrupts the thermostat system of your body. There was headache and sore throat and general feeling of malaise. The occasional cough would send a severe jolt of pain, if you try to clear the throat. It was so painful to clear the throat that you would prefer living with a lump in the throat; discomfort was better than the pain when there are so many other pains to deal with.

Back home, I used to believe in letting the flu go away on its own without medication. But this time, it being a different kind of flu, a Dutch flu, I was willing to have any type of medication. Side affects or any affects were not going to bother me, I just wanted the flu virus out of my body. I didn’t know whether it was virus or bacteria, nor did my friend in the hospital, as he prescribed me couple of tablets along with antibiotics. I started munching the tablets the moment I came out of the hospital, for the faster affect. My body was dying for weapon and ammunitions to fight the virus. I was trying to provide it, as fast as possible trying to skip some normal logistic routes.

After two days, I felt weak but the general feeling of malaise was gone. The medicines did its job. The flu started to leave, leaving behind a great lesson. I can appreciate what it was like to be healthy and without pains. I can empathize with those people, having unexplained pains in hospitals and at home. It made me thank god, for sparing me the same and providing me with occasional-lesson-teaching-Argentinean flu.

My Slovenian friend who was still in the process of complete recovery, drops by with a big grin, no not to make fun, but happy to have someone who can feel and understand the pain he underwent or was still still undergoing. We seemed to have suffered from the same kind of flu that comes with the backache. Oh wait, was it Slovenian flu that I was suffering from?  

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A View from a Park Bench.

In the land so alien,
Its reputation notoriously blemished
By the media and feud around;
I landed here with much caution.

Three scores and a week passed.
There are pockets of peace and tranquility. 
In one of those pockets, I dwell.
Mission - to preserve peace. 

I sat on the empty park chair,
I looked at the settlement near and far.
The town so virtuous,
My eyes seeing beyond, obvious. 

It was between darkness and the light. 
People were returning from their toil. 
The ornamental plants swayed 
In the gentle breeze. 

Red roofed houses with fruit trees,
Without a noise from within 
Or a honk from a cars.
Silence, never punctuated.

Galilee Sea, I could observe,
Reflecting the first early star.
Land, sea, land and sky afar. 
In a natural array, it cascaded.

Footpaths, equaled the road’s breadth.
With palm trees and chairs, interspersed,
Remained vacant and exposed.
Yet adding flavor to the splendor.

The street lights with fading sun’s ray,
Gave a mesmerizing hues to the view
Artist would have picked up his tools,
To immortalize the vanishing sight.

I being neither artist nor painter,
Camera would have done the easier trick.
But I try to paint it, with the words.
But abstract art, it is not.