Mohan (April 15, 2009)
Mohan is from Singapore. His parents were Indian and they left India before he was born. So Mohan looks like an Indian, except that he doesn’t speak Hindi. He works for a gas company and is here on business for a month or so. When we met on the way up to the Kalinga Hotel restaurant we said hello and both recognized that we each spoke English. He was very happy to find someone he could speak to. We went up to the roof top restaurant (it’s non-veg) and shared a dinner together of tikka chicken and beer while we watched the rats crawl up and down the pipes. We talked about everything including his experience in India which he said made him cry for the first time in his life. He had travelled all over the world working on various projects but India, his ancestral homeland was unlike any other he had seen. The poverty and suffering touched him in a new way. As well he had run into a succession of bad luck, such as being ripped off and what we called Delhi Belly, but in Barmer I guess we can call it Barmer Belly.
Yesterday I was taken to what was going to be my new accommodation. I was told it was only a couple of kilo meters away, walking distance to the office. Well, just as Indian time is not related to Western time, so it is with distance. About seven kilo meters out of Barmer we turned into an empty sand coloured compound. A row one story cement rooms lay to our right and another directly in front of us. We went to look at one the “apartments”. It had a small entry room with a bathroom attached on one side and a kitchen on the other. It was being painted and the painters spared no concern about getting paint on everything that didn’t need paint. So while the walls were a pleasant sand coloured yellow, the floors, kitchen counter, and bathroom walls and floors were speckled with numerous drippings. I was told that they were going to put in a western toilet, a fridge, a bed and a wardrobe. But all these things would leave very little space to move. Also, because of the distance from town and markets, they said I could use the “company” motor cycle or take the bus which runs every hour. I didn’t say anything at this point as I let the whole idea settle in. Also because I think they were being very sincere in wanting to get me a comfortable accommodation. So I let it go for then.
When we got back to the office I was told that there was another accommodation right next door and I went to look at that with a few of the gentlemen around. It was a school for the blind and we walked up to an open terrace which I was told I could sleep on. Then we walked up to the roof top where it was indicated that I could stay there too. Just an open roof top, no shelter, water, electricity, anything. I wasn’t sure what was going on.
That night I slept on a mattress in the office. Some of the guys brought in water cooling machine that fans a cooling mist of water into the air. It worked fine until it ran out of water in the middle of the night and then only supplied hot air. I found a bucket in the WC and filled it. A bucket was not the right thing to use as I spilled a lot of water onto the rug in the process. But I was not concerned with this as I knew that it would be dry in a few hours, due to the dry heat.
Today I will discuss finding another accommodation as well as getting VSO India to kick in some rupees so that we can find a more accommodating place in Barmer. Then I will make train reservations to go back to Delhi to get a root canal. Oh, I didn’t mention that did I?
"Room service? Send up a larger room." Groucho