I went for my first ride on an Enfield Bullet (no I didn’t drive it). I was in Balotra at Vishal’s family home to celebrate his 24th birthday. Vishal gave me a tour of the town on the Bullet. It’s a heavy bike and sounds like a
That night Vishal’s brother Parinit took me out to visit Valley View, a local development project that his younger brother Tarun helps to manage. Tarun couldn’t take me due to his having jaundice. The development was a collection of neatly spaced octagonal shaped one room little houses that people could buy or rent. There were several dozens of them all laid out nice and neat. There was a central meeting place with two pools, one for gents and one for ladies, a restaurant and other facilities. That night there was a draw to entice buyers. When you purchased a cottage (for about ten thousand CDN) you received a coupon that could win you a prize, like a car, motor cycle, TV and so on. Lots of people were there and of course a large buffet was being served. The stage was brightly lit and numbers were being called out identifying the winners. I had just met the owner of the whole complex when one of his staff asked me to go up on stage and pull some numbers out of the bucket. So I did. I was introduced to the smiling crowd, and in the mic I said my best Namaste to everyone before I picked out two sets of numbers. Riding back to the house on the Bullet in the cool night air was absolutely divine.
I got a call from Chanchal who told me that I needed to pay my electric bill. But I didn’t have my electric bill I said. Go get it from the landlord, says she. So off I went to find Sonul my landlord at his shop Krishna Textiles where he gave me the bill which was due today. If I didn’t pay it now I would have to pay a hefty late penalty. Could he please give me the bill when it comes, I asked, but no, that’s not how it works. You see when the meter reader comes to the house, he prints out a bill and if you’re not there to take it, he gives it to a neighbour. The neighbours hold onto it until they remember to give it to the house owner my landlord, who then calls me at the last moment. The bill was for 7,152 rupees for the past two months of power. (divide by 40 for CDN $) I didn’t have that amount on me or in my bank account, and VSO India had not paid me my salary yet so I was up the dune without a camel. So off I went to my bank to draw upon my credit card like I’ve done before. But alas, today the ATM there decided to refuse my request. It was very stubborn and ignored me several times. So I went to another bank’s ATM at the train station, which was broken. Even so there was still along line in front of it. I always check first before getting into lines. Finally Vishal, who was now into helping me, found another ATM which was working and which recognized my card and so I was able to withdraw 8 grand. Then off I went to the Chemist shop (that’s where you pay your electric bills) and paid up. That whole process only took four hours. All in a days work.
Street Cleaning and B-Ball
I found a shovel in the organizations garage and brought it back to my house. My street has been dirty as there is a house being constructed across form me and the sand and mud has been washing all over the road due to the rivers of rain that come now and then. So with my trusty rusty shovel I bent over and pulled all the dirt back into a nice pile. Of course when ever I am out, my neighbours look out to see what I’m up to. They came out of their houses and smiled (and laughed) at my work. Meanwhile, I’m thinking that I’m setting a good example of cleanliness. Stop laughing. So a few hours go by and I hear some kids at my door calling me. About three young teenage boys are holding a blue basket ball and are asking me to come play with them. My friend Michael Rosenkrantz in Delhi, an avid, no crazed basket ball fan, who bought a b-ball to play with the slum kids during our in country training days, would never forgive me if I didn’t go play with the boys. In any case, I wanted to so off I went to the nice clean area right in front of my house. Oh my, a clean place to play in, see that my good neighbours! We passed the ball around and soon many other kids came to join the fun. I made sure the girls had a turn too as the boys were not throwing the ball to them at first. Later on they started to include them as well. As we were passing the ball, they each started to tell me their names, and slowly pronounce each syllable for me, allowing me to say it aloud. For one or two of the girls, who I couldn’t pronounce their names, we all just decided to call them Monkey. Everyone got a kick out of that. I’ll have to do the name routine many more times before I can remember them all. For now I’ll just call them all my little monkeys.