Sunday, December 21, 2014

When The Going Gets Tough

I never realized before how much reading thrillers would come in handy.  Some days, everything that can possibly go wrong does, but then one can always remind oneself that things could be far worse.  Unlike my favourite detectives, I am not being chased down dark alleys, being shunted off to inhospitable cells, being shot at by men on horseback or attacked by ravenous crocodiles...

Today being a prime example.  I awake on this crisp clear Sunday morning to messages on my cell phone from the government teleservices - please change to one of three plans or your connection will be terminated tomorrow.  These messages began arriving at a gentle pace from Saturday afternoon and are coming in a faster, more frenzied way alternately in English and Kannada today.  I would be almost gratified at the trouble someone is taking to ensure my connection doesn't lapse if I didn't know that these are all computer generated, with a delightful programme that increases the frequency of messages as the deadline approaches.

Anyway, there's not much I can do.  The helpline number rings endlessly and no one picks up.  The website is filled with all kinds of details except how (and if) I can change to a new plan instantly online.  But... things could be worse.  I could come down with a migraine...  Well, now that I think of it, I do feel a twinge...

I put on my sneakers and the baby and I head out for our morning walk.  It's a nice day and being Sunday, there are even fewer walkers at this hour than the usual.  The trees are filled with little chattering birds, who are startled by our sudden arrival.  We are the first humans to tread this ground today.  Keeping a sharp eye for predators and spies (we see only one stray dog of a friendly kind, who doesn't really count) and fast moving objects of assault (namely the branches overhead which occasionally crack and fall to the earth), we move with our usual agility and speed, covering several centimetres per second.  We stop to look at the birds and smell the roses (which have no particular smell) and smile happily.  A mission successful.

As the first few other morning walkers straggle in, it's time for us to head home - for breakfast.  All goes well, except for my multiple sprints up and down the staircase to check if the garbage collector has come.  He is supposed to ring a bell when he approaches but strangely forgets to ring outside my house.  Anyway, that is dealt with.  The baby's breakfast is simmering and my tea is ready when I realize the toaster is jammed.  Not a matter of life and death of course, but one thing I hate is cold bread.  So I try and think innovatively - what would my heroes (and heroines) have done under the circs??  And I turn on the oven.  Of course, it's a bit of an overkill, and it takes five times as long before the bread converts into toast, but this mission too has ended satisfactorily.

The washing machine beeps in the background, spewing out some slimy scaly material from its innards onto the clothes and switching itself off.  It doesn't matter.  I reset the power and it is fooled into restarting from where it stopped.  The scales I will scrape off one by one by hand from the clothes (probably equivalent to practicing an ancient Shaolin exercise to focus the mind and develop concentration).

The baby begins to cry and my thoughts turn back to feeding him and myself.  Breakfast is finally dealt with and the baby falls asleep.  Ah!  Time for my bath.  At this moment, the gas delivery truck arrives, the gas man hauling off cylinders and rolling them down the road one by one.  It sounds like cannon balls being thrown on a bowling alley.  Fortunately my baby sleeps through the din.  My maid arrives, throws the cutlery from one end of the kitchen to the other (or that's what it sounds like).  The baby, of course, wakes up.

Meanwhile, I see a spider crawling on his cot.  Time for some quick action - a mug, a nappy, a few swift hand strokes and the spider is tossed into the garden outside.  Whew!

My cell phone beeps again.  My head begins to throb, but it's not a migraine.  Hurrah!  It's only eleven in the morning and there's plenty of time for more action on the front.  I am optimistic.  After all, this is far better than being marooned on an isolated tropical island with sharks for company.


These are a few of the mystery/action books that have sustained me this past year.  Some are gentle, some violent, but all are intriguing... (and all are part of a series) -

1) The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection, by Alexander McCall Smith

2) The Turkish Gambit, by Boris Akunin

3) Come To Grief, by Dick Francis

4) Twice A Spy, by Keith Thomson

5) The Shape Shifter, by Tony Hillerman

6) Inspector Ghote Breaks An Egg, by HRF Keating

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