Why I’m finding it hard to be an activist….

5.04 am. Wake up full of energy. Go off for my morning walk. Resolve to get active again in  trying to solve my city’s and my fellow-citizens’ problems.

6. 04 am. I come back from my walk to find that the milk has not been delivered (or it’s been taken away by monkeys, either of the simian or the human kind.)

6.06 am. I go off to get some milk sachets from the vendor at the corner.

6.18 am. I return with the milk to find that the newspaper guy has delivered the wrong papers to my doorstep. 

6.19 am. I rush downstairs, and luckily, catch the vendor at the back gate of my apartment building, and give him back newspaper B, which he delivered instead of the newspaper A that I want. He promises to deliver newspaper A. It does not arrive for the rest of the day.

6.30 am. Knowing that I will probably not get newspaper A today, I ask my neighbour if I can borrow theirs after they’ve done with it. They smilingly agree, because this is a fairly regular quid pro quo between us.

6.45 am. Talk to another neighbour about segregating garbage. She points out that segregated garbage is put together by the housekeeping staff after collection. I am silenced.

7 am. I check my email, and am very disturbed by one from my amateur naturalist friend, who is complaining about the degradation of the forests which are (still) less than half-an-hour’s bus ride from my home. I resolve to do something….start writing a strong article about it.

7.02 am. While reading the next email, the power goes off. Though we’ve had a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply…an inverter which charges off the power and keeps it going during power cuts), it won’t operate the washing machine, in which, at 6.30am, I’d put in a load of bedsheets. Article pushed to back burner (where, obviously the idea, and the words, all burn up)while I go to check if, by some miracle, the washing load was done before the power went.

7.04 am. Of course it wasn’t done. I sigh, get back to email.

7.06 am.I resolve to attend a meeting of the voluntary organization I belong to, at 6pm tomorrow.

7.08 am. My spouse informs me that the plumber and mason, whose arrival I have been eagerly anticipating for weeks now (they went on a cruise to Alaska with all the money they’ve been making) will be coming "around 6pm tomorrow, and I won’t be at home, so you be there."

7.30 am. I go for my bucket bath, and realize that the geyser hasn’t had time to heat up before the power went. (In India, we conserve both energy and hot water. The "geyser" or the water heater is NOT left on all the time; we switch it on just before we need to have a shower or bath..or usually, just before the power goes off.)

7.32 am. I get back to my gmail, and begin reading a very interesting email about the way road congestion problems could be solved in my city.

7. 35 am. I realize that the internet connection is acting up, and can no longer read the said email. I’ve already "recorded" the complaint on Bangalore Telephones BSNL, or Bengaluru Sanchar Nigam Limited.

I know I have to go to the telephone exchange (it’s nearby, luckily) and spend an average time of four hours there….I’ve been there so many times already that Maragathamma and Komala (names changed for privacy) and the rest of the staff there are my close friends now, and hopefully,because of this, four hours is all it will take to get my internet up again.

4.00 pm. I’ve been to BSNL thrice: the first time, to go and see what can be done….THEY had a problem with the plug that their computer is plugged into, so I came back home. The second time, I went and found that the internet connection seems to be working at their end, so I heard the standard response: "Bring modem and laptop." I went the third time with my modem and my laptop (what would I do if I had a desktop? Take it and the desk along?).

4.45 pm. After much waiting, and then some jugglery-pokery, YAYYYYY!! My internet connection is working. "It had to be reset" is the laconic, mystifying reply to my query about what went wrong. Not wishing to open another can of cyberworms, I come back home gratefully.

5.20 pm. Go down to the basement to check my snail mail, and since I have my laptop and the modem and the rest of my shopping to carry, decide (unusually) to take the lift.

5.21 pm. Lift stops between (I think, I am not sure) the second and third floors. The inside doors keep opening, and refuse to close. The alarm refuses to work. The light refuses to work. The fan refuses to work. I refuse to panic.

5.23 pm. Luckily, my mobile phone works, and I call up a neighbour, who calls Security.

5.44 pm. The outside doors are opened by the building electrician, who says "Voltage fluctuation" in reply to my query, in exactly the same tone as Maragathamma of BSNL answered my internet query. I clamber out and jump to the floor. I know what a newly-delivered infant feels like. Feeling like bawling, much as that newborn infant would do.

6.00 pm. Sitting under the fan, having finished a large glass of water (not cold, remember, the fridge also won’t work during power cuts) I wonder whether tomorrow I can make some plans….

I am NOT kidding. This is how my day went. In between, I did manage to complete the washing, cooked lunch for a friend (who said she would come at 12.30 pm and came at 3.30 pm…I know JUST the kind of day SHE must have been facing…she is moving out of town and was dealing with the gas agency and disposing of some of her stuff!), managed to upload some of my photographs, hunted for stuff that I misplaced last week….

No..I don’t want to be an activist, I can’t even fight my OWN battles! Does anyone want to take ME up as a cause?

Note: The activists in this city know that people like me are still the privilege elite; they fight all the daily hassles, and still find time to fight for the rights of the less privileged. Hats off to them!

Deepa Mohan
About Deepa Mohan 715 Articles

Deepa Mohan is a freelance writer and avid naturalist.