Preparing For School

May 29, 2009

My idea of preparing the kids for school is talking to them about it (almost incessantly, now) and telling them how much fun they’re going to have and how many new friends they’re going to make (or find). And, of course, getting them clothes, shoes, and so on.

Apparently there’s other stuff I should be doing with them that I haven’t been doing. This was brought home to me recently, in conversation with another mother who has a three-year-old daughter, who will also soon be starting school. “I realized that I have to start getting her ready for school,” this woman said, “so I went and bought the ABC book and I’m trying to get her to learn that.”

I didn’t say anything to her, but I thought to myself, “Oh my goodness! Lady, you and I can never be friends.”

I mean… Getting your almost three-year-old to mug up on numbers and ABC before school!?

The kids already know their ABCs and 123s, and they even know part of their A-for-apples. But. They get it all wrong! They routinely leave out QRSTUV from the alphabet, they jumble up their numbers, and often go, “…5, 6, 7, 8, ten o’clock…” And as for A-for-apple, they usually go “B-for-ball” and then use B-for for everything all the way from pussycat (which should be C-for cat, not C-for-pussycat) to zebra.

And so what? They’re kids, they should get things a little jumbled up. It’s what makes them so adorable. After all, how many people do you know who will solemnly say, “Baba is sleeping, don’t disburt him, ok!”

They have the rest of their lives to get it right, must we start pressurizing them from now?

And besides, if we have to teach them everything at home, what are schools for?

Oh, I forgot. The twins are going to be attending a Montessori school: schools are for playing with toys. I wonder what this other mom would think of that idea.

School Days

May 28, 2009

May is drawing to a close and June is around the corner. That means, schools re-open here in Bangalore. And that means, a quantum increase in traffic volumes at 8 a.m.

Since I’m not working now and don’t have to join the millions making their daily commute to the workplace, the increase in traffic volumes is largely theoretical for me right now. But for how long?

I’ve just got the letters informing us that the eagerly anticipated day when the twins join their new school is set for 10 June. At first, they will spend only an hour or so at school, and parents have to stay with them. Probably in the second week, they will start following regular hours, 8.30 to 12.30. Then I’ll be spending much of my day in the driver’s seat – literally, unfortunately, not figuratively – with a 15 km round trip twice a day. Not only will the school time traffic suddenly be highly relevant to me, I’ll be part of it.

While the kids starting school means I’ll have a few hours of peace in the morning, which is not a given when Shaba-Aunty is home with the twins, it will also be good for the kids to get out. Last year, when going through the admission process, I kept feeling they were too small for school – but that was then. Now, I no longer think so. They can talk quite a bit now, and have become more socially-oriented: they look forward to meeting their park friends every evening – kids and adults alike – and cry out loud to meet other friends whom they see less frequently. And, keeping them occupied and engaged at home in the morning is full-time work. What’s more, it’s getting more and more difficult to tire them out sufficiently so they’ll fall asleep after lunch. Today they stayed up babbling and playing games for two whole hours, before finally falling asleep! School should take care of that, or so I hope. (How do parents (specially SAHMs) manage in those countries where school starts at age 6???)

So while I’m happy they’re going to be starting school soon (and honestly, the sooner, the better!), what I’m still not sure about is packing them off to school in the school bus. They still seem too small for that experience. Won’t it be scary, being in a bus full of big kids, no known faces around, being trundled around town for 30 or 40 minutes before making it to the only slightly familiar and less scary environment of school? True, there are two of them, and true, too, that other kids their age do it and survive, but still…

I don’t really want to be doing the dropping and picking up chauffeur service, though. It will certainly be fun talking to them on the way to and from school, but it is going to break up the morning in a quite disruptive fashion. Sending them off by bus means I get a whole five hours or so to do my stuff. Getting Amit to drop them on his “way” to work (it’s not really on his way) means investing in another set of car seats. Sigh. Problems, problems.

More interesting – and a bit worrying – is that certain memories that they form now can potentially last forever. Don’t you remember your very early days at school or preschool? I have vague memories of nursery, and even hazier ones of pre-nursery. I remember a friend from pre-nursery – or rather, I remember the name of a friend, and the concept of a friend as someone you did everything together with, more than the person herself. I remember howling my head off in nursery because a boy took my sketch pens and didn’t give them back. I remember another boy (or perhaps the same one) turning his eyelids inside out (boys are gross!) and scaring the hell out of me. I remember, strangely enough, the room that was the nursery or kindergarten room, and my seat in the room. I remember other things about the school, like the building and the grounds, and even the teachers; but those memories formed over the years, as I continued in that school till I was ten. But the earliest of my school day memories must date from a little over three years of age.

And now the twins are going to start collecting their own set of forever memories. I always loved school, my sister pretty much hated it. I wonder why that happens. It is so much easier to enjoy school than to dislike it, I hope I can help my girls to grow to love it and to build a set of happy memories.

How Could I Get It So Wrong?

May 25, 2009

Everyone has some fundamental personal values and beliefs; one of mine was that if I had a dog, I’d never abandon it, no matter what. For me, my dogs, husband, kids, and friends all fell in the same category – people I’d never turn my back on, people I’d never give up on (except perhaps in a few very, very exceptional circumstances imaginable, that might, just might, make it justifiable in my reckoning).

Life has a way of teaching you hard lessons, particularly where words like “never” and “justifiable” are concerned.

On Sunday, we took Mishti and Sandy and all the little things we had bought for them and drove them back to CUPA.

Bringing them home in the first place was one of the worst wrong decisions I have ever made. The worst part is, I knew exactly what I was getting in to. I knew house training would be required. I knew they might fall sick. I knew they would have to be walked several times a day. And of course I knew I was already quite busy with the twins. But I thought I had space in my life for a couple of dogs. I was so, so wrong.

There were reasons, of course; or excuses, maybe.

The kids didn’t take to the dogs as easily as I’d thought or hoped they would. Tara was still severely upset every time the dogs approached her. Mrini was much more adventurous and wanted to play with them, but with Tara so upset, and given the closed doors of both bedrooms, the kids ended up spending much of their time closed up in their room, not in the general living-dining area as they had been used to. They were also terribly restricted in their behaviour, venturing out of the safe areas with extreme caution and unable to run around with gay abandon, as they used to. The dogs sniffing at their feet at mealtimes was also terribly upsetting for the, especially as they were trussed up in their high chairs, unable to take quick evasive action. The dogs also had a tendency to make a grab at any toys left within reach, which the kids weren’t, of course, very happy about.

Then, the dogs messing in the house was – if not unexpected – highly frustrating. Sandy was not well enough to expect him to be able to be toilet trained, far less to be able to properly walk him, so I resigned myself to cleaning up his many, many messes (diarrhoea, remember). I hoped that when he got better, he’d learn quickly. Meanwhile, I thought, I’d focus my energies on Mishti. If she learnt, that would halve my cleaning up, and might even prompt Sandy to learn more easily.

For one week, I patiently took Mishti for a walk four or five times a day, starting at 5 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m.! No matter how long I kept her out, or how desperately she needed to “go”, she would wait determinedly till we got back home and then “oblige” (not very obliging at all, if you ask me) happily in her familiar and safe environment. Not even once did she produce any kind of business outdoors. One day, in an attempt to get her to associate “outside” with “business”, I dumped her out the front door when I saw she needed to go. She promptly avoided the newspaper kept there for her convenience, and let go on the neighbours’ doormat! Eeeeeeeeeeeeks! I cleaned it up furtively, and as they were out at the time, I think they never knew about it. But… what if they happened to be home the next time???

It slowly dawned on me that the bits of white in Mishti’s stool were not bits of mucus. This was made particularly clear when I saw one of the white bits stretch what must have been its scrawny neck and raise its ugly white head. Ugh! Worms! I was never lax about cleaning up after the dogs, but the sight of worms made me practically paranoid about it. The twins generally weren’t too keen to get up close and personal with the dogs’ outputs, but you never could tell when they’d accidentally stumble across it. That kind of complication I could do without.

Her disinclination to use the great outdoors for toilet purposes notwithstanding, Mishti was a sweet and obliging dog. She was scared and shy and eager to please. And, apart from the worms, she was healthy. Her coat was a beautiful, sleek, glossy black. But Sandy was a different story.

He would have been a sweet-natured and very playful pup, if only he’d been well. He had diarrhoea when he came to us, and once the vet started him on a course of antibiotics (for what appeared to be a skin infection; I wish now that we’d left it alone), his condition soon deteriorated. By Saturday morning, he had gone two straight days without eating a morsel. He was hardly drinking any water either. I gave up waiting for the vet to come and look and him, and took him, instead, to another vet nearby.

I spent three hours there, and it was terrible. About fifteen-odd years ago, I had seen my dog, Cassie, through an operation to remove kidney stones. I watched her go down under anaesthesia, I held her drip in place as she regained consciousness, and I watched her limp back to normal in the days that followed. A few years before that, I’d watched her get into an accident that scraped a swath of skin off her stomach and I saw her come out of that, too. I helped change her dressings and prevented her from eating her stitches. And some years later, I watched helplessly as Steffi, our cocker spaniel who loved to eat, agonisingly starved herself to death. That was over a decade ago. I haven’t forgotten the pain, the horror. I know how bad it can be.

So the three hours I spent with Sandy at the vet cannot be rated as the worst I have seen dogs come to. He still had some life in him, he still howled his protest. He was tied down on the table and a needle stuck into his foreleg. Over the next hour and a half I watched as, drop by drop, two separate drips were pumped into him. I don’t even know what they were, and can only assume they were glucose and saline. I held his legs and patted him, but I’m not sure he knew who I was. There was an attendant holding his head very firmly. After the initial fuss, he was quiet for a long time, but then the pressure on his bladder built up and eventually he leaked, and then he was miserable. They stuffed cotton wool and newspaper under him, but it wasn’t good enough. Small as he was, trussed up and with the needle in his leg, he hated getting wet with his own urine. It was so sad, so miserable, so pathetic. But it was not the worst I’ve seen.

Once he was off the drip, and he could use the garden as a toilet, he was happier. We waited while some medicines were procured. Several injections were given, I still don’t know what they were. Sandy, meanwhile, provided a stool sample and a sample of vomit. The vet looked at each and shook his head and muttered about the yellow colour indicating a liver involvement. He sent us away with a list of medicines and rehydration advice. I wasn’t sure that he really knew what he was doing – he didn’t seem to have prescribed anything to fix the problem, the medicines seemed to be only symptomatic treatment.

That evening, Sandy was a little better; but by Sunday morning, he was listless again. He refused his breakfast and vomited yellow stuff again. After the visit to the vet, I’d dared to hope he would recover soon, but now it didn’t look likely.

Perhaps more than anything it was this illness of his that took it out of me. I’d had to take him to the vet alone, leaving Amit and the kids at home. And at the vet’s I realised that I just didn’t have the strength for this. I had done this, and more, fifteen years ago, but now I just wasn’t up to it. The sight of this tiny pup, who had been mine for barely a week, lying trussed up on the table with a needle stuck in his leg reduced me almost to tears. The thought of nursing him to health through a potentially prolonged illness, of forcing medicines down his tiny and ungrateful gullet morning, noon, and night, of watching him rise and fall, of saying goodnight and not knowing what the morning would bring, of possibly losing him to some mysterious ailment that caused his hair to fall out in clumps (as it was doing)… it was more than I could handle.

On Saturday evening, I acquired a migraine. I’m not a migraine sort of person. Possibly I’ve had about two or three migraines in my entire life. This one was clearly caused by just one single thought: I can’t give these pups back. In my heart of hearts, I already wanted to. I already knew I couldn’t manage them. But I couldn’t face the thought of giving them back. It was practically treason.

I know that if only I could have waited out the difficult part, things would have got easier. I know the kids would have got used to the dogs and grown to love them and not fear them. I know the dogs would have understood about “outside” (and not on the neighbours’ doormat). I know that both kids and dogs can be given deworming. I hope Sandy would have recovered after a few days. It was just a matter of getting over the bump.

Everyone fails at some point in life. This is not the first time I’ve failed, the first time I’ve admitted defeat and walked away from a situation. But it just feels so bad, because it’s not about me, it’s about the dogs. I took them out of their home and made them mine; and then I abandoned them. That’s lousy.

Two Plus Two Equals Chaos!

May 21, 2009

Of course one mustn’t compare, but… Pups are so much like children. Only, so much easier. They only need to be fed and walked. You don’t have to teach them how to eat by themselves without spilling the food and making a mess of themselves; they are generally tidy creatures who will lick up crumbs from the floor and groom themselves later. (They are also quite helpful in cleaning up spills of an edible nature.) Plus, you don’t have to teach them to speak, read and write, add and subtract, paint, ride a cycle…

Best of all, they will not ever ask you to explain – among other awkward things – why there are 346 photos of one and only 343 of the other in the first few months of their lives with you.

So much for differences. There are some similarities, as well. The pups, in their first few days with us, have been almost as passive as the girls were. The girls have certainly grown out of it, so I’m hoping it’s just a part of the adoption trauma, the uprooting and the unfamiliarity of a new place, a new family. That must be terribly upsetting, even for dogs. Like the twins, one of the pups, Sandy, has a bad tummy (diarrhoea), which could also be due partly or entirely to the change in place and diet. Sandy (like Mrini, who had scabies) also has a skin condition for which the vet has prescribed a course of antibiotics, in addition to a cream and an unhealthy dose of anti-mite spray.

Unlike the twins, who gobbled everything in those early days with us, Mishti is a fussy eater. Even when she’s terribly hungry, if her food doesn’t have a good dose of non-veg in it, she’ll turn her nose up at it in a most supercilious manner. If there is a sufficient quantity of non-veg, she’ll dig her nose into it with determination and snarl at Sandy. They have separate bowls, but they insist on both eating from one and then from the other; I suppose each wants to be sure that the other isn’t getting something more delicious.

Mishti is slowly getting to grips with the concept of being put on a leash and taken for a walk. At least she now does 90% of the walk on her own steam, without being dragged along. She hasn’t yet thought of doing her business while out on a walk, but I suppose she’ll hit upon the idea some day. The last few times, the twins have wanted to join in on the walk-the-dog sessions, and have even taken hold of the leash. Something good should come of this, sometime soon. But Sandy, whom I’ve taken out only a couple of times, is still completely averse to the idea. I’m hoping that once Mishti “gets” it, I can add Sandy to the soup and he’ll pick it up from her.

My memories of my dog days (to misuse the phrase) are full of easy and happy times. As a teenager, I played with the dogs, groomed them, walked them, fed them, scolded them when required, slept with them (something Amit has always been a teeny bit jealous of!)… we were pretty much siblings. With the twins and the pups, it’s not quite there yet. On Monday, when I had turned my back on the lot of them for a couple of ticks, I turned around to find that Sandy had cornered Tara on the floor and was licking her feet and Tara was wailing as loudly and hysterically as she possibly could. It would have been funny, if only the poor girl hadn’t been so totally petrified.

After that episode, it has taken several days for Tara to become even mildly less paranoid of the four-leggeds. The moment they make a move in her direction, she runs screaming and wailing and clutches on to me with all her might. Mrini is less terrorised. On one occasion when both dogs succeeded in backing her into a corner, she put both her hands out in front of her and pushed them away by the nose! I was so proud of her, because she is normally the scaredy cat of the two. Since then, she has made numerous friendly overtures including sitting by the dogs as they sleep, patting them, putting her face within licking distance, poking their eyes and so on. At least she’s getting the idea.

The more dog-friendly of my friends assure me that the kids and the pups will be best of friends – or at least best of siblings – very soon; that the pups will get used to going for walks and doing their business outdoors; that they will all grow up and settle down and I can stop living with all the bedroom doors closed (to keep the messes off the mattresses) and the living room in tatters (thanks to teething puppies) and Tara in tears… it will all come together into one big happy family, some day soon. That’s what they tell me.

Well, I hope they’re right. It can’t be soon enough for me.

So That’s Why They Say, “Be Careful What You Wish For”

May 19, 2009

After the first full day of having the pups at home, I have to admit, I feel rather as though I’ve been run over by a road roller. What was I thinking. They’re peeing and pooping all over the place and the only thing I’m doing all day apart from thinking up and managing ten separate meals (four for the pups in addition to three each for kids and adults) is cleaning up their messes. And stinky they are too! As if I haven’t just had my fill of that – it’s not that long ago that I was up to my elbows in the twins’ pee and poo.

On the other hand, if this is something you’ve got to do, you might as well do it and get it done with while you still remember how. And have the energy for – even if I’m not sure that I really do. I remember feeling equally dazed and road-rollered when the twins came home – and that was with the pee and poo all neatly tied up in diapers. So I know it’s going to get better.

Or at least, I think I know it will.

At any rate, I firmly believe it will.

Or… I somewhat believe it will.

Ok, I desperately hope it will.

It willl.

Won’t it?

Oh, for a garden with a screen door that the dogs can open from either side, like we had when I was a teenager and we had three dogs at home, and everything was so simple – or so it seems with the rose-tinted glasses of retrospect.

The first day, the dogs were both completely subdued. They ate, but they showed no signs of life apart from that. Until 2 a.m. – then they decided it was time to play. They came and pushed open our door and entered our room and walked on to our bed and demanded company, or at least an audience. We threw them out, so they complained for an hour. Then, they fell asleep – or I did, perhaps – only to awaken at 4.45 a.m. with similar requests. This time, I actually got up – and started my day by cleaning up about a half-dozen messes. Charming. However, the dogs did their best to entertain me by chewing my ankles and scraping my legs raw – they were in high spirits and didn’t even remotely resemble the limp, lifeless beings we had brought home some hours ago. Which was great, but… did they really have to wait till 4.45 on Sunday morning??

The rest of Sunday, they alternated between being sleepy or asleep, and being frisky. They played together most adorably in the afternoon, and when S, P and p came to visit in the evening, they were their social best, all wagging tails and huge grins. It was good to see them being more like what I imagined pups should be like. Even the stinking messes seemed a little more bearable when done by a happy, grinning, playful pup.

The twins are quite fascinated by them – when they wake up and come out, they don’t come to me or Amit any more, they just stop and stare at the pups. They’ve patted both pups, somewhat tentatively, though they haven’t tried really playing with them yet. At one point, Sandy went to poop in the bathroom and Tara came and told me all about it, so I could stop whatever I was doing and go clean up. Very nice, thank you Tara.

It took the pups exactly 24 hours to discover the living room, and exactly 24 hours and one minute to pee on the mattress that serves as a divan. In the next few minutes, they also similarly honoured the carpet. Within a few short minutes, our living room was rendered completely devoid of any scrap of fabric other than what was hanging from the curtain rods and stitched to the sofa and armchair. Surely, they will mark those bits of furniture soon enough, but there’s nowhere we can move them to. Besides, we have to have some place to sit.

The only real problem so far has been walking them. They’re terrified of their leashes and of being led around by them. Perhaps they’ve seen too many painful things happening to dogs who get taken away in the Shelter. Anyway, we took them out on Saturday evening, and Mishti managed to wriggle out of her collar, which must have been too loose. I hadn’t worried too much, because I’d thought she’d just stop where she was, if she managed to get free – she seemed so meek and mild. But she streaked off like greased lightening and hid under a car. Sup33 had come to say hi, along with her mother and her daughter, and with Amit and the twins and Sandy around, it was quite a large party that helped or watched as we struggled to coax or otherwise persuade Mishti to come out from under the car. We were still too new to her and she wasn’t inclined to trust us, so it took some doing. At one point, I almost thought we’d have to just leave her there, but that would have been too terrible. Finally, with Amit shooing from one end, and me at the other end making the disgusting kissing sounds one makes to animals when trying to persuade them to cooperate, we managed to get her. And we went straight home and haven’t ventured out since. Of course, we will have to sooner or later – I’m going to have to take dogs and girls out together sometime soon, but I really can’t say yet how that milestone is going to be achieved, much less when.

So life has become tremendously more complicated than it already was. Sigh.

And no, knowing that I asked for it doesn’t make it any easier.

Two New Additions To Our Family

May 18, 2009

As though the twins weren’t keeping us busy enough, we decided to add another two members to our busy household.

We had gone to meet V, V & v a while ago and the twins took to a giant teddy bear there. So one day last week Amit said he’d like to get a couple of dogs for the twins. He meant stuffed toys, but I thought he meant the real thing. And of this simple misunderstanding, was a crazy idea born. We both got carried away with the thought of real dogs, and set about working out how it could be done.

On Monday, Saturday seemed very far away, but however slowly, time rolled inexorably on, and at last Saturday was here.

It’s never easy leaving home with the kids, but it’s so much more difficult on a Saturday morning, when you’re feeling tired and short of sleep, impatient, eager, just a bit tense, and in a hurry to get somewhere. Despite everything, we managed to leave home by 11, and reached the animal shelter, CUPA, by noon.

Of course, we had had other dreams: a golden retriever, maybe even an Irish Setter. Maybe even a pair! But in the end I think we always knew we’d end up picking up a mongrel pup from somewhere.

I’d been to CUPA once before, four or five years ago. That time, I’d been captivated by one particular dog, whose sweet brown eyes followed me everywhere. I’d also been shocked to see many amputee dogs, hopping around quite happily on three legs. This time, I was prepared for the amputees, and hopeful that we both – or all four – would be similarly captivated. But we were shown a small collection of scraggly mongrel pups, with nothing much to distinguish one from the other. There was particularly frisky pup, a few months old – but he was apparently “boarding” there, not for adoption.

Amit wanted tiny pups, but the staff there encouraged us to go for the bigger pups, perhaps not entirely sure that the tiny ones would survive. The one Amit liked looked particularly weak, small, and lacklustre.

I had decided that on the whole females would be better, so we picked two girls, not from the same litter. One was small, hairy, snub-nosed, and flop-eared, light brown in colour. The other was larger and older (about three-and-a-half months, we were told); she had the face of an Alsatian, with a long, thin, pointy snout and sharp, pointy ears. She looked intelligent and eager. Her expression, more than her looks, reminded me of Cassie. She was terribly thin, but her coat was sleek and black.

The first pup, the smaller one, we were told, had a skin infection and they weren’t confident of curing it, so they asked us to pick another. We looked around, but there wasn’t much choice. Amit firmly wanted two, though – one for each girl, he said. So in the end we took that girl’s brother, apparently from the same litter, instead.

There was some paperwork, then inoculations and de-worming, which we had to pay for, and then we were done. Altogether, we spent about an hour and a half at CUPA, which was not too bad.

I would have held the pups in the car on the way home, but Amit voted to keep them in the back of the car. It was a long drive, perhaps their first, and at least one of them was sick on the way. But we were home by a little after 2, and now we were six.

Property Taxed

May 17, 2009

Friday was a busy day. I went to the BBMP office in the morning to follow up on the property tax saga. I had actually been once on Wednesday, when I was given the usual run-around: Go there to pay arrears, then go to the other room for the current year’s payment.” “Sorry, I can’t find your property in the system. Oh, you haven’t ever paid? Then you can’t pay here, go there.” Over there they said, “You’ll need Mr M. He hasn’t come today, try tomorrow.”

In other words, the usual run-around. This office looked smaller, cleaner and more efficient and helpful than Mayo Hall, though, so I was cautiously optimistic that if I hung around and did the rounds patiently enough, I might actually get somewhere.

On Friday morning I called Mr M’s young, helpful, English-speaking flunky, B. He said Mr M would be available around 12.30, so accordingly, I landed up there at 12.30. Mr M took one look at my document, heard my story, and told me to come back with a copy of the registered sale deed, encumbrance certificate and possession certificate. I went home and checked, found I didn’t have the EC and PC, and immediately called B again. He checked with Mr M, who said, just bring the sale deed. So, at 3.30 I left home and returned to the BBMP office, sale deed photocopy in hand. From 4 till 6 p.m., I sat there, and waited with bated breath. First, Mr M’s room was locked. This was annoying, because I had specifically checked with Mr M if 4 p.m. would be convenient, and he had said parvagilla (which, in this context means ok).

I called B, who said they had gone to Mayo Hall and were on their way back, could I wait 15 minutes or so?

I waited. It was hot, but there were some magnificent trees outside the office and it was a surprisingly peaceful area, tucked away in-between two crowded, noisy roads.

When Mr M & Co arrived, they streamed in on about half a dozen two-wheelers. The locked office was opened, and I followed them in. To his credit, Mr M got to work on my papers right away. He took a scrap of waste paper and scribbled two columns of figures. One, I guessed, was the tax unpaid, the other was the penalty. He totalled them, and it came to a shocking figure.

After that, I filled up the form and wrote out two cheques, one for arrears, the other for the current year. (I had to discard both the form and the cheque I had written on my previous attempt as they were already outdated.)

After that, I waited for almost an hour. There was no electricity, so my receipt could not be generated on the computer. Inside the room, with its corrugated iron sheet for a roof, it was terribly hot and stuffy. Mr M had ordered musambi juice for everyone, and I was surprised, pleased, and mildly embarassed when one glass came my way. It was completely welcome!

I had expected Mr M and others to leave punctually at 5, but they were still around at 5.40, when electricity finally came back. My receipt was promptly printed out, and Mr M verified his calculation of arrears and reduced the amount payable by a few thousand. It took another few minutes to get the receipt for the arrears, and then I was ready to leave. As a parting gift, Mr M gave me the form for the khata application. He had told me earlier that it was available at Mayo Hall, and I wasn’t looking forward to going there, so it was very nice of him to give it to me (at cost price, nothing extra).

Overall, it had been a smooth experience, though requiring a fair degree of patience. Most of the waiting was due to the power cut. Mr M, of course spoke to me almost entirely in Kannada, while I spoke to him entirely in English. We seemed to understand each other, though B was called in as interpreter a couple of times. I don’t know how much was lost in translation, but overall I have to say that a little Kannada goes a long way.

At the end of the day, I had the two receipts in my pocket, and had been shown the way towards obtaining the khata. Next week, I will embark on that promising-looking journey. Let’s see how that turns out.

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