It shouldn’t happen to an expat

I seem to be having a streak of bad luck recently. Whether the gods are playing with my fate in a game of dice or not, I don’t know. Or it could be my natural carelessness (I’m sure my dad would agree with that!).

However, I have a far more interesting theory, so much so that I’m going to pick it up and run with it.

Festival season is in full swing in Chennai. To the open minded foreigner, it could be seen as a time of wonder, the chance to see culture up close and personal. The cultured person may want to understand more, find out the story behind the celebrations.

On the other hand, there’s me. You couldn’t culture me if you covered me in fertilizer and added miracle-gro (my blog, I can create whatever metaphor I want!).

When it comes to festival time, I curse, I swear and I complain bitterly to anyone who wants to listen. And since you’re reading my blog, that would be you!

Part of the preperations for the festivals involves the erection of giant idols outlined in multi-coloured lights. Sure, it looks pretty and it’s even quite impressive. Along with these giant light idols they also hang up so many light bulbs that it has a luminous intensity normally associated with stars. It’s so bright it can be seen from space, lifeforms in different galaxies see it as the brightest light in their sky.

This is all wonderful, except that all these lights are in the street outside my house. At night, despite having curtains, my room is lit up like a flood lit stadium. We’re saving thousands on electricity because we don’t need to use our lights at night.

So the lights are annoying, but if you are really tired, you can eventually get to sleep.

(pictures taken on a Nokia E75 at 2am!)

However, there is a catch. Noise. This is the second part of the culture of festivals. Holy mother of god do they know how to make noise in india. They’ve become so good that it comes in two forms; mechanical and electrical.

In the video below you will see mechanical noise. Keep in mind that I took this video at 1.45am! There’s a hilarious moment around 30 seconds so watch it carefully:

So, this goes on pretty much until 3ish after which you just have the dazzling lights to deal with.

Let’s assume that during all this culture you are able to get to sleep. Well hah! Sucks to be you kiddo because at 5am they start blasting out music through a PA system. I don’t mean that its a bit loud, it’s ridiculously loud. If volume dials could go up to 11, they’ve invented a way to go to 12!

These PA speakers are conveniently located so that they point directly in to my room. From a distance of about 3ft. When they’re blaring, I can’t even hear my own TV, and that’s in the room next door – and it has theatre surround sound. That’s how loud they play this music. So I get to sleep by 3am only to be blasted into next week when they start playing the music at 5am.

I’m sure culture is a wonderful thing, but only when you are an observer, not when it is being thrust and imposed upon you.

So what exactly has this got to do with my bad luck? Simple: sleep deprivation.

Since I’ve been getting at the most a couple of hours of decent sleep each night and a few hours of fitful sleep while the music is playing I’ve been making more and more mistakes as the days go by.

On Saturday I had a true nightmare. Myself and some friends went to a party about 10 miles out of Chennai. I was changing in to shorts (as it was a pool party), I dropped my bag on the back of the seat and it pressed the button on the car keys that locks the car. No problem though, the door was still open. I gathered up the rest of my things and also placed them on the back seat of the car, and then, it one dream like movement, proceeded to shut the door – fully aware that the car was locked and the keys were on the back seat.

As the door clicked shut, there was an awful silence as it sunk in what I had just done. My clothes, my phone, my keys and my wallet were all locked inside, all I had was a pair of swimming trunks and a t-shirt.

Naturally the friends i was with were less than ecstatic, I could tell by the way they told me to go off and join the party and enjoy myself, they would sort it. A few hours later I noticed that they still weren’t back so went to look for them, but in revenge (or spite), they had left – and taken all my stuff with them. Absolute nightmare, all because of sleep deprivation!

Another habit a seem to have developed is putting my phone in the washing machine. As I talked about in an earlier blog post, I recently bought a new Nokia E75 – and bloody good job I did too, because not 5 minutes after I got home, I put my old phone in the washing machine!

…Again!

Somehow, as I gathered up all my bed clothes the old phone became entagled and in it went into the washing machine.

About half an hour later I was hunting for my old phone to transfer all my old contacts and files, and as the searching turned to desperation, my gaze fell upon the washing machine.

“bugger” I thought, and started fishing around in the bowl (it’s a top loading machine). Eventually, my groping discovered a small hard object and after a quick search and rescue effort, I managed to bring it out in to the light. It was one very dead looking Nokia phone which gurgled with water as I shook it.

Would I have made such a stupid mistake if I wasn’t extremely sleep deprived? I would like to think not.

But anyway, I think my luck is changing. I dried out the phone for 24 hours, put the battery pack back in and after a few false starts, there was the wonderful Nokia tune and the connecting hands. The phone lives!

5 Comments It shouldn’t happen to an expat

  1. admin

    Haha, yeah, it’s awesome, isn’t it? I thought it was hilarious the first time I played it back. Totally unexpected, and extremely loud!

    Reply
  2. viksdes

    Peter and they tell us India has acute power shortage!..but these are the ways of life here..even for us locals it becomes a huge problem..FYI- playing loud music after 10pm is illegal, may be you can complain to the police nearby. Iwould have if same happened near my house..tc

    Reply
  3. admin

    To be honest, I’ve not noticed as many power cuts this year as I did last year, maybe I’m getting used to it, or maybe they are generating just enough power now? I personally can’t wait for the nuclear reactors to become 100% operational because I think that’s the only way to solve the power requirements in India.

    If you see the video above, you’ll notice that the police are actually escorting the procession, so obviously they had permission there.

    My biggest annoyance is the music at 5am, there is simply no need to play it so loud – what affect does it have on the economy when people can’t get full, proper sleep?

    Reply
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