Adyar Anand Bhavan had recently opened an outlet of their restaurant and bakery near my place in Mysore. I and Prateesh went out for a morning walk and stopped for filter coffee there. Filter Coffee at Darshinis, Bhavans, and Sagars are a safe bet. When I say safe bet I don’t mean there are great but they are safe. The first coffee or tea of the day is like the omen that decides the unfolding of your day. A bad coffee may just be a bad omen. So, here in these breakfast spots you know what you are getting and it is uniform all across these restaurants, like the burger chains.So we picked our coffee from the flashy counter of this new place talking about the money these food businesses are making in the recent days. They just keep expanding and at this rate, they may just go overseas and compete with the likes of US food chains. Prateesh is a buddy from school and is a business consultant by profession. We often talk about start-ups, business environments, innovations in businesses, and everything internet. He reads a lot as part of his everyday work and its always uplifting when we discuss the trends in business. A progressive, enlightening conversation every time.
So, it had been over a month since we last met and I noticed his new found interest for the Bitcoin. I am sure the consultants are all talking about it. He definitely has been analysing the cryptocurrencies. He was excited about the undeniably ingenious invention of the blockchain technology and he briefed me about what is called the ‘Digital Gold’, Bitcoin.
Although, the theory seemed astonishing. The growth and valuation of this technology was promising but it was foreign to me. The conversation led me to explore and read further on cryptocurrencies at least, if not think of investing on them. He was planning to hop on the blockchain train and ride the tide, which he was sure to return greater dividends in the near future.
A week later on a rainy evening I parked my full loaded car in the driveway of our house in Gonibeedu and slipped into deep sleep as the drive was tiring. Next morning I was at our estate to overlook the construction of the new house being built in the estate. I am keenly supervising the details in the design and do not want any flaws in the plan. This where I will spend the next couple of decades. The luxury has been looked into, each space has a great view of the estate and the hills overlooking our property. The balcony has a clear view of Aane malappana gudda and pappa tells me to look at it every day. I think he feels blessed. The heavy showers are delaying the construction work and that is making me restless. I have been extensively in contact with few of my friends who are amateur landscape designers, vernacular architects, and working at Auroville. My days are spent on the internet looking for designs to adopt some minimalistic concepts to our house. Our contractor had got few workers to measure and mark the walls as the RCC was to be laid next week and the showers had kept them on and off the task.
Pappa called on my phone and asked me about the progress. He also told me to walk into the estate and look on the workers working at multiple blocks of the estate. Men were checking on the fencing and re-fencing it with the logs and Kal Khamba (stone pillar) to block trespassing. Cattle, peacocks, wild boars, and other forest animals are often found inside the estate and this scares people when there are walking around the estate alone. The workers had been laying traps and feasting on the wild forest birds, rabbits, and other small animals each day which we were not informed of. I went in search of them and could not find them as they had gone to our neighbouring estate to gather some logs that was suitable to be a Khamba (pole) for the fence.
I could hear the chattering and knew the ladies were working close by. I am not sure if they are often tired by the evenings as they head back home after work. But if they are, it is definitely not because of the work. It is the talking that makes them tired. It is fun to go stand next to them and heed their conversations. Last time I heard they debate on the effects of demonetisation, I almost wrote a letter to the finance minister to consider the suggestions of these female workers in our estate if he did not want an all-female-rebel front disturbing the administration in New Delhi followed by the coup. As it was time to break for lunch they concluded the debate by agreeing to tolerate the inconvenience caused by the decision of our honourable prime minister. However, the fact was that they had no trouble whatsoever by the demonetisation. It was the estate owners who had to arrange cash to pay these women by hook or crook each week. I had no clue why these ladies spoke for four hours on the ‘Effects of demonetisation on the estate workers’, when they were least effected or rather not effected at all.
So, I walked past them to be a part of today’s discussion without displaying any interest through my facial expressions. It was 12PM, an hour left for lunch break. Hema, the most talkative of the lot was excited as always and she spoke of four new sarees she will be receiving this year. Four men from the village were grown up to be wed and she was expecting them to get hitched this year. She spoke about the huge fees charged by the wedding brokers these days and in addition to that, the saree that the groom’s parents had to buy for the broker. She said she was already looking for brides to suit these bachelors of Devaramakki village and has informed all her acquaintances to suggest, if they find any bride in their neighbourhood. She was also talking about the huge discounts on sarees in Bangalore and how a saree worth 5000 INR was being sold for 1000 or less.
Radha pitched in and asked her to shut up. She told me how Hema had told a similar story and taken the ladies of the village all the way to Hassan for a wedding saree shopping. The collection there was of pathetic quality and design that they would have to use it for mopping their floor after wearing it a couple of times. The ladies chopping the overgrown weeds until then added their 2 cents in support of Radha and said they doubted if those sarees put on sale are used ones. Not finding any support on her statement Hema turned to me and said-“Anna, not four its five now. As you are constructing your house in Devaramakki, you are also our neighbour. She had added another saree in the list and now began to ask me about my wedding plans. I brushed my involvement aside as I told her that it will be my sister who will marry first and she still has a couple of years to finish her studies. This disappointed her a bit as the wait was long. Now she started asking me if I know any brides for the men in the village. She kept throwing questions at me now. She also added how she finds girls all over the town, in bus stands, and shopping areas when she goes on work or to buy things in Mudigere but it is hard to find any for the men of the village though they are working in Bangalore with good salary.
She also spoke of her plans to kidnap girls and marry them forcefully if nothing works out. By now the ladies were tired of Hema’s blabbering which had no logic as always and asked her to concentrate on chopping weeds with an open eye. A lady who was new to work in our estate and had maintained silence all this while warned Hema of the crap she had stepped on last week while busy talking without concentrating on work.
Cheeeee..She yelled with a disgusted face.
The workers who had come for construction had heard the nature calling. The block of estate that was adjoined to the site where the construction was going on had turned into a dirty composite pit with man shit all over the place. Unfortunately, during her routine work at the estate Hema had stepped on one such dump and now the whole village had heard the story from her. She had warned the labours to go and take a dump in the forest across the estate but few things are not in the control of a man. After she had brought this up to our notice we had got a pit dug and materials purchased for the toilet construction. The rains had not let the labours lay foundation for it and the construction had not started yet.
It was almost time for lunch and Hema turned towards me and retaining the disgust on her face she said-“Anna, its lunch time already and if in case I happen to find any man’s manure here now. I am walking off without having lunch and I am not going to return to work”. Luckily, she did not step on anything that day and the toilets were built the following week.
As I finish this piece I am reflecting on my life decisions which puts me in places where I find myself talking bitcoins, blockchains over my morning cup of coffee and the following week be a party to discuss the challenges finding brides, discounts on sarees, and talk about excreta which is disgusting Hema.
The rains have caught up here in Gonibeedu and it has been pouring heavily since a couple of days. I am sure all the poop would have washed away by now and Hema can walk around with no further complains.