Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.

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faults in the clouds of delusion

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Business as usual

So the world cup is finally over and it rained most of the day today with the humidity above 90% when it wasn't -- it's back to business as usual in my little neck of the (pun unintended) woods.

I take Lift #15 down eleven floors from my office. Stepping out at Lower Ground 7th, I take a right under the tunnel that connects LG5 to the post-graduate residence hall. I follow the tunnel down for a minute, to the road, then turn left into the glistening night air. It's been raining again. Bull frogs call wantonly, their loud bleats full and warm on the nocturnal stillness. My head is up, nostrils snapping open to the cool, fresh air, the lidded staleness of yet another day spent squinting at the screen slapped away in a second. Yet I have to be careful as I walk -- for six months now onwards the sidewalk underfoot is liable to feature strange denizens of the underworld, winged, multi-legged, strangely-shaped insects, or sometimes just cockroaches. The large, flying kind.

The air is never as fresh when I walk back to office after dinner. Then, it's only late evening, the warmth of the day and the recent dinner both sit heavy on me. Cars drive past occasionally, the drivers of those coming from the direction of the office looking quizzically, if not sympathetically, at me. The walk is uphill, I don't notice the bullfrogs, the right turn into the tunnel reveals no light at its end. Just the odd hand-holding pair of undergrads enmeshed in each other's senses. Ever so rarely one of them will turn out to be a student of mine, past or present. Sometimes they look away, other times they greet me happily - "Po-fe-sa!" - music in their voices. While the partner looks away, embarrassed, confused.

As I wait to take the lift up, sometimes I bump into a colleague stepping out, returning home for the day. Such times they look at me boldly, defiantly, with a trace of guilt in their eyes. I return the look feeling jealous. We both smile and greet each other. Eleven floors up, hopefully uninterrupted, I step out on the fourth floor where the airconditioning is now off. Things have definitely taken a worse on the air conditioning front. The thought police now wantonly switches off the ventilation at any time of the day, and I mean any time. I've had to call them up after lunch, it's been like settling into a sauna. And every evening I call the extension - 6465 - to make yet another ad hoc request. Sometimes the guy at the other end recognizes me and sounds pleased. I hear his voice and feel his existence must be as miserable as mine. One of us has to beg to be able to sit in his office, the other has to sit in his office so others may beg. Such is the way the system works.

With a whoosh the airconditioning comes back on. Sometimes it doesn't, in which case I go to fill my water bottle then come back and call them again. Sometimes they request me to wait while they send the 'craftsman'. Sometimes the craftsman comes and fixes the thing, other times he takes a ladder and disappears from sight, the only evidence of his existence being the pounding sounds around the false ceiling above my head. Such times I blogsurf, or refresh my skills at Spider Solitaire, or reply to less important emails or converse with people over messenger. I'm always astonished how much of my work gets done over messenger. That may be one reason I don't want a Blackberry. Sometimes abstinence works. Eventually I fire up SPSS or whatever other thing I'd been doing before dinner. Sometimes before dinner I've finished off all the piddly little things that take up mindspace and distract me from what I'd really like to get done -- those days I might just get lucky on the efficiency front.

In the days before the World Cup and the Great Airconditioning Squeeze I'd given standing instructions for the A/C to cut off at 1:30 as that was a decent hour to get home, leaving time enough to unwind on the balcony, glass in hand, rig playing soft, powerful. I'm always annoyed that of all the inhabitants on the twelve stories of my building, it's only my next door neighbor who stays awake as long as I do, and from my balcony I can see the top of his bald head from over the back of his stuffed leather couch. He likes to move about in his underwear at night and that spoils the romance of the moment for me. Sometimes I switch off all the lights and look straight out to sea, just pretend he's not there. Sometimes it works.

It's a short walk from the tunnel down to the back entrance of my building -- just long enough for me to revive for this, the last, good, part of the day. As I trip blithely downhill, I contemplate what I will pour myself, and what I feel like listening to. Of late I have picked up a wonderful Dagar brothers disk with Ragas Lalit and Kambojhi, the classic recording of Bill Evans live at the Village Vanguard, and Jaco Pastorius' debut album -- all three of which make for excellent night-time listening. It's cool enough for my Morangie. Tomorrow is my last day of real teaching for the semester -- in fact till January if things work out as expected. There's a cool breeze, must be nicer up there on the balcony. I feel in my pocket for my keychain, and pull it out holding the yellow one that goes into the rear entrance lock.

Life isn't bad you know, when it leaves you alone like this.


15 Comments:

Blogger Revealed said...

It looks beautiful. I'd kill for a view like that.

Often though I wonder how people who don't like their work manage. It must be the hardest thing ever.

4/30/2007 8:21 AM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

I want your house!

4/30/2007 5:16 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

revealed:
oh, i can tell you. they gripe, they crib, they stress, they politic, they take it out on themselves and their lives, they console themselves with the salary and the bonus, then eventually they quit and look for sustenance elsewhere. been there done that.

it *is* beautiful :-) at times it's one of my few tenuous links to sanity. i've posted other pix of it before, here and here (posts from last year).

szerelem:
see above. that makes two of us.

4/30/2007 11:15 PM  
Blogger Revealed said...

OMFG! It's beyond beautiful!!! *looks around for any weapon she can use to kill tr for it and wonders how easy it would be to force him to swallow a culture tube full of cancer cells*

(and also whoo hoo for you having found (?) sustenance somewhere else :)

5/01/2007 12:19 AM  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

Take a lot of pics of that view Prof, you're going to miss it. Take a couple of the neighbor too, homesickness cure.

5/01/2007 12:47 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

revealed:
simpler to just stop by for a visit, no? quickly, though -- offer open while stocks last.
and yeah -- whoo freaking hoo! :-D

mt:
HAH, you bet!
loads and loads of pix taken -- none of the neighbor though.

5/01/2007 7:52 AM  
Blogger km said...

One of us has to beg to be able to sit in his office, the other has to sit in his office so others may beg.

Did this idea occur before, during or after the Morangie? :)

5/01/2007 9:10 AM  
Blogger Renovatio said...

Revealed dear, wouldn't stomach acids kill cancer cells? or have I truly forgotten everything I did in eleventh grade biotech?

Truly though, amazing view... nothing like it here in sada dilli I prefer to make my own playlists when I need some wind down time... usually fire it up, and play some pinball on my phone, after slamming it shut so that the sim card gets loose and no one can get through ;P
Never quite figured out how to play spider solitaire

I must say, I love your writing... cheers :D

5/01/2007 10:22 AM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

those two pictures reminded me of the times I spent in hk. the first time was stayin in appartment in Repulse Bay - the view was so beautiful!

The second time spent a month in the hku dorms on pokfulam road - tvat was fun as well. hk is really nice - though I always find it makes me a bit claustrophobic.

5/01/2007 12:28 PM  
Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Felt good to know the geography you're writing about (with the exception of crunchy insects). Was stupid of me not to take photos in your pad.

J.A.P.

5/01/2007 7:37 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

km:
during, of course :-D

renovatio:
thanks :-)
while meri dilli certainly doesn't offer any views of the sout china sea, it does have little bits of meri shaan hidden away. one of my favorite spots was in the ridge -- you go to the awful jawahar gulab vatika in north campus, then walk east away from kingsway camp. cross university road and enter the ridge, go up to the flag staff, then take the long winding road right (great to zip down on cycle!). somewhere before the end, you branch off on a kuccha path to the right, and it will lead you to this most amazing tranquil pool. you can be all alone for hours there - no one will disturb you, and no sounds of any traffic either. (unless, of course, you bring someone special along -- in which case the hijras will be all over the both of you in a flash.)

szerelem:
claustrophobic? maybe the downtown area. not up here. i love this place.

jap:
well you got some pretty decent shots off anyway, didn't you? i love the one of you with your arm inside the fishing bucket in sai kung -- that one's a keeper :-D

5/01/2007 11:45 PM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

Well, that's true. Downtowns the worst...

5/02/2007 5:21 PM  
Anonymous The Drinker said...

Photo's lovely, and it all sounds idyllic. Things are going to be different when you head elsewhere, as you were saying you would.

And regarding people who don't like their work: they do all they can to quit, and then do. Sometimes they change track entirely. While they're there, they either bitch, moan and backstab, or try to keep their heads down, do what they can, and fill their life with enough interesting stuff to keep them going.

But there's a difference between people who don't like their work and people who don't like their colleagues/employers etc. They're often connected, though, and it helps if you can figure out what it is you don't like early on.

5/02/2007 8:21 PM  
Blogger Revealed said...

@renovatio: You question a mgg at your own peril! *draws herself up in quiet indignation and makes up a second culture tube of cancer cells*

@tr: Awwww. An invitation. Yayyyyy :). How long do stocks last?

5/02/2007 10:06 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

drinker:
thanks, yes, it will be different all right.
nice comment, btw. thanks!

revealed:
end of july, at current inventory, with future supplies uncertain.

5/02/2007 11:28 PM  

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