Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The B's

Have you ever been to the real wilderness. I mean stark wilderness ?

Have you ever been in real desert. I mean real desert ?

Have you seen wild animals at close range ? Have you ever encountered a wild elephant ?
Seen wild boars fighting for male supremacy in presence of a female who just watches curiously ? Have you ?

Have you seen the large open mouth of an African black mamba snake?… the mouth opened wide only when it feels threatened.
Have you seen a crocodile lazing with its mouth fully open waiting for a suitable prey ?
Have you seen the live mating of two intimate cobras ? They are unpredictably dangerous at this time.

I have seen and encountered all the above and I am not afraid any of this animals,
I am not afraid of snakes!
I am not scared of crocodiles!
I am not afraid of any of this fierce creatures !!! I am sure that you won’t believe any of my blah blahs.

What if I tell you that I am also human and I too fear certain things ?
Its true, but as usual you won’t believe me !
‘cause I am all blah blah !

Well, for a change, let me tell you that I am afraid of squirrels, which started with my vain attempt to catch one alive, when I was seventeen years.
I lost almost a pint of blood and a bonus of bite marks all over my right hand, the scars lasting almost 5 years.
A squirrel was the only thing in my hit list until recently… to be precise until almost 7 months ago.
So here I go with my next blah blah.

It happened with my routine visits to my trainees in the main oil processing facilities where there are two huge storage tanks that can store almost 3000000 barrels of oil each.
The roof of the tank is called a floating roof as the roof is designed to move up and down in tune with the level of oil.
I wont go in to technicalities of it, as you will stop reading this right away.
My trainees had two specific doubts regarding the roof that floats, and about the water disposal from the roof during the severe rains that prevails in southern Sudan.
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Safety wise it needs a permit to climb over the tank and I got it by 10 AM and six Sudanese trainees and their hapless trainer (~Sigh~) was ready to climb the tank on a hot morning with safety helmets and harnesses.
Three of my agile trainees, took the lead and I was the fourth on the line with another three following me.
As I reached three quarter way up, my breathing has become faster as I put a fresh chewing gum in my mouth, lest what will my trainees think of me.
I heard some commotion up from the top of the ladder and swore “OMG” thinking that one of the trainee must have slipped the stairs and about to fall. But what I saw was a rush of my trainees coming down fast not caring about me or anyone. My trainee Abu Obeida came fast, pushing me sideways not caring about anything else.
Behind him was Yaser, like a rocket they flashed past me shouting something like ‘Nala’ which at that moment didn’t strike me as ‘Nahala’ (Bee in Arabic).
Ahmed who was a bit slow came panting down... behind him I heard something like the hum of an airplane.
Yea, it was exactly like a humming airplane coming so fast that I had no idea what it was until I got the first bite of the killer bee on my cheek.

Every one had helmets on and they were in full sleeved coveralls, yet they bit me at every exposed space in my body. I don’t know how I came down the steep stairs with out falling… all the time desperately trying to ward off the attacking bees.
They made me run for my life.

They were like a pack of dogs attacking with out mercy.
No one were spared, but Ahmed and I were badly bitten, till someone came with a spray or something.
Suddenly there was silence as they suddenly left me and I saw I was sitting on the ground.
There was burning sensation all over my exposed hand, neck and face. I touched my numb face with my swollen fingers and felt like touching a rock.
As I had my glasses on, my eyes were spared.

An ambulance came to pick us as I kept telling them that I don’t need an ambulance.
When I reached the clinic I casually looked at the mirror that was hanging on the wall. With face so much a swollen, even my Mom wouldn’t have recognized me.
The doc was my friend and he immediately checked the sting marks and took my blood pressure. I was surprised and asked the doc the reason for checking the BP, and he explained that these type of bees has a poison that affects the nervous system and seriousness of the poison directly affects the blood pressure.

He said I wont die with a smile and asked me if my rump is strong enough to take three shots , pointing to my butts. That was another pain in my ***
I had to stay put in the office for next three days and Ahmed was allowed to take rest at home for three days.
From here starts my fright of another creature called bees.
After the incident I think squirrels are much better.
So now you know what I am afraid of ! A brave African who is afraid of squirrels and bees.
Just out of my office, on the eastern balcony, beside the concrete pathway is a large tree, which always bear nice and beautiful yellow flowers. Unfortunately my web search for the name of the free failed get a correct one.
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Yellow, being my favorite colour for a flower, I never miss looking at the tree which gives me the immense pleasure at all seasons except in rain, when the yellow flowers just wither off all over there, making a lovely yellow pathway.
You are wondering if I have really become a bit crazy, speaking about different subjects here.
First the squirrel, then the bees and now yellow flowers.
I am not crazy.
But I became almost crazy one day !
What bowled my mind on that day was this a large colony of killer bees in my favorite tree, hardly 20 meters away from where I stood.
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Now you know what I did....
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I ran with out looking back.


Current music : MLTR singing 'Tell it to your heart'

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Paradise not lost...

While looking at this memorable blue of the ocean from the rear cliffs of Hotel Samudra, I thought how much unexpected was this journey at this time.
I recalled about the day before, when I had no idea I will travel and be here so soon
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The previous day I stopped the car and stepped out in the fresh air and looked around the building where my travel agent Maya had her office. The guard asked me which floor I am to and helped me to the lift.
The old gentleman who just came out of the lift smiled at me. His face was familiar to me, though I couldn’t quite recall where I have seen him.
The receptionist was a middle aged woman with glasses, got up to wish me. Crisp and courteous, she was all efficiency.
When I told her that I have phoned her the previous evening, she recalled even my name and whisked me to the inner office where Maya, my travel agent took control from her, to offer me the convenience of the sofa instead of the usual chair.
She sat near me and discussed with me the plans and number of days that I wish to spend in Kovalam.
She showed me the colourful brochures of the 5 star Leela Kempensky hotels and showed me the pictures too of that hotel overlooking the blue green ocean.

I smiled and told Maya that I would like to stay in a KTDC (Kerala Tourism) 3 star Hotel Samudra which I already have seen once. She went on line and did the booking and came back to where I sat to ask about the travel arrangements.

Maya is known to me for the last couple of years due to frequent visits I make in the state of Kerala in south India and she has a keen understanding of my travel needs and knows my habits as well.
She merrily asked me to if I would have a driver to drive my car as she knows my passion to drive on my own… stopping at wherever I liked.
This time she cautioned me about the roads that are in pretty bad shape due to abnormal rains that delayed the annual repairs. I thought for a moment and asked her if she can get me train tickets on an AC two tier compartment.
She was surprised but was on her mobile phone a few minutes and came back to say that if I have to travel by train I would have to opt for a immediate morning one instead of two days later and there will be some changes in the day of travel. She said I have to travel the next day and she gave the hotel booking voucher and assured me that the train tickets will be delivered at my home in the evening it self.

As my plans were rescheduled for the next day I went around my bank and looked at the locations of the ATM’s I may use nearby.
My train tickets too arrived promptly in the evening by a courier and I was all set to go the next morning.
My doctor friend assured me a lift in his car till the railway station.
The train left punctually but the climate was a bit windy with mild showers here and there. The train took almost 6 hours to reach Trivandrum and I was picked up by the courtesy car from the hotel.
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Hotel Samudra is a 3 star hotel, situated on a small but rocky cliff facing Arabian Sea.
The buildings were scattered in three locations making it look like three large houses rather than a hotel. I was given a room facing curved end with a beautiful view of the ocean. It was almost lunch time but I took a round and the sight was beautiful.

I plan to continue the travelogue in two or three episodes so that you all will not get bored of reading long stretches of my blah blahs and I am not going to serialise the episodes too.
I leave a few pictures of the place for you to watch.
Till then…
Current music : Marc Antony :- I need to know.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Stuart the mouse

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The other day I dreamed, a funny scene in fact
I thought it silly

flashed my hand to brush off, my foolish act
now I know I am not so silly

in dream I am a mouse, small, sharp and fast
but in front was a cat

its paws large, the body, towering like a mast
for it, I am a game so neat

it plays lame with me, knowing I won’t last
says I am its treat

knowing I am helpless, choking me as I am beat
it knows I am its meat

then I woke up, with my clothes soaking wet
I felt, I am mouse Stuart

Current music : Run...Lighthouse family.