After washing shirts, towels, jeans etc. I made a shopping list. Was going to do the bed sheets as well but then realised they were doubles and as I haven’t slept on one side at all (two single beds together) just did a left to right and saved some domestic work. On my way out I bumped into the landlord who asked me to re-position my washing line as it would bring the drain pipe down. That’s moan number one. It won’t, but rather than argue I said OK.
As I pass H’s house I stopped by to ask if she wanted to come with me to the market/town centre. I think she was pleased I asked as M is off to Jeypore for the day. So off we set into town. First stop to the ATM as she needed some money. ATM not working so we proceeded to shop. First stop H bought some tools: hammer, screwdrivers, and pincers. The guy working the stall was that unlikely being, honest. How do I know? H was examining the screwdrivers and decided she needed both a flat head and a cross head. Stallholder points out that the blade shaft is reversible so she only needed one. A major sale lost: as there are very few Westerners here the likelihood of him getting a bad name for being less than helpful is remote. I advised him to rename his shack as Honest Joe’s (any Indian name is hard to spell so just pretend his name is Joe). All to knock some nails in for holding things up. Then to the shoe shop to get flip flops for her. I took her to the place I bought mine from so the owner greeted us, I introduced H and hot tea was offered (in a tiny Arabic type glass) which we gratefully received whilst she decided what to buy. Like me, her UK sandals had failed and needed some for the water and mud we have to walk through from time to time, or should I say every day.
The monsoon is over, not that it ever happened (climate change and all that) so where does the water come from. Most homesteads here do not have main drainage thus the waste simply runs out of the holes hacked into the wall where wherever their water supply is. That assumes of course they have running water. Those without water do what they always do, collect it from the nearest stream. Eureka, now you know where the water to make mud (and other stuff) comes from.
Mixed with the cow dung it is sometimes a very heady mixture. And talking of cows most people will know that India has Holy Cows. In Koraput we don’t have Holy Cows we have herds of the stupid animals. They are everywhere. Wandering the streets, people’s yards if they have forgotten to close the iron gates and in among the crowds of shoppers and people just out for a gossip. A small hard of 7 have taken up residence outside a computer training college just 10 minutes from where I live. I pass them every time I walk into town. The computer students must throw out a daily load of rubbish otherwise the cows would have moved on. That leads to my rubbish disposal problem. No collections so where to put? I ask my landlord and he says outside his boundary by the side of the road (it’s really a track but I’m not one to argue). So I do just that. Three days later we bump into each other and moan number two is verbalised. Wrong place for rubbish. He shows me where his invisible boundary ends. Not that there is anything left of my original rubbish after the goats have been at it. But I see this as a success. I know now where the semi-official rubbish dump is. But wait up, my sorry tail of woes are not complete without mentioning moan number three. My flat does have running water (I do have some luxuries) provided either he or I remember to start the water pump up to fill the roof tank. But if you leave it running for more than 10 to 15 minutes the tank overflows and certain residents of the abode may get wet. Landlord lives in the floor above me. Yes, you’ve guessed it. I forgot to turn the pump off and I’m accosted by a very sorry looking landlord trying to maintain his dignity whilst he reminds me of the time limit. I apologise and pretend my twin was to blame. After all he has an invisible boundary so why shouldn’t I have an invisible twin.
But, I digress. To continue our grand shopping expedition. From acquiring tools a mechanic would be proud of (not a good mechanic, I accept) we started on my stuff. Salt, apples, and candles for when the inevitable power is off. (did you spot the oxymoron, there is nothing inevitable about power here other than it will fail sometime(s) everyday). On the way back bumped into a guy from my office so intros were made and even later we bumped into someone H knew from the mobile phone office where she had spent many a happy hour trying to get connected to the rest of the world... He directed us to another ATM so having walked there we discovered that that wasn’t working either. H declined my offer of a loan at 1000% interest per day. I wonder why?
The whole journey took 2 hours so I see at as good exercise for the week. At 1:30 we set off to A’s place for lunch so even more walking. Just before I set off to A's I thought I heard some tapping. Rain. Rushed outside and brought it all in as it was almost dry. Hung it on my line in the reception hall room. Later on (10:00pm) everything is dry except jeans which are still a bit damp. No problem it’s trousers tomorrow anyway. A had done the nearest approach to an English meal. Chicken, potatoes and 3 veg. And for afters he had found some cake that was very near to Madeira which was actually very tasty. All washed down with a beer and tea to finish it all up. But H and I both protested that there was no rice (as if we would). Chatting about India I said it was weird that I didn’t actually feel I was anywhere in particular. They suggested it was because Koraput, for all its noise, dust and people was in fact very laid back. Plus being so remote you are cut off from the world at large. At 5 we all left, A and H to try the ATM again and I back to the flat.
If you find Koraput on Google satellite Maps and identify the Government Hospital, I live just within shouting distance of the Hospital. A lives by what is known as the Malaria tank, also on the map. To give a sense of the size of the place it takes 20 minutes shuffle to A’s from the flat. And my weekend is over.