Manmohan Singh and my voltage stabiliser

There are many ways by which we can be sure that the summer has set in. Some realise it from the hot winds. Some do from the neighbourhood uncle’s bare torso. I take my cue from the air-conditioner’s breakdown. My AC usually develops some problem the moment there is a need to use it on a sustained basis. And if it’s winter, you know it, the heater acts cranky.

I have devised a simple, personalised chart based on everyday troubles to help me be aware of things around me: AC conks off, it’s summer. Umbrella goes missing, the monsoon is on. Daughter throws up a tantrum, the day has just begun. The phone rings non-stop, the tele-marketing office has opened for the day. And if everything is quiet and normal, surely something is going wrong silently.

Anyway, for all those who are under the impression that machines can’t think, all I can confirm is you don’t live in my house. I suspect the various appliances, fittings and motorised items in my home to be in some kind of sinister pact to fail at that one juncture which can cause the maximum damage and inconvenience to me. I am tempted to believe that the very many contraptions meet up secretly near the attic when we are asleep and hatch up a diabolic plan, something on the lines: ‘Okay, tomorrow is Monday, the day of his weekly morning meeting. So pass the message to the car to not cooperate when he starts for the office’. And if it’s weekend, it will be the hometheatre system’s turn to behave like a Union member on the day of hartal.

If there is one ultimate philosophical truth in this world, it has to be this: Death is an everyday event — with your electrical appliances and other fittings, that is. But even in this eternally-endangered kingdom, there are some species that are more vulnerable than the others. The bread toaster is a good example to start the list.

If you toast your morning bread on a pan over a stove, you run the risk of burning it. But with a mechanised toaster, you can not only char it beyond recognition, but can also sometimes get to enjoy the added benefit of an electrical jolt. But luckily for us, no electrical toaster, in these parts, has ever been built to last more than a year.

If you, by some random chance, have a toaster that is working fine for more than a year, just call the company and tell them that your toaster is working fine for more than a year. The company will acknowledge that there must have been a huge mistake somewhere and immediately despatch a worker to your house who will take aside the toaster and shoot it down. Of course, he will take the toaster’s DNA sample before pulverising it. He will pass on the gene code to the company’s manufacturing base where they will ensure that the gene, which helped the toaster to work fine for over a year, is never repeated in any of their future products. A constantly performing toaster probably hastens the global warming process or maybe is the cause for erectile dysfunctions.

We are constantly told that most of the electrical and electronic items in India fail because of the fluctuations in the power supply. We are also told that the handy answer to this problem is Voltage Stabilisers. This is the sturdy, efficient workhorse built based on the sound engineering formula: The best way to stop a home appliance from malfunctioning or getting thoroughly damaged during periods of power fluctuations is by tripping the electricity supply itself for the entire house. If the stabilizer is extremely competent it can stall the power supply in the entire neighhourhood. My neighbours seem to have invested heavily in such a stabiliser. Their impeccable logic is if their AC is not working, it’s only fair that I also suffer a sweaty night.

The stabiliser, I suspect, is built much on the lines of our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Much like him, it’s inveterately incapable of stopping any problem. During moments of crisis, again like him, it will make some vague noises and seem to suggest some action. But soon enough all will be dark and silent. But there is one crucial difference though: With stabilizers, you can harbour the hope that they can get better at least in the future.

Ok, back to my house, and back to the conspiracy cooked up by my devices. I am afraid my laptop too has joined the group of ingrates. The laptop is stopping and starting, and some mischief seems afoot. If you, by chance, don’t find the previous paragraphs in this humour column not funny at all you can be sure that the laptop has devilishly changed what I had originally come up with. If things get any serious, the laptop may be emboldened further and sentences may be cu