Pappu Singh was thrilled last week. Well, he got famous, even if just in the small universe of people who can afford the time and patience to bear this column. He proudly framed a cutout to display it, and then realised that his kebab counter (read thhela) doesn’t have a wall!! Anyway, talking of walls, our houses have many.
And till a few years back, we used to have entities called windows (yes, the same term which kids today define as a computer operating system) on them. Yesterday, I accompanied a friend on a house-hunting spree. And I can’t narrate this properly without introducing you to Chaddhaji, the property agent. There are people and there are people and then there is Chhadhaji. He has a theory, his own, for everything in life.
While explaining a furnished apartment for rent, he mentioned a ‘slight’ drawback — that the neighbour has illegally extended his flat so much that his balcony almost kisses this apartment. “Won’t I have privacy issues?” asked my friend. “Oh, not at all ji,” said Chhadha, “the apartment has three windows, all of them have ACs fitted in them. Where’s the scope of any taank jhaank?” Hmm… this is what we’ve come to. Why bother about fresh air when we can afford air-conditioners — at home, in cars, at work? At the risk of offending all those who think ACs are life-savers in Delhi’s horrid weather, I think this device has put a lot of us, and not just Aarushi Talwar’s parents, through hell.
A community in which everybody is sealed behind closed windows and doors is not healthy. No denying that ACs prove a boon when the weather is such that the 70 per cent water our bodies are made of can be seen outside as sweat, but c’mon, we’ve become slaves to the device and we know it. I have friends who say ‘hi’ later and ‘switch the damn AC on’ first when they enter homes.
They are stressed when the ACs don’t function… then they are stressed when they function just too well and produce a huge electricity bill. And despite all the artificial temperature controlling, running noses and tissues in hands are a permanent fixture with them. The calmness trick this week is not to be impractical and shun the ACs but to try and ditch them once in a while and feel connected to the natural, fresh air.
Spending the entire day in an AC environment means you have to readjust each time you step outside. This is not just stressful for the body but also means you’re more likely to avoid outdoor activity. When I was a kid, we had just one AC in the house, in the living room, to impress the guests. And we never really had a problem sleeping at night. Now we do, if the AC doesn’t work. It’s the modern-day slavery… to conveniences.
Sonal Kalra can’t ask you to mail her your calmness tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s under the bed, trying frantically to search for the AC remote.