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So Nisarga has his difficult sleeping days as usual, and I am sleep deprived as a normal state of functioning. Before sleeping late at night (early morning), I realized that I hadn’t heated the milk. The fridge is not working, and it would go bad, so I put it on the gas.

This is part of a before sleeping routine. After the son sleeps. Take the trash out, heat the milk, tidy the kitchen, etc. Just then, Nisarga woke up again, and I hurried to attend to him. The idea was to rock him to sleep, and apparently I rocked us both to sleep!

Next thing I know is morning and my neck stiff from sleeping in a half sitting position. Second next thing is the milk!!! I went out of the bedroom and smelled smoke. Went to the kitchen. The milk had burned completely. It had burned so badly, that the smoke wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The last time I burned milk, I couldn’t stand near the gas when I went to shut it off, let alone contemplate all these things. Which meant it had smoked right past this stage and was now smoking less.

Turned off the gas, headed back to the bedroom to take a deep breath, which reminded me… where was the husband? The drawing room would have got the worst of the smoke! Headed out again. He was sleeping peacefully in the drawing room, just off the kitchen, with the door wide open between them!!!

Raka, it seems had slept through the cloud of smoke that happens when milk burns through completely. This is impossible for me to believe.  How can one sleep through something one can’t inhale in? And that is how bad the smoke from the milk gets.

For a crazy minute I thought he was unconscious or dead. From the smoke. Because of MY stupidity. Panic. All kinds of crazy thoughts. Knowing that if he was fine, he’d yell at me for disturbing him, I shook him awake anyway. He got irritated with me. Definitely alive, lungs fine. All is well. I have never been so happy to have him get angry with me.

Surprise was that apparently no one smelled all the smoke coming from our home. But then, with the bedroom door shut, none reached in there either, but the smoke had only one real exit – the drawing room French window. Impossible that no one would notice, No? but no one noticed. No one came knocking the door to ask what was up and why was there so much smoke.

It is strange and scary. Almost a liter of milk boiled away and then burned in a home with most windows closed, the door to the bedroom closed. From experience I KNOW this means massive smoke, but none reached me, it had already decreased by the time I woke up, the husband had slept through this, no one in our locality had noticed all the extra smoke… or perhaps ignored?

As if the smoke hadn’t existed at all. Yet, the burnt out utensil tells its own tale. Impossible that there was no smoke.

Went to the shop, got new milk, made tea. Writing this post. Still jittery.

This city life is sure scary.
Moral of the story: never leave anything incomplete when rocking the kid to sleep. You never know.

Earlier in 2010, a UN study found far more people in India have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet. Now, with the government all set to have broadband access to all village Panchayats by the next year, I guess we'll have more people with access to the internet than toilets....

On the other hand another study shows that lack of toilets costs India 54 billion dollars every year largely through health related reasons.

While my mountaineering past has enlightened me to the joy of taking a dump under the sky, I don't imagine its as much fun doing it in the middle of civilization.

We have unemployment, we have need for toilets, how much funds will it take to set up public toilets that the communities can contribute small amounts of money to maintain?

Even if we employ say 1 toilet building team per state, whose only job is to go around building toilets and train people to maintain them, this problem should be fixed. It shouldn't be all that complicated, right? We are planning to launch 30 satellites in the next decade. That's a satellite every four months. Building toilets is likely easier than rocket science, no?

Seriously, if anyone from the government is listening, here is the plan. Copy paste, put forward for approval:

Among the unemployed people in each state, form toilet building teams consisting of masons and other labourers. Create a materials allowance per toilet block. Put one people in charge of coordinating this circus - materials arriving, people coming on time, etc - thekedar, you know. Put another in charge of PR and HR - telling people about what is being done, sending reports, attending to any requests for inspection/curiosity, training local people to operate the toilets, getting clearance for ready toilets and taking on the next assignment.

Believe me, this team will discover rich and rewarding careers, and local people will get employed in their maintenance.

Everyone will vote for you for this bright idea and bringing India out of the dog house on this issue at least.

When I brought this up on Facebook, a friend Shilpa mentioned:

In Germany , many public toilets and their maintainence is funded by large corporations . They improve their PR with the public toilet carrying their name 'Constructed and maintained by ...."

Its a great idea.

Actually, why can't building toilets be the sentence given to all these builders prone to scams? Seeing the number of scams floating around, soon, every Indian would have two toilets - one to use and one back up 😀

Jokes apart, why not ask builders being prosecuted to build toilets as a part of their sentence? Surely, community service builds character and all that? Why not give back to the people they shortchanged?