Saturday afternoon: Both boys are away, but both Sonati and I had rain baths in a lovely sudden afternoon shower, and were having a cup of tea. I was in the front verandah and had just switched off the mains since the thundering seemed to be coming close.

I saw a bright flash of lightning, there was a crrrk sound, the electricity meter burst into flames and almost immediately there was a crash of thunder. Wow!
Sonati came out alarmed, and saw what had happened. The spectacular flames had died down by then but the awful smell of burnt plastic was everywhere. We finished our cup of tea, the rain continued for a while, and then we noticed that the wire from the post to the house was smouldering.

Well, the saga begins…
I called up Kalimuthu who takes our meter readings to ask for the lineman’s number. We had (thankfully) not had anything to do with this new lineman, Rajagopalan, yet.
Kalimuthu called me back with Rajagopalan’s number and I called him and said that the meter had got burnt and would he come and do something. He said (quite gleefully?) that since it was Saturday (and a second Saturday to boot), I would have to come to the Electricity Board office on Monday with an application to the AE and then he would fix the new meter and all would be well.

Sunday, holiday: When Govindraj comes with the milk in the morning, he listens to our story with many a Wow! (His new exclamation of choice) and promptly calls Rajagopalan to make our case. Rajagopalan seems to have forgotten us in the intervening hours (the typical EB stupor?) and listens to Govindraj and says Yes Yes tell him to come tomorrow to the office and all will be well.
Govindraj says that he will also sound out Raman, Govindamma’s husband, who will be the guy to do the actual work.
On his way out, he picks up a melted plastic “wire-holder” and says Wow! as he leaves

Sonati and I plan for tomorrow. Best to treat it like a picnic. Sonati hasn't been to Karumandurai in 2 1/2 years! We do the measuring for the wires, write the letter to the AE and are ready.

Monday morning: We head to the EB office after our coffee on the Hippo Rock. There we are among the first to arrive and are given newly acquired plastic chairs to sit on. First thing I do is to put our phone on to charge. When Rajagopalan arrives, we greet each other and he says that the AE will come and initial the application. It transpires that the AE is a lady (I haven’t been to the EB office in a long while!), so I have to change my Dear sir to Dear madam. The foreman arrives and gets the letter translated into Tamil. He tells Rajagopalan not to keep us waiting for the AE (Who knows when she will come?); just take the money and let them go…
I pay the money for the meter to him, and Sonati and I leave the EB office.

First stop is Raja’s hardware shop where we buy the wire and accessories for the line from the post to the house. This is Sonati’s first visit to the shop. There is a very small (6–7 year old), very sweet boy who is quietly helping Raja. It starts to rain and we are given stools to sit on to wait it out. When the rain reduces to a drizzle we say our byes and head to the next stop: the supermarket. On the way we bump into Sulochana’s husband Perumal, chat for a while, and then enter a swank new Laptop and Cell phone shop so that Sonati can experience the New Karumandurai. Shopping in the supermarket includes buying a new Bread Knife (fancy that!) and chocolate ice-cream cones.

Then it’s shopping at Shiva’s kaai kadai (and a cup of tea from Jayavel) and Jothi’s new grocery shop (Sonati’s first visit) and we are done. We decide to stop off at Jothi’ s house to meet his mother and Kokila. Which means more conversation, tea and vadas which Jothi is asked to bring (hurriedly). And then it is Ho for home.

At Thekambattu, we stop to talk to Gopal’s wife and Rasiamma. When we learn that Rajagopalan is in the vicinity, we decide to head home. At the Post Office we are hailed by Navalur Raja. When we tell our story to an interested audience, Raja says that he will call Rajagopalan and tell him to hurry up. We reach home, wash up and have lunch, after which I decide to establish contact with Rajagopalan again. An SMS arrives from the EB confirming payment of the money for the meter. I call Rajagopalan, who says Yes, Yes I am coming. But doesn’t. It starts to rain, so we know that there is yet another night to have a candle-lit dinner.

Late in the evening, Rajagopalan huffs and puffs his way up the slope accompanied by Boochi, Ponnan’s son and one other. Since we were expecting Raman, Sonati (and initially, I) assumed that this was he. Sonati greeted him and asked how Govindamma was. 
“Ahh, yenna? (what?)”
“Ahh” (Puzzled look)
“Govindamma, your wife”
“Ahh, actually everybody calls her Rajamma”
This was not Raman at all, but Ramachandran, who had accompanied Boochi, for the ride, a little tipsy, too. During Sonati and his crosstalk, I had realised this (both his tipsy-ness and his Ramachandran-ness:-). It is moot whether he thought we were drunk, or he was.
Having established his identity, he now wanted to resolve the situation for us. Three trees have to be cut he said; don’t worry, three trees and all will be well; just three trees. Smiling effervescently, he repeated this three trees mantra every time he caught our eyes. I went with Rajagopalan and Boochi to figure out what all needed to be done, and Sonati tried to avoid eye-contact with Ramachandran as much as possible.
After a (cursory) look around, Rajagopalan says that we will have to “adjust” for today “since it is raining” and that he will show up early tomorrow and we will get current tomorrow. Kandippa (Definitely). I take Boochi’s number since he seems to be the one who is actually going to deliver.
Exit all three, with a detour to shake lemons off a tree on the way: The green lemons wouldn’t fall, obviously, but tenacious Ramachandran wouldn’t give up even though the others had left the stage by then.

Tuesday morning: We were having Coffee on Hippo Rock when we heard voices coming up the slope. We rushed down only to find that these were Chinnathambi and Jayavel come for a seetu for the Sittilingi hospital. After writing the seetu, I spoke my piece once more: Lightning, meter in flames, no current since then… Jayavel immediately whipped out his phone and called Rajagopalan to insist that saar couldn’t stay without power; that he must come immediately etc. Rajagopalan whined about some funeral that he had to attend; that he couldn’t possibly come today but Jayavel shot him down and said that he should make arrangements and get Raman onto the job. He disconnected the phone, cursed the EB briefly and told me Don’t worry, anyway it is Raman who does the work; we will go back and tell him, and ensure that you get power today. When they had left, I called up Boochi who said that he would come, not to worry.

Soon enough, Boochi, (the real) Raman, and his small daughter, Maheshwari (aged 10 or thereabouts) showed up, having turned off the Valagapattu transformer. They worked very well as a team; Boochi climbed the roof, brought down the inlet pipe, and pulled out the burnt wire. The originally green wire had turned black almost all over. Except where the creeper kept it cool.

Then the two of them aided by Maheshwari (and us) set up the whole wiring in what seemed an amazingly short span of time. Raman and Boochi worked well together, and Maheshwari was quietly helping where she could and was quietly watching otherwise. A very sweet and bright girl, very well looked after, it seemed. Her mother was one of the youngest in the team building our house twenty+ years ago.

The connection was made and then the trees obstructing the line were pruned/hacked (Ramachandran’s three trees mantra). One of the trees had grown around the wire!

Raman went off to Valagapatu to turn on the transformer, returned and we put on the mains. But there’s many a slip…
Or rather, one: The line-fuse on our line must have blown: that which had lasted 20 years must have been done in by the lightning. And so it turned out to be. Raman fixed the fuse. We got our current back, and gave the team til sweets (“muh meetha karo”) first; then paid them off (Maheshwari got a Channapatna yo-yo) and settled down to lunch.

I am writing this on Friday. No sign of Rajagopalan and the meter yet. We are enjoying free electricity while it lasts. And since I am uploading so many photos, here is one of the happy couple: