As a kid I remember being told by my near and dear ones to be very careful with electricity, having got little jolts of the same at times of not being cautious I sure do know what it feels to get electrocuted. And I suppose all of us would have got such advices and are very cautious when there are wires with open ends around.
First few days I spent in singampatti near KMTR, got me all sorts of breathing complications due to a very dirty room and the cold water bath added to my misery. When the Sorimuthian kootam (will write about it later) was over and Dr ganesh took me to Kodayar where my work would actually happen, I was quite happy to see the placid surroundings, mist or rather cloud covered mid elevation evergreen forests, calls of great black woodpecker resonating in the tall forests and the gaurs glistening in the early morning sunrise on the hills due west. All this made the place all the more beautiful!
Chetan, my colleague was showing me around the quarters where we stay and in the bathroom, I set my eyes upon two nails projecting on the wall, curious as I was, asked him what it was and got a shock when he told me not to touch it even in my dreams as it is fed live through the transformer and the nails are used to fit the heater to heat water. With that, I still had not understood what the “heater” was the impression I had was a typical water heater element which is to be dipped into the bucket of water. I forgot about it till a month later when I moved in to stay and start my work in the field.
Soon I realized what the Heater Chetan had talked to me about was- there was a heating element true, wound on a normal 4X10 cm cardboard with two leads connecting two single core insulated wires hooked at the free ends. Still confused as to how it works, I asked Vivek, another colleague of mine to demonstrate the operation of it, and looking at the sparks flying when it was hooked on to the nails I was surprised, shocked and taken aback at the same time!
It took me quite some time to get used to the fact that such dangerous equipment is used to heat water. A cold water bath atleast wouldn’t kill people!
Having stayed there and gotten used to the weather there, I realized that the cold water bath can actually kill as the temperature goes down to about 8 degrees in winter and decided that death in the hands of the heater was a better bet and began using the same, it became a regular thing to any one of us who are there to explain the functioning and repairing of the heater to any new comer.
Once a lady called mythri came to volunteer for my work in the canopy and after a long tiring journey in the bus, we reached Kodayar by late evening and being a gentleman, I asked her to freshen up first and then I would do the same, she obliged and left to the bathroom, suddenly I realized that I had not followed the protocol of telling her about the nails and rushed in asking her to wait and all of a sudden there was a mild squeak and a long silence of a few seconds which seemed like donkeys ages.
The worst possible things ran through my mind as I jumped across the living room to the bathroom to see what was wrong.
There I saw mythri standing and staring at the nails, speechless. On seeing me she pointed to the nails and on it was the room key, which she had delicately hung on the nail to keep it safe. It was in fact so safe, no one could get it out! Relived that she was safe, I got a wooden stick, used to hoist our celphones when talking and removed the key thanking the stars for saving her life.
And after that a long advice and a little bit of exaggeration of how close to death she was followed and I think it did serve the purpose of making her aware of the dangers of such silly mistakes that she stopped using the nails to heat water and either muthu my assistant or myself had to do it for her.
What I still don’t understand is why would anyone with any little common sense, hang a metal key to a nail visibly wound around by a wire!