CISF’s Daring Rescue in Bangalore

Yours Truly with CISF Officer Ravindra Pratap
The Absent-Minded Professor with CISF Officer Ravindra Pratap.

This week I left Kolkata to spend a week in Bangalore working with the highly acclaimed Bangalore Little Theatre  (affectionately known as BLT) where I will catch some of their new plays, accompany them to a rural area where they do theatre education outreach to economically disadvantaged schools, and where I will teach a one-day playwriting workshop to BLT members.

My Indigo Airlines flight was on time, and finally during my flight I got to have one of my much anticipated Indian delicacies, the Indigo Airlines chicken junglee sandwich and a cup of Darjeeling tea. If you haven’t tried one, you haven’t lived. You think I’m kidding.

The trouble began after I landed at KIA (Kempegowda International Airport).  I grabbed a luggage trolley (always free in India; a lesson for US airports) and dropped my shoulder bag into the topmost rack of the trolley near the handlebar.  My two pieces of checked luggage arrived on the belt in no time. I tossed them onto the trolley and made for the exit while opening the Uber app on my phone.

Along the way I stopped at a small shop in the airport lobby, left my trolley near the shop entrance and took two steps to the counter to buy a bottle of water, all of which took less than 60 seconds.   I was soon outside pushing my trolley up and down the sidewalk, past the Subway, the Krispy Kreme, and a host of other colorful eateries that were primarily a mix of South Indian and US cuisines, looking for the blasted Uber pickup spot. I had already requested the car so I needed to hustle.

Only when I reached the Uber stand and started to load my luggage into the car did I realize my shoulder bag was missing.  I whipped the trolley around and walk-ran back toward the terminal.  Some wiseguy had lifted my bag right off my cart while I was buying water, I  fumed.   Where am I, Philadelphia?

I flagged down a security guard. “Excuse me, my bag has been stolen.”  After the struggle of going through the particulars in English (my broken Bangla is worthless here in the state of Karnataka where the native language is Kannada), he sent me to the airport’s Central Industrial Security Force control center.  The CISF is a branch of India’s armed police force and is tasked with guarding industrial and infrastructure sites, including airports.

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The Magical Island of Weirdos

weirdos proof

The uncorrected proof has arrived! The boy wanted to write a chapter book this summer. He stuck it out through 10 chapters. I served as mentor/editor and bad illustrator but the story is fully his own. He wants to give out autographed copies for the holidays and wants it to look like “a real book.” I’m self-publishing a small quantity to make that happen. What a hoot! This is just a teaser.

weirdos3

weirdos proof2

 

Eulogy for Radio Shack

trs80-iI confess. I’m one of the five remaining nerds who’ve been keeping Radio Shack hanging on by a rapidly fraying thread these past few years and have been heartbroken watching them pop like bubbles in NYC and Philadelphia. This unique electronics chain brings back childhood memories in Virginia.I first saw and used a computer, the TRS-80, there, and my poor mouth watered. I knew I would never be able to own one.

It has been a mainstay these days for components my young son and I use in our electrical crafting projects.  Sure, you can get that stuff online but it’s so much fun going through all the little drawers  at Radio Shack, browsing for various colored LEDs,  different sized toggle switches and numerous knobs.

The lone holdout in Philly, to my knowledge, was the one at 1616 Chestnut in bustling Center City. Imagine my shock when I finally went there again last week after months of carrying a tattered Post-It shopping list around in my wallet that read “Blick” and “wire” in my nearly illegible lefty scrawl, to find that yet another Radio Shack had met its maker. Blick is Dick Blick art supplies just a few blocks away at 13th and Chestnut. At least I’d be able to stop in there soon and cross that one off my shopping list.

A few days later I had wheels for the day to go fishing in southern Jersey on Long Beach Island about 90 minutes away.  I swung by the sad, abandoned Radio Shack again on my way out of town, hoping maybe there’d be some info in the window along the lines of, Please visit our nearest location at… but the bereaved staff hadn’t even tried. Here’s all I found:

radioshack

That left me with two choices; spend my day, and my car rental, tracking down Radio Shacks, or spend my day fishing.  According the web, the nearest Radio Shack was way off in northeast Philly on Aramingo Avenue. It was listed online as open, but then again so had this one been.

I didn’t bother calling to check but opted for a compromise instead, reaching for my phone. Perfect, there was a Radio Shack listed as open on Route 70 in Marleton, New Jersey, directly en route to LBI.  I kept my eyes peeled as I cruised past and, sadly, it was covered in SPACE AVAILABLE signs from a realty company.  I didn’t even need to slow down. In the end, I came up empty-handed on both the Radio Shacks and the fish, but nonetheless what a lovely summer day to have tried both.

20170813_083458   My son’s latest crafting project:  an electrical birthday card for a friend complete with on-off toggle switch and an LED bindi (or teep as we say in Bengali). Components: two CR2016 button batteries in a holder, a two-position toggle switch, red LED and small gauge single strand wire.

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