Part II: Celebration and Chaos
In the new year, they decorated the floor. This was a pleasant surprise to most of us, but soon turned very unpleasant. They had put balloons and ribbons on top of all the cubicles, on the walls, near the door and on all the tables. It was all fine in the morning. From evening on wards, the balloon started bursting, by themselves. The first one came at a time when a sudden lull had descended on the floor. Apart from waking up the dancer-sleeper, it gave a rude and unnecessary jolt to several people, who being old, are also weak of heart.
Then it started happening quite often, and became a source of annoyance to people. Worse, the ribbons attached with the balloons would fall off and land on people in the midst of their work. I witnessed a ribbon drop on the table of a lady who sits near me. She talks in hushed tones to someone over the phone for most part of the day and laughs in muffled hyena like ways. This lady made a face that had disgust reeking from it, when she beheld the rogue ribbon. Then she picked it up, holding it with two fingers lightly at the edge, as if it were the dirtiest thing she ever saw and dropped it on the floor. She watched it keenly as it made its slow journey down, and seemed rather mistrustful of its ways. Once it landed on the floor and she had satisfied herself with the inspection that it could commit no further nuisance, she went back to working. A few minutes later, I looked up on hearing what seemed to be the laughter of a heavily gagged hyena and saw her back on the phone.
The balloons on the tables had long flown off and were now being kicked all around the floor. Unsuspecting people would often find a balloon kicked by a man passing in great haste float slowly towards him/her. If that person deflected it successfully, the neigbour looked up, startled, as he/she perceived something to have landed on the head. In short, the balloons were a cause of concern. The department decided to deal with it. Over the weekend, they took down all the balloons, even the ones at the door. The arc of white, blue and red, which people had been passing beneath, since the new year was suddenly gone. The floor was back to being what it was before.
P.S. : I discovered another machine in the floor above mine that said it made tomato soup. On pressing the button for what I believed would be tomato soup, I got some yellow water with little black things floating in it. Needless to say, I threw it out.
My hunt for tomato soup was on, even the next day. I went to the last but one floor, and with the aid of a colleague secured a packet of tomato soup from their mini kitchen. I mixed it in the water and from the first sip knew that this was not what I was expecting. It was a bit too strong to be tomato soup. It tasted more like a soup made of pepper, salt and some turmeric. I reached the end of the paper cup still looking for tomato, and found some suspicious looking sediments at the bottom. Another colleague who was watching me trying to down the stuff said that I should have stirred it well. I could only nod in response.
Among other things, I have learnt to place full faith in the coffee machine in my floor. It’s in bad shape and we tend to disagree often on taste, but at the end of a long day, when my misadventures with tomato soup and what not have failed dismally, I always come back to it. And it never fails to produce that one cup of coffee or tea, especially at times when I need it the most.