Archive for health and safety

Bhakti Banquet

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 25, 2012 by javedbabar

“What do you think they are queuing for?” asked one of the marshalls, eying the long line of people that continued around a corner. A good proportion of the five hundred people at Guru Baba’s darshan were in it.

“For food, I think,” said Sami.

“But the food stands are over there, and they are moving in the other direction.”

“So, what are they queuing for?”

The marshall nodded drolly. “They are queuing for food, and they are moving in the other direction. That’s the problem.”

Sami had been busy for the last half hour behind the scenes, fixing security and technical problems, and hadn’t noticed the queue building up. The queues to get in had been well managed, and there was a steady flow of people going in and out of the Transparent Temple, but there was pressure building inside. He went to take a look.

Guru Baba had often said that the right to food was a human right, and people here were taking him literally. There was an unbelievable queue for free Street Snacks, but none at all for the Bhakti Banquet, a set of ten delicacies in a jewel-edged palm leaf, costing a hundred dollars a plate.

Bhakti means love. The money earned from sale of this food of love would subsidize snacks and fund Baba’s charity projects. This notion hadn’t worked though, and the Bhakti Banquet’s servers were lined up, chatting, themselves looking like a queue.

Sami returned to the marshall and said, “This is a disaster. The queue is so long it has wrapped around itself completely. That’s why it seems to be moving in the wrong direction.” He silently joined a mantra for two verses, and continued. “I’m sure that’s why you came to tell me.”

The marshall nodded.

“So what should we do? I wanted to do something special for this event. I thought the two different meals would balance each other, but it looks like we’ll run out of snacks and have hundreds of banquets left over.”

The Bhakti Banquets would all go to waste. The Authority’s health and safety regulations banned distribution to volunteers, poor families and homeless people. The event would be a black hole. It was meant to pay for itself, not suck money out of projects for widows, orphans and disaster relief victims. Food is meant to produce energy, maintain life, and stimulate growth. The Bhakti Banquet was wasting people’s energy, maintaining servers’ boredom, and creating waste. It was anti-food.

The marshall said, “I was helping my son with his homework last week. It was about the history of food. The earliest method to secure it was hunting and gathering, then agriculture, and now most people rely on the food industry. It’s amazing how things have changed. Once everybody was responsible for sourcing their own food, and now people think potatoes grow on trees. How did that happen?”

“That’s it!” said Sami. “Thank you!”

In the same way that darshan affects individuals, slowly changes society, and eventually improves the world, so modern media affect everything too. A commercial conspiracy has been created. Excess war chemicals are sprayed on fields to accelerate food growth. Lotteries boost the economies of modern nations. Everyone is told they will be happier if they buy stuff. Men use cosmetics. Women drink beer. The medium is the message. The medium does the massage. We have no choice but to partake of it.

Sami announced on the intercom, “Anybody buying a Bhakti Banquet will be entered into a draw to win Baba’s robes.”

People broke from the Street Snacks queue and ran to the other side.

Deep Cleaning

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2012 by javedbabar

The annual deep clean was planned for March 21st. It always fell upon or around the Spring Equinox. Dust had been building up all winter, with bugs scuttling, and mice cuddling, in the hidden corners of the Lucerne Valley Hotel. It was time to blast away cobwebs and welcome in the sun.

Thoroughly cleaning a fifty room, hundred year old hotel was a big job, too much for the regular housekeepers. The solution was to close the hotel for the day and bring in an external crew called LDC: Lucerne Deep Clean. They must be cost-effective, thought TJ, otherwise the Lifetime GM, Mr Kazantzakis, would not have employed them. In spring LDC vans were everywhere, but what they did for the rest of the year was anyone’s guess.

TJ saw twenty people in orange jumpsuits milling around in the dark car park, before a stocky, blonde haired woman entered the hotel and said, “Hello, I am Lucinda Smart, project manager for LDC. We are contracted to clean your building today between six a.m. and six p.m. I make it exactly six a.m. now. Shall we begin?”

“Hi, I’m TJ, the night-receptionist. I’m only on for another hour, but I can get you started.” TJ had met her last year too, but she didn’t seem to remember. She probably met many night-receptionists.

“I think we know what we’re doing. Are all fifty rooms open? Good. We will follow the usual procedure: dust, polish, hoover, wash, recycle, trash, check.”

“DPHWRTC – very catchy,” said TJ, and then wished he hadn’t.

She looked at him blankly, and then smiled. “Are there any rooms that require special attention? We can start on those first.”

“Yes there are.” He scanned the booking sheet and marked some room numbers. “These were in use during the scientists’ convention, and seem like they were shaken about. I don’t know how else to describe their state. And this one,” he couldn’t help blushing, “was used for my stag party last week. The less said about that the better.”

His friends had given him the choice of being entertained by male or female strippers, both wearing lipstick and leathers. When he chose the female, they vetoed his decision. They said it was good training for marriage. After that they brought in a donkey, and he chose not to remember the rest. However he did wonder how they got it up there.

Lucinda said, “Well, let’s hope there’s not too much of a mess. Our process is the same as always but the intensity is different. We won’t be cleaning as deeply as before, and in fact, we will soon be changing our name to LSD: Lucerne Supply Duties.”

TJ was surprised. That was a good acronym, but did they really wish to be associated with psychotropic drugs? All he could say was, “Why is that?”

“The Authority has complained that we make things too clean. It conflicts with their Health and Safety policy. Over-sanitization reduces natural resistance to infection. Also, on a practical level, dust just comes back again, so why try too hard? They also make an aesthetic argument; having no stains seems characterless, and no mess gives an institutional feel. So we will only be shallow cleaning today. We will be done in two hours.”

“But you said you would be working from six to six.”

“Oh yes, we will charge you for twelve hours, but only work for two. You will benefit from this more advanced process.”

TJ had never heard such hokey reasoning in his professional life, and he protested. Lucinda Smart pulled a gun out of her pocket, and said, “Look, I’ve cleared all this with your boss, Mr Kazantzakis. We will leave supplies in each room as we clean. It is an additional income stream for both parties. Now please let us get on with the job.”