Friday, January 14, 2022

saving the world

this dream from 30th December 2021 refuses to leave me, so I figured I should blog it for posterity.

it was the end of the world, in a sense. all technology and communication had stopped working.

we hurriedly decided to flee the city. we hopped onto a bus, with nothing other than the clothes on our backs. it was a rickety bus, seats fully occupied but not crowded. we were somewhere in Kerala - dad, mom, kevin, shruti and me. we were glad to get out of the city before the violence and looting started, and did not think even once about the life we were leaving behind. while in the bus, I discussed with kevin what could have happened. the bus was functioning, so it wasn't a complete EMP style switch-off of all electrical devices. our phones were still powered up, but there was no network signal. so i assumed it was some sort of communication outage, which resulted in the power grid shutting down. we tried the FM receiver in my phone, and it didn't pick up any channels either.

on my advice, the bus avoided national highways, and stuck to narrow village roads. I also asked the driver to head to the coast, as I felt that would give us the best chance of survival. we were not far from the coast to begin with, and it was soon within sight. the road we were on headed straight to the coast, and then turned right to follow it. to the left, was a small village. compared to the adjoining farmland, it stood out as heavily wooded, with just a few houses peeking out from among the trees. i noticed my watch was still working, and it showed me my GPS coordiantes.

I had a strange feeling about the village, as we approached it. I felt some strange fate awaited me there. I wasn't sure if I should take my folks along though. I quickly asked kevin to note down my GPS coordiantes on a piece of paper, and told him I would be getting off and getting into the village here. I told him to advise the bus driver to continue straight along the coast until he found a large enough village to accomodate all the folks on the bus, and then stop there - but do not leave the coast under any circumstances. I told him that they should stay put, and if I did not catch up with them in a month, he should try to find me - I will only leave this village if I am reasonably sure that it's safe to do so and that I can either bring my folks back to where I am, or join them.

I kissed shruti goodbye and had to quickly get off the bus as I did not want to risk holding the bus up. I didn't really get a chance to say much to my parents either.

on the dusty side of the road, i walked towards the village - the first building - a sprawling ground floor structure, surrounded by trees that covered it in a canopy of shade - was a few dozen feet from the road. it looked like a school building. I noticed people moving inside. I stood at the half open door and called out if anyone was inside. A lady walked up to the door. I told her my name and told her I need to meet the person in charge - and that it's urgent.

She asked me to sit inside and asked if I'd like a cup of coffee. I gladly agreed, as I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since we left in the morning, and it was already late afternoon. the room looked like a large dining room, with the rectangular table large enough to seat at least 20. the table and chairs were built of solid, dark wood, and seemed well used but in perfect condition. consdering it was a school, the room could very well have been a staff room. as I was finishing my coffee, a man walked in. he had shoulder length hair, but was completely bald on the crown of his head. he had a bushy mustache. I was astonished. I recognized him: he was my computer teacher from back when I was 16! and surprisingly, he recognized me too!

we didn't call each others' names out though - I have a feeling he recognized me but didn't remember my name. he said "fancy meeting you, and at such a time! the last time we met, wasn't altavista the best search engine in the world?" and I replied back "yeah, and how's your xatax game going?" to which he said something like "it's too late to practice that now".

he was someone important (being the guy in charge, obviously), and asked the lady who had promptly appeared when he entered, to make him a coffee, refill mine, and bring out some biscuits.

as we sipped our coffee, he said "i assume you're wondering the same thing as i am" to which i replied, "yeah, figuring out what the hell is wrong with the world, aren't we?"

he said I've obviously had a long journey, and he needed a few minutes to get soemthing done as well. he asked me to take my coffee and biscuits and wait for him in the adjacent room where we could speak in private. the adjacent room was a little smaller, and looked like a large office - presumably his. it had another door, which looked like it might be a private entrance. sure enough, a couple of mintues later, he entered this office from that door, and sat across me at the desk. he asked me how I am and if I'm alone. I told him about my family headed along the coast.

he reassured me that they were welcome in this village, once we figured how to get them and when it was safe to do so. but first things first: this problem that possibly everyone in the world was facing.

he dropped his tone a bit, and told me: I know an intelligent man when I see one. We are in a situation where we need every bit of collective intelligence we can muster. the people in this village are hard working and kind, but not particularly intelligent. it's a stroke of fate that we have met in these circumstances, but the situation is fragile: the villagers will follow him as long as they trust him. he said my prsence as someone he will vouch for as intelligent and trustworthy, will cement the villagers trust in him to help them navigate this situation. he said that while he thinks he knows me and i think I know him, we cannot risk being wrong about each other. so we will do our best to stay united and pretend we are long lost friends.

he said he's a man of honour and would not lie. so, in order to make sure he doesn't need to, we need to agree not to ask each other questions about each others' past, or anything that could conclusively prove or even give rise to a doubt that we are not the persons we believe each other to be. we also need to act like the situation is compeltely under control.

i told him i see the intelligence in his thought, and I agree.

he said that as there are no pressing problems at the moment in the village, and I am quite tired, I should eat and sleep for the night. we will meet first thing in the morning to discuss what should be done. he reassured me my parents wouldn't go too far, as the nearest village along that road was just a few kilometres away - I could borrow his motorbike tomorrow to visit my folks, and reassure that village as well that things would be fine soon.

as we prepared to leave that room, I asked him "what should we call each other?"

he told me I could call him Charles. I told him he could call me Kristopher (spelled with a K).

I was relieved. Charles was indeed the name of my computer teacher when I was 16!

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