The inscrutable Chinese
Before I even knew it, we had bought a Chinese product! That was the easy part. The difficult part was knowing how to use it. Here is the Instruction Set that came with it. To make sense of this, you need to be a master of Mandarin-Chinese or a linguistic genius. (I tried Microsoft Spell-check, but their syntax interpretations were hilarious). Before I tell you the rest of the story, have a shot at deciphering it ( I assure you that I have not altered even a comma from the original) :
Although our sons were grown up and practicing professionals, my wife wanted us to celebrate Deepavali in traditional style: meaning, “bring in the fireworks”! I hate standing in queues outside the fireworks shop, but my son ordered everything on the internet. (Exactly like it happens in Amazon’s TV ad). We agreed that ordering Chinese stuff for an Indian Deepavali would be incongruous and unpatriotic. So my son specifically ordered all items that were branded Indian fireworks made in Sivakasi, Tamilnadu. Yet, he was remiss about one item which was called “wishing lantern”. It turned out to be hopelessly Chinese (with that mysterious Instruction Set). I checked (where else?) on the internet. Apparently it is the Chinese tradition to light a paper lantern and let it fly on festival days, like a Montgolfier Balloon. That seemed quite cute: as the lamp begins to float in air, one is supposed to make a wish, and the Gods would make it come true (so the tradition goes). Our only wish was that it would fly; alas, it came crashing down by its own weight and burst into flames. May be Chinese Gods do not honour Indian wishes? I am even more convinced that I should not buy ersatz Chinese stuff!
Hope & Despair
Hope: (1) My son prepares the solid fuel for the flight (2)Yet, the heat is insufficient— so more local fuel is added to the fire (3) Finally, we make a valiant effort to launch it with muscle power!
Clearly we are not the Montgolfier brothers!