January 09, 2008

Oil well blues

Driving in west Texas, I come over a gentle rise in the long straight road I'm on, and what do I see before me? Oil wells. This peculiar apparatus that moves partly round and round, partly up and down, row after row of it, and I drive past them for easily the next 100 miles.

Many are motionless. But many are working. On top, a big arm with an oval "head" moves up and down, like that famous toy with the two long-necked birds that alternate trying to dip into a glass of water. Nearer ground level, two separate smaller arms, also with oval heads, go in circles. That circular motion is translated, piston-like, into the up-down motion of the arm above.

The ones that are moving are strangely, well, moving, though perhaps its my frame of mind. There's a gentle deliberateness to the motion, I imagine almost hypnotic were I not driving past. The lower arms, from one angle and at the point in their motion where their heads are at the top of the circle they describe, look startlingly like a young kid wearing a stetson, or a sombrero. And with the upper arm rising and falling, the whole effect is very like a fond father, bending low to pick up and swing his small child, again and again, using both his arms, never fully straightening up.

I've seen fathers like that. I remember a father like that.


Anonymous said...


I am a frequent visitor to your blog and know you from your Rediff columns which I immensely enjoyed (esp the one about how you helped an auto accident victim in Mumbai and the court ordeal you had to go through ).

Anyways, not knowing you well enough, I wonder what kind of job lets you travel so much (seemingly for pleasure) in India and the US....I am based in Fremont, CA...I understand you were in these parts recently...now you are in Texas....

I am betting that you made a pot of money, took an early retirement...and are enjoying the good life...:-)


Dilip D'Souza said...

NS, thanks. I'm always amazed by people who remember things I wrote even a few years ago!

"pot of money" -- well, I wish! And while this is fun, doing it entirely on my own, without being able to share what I see and do with those I care for, is not what I'd call the good life.

No, I have a project in mind (the current US travel). I feel like I've got to try and complete it, that's all. It's a huge gamble, but I've persuaded myself that sometimes you have to take gambles ...

The India travel is both for work and, whenever we get the chance, with the family. I think it's important for my kids to see and get to know their country and the world they live in.

Soapbox speech done now.

Anonymous said...

dude, you're like half hour from my home!!! pls do call5056931396, would be a real privilege meeting you in person. i live by muleshoe & haven't met a fellow indian in ages now.

k,just another blog reader

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the call. Hopefully we'll meet up in Bosque. Drive careful.