Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ooops, Down On My Butt!!!

What does a certain someone do when life suddenly pulls the carpet from under her feet and sends all *beeep* pounds of her tumbling down faster than Jack & Jill with their rusty pail?
Cuss a little......
Cry silent tears of rage....
Eat some chocolate....
And, get back into the rat race with her thick lower lip sticking out ominously !!!

Watch out world...Here comes the manic road roller....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Martian Fashion Muddle

" What should I wear to the Investors' Meet on Saturday?"
I scowled in annoyance.... This must be the gazillion-th time Dsk was asking me this question.
I had already offered him my suggestions.
Not once. Not twice...But, many times over.
And, as usual, all of them had ricocheted off the thick martian skull and buried themselves in oblivion.
Perhaps he is just trying to irritate me, I thought darkly to myself.
" Wear a dhoti"
* startled silence*
"Wear a what???"
" A Dhoti..." I replied artlessly "You know what that is, don't you?....Panche in your language. Mundu in mine....The traditional piece of cloth which Indian men drape around their waist.."
* silence again*

The martian was now on uncertain territory but, going by past experiences, I could bet my last penny that he would not back down....Or admit that this was ground already covered..." What I meant was, should I should wear my coat and tie?"" Brilliant!!!....make sure you get a yellow and purple polka dotted tie..."

I found it hard to supress a giggle, as I imagined him staring at the phone in sheer disbelief.
" You mean over the dhoti???"

Not trusting myself to speak, I mumbled assent
" ....and I suppose I should wear my formal shirt as well?"
" Na na, your stripped T Shirt with the gaping hole on the chest will do"
" Which Tee? Which hole"
" You know, the one you spilt cold coffee on the other day? I was up half the night to get the stains out..."

My tone gets to Dsk, prompting him to back down a wee bit
" That is my lucky Tee...."
" All the more reason to wear it with the dhoti, black coat and the purple-yellow polka dotted tie"
* Ominous Silence*
" Are you trying to be funny?"
" No, I thought you were..."
" I can get sacked, you know...Or slaughtered..."
" Probably both" I assured him solemnly.

In the silence that followed, I could picture him thinking hard....racking his brains to get even....But eventually,he had to concede defeat...
" Imagine me in a checkered dhoti, yellow & purple polka dotted tie, a striped T and a black coat..." He guffawed delightedly "And what would I wear on my feet? Blue flip flops?"

*more happy chuckles follow*
The words of ire faded away from my lips as I listened to him chortling gleefully.
And then before I knew it, I was giggling too, at the ludicrous picture we had painted between the two of us...
As the wise men said, if you can't lick 'em, join em!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Honey, I've Shrunk My Hormones!!!

A friend of mine asked for help with his dissertation and since the topic was of particular interest to me, I readily agreed. My task was to identify and gather information from suitable respondents.
A piece of cake, I assured him and shot off a dozen odd ' Need An Urgent Favour' emails to friends, colleagues and family. Some responded within the hour. The others demanded compensation in the form of drinks over the weekend....A request I dodged with my usual craftiness.

All was going well. But when I took stock at lunch time, I realised that I had missed Pras - a trusted friend and a highly eligible candidate. So I shot off an email post-haste, followed by a sms for extra effect.
Sau sal jiyo [ may you live for 100 years]....I was just going through your mail...came the reply
But I don't want to live to a 100, I protested... 50 will do very well or even lesser, so that I can beat menopause.
I expected a sarcastic quip in response, but Pras being Pras, was a step ahead.
A truly understandable reason....Have you heard of Andropause?
Work screeched to a grinding halt as I racked my brains. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, a little goblin plucked out a nugget of information and gingerly offered it for approval.
The male equivalent of Menopause? I enquired tentatively
BINGO!!! beeped the message of approval
I stared at the screen bemusedly. Now, men had menopause?? What next? Periods??
Despite my outrage, my interest was piqued. Since time immemorial, Periods, Pregnancy, Menopause and all its attendant discomforts had been the exclusive domain of the fairer sex. Could the laws of nature be slowly but surely changing? And what could the male menopause experience be like, I wondered out aloud.
But instead of possibilities, images of the mature but still virile Al Pacino of 'The Scent of A Woman' & 'Devil's Advocate' fame flooded my mind. *sigh*

I shook my head clear and restarted my train of thought. This time, up popped a picture of the brooding Amitabh Bachan hankering after the young, nubile Jia Khan in Nishabhd. Isn't he the chappie who romanced the much younger Tabu in Cheeni Kum? whispered the goblin miner in my head. Yes indeed he was!!!.
It seemed that my little data miner had struck a mother lode, because names from the real world flew thick and fast at me....Rod Stewart, Mickey Rooney, Chevy Chase, Charlie Chaplin, Billy Bob Thornton and the leader of the pack, the Mormon Brigham Young...All prime examples of hale, hearty and testosterone rich fossils.
In the face of such overwhelming evidence as well as the fact that I had, all through my life, been surrounded by red blooded alpha males, the very idea of any man struggling in the throes of menopause seemed laughable.
That would have probably been the end of my musing, had not the voices in my head cried out loud "But What If???".... What if the goblin's examples were exceptions than the rule?..What if the average man was indeed prone to Andropause? ....Imagine the chaos if all the men in my life and I went menopausal at about the same time!!!
The thought sobered me...And I decided to fall back on my trusted friend, Google.
An hour later, I was convinced that testosterone levels did drop with age and that andropausal men were susceptible to osteoporosis, lethargy, mood swings and increased cardiac risks. However, while andropause did deserve a place under the sun, it most definitely did not merit a comparison to menopause.... Maybe P.M.S, but not menopause .
As I eagerly composed my opinions into a message for Pras, a familiar voice whispered quietly in my ear..."What about Michael Jackson?"...
*baffled stare at the goblin*
" What about him???.....Hey, hang on....You mean, he could have been born Andropausal???'
Now, that is a thought worth examining......

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mayday Mayday Mayday....

Sometimes I amaze myself....
While I have been wondering how to balance my insane workload for the week and also make time for the little pleasures that my favourite city affords me, around me, the world as I know it seems to be crumbling into rubble.
This morning's headlines indignantly screamed that the Churches had been viciously attacked again...Vandalised and robbed by dastardly cowards in the darkness of the night. Quite understandably, the sentiments of the Christian community are hurt and they are now, up in arms. Amidst the finger pointing and the political blame game, the Chief Minister of Karnataka also confessed that the state had become a safe haven for terrorists.
And if that was not enough, the business pages only carried sombre reports about large scale lay-offs, liquidity crunches and businesses going bust. Even the normally frivolous Page 3 set the alarm bells clanging, with the announcement that Bangalore had been officially tagged as a 'highly insecure zone for working women'!!
The sky is indeed about to fall and I am no Chicken Little, clucking in paranoia.
It appears that the malaise has afflicted not just our nation but the world at large.... Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, USA, Spain, Germany....There seems to be no haven of peace left on this planet anymore.
Buried deep within the papers, there was also an article by Orcun Tezel about Green Being The Only Way Out. Considering the alarming rate at which the toxin levels are building up in our atmosphere, we, perhaps, won't have a planet to live on very soon...let alone a haven of peace. Who knows?
And why I am ranting in this vein?
I honestly do not know.
I woke up this morning with a sense of great unease caused by the realisation that all is not right in our world. And much to my dismay, I do not know how to set things right. Maybe this is the outcome of a premonition of impending danger. Or it is the sheer frustration of helplessness. It could also be anger rooted in the fear [and guilt] that things have spun out of control and may not be fix-able.
My emotions are not important in the larger scheme of things.
Knowledge is. As is for us to evaluate if we can afford to stave off reality anymore by submerging ourselves in the familiar....
Surely, even baby steps count.....

And hey, do check out:
21 Solutions To Save the World at
26 ways to help save Planet Earth at
Save the Planet at [BTW, the contributing writers' individual blogs are Fan-Tastic!!!]

How To Save The World at

And if these didn't impress you much, GOOGLE...But don't give up!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Radio's Gone Ga Ga

There used to be a time when the radio was the primary mass medium and its performers -artists par excellence- known for their dramatic flair as much as their oratorical skills. I have heard old timers reminisce about the mass hysteria generated by the broadcast of Wells's War of the Worlds...MacArthur's address after the surrender of Japan...And the speeches of stalwarts like Churchill, Nehru & Roosevelt, which infused strength and purpose into the marrow of their nations. Perhaps, it was the time of a generation that was particular about qualitative content as well as the form, structure and presentation of language. Quite unlike the modern day.
I do not know how many people actually listen to the radio these days.....I mean really, really listen........ I know I don't.
It is very rarely that I tune into the radio...Almost never in Chennai, where Tamil is the language of choice for the various FM channels and therefore, tends to seem repetitive and rather monotonous to my ear. I find the radio channels in Bangalore to be a lot more cosmopolitan in their repertoire. But even so, I only seem to tune in when stuck in a traffic snarl and have no means of entertaining myself.
Like last evening. It had been pouring cats and dogs since afternoon. The roads were jam packed. As I sweated it out with a hundred other commuters in the interminable traffic snarl, I mindlessly flipped on the radio and got FM 94. something.
Under normal circumstances, I would have been lost in my thoughts and oblivious to the prattle of the RJs. But yesterday, for once, my attention was caught by what sounded very much like alienese in fast-forward. A few minutes of concentrated effort revealed it to be the frantic babbling of a young lady who was frenetically racing through her English-Hindi-Kannada lines at Mach 1, pausing only to emit high pitched squeaks and rasping gasps at periodic intervals. Had I not known better, I might have imagined that the presenter was at the very least hyperventilating if not choking to death in her studio. I considered surfing for a saner and less disturbing channel , but from my driver's assurances that I would find nothing better on any other radio station, I gathered that alienese was the new language of the radio.
I must admit that I had to admire the RJ's ability to switch between languages without loosing the flow of thoughts. But my poor, tired grey cells were not up to the sustained decoding of alienese and so I decided to switch off until the music came on. But, as with all the good things in life, I had to wait. For right after the manic RJ, came a series of jingles which could only be categorised as noise and more noise. All right, I concede, some of them had some gibberish verse as well!
I counted to 10 hoping for some melodious reprieve but instead, on came a certain Mr. Ganta Singh who rambled ponderously on a telephone call to, of all things, a hair transplant center!!!
" Hay-lo, is this the blah-blah baal center?" [baal = hindi for hair]
" yes"
" Aaaah, I wanted to know if you use real baal or artificial baal?"
" real baal"
" So you use real baal...Do YOU have real baal?"
" Why are you asking me such questions??"
" But tell me, do you have real baal?"
" I do have real baal..."
"Have you seen the movie Saawariya?"
" Sawariya? Yes I have"
"The heroine in that movie had lots of baal...Her father also has lots of baal all over his body. Do you know how many baals are there in an over?"
The writers at FM 94.something probably thought this was amusing but my funny bone remained impervious to the charms of Ganta Singh. His banter was so incredibly moronic that it surprised me the Sikhs had not taken umbrage at the station's verbal caricature of their ilk and resorted to rioting on the streets.

Fortunately for me, the station decided to quit while it was ahead and finally came blessed relief in the form of music. But the pattern was set for the 2 hour drive back home.
Just as I would begin to unwind with the music, the manic RJ and her cohorts would pop up with their steady stream of rapid-fire nonsense. And by the time I alighted at my destination, I had heard very little music thanks to the likes of Chamrajpet Charles, the Sultan School of Speeches and the Zombie time keeper.
I must confess that, following on the heels of Ghanta Singh, Chamrajpet Charles with his Anglo-Indian accent and borderline lewdness was tolerable. But, the Sultaaaan Skooool of Speeches which followed Singh and Charles proved to be the final straw that broke my nerve. Contrary to its name, the School offered no tips what so ever on public speaking or declamation. The act comprised of a whole minute of heavy, hoarse breathing interspersed with an orgasmic voice which ranted inaudibly about rising hem-lines and dropping neck-lines!!!
It took me a scalding hot shower and a good whole hour of classic rock on VH1 to get over the trauma inflicted by Ghanta Singh and his tribe. As I lay in the dark drowsily mumbling the chorus of Radio Ga Ga, for the first time, I truly understood the sentiment which inspired this legendary song...
"....You had your time, you had the power
You've yet to have your finest hour ....Radio -- Radio..."
And until the finest hour arrives, I will most definitely be carrying CDs!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Not Intentionally You Know

" Do you know what Corporate India desperately needs???"
I open my mouth to proffer a suggestion when it struck me that I wasn't really expected to answer. In fact, anything I said would only distract my irate friend, who had a tendency to overindulge in rhetorical questions while venting in anger, sorrow, excitement and sometimes, even to narrate common place incidents. So I held my peace and braced myself....Because, like it or not, I was just about to find out what exactly it was that me and the rest of my toiling brethren in India lacked.

“Lessons in Fear Management...The great Indian salaried class needs to learn how to cut across hierarchy and manage their irrational fears of the powers that are ..Isn't it ridiculous how fear can paralyse the brain and disable logical thinking?? "

*sigh* It would seem that she had done it again.
If there ever was a magnet for trouble, my fire-brand friend had to be it. And she didn't even have to go in search of it. Conniving colleagues, vicious acquaintances, back stabbing politicians from work, rude vendors, gossip mongers, relatives who conveniently forgot favours done.....They all flocked to her, like bees to the honey pot. It wasn't that she was a mean virago. She was just a sensitive but brutally honest girl who adopted causes and under dogs with much enthusiasm and almost no second thoughts. Sadly, she was also a novice in the fine art of dissembling which contributed greatly to the steady stream of turbulence in her life.

“Would you believe this? I had ordered for some catalogues which were delivered when I was travelling. So I asked my colleague to hang on to them, promising to take them off her hands as soon as I got back. But this morning when I checked, she had shipped off more than half of those catalogues to our Mumbai office just because someone there had run out of stocks and was trying to save his butt by grabbing it from where ever. Apparently he brandished some director's name and this lady mutely sent across the copies he asked for....And, no one even checked with me if they could take them!!!"

I could well understand her indignation but was not too surprised. It was the law of her world. The weaklings always sheltered behind our little lioness, who would only roar her annoyance at them but not stoop to mangle them to bits. I had, in the past, heard examples of this colleague and some others scuttling for cover, leaving her to face the brunt of the boss's fury when things at work had gone wrong. It was the classic case of the barking dog not biting. However, I couldn't help but wonder aloud as what the two poachers could have possibly said to mollify her.

"Do I sound mollified to you??" She roared at me " I am furious....I feel invaded....And Do you know what she told me when I confronted her??? She said this guy had cited her boss's name and was so very insistent that visions of her angry boss drove all thoughts of the catalogues' ownership out of her mind!!! She apologised for messing up my schedule and then tells me that I am not to be angry because it was not intentional.."

Her voice was filled with utter disbelief and anger.
"As if it makes things better....Intentional or unintentional, don't they realise that the end result is the same?....It’s amazing how fear cripples people and disables their thinking process. This guy in Mumbai goofed up and to cover his negligence, he calls my colleague, invokes her boss's name and she in turn mindlessly sends out the first lot of catalogues she can lay her hands on...Seriously...they all need to go for counseling to deal with this mindless fear!!!"

" Well, a vast majority of the working class are afraid of their bosses...But even in extreme fear, I doubt very many would behave the way your colleague has....She behaved badly and I hope you made that clear to her....Its not as if the two of you are in kindergarten and can be excused for swiping each other's crayons"
" Exactly, I even quoted the 10th Commandment at her"
" You What?"
" You know....Thou shall not covet thy neighbour's properties..." She explains impatiently

With a twinkle in my eye, I enlighten her " You should have been quoting the 8th at her..Thou Shalt Not Steal....And besides, it's the neighbour's wife and house you are not supposed to covet, silly..Not a stack of catalogues"
And pat comes the reply " A mere technicality....You didn't expect God to chisel out a comprehensive list of the neighbour's 'non-covetable' possessions, did you??? Wife, Husband, House, Jewellery, Gadgets, Catalogues..they all belong to someone and therefore are property...AND ARE NOT TO BE COVETED!!!"

End of the discussion.
Not that it matters. I just couldn't have argued with that one anyway!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Show Me The Money, Honey!!!

It was a nightmare come true...The difference being that in real life I was, much to my relief, the spectator on the edge of the rink than the one embroiled in the action.
We had spent most of our evening at the half prize sale of our favourite book store, Landmark. Although we walked out happily with our steals, the browsing had exhausted us and so, we decided to refuel at a popular and almost authentic Mediterranean restaurant. Being aficionados of Arab and Mediterranean food, our evening at Cedars promised to provide the perfect ending to a pleasant evening.... Or so we thought.

Our hopes of enjoying a quiet, delicious meal vapourised when we walked into the jam-packed restaurant which, to all outward appearances, seemed to be grossly understaffed. Fortunately, we were recognised and quickly ushered into a corner table. A deferential waiter took our orders with alacrity and before long, our meal was in front of us.
We had barely swallowed the first few morsels, when in marched a young, fashionably dressed bunch of twenty-somethings accessorised with the latest gadgets and imitation accents and made themselves comfortable at the table next to ours. They were loud, noisy and clearly in the mood for raucous merry making...So much so that Dsk and I were eventually forced to abandon all efforts at conversation and give ourselves to the unabashed enjoyment of the entertainment on hand.

Shrill voices rapped out orders and before long, the table was groaning under the weight of various delicacies which they grabbed and gobbled without much ceremony. Fresh orders were issued to the hapless waiter who was now scuttling around like a demented crab, trying to ensure a steady supply of food into the hungry mouths without neglecting his other customers. Much to his obvious relief, it was soon time for dessert.

But, it seemed that the satisfaction of hunger pangs had only rendered the brats' taste buds more sensitive. The group noisily debated the choices before them in their assumed American accents, seeking to see how best they could customise it to their individual tastes.
" Can you bring me the chocolate biscuit roll with chocolate sauce instead of the strawberry sauce...and with a scoop of chocolate ice cream as well?"
" But sir, it would be too chocolaty....the strawberry sauce offsets the taste of chocolate.."
" But I want chocolate...."
" Sir, may I just get you some ice cream with chocolate sauce....the biscuit roll dessert does not have ice cream in it"
" I don't want ice cream with sauce...I want the biscuit dessert with sauce and ice cream"
As the waiter rolled his eyes in despair, another voice pipped
" Will the bread pudding stuffing in the pancake be cold?"
" no will be served at room temperature"
" Can you chill it for me"
" But madam, it would take a lot of time and besides, the stuffing will not be cold since the pancake has to be fried"
" But you can try, Na?"
After much argument, the waiter was able to talk them into ordering dessert as listed on the menu card. Lots of accented chatter and squeals later, the meal came to an end and the bill was presented. A young lady in black & yellow presented her card with a flourish.

A few minutes later, the diffident waiter returned.
" Madam, this card has been declined"
" Impossible!!!...Please try again"
The clock ticked on and before long, he was back
" Madam, I am sorry but it is not going through..We seem to be having a problem connecting with the bank's server"
The Queen Bee turned an interesting shade of puce...
" This is insane..Why can't you keep proper machines....What do you expect me to do now???" " Madam, would you pay by cash?"
" I don't have cash"
" Errr, there is an ATM next door..." He suggested helpfully
" This card does not work in an ATM"
Oh wow, a Diva Card which would not deign to work in a lowly Indian ATM!!!
But the poor man was obviously not very amused......
" Madam, what do you want to do?"
" What do you mean by that? I don't have money....That's that"
My heart went out to the waiter in a quandary but like every other diner in the restaurant, I held my breath in anticipation of his response. Would he march her off to the kitchens to wash and dry a stack of greasy dishes? Would he demand all the bling on her body as collateral? Or would he just make her wait until someone went to get the money?
" Why can't we come back and pay tomorrow?"
The entire restaurant gaped at a puny boy in the group who had offered the suggestion. For many moments, neither the waiter nor the bee lady spoke as each turned the idea over in their heads. The rest of us poked at our plates with our ears tuned into the drama unfolding behind our backs.

" Yeah, that seems sensible....We can come back and pay cash tomorrow....After all it is your fault that I cannot use my card now..."
She had recovered and launched attack, even before the waiter had finished composing his thoughts.
" I don't know madam.....I think.."
" It doesn't matter what you think or feel...Please go and check with your manager...."
Smarting from the sting, her victim meekly vanished into the depths of the kitchen. And reappeared 15 minutes later with a notepad which he deposited before her.
" Madam, please give us your address...we will collect it from your residence tomorrow"
For the first time since she walked in this evening, the young lady hesitated. As she contemplated her next move, her knight in the shining armour once again came to her rescue
" I will give you my can come over and collect it from me..."
He placed a protective arm around the damsel in distress and then proceeded to scribble in the notepad.

For some reason, the silence of the bee seemed to mollify the waiter. Perhaps, he assumed that he had bested her. I really don't know but we could all sense a mellow note in his voice as he addressed her male companion.
" Will you definitely come and pay the cash tomorrow?"
" Of course..what do you think we are?...either you can send someone or we will come and pay cash"
" Okay sir, in that case, please make sure you pay the money tomorrow itself"
" Why don't you keep the card with you? I will collect it when I come to give you the cash..."
His voice trailed into silence as our diva and the waiter both looked at him in shock.....Directing a nasty glare at him, she grabbed her card and sailed regally out of the restaurant with her cohorts and the miserable knight in tow.

I was sorely tempted to stand up and applaud. But the warning glance my better half shot me brought home the fact that this was no dinner theatre we were attending and therefore, my applause may not be well received by either performer. And so I devoted myself to dessert as the restaurant once again buzzed with life. As I dug my spoon into the brownie with its Kahlua cream topping, I couldn't stop my lips from curving in a smile of glee..... Oh no, it wasn't the endomorphins from the chocolate....
I just realised that the dark spirits now had one less nightmare to plague me with!!!
* Big Toothy Grin*

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Of Pagan Musings & A Feast Gone Wrong....

" Rekz, isn't Onam on the 12th? What are you planning to do?"
" Nothing"
" Nothing at all???"
" Na"

Hailing from a true blue Brahmin family, tradition and strict adherence to age-old customs had been an integral part of young Dsk's daily life. Festivals, of course, used to be noisy, colourful and replete with elaborate rituals. So, it is no small wonder that he now has difficulty reconciling to my brand of Paganism, a throwback to a childhood characterised by very little religious customs.
" Why are you not doing anything for Onam? Is it because it is a working day...""But there isn't much to do....."
" Not much to do???....But how can that be?......Isn't it Kerala's biggest festivals?...How do people normally celebrate it?"

" Well, its more of a family and friends show rather than an individual act...A little like Thanksgiving, I guess...Normally, every house in Kerala will create a Pookalam [floral carpet] right in front of the house - sometimes for the prescribed 10 days, but often for the last 3 days. The flowers for these pookalams would be collected by children the evening before. Other than that, we wear new clothes, eat scrumptious lunches and loll about the house doing nothing much other than gossip or nap"
For a few moments, I was lost in time...I was reminded of the excitement and laughter of an incredibly fun Onam I had celebrated as a little kid. It was a rare occasion when all my cousins had been in town. Every evening, we would set out as a noisy band to scavenge the neighbourhood for flowers and colourful leaves....Some we begged for, some we stole shamelessly and the rest, we picked from vacant lots and the roadside..... And when the sun sank into the horizon, bathing us in its golden glow, we would scurry back home with our precious booty and set about designing the next morning's pookalams... An exercise which almost never reached fruition because we, especially the younger ones, would be exhausted and all too willing to retire to our beds without much urging from our parents.
The voices from my past rang in my ears...My grandmother warning us against dirtying or ripping our new mother and aunts calling to one another as they bustled about their chores...our giggles as we cousins amused ourselves with games of make-believe....the chattering of trusted servants and vendors as they received their 'kodi' [new clothes]...the laughter of the menfolk who would play cards or talk politics till lunch was served.... That was an Onam to remember!!!

" That's it???....I guess it will be no fun for you if you are to spend the day in the kitchen cooking...Why don't you do the flower carpet thingy and then we can go out for a traditional Sadhya [feast] at night.."

Monday, September 8, 2008

America Ho!

This morning, my domestic help informed me that she wants to go abroad.To America.The land of milk and honey, where the footpaths are paved with gold and money plants are made of real green bucks. I suspect her sudden migration plans may have a lot to do with the tongue lashing she received yesterday, when a leisurely tour of the house yielded several strategically located cobwebs, a battalion of wide eyed spiders and even, a few red millipedes undercover..It appeared that we had foiled an Arthropod coup in the nick of time.
Needless to say, my maid was not too pleased when I trained my guns on her right after. So in she stomped today, mumbling under her breath as she went about her chores, occasionally threatening to vapourise me with her glares. Just as I was settling down to work, she wiped the self-congratulatory smirk off my face with her announcement.

For many moments, I did not know what to say. I knew Destination America had become a national obsession, but not even in my wildest dreams had I imagined that the dollar dream could permeate down to the grassroots level. Visions of my swarthy maid with her oil slicked hair in jeans, over-sized glares and a pile of US tagged bags at her feet floated before my eyes. When I came to, I found her staring at me with a little more hesitancy and a lot less defiance about her.
' Why do you want to go to America? will you survive there?.....How much have you studied?'
" Akka (sister), I have not studied much but can't I do house work there also?...I have heard that servants are not easy to find there and that I can earn good money there..."
" How do think you are going to America? I mean the air tickets are expensive...And it is very very difficult to get permission to even visit there...."
" I thought I could go with some family...I mean some Indian family who wants an servant from home...I can cook, wash clothes, wash dishes, sweep and swab....and even take care of children. You know I do good work..."
Words failed me. I was in shock!!! It would seem that my maid had conveniently forgotten the dust, cobwebs and critters the house had accumulated while I had been travelling on work. Or the fact that she had broken so many of our glassware and trinkets, that Dsk and I had no alternative but to bubble wrap what was left of our treasures and stash them away in the larder. Not to mention the odd hair clips, scrunchies and other such decorative trifles of mine, which would appear on her person at periodic intervals!!!
" Its not as easy as you think...You are unable to satisfy us with your work and you think you can manage in America? Nobody there will stand for bad work. And besides, they use a lot of gadgets there for work...You don't understand English...Even if you wanted to learn, how would you manage?"
"Just like we talk to each don't know Tamil and I don't know English but I still understand you...especially when you scold me"
The nerve of the woman!!! For months, she mulishly refuses to make an effort to understand English, Hindi or even my pidgin Tamil, and now she says we converse???
" If you find someone in America who wants an Indian servant, you can teach me English daily till it is time for me to go.....And, I can also join a English speaking course if necessary..."
As I gape moronically at her, she simpers.....and, swoops in for the kill.
" Akka, would you be able to find me a family in America?.."
*eye brows vanish into my hairline*
Talk about having the cake and the bakery as well!!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

60 Minutes of Terror

There are very many of us who are impervious to the threats that dangle over our heads,like the mythical sword of Damocles. As a Nation, we are so used to news of floods, famines, random acts of terror and other such similar calamities which claim hundreds of lives with such regularity, that it would seem the general public may have overdosed on bad news and therefore, been rendered insensitive. Maybe it is that we honestly believe terrible things cannot happen to us. Or perhaps, it is the fatalistic Indian Psyche at work, believing that the fates cannot be crossed and what has to be will be. Despite being constantly bombarded with news of different kinds of disasters and the tragic loss of lives, it never ever crossed my mind that I could possibly be caught in any such situation....Well, until last night....
Yesterday evening, I was flying home from Bangalore. I was happy...and excited to be going back to my moggies and could hardly wait to board my flight. Not even the extra strict security measures [ they made me take out my laptop before baggage screening and three-quarters of the contents of my handbag post screening!!!] could dampen my spirits. As I had almost an hour to kill before departure, I decided to browse at the bookstore and was engrossed in Jamie Oliver's Naked Chef when the first announcement was made.
Attention all passengers. If you see any suspicious, unattended bag or package anywhere in the airport, please inform the security personnel immediately. Please do report suspicious behaviour as well
I was intrigued. This was the first time I had heard such an announcement being made in any airport in India. Although it has been a while since I flew into or out of Delhi or Mumbai, I am a regular on the Bangalore-Chennai circuit and therefore, should know if this was a part of the routine.
I shrugged away my surprise, assuming that the authorities had finally become more vigilant. To be honest, I was a little pleased at the responsibility displayed. But then, when the same announcement was repeated thrice in a span of 30 minutes, the voices in my head began to mumble.
*Three announcements, each 10 minutes apart?...this can't be good news....Why? Why? Why?.....Could they possibly have received a Bomb Threat??? ... Oh my goodness, they HAVE received a bomb threat....why else would they make three announcements one right after the other...*
A moment of silence as that awful thought registers.....
I look furtively around me but no one else around me seems to be the least bit affected by the announcements. It suddenly occurs to me that the airport is not as crowded as it ought to be on a Saturday evening.
* Maybe there was something about a bomb plant in the Airport in the local news and people have cancelled their flights this evening....Drat!!! this is why I should be watching the news more regularly!!!...Damn my lazy ignorant corpulent self...I have no one else to blame but myself*
I contemplate ringing Dsk or a friend for an update, but then decide against it. There really isn't any point worrying anyone, is there? I mean, if a girl's gotta go, she gotta go.....
* But then, if there was a bomb threat, someone would have called me by now....Oh damn, as if people have nothing better to do on a Saturday evening than watch the evening news*
I gloomily consider typing my will on my Blackberry... Just as a precautionary measure. But then, what was the point? If I was to perish in a blast, it was highly unlikely that the Blackberry would survive me. It probably made sense to make my last calls to my loved ones...But how would I do it without starting a panic attack?
As I continued my musing in this dark, morbid vein, I spied a Kingfisher hottie breezing past, asking Chennai bound passengers to report for boarding.
* hey, that's my flight...But there is a good 40 minutes before departure...why on earth are they boarding us now???...There must be a bomb on the premises.....*
I grab my bags and stride over to Gate 11 where they were indeed boarding the Chennai flight. Screwing my courage to the sticking-place, I ask one of the Red Hotties the reason for the quickie boarding.
" Oh ma'am, we got our clearances early" She chirped at me.
But the voices in my head were not quelled.
* She paused for a whole minute before replying....And wasn't that smile a tad too forced? ..... Why? Why? Why?...Anyway, I bet its safer on the plane, so better we get our backside in pronto*
I heaved a sigh of relief when the doors were firmly latched ten whole minutes prior to scheduled departures and as the giant plane taxied down the runway as the clock struck 20:40 hrs. As we soared up into the dark skies, I snuggled into my seat with my favourite cat and mouse cartoon for entertainment and was just beginning to enjoy my ride home when all at once, the plane jolted. Not once. Not twice. But all through the entire journey. The mighty Airbus just kept jolting and shaking and rattling so much that my teeth were actually chattering vaguely.
* Oh great, I narrowly escaped being splattered across Bangalore's new international airport, only to be exploded mid-air into an unidentifiable mush of charred flesh and, wait...maybe just charred flesh.....err, does one bleed in a mid air explosion?...Oh doesn't matter.....OMG, was that lightening we saw???.....I REALLY AM GONNA DIE!!!*
I was dead tired...Tired of being rattled...Tired of the ominous voices in my head which seemed to have decided that this was it...And tired of worrying myself to death. In all probability, if the plane did not explode, I would most probably psyche myself to death!!
So, I switched off the voices in my head..turned on the volume on the Tom and Jerry show...Unwrapped the sandwich in my dinner box and decided to enjoy what may well be my last minutes in this world..
I would like to think that I infused some courage into the white knuckled, elderly gentleman beside me because after gaping at me for a few minutes, he too turned on the news channel and managed to stuff a cookie down his throat.
Fortunately, the plane landed safely in Chennai. A bit of an anti-climax I concede but then, in this instance, better an anti-climax than a disaster.
I was just so grateful to be alive...that I almost flew into Dsk's arms and couldn't stop patting him and Ging alternately....And for once, I didn't whisper any protests later at night, when I sensed my little furry purry gingerly sneaking in and settling down in the nook between my shoulders...
Nothing like love to heal a wound or still a tremulous

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wonton Excitement

Ging and I had been bonding a lot over the weekend. Perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder. Or maybe it was that the house was experiencing an estrogen overdrive with just me and Ging in residence, doing nothing much other than sleep, stuff our faces with the most sinful, calorie rich foods and sleep even more.
As much as we enjoyed our time alone, the novelty of the sleep-eat-sleep cycle wore off in due course of time, leaving us craving for some excitement. To beat the monotony, I found myself mindlessly surfing news channels and rereading my Enid Blytons, while Ging went about trying to rip the house apart. She even refused to sleep unless she had my fat arm clamped firmly in her jaws of steel....No matter that her mouth was stretched to a point where she could no longer open her beady eyes, the tenacious little boa wouldn't let go or settle for a smaller, more easily mouth-able part of my anatomy.
Obviously, the sloth enslaved moggie household was screaming for an adrenaline rush!!!

And it came in the form of a colourful, riotous festival. Ganesha Chaturthi, the birthday of the Elephant headed God Ganesha, who is invoked by Hindus all over the world for an auspicious start to any enterprise or venture.
Carried away by the enthusiasm and the frenetic pace of activities around us, I gleefully announced my intentions of celebrating G.C to a rather startled but nevertheless pleased Dsk and Ging.

Now, you may well wonder why the celebration of a festival was such a big deal. Much of the excitement was due to the fact that the moggies are not in the habit of celebrating very many festivals on a regular basis and even more so, because none of us knew the drill.
" We need to get a Ganesha Statue which needs to be brought into the house a honoured guest would be - bathed, dressed, adorned with flowers and jewellery, fed and finally immersed. It’s really simple"
DSK who has had a more traditional upbringing than me, tried defining the broad guidelines for my benefit. Ging, of course, opted to skip the theory, conserving her energies for the action.
" But can't we just bathe, dress, decorate and feed our Ganesha statue in the prayer room?"
" Yeah, I guess....But, why don't you want to buy a Ganesha? Is it because most of the statues available are not environmental friendly? We can get a clay one you know..."
" I know we can get a clay one...But I just don't like the idea of drowning poor Ganesha...I mean whatever is the philosophy behind it, I still don't think its a very good idea to drown an honoured guest.."
" Yeah..that is also true...well then, we will bathe, dress, decorate, feed and pray to the Ganesha in our prayer room...It also makes sense to do that because this is the God we pray to anyway.."
The basic order of business taken care off, Ging and I sent Dsk back to his meetings and turned our energies into researching the various elements of the festivities - the flowers to be used, the manner of adorning the Gods and most importantly, the sourcing of recipes for delicacies to be made.

It would seem that the Elephant God had decided to make us work hard for our excitement, because the first site we visited lead us to an article on Urinary Tract Infections. ..And the second attempt took us to a site which offered screen savers of gamboling pachyderms!
At this point, Ging decided to curl up for a nap, leaving me to plod on by myself and eventually discover that no matter how diligently you research customs and traditions, there is always a difference between theoretical knowledge and learning through observation and participation. But I was not to be deterred. Armed with my half-baked information, I hit the local bazaar in search of more helpful and knowledgeable people. And staggered back home two hours later, with an assortment of flowers, leaves, fruits, vegetables and pulses, which I was told were absolutely necessary. I hadn't the faintest clue as to what I was supposed to do with most of the contents of my shopping bags and as I meandered around trying to sort out my purchases, Ging amused herself with a pair of plantain saplings which she dragged about and shadow boxed till Dsk eventually confiscated them!!!

The day of G.C dawned bright.
I was in the kitchen right after the cock crowed, trying to get a head start on the various delicacies. I had decided to start with what I thought was the easiest of the lot -an Indianised version of steamed wontons with sweet and spiced fillings...All of which I was ambitiously making right from scratch.

Minutes ticked into hours..Rivulets of sweat ran down my face and back...And my enthusiasm steadily waned as I wrestled unsuccessfully with the wonton dough. But despite my wheedling, pleas and rants, the dough simply refused to rise to the occasion. I made a gazillion mental notes to myself, to check for ready-made wonton wrappers the next time I thought of GC....And then I amended th0se notes so that they offered a survival plan for any Indian festival!!!
I emerged a good 4 hours later..In triumph..with a plate of steaming wontons in my hand...

I am not entirely sure if Lord G shared my exhilaration because those wontons were all that he got from the moggies by way of food....By the time the wontons were done, my energy reserves had sunk below functional levels, leaving me with no drive for anything more. Thankfully, my moggies more than made up for my exhaustion with their enthusiasm and set about the task of feting the decorated Gods before falling hungrily on the wontons. Between mouthfuls, Dsk managed to direct a barely audible " not bad for the first time" at my retreating back, as I stalked off to once again seek refuge under my covers. Talk about adding insult to injury!!!
It will be a snowy day in June in Chennai before I even think of seeking adventure and excitement the festival route!!!