Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Friend Vinny

My Friend Vinny and I, go back, a very long way.
Back to the early nineties, when we were a pair of gawky, wanna-be copy-writers, in a rather run-down, small town ad agency.

We were fresh out of college, and, all set to conquer the advertising world.
We were, also, blissfully unaware, of the jungle that awaited our arrival.

Vinny and I should have been, at each other's throats, right from the word go.
After all, both of us were vying for the top dog's position, and, were, each other's only competition.
Considering our youth, and, the raging hormones, it would have been quite natural for us, to want to outshine, and, oust, each other.

But, instead of the bloodbath, what ensued, was a warm, fun and genuine friendship, based on caring, trust, and, well, truth be told, stray instances of mutual envy.

Despite the occasional sulks, and, our efforts to bully each other, we shared much.
Confidences, gossip and lunches.
Fears, worries and insecurities.
Laughter, tears, and, even, our resources.

We worked together, for a few short months, before succumbing, to the calls of our souls, for greatness.

I moved away to the city, seeking fame and fortune.
While, Vin, always, the more sensible one, decided to pursue knowledge.

Sadly, those were the days, when snail-mail ruled the roost.
Computers, cell phones and emails were yet to become a way of life.
And, a girl had to work as hard, at staying friends, as she did, to achieve success, in every other aspect of life.

Gradually, the letters between us, dwindled.
And, one fine morning, I woke up to the realisation, that, we, had both, drifted far, far apart.
I am not entirely sure, if, I was dismayed.
For, I was, young, and, quite caught up, with my dream of making it big.

Even though, I did think of Vin, at times, and, wonder, how she was faring, it was with a vague sense of nostalgia, without a compelling need for action.

We, probably, would have continued, with our parallel lives, with no hopes of meeting.
If, it had not been, for the small town network...

I have often maintained, that a small town, is akin to a strait jacket.

Everyone knows everyone else.
Everyone watches everyone else.
And, one, cannot, as much as, swat a fly, without the town crier announcing it, on the 6'o' clock news, the very same day.

But, there are moments, when the small town redeems itself.

Through an old acquaintance, Vinny and I, found ourselves talking, once more.
First, on a social networking site.
And, then on MSN.

After, almost a decade, things had not changed very much.
Vinny was, still, pursuing knowledge.
I was, still, pursuing fame and fortune.
And, we were both, able, to pick up, from where we left off.

My friendship with Vinny, is, not very different from the ones, I have with my other girl-friends.
We share stories - about life, families, happiness, sorrows, fears and worries.
We giggle over the good old days...

Offer honest criticism...
Cheer each other on, when self-doubt strikes...
Try, bullying one other into submission, under the pretext of offering advice..

But, most importantly, we know, we are there for each other, come hell fire or high tide.

I have always deemed our friendship to be special.

For one simple reason.
That, unlike my associations with my other girl-friends, the bond, Vin and I share, was conceived, and, nurtured, in an environment of competition.

I believe, that, two women can achieve closeness, honesty, and, intimacy, in their association, if, and, only if, they are able to perceive one another as kindred souls.

As sisters under the skin, each, drawing on the other's strengths, and, bolstering their weaknesses.
A friendship, so formed,tends to embed itself, into the foundations of our lives, giving us the much needed moral courage, to cope with the curve balls life bowls at us, from time to time.

A competitive environment, in my experience, often, results in women viewing each other as threats.
And, therefore, treating each other with wariness.

Be it, at work or in the affairs of the heart.
Within a social structure, or, as an manifestation of one's insecurities.
Hinders honesty, trust and dependence.
And, it stunts the growth of a beautiful relationship.

Well, in most cases, at least.

My friendship with Vinny, has not made, a complete believer of me.
But, it most certainly, has, opened a window of possibilities.

Every time, Vin badgers me, to save my pennies, for a rainy day.
Or, proffers an extremely scholarly, but incredibly complicated, theory about work-place politics.

I cannot help, but smile.
And, bask, in the warmth of the sunlight, filtering through.

Long Live The Sisterhood!

The Last Working Day

It was the last working day of the year.

The electricity failed early in the morning, leaving me with no option, but, to start my day with a cold shower. As I stood shivering, under the icy, needle-sharp spray, I KNEW, it was going to be one of those days.
Things, could, only go downhill from here.

And, I was right.

My blackberry, which had been choking out emails at sporadic intervals, all through the night, showed no signs of revival. It also had a host of smses, from friends and fellow workers, each, demanding to know where I had vanished to.
Airtel, it appeared, was taking the day off.

All a part of life in India, I told myself, trying to put a brave face on things.

Not that I was very perturbed.

With the Blackberry out of action, I could, now, spend a few extra moments, preening in front of the mirror.

But, as I carefully dotted the sunscreen, into warrior lines and patterns, all over my face, disaster struck. It suddenly hit me, that, I had not completed my tax investments for the year. And, we were on the last working day of the year, too.
A cause for great concern, and, one which, left me with no choice, than, to make a quick stop at the bank, on my way to work.
After all, how long would a piddly little deposit take? I asked myself, a wee bit too optimistically.
15 minutes?
30 minutes?
Not more, right?

Well, my friends, it took a good 4 hours!!!

In all fairness, I guess, it would have taken as much time as I had estimated, if the power had not gone off, just as my number was about to be announced.

But, what I had not bargained on, was the UPS not swinging into action, right away.
Not my fault, I assure you.
After all, I was in a well known nationalised bank, whose advertisements in magazines and publications, often screamed out its technological proficiency!

But, minutes ticked by. Rivulets of sweat ran down my neck. And, nothing happened.
After, what seemed like an eternity, the UPS beeped faintly.
The lights flickered on.
And, the display board lit up.

Much to my horror, the board had reset itself, back to zero.
I desperately looked around for help.
For, someone to intervene, and, correct the dastardly display board.
But, no-one, as much as batted an eye-lid.

And, there was no recourse for me, but, to await my turn again.

I tapped my feet, as I waited. Frowned disapprovingly, at anyone who remotely looked like an official.
And, eventually, counted the numbers, flashing on the board, till I reached the one preceding mine.

As I readied my papers, and, counted my monies for the umpteenth time, Murphy struck again!
The UPS died out.

A collective sigh of dismay echoed around the room.
And, was followed, almost immediately, by a buzz of angry murmurs.
Some, angrily, made a beeline to the counters, to protest.
Others, scowled, and continued cribbing, to who ever would listen.

As I watched the hapless officials running around, pretty much, like a brood of Chicken Littles, I knew, I was in for a long wait.

After all, I had started my day, with a cold shower!!!

It took the bank, a good two hours, to arrive at a solution.
A Generator!!!
And, an announcement, directing the non-home customers to a branch nearby, to facilitate quicker services.

Yet another wave, of angry voices, swept across the room.

But, no one moved.
The prospect of light at the end of the tunnel, stayed our tongues.
And, our feet.

" We have waited for so long, so why not for some more time" muttered an old gentleman, by my side. "They must be insane, to think I am going out in the sun, without my work being done here."

In time, the power was back.
But, Murphy was not done for the morning.
This time, he reset the token machine, issuing a second round of tokens starting with 1, to the new customers walking into the bank.

In a matter of minutes, the seething floor had transformed into a battle ground!

On the one side, raged the furious, old customers, defiantly waving tokens numbering above 20, as a mark of their refusal to wait any longer. And, on the other side, were the new customers, brandishing their tokens, demanding to be served at once.

In the melee, an irate customer button-holed a customer relations manager.
" This is most unacceptable. How can you make your customers wait for 4 hours, just for simple banking services? Where are your systems? And, your back-ups? None of you even care. As soon as the power went off, all of you vanished into the back-office. No one was available to talk to the customers or try to solve the problem. How difficult is it to order a generator? Or, to ensure that people who have been waiting for so long, are served first? Knowing that there will be a rush today, don't you think you should have been better prepared for such situations?"

Much to my amazement, she bestowed a withering glance at the customer, before retorting
" It's all your fault. Why do you keep things for the last minute? Why do you not plan for emergencies? Right from the beginning of the year, you knew, 31st March is the last date for your deposit. You had all this time, and, did not bother to come. And now, you are getting angry because you did not think???'

Err, did anyone say India Shining?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

E For Earth? Or, E For Extinction?

The Earth Hour came last evening.
And, it went, without me having switched off a single light.

Quite tragic, really, considering that, I love to put switches off.

To all those who asked, I said, I hadn't been home.
I was out, shopping, for groceries. And, if, I had tried talking Spencer's, where I was at 8:30 p.m., into switching off their lights, I am pretty sure, the noise pollution levels in Bangalore city, would have gone up by a few notches.

A pathetic excuse, you may think.
Quite rightly so!

Truth be told, I did not remember it was Earth Hour.
No-one text messaged me. Nor, did I receive any email forwards.
The only person, who even mentioned it to me, did so at 10:30 in the night.
However, the lack of reminders, is, not the reason for my forgetfulness.

I forgot about Earth Hour, simply because, I did not find it real enough.

Will, one hour of darkness, save our Planet, from melting into nothingness?
I didn't think so.

Can, one hour of darkness, offset the damage done by the gazillion text messages, phone calls, and emails that have zipped the length and breadth of the globe, garnering support for Earth Hour?
I doubted it.

No matter how it was marketed, - a global election, a statement of intent, or, even, as a much-needed start, for me, the Earth Hour, sadly, was nothing but an over-hyped idea, which, probably has done more to enhance global warming, than alleviate it.
And, I am unable to view it as anything but, a feel-good activity with immense brag-value.

For, come Monday, nothing much would have changed.
People will continue with their wasteful, destructive life-styles.
And, the Earth Hour will, at best, become a fashionable topic of conversation for most.

Without doubt, the idea, was fuelled by good intentions.

But, the stairway to heaven, is not paved by good intentions alone.

Any effort to save this planet we call home, has to run a lot deeper.
It has to be sustained. And, a part of our daily lives.
Our efforts to save Earth, HAS, to be rooted in awareness, genuine caring, and, in the understanding, that the survival of mankind is, irrevocably, entwined with that of Earth's.

Sadly, man has changed much from the days, when he lived in oneness with nature.
And, I confess, I have been as guilty as anyone else.

There was a time, when, I used to watch, and snicker, as my mother set out for shopping expeditions, armed with a jumbo sized, cloth bag.

I remember the times, when, I used to scowl in annoyance, at the local grocer, who insisted on wrapping at a snail's pace, each purchase of mine in newspaper.

There was a time, when I used demand immediate eviction, and, even the murder of little creepy crawlies, only, because they scared the living daylights out of me.

And, horror of horrors, there were occasions, when I used to flood the house regularly, only because I was careless enough to nod off, with a tap running somewhere.

I would like to put these instances down to youthful arrogance, and callousness.
But, when I look back, it is with a sense of guilt and shame.

I cannot claim to be a very-aware person today.
Or, to be someone, who lives in oneness with nature.
But, I try.

I carry non-plastic shopping bags, as much as I can.
And, no, my mother does not know of it, as yet. If she does come to hear of it, I will argue, till I am blue in the face, that my bags are so much smarter than hers.

I care for the plants and animals in my surrounds, and, that includes, the creepy-crawlies too.
Spiders, millipedes, and the rest of their ilk, crawl merrily about my house, much to the fury of my maid, upon whom, falls the unenviable task of clearing dense festoons of cobwebs, from all over. Cheeky jackdaws and noisy crows, boldly saunter in as they please, demanding food, shelter, sometimes, just company. And, the resident feline mafioso, has practically, taken over my spare bedroom!!!

I donate my newspapers to the local delicatessen, so, they can send out their food in recycled newspaper carry-bags. Very many of those bags come back home to roost, as I tend to patronise the delicatessen, under the pretext of optimising gas consumption at home.
After all, they are cooking, so why waste mine?

Difficult as it is, I try to stay on the lower links of the food chain.
As we all know, a leopard, can never change his spots.
An Ethiopian, his skin.
And, a die-hard foodie, her taste-buds.

The only worthwhile assets I have to my name, are my books.
And, most of them, have been bought second-hand.
I know, I know.
I should borrow.
But, these are books, we are speaking of!!!

I walk as much as I can.
My crawling metabolic rate demands it, as much, as Mother Earth does!

I try to be energy efficient.
And,in the process, seem to have metamorphosed into an obsessive-compulsive switch-offer. There have been occasions, when my penchant for putting off switches, have resulted in people having to perform their ablutions in the dark.

I try to conserve water.
But, with 2-3 baths a day, plus, the fact that they are all hot water baths, I, probably, should not list water conservation as an achievement.

And, this year, I intend to try composting organic waste in our backyard.
Mom's mantra of returning to earth, that, which has sprung from it, makes greater sense now, than it did years ago.

I am, no where near, where I would like to be.
But, I think I am on the right track.
After all, it is the grass-roots solutions, that drive positive, and, lasting change.

I believe, if, we were to look around us, and, try understand our surrounds, try nurture it, and, be a part of it, then, the world at large, would, automatically, become a nicer, greener, and, happier, place, for its inhabitants.

As much as we hate to admit it, the future of our home, does not lie in the hands of wily politicians, or, greedy industrialists.

It, rests, with each one of us.

I have heard, little children chant E for Earth, as they learnt their alphabets and baby words.

Will there come a time, in the foreseeable future, when our children will associate E with Extinction, instead of Earth?

Will we, wake up in time, to save ourselves?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Changing Times

Once upon a time, not so long in the distant past, the term ' Bombay Sisters ' would have conjured up visions, of a pair of kanjivaram*clad matrons, with gargantuan red bindis,** and, a coil of fragrant mallipoo*** tucked into their dark tresses, singing soulfully at a kutcheri****.

They were, without doubt, entertainers of immense calibre.

Today, one, can never be sure, if the reference is to artistes, or,traumatised victims of abuse.

The Times...They, sure, are a-changing!!!

*Kanjivaram - A district outside Chennai, renowned for its heavy silk saris.
**Bindi - The coloured dot favoured by Indian women as a form of adornment
***malli poo - Jasmine flowers
****Kutcheri - Carnatic Music Concert

Will The Goliath Fall Again?

A grey-black rodent scurried across the room, startling kitty into irritable wakefulness.
Its temerity, seemed to amaze her.
And, roused, the blood-thirsty huntress, sleeping within.
As it did, the primeval need to protect, that, which was solely hers.

I watched kitty arrange her face, into a mask of intense concentration.
And, determinedly stalk the mouse, to a hidey hole.

As its tail vanished into the dark depths, she furrowed her fuzzy brows, and, stared.
Willing it to reappear.

Much to her disappointment, the rodent, refused to oblige.

Kitty looks over at me, questioningly.
And, is miffed, as I laugh in her furry face.

But, she was not to be denied.
Feigning disinterest, she, languidly, decides to lick her paws, as she kept vigil.

As I watched the two, at their game, I was reminded of another battle being waged elsewhere in our country.
Between, a modern day David, who, has had the temerity, to challenge Goliath, in the heart of his kingdom.

Well, maybe not David.

For, David was a man.
And, if my memory serves me right, David did not dance his way into fame.

Nor, did he boldly march, into the heart of enemy territory, to issue his challenge.

The challenger, in this instance, is an audacious dancing girl!

A lady, of immense moral strength, who dares pit her singular strength against the might of the saffron brigade in Gujarat. And, more importantly, against their prime ministerial candidate, L.K Advani, none the less.

Or, has the famous danseuse, foolishly rushed in, where, even angels fear to tread?

Much has been said about Mallika Sarabhai's decision to toss her dainty anklets into the political fray.
Is she right?
For, those of us, who believe in change. And, a better India, for us, and, our children.
The answer can only be a resounding YES!

Mallika is a true daughter of the soil.
Having lived in Gandhinagar, and, being, firmly enmeshed in the fabric of its society, she has, behind her, the power of the social organisations, the support of luminaries, and, most importantly, as she claims, the might of the common man.

The Saffron Brigade, like my kitty, conveniently feigns disinterest.
Or, perhaps, it is beneath them, to acknowledge a dancing girl as a real threat.
Who knows?

India, it appears, cannot make up her mind.
Defeat seems inevitable.
And, yet, miracles are, also, known to happen.

Will The Goliath Fall Once More?

I sure hope so.


How deliciouly ironic would it be, if the BJP, & its rabid moral police squadron, were to taste defeat at the hands of a mere dancing girl???

Note: The reference to Ms. Sarabhai as the Dancing Girl, is not meant to be derogatory. Its usage in this post is with a good measure of sarcasm, as it is most likely, how Modi, Advani and the rest of the BJP goons would see the situation. Mallika Sarabhai is a highly talented individual, for whom I have the utmost respect.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Walking Away

Amidst the raging squalls, a little girl, overheard her father, threaten to leave...forever.

And, though he didn't, that stormy afternoon.
His words never faded..
 Because, he did walk away.
One fine day. Many years later.

His words were to haunt her, all through her life.
And, hold her back.

Every time, she made a friend.
Or, felt the first stirrings of love.

She could not help, but wonder, deep inside, when the magic would end.

And, the person would walk away.
Leaving her behind, with the shards of her heart, in her hands.

For, if her father, did not love her enough, to stay, then, how, could she expect anyone else to?

:( :(

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

When The Goddess Cheated

Last weekend, at my mother's, I chanced upon an animated discussion.

It pertained to a recently held temple festival, which, my home town is renowned for.
The subject, was, of no particular interest, to me.
But, for the want of a less strenuous activity,that lazy afternoon, I decided to don the part of the gracious hostess, and, flopped down on a floor cushion, right in the midst of the chattering flock.

Around me, echoed a shrill chorus of excited voices.

Each, clamouring, to outdo the rest.

As I lolled about on my burgundy cushion, quite oblivious to the cacophony that filled the room, my attention was, all at once, arrested by a strident voice beside me.

A lady in white, whose name I forget, and, whose corpulent form engulfed the cushions on our sofa, was recanting her experience, in a voice, that demanded as much notice, as it did applause.

" In spite of the long queue, Sridevi chechy*and I managed to cut ahead, and were positioned right in front of the Deity, just as the pooja** was beginning.
Can you believe our luck?
But, we were also smart. We used a lesser known path to reach the sanctum sanctorum.
And, that was not all.
As we were ushered out along with the crowd, we found little girls entering the inner sanctum to make the traditional offerings to the Goddess.
So, we got went along with them, once more, pretending to be a parent.
How would anyone know in that crush???
And, we got two excellent darshans*** in one evening!!!"

The smug glee in her voice, must have invoked the green-eyed monster in many a female breast.
But, not mine.

I thought of the few hundred devotees who, clad in their festive finery, would have, patiently sweated it out in the sweltering heat, for a rushed peek of the Goddess, praying, instead of devising ruses, or short-cuts, to attain divine favour.
And, I longed to cry out in indignation, that she had cheated!
In the house of God.

But, ever mindful of my self-assumed role, and I confess, my mother's stern eye upon me, I held my peace.

Even so, I could not resist asking her, if she thought, the Goddess would approve.

Pat, came the indignant reply.
" But, of course, who else, would put such thoughts in our heads, other than the Bhagavathy***? "

As the envious women around her, sighed in envy, and murmured their appreciation at her resourcefulness, I could not help but wonder if the Goddess was as impressed.
Or, if, the divinity was seething, at having been made an unwilling accomplice.

Sometimes, the Gods can be such convenient scapegoats!!!

* Chechy - Sister. Commonly used in Kerala, as a term of respect for a lady older than oneself
** Pooja - A sequence of rituals that make up the Hindu way of paying obeisance to the deities installed in a temple or in a house.
***Darshans - View of the Deity at the temple
****Bhagavathy - Goddess

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Big Fat Non-Wedding!!!

A lazy Thursday afternoon in my home office.
I was sprawled on the couch, with the Times crossword in one hand, and, a De Bono, in the other.
I felt, and looked, like a super-sized Boa in denim, which, had feasted on one too many goats!

My rather heavy lunch, combined with the oppressive heat, only served to bring forth a chorus of sleep fairies, crooning soothing lullabies. I was desperate to stay awake. But, all my efforts to think of a four letter word for Black in poetry, of all things, only served to further weigh down my eye-lids !!!

Desperate situations call for desperate measures.
And so, I padded over the the refrigerator, for a fork full of ice-cream.

As I stood against the fridge, sucking the bitter-sweet chocolate-vanilla, swirl off the fork, savouring its icy cold smoothness in my mouth and, as it slid down my throat....The door-bell rang, bringing my moment of self-indulgence to an end.

A shifty looking man in uniform, from an unidentifiable courier service, stood at the door-step, fanning himself with a cover. Me, the languorous boa in denim, must have taken him quite by surprise, for, the glance he bestowed upon me, smacked of bewilderment, and, uncertainty.

To speak, or, not to speak?
To stay, or, not to stay?
To give or not to give?
Those, I could see, were the questions, which, were raging within.

And, a moment later, I learnt why.

" Mr. Satheesh....?? " He inquired hopefully, " A credit card from Citibank"
" Ok, give it to me..."

My casual response seemed to offend him.

Perhaps, he felt dismissed.
Or, maybe, it was my irreverence, towards the contents of the envelope.

" Give it to you??..You are?? "
" His wife"
" WIFE??? "

The incredulity in his voice amazed me. Never, in my whole entire life, have I had any identity of mine questioned with such vehemence. And, by a rank stranger, too.
I must confess, that, the situation was a rather novel experience for me. And, as much as I was tempted to box his ears, for his insolence, and send him on his way without much ado, I restrained myself to an icy stare. As I debated on the appropriate mode of action, I saw him surreptitiously glance at my hands.
And, start in surprise.
His search for the band of ownership on my ring finger, had proven to be futile.
I watched, in amusement, as his gaze tentatively rose to my neck, where the all important 'thali' was supposed to be. But, was not.
This time, he visibly recoiled in consternation!

Suppressing the smile that threatened to break out, I composed my face into an steely expression, as his eyes finally found mine.
" You are his wife???" He trilled at me, disbelief stamped all over his puny form.
" Yes" said I, daring him to refute my claim.

The poor man looked nonplussed.
And, unsure.
Evidently, he didn't think I was married.
But, the lights of war in my eyes, deterred him from stating what was in his mind.

" What to do? I have to give this card to him "
" Come on Sunday, then. He will be at home. Or, deliver to his office....In Sriperumbudur "

I could barely conceal the malicious glee in my voice, as his face, which had brightened with hope, fell once more. Sriperumbudur is a good hour and a half's drive away from Chennai city! And so, his dismay, was quite understandable.

" Err, Sunday is not possible..."
" Then, you will have to give it to me "

I was, by now, hot and sweaty, and, hankering for another fork full of ice-cream!
Which made me quite eager to send Mr. Shifty Man, and his precious credit card, on his way. But, unfortunately for me, persistence seemed to be a virtue he had cultivated carefully, and, practised with great diligence.
" You are really married to him??"

Momentarily distracted from the ice-cream, I glared at him. The man was begining to sound like a stuck gramaphone record. And, was threatening to stomp my nerves to pulp.

" Can I have identification? "
" I don't have his identification "
" No identification???...ration card? something? "
" We don't have a ration card. And, how do you expect me to have his identification? People normally carry their identification on their person, don't they??? "

And finally, my irritation got to him.
But, the man, was not to be easily persuaded.
Like the mighty Titanic, he forged on, cutting through the icy cold waters of my annoyance!

" Your identification? "
" Mine? "
" Yes please. I need your identification to give you the card "

As I rooted about for my PAN card in my bag, I wondered if I should make a quick dash upstairs, to fish out my scarlet letter from the cupboard. For, I knew, my identification papers, which bore my maiden name, would only confirm his worst fears. That I was a shameless harlot!
And, I was right.

The shifty man held my PAN card against the envelope.
His eyes widened. The spectacles came off for a cleaning.
He peered, once more, at the name on the cover. And, then, again at my card.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he raised his horrified eyes to my face, before hoarsely whispering " This does not have his name"

" Yes, of course..That is my father's name there " I replied, trying to, helpfully, point out my dear departed parent's name on the card.

" You don't have identification with your husband's name? "
" Nope " I answered, blithely.
" This is why I asked.... "

And, that did it.
His whining had stretched my nerves to a frazzle, stirring in me, emotions which were rooted in the centuries-old social conditioning of the mighty matriarchal society I hailed from.

I was at my iciest best, as I drew myself to my full height, to demand an explanation.
" Asked what?...if I was married??..."
" errr...I mean "
" Actually, how does it concern you, if I use my husband's name or my maiden name??? How dare you talk in this manner to me? One more word, and I will come to your office, to personally complain about you"

An entire gamut of emotions flitted across his face, screaming to be voiced out loud. But, apparently, the sight of the ice-cream deprived virago in front of him, had rendered him speechless. Under my glowering eye, he hastily noted down my pan number and passed over the precious envelope, after obtaining my signatures on the necessary papers.

As he beat a hasty retreat out of the gate, casting reproachful glances back at me, I could almost hear him compose a mental narrative on his afternoon's experience. Without doubt, he must have had a lot to regale his colleagues with, at their late afternoon coffee break.

How I wish, I was a fly on the wall of his office!
A legend will be born, I think!!!
*evil wicked grin*

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Miss Sassy Peppers

Waiting for cold coffee at the counter of the local Subway, I was jolted out of my private musings by a sassy little miss. She was dancing around in circles, trying to order herself a sub.
The little one could not have been a day over seven. But, she spoke with the authority of a 30 year old.

Veggies on toasted whole wheat, if you please!

Beside her, stood a rather hesitant woman. I was intrigued, by the contrast their demeanours presented.
Her nanny, I guessed.
Or, maybe her mother.

As the sandwich 'artist' busied himself toasting & slicing her wheat loaf, the little miss stopped pirouetting and, raised her petite self on to her toes. Gluing her goggle eyed, pouty lipped face against the glass-case, she fixed an unblinking stare on the artist, as he delved into a tub of shredded lettuce.

" Not so much."

Her imperiousness stayed his hand for a moment. Snapped the lady to attention. And, brought a hint of a smile to my lips.

The white-green bed of lettuce made, the artist held aloft a thick slab of cheese, mutely looking to the pig-tailed diva for approval. And, he was not disappointed.
She beamed, a wide toothy grin of approval.

With a flourish, he, then, flicked the lids off tubs of cut vegetables.
The little one flexed her knees, and, stretched for greater height.

She solemnly gazed at the vivid spectrum of colours before her.

A moment later, her decisions made, she lisped out her choices in a sing-song voice,

" Little onion, gherkins, lots of olives, 3 tomato rings, 1 cucumber..."
"...Only 1 CUCUMBER...."
The melody in her voice had given way to notes of steel. And then, a rhythmic chanting
"...More Olives...More Olives...."

I watched in fascination as the artist's brown hands flew about, in silence, piling pale purple onion rings & soggy green gherkins over the pale lettuce bed, followed by a shower of purple-black olive bits. Three perfect red tomato rings came next and finally, the solitary cucumber slice in the center.
Finicky as I am, even I, have never been so fastidious about my sandwiches.

He gestured to the green peppers, and the jalapenos.
But, before the little Missy could reply, her timid escort found her voice.
" Is that Khara*?"
" Of course, it is..They are peppers"
pronounced our little diva "I don't want..."

" Take away?" queried the artist, finding his voice for the first time, as he wrapped the foil around the master-piece.
The little girl nodded in affirmation. With a happy smile, she reached out for her meal and, skipped away into the sunshine, with her guardian in tow.

As I settled with my coffee, at a seat by the window, I found myself staring at the pair on the pavement outside.
Such self-assurance in one so young.
Such singularity of focus.

As my eyes followed the figure traipsing down the street, I found myself wondering what she would be like a few decades later.
Sassy as the peppers, I hope!

*Khara = Spicy