This Day That Age

This day that age.

“You know what?” the words barely left my smiling lips, when I had the attention that any teacher would kill to have from just one student in his class. I was flustered. I would have to admit it was embarrassing to have somebody pay this much attention to my words. After all, most times I was trying to get the selective hearing dad and the don’t care-unless-its-sports brother to listen to something. Most attempts were feeble bleats erupting every minute for several hours. And then start afresh again after a bite of the energizing and sometimes impressively finish with a grand finale before somebody twitched a ear in my direction. When this sentence (I know, that was barely a sentence!), was met with an impressive

“Yes tell me” with the body leaning forward, I was taken aback. The face glowed with appreciation, and I found I had forgotten what I really wanted to say. Just the warmth of the reception to my sentiments were enough to soothe the soul. I hastily ushered the fellow in to my favourite ice-cream store with gratitude and bought him a rather impressive banana fudge ice-cream. What’s more I presented him with a hideous tie (with love!)

Turns out the fellow doesn’t like ice cream, and seldom wore ties. So, we decided to get married.

My husband – this day that age.

This day this age

“You know what?” I hollered at the breakfast table. *Ignore*
A minute later: “You know what?”
“Huunh?” or similar sounding grunt. IT’s hard to reproduce, and a lapse into some important program on TV

If ever there was a soul of determination, that’s me. As many times as this happened, I never quit saying “You know what?” I finished at an impressive 8 times before I decided to throw in the towel. I threw my hands up in desperation and sighed for good measure. That did it.

“Huh…..what?” said the husband turning towards me. His eyes glazed, his mind still wandering in the meaningless forest of the previous advertisement selling fresh juice from the mushy murks of some godly place. I gave up.

“Never mind, I forgot what I wanted to say”, I said.
“Oh okay”

Since both times I forgot what I really wanted to say, it can’t have been that important!

Festival Time ?!

Festivals are for a time of harmony. The old family spirit, the smiling pictures – the “totadoin” music in the background. Yet, I am still waiting to witness one festival where the mother of the household is not looking like a frazzled lump with a ready lampoon hoisted at the end of a javelin stick waiting to scorch through your insides if you don’t make way for the steam engine(that’s her) while the vadai is being fried, and before the appam needs to be turned over.

By the time, the family sits down for the meal, several feathers are ruffled, there has been at least one meltdown, especially if it involves smart-aleck daughters. Then, there is the whole post-meal sensation where the outlines of the layers of intestine have merged into an amalgamation of jaggery, oil, butter, vegetable oil, turmeric, a large shipment of rice with lentils washed down with curd. The final slurp does it.

Now, after a bustling 4 hour ordeal to whip up a meal such as this, one would expect to push the chair backward long enough for it to creak and stretch into a raised bed. What we would really look forward to doing is gently massaging the stomach area. It would help if somebody could do the same with your hair and play some lullabies. OH NO!

The bustling mother is now bustling at 80% speed owing to the bulk of food still occupying the abdominal area, but she bustles all the same. The dishes need to be cleared away, the dirty dishes washed, the remaining sweets tucked away….

Why? I ask you why? Why do these festivals have to be this way? Take Krishna for example, is he going to refuse to step into a house where gulab jamuns are missing from the list below?
Krishna Jayanthi:

  • Seedai
  • Patta Naada
  • Theratti Paal
  • Aval
  • Kunzhi aapam
  • 7 cup cake
  • Vadai
  • Payasam

In my opinion, we would be doing ol’ Ganesha a favour by reducing his calorie intake instead of this:
Vinayaka Chathurthi:

  • Vadai
  • Payasam
  • Aval
  • Kunzhi aapam
  • Modakam

But as always, the genii of the world go unheard….

PS: This is also my 200-th post.

P.B with only E

I have a friend who’s watched ‘You’ve Got Mail’ more times than is considered civil to admit. In the movie, the huge bookstore brings the little bookstore (owned by Meg Ryan) down the corner to bankruptcy. Admittedly, it is a heart rending angle to small businesses, and a long time ago, I found myself admiring the pluck of the lady who owned a small coffee shop. She had put up a sign imploring customers to not go to Starbucks.

The placard said: “Don’t let your friends go to Starbucks!”

I haven’t gone to the small place in a while – I vaguely tried to recollect why, and couldn’t. I stepped in.

Before you go off imagining Meg Ryan in a coffee shop, let me stop you in your tracks and state that I am not particularly fond of this lady who runs the shop. If I were Malcolm Gladwell, I could have written a book about this particular phenomenon, and how I should trust my instincts etc. I am not Malcolm Gladwell, so I shall satisfy myself with saying I am not fond of her.

This morning, I read all about sumptuous breakfasts in the English countryside and by the time I took the swift walk down to the office, my stomach was starting on a tantrum for a spot of breakfast. I relented and ordered a plain bagel with only eggs – no cheese, no tomatoes.
I can hear you mutter in your little head that there really is no need for all this detail about a breakfast order, but the crux lies here. You see the rates written up in this shop are as follows:
1) Plain bagel with only eggs is $3
2) Plain bagel with eggs and cheese is $3.25
3) Plain bagel with eggs, cheese and tomato is $3.50

I paid her $5 expecting $2 in return. The shop, meanwhile, has 2 more people in there oggling at my back. I don’t know about you, but everytime I feel like a bottleneck, I will squirm and rush.
All a sales person needs to say is:
Uh…I don’t know why – let me go and check” , and I would hang onto their hands, and stop them, thinking furiously:

Just service me please – I can’t hold all these people up. “

As you can imagine, as soon as these strangers walked in, this particular sentiment kicked in. Just give me $2, so I can move. Come on : $2. Quick!

She gives me $1.75. See! In one blinding flash of revelation, I see why I stopped going there. This wasn’t a mistake – she did this everytime I ordered p.b with only e. Once, when the shop was empty, I gulped down her potential cheap-skate view of me and showed her the sign for $3, but everytime?!

Why not just update the board to say $3.25? It’s not like I would change my mind and not buy because of the 25 cents. Next time, I’ll step into Starbucks on my way – the SKU can only give the advertised rates see?!

I am asking myself why I put up this post now. Because I have ensured that all my friends can think of me as a cheap-skate from now on.

Where do you belong?

Last week I met a person who was bang in the center of this chart.

(Courtesy: Bud Caldwell)
His eyes shone with the inner peace of doing something he loved for a living. How many of us can honestly feel that we belong in the center?

Cold blooded wonderers

I take public transit to work everyday as regular readers know. The mornings are of particular interest to me, since that is the time that has seasonal or climatic variations on the experience. There is a tower clearly visible from the platform with a temperature monitor. It helps me decide how to feel: cold, cool, pleasant or hot.

This particular temperature monitor tower alternates with the digital time display. So, after I’ve decided that I am shivering, I can count my minutes by looking at the clock to see when I can get into the stationary train with the doors closed resolutely. I find it particularly trying in Winter, because I am holed up in a jacket, glancing at 29 F, and wondering how long it would take for my toes to fall off with frost bite. * I know it doesn’t snow where I stay, but you get the drift?*

You are wondering why the train doors are resolutely shut? I formally welcome you to join the esteemed club of cold-blooded wonderers. Here is the series of events that happens in the section of time before the train departs.
* Train comes everyday 5-8 minutes ahead of scheduled departure time. (that is good)

* Train lets people who rode in out of the compartment (still good)

* Said train is a smaller one and must be linked with another half of train that arrives just before departure time. (No unrelated ideas please, it is freezing remember?)
This is where things start to get puzzling:
* The train operator announces loudly, making several jarring noises that the train is out of service, and nobody should board the train. Puzzled first-timers walk in, look around quizzically, fear a lifetime of claustrophobic experiences of being stuck in a train compartment without food or water and come out looking worried.
* Doors close.
* Then, the train operator exits, using the smallest possible timeframe to complete the act. His expression resembles most unsettlingly that of a scuttling rabbit. Any sooner and the operator’s hands would jam while they are locking the doors and letting himself out. The fear of people trying to squeeze into the train for an extra minute’s warmth is clearly writ large on the operator’s face. There isn’t a word for this phobia yet – I checked.
* A thousand glares are directed at the operator who let himself out, which he carefully ignores for his own sake.
* Second half of the train arrives devoid of passengers, is linked to the first half and the doors are still closed.
By now people’s faces are slowly moving to unmistakable scowling territory.
Finally, the helpful tower flashes the time ( a minute before departure), – some people look like they can kiss the tower at this point, if only they could move their lips.
* The doors open.
* People tumble in – partially to find seats, but mostly because they’ve lost the senses in their legs from the cold, and are yearning for the warmth inside the train.

I’ve tried plausible explanations and came up with the following:

1) If somebody complains of knee pain because of the 0.00002 level jerk on the richter scale when the train is attached with more compartments, it is a potential lawsuit.
2) Fresh air is good for the soul, and the longer people enjoy the fresh air, the better it is for their health.
That is why I weighed all the pros and cons and try my best to arrive exactly when the doors open. But it is a fine line between doors opening and the train doors closing-leaving for good.

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