What ties a Unicorn & a Book together?

Qn: What ties a unicorn and a book together?
Ans: A tie

Ten years is a short time. Seems only yesterday that I met the man I love and gave him my first useless material gift. (The gift of my gab he still enjoys.) A decade later, we have managed to fill our lives up with our children, our friends and family, our own interests and hobbies and our careers. But it never does to forget the past, or look through them with rose-tainted glasses.

In 10 years some things have not become easier, in fact they have become harder – like finding a suitable gift for my husband. He is a minimalist. He doesn’t wear a watch, saying he prefers to see the time on the cell-phone given by his company. (The one he uses to cut me off mid-sentence because there is never enough charge left on it – that one) His clothes are bearable if I spend enough time to get him some new shirts and t-shirts and place the products so he gets them where his hands automatically reach out. Otherwise, he will willingly wear the maroon t-shirt (also given by the company) or the gray t-shirt everyday till I shriek in agony.

So, I lay in bed racking my brains on what to get him for his birthday when the brain-wave struck. Of all my gifts, the most useless has got to be the one I got him first. Allow me to ramble a bit.

My father was always dressed in a suit and tie as a school teacher in the Lawrence School, Nilgiris. Suits on school teachers make them look regal and I suppose is required to set the atmosphere among a bunch of kids trying to place wet soap on the hallways for fun. He looked majestic as he strode through the Assembly of students in his suits(even though the suits were often tailored to fit somebody else, but that is the subject of another blog). Every time I bought my father a tie, he beamed and sported it the very next day.

Now, the only images of America I’d had back then were from movies where I’d seen dashing handsome chaps sit around in suits and have lunch or walk very fast along shiny corridors. I observed. I deduced. And when the man from Sunny California was to come to Sunnier Chennai to see me after months of chatting and talking on the phone; I bought him a present that I hoped would be appropriate and useful. A tie.

I don’t know why I bothered gift wrapping it, since it was clear he didn’t want to discern the difference between the wrapping paper and the tie housed inside. I was guilty of choosing similar patterns for both, but still….

I thumbed through the albums of his school days hoping to see if they had a tie as a uniform. Many “English” schools in Chennai boasted of this monstrosity, and sold ties that could double up as leashes since they had a buckle on them. His school even had “English” in the name. No luck there either. He truly had passed life skirting ties entirely.

It was a perfect gift in many ways, since it set the expectations right. It set the trend for a lifetime of poor gifting from me.

Every now and then, we would laugh about the tie, and since I don’t ever want him to think that the woman he loved has changed, I renewed my vows of poor gifting and bought him a tie!

Then, I got to work on the easier gifts for the 7 & 70:
I got my daughter a magical pony i.e. a unicorn and wrote a book for my father.

7 & 70

The summer vacations ended on a reluctant note for both the daughter and I. This is the first time I was home for the summer (At my school, we had vacations when the weather was its most vindictive, namely monsoon and winter). Of course, we both had a blast. Which is why when I started work after my maternity leave and she started school in the same week, we both felt lost and moody (well, me more than her). She was quite happy to go pottering off with her new friends, some of whom apparently had some kind of viral fever. Have I told you she is hospitable to a fault? Yes she is….so, she gladly housed the virus and came home overflowing with love and kissed her infant brother. Sigh! Well, we all know the train of events to follow that particular show of affection.

To catch me at my cranky best, all you need to do is give me a cold, and throw in a couple of sick kids of my own making and a few sleepless nights as a bonus. The dumbest parts of me shine through and the crabbiest aspects surface. I spent a few hours at the Doctors listening to how this is a passing phase and needs no medicines and then more than a few hours listening to my mother rue the state of the American Healthcare System and why they don’t give any medicines. Rudimentary, it would seem to her. The lady who used to self prescribe antibiotics and dewormins with great confidence. (subject for another blog)

We all got better just in time to prepare for the adrenaline rush of meeting our dear friends and extended family on the occasion of the 7th and 70th birthday of my daughter and father. We kept the 70th part of it as a surprise for the septuagenarian and watched him smile his evening through. I know people have busy lives and yet they all set aside the time to come and give us the precious present of their presence. A special thanks to all of you for taking the time out to wish the 7 & 70 folks, you truly made them feel special.
Have a good day while I garner my thoughts for the next post!

India and Love

I wonder if folks remember the wholesome entertainment of Doordarshan (DD : India’s state owned television in the pre-cable era) Doordarshan was aptly named – sometimes it was more entertaining to stare at the door.

The Entertainment gurus deemed it inappropriate for young minds to see a lot of things, top among them being hot love scenes. I remember Chitrahaar and Oliyum Oliyum bearing the brunt of these ‘edits’. You see, love songs are (and were), a part and parcel of Indian cinema. You have to see a heroine shiver in the cold, hug her hero and sing while prancing around trees (preferably Eucalyptus trees – the scent will keep them from catching cold). But the DD powers felt family entertainment must not contain any scenes of kissing or cuddling in love songs. Consequently, every time something mushy was on the cards, a static picture would appear.

For example, whenever Roja songs came on with Arvind Swamy mooning over Madhubala, the scenes were replaced by still photographs of the Himalayas. Instead of listening to the songs on tape, one could see a beautiful photograph of the Himalayas and listen to the songs. Visual effects can affect one you know?

I remember an Aunt of mine telling us about how her warden would accompany them to movie viewings and tell them all to close their eyes whenever a middle-aged-hero-dressed-like-college-boy wooed a woman on screen.

I thought all those days were behind us, till I read this news item telling us airlines routinely censor their in-flight entertainment

I suppose it makes sense to air appropriate content for in-flight entertainment. I mean, no one wants a lethal combination of an idle mind and airline food, getting food for thought from a terrorist movie. Imagine what this man would have going in his mind if he had got on the plane?


But even there, Air India stands out. I quote:
Air India passengers are forced to squint during the screening of romantic comedies, with the airline policy of blurring out any signs of romance on TV screens.

We love India.
All Indians are our brothers & sisters.

Old DD folks absorbed at Air India perhaps?!

Slay the Dragon (NOT the Parrot)

My dear father loves the stock market and anything to do with it almost as much as his children. I know we rank higher in the love chart, because he doesn’t forget facts about stocks, but he does forget facts about us. Lock him away without a physical copy of Economic Times therefore, and he gets forlorn. So, imagine his glee when the husband got an opp. to visit India on Business.

“Please get me a copy of Dalal Street and Economic times, pa. Not the Sunday ET mind you.” he told him as soon as he heard the news. The husband nodded glad to be able to buy something that would make the dear man happy.
A hectic packing schedule later (another blog waiting to happen), we went to drop him off at the airport.

The father gong sounded, “Remember to get the Economic Times pa. Remember not the Sunday ET. I will send you an email also to that effect. Not Sunday. Any other day is okay.”

He gave him a final wave before leaving the airport with the loving words, “Not Sunday!” (Once a teacher always a teacher – repeat after me, “Not Sunday”)

Now, my father knows that life can be intense and people tend to forget. So, he typed out an email mid-visit thus: (I shall, in another blog, touch up on the typing)
Dear XXX
We are all finehere.My new boss(the Baby ) and hisstser are doing well.Pl. buy Dalal Street and Economic Times.
PS: I do NOT want Sunday Economic Times.

Now, the husband glanced at this email on Monday morning. He was supposed to leave India that night. So, his head swimming with ‘Sunday’, he tried his level best to procure a copy of the Sunday Economic Times. Failing to do so, he weaseled up to the peon in the office and asked him to see if they had a copy of the Sunday Economic Times anyway. He was in luck as the peon had stored away the Sunday copy. It isn’t everyday that working-in-America saabs thank the peon for old newspapers. The heart felt thanks made the man’s heart swell and he felt morally obliged to give him Monday’s copy as well.

One can imagine the triumphant scene whence the prince was told to slay the dragon (not the parrot) to obtain the approval of the king. Slay the dragon but not the parrot. Remember not the parrot. And the prince crosses 7 seas, dons bitter pills, fights gory creatures and slays the parrot.

The king and prince have since made up, since the dragon was also slain by mistake, but there it is – not the parrot!

It turns out that the Sunday Economic Times costs 3 times the amount and has 1/3rd the content of a week day ET, hence the “Not Sunday”

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