The Intelligence Behind the Mattress

I recently checked out a mattress for a friend on my laptop. I mean I clicked on the links sent to me, saw the images and read the reviews. Here is my plea to all you companies out there that use my rich browsing history to guide me to the right path of retail therapy: Please stop. I am not planning to buy a mattress. Really. Believe me. My friend already bought a mattress, so I really am in no real need of even checking one out. Thank You.

I actually have a very funny story involving all the different mattresses in the home that I plan to buckle down and write in the next few months. Should I take pictures of all the mattresses in my home and post it on Facebook? You can then scrape the images most popularly posted and send that to advertising companies and they can in turn peddle sheets and pillow cases instead of mattresses on my Facebook feed. Wait. I remember seeing pictures of Sheets and Comforters too.

I appreciate all the help honestly. I think though that we may have a little of too much intelligence floating around the web. Which is why, i sometimes like to linger on the idiotic ones: trying to recreate the algorithms that figured that one out. It is a fun game and hugely entertaining not to mention gives us the luxury of wasting our time. Once, I was urged to send a friend of mine roses on her birthday. Freshly plucked they claimed to be too. All I  could think of was this wonderful conversation we had in that friend’s garden when we were about eight or nine years old and she told me how much she hated to see flowers plucked from their plants.

So, I can’t say that I am not glad that Facebook decided to stop peddling physical gifts that no one wants.

You would be right in scratching your chin at that one. I don’t know what that sentence means: Will or won’t I miss the advertisements? I don’t know because the one about sending flowers made me smile thinking of us looking for lady bugs in the flower patch and talking of this and that, but it also detracts from whatever I am looking for. Which is nothing. So I suppose I won’t miss them.

The Athletic Girls

The niece was a-visiting for the summer. She is a year older than my daughter, and the cousins spent hours dawdling, drawing, ‘illustrating my books’, reading and watching shows on Television.  The husband looked at them lolling around and decided that what the girls required was a severe physical regimen and enrolled them in a Badminton camp not far from home.  The girls were excited enough about it and got ready on time. There was a lot of noise about backpacks and water bottles and questions about whether they would need Gatorade etc. In all the melee, I was shrewd enough to notice that we did not have badminton rackets for the girls. Ask anybody. If you need to learn badminton, you need badminton rackets.

I walked swiftly to the car wondering whether we had enough time to stop at a store and pick up the rackets without being late for the first day of class. I just put on my seatbelt when my athletic daughter piped, “Don’t worry ma! I found the rackets. Come! Let’s go.”

Perplexed is the word I am looking for here. You see? This precious daughter can’t find a spoon if it is sitting on her plate in front of her. There have been times when I’ve sent her upstairs to fetch something with specific instructions. “Go to your room. Turn on the light. Turn to the right. Look near the bookcase, there is a box. In that box, you will find a pair of scissors. Bring it.”

“Amma….I don’t need instructions like that! I know where the box is.” Sassy Tasha.

A minute later, “Errm. Amma, have you moved the box?”


“I can’t see it there.”

“Did you check near the shelf?”

“YESSS!” Irritated Polly

“Isn’t it there? Near the shelf. Check behind the door.”


So, I thump upstairs moaning and walk into the room, turn right and there to the left of the bookcase is a box containing a pair of scissors. I turn around with a question mark and an exclamation mark on my face. The daughter says, totally unabashed “OH! To the left of the bookcase, I looked here – on the right.”

This girl found badminton rackets in the home when I thought we didn’t have any usable ones? Fishy. So, I heaved myself out of the car and asked her to show me the rackets. She proudly held up two Wilson tennis rackets.

We were running late to a class on the first day, and yet, I had to laugh at this. I gave myself a face-palm and bundled her off to the car. All this while, if you will notice the niece is nowhere to be seen. So, I finally holler for her and ask her what is holding her back, and she says, “One minute! I am trying to decide whether to take mixture or chips for snacks!”

Priorities Ladies & Gentlemen. Priorities.

Badminton Rackets
Playing badminton with tennis rackets

The American Badminton Coaches, however, are a sturdy breed. They got these girls to establish contact between the shuttle-cock and the right kind of racket at the end of it all.


Have you ever done something for an admiring audience? Something mundane that you brilliantly execute in front of your admirers? You feel pretty good that you consider it mundane and therefore a little embarrassed at all the rosy-eyed attention, but a trifle pleased with yourself that what for you is simple, is so inspirational in others.

I am sure that is pretty much how the truck driver felt. A little embarrassed at the amount of attention his job was drawing and then a tiny glow of satisfaction at the admiring audience. The truck-driver was able-bodied enough though his stomach was beginning to look prosperous. He looked reasonably happy. In other words, a person one might have passed on the street without stopping to remember. Like a wet umbrella on a rainy day.

I need to set a context I see: The day was cloudy and the son was strapped in a stroller slightly against his will. But once the stroller started rolling, he sat back for a merry ride and what an experience it turned out to be! We had not really expected such a huge truck to come rolling on the road. As far as trucks go, this one was an eel and a whale all rolled together. It had at least 18 wheels, painted a brilliant green and had two huge containers strapped on its back, with another motorized lift at the end of the carrier of the truck. The truck driver was to drop off the huge containers to some building and we were walking right in front of that building. The truck stopped on the island in the middle of the road, and the operations began. The truck driver (it seems wrong to not give him an exalted title, maybe THE TRUCKER) got down and then lowered the machinery at the back of the truck single-handedly, fork-lifted the huge container onto the machinery and made off to deliver the thing.

The Efficient Trucker
The Efficient Trucker

The operation lasted less than twenty minutes and he obstructed three cars for a period of 30 seconds during the whole operation.  THE TRUCKER then gave us a friendly wave with a sheepish grin that made the little feller in the stroller grin shyly too and he was off.

I had to sizzle back to the operation of unloading a few sacks in New Delhi a few years ago (Please refer to point #4 in the post: .

The truck driver there was not able-bodied enough, and his stomach looked like it could have done with another few parathas; but he looked like a man ready to wreak havoc on a busy interstate road.

He first parked his vehicle diagonally across the road. This enabled him to obstruct traffic flowing in both directions. The traffic was comprised of fellow trucks, cars, motorbikes, cycles, vans and buses. Not to mention some buffaloes and dogs.

Then, two helpers of his jumped down to aid things along.

What a fine mess the fellows made! They shouted at each other, shouted at folks walking past, shouted at folks trying to get to work in the morning and preened themselves in a mirror when they saw some girls staring to watch. All this while, folks are doing all they can to ease the flow. Motorcycles honked their way through and tried getting onto the dirt stretch on one side of the road to navigate the temporary bottleneck.

Finally, after about 32 minutes of a lot of shouting and yelling and cross-fighting and air-punching, three bags of potatoes were carried off by the helpers. How do I know they were potatoes? Because in all the melee of combing their hair for the girls, they had forgotten to fasten the string around the potato-sacks. The moment they carried one sack, it flopped and fell spectacularly in the middle of the road. The three fellows, aided by the restauranteur and his four helpers scrambled after all the potatoes, leaping under cars and running after poor children who managed to secure a few for their home, and finally got the potato delivery done.

The Inefficient Truck Delivery
The Inefficient Truck Delivery

I still don’t understand why, but the driver beamed with pride at the end of the delivery and made off.

The same job a different day………and so it goes. Fascinating deliveries both.

Nobody Appreciates a Bread-Runner

‘Unencumbered’ is the word I want when I set out to run a couple of miles in the morning. I like the cloudy days the best. You know the sun is going to come blazing through in its summer glory in a few hours, but you waddle on in the slightly chill morning laughing at all those people who will be running in the sun later. Ha!

I am almost out the door. The larks are singing and the birds are rising. The sleepy mother calls out to me and I ask her why she is up early. She shakes her head in a Duty-Beckons sort of way and asks, “Where are you going to run?”

“Just around the block. Through the fields. Fresh air is the key.” I was going to expand a little on the fresh-air-for-lung concept when I saw her mind already marching past towards her sense of purpose, so I shelved it for the moment.

“How far is Walgreens? Can’t you run to Walgreens instead?”

“Why?” I think I know where this is going, feign ignorance and hope for the best.

“There is no bread in the house, can you buy a loaf and run back?” she asks.

I nodded. After all the poor lady shook herself out of sleep to ask for a loaf of b.

Now, when I run, I snorkel away from signals like an octopus from a shark, but the Walgreens route shows me no such luxury. I stop at signals and run my way through. Pant my way through is more like it. I should be fitter than I am, but anyway…. I charge into Walgreens with the speed of a rhino chasing a dog, and stop as soon as I enter for I see 3 shocked customers, 1 shocked saleslady and 1 disapproving passport photo taker, who just had his subject turn away when he clicked to see the source of the commotion. Never have I made such a splash entering the store. I try to slink into the aisles, but the disapproving stares follow me even though people have started tending their own business.

I’d like to tell you that I bought the bread and ran back, for that is what I did. But I tell you. Till you run with a loaf of bread in your hand it is very hard to appreciate bread-runners. Let’s talk about positioning for one shall we?

How do you position a loaf of bread while running?

1) The nonchalant approach:

Just clutch the bread packet by its top and run. But it dangles from left to right like a pendulum clock and you land up swaying with it. Not to mention this looks very appealing to dogs out on a walk. Try it to see what I mean.

Nonchalant approach
Nonchalant approach

2) The Tin soldier with one arm approach:

Then I tried to keep the arm with the b.packet dangling limply by my side, while my other hand is clenched in a runners fist. I suppose this will work, but I realize this is like being in a march past where you are only allowed to swing one arm, but keep the rhythm of the other arm in sync with the left and right feet. It feels lopsided and half hearted and the bread packet looks stung for being left out of the festivities.

bread 2

3) The Marcher Approach:

So I try running like a marcher. Swing both hands freely and run. I swear Bread packets have character. Mine did not take kindly to this swaying and to-ing and fro-ing. He, I mean it, scowled at me, kept banging me on my knees and generally creating havoc.

The Marcher Approach
The Marcher Approach

I scowled back, for I don’t approve of scowlers much – inanimate or otherwise. But this time, he (it!)  slid from my hands. So, I had to take to walking a few steps, reassuring him(it) that all was well,and then run again.

Finally I tottered into my house clutching the bread only to have a voice ask, “Why did you buy bread now? There is enough for breakfast.”

A silent howl escaped me, but a louder, grandmotherly howl overtook mine and said, “No there isn’t! I asked her to buy it.”

Thank Heavens. And the next time you see a bread-runner, please stop and salute them. They deserve it.

Famous on Facebook?

It was a wonderful day. I was going about the joyous task of collecting garbage for the garbage truck the next day. I peeked into the kitchen trash and the fresh smells of carrot peels with coffee waste swirled up. I inhaled and exhaled with a rapidity that would have had a rabbit scuttling in fright. I then went for the lint removal in the washing machine dryer and added that non-smelling lot to the kitchen waste. It gave the gooey, soggy mess some texture. I grinned with an eye of a creative person and saw that what would really seal the deal was diapers. I charged for the diaper-genie in glee. To my dismay the diaper genie’s bag had burst and well, I shall spare the reading public some horrific images of the ensuing drama, but the  important thing is to keep your positivity about you. I think the diapers added a new twist to the garbage scene. I had all the garbage collected – well all the garbage in the garbage cans collected, because there is garbage hiding all over the house, but that makes for another post on another day.

I suppose artists in the olden days used to get this sense of accomplishment when they saw beauty in the most mundane things and created entire worlds out of them. I felt a little like that, Of course, it was a harder path in the olden days for gratification was far from instant. You had to wait to be unearthed and then some before you could be liked. All that has changed.

With Instagram, stories were told through pictures. The golden era of ‘Being Liked’ was taken to a higher level. Suddenly people found that pictures of their feet in the sand was as wonderful as a sailboat badly framed in the distance when at the beach. They found that pictures of themselves in various poses was very welcoming indeed. The innate altruism in people kicked in and they strived to give their friends more and more of themselves. Just to give people what they liked, they uploaded more pictures. They were all consumed by a hungering public.

What if? What if? Creative people buzzed to see what they could do. Of course the common man had to fumble along trying to see what they could do in that regard. Voila! BinCam was born.

BinCam looks just like your average trash bin, but with a twist: Its upper lid is equipped with a smartphone that snaps a photo every time the lid is shut. The photo is then uploaded to Mechanical Turk, the Amazon-run service that lets freelancers perform laborious tasks for money. In this case, they analyze the photo and decide if your recycling habits conform with the gospel of green living. Eventually, the photo appears on your Facebook page.

The artist in me needed practice, but with folks like BinCam helping me out, I am sure I shall compete with the best in the industry. We could run student competitions with scrapbooks of trash can pictures and children will soon be yearning to take out the garbage so they could compare notes.

Trash Can
The Beautiful Trash Can

I wonder how our garbage compares to real celebrity garbage. There can be a competition and the true winner becomes Famous on Facebook.

The possibilities are immense.

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