Sunday, December 13, 2009


Disasters, when they happen, do have a tendency to happen in my vicinity. My last outing was no exception.
After a week of spending day in and day out at Pickwick's bedside, until he was pretty much sick of my face, I decided both my son and I needed a break. So, entrusting him in the care of good ol' poppy and mommy, I decided to use the services of the car to step out for a few books for self and son as I would have to continue the long vigil by his bedside. Now before I stepped out, Poppy gave me the number of the driver- a chap called Rajesh. Considering Poppy had about 15 -odd entries under the title 'driver', I have no clue, how he was unerringly able to pick out this particular chap's number, but I supposed he must have some kinda system worked out.
Things started out tamely enough, and after battling the usual 'schumis-in-training' style driving and other sundry folk with a death wish calmly crossing the road at arbitrary points, thus ensuring a steady stream of patients being treated by the local physiotherapists for whiplash, we arrived at or chosen dest. - the local roadside bookshop.
Now the driver, having discovered that the whole of Kochi had suddenly decided to become bookworms, couldn't find a parking spot anywhere close to the venue. Thus it was decided between his broken English and my broken Malayalam and some rudimentary sign language, that he'd be hovering around somewhere, circling the area and when I'd finished, I just needed to call him up, and he'd whizz along to pick me up (thank you mobiles!).
It took me all of fifteen minutes to browse, haggle (having thus brought the price of my purchases down by a princely 10 rupees) and bag my loot. Patting myself on a job well done, I was feeling refreshed, all set to face another week at the Hosp. All that was left was to summon the car and hop in.
Two calls later, the driver wasn't answering. Maybe he's battling traffic, I though. Lord knows you need all you wits about you in this city. I gave it one more shot.
On the fifth ring I hear ' 'Allo?'
Me:Ah. Erm... Yes, It's me. Come along then.
silence. Then ' yaaru aana? '
My rudimentary understanding of the language led me to say ' Now is not the time to start babbling about elephants, man. Is there some kind of procession out on the street? Hop to it! I'm waiting in the middle of the road. You can't miss me. I look exactly the same as I did half an hour ago'
More silence. Followed by some panicked mumbling and the phone being handed over to someone, who I hoped would have a bit more sense. ' 'Allo?' Here we go again...
Me: Ah. yes. This car you're in. It needs to pick me up from where the chappie's dropped me.'
The other voice: No, no! this car is now someone else!
Now this made no sense (unless you were in a transformer movie). I was assuming he meant it was now going to pick someone else up. But who? The grandparents were safely ensconced by Pickwik's bedside in charge of amusing the fella. This only meant that the chappie was doing 'nuther pick up on the job. NOT a good day to pull a double shift on the sly!
'Now listen here, Rajesh,' I say sternly, in my best 'naughy Pickiwck' voice, 'that's my car you're driving.' well, OK, so it was Dad's car, but we don't want to confuse the fella by getting into semantics now. 'You just turn right around and get back here. I'm standing opposite 'sea lord' hotel. You can't miss me.' (yes, 'Sea Lord'. and yes, it did have a picture of a merman. Can we please stop giggling and concentrate on the matter at hand, people? We may have a potential car -jacking in progress!)
'Okay! Okay!! we come now, madam!' says the panicked aide-de-Rajesh.
Much better. I think to myself. You gotta be stern with these sorts. There no point in... thoughts interrupted by urgent ringing of phone. It was dad. 'Hey Pops!' I say. 'You'd never believe...'
Pops: Nevermind all that, sense. This driver, Rajesh
me: yes, yes, I know. would you believe it?
pops: you do? but how, dash it? and erm.. HOW?
me: Pops, calm down! I've got it under control. I told him to come pick me up right away, see?
Pops: Told who? From where?
me: (cue much eye rolling and accepting the fact that pops might be hitting senility a tad early) Rajesh. From where I'm standing.
pops: But you couldn't have. You don't have his number
me: (doing a quick mental check on symptoms : memory loss, gibbering... maybe a brain scan was in order) You gave me the number, Pops, remember? I called him up. The Chap was acting funny at first, but I gave him a proper talking to. He'll be down here in no time.
pops: Ah. Er. Sense... see that number I gave you, well, it's for Rajesh alright, but this Rajesh isn't the right Rajesh. This is another Rajesh who isn't exactly driving our car at the mo'. In short, it's the wrong Rajesh.
The head swam. I tottered. I needed to sit down. I waited for the chorus of Right Rajesh and Wrong Rajesh to die down.
'So the poor sod...' I whispered...
But Poppy wasn't through yet...
pops: but don't worry poppet - I've spoken to the right Rajesh - the one who's actually driving our car, not the wrong Rajesh, who's probably in someone else's car... and he's on his way to pick you up. Right-ho, then. Pip-pip.
and just on cue, 'Right -Rajesh' arrives with the vehicle.
I meekly got into the vehicle and drove to the hospital in silence. I wasn't coming out again until sanity had returned to the world. And parents stopped naming their offspring Rajesh.
In the meanwhile, somewhere out there is a Rajesh, who's undergoing counselling coz he quivers uncontrollably everytime the phone rings.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lessons from child to mother

Lessons that Pickwick's taught me in the past month:
  • Life throws a curve ball at you when you least expect it. If you're not ready, it's apt to hit you in the face, and you might end up with a broken nose - or a broken femur as the case may be.
  • Having failed to catch said curve ball, get back up on your feet real quick. That's the only way you'll know if you're fine or, when you collapse in a heap, unable to support yourself - you need to get professional help.
  • Now that you're at the doc's, learn to swallow the bitter pill. Just coz you haven't seen the x-ray, doesn't mean the bone isn't broken. It will need need mending.
  • Time is relative. It can always be measured as the space between chocolate breaks
  • Your real family is the one that calls you/ writes to you/ sends you a hand made get-well-soon card that you can always go back to when there's nothing good on the telly.
  • Your phone's pretty useless unless it has at least 2 games and 6 of your favourite songs
  • There's no such thing as listening to a favourite song too many times. And however often you listen to it, it'll still have the power to cheer you up.
  • If some one objects to listening to a song one more time, he can always listen to your personal rendition of the song. Listening to the original might suddenly become a whole lot less objectionable.
  • Life is a battle of wits between you and your oppressors. Every time they think of ways of making your life miserable, or immobile (apparently for your own good), you need to think of new ways of outsmarting them by contorting your body into impossible positions.
  • There's always a silver lining. The number of days you're tied down in bed is directly proportionate to the number of chocolates you'll receive, and be allowed to consume by guilt - ridden adults.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Tube Zodiac

I have lately stopped reading my book in the tube. I find it for more interesting to watch other people while listening to the latest hindi ‘gaana’


Like Ms Goodman chooses to classify people into 12 broad categories, we can classify the tube commuter into 12 broad catergories:


The Ram: The ram bulldozes his/ her way into the crowded compartment and yells at the top of their voices ‘Move alonnnng, please’. Yes, dear ram, we needed you to tell us that, otherwise, we just so love to leave vast expanses of unoccupied seats and standing space, all to huddle together on the 3 square feet of space you need to occupy.


The Bull: The bull just goes a step further and pushes you out of the way. One needs to be especially wary of the female variety, as they just zero in on the seat they’ve spotted through the window. PLEASE, for your own safety and for the safety of those around you, jump out of their way! Once they are comfortably seated, of course, they’re the most pleasant things to have around.
The Twins: These are generally of the adolescent variety, and one is seriously tempted to urge them to get a room. They are so entwined that it is hard to decipher where one ends and the other begins. The upside to this, of course is that they occupy one seat instead of two, or if standing, will stand collectively on only two feet at a time.
The Crab:  we tend to spot the crab at most major interchanges. They dart in, espy two-odd seat in different direction, mentally calculate the distance from the door to the seats, pick the closer of the two, and with some deft maneuvering (that can only be describe as ‘crab-like’) he’s sitting pretty, while others are still struggling to get in.
The Lion: The lion is not afraid to voice his opinion. He’ll have an opinion on the services, on Gordon Brown, on the recession, on the weather, on you...and it’s this last bit that particularly galling, because he’ll be there ‘tch’-ing at the bull, rolling his eyes at the Ram, hissing at the twins… you get the picture. Watching his back must be a full-time job for him.
The Virgin: This is someone you’d like to unleash the lion upon. Super –critical doesn’t begin to describe them. They’ll be the ones running their finger over the window sill with a raised eyebrow. A 30 second delay in departures with have them impatiently looking at their watch while tapping their feet. God forbid, you choose to jump into the tube seconds before the door shuts, then you’ve really had it – You will be root cause of any delay henceforth, be it signal failure or a man having a cardiac arrest 3 trains ahead. You Were The Cause. And the Virgo won’t let you forget it. Maybe there’s a reason they’re Virgins?

The Balance: These ones would do you proud on a footboard in a Mumbai local. They’ll be the one’s standing near the door, first to hop out as soon as the train stops. No, not just at their station, but at every station – they’re also the last to hop in. At every station. Why they do this beats me, but I suppose it give them a warm afterglow to know that they have successfully shaved 1/625 th of a second off their travel time in a day. 

The Scorpion: Beware the scorpion – they strike when least expected. Largely prevalent in shady locations, they normally move in herds.  Their sting, also called switchblade swiftly deprives you of your most prize possessions, and they melt way into the night, never to be seen again.
The Archer: The archer loves to, well, ‘arch’. He arches over you to get at the newspaper, arches over to open the window, arches over to grab the hand-hold… erm, hey, archie, newsflash: believe it or not, shoving smelly armpits in peoples faces is not the best way to get them to like you. In fact, it might surprise you to know that it has quite the opposite effect (yes! Really!)
The Horned Goat: Or the tube lothario. Normally, despite being hampered by a severe shortage of it, people are quite respectful of each others’ personal space, but the horned goat delights in getting up close. This is because under normal circumstances, the ladies would rather join a nunnery that be caught having a conversation with the goat. With some faces, even that mother of all beauty creams – beer, fails miserably.
The Water- Carrier: Thanks to the miracles of modern science, pregnant women can now work further and further into their term. Now if only science could find something to calm co-passengers and they get more and more nervous. The reason for this, is not that they’re worried about the health of the mother and baby, but more on account of the fact that if the water- carrier turns to the water-breaker, there’s a good chance that they might miss the kick-off of the football game they’re going to. Would make a grown man cry, it would.
The Fish: Ah! The fish! Commonly sighted at Pubs, other tube zodiacs magically transform into the fish after football matches, weekends, hours of hard partying, stag dos, weekends, rugby matches & weekends. Look out for the fish’s tendency to assume everybody’s their best friend, a total lack of co-ordination (like the inability to put food into the right orifice in the face), the inability to find their home, and hence, assuming that you’re their best friend, now that they have known you for all of 38 seconds, they can crash at your pad for the night. Naturally, if you’ve transformed into a fish as well, you will not remember any of this the following morning.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Visit to the Homeland

The recent visit to India had me behaving like the typical NRI, as I sheepishly admit.

Here are the following rookie NRI faux pas I committed:
  • As soon as I landed, I commented on the noise levels in the city at 1 am in the morning
  • Almost threw up in the vehicle after being treated to road-rash style driving
  • Visited the temple – in traditional garb, not sparing Pickwick either
  • Managed to infest kid with virus
  • Managed to catch the aforementioned virus myself
  • Was surprised that the country has not frozen in time and has managed to move on in the years that we were missing
  • Commented on how expensive things had become and started sentences with ‘I remember back in my days when…’
  • Clicked photographs of absolutely arbit. things which I now found hilarious (a key chain advertising ‘steel balls’ and a billboard for ‘sham publicity’)
  • Had the junk food off the streets and marvelled at it, swore it was nothing short of gourmet
  • However, did drink only mineral water, in case I caught something
  • Caught something anyways
  • Accidentally let the accent slip to a friend – and didn’t hear the end of it for the rest of the trip.
  • Thoroughly enjoyed the rickshaw ride, and pooh-poohed at the natives who were sputtering at the pollution levels – and went giddy breathing in the concentrated levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Caught with the 159 relatives who live in the city, mostly on a single day. Had Pickwick thoroughly confused on the number of tatas and pattis he has. He didn’t mind much though – his equation is simple: the number of relatives are directly proportional to the number if goodies you get. (‘pwesents!’)
  • Went to relatives houses with chocolate, and got desi sweets in the bargain - and wondered for the nth time, why on earth they preferred the chocolates.
  • Stacked up on the DVDs of our traditional mythological heroes (Hanuman and Ganesha) despite Pickwick not watching more than 60 seconds of anything, unless it’s a song and dance sequence
  • Refused to move around in anything but tops, capris and cut-offs, and worked on my ‘tan’
  • Went overboard with sending off clothes to the ‘ironwallah’ since I wasn’t the one doing the ironing
  • Had to be frequently reminded by relatives to ‘just leave the dishes’ after a meal, I didn’t need to wash up afterwards *bliss*

    Future visits will possibly iron out these quirks… although I’m rather hoping I can just get back to being the desi who’s visited by the NR relative.