Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Return to innocence

At the end of a particularly rotten day, nothing helps more than a good cry. It helped that I chose a movie to do it over and my best friend to do it with. So it didn’t matter that we chose single screen over multiplex. It didn’t matter that we had to buy tickets from a sandwichwallah at a 200% premium (they were still cheaper than what I’d pay at a sterile multiplex). It didn’t matter that the d├ęcor was kitsch, the elevators missing, and that there were grotesque planetary delights for murals. It didn’t matter that we had to buy Bobby chips and Saiganga water. It didn’t matter that ‘upper stall’ was all we could manage and the alleged 'back row' seats turned out to be the fifth row from the front.

What mattered was that the tears were real, and they came gushing. What mattered was that the crowd was cheering a little boy trying to paint as much as they were the entry of a really famous Khan. What mattered was that the whistles, the claps, the standing ovation, the wet handkerchieves - was all spontaneous. What mattered was that nobody in the theatre was afraid to cry. Yes, the movie was Taare Zameen Par. And I went home happy-sad after a really good cry.

 This Saturday afternoon, I turned into a consummate voyeur— sipping my Rose, listening to English music on radio (yes it’s back on one station at least) and staring at the thriving ecosystem outside my window. There is Ismail the squirrel, Abdullah the crow, Ganpat the pigeon, Swamy, the parrot. It should be mentioned that the names are collective, ie all squirrels are called Ismail..and so on… There are also various ornithological marvels who I don’t know the names or taxonomies of. And before I get assaulted by communities for hurting their sentiments, let me say that the names were spontaneous and had no hidden agenda.

As I was in my voyeuristic mode, I saw one indeterminate bird, with orange breasts, green plumage and sleek black mouth doing unmentionables to attract the attention of the female of the species. (BNHS, please help..).I suddenly felt a spot of pity—because, despite their drop dead good looks, the male of the species still had to play a hard wooing game. Suddenly I viewed the women birds with new eyes — they seemed to be going for the real stuff — like finding out how resilient is their man, how long can he hold out, how deep is his affection, how superficial are his looks…Go bird, go!

Closer to humanity, I haven’t seen the wooing game in a long time. The two and a half times that I have played cupid were disasters. On the other hand, the men are complaining there are no women and the women complaining there are no men. May be they should all go bird watching. No pun intended.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

High living, stupid thinking

A few years ago, my poor friend Raju, who makes so claims about turning into a gentleman was denied entry into Rain (of the famous Kareena-Shahid smooch and the Bipasha Basu molestation shoo-sha). I am not even sure if Rain still exists, since I have stopped travelling that far north to socialize. But I still remember that it made Raju feel very despondent and full of disdain for the people who looked him up and down and said, “sorry sir, floaters not allowed.” So off we went to plebian land and bitched about the good life.

My point is, Raju couldn’t hurt a fly, let alone taking on someone at the posh club. What harm could a bald guy who weighs all of 60 kilos, cause in his floaters? I can understand if they were Doc Martens or Caterpillars, as they can pack a mean punch. Unfortunately, Mr. Cerebrally Challenged at the door wasn’t convinced.

Now, I have seen posh men in sharp suits or Versace t-shirts make an utter ass of themselves in high places. I have also seen threesomes emerge out of unisex loos in posh joints. None of these, I am sure, have ever been denied entry, floater or no floater. I believe a tabloid reporter at was denied entry at Bed lounge (yes!)in Bandra because she was in a saree, and then they made a huge song and dance about it…

Closer home, the beau is another person who is always getting into trouble, either for under-dressing (shorts instead of full-lengths ) or overdressing (wearing a hat). He is still working on addressing the Lowest Common Sensibility in dress code, but is taken by surprise every time.
At Poison, which was over flowing with pretty young things one night wearing pretty much nothing, they had an issue with the beau’s shorts which well, just fell short of being trousers. He tried easing them down to prove a point, but it didn’t go well.

At Kuki’s in Delhi (of the Kareena-Saif smooch fame), where, after an hour and a half of serious dancing, the man in charge asked him to take his hat off, as it was ‘against the rules.’ There was some serious word-exchange, but I still didn’t get the logic of it…

At the super-colonial and terribly geriartric Delhi gym, where he is a member by ancestry, his T-shirts and sneakers were frowned upon. So we had to go hunting for a shirt and pull out his patent leather shoes. Why? So we could go to the bar and get wasted, yet look extremely elegant…

Recently we were at All Bheja Fry (sorry, All Stir Fry), grabbing a quick wok before we made our way upstairs to Pollys for a birthday surprise. Now, we were dressed to the nines, so no problem on that front. But as he was sampling the first mouthful, we were summoned by the party brigade, and so, asked for a takeaway. The manager mumbled, “Sorry…it is against our policy… no parcel for buffet. You can take soup…that is a-la-carte…”

Okay, I know we are a third world country and all of us, at any given opportunity would parcel food from buffets for our extended family and friends. What I didn’t know was that restaurant policies were like Indian Penal Code, which by the way, seems very flexible to me, as it is forever changing.

And oh yes, all above places are welcome to ban me, as I have had enough of them anyway. And frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn, as Clark Gable would say.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Satellite woes

Husband-to-be stopped mid sentence while he was talking to me. As he was staring open mouthed at the television set, I noticed that his Dish TV had gone on the blink. “Why didn’t they phone me, or just send me an sms?” he whined. “They should give me advance notice before doing something so drastic.” He continued whining for the next half hour about how he has been so prompt about recharging, and how technically, he was all sorted till Jan 14, and how they must have made a mistake…..blah..blah..blah… There was a veil of annoyance, anger, depression and deprivation on his face all at once.
 I said, “But all you have to do is text or call them or buy a recharge card or whatever it is you do with these things.”
“You don’t understand. There is a Man U match tonight. What will I do now? They will never reactivate it in less than three days. My weekend is doomed.”
“What is wrong with not watching TV for a few days?”…I blurted..
Stunned silence.
I realised as soon as I said it that it was so not the right thing to say. It’s like someone telling me, “What’s wrong with not eating vegetables for a few days?”
Three days later, he is still whining.
Okay, so I am marrying a TV junkie. He loves his TV so much that he never has the heart to turn it off. He could leave it on even when he went out, as it saves the trouble of turning it off and on every time. If he had his way, he would have a television in every room, including the bathroom, lest he missed something when he went into his reluctant showers.
I remember, one of the first romantic things he ever said to me was… “Hey, you want to pick your favourite program so we can watch it together?”
My choices were Travel and Living and Animal Planet.
He never asked me that question again.
I still have to get back to him on whether I would like a TV in the kitchen, so I could watch TV while I am “stirring something,” or “reaching out for the spice rack” or “cleaning broccoli”.
Ahem. I see domestic tension already.
Which is why a psychologist once said that the television is like the third person in the relationship. But then they say, you never marry someone with the intention of changing them.

The father is the master and commander of Tata Sky (and he does go jhinga-la-la over it). However, it irks him that he still hasn’t been able to eliminate the yellow envelope thingee from the top of the screen. It’s like being punished despite doing your homework or wearing your uniform ironed. The mother is of little help in the scheme of things as she has just learnt how to use the mobile phone, and it will be a while before she graduates to interactive TV guides.

As for me, life goes on, channel or no channel. Give me a book, some music or a free wall to do my asanas any day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Oh, for a handyman

Handymen should be handy. That, in my opinion should be their biggest qualification. Whether or not they are good at their job is debatable. I mean how much can go wrong with fixing a nail or mending a fuse?
Sadly, my good karma days seem to be over with Lord Vamne. He is the complete antithesis of the handyman. First of all, he is more elusive than Gautam Singhania, who one can only interview mid-air on a chopper, even though he is partying every night.

Lord Vamne loves the chase. He doesn’t take my calls, but once in a while, he does send an sms in chaste English, which sounds like a mechanized voice mail. You know, the kind that says, “I am sorry, I am unable to take your call, but I will call you back shortly.
Now, I am a guy’s girl. In the sense that I am incredibly good at getting things done, and although I would love to sound like a helpless damsel in distress who says, “Honey, how are we doing to do this? Can you do something? I really need that nail on the wall…?" I have tried that voice and it doesn’t look good on me.
So I do the stuff that I am good at. Track down local contacts. Talk to random people on the road. Suss out the watchman to see how enterprising he can get for a few extra bucks. The weirdest thing is, all roads led to Vamne, as if it were a conspiracy. So instead of ousting him, which was my original plan, I had to be “nice to him” as advised by one and all.

On an auspicious day, after many prayers and breaking coconuts, Lord Vamne finally descended, with his coterie of two assistants. Now, in my book, this is so not cool. The point of being a handyman is “do it yourself”, not strut around, ordering your assistants to do the job. The result? I have two crooked frames, one spice-rack that is reminiscent of the Leaning tower of Pisa, and a gas regulator that has been fiddled with and rejected.

How could this happen to me, the queen of handymen?
Flashback to Mukeshbhai, the local electrician cum plumber cum mason cum packer cum loader cum blackmarketeer at the local single screen theatre. He called me saab, and I got a kick out of that. Then there was Lakkibhai, who was a tad too dandy to be handyman, but all it took was one sniff at the object of repair, and he would say “Ho jayega. Koi vanda nahi…”. Or even Singh chacha who organized everything from cook cum maid to raddiwala to cornershop telephone number to takeway menus to carpenter.

My mother has an electrical shop aptly called Moonlight who does bodyshopping as a side business. Depending on the nature of the assignment—from fixing a lamp to the sink in the bathroom, to the curtain rod, he would send different men, all of whom were called Shabbir. My mother went terribly batty figuring which Shabbir she had spoken to the last time, and it caused much stress.

So I went to a technical institute for boys run by a convent, asking if they had crash courses in “everything that can go wrong with a house and how to fix it”. I wanted to learn how to fix a car, the tap, the fuse and just about anything that needs fixing. The Brother in charge stared at me as if I were a lunatic. I tried explaining to him that “self help was the best help,” etc, hoping to strike a chord in churchspeak, but he was further amused, and laughed me off as a girl who knew too much.
So handymen it will be…