Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Woman Friday

Happy times are here again! Smiley, our maid-cum-cook-cum-therapy-cum-positive energy potion-cum resident mummy is back! It has just been a week, but it assumed a proportion that even transcended to my status message on Facebook (yes, I am guilty), and for the millionth time, I thanked my stars that I live in India and not anywhere else in the world where I can be blessed with such divinity.

May be I just have good karma as far as domestic helps are concerned. There was Pushpa, who was a terrible cook, but excelled in all other departments. She was part decorator, part candle-maker and full enterprise—she had a little stall around the corner where she sold everything from beedis to beads. Then there was Lata, who got along fabulously with my felines Lupooh Singh and Millie Kutty, to the point that they began ignoring me. And Shankaran, from my childhood who taught me how to cook when mom and dad were away and sometimes absolved me of my task of combing and plaiting my baby sister’s hair to get her ready for school. Never mind if he had the habit of humming really bad tunes or combing his hair repeatedly or not bathing for days.

Back to Smiley. I tried very hard to make the house not look like it was struck by a tsunami upon her return, but after three days of washing clothes (me) and cleaning dishes (the husband)… we pretty much gave up, as whatever we did, it still didn’t add up to even 50% of what Smiley did. Also, every spoon, fork, plate or bowl I used was increasingly feeling guilt ridden as was every piece of paper or towel I flung (more about that disorder later)

She was our best housewarming gift from our neighbours Geetu and Namit, and the most generous ever. Her real name is Lakshmi but both me and the beau decided to ignore it and christened her Smiley. She is not just a help—she is the positive energy you so badly need when you are sucked into the world of jobs that sometimes leave very little of you at the end of the day. She is what makes coming home fun. What’s Smiley cooked today? What twist has she added to the d├ęcor? Will she reprimand us for not finishing her palak parathas?

Not that she is a terribly happy person with no worries—she has the usual—a husband who is a wastrel, a daughter who won’t study, a son who spends more time falling off bikes than staying on them, a municipality who is threatening to mow her house down that she has to routinely bribe, relatives who descend in droves and add to her ‘mouths to be fed’… the works. But she leaves it all at home and always comes to us 100% frown-proofed. Unlike her predecessor Sulky, who was surrounded by an all-pervasive gloom, and caused much grievance to the beau with her chronic absenteeism and skulking-away-when-door-not-opened-on-one-ring-syndrome.

Smiley, I hereupon salute theee!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mr and Mrs. Remote Control

I am almost a month-old bride and I already have a mistress. She goes by the name of Remote Control. Correction. That would be mistress no.2. Mistress no.1 would be Play Station Controller. But that merits a separate piece.

Note that I use the term remote control in a collective form. There’s one for the TV, cable, DVD player, Ipod docking station, airconditioner, home theatre, music system, car stereo..phew! The beau (just turned husband) wonders why they didn’t make one that allows you to activate your home airconditioner while you are still driving, or one that gets your heater started, so the shower is ready when you get home (he is one of those who takes a hot shower in this blistering heat, but don’t get me started on his quirks).

More gory details. He likes his remotes neatly aligned, almost art-directed and I bet it’s the first sign of reassurance as he walks into the house—“Ah all my remotes are exactly as I left them, so life’s good”—those would be his thoughts, I am quite sure.

Last week, he freaked me out when he demanded an exclusive ‘do not disturb’ corner for the remotes, so they can all ‘hang together’. I consented, and they are now masquerading as art deco items.

The best part of our honeymoon was that most mistresses were absent. But mistress no. 2 made her presence felt every single day— I was shocked to note that cable TV was the first thing he checked for when we moved into our resort.

Since there was no office to go to, he had his fill of meaningless movies, Japanese water sports, History Channel, and of course the Champion’s League and the Premier League and the god-knows-what-else –league football where basically, every match is the ‘match of the season’ and “we-just-can’t afford-to-miss-this-game.”

“What else did you expect?” said Pooja, my friend of infinite wisdom. “Men are already married to their remotes. You will always be number two. Deal with it..”

Since you are no.2, you try harder. Which means you pray that what’s on TV is a little less exciting than you. Upon which he will try and suggest that you pick a show to watch together.

If you can’t beat them, join them, you think. But I hate watching TV, unless it has anything to do with animals, travel diaries, Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson, so it doesn’t leave much choice.

One fine evening, I mustered the courage to tell the mister about my allergy to remote fixatedness. “But you never mentioned that you find it annoying when were dating…,” he retorted, almost plaintive.

True. May be as a wife, I felt the need to raise the bar.

I proposed plan B. For every football match we watch together (and I patiently watch him screaming or puffing his lungs out), he owes me a play, an art exhibition, a walk on the promenade, a poetry reading or a documentary screening.

He nods excitedly, but I know he has absolutely no intention of keeping his word.