Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wives like that

Okay, so I have joined the official wives club, however disgusting that might sound. Membership is free, except all you need to qualify is one peeve about your man, and as a recent long Sunday night conversation seems to reflect, we are not running out of subjects any time soon.

The club got spontaneously incorporated on the aforementioned night, when we had come together for a surprise birthday party. As we were waiting for the action to start, it just so happened that wives of a feather flocked together. There were three of us ( married for varying periods from four years to three months), but being surprisingly linked by similarly afflicted partners.

From our conversation, and I won’t go into the details thereof to protect the interests of my sisterhood—it would appear that all our men were Neanderthals until they met us. Almost everything they did until that moment of divine intervention seemed to be wrong—they dressed wrong, they ate wrong, they hung out wrong, they partied wrong, they spent wrong, they shopped wrong, they even went to the wrong doctor—basically nine out of ten things they did seem to be wrong.

And since they took so easily to you and the makeover thereafter, you stopped to wonder.. did they know it all along? And what did that say about the prior influences in their life?

When I took a random check of the husband’s wardrobe, I found that he had about 200 extra-large t-shirts which all looked the same, five pairs of black jeans which looked the same, cargoes of varying lengths and textures, and one pair of blue 501s which thankfully, redeemed him.

I figured—this was an eighteen-till-I die wardrobe, and quickly bought him a few linen shirts and trousers—which got noticed and worked like magic. Trouble is, he wants to buy five sets of the same, so if a few go into the washing cycle, he can have stand-bys. Grrr!

But the biggest eyesore, co-member of the wives club pointed out was the surprise gift. Having been down that road once, I have a strict policy of choosing what I want or a cash-only policy for the lazy. And everyone who is someone in my life knows that.

Reason why I didn’t end up with a truckload of bad presents on my wedding (although I am still wondering what to do with a certain monstrous bar butler, a hideous tea set, and some remarkably ugly frames).

After a certain purple skirt episode, the husband knows better than to surprise me with gifts--this birthday, I took the husband shopping and bought myself a slinky black dresses. I shopped. He paid. Both were happy.

My fellow conspirator was not so lucky apparently, and was ‘surprised’ at her previous birthday by a yellow Manish Malhotra outfit, inspired by his Om Shanti Om retro collection—only that it had a hood, a zipper and sequins—a surefire no-brainer. Since she was convinced he meant really well, and couldn’t bear the thought of that much money down the drain, she even tried to get it exchanged, but didn’t succeed. The result? It had to be handed down to a sixteen year old with much pain and optimism.

Now he knows why there is never a good enough occasion to wear it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Curiouser and curiouser

I wonder where the term “curiousity killed the cat” emerged from. Well, if I have to go by my years of experience with felines of various temperaments, habits and fetishes, I can say that curiousity never really killed the cat.

Okay, it nearly killed my cat Millie Kutty, as she was curious to find a short cut from bedroom no 1 to bedroom no 2 that didn’t involve doors or humans. It also unhinged my friend Rajashree's cat Taby’s hip as she jumped a fence chased a tomcat in the wilderness of Nagaon.


But there’s more curious cats in real life than in the feline family—the latter seem largely interested in ignoring you or finding their own answers.

**

An excerpt of a conversation I had on Saturday with a curious cat.

So I heard you went to Turkey?

Yes, that’s right

Direct flight or stopover?

Well, there is no direct flight.. so I flew via Delhi

Business class or economy?

It was a work trip. Yes, I flew business.

Did you also take Deepak with you?

No, I told you it was a work trip.

Oh! I thought you could combine work with pleasure

Whatever gave you that idea?

Where did you stay?

At the Swissotel, the Bosphorus.

Five star?

Ya, I think so.

How much was the ticket?

I don’t know. It was sponsored

I noticed that she never asked me whether I had fun, or what the weather was like, or what I loved about Turkey. Only useless trivia. I was being marked.

**

When my brother was visiting from America, the curious cats were again at play

How long is your H1 valid?

I’ve got my Green Card now

So soon? How come?

Well, things just worked out.

Are you applying for citizenship?

I will be, in a year..

So have you bought a house?

I am still looking.

**

When I bought my first car, after watching my mother struggle with public transport for her heart check-ups, they were at it..

New or second hand?

New.

Is it a company car?

No it’s mine. I paid for it.

You drive yourself or you have a driver?

I drive.

One year or three year EMI?

One year..

So then you must be paying a lot…. How do you manage?

Well..

How come you chose a Santro?

I liked it…


**

When I went to the United States for the first time..

Got your visa?

Yes..

Six months?

No. Ten years. Multiple entry.

Wow? How did you manage that?

I don’t know, they gave it to me..

I thought it was tough for single women..

May be it’s not that tough.

So are you flying to the east coast or west coast?

Both.

No more questions.

**

And not so long ago, when I was single..

So? When are you giving us the good news?

I have no idea. What is good news?

Don’t pretend. What about settling down?

But I am so settled..

**

When I finally announced that I had found someone I truly love and wanted to spend the rest of my life with… the questions continued..

Where is he from?

Where does he live? What does he do?

Own house or renting?

So when are you inviting us home?

Where did you go for your honeymoon?

How come you didn’t go abroad?

**

It never ends. Which is why I would be in a state of bliss if I had to spend the rest of my life with animals. They have better things to do than collect useless knowledge and make checklists. Sleep, for instance. Or just be.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New moon rising!

The aforementioned is not a metaphor for romance. It is a combat cry for Chloe, a team leader from Tales of Legendia—a PS2 game that the husband has spent 218 hours with (am feeling very competitive here)

It's all my fault. On his last birthday, I gifted the beau (now the husband) twenty Play Station games. Not that I am totally magnanimous about his obsessions—just that I wanted to get him something he really wanted. I figured he would have bought the games anyway, so I may as well gift them to him.

Strange things happened thereafter. His buddies began to openly adore me, and even feel slightly envious of him. The wives and girlfriends of the buddies began to hate me for setting a bad precedent. As for the husband, I have clearly earned unlimited brownie points, despite his (unsuccessful) attempts to entice me into gaming. He assures me that I will always remain his first love though Play Station comes a close second. But the glimmer in his eye when he unwraps a new game is something else..

Our relationship has survived Reservoir Dogs, Final Fantasy 12, Godfather, Tales of Legendia and Grand Theft Auto. That makes five. But compute an average of 200 plus hours of gaming time for each (a day can pack in 3-4 hours, and a weekend about 10-15) and do the math—you'll feel a soft spot for me.

In the initial stages of our relationship, I noticed that his effort to sound nonchalant and camouflage his obsession didn't cut much ice. For example:

"We can have a cozy dinner and watch some TV or play scrabble and then I can game for x hours"

"We can hang at Shiro for a bit, grab a bite, head home and I can game all night. Yay! Tomorrow is Saturday!"

"I can drop you at the airport and get some gaming in before I go to work…"

"I am working late today, so I will be in a bad mood, so have to game for a few hours."

"I had a great day today, so have to game a few hours…"

It gets more convoluted…

He: I really need to buy 20 games this Saturday

Me: But you still have 200 that you haven't played…

He: You don't understand. If they stop selling them one day, and then I want them, I can't even have them… so I may as well stock up now…

Me: So can we donate the ones you are not playing?

He: Noooooooo.. what if I want to play them next year?

When Tales of Legendia came to an end, it was a stoic moment. The beau was mellow, as if he had lost a part of him. Even I felt a bit sad, like you do at the end of a long TV series. I had gotten to like Senny, the protagonist and hate Norma, his irritating teammate who strutted around singing, "Norma's the best. Ever. Yeah!"

Recently in a bonding moment, a recently-married colleague lamented on her husband's newly acquired gaming console. She claims they now converse by crashing virtual cars, shooting random strangers and running people over.

I quickly count my blessings.



PS: I am soon starting "Wives of Gamers Anonymous." Those interested may write to me. At least we can compare stories and feel better.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Best before….

I don’t know what it is that men look for in labels. Have you ever read the fine print on a tub of cheese spread? Or a slab of butter? I haven’t. That’s because I buy things as I need them and usually consume them before they threaten to expire. Unlike the significant other, who buys things believing that we are going to be struck by a tsunami and have to stock up for a few months, at the very least.

So when I find him microscopically examining a cheese spread or a jar of gherkins, and preparing to reject it on grounds of “It is too close to the expiry date,” my antennae rise. I feel like saying, “Expiry date doesn’t mean you will expire if you eat it.” He grins, and prepares to light a cigarette. (I wonder if they have expiry dates on those)

One item that tops the ‘rejected on grounds of expiry’ list is bread. Since most loaves say “Best before three days” they somehow they never make it past his expiry muster.

I am sure one of the things he misses about being single is being able to buy all the things he didn’t need and feel happy. Just in case he woke up one morning and felt like eating a dal-mot sandwich topped with cheeslings (don’t ask me where he acquired a taste for that).

Moving to my dad and his label fetish. For the longest time, I thought my dad was secretly doing a research project on label technology. Right from my Ovaltine and Incremin days, I would watch him studying labels of every conceivable packaged product (toothbrushes, milk, oil, toiletries and more such). I would wonder what he was looking for. One day, he told me how a toothbrush cost just x paise to make and that Hindustan Lever was charging us y rupees, so we are being fleeced.

“But,” I would tell him, in my best wisdom-voice, “We don’t know how to make toothbrushes, so we have to buy it from them, don’t we? We really don’t have a choice…”

He would do the same thing for savouries, pickles, confectionery… almost everything we engaged with on a daily basis would be computed for its perceived and actual value.

One day, he had a brainwave while examining a packet of packaged milk. Producing a sheet of complex calculations, he claimed the ROI on a buffalo was just six months. And that a farmer friend of his was willing to sell him one for Rs 3000, and how that would give us x litres of milk everyday which we could sell at y price (even after diluting) and how, in six months, we could be rich.

The said buffalo sadly eloped and we never got rich.

But I was immensely relieved that I wouldn’t be stuck with “milkman’s daughter” as a label for the rest of my life.

Ironical that a few years later, I joined the world of advertising, trying to sell people things they didn’t need. My dad on the other hand began looking at labels even more fixatedly. He still does. And so does the husband.