Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mamas and papas

The husband casually mentioned the p-word a few weeks ago, on one of our weekend drives to some place for lunch. We haven’t had too many existential discussions thus far, so I thought all was going well.

Back when I was a child, there was no parenting. You were born, someone ended up looking after you (in my case it was grandma, great grandma, assorted uncles, aunts, a few good neighbours) and one day you went to school, and before you knew, you were out of it. Now, it’s about “What’s your parenting approach going to be like? Hands on or hands off? By the book or improve? Traditional or modern?

“So when are we going to discuss parenting?,” he piped with much glee. I shuddered at the thought. I never thought he would bring it up, and I seriously believed it was going to be a case of whatever mommy says, goes. And why not? Even the supreme court justices seem to propagate that one must always listen to ‘the wife’.

I wasn’t nervous without reason. The husband’s idea of parenting includes, among other things, a second Play Station controller that I have always been an unlikely candidate for, a trip to Mc Donald’s (or was it KFC?) when the child is six, and a sustained anti-lauki, anti-karela and anti-padval campaign.

Suddenly, I had visions of the kid ordering a triple cheese burger with extra fries and coke on its first outing (the husband’s idea of a healthy meal) and me bursting a capillary at the table. Or the child learning to use a Play station controller before he/she learns to read or write. Worse, the child rejecting vegetables at the table and demanding hot dogs.

The whole vegetarian thing, which so far has been rather cool with the husband might soon become a bone of contention in our relationship. Okay, when you marry a man, you marry his habits, not his family. But when you have a child with a man, some of those habits are likely to be passed on. My point is, who decides what to pass on?

Here is my “god please don’t let this pass on” list

1. Imagining ants, cockroaches where there are none and making desperate attempts to gas them, believing they will multiply into millions in minutes, invade your body and destroy you.

2. Not being able to look at footwear that hasn’t been perfectly aligned, and aligning them at every given opportunity

3. Hoarding clothes and things one hasn’t had any use for in years.

4. Announcing that one is starved, making one’s plate with much flourish and admiring and sighing at it, but eventually eating four hours later.

5. Wanting a backup of twenty bulbs, ten packets of chips and peanuts, ten toothpastes and toothbrushes, innumerable shaving gels and aftershaves, “just in case”

This is what I wouldn’t mind being passed on:

1. Being good at cleaning up after a meal

2. Taking the garbage out

3. Efficiency at sink duty

4. Never raising your voice when with a lady.

Which brings me to why do men get married? Answer: It’s their only chance to look good. And fatherhood just rounds it off so well. Oh well!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mera naam Meru

Somewhere between the time I was officially banned from driving (read six months ago) by the husband and other loved ones, thanks to being visibly pregnant, and when I actually imposed it upon myself (read a month ago), I got inducted into the Meru clan.

First a few admissions. I hate being driven. I can barely tolerate the husband, I am extremely critical of friends’ drivers, I’ve had a rough time with drivers that I hired in the past (the last one burst many a blood vessel for me; please do not hire him if he ever comes to you). Also, I am not one for hiring cabs, as I hate being on hold, or having to explain common-sense directions to nincompoops. I am a get-up-and-go-kinda girl. I hate waiting or being waited upon.

Since my own paper had written reams about the Meru some time last year, I figured, no testimony quite like home, and took the plunge. What I didn’t bargain for is that a good eight months have passed since that article. And in these months, a lot of s&*%@t seems to have hit the ceiling. Their backend has completely collapsed, and the front end is nothing much to shout about, as most of the cabs have faulty air conditioners or are battered by bad driving. I want to know how some of the drivers qualify to even be there on the road.

But since I live in no-cab zone and sitting in an autorickshaw can only mean one thing, considering how pregnant I am, I resigned myself to Merugiri a few weeks ago. Little did I realise that I had just ensured myself an unlimited supply of Braxton Hicks (false contractions for the uninitiated or non-pregnant). Starting with calling in for the Meru every night for the next morning, being caller number 40 most times, holding on endlessly (they don’t believe in frequent flier programs) only to be told, “ Sorry, all slots are full, why don’t you try again tomorrow morning?” Repeat.

Forget thinking happy thoughts. Forget coming to office unruffled. Forget beginning the day with happy men. When you are in Meruland, none of the above is happening

So if he is not complaining about the ‘trophik’ on SV road, or whining about you not wanting to take the ‘highbay’, he is chatting to his village brethren either on the phone, or across the street, whenever another Meru passes by or braking recklessly, even as you point how pregnant you are.

The three good men that redeemed it for me, and I wish to thank them in print—were drivers Mohammed Jamal Shaikh, Ramesh Shirsat and Alwin Pinto. The rest, and their syrupy BPO service, which is all words and no play can take a walk. Seriously, if I had a free pizza for every time a Meru was late, I’d be a pizza baroness by now.

There, I have said it. Now someone please sue me. Or make me believe that the system works.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Power of three

Okay, if I am getting too much into the baby zone, let me know and I will quietly withdraw. In any case, if you see me disappear from this page rather abruptly, I would have checked into Breach Candy hospital for the whole birthing business, just so you know. I will, of course, try to make it not so abrupt, and say my good byes nicely and all that, but babies these days seem to have minds of their own even before they come into this world. I am just keeping you, dear reader, in the loop. When you are in the nine month-zone, you never know.

There I go being batty and losing focus again (true to what they say in those books). What I actually meant to talk about was my baby shower. To cut it short, there were 20 people who showed up, the cats had a wild time with the pink and blue balloons, though initially, they were entranced by the visual, as though it was a space ship. Once they figured that all it took was one touch of a claw to render it to shreds, they were happy all over again, as also with the multiple footwear that had parked itself at our entrance, each of which displayed nesting possibilities.

So purr so good!

But, as it turned out, the auspicious day was also marked by three other events fighting for attention. Two IPL matches, the Spanish Grand Prix and Man U Vs Man City at the Barclays Premier League.

The husband hadn’t uttered any sounds of such parallel action when I first announced the date. But after he guesstimated the restlessness of the guests, most of whom arrived on time, he created a parallel entertainment zone. The fact that my shindig began at 6 pm suited the couch potatoes fine.

So there were two clear groups—one that stuck to the brief (came to the baby shower, hung out with mommy and baby, and did baby shower things, like talk to mommy, ask suitable and unsuitable questions, act interested in what you have to say, nibble at the eats, and such like)

And then there were the ones that hung in the recreation zone. So there was much screaming –the Man U husband lost all sense of decorum since best man and Man U supporter was there for company. At some point, there was an ousting of the men when the women decided that watching Kolkata Knight Riders destroy themselves (for the 12th time) was a cooler option, counter plotting by the husband, who thought our sangeet DVD with all its embarrassing moments would be a neutral entertainment option..) and finally, rampant betting against KKR—of which, it turns out, I am the beneficiary, as the spoils have been directed towards contribution for the baby cot—which, by the way is frigging expensive, as are most baby things and having a baby.

So baby or no baby, when sport wants to steal the thunder, it always can..

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jenny from the block

All a girl needs is five kinds of friends. One that knows style, one that knows books, one that knows money, one that knows food and one that knows men. If you have a friend that scores four out of five, you have hit the jackpot. Like I did, with Jenny.

Okay, so she can never give a satisfactory answer (at least according to her) to the utterly unimaginative, “What do you do?” or worse, “Where do you work?” query. She doesn’t have a real job (read doesn’t get a pay cheque which comes attached with a salary slip that constantly reminds her how much she has sold your soul for). She will probably never make it to Lotus Notes or KRAs or any such trappings of working in an organization, but she’s got what it takes.

She knows people (she has that sixth sense), clothes (she is a trained designer), money (although she doesn’t make too much of it), taxes (at least ways to get the husband to save them), food (she is the only carnivore who can make also love to vegetables) …and she knows a good deal when she sniffs one. Plus she knows men—she is as much a guy’s girl as a girl’s girl—one of the few people I can have a long (read more than five minutes) conversation with on the phone.

Her high-achiever brother, the cross-dressing son of a friend, the stubborn karigar who wants his way, the gay neighbour, the laidback husband, the cool brother-in-law, the boisterous uncle, the spirited grand-dad (who died recently), the rough-edged husband of a friend—they all rely on her for advice or just words of wisdom—though sometimes she pretends to be on the receiving end just to humour them.

Jenny has also spent a large part of her life negotiating with doctors—she is a rheumatoid arthritis patient who goes into surgery with nonchalance—each time to replace a major bone in her body. After a knee, a hip and a neck surgery, she might be scheduled for another knee, shoulder and elbow replacements in the future, but that has never deterred her from being a yes-girl to life.

So we meet.. and exchange notes—about the extremely lazy but golden-hearted men that we have married, their extreme incompetence when it comes to money or matters that involve paperwork, their extreme similarities (of falling asleep on the couch at 3 am), their extreme idiosyncrasies (being uber-attached to tattered pyjamas and cold-cuts) their extreme unreliability as far as keeping time or finding directions goes. What binds them is they love us to bits, are among the ‘few good men’ left and have never been disrespectful to women (known or unknown).

At 5’ 10, she is amongst my tallest, most elegant girlfriends. I have never seen her sloppy, or have a bad hair day, even though she doesn’t really have an‘office’ to go to. Her logic is, why dress up for others? She says it like it is. She’s my kinda girl.