Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mind over map

Okay, we all know this. Men suck at directions. And if they do read maps, like Allan Pease would like to claim, it’s probably because it gives them a prop, something to clutch onto, look busy, so we don’t load them with more things to do. It’s never about getting us to a certain place in the most optimum way. Why, then, are we still reading the book Why men don’t listen and women can’t read maps?. It just doesn’t make sense. We are the map, we are the directions, we are everything.

Last week was a first of sorts. The first time, in my three years of working for this newspaper that four women got together to chat about their men. It surprised me no end how our stories were similar. We had the same peeves:

Our men had too much stuff they weren’t willing to give away.

Our men were lousy at directions. Mine knew the way to things from Phoenix mills, or at best, Zenzi and another colleague’s, from Basilico.

Our men loved drivers, because it absolved them from the task of finding anything. Anywhere.

Our men had to get to somewhere familiar to head to somewhere unfamiliar. Never mind if it was a geographical absurdity. Like say, going to Croma to go to Del Italia.

Our men hadn’t read a map in years.

The husband has a deep inertia towards relocation, and I know by now that it has nothing to do with getting adjusted to a new place, the fact that he is Cancerian, or is it about moving from South Bombay (or wherever Lower Parel fits) to North Bombay. Yes, it is partly about finding a shop that can deliver beer, bread, and cigarettes, without batting an eyelid or pointing out that he was asking for too much. But it’s more about how he would have to find new nuclei to cling to.

He finally has. He can find his way to Croma and Landmark, and everything else stems from there. But every once in a while, I throw him a googly and take a road quiz. “Okay, we have to go to Four bungalows market and straight down from there.”

Blank face.

“Remember Indigo Cafe?”

Happy face.

Last weekend, we were invited to a dinner at Yari Road, a place that, for some reason intimidates the husband, almost giving him the feeling of being extradited. To top it all, I said I wanted to head on my own with the infant, since I didn’t want to wait indefinitely for him till he returned from work.

“I can draw you a map,” I said.

He winced.

There we go again, I thought. I waited. He swung by home with amazing precision of timing, simply because he was petrified of doing the trudge on his own.

But then, nothing has changed for me, really.Visions of my dad leaving us stranded at a railway station while he went to buy smokes and the train was ready for departure at another platform flash by. So do that of my brother driving us into the Canadian border, while showing me the Niagara falls, just as I landed in the United States, 10 years ago. During the ensuing one-hour interrogation by customs authorities as to how I could lose my way into another country, I stayed mum.

Allan Pease should be sued, I thought to myself.

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