Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just in case

The husband is a worry wart. He is the one who will always have an umbrella (two, in fact, just in case one has to be lent to the delinquent at work). He would be the one to buy the last four packets of meat lasagna from the super market (“What if one night I feel like it and there’s none in the freezer?”).

He would be the one to announce an epidemic if he spotted a red ant or cockroach on the counter. Windows are shut, fastened and rechecked (just in case germs come rushing in or it pours and floods the house) every time we leave the flat. He might even have stopped taking the lift to protect himself from swine flu, just that we live on the fifteenth floor and the last time he exercised was probably when he learnt to walk.

A stubbed toe or a scratched palm will be gazed at despondently for hours like surgery was imminent. A mere sniffle would have him packing to a certain quack who prescribed Ceftum indiscriminately, and he spent the next five to six days feeling sorry for himself, imagining drug molecules fighting battles with the toxins in the body and being largely overwhelmed.

I, on the other hand, am the queen of cool. I love open windows, hate air-conditioning, doctors and processed food (not necessarily in that order) don’t pop pills, carry umbrellas, or obsess about what to wear or eat. I am a ‘now’ person, never have multiple copies of anything, stock up for dry days or make contingency plans. I just improvise, and it’s worked so far.

Meanwhile, he buys five of the same white linen shirts, just in case the laundry man lost one or two, or Cotton world stopped making them (and they did!). He has, in storage, ten bulbs, a dozen batteries, four toothpaste packs, and at least a dozen soaps and shower gels. Everything is backed up … milk, coffee, juices, peanut butter, mustard, mayonnaise, cheese, bread, chocolate, whatever.

He fondly calls it Verma stores (random surname, no offence to the bearer of the name). I proposed we re-christen it to Agarwal Mart, since it has assumed gargantuan proportions: Agarwal groceries, Agarwal cold storage, Agarwal medical, Agarwal hardware and Agarwal confectionery

He calls it ‘advance work’. His definition is – work that is done before it needs to be done, so that when the time comes, it doesn’t seem like work.

Yes, but what about work that has to be done now, I ask. “Have you filed your returns, asked for the mutual fund statements, got your passport documents ready, downloaded the infant’s videos……?” He has left the room.

We are now curious to see how the infant turns out. Will he be the chronic worrier with a dash of OCD, or will be the king of cool?

Time will tell.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The ex effect

Last week, post walking into shockingly non-bouncy new place called Bounce in Bandra for some PBQT (post baby quality time) with the husband, I noticed him squirming as he edged me towards the bar. “Guess what? My ex-girlfriend is here. Should I be ignoring her?”

Now this was a first—the extremely suave and articulate husband transforming into this clumsy rookie that is. But I could sense he was uncomfortable, so I said, “Pretending she doesn’t exist would be giving it too much importance. If I were you, I would throw a breezy ‘Hi’ in her direction and continue doing what I was doing.” (Spoken in the tone and manner of someone who has become a pro at the breezy-with-the-ex thing)

Which is what he did, and then all was well. Except it opened the window to some post-morteming by me. “She needs a haircut, and some tact,” I said. I wasn’t just being my bitchy self—she really could do with a haircut—and her constant nudging of friends, pointing in my direction made me think of the second ingredient. So there!

Coming to think of it, he did the same when we ran into one of my exes sometime last year. “You actually dated THAT?” was his response.

One of the conversations we did have pre-marriage was about not inviting any of our exes to the wedding, since it was about celebrating the future and did not have to involve revisiting the past. But a conversation we didn’t have is what would we do if we ran into one of them.

Which brought me to: why are we embarrassed by our exes? And I figured: we are actually embarrassed by what we were when we were with them. Stupid, needy, clingy, confused or a combination thereof. And when we move on, we pretend we were never any of those things and that’s why an encounter such as the above leaves us flummoxed. What makes it worse is that there is no such thing as closure. It is something one only reads in books.

So we fit our exes into different boxes—some have access to our Facebook (some on limited profile, others whose walls we still write on), some we still call and wish on birthdays, some we socially hang out with (but only in large groups), some who text us and we never text back, some whose numbers we remember by heart but haven’t saved, some whose new girlfriends we are dying to check out, some we call for professional (but never personal) advice, and some we just ctrl+alt+delete from our lives and feel good about it.

What we all really want at the bottom of our heart is a Deewar moment with an ex, however petty that might sound. “Mere paas _________ (fill object of value here, like new boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, child) hai! Tumhare paas kya hai?”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Woman, interrupted

“I expected you to be fatter,” he said, accosting me at a house party. The chronic smug singleton was visibly shocked at my reappearance in the circuit in what was almost my old form, pre-pregnancy. Funny thing is, he looked disappointed, as though I had proven him wrong, or beaten him at the ‘I bet she will never get back in shape’ game.

I told him I had good genes, but it was clear that I had the will to get my life (and body) back post pregnancy. However, it got me wondering. Shouldn’t he be happy for me if he is a real friend? Shouldn’t there have been delight and not disappointment in his eyes upon sighting me?

What he is actually thinking is, “Hmmm… it’s not all that bad then to get married and have babies. She can still score..”

What he is not saying is, “I love how you can have a baby and not lose yourself.”

What I am thinking is, “Did you actually expect me to be a fat cow, you loser!”

What I am not saying is, “Why is motherhood=loss of sex appeal=out of the game?”

The fact is, I just wanted to ‘get on with it’ and fill my life with other things that also deserved my attention besides the infant. That simple. No glorious motherhood theories there.

People live their lives by extrapolation. What they see around them, they apply to themselves and visualise. If it doesn’t work, they reject it. It’s a great way of not changing the course of one’s life. The thing about the chronic smug singleton is that he/she always finds excuses to feel happy about not being in your shoes.

If you don’t show up at social dos post a change of status to mother, you are a sad sack who has no life, who cannot multi-task, who probably has a low body image, who is probably so emotionally overwrought that she could actually be bad company.

If you do, you are a careless mother.

If you get back into shape, you obviously care more about yourself than a new mother usually does.

If you don’t, you are just another new mom who has lost herself in her baby.

Which brought me to…Am I also guilty of ‘Been there, done that’? Perhaps I am. Like once-upon-a-time, I would look at married couples who barely spoke to each other, let alone laugh, and think, “That’s how relationships decay,” and then feel happy about being single.

Clich├ęs are a double-edged sword. Damned if you fit, and damned if you don’t. This is how it happens.

Scenario one: Girl gets married. Girl has no time for friends. Girl disappears.

They say: “We knew it…”

Scenario two: Girl gets married. Girl still hangs out with old friends, with or without husband.

They say: “Something must be wrong. Why is she hanging out with us? Doesn’t she have a life?”

Either way, you lose. At least they think you do.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pause and effect

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a married man in possession of a smart wife must be in want of a pause button.

While ‘pausing’ the wife seems empowering, especially if she’s the kind who speaks her mind (and has too much of it), menfolk haven’t got that lucky yet. It’s right now limited to pausing live TV. The point is, the suckers think it’s a big deal and will do for now.

So ever since we’ve been privy to Aamir Khan and Gul Panag’s tele-banter on prime time, courtesy the onslaught of Tata Sky commercials, the husband has been cherishing dreams of Tata Sky Plus and sure enough, this birthday, he demanded his pound of flesh. I was too zonked out in post partum euphoria to realise what I had walked in to, but once the team arrived with the apparatus, and their tariff plans, it was too late. The damage was done. Another remote had been added to his array. We now had the power to pause live TV, and Sky was the limit (and unlike Khan and Panag, I am delivering this line absolutely free of cost)

Of course, realizing that it would be vulgar to make it seem all about him, the husband was smart enough to centre the proceedings around me. He said, and I kid you not, that since I was now preoccupied with baby duty, I might want to pause programming if I have to attend to the infant, and then go back to where I had left it, just by touch of a button. Also, I might want to record my favourite programmes (which on last count were three) in case I was too busy, tired or sleepy to sit through them, and then watch at leisure. And imagine what fun it would be to have an entire series of Nigella Lawson! Smartly done, mister!

“But why record when you can watch live?” was my point..

"Because it allows you to!” is his.

So while pausing or recording Chew, ITAS, and Hotel Babylon (my new find on BBC Entertainment) are joys that have been added to my kitty, the husband has several. Most of them of course are under the guise of “I thought you might enjoy it.”

It’s been barely three weeks, but our 160 GB hard disk is already full with programmes and movies we might never see. Just like the clothes and shoes he hoards, but never wears, or the freezer he stocks, but never raids, or the games he buys, but never plays.

Meanwhile, the football season returns with the 9th August Community Shield match and the Premier and Champions Leagues thereafter, and with them, a huge potential to record or pause and return. And of course, fast-forward the blessed ads that made us buy this contraption in the first place!

My life has changed just a wee bit. Earlier, he spent sleepless nights viewing movies across channels. Now he watches one and records the other.