Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No telly no cry

The husband looked gloomy, as if hit by a thundercloud. I asked him if he was unwell and he pointed to the remote. “I can’t believe it. I know I forgot to recharge, but they can’t deprive me of my hard disk. My recorded stuff is mine. How can they deny me that?”

We were having a blank screen situation thanks to our satellite television subscription not being renewed on time. It was one of the few things I always mark as ‘his’ domain, so it’s no wonder it didn’t get done. What really hurt was he didn’t believe that all would be lost, but as it turned out, it was.

Inside, I was screaming with joy. So this is what life would be like if there was no telly. We finally had coffee on the table, breakfast on the table, lunch on the table. We were family! We were having real conversations, and not stolen bits when we paused the TV to warm our plates (me) or refill our beer (he).

In order to make things ‘normal’ for him, I volunteered my Seinfeld DVD collection. It worked, but not for very long. By the end of the evening, I could bear it no more, because his face had shrunk to the size of a pea and signs of self pity were writ large. I turned martyr. I offered to go to the hole in the wall despite the downpour and my nesting instincts to ‘recharge’. Aaaal was well.


Cut to Sunday brunch with (largely) singletons, which was a break, plus I got to meet the ex’s current and really liked her. Now, where I come from, this is more the exception than the rule (making the effort, not the liking bit) but it was a good feeling. But one thing I still don’t know how to react to is when someone tells me, “I’ve heard so much about you!”. I am at a loss and almost tempted to ask, “Like, what?”.But then, it’s tricky and one prefers to just bask in the thought that it might be good things and smile beatifically.

I realised singletondom was a bigger giveaway than being married was. Mr Adonis, parading his newly acquired Zara jacket in a near 80 % humidity situation was single. So was Ms Barbie parading her designer gumboots (there are three days in the entire monsoon when you can wear them, but this was not one of them). Or someone telling you when you leave early from a brunch to fetch a help who has been specially imported for you from the wilderness of Jharkhand, “Isn’t that really housewifely?”

If I had said, “Isn’t THAT rather singletonly?”, I would have been labelled a ‘smug married’, so I laughed breezily and mumbled something practical.

I guess the chief difference between being single and being married is that while the latter is not in a hurry to change their status, whether on Facebook or in real life, the former clicks the button the minute they so much as smell a relationship.

Sorry if that was smug, but part a) of this post is enough to burst the bubble.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mommy-go- lightly

Something is expected of women when they become mothers. They are supposed to turn into these calm, benevolent souls, anesthetized at some level to negative emotions like anger, greed, ambition, scorn, spite and other such, and instead acquire calming auras and kind bosoms that will forgive all.

No such luck with me. Although I did have some fleeting out-of-body experiences that belied my true self. So the husband is frequently nonplussed to find that my fangs are still as sharp, the mother continues to pray to her gods and goddesses to keep me calm and help me mind that tongue, the sister continues to soothe me with Reiki, the homeopath wonders why I am still keen to change the world and friends are constantly surprised to find that I haven’t lost my spunk and motherhood hasn’t changed me in a bad way.

Needless to say, I am a total misfit in mother-toddler groups where people ‘bond’ over song, dance and babies, and I always have this what-am-I-doing-with-these-women feeling. I don’t see women or individuals, what I see is a mommy blur, and what I hear is a non-voice. And then I realise how much more of all this there is to do, with playgroups, nurseries, play-dates, schools and whatnot. But the son loves my feistiness and my quirks, and flashes his million dollar smile in approval, so all is well.

I am reminded of a recent incident where my reluctant fangs were forced to be on display again. I receive a ‘to many’ email promoting a website that does reviews of mommy-baby products and is looking for "experienced mommy writers" to do them and purports to “pay handsomely” for your posts apart from showering you with freebies. I do something totally out of character. I hit “yes, I am interested.” Now I am not a freebie girl, but strange things happen when you become a mommy. For instance you buy a packet of chicken nuggets for he-who-loves-his-meat just because there’s a free Toy story toy tucked inside somewhere (which I still haven’t found by the way).

Back to the mass email. I get a reply saying that I have to send a sample review and if they approve it, I will be paid a princely sum of Rs 100 per review. Now, you will well understand why this could have aggravated me, so I will not go into that. What amazes me is the reply to my aggravation, which says that most moms do this not for the money, but for the greater good of the community, and how nice it would be to exchange information like this, and so may I please appreciate the larger purpose of the whole thing? What further amazes me is that not a single mommy on that list speaks up.

I pray for my fangs to retract. They don’t.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dear god and all that

Strange things happen when, after bashing men for four years, you actually give birth to one. For one, it almost feels like the joke is on you. And for another, you wonder if you are contributing to the largesse of convoluted, messed up, “I-have-issues”, “My-mother-did-this-to-me” men who are in queue for being rehabilitated.

So when the boy turned one recently, I found myself saying my “dear gods” with far more passion and fervour than I have ever done. So here are a few that are top of my mind.

Dear God,

1. Let my son not grow up thinking that handling a remote control device will pass for exercise. Even if he has six of them. Even if he is rocking himself in his easy chair and chomping on French fries while doing so.

2. Let him not say yes when he means no.

3. Let him know how to say no.

4. Let him not get any woman pregnant unless she really wants it. And of course, is of appropriate age.

5. Let him be man enough to laugh when it is appropriate and cry when he feels like it.

6. Let him not think that being an alpha male is about being the most obnoxious person in the group. Or the loudest. Or the one with the most trivia rolling off his tongue. Or the one who has the silliest girls eating out of his palm.

7. Let him not grow up to be one of those people who feels totally bereft when football season is over and doesn’t know what to do with himself thereafter, and so cries “Waka waka” in his sleep or worse, sleeps with his Vuvuzela.

8. Let him not think that puffing his lungs away or being the last man standing in a bar is a sign of macho-ness.

9. Let him know, and remember this forever, that he will always be a bad liar, so let him not even start going there.

8. Let him appreciate that grunting and muttering are not accepted vocabularies and that one needs to speak full sentences to convey a message. Even if the sentence is as boring as, “Can I please have some potatoes?”

9. Let him never, ever hurt an animal, because I will hurt him.

10. Let him not sit around waiting for an inheritance, because frankly, there is none.

11. I will come back to you dear God, because I have to take a break now as the son has put something suspicious in his mouth and it better not be the cat’s food.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Your friend, my friend

One of the reasons I envy men is that they have such low expectations — they are almost never disappointed. Like with the girl they thought had eyes only for them and then realised she was making eyes at all and sundry and eventually wound up with Mr Moneybags. Or siblings who don’t call or show up except when it suits them, group text when they are breaking up or making up, but knock violently for help when they are broke. Or when the BFF is going through a separation and they are the last one to know. Or when the colleague in the next cubicle is being treated for alcoholism and they didn’t even know he drinks, forget having an alcohol problem. Or when the driver announces his wife had a baby and they had no clue he was even married.

"What you don’t know cannot hurt you" seems to be the motto, and this minimalistic approach works rather nicely and leaves their head to process other important matters. Like sport. And more sport. And some more sport. And beer. More beer. And some more beer. That’s it. Their inbox is full. No more requests can be processed.

So if your ceiling is caving in or the maid has run away or the building is going in for redevelopment, well, it would be too much information for them to deal with after battling the world and its serpents at work.

If women wanted to be truly happy and blissed out, they need to start thinking like men. Rather ‘not thinking’ like men. I practised it for a while and it really worked. Except I am too curious a mind not to wonder why Mr G and Ms K seem like an item when her boyfriend is away. Or why is Mr D still throwing parties for his ex-wife’s birthday. Or why do Mr and Mrs T always walk in separately to parties and leave separately, even though they are necking each other wildly while in it. The things alcohol can do!

And then the husband claims that I have taken over his friends, that his best friends are not his best friends any more, that he never knows what’s happening because no one tells him anything. Yes, why would they? I talk to them, remember? And when was the last time you called or texted them except to exchange opinions on football?

Which is why, at the end of a hard day, men break down when having to process something as simple as their mother’s pan card while women are going on about dealing with far larger catastrophes with elan.

So maybe I am not meant to reach that Zen state where the husband is at regarding friends and family, but then who can bear the unbearable lightness of Zen?