Just Another Day

The following is based on actual events.

It is an ordinary morning in the household, the Mother Ship is visiting the temple with Poor Daddy aiding and abetting the plan. Daughter1 and Daughter2 are enjoying their 45 minutes of freedom. Then Daughter2’s phone rings.

D2: Hello? *cackle on opposite end* It’s for you *hands phone to D1*

D1: Hello? Yeah, Ma…

M: Baba needs to go out urgently. Make two rotis, a bowl of chana, a glass of milk, a bowl of papaya and cut five onions.

D1: When do you return?

M: Ten minutes.

D1 and D2: *urgent world-coming-to-an-end scurrying around kitchen*

D1: They’re home!

M: Is the milk in the fridge? Is the chana ready? What are you cutting the papaya on? *shrieks* you’re going to leave marks on that! Have I taught you nothing?! Have you made the rotis? Where are the rotis?!

D1: Ma, it’s….

M: What were both of you doing? Did you put salt in the chana? Did you squeeze lemon into it? I’ve told you he is going to have milk! Why did you squeeze lemon into it!

D1: I didn’t squ…

M: There’s too much salt in this! Put more chana in this! Where are the rotis?!

D2: Didi was just going to….

M: What were both of you doing till now! We left at 10:25, it is 12:15 now. Do you want your father to leave the house hungry?

B: *nom nom nom nom* I need some pepper…

D2: *whispers to D1* How many rotis did you have to make?

D1: *sigh* two…

D2: That’s it?! *frustrated yelling* Ma, will you quit acting like she needs to make enough rotis to feed an army?!

B: Will noone in this house give me some pepper?

D2: *urgent dry grinding of pepper*

D1: *rotis, papayas, chana, world peace*

D1: *looks at B* How are the rotis?

B: Here, have some papaya.

D1: I asked you whether the rotis are fine, you are feeding me papaya. Zero out of ten.

M: I told you in advance, yet nothing is done. What were both of you doing? *CID-type revelation* Aaaaaaah *Looks at D2* You were watching T.V! You have exams going on! How dare you watch T.V!

D2: I wasn’t….

M: You were, for sure. Didi never folds the cover so neatly when she watches…

D1: *exasperated* I was watching T.V. By the way, there has been no transmission for the last 45 minutes.

M: WHAT?! *war-mode, dials cable operator*

*D1 and D2 hi-five*

D2: *to D1* I admire your topic-changing capabilities.


Five Years Later…

So, yeah. One has returned home after five long, tedious, mind-raping, back-aching, face-tanning, peace-banning, morale-shaking, masti-making, architecture-learning, degree-yearning years (One is out of rhyming, present-perfect continuous verbs). Of course, being back also provides brand new connotations to the phrase, ‘Out of the frying pan, into the fire’, considering one has gone from swimming through Chennai’s Rice Starch Humidity to baking in Delhi’s Bread in Oven Heat. Despite that, one still revels in the excitement of a flat bed with bedsheets that smell of home, laundered clothes that look like only Ma could have folded them and streets that give you the creeps post 7 p.m., but nevertheless feel like one’s own. One also realizes that one needs to stop talking like one is British royalty, but one has decided that since it is one’s own blog, one shall address oneself in whatever terms one deems right.

*loud, resounding thwack*


The welcome party at the station included a grand total of three people – Ma, my sister and the cab driver. Once Ma was done with fainting at the sight of a squinting blue whale incarnate that very, very slightly resembled her elder daughter of five years ago; there was complete chaos as four Bengalis tried to take control of a situation that required no taking control of, considering it only involved stacking all my 110 pieces of luggage into a tiny Omni, which would be succeeded by 5 human beings piling in as well. Post that, Ma began showering me with 5 years worth of pearls of wisdom that she had been storing, while my sister gave me extremely relieved looks now that she wasn’t at the receiving end. The ‘pearls’ have not stopped, sometimes slipping in between dinners, sometimes it is the first thing I hear in the morning, sometimes WHILE I’m on the phone with someone, most of the times when I am half asleep. What I have gotten till now is the equivalent of a hundred Mikimoto necklaces and I am considering selling them all and making my millions. There are also the regular fights, amounting to about 20,000 a day. Baba out-volves himself as much as possible, when three cackling women turn to him to arbitrate. He might as well have been meditating on a very noisy Mount Kailash.

My sister exhibits much disdain at my appearance. If she were to be believed, then the only way new clothes for me would exist would be if Ma stitched them for me out of our curtains. I promise her, while I munch on a bag of Lays, that I would start exercising. Tomorrow. And then there is T.V. Imagine how deprived I must have been if Kareena Kapoor’s verbal volley while Saif Ali Khan records her favorite soap provides me with fodder for much glee. While Ma watches one of her Bengali soaps, I plant myself next to her and make supreme fun of the actor who pronounces confirm as ‘kaun-farm’. And then proceed to watch with her for the next 20 minutes. Just to find out if one of them says ‘confirm’ again, of course. Apart from that, I have managed to fall ill and shamelessly accepted all care and food offered while I acted like the ongoing migraine would definitely be the end of me. Oh, and I cooked. Sāmbhar. Enough to feed a hundred priests. And that was only lunch.

The best test however, of how awesome it is being at home , takes place when you wake up at the crack of dawn (or 9 a.m., call it what you may), go to the loo, return and crash onto the bed diagonally. And then Ma starts yelling at you for sleeping like a Polar bear in hibernation, stretching across the part of the bed where she wants to stack all the folded clothes and would you please, for the love of God, sleep like a girl? And amidst the entire ruckus and the giggling you are doing with your face buried into your pillow, you manage to fall into a deep, comfortable, teddy bear-huggy sleep. 🙂

When In a Hurry

  1. You will be stuck at every possible red-light between source and destination. If you are particularly lucky, you will be stuck at the same light twice.
  2. The driver of the share auto you are breaking your back in will decide to socially network through the entire route. Hellos will be exchanged, families will be enquired about and new inclusions will be made to the friend list. In case the driver fears manslaughter at the hands of the passengers for stretching a five-minute ride into an episode of Desperate Housewives, he will choose to only super-pat a fellow auto-driver.
  3. If you want to travel to Spencer Plaza, every share auto at Thirumangalam will be headed to T.Nagar. And in the sudden occasion that you do have to travel to T.Nagar, all share autos will be routing to Spencer Plaza and the drivers will inform you about the same with a look that seems to say that only an idiot would ever want to go to T. Nagar.
  4. About half a minute before you reach your stop, your share auto driver will decide that this is, infact, the most convenient time throughout the day to stock up on petrol. Of course, since you are supremely lucky, the distance to your destination on foot would be equivalent to a trek up the Alps.
  5. As soon as you are about to cross the road, the signal will turn green and you can only helplessly wait till the Lord Almighty remembers that red is indeed a possible color on the signal, again. If perchance you do get to cross the road before the traffic onslaught AND you are smart, you will try to thread your way through still traffic (effectively jay-walking); but then again, since you are good luck personified, the signal will turn green when you are exactly halfway through with your traffic-tango. True story.
  6. You will be absolutely, completely out of loose change and the conductor will threaten to throw you off the bus if you don’t magically come up with exactly Rs. 3.50. That you handed him a ten-rupee note and his money-bag sounds like a tambourine on crack, is inconsequential.
  7. You will run out of your house 30 minutes before the printers’ shop shuts down and once you have mapped out how long the ride to the spot will take, how you will threaten people with a ghastly death if they cause delays in any way AND you have walked the hundred miles to the bus-stop, you will realize you left your pen drive at home and all the files you needed to print are on it.
  8. You have a submission in ten minutes and your graphic pen will run out of ink, colour pencils won’t sharpen without the points breaking off at least thrice and your design partner will vanish off the face of the earth.
  9. Your computer will hang exactly when you are going to save the final copy of the Photoshop file you have spent the last hour editing. And then re-start on its own. And while that happens, a long-lost friend will call with a sob story, expecting a shoulder.
  10. You want this post to have ten points, but you cannot think of one and you still want it to be ten points long (because a nine-point post is just weird) and so you decide to create a point of how you want it to be a ten-point post. For propriety’s sake. I’m sure you understand 🙂

P.S: Super thanks to the grand total of 4 people who commented on the earlier post. You make me want to continue attempts at The Blah-g 🙂

Career Discussions

My sister is a law student and as such, that accomplishment in itself makes her infinitely smarter than me. That she also refuses to buy me all the kurtas on display at Lajpat Nagar’s Central Market and thus saves my wardrobe from potential fashion hara-kiri is a continuing testimony to the same. So whenever my brain feels particularly suicidal, all I have to do ask her a small, very small law-related question. The ensuing tirade, explanation and accompanying case examples take care of entertainment for the next hour or so.

Like this one time, Ma was watching a Bengali version of K’ekta Kapoor’s sappy brain-raping. And since I am the module based on which dictionary[dot]com added ‘joblessness’ to their search database, I was doing the same. For 7 solid minutes, Mother-in-Law lamented to Father-in-Law that Daughter-in-Law had ‘498’-ed the Philandering Son. After about 5 minutes of not really knowing what was happening, Ma and I decided that we will be informed viewers. I was delegated the duty of yelling across the hall to my sister, ‘What is 498 in your law thing?’ Immediately, a largely disinterested, nonchalant voice yelled back ‘It’s a section of the Indian Penal Code dealing with domestic violence’. Ma and I both gaped at the promptness of her answer; Ma, because it meant my sister had really been studying and all that yelling may have to come to a stop *gasp! horror!*, and me because she didn’t even have to Google it!

I again required her legal services when I wrote my second post that was a glorified Chennai rant. I asked her if I was breaking any laws etc. After being very amused for about half a minute at my belief that the Indian Judiciary had the time to go through my blog and then decide to imprison me, she said, ‘Work in a disclaimer in your next post, as *law-related drivel*… also, you can quote Article 19 because *lullaby*’.

Having seen the kind of thinking she does on-her-feet (and when they are raised on our living room’s coffee table, much to Ma’s chagrin), I wondered what kind of debates she would be a part of when she finally becomes a part of the system. Much informed discussion, John Grisham and Google-searching later, this YouTube video answered all my questions:

(for the sake of everyone’s sanity, here are the dialogues the two characters are bellowing):

F: But! That is an eye witness and that is aenough.

M: *ape-walk* Just I’m asking only for your orgument sake, ssupoze if I break and shake the physical ar the mental fitness of the witness *simultaneous finger-snapping* What your stand..

F: First of all YOU must anderstand, the prosecution lawyer, her orgument and her witness are strong. Vewwy strong.

M: But the defence side is too strong *hair falls on face*

F: Don’t talk. Show it in action.

M: Saarry for the interruption, this is only my introduction. During the crass-examination, you will see my action-cum-direction added into perfection. In the name of the witness, your brain is a imitation. That’s my conception.

F: *hapless attempt at rhyming* NO! That is your assssumption.

M: *Flicks hair* Don’t get emotion and illitation, you wait and see me further action!

*author shoots self*

Five Things About Me…

… the knowledge of which is not going to affect your life in any way, except perhaps the fact that a few precious minutes of your day will be spent reading it.

1.   When I start watching a TV series or a movie or find a song I like, I do obscene amounts of research on them; to the extent that I might know what dessert the lead character binges on, in real life, when she is upset. Of course, if similarly copious amounts of research are required by anything closely resembling academics, I roll over and play dead.

2.   I think Wikipedia is an awesome source of time pass material. I know that at this point there are people who will pull out swords and trash Wikipedia’s editorial process, but look at it this way – there are so many people out there with knowledge about a myriad mix of subjects and topics, even great amounts of information about needless trivia and popular culture. If not anything else, Wikipedia becomes a platform for sharing of this knowledge and since you already know the veracity of its data or its source, you believe it all at your own risk. If you need information for your school papers, find a more credible source. I have decided to go on record and say that the people at Wikipedia have not paid me for this free PR, though I really honestly wish they would.

3.   I always thought cockroaches were just creepy, then I changed my mind. In the pilot episode of Heroes, Prof. Mohinder Suresh addresses his class and says:

“A creature that has adapted and survived for 250 million years. Capable of living without food for months. Remaining alive headless for weeks at a time. Its female need only be impregnated once to lay over a million eggs in her lifetime. Resistant to radiation, it is the only species that will survive a nuclear winter. If God has indeed created himself in his own image, then I submit to you that God is a cockroach.”

This led my fear for cockroaches to multiply manifold and now every time I see one in my bathroom, I remember the conviction with which the professor had made that statement and fear for my life. (NOTE: Please let’s not get into the propriety of that statement. We’re talking about how I’m scarred for life, here.)

4.   I am a great believer in the concept of ‘jugaad’, in purely academic applications. I almost caused the Best Friend to forget all the Physics he had ever learnt when I told him the evening before my Mechanics semester exam, how I thought forces acted in various directions.

5.   I am a language snob and possess what I call the ‘angrezi ka keeda’. When someone speaks to me in English, I am inevitably correcting their grammar and its structure in my head, although I’m too polite to point it out and I don’t judge based on it. In case you have impeccable diction and a respectable vocabulary, I will secretly crush on you for a very long time. Also, I cannot for the life of myself understand why some people would type ‘ma’ or ‘mah’, instead of ‘my’. Or ‘yew’ instead of ‘you’. If you are going to type the same number of alphabets, you might as well type the correct ones! I think people who use the T9 dictionary on their phones and send me messages with complete words, punctuations and the occasional emoticon are very, very cool.

THERE. I’m done! I’ve read a huge number of blogs and almost everyone has at least one post that is a list. I so badly wanted a list of my own! And having discovered the joy of writing down disjointed thoughts and then giving them numbers, I have decided I shall do many, many more of this sort. I love lists. “Rules are fun!” (Thus spake Monica Gellar-Bing)

HORROR UPDATE: So I’m walking back home after a nice, fun day with a friend and I see the Welfare Association’s President’s grandkid playing with his friends. He is about 8, I think. I walk up to him and ask, “Is mama home? I need to pay her the maintenance.” The poor thing, scared out of his wits at being spoken to, shakes his head very, very vigorously, making me fear that if he didn’t stop right then, it would just roll off. I turned to walk off, when two high-pitched pre-pubescent voices shrieked, “AUNTYYYYYY!!!” I turned and the kid pointed to his mother entering through the gate.

That evening, a part of me died.

Where We Start With A Disclaimer

DISCLAIMER: The comments on the last post have led me to believe that my writing comes across as anti-Chennai. At the risk of sounding b*tchy and having all those threats of physical assault take shape, I’d like you to view my posts as experiences of sheer culture shock. I don’t intend on offending anyone, nor is it a reflection of what the city may come across as to someone else. I re-iterate, everything that I have written (and will be writing about) is a personal experience or opinion, although I shall make liberal use of hyperboles. Please read with a pinch of salt and a cup of chai 🙂

Moving on.

I stayed in the hostel for the first eleven months of college. The first 5 months were spent in the college’s residential hostel. There is a river in Chennai, known as Couum, that flowed through the college campus, thus bifurcating it in two. The engineering campus contained the boys’ hostel along the compound wall along one end of the river. The dental campus contained the girls’ hostel along the compound wall on the parallel end of the river. This river was, of course, a glorified sewer and the college was built largely on illegal land. A bridge connected the two campuses and owing to its proximity with both the hostels, it was rather smartly named ‘Veer-Zaara’ 😐

Then Flood Number One happened. It rained for a couple of days and the water level of Couum went up, till one overcast morning, we found the water touching the underside of Veer-Zaara. Panic ensued, to the extent that boys and girls stood TOGETHER on the bridge, in enough numbers to ensure that the bridge stood the chance of breaking from the sheer live load if not the onslaught of an overflowing river. The guards didn’t seem to care either… I mean, you cannot possibly be making babies when a natural disaster is imminent, right? The very hot-blooded first years (me, in-charge… heh.) attempted to ask the warden to take some action. While I talked, she continued brushing like she controlled panic-stricken girls for dessert everyday.

Soon after, a representative arrived on the girls’ hostel premises and announced that college was declared closed and the premises needed to be vacated in two hours. Now, imagine experimented-on animals being let out of a drug-testing facility. Then imagine them in PJs. That’s not even half of what it looked like. I stayed over at a doll-of-a-friend’s place and as gratitude for providing me with shelter and awesome home-cooked food, stayed up all night listening to her talk about her current crush while she fed me endless cups of coffee to ensure she had an audience. She, in turn, was astonished at my ability to listen to the same Tamil song on an endless loop and mouth the lyrics she didn’t know (She is a Tamilian). I spent a bomb on an air ticket back home and also carried back EVERY bit of luggage I owned, thinking if it stayed on in the hostel, I was as good as robbed.

That, is the story of how I was home for Diwali in my first year in college. Also, when I went back to the hostel a couple of days after vacating, to meet the warden, it looked drought-stricken. Including the river. Heh.

IN OTHER NEWS: Much joblessness has occurred since thesis culminated two weeks ago. Since it was a Saturday, I was jobless and so was a dear friend, we thought we would go be jobless together at a nearby mall. So we ended up being scum-of-the-earth for 3 solid hours at Ampa Skywalk, indulging in activities including:

  1. Spending more time deciding whether we want to have peaches or mangoes with our frozen yoghurt, than we would spend looking for a groom.
  2. Torturing an extremely helpful sales executive (I know big words :|) at Soch into showing us almost every saree on the shelves, ooh-ing and aah-ing and trying them on and then very conveniently walking out the moment he asked which one we would be buying.
  3. Stalking this tall, cute guy and bursting into very teenage giggles every time he walked past.
  4. “Where do you put toppings on frozen yoghurt?!!” “The fruits go at the base, ma’am.” “Toppings at the base!” *guffaw* “Get it? TOPping at the BASE.” *hysterical fits of laughter*
  5. Fretting over and over again about impending doom (results…) and then deciding that the misery can only be soothed with more food.

I had a fabulous day today, Aishu. I hope you do go back and buy that saree. Or atleast give me the money to buy it for myself. No, really.

A Recipe for Disaster, Tadka Laga Ke

If anyone was ever asked to example-ify the antonym for ‘hunky-dory’, they should catch hold of my pensieve (only Potter fans will get this one :P) and fish out the summer of 2005. As if it wasn’t enough that I was flunking every engineering entrance exam that existed within the Indian borders, had just broken up with my first this-could-last-forever boyfriend and was devouring a year’s supply of a Third World Country’s rations for a single meal; some Bloke Up There with a weird sense of humour decided that I should be sent to Chennai to study architecture. And just so that I can justify it to every Tom, Dick and Subramani when raised eyebrows questioned my decision to trek across the country for a college education, He ensured that I scored a super All India Rank for an exam I studied only half a day for. Meh.

Thankfully, the time lag between ‘You’re going to Chennai!!!’ and ‘Bye Ma, I’ll miss you *sobs openly at airport*’ was too short for the implication of having to live the prime of my youth (heh..) in an alien city, to really hit home. Between extreme retail therapy, earnest goodbyes and promises to keep in touch forever, I barely found the time to panic or feel sad. There was also this excitement of being able to have dosai and medhu vadai for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it seemed to justify leaving home. Completely.

The first few days in Chennai were a series of ‘Whoa!’ moments. It started the minute Baba and I exited the airport and were bombarded by taxi-drivers/ auto-wallahs who all looked like they’d jumped out of a Zabaan Sambhaal Ke episode. It continued on the ride to the guest house where we were to stay. Nobody spoke Hindi, including the RJs on Radio Mirchi. So! Many! Billboards! And WHERE were the malls?! *gasp! horror!*

Having checked-in, I settled down to relax with the one activity known to mankind that is a foolproof way to kill time – channel surf. Sun TV. Jaya TV. SS Music. Vijay TV. Raj TV. Where was Sony?! Zee, Star, Zoom? And where, oh where, were [V] and MTV? The first commercial I had the patience to watch in its entirety was for a brand of ghee. It involved a very, very healthy Jyothika exercising and I feared for the treadmill. Joy.

Baba and I went for admission the next day, to my soon-to-be college. The campus was deserted. The lawns did not have random boys and girls sitting together and laughing, flirting, studying. Isn’t that what college was supposed to be like? I’d seen Kuch Kuch Hota Hai 6 times, for chrissake! Funnily, none of the girls wore jeans, everyone’s hair was tied and they all walked in same-sex groups. Not a problem, I thought, I’ll be the cool girl from Delhi. Yay! This looked promising. It was only later, much later, when I walked into the girls’ hostel that I realized something was wrong. The warden looked at me up and down, in a way not even a Delhi auto-wallah had dared to and took in my indecency – I was in capris and a sleeveless kurta.

W: You don’t know the dress code?

Me: Huh?

W: Why are you not in the dress code?

Me: What dress code?!

W: They didn’t tell you?

Me: The AIEEE brochure does not talk about any dress code *smug, self-important, all-knowing tone*

W: Salwaar-Kameez, no sleeveless, no tight fitting, kurta till the knees, pin the dupatta in a ‘V’ across the chest, no open hair.

THAT was the first time, I think, I wanted to run away. It was a feeling that was to stay on for the next five years. The warden refused to allot me a room till I bought and showed her atleast 3 sets of salwar-kameez. I wondered how my wardrobe had any connection with me getting a room in the hostel. Little did I know then, that your business is always their business. That evening, I went down for attendance. Apparently, all girls had to be within the hostel premises by 6 in the evening, the warden then took attendance and the front gate to every wing was then locked. Yes, very jail-like. I had the audacity to wear Bermudas and was blessed with a look from the warden, 5 full seconds of hateful scorn when I said ‘present!’ while she raped my name. She pulled me aside soon after and said ‘such presence is not allowed here’, while I gaped. I was wearing knee-length shorts in a room full of girls!

And that was just the first day.