Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 'Gelf' Malayalee.

Everyone knows Nancy, who writes at Reflections. Mom of two, exuberant and perpetually young at heart, all her loyal followers knows the names and hobbies of her beautiful daughters like their own. For example she could write about a simple power cut in her home so interestingly, that by the end of it you’d realize that power cuts are actually fun. She turns around any situation into a party. Each and every post of hers has left me smiling and feeling better. After some persuasion, I got her to write a guest post on my blog. Yay! She was busier than a bee all these days due to personal reasons, which I hope she will put it up on her blog soon, but she remembered my request . Thank You Nancy !

 I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did… !

The Gelf Malayalee!

In the 1970’s & 80’s a tiny state in South India witnessed a mass migration of its people to the gulf countries. The discovery of oil and shortage of man-power in the gulf was like a prayer answered for  many young men faced with bleak job prospects in their home country.
Every man took whatever job he got, worked hard and sent home almost all the money he earned to pay up debts, to educate and to marry his siblings off into good families. After a decade or so the family woke up to the fact that he was also unmarried and scurried around to find him a suitable girl. They got him married to a nurse/pharmacist/physiotherapist[select any one] and sent both back to the desert. Both husband and wife worked day/night shifts, scrimped & saved to educate their children + send money to their folks back home, all the while aware that they were better off than many of their countrymen.

The way the post is moving you can be forgiven for thinking I’m kind of glorifying the Gulf Malayalees’[GM] achievements. Seriously I’m not. Oh all right maybe a little. But my post is not about their trials and tribulations in foreign land….it is about a few traits all the Malayalees living in the Gulf share whether they like to admit it or not;-).

#So jumping right in, let’s start with food…..the Gulf Malayalee’s eating habits did not undergo any major transformation because he was living in the Middle East[ME]. Rice and the usual curries were made in his kitchen as traditionally as it was made in his tharavad[family home]. His only weakness was Kentucky Fried Chicken. He never, ever got fed up of it. He ordered it for birthdays, anniversaries, when guests dropped in, for farewell parties, in fact he is even known to carry KFC home when he went on annual leave. The next time you travel in a plane from UAE/Qatar/ Kuwait/ Bahrain/Saudi to Kerala and happen to smell KFC, remember you heard it from me first;-).

# As soon as the GM got his residence visa stamped, his first priority was to get a driving license. His first car was a sturdy, practical model because at that point owning a car itself was a huge achievement.  But as time passed he unconsciously nursed a secret desire in his heart. In his eyes the ultimate status symbol was a Mercedes, which of course was way beyond his means. So he did the next best thing. He bought a second-hand Mercedes and proudly drove it around till the end of his stay in the ME. Not much has changed even today…..his children who are all grown up now have a thing for 4 wheel drives mainly Prado & Range rovers.

# Another dream the GM worked hard to achieve was his ‘own’ house back in his home country. He lived frugally and saved hard to make this dream come true. No matter what his job in the ME, the house he built for himself came under the category of mansions. It would have a huge hall, 3-4 bedrooms with ‘attached’ bathrooms & 2 or 3 kitchens depending on his means. Not to forget all the light fittings, plumbing material and sofa/bedroom sets he carefully cargoes in from the Gulf. Now for the saddest part…..this house would remain unused for the better part of the GM’s life. By the time he decides to go back to live there for good, his children would have settled down elsewhere leaving him & wife to use just 1 bedroom & kitchen with the rest of the house shut off to avoid further wear and tear.

#Another peculiar quirk of the GM…….he talks nostalgically of his hometown every chance he gets; how he climbed trees, bathed in rivers, walked 8 kms to school every day, how his home town was the best and how he yearned to go back. But that’s all he does….he just talks. When it comes right down to it he delays his going back using every excuse he can find. Simply put, he is afraid to give up this comfortable life and start all over again. But he’ll never, ever admit this, not even to himself.
Other regular quirks associated with GMs’…

# At any given point he’ll boast about the number of visas he has taken for others and how they prospered because….only because he took their visa and made their life.
#The GM’s luggage when he went home for vacation was sure to contain among other things huge tins of Nido, Tang, Galaxy Chocolates, Reynolds pens, Fa Soap, Nivea cream, Yardley Powder, Axe Oil and countless bottles of Tiger Balm to distribute among relatives, friends, neighbors, the church priest, the village doctor, the midwife who helped bring him into the world…..the list is endless.

# Unless he was a professional, nobody back home knew what exactly he worked in the Gulf as…..he could be an office boy, carpenter or a delivery boy slaving day & night for his Arab boss but when he went home on annual leave he wore a gold chain thick as a rope around his neck, a gold bracelet adorned his wrist and heavy rings on his fingers that everybody assumed he had a great job in the gulf.

# Before the Gulf Malayalee goes back to his home country for good, he makes sure by fair means or foul his children too are well-settled in the same place he made his life. It’s another story that the children are eyeing US, Canada and even India[something GM parents simply cannot comprehend] to settle down…

Like I said, that’s another story.

Does anybody want to agree/add value/defend the subject of the post???

Anybody who knows a Gulf Kashmiri/Gujarati/Bengali/Tamilian can also give their take:-).

[This Gelf Malayalee claims to be no expert on the subject and writes[tongue-in-cheek] based solely on personal experiences & hearsay.]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Three years an Ambivert.

Dictionary sends me a new word and its possible meanings each day to my inbox. Most of which obviously I dint know existed, because otherwise you would have seen them extensively splashed across this blog. Today they sent me a word, ambivert.
According to dictionary, Ambivert is one whose personality type is intermediate between introvert and extrovert. As soon as I read it, I knew I was one.

Basically, I am not an introvert. I do not sulk in a corner of a party hall. I do not stew in my worries or success. However, at the same party if someone asks me to dance I may need a diaper. And that, my friend, is a quality of an ambivert. If you think about it, most of us are. Remember our teachers? They scream and yell at us all year. And the day our parents are called for the meeting at school, they are all sweet and extremely well behaved, and our parents are like ‘ You better stop talking about your teacher like that…she is a female version of Swami Vivekananda …just look at her!’ and there she is, saree clad with a halo circling around her head. On other days when she yells the saliva droplets travel at the speed of light to reach the backbencher’s nose, and there are fumes instead of the halo. So she is the best example of an ambivert. It can also be technically defined as- intelligent situational smartness or the lack of it.

We, ambiverts, are basically the convertible type. I mean, when we encounter negative criticism, we transform ourselves into extroverts. Whereas when there is a general knowledge quiz, we are introverts, or even invisible! We are completely flexible and this does not mean that we have no character or backbone; it just that we are chameleons in human form, newly christened as ambiverts! 

My almost-three-year-old was an introvert until he was one and a half. He would sit on my lap, wishing that nobody looked at him or pulled his cheeks. Later he became an extrovert. He would just walk into parties and transform into a tiny party animal. He wouldn't even turn to check if we were still around. Now he is almost three, and is in nursery. His teacher tells me, ‘He is so cute he doesn't even cry or yell over here’ and our neighbors say ‘what a cute little guy you've got.. We don’t even get to hear his voice…he is the silent type isn't he? You are so lucky!’ My husband and I are completely speechless at this stage and we just pretend to agree as our eardrums are already partially damaged by the person in question.
My sunglass is now in three pieces, most of my hair pulled out from its roots, the furniture broken at the ends, torn, spat on or scratched, you wouldn't believe that our walls were once white, some dresses have chocolate/sketch pen marks that refuses to go, and when he hangs from the sofa headrest upside down (that is how he watches TV), he gives me a feeling that he was Mowgli in his previous life. My eardrums are insensitive to smaller sounds now, as when he is a fraction of a millimeter away from me he yells ‘Ammeey’ into my ear which I could have heard had I been in space.

 But at parties, he is the kind of boy anybody would love to pamper and cuddle with. He puts up this innocent look and angelic smile, the combination that floors many female toddlers. And by ‘floors’ I meant, that when nobody is looking it is possible he could literally FLOOR them. That is how one displays the quality of being an ambivert. 

There is another word called antevert. According to the dictionary, it is a verb used ‘to displace (the uterus or other body organ) by tipping forward.It was when he tried to antevert me that I ended up in the labor room.

Image Courtesy:Google images.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Give me a high five... I turned FIVE !

March 2009. 

I was working at a MNC in Bangalore, as a software programmer. Even so, I was on bench. Bench is defined as that situation in an IT industry, when the organization pays you to stay away from their projects. Like my Mom who was at a point ready to pay me to shut up and stay out of the kitchen. However I got a workstation assigned to me that involves a revolving chair whose ability to revolve was completely baseless as there was no John Abraham sitting in the adjacent cubicle. In fact there was a malnourished guy, who was also so short that he looked like a 7 year old. With such people around we should have opaque cubicles and chairs that do not allow us to look around. The computer assigned to me was prehistoric, and looked like a front load washing machine. The only sites we got to browse were the portals of that very organization which otherwise we wouldn't browse even at gunpoint. Those were orkut days, Mark Zuckerberg was still in college, whatsapp was not conceived yet and Yo Yo Honey Singh was still roaming around with his Bio data and nursery school light music video on Mumbai Locals.

 I was newly married, my husband worked at a firm whose CEO was charged with corruption and sent to jail and future looked completely bleak for them. Global recession was at its peak, some of my friends on bench where I worked were fired without any notice, and my career was basically hanging from the edge of a cliff. We started our wedded life thus, on a ship which hit two icebergs at once.

But then for newly married couples none of this matters. We could drink just water and live in a mediocre house like it was a Beverly Hills mansion as long as we had each other. It was one of those days when I came across some popular humor blogs. Simple everyday events and conversations were so hilariously written. I started going to the archives and read between the lines. Then the thought came to my mind, why not start a blog of my own. Why should mankind be spared from my literary torture? In fact the characters in my family were the rarest of the rare in terms of temporary insanity and other matters. I dint even need to hunt around for topics to write or improvise on existing ones. And hence the blog was born. 

However I was too naive to blog anonymously. Instead I used my real name, email id and photograph. The blog became a topic of conversation and content scrutinized at marriages and baptisms. Many active bloggers of that time quit. There are a few who survived and even found their way into my friend’s list on Facebook. I even won a contest, received complimentary hampers, participated in tags, found some great friends, and somehow the inspiration to write some rubbish or the other continues to this day! I mean my will to torture people just ceases to diminish:-o

The consistency of my blog can be mainly blamed on some loyal readers who liked the stuff I wrote. They never missed to comment. They did not write ‘Hey great post! Mind-blowing! Breathtaking! Nice! Creative! Magical!’ after every post because it wasn't any of those. They shared their thoughts with me rather than indulging in compliments. And they complimented me genuinely when they felt I deserved it. And these are the people who helped sustain this consistent ride, so if you have any problem with the content of this blog, please blame them. Do you see the top 25 culprits on either side? And they inspired me with their own blogs, which were equivalent to reading full-fledged best sellers. They taught me how to be unique in one’s own style.
       Thank You !

And the ones who have always taken pride in my blog, and often been my subject to tease or quote, were my parents and the hubby. They have always been there, and with simple comments and loving gestures, were the pillars of my existence in this journey .Without the hubby’s jokes, or those blunders that happened really frequently, it would have been difficult for me to update so often!

So, my blog turned five and counting! Who would have thought that the outcome of the devil’s workshop on a bench could actually last this long! I hereby take this wonderful opportunity to thank all the people of that company who kept me on bench and on the verge of unemployment for so long, that I woke up and realized that blogs were fun, unlike software codes. I also thank Microsoft Word for your eternal patience, putting up with all my horrible spellings and grammar.

 I am also immensely grateful to all the neon shoes wearing females, who thought that I was some narcissist who overused Microsoft Word, instead of ogling at the pink lipped, gel headed gay boy at the cafeteria. Last but not the least; I thank everyone from the auto driver who dropped me at Dairy circle and charged me half my month’s pay, the neighbor who peeped through my kitchen window, and the stray dogs of Bangalore that ruled the streets, for being unintentional inspirations to various posts of mine that finally adds up to 181!  ( I used a calculator for that one. I have only ten fingers)

I've heard my family casually talk to others about my blog. I must say that nothing can be a bigger reward than realizing that the people I love are proud of me, this being one of the reasons. And it has steered me along for five whole years, with plenty of support from peers on blogger.

It was indeed an amazing journey, because I did not start the blog to win contests, or become famous. Something I started as a time pass has become an extension of me, and it has become a place where I can be honest without getting fired.

Picture courtesy: Google images.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The true colors of Holi.

It’s been an awfully long gap between posts here, and even though no one really noticed, there, I brought it to your notice. I dint update this space for past two weeks because whenever I think of something to write all I can think of is some random rants. 
March is not the best month of the year for me, so far. I also think Holi brings out the true colors of some people.

A colleague who thinks if he says something with a smiling face anything rude will sound sweet, a friend of decades showing her true colors, unexpected hurtful comments and misunderstanding coming from all possible directions, my whatsapp has witnessed it all this month. Suddenly I am that line on the periphery of the dart board, where all the darts eventually land. I suspect that everyone thinks that I am responsible for that missing plane! People, honestly it’s not me, I am praying for its safe arrival too so stop throwing your dirty socks at me.

Long ago when things went wrong I succumbed to my couch with a tub of ice cream watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S episodes back to back. It is still an effective therapy. It makes my problems appear insignificant. My favorite character Phoebe, whose father was in jail, mother committed suicide, twin sister a porn star and no education or a secure job was so happy! None of these issues are applicable to me and I am so grumpy. :-o

I have to refrain from saying a lot of things here, because I am not anonymous. Everyone from my neighbor’s dog to the security at office knows that I blog. So even though I am locally popular as a blogger, this popularity is not really anything to do with the writing, it is more like being scrutinized word by word, line by line and being interrogated inside lifts, grocery bays and parking lots.

So on the whole March is a mess. And there is a missing plane which proved to the whole world that our ‘technology advance’ is limited to face recognition and fingerprint scanning on smartphones. Both of which doesn't work if you wear too much make up or suffer a cut from dicing vegetables. Beyond that, there is just thin air. We are just a race who thinks we are great but a whole jet with 239 people is gone and we are still looking up at the sky, mouths open.

And then some people resort to facebook to make jokes about the missing jet and create cartoons out of them. Is it possible to replace those 239 persons on MH370 with these inappropriate facebook jokers and some others from my hit list? Just asking. Because in that case, we could just stop searching.

Hope you guys had a happy Holi! Mine was colorful too, colors mainly being black and brown. 

Don’t ask.

Image courtesy: Google.                                                                                                                              

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How to cure the 'Lazy Husband' syndrome !

It all started with a TV remote. In the times of Doordarshan or DD-1, there was no need of a remote control and it was somewhat easier to agree with parents. And then there was DD-2, the first ever reason why we disagreed (over the TV). However, when we switched to the 8:00 pm inevitable English News on DD-1, we got up from our chairs and pressed the tab on the right side of the TV monitor and came back to our seat, thus burning about 3 calories. And this was celebrated by Doordarshan by playing the most depressing tune in the history of music as if it was a prelude to the equally depressing people who were about to read it. So the TV never got us addicted to it, thanks to the sad jingles, programs, outrageously fashion retarded cast or the grief stricken anchors none of which changed since Independence.

Later, the TV started swelling and eventually bursting with channels. It also made twice the number of disagreements as there were people in the family. More differences, more rooms, more TVs and lesser compatibility. Earlier all I had to worry about was Mamta Kulkarni or Manisha Koirala who may do the most inappropriate act, at the most crucial time (when parents were around). But now I flip channels completely warned and aware that anyone from Sunny Leone to Dora the explorer may strip at any point of time. It is impossible to watch TV with kids L

Weekend trips to the Electricity, Water and Telephone offices to pay bills, register complaints etc. were replaced by online portals, and now there are apps so that trip is saved. But when we did drive to the office and stood in long queues, we were taught the value of time, money and most importantly patience. As a bonus, few calories were also burnt without our knowledge. Similarly, we don’t need to go to the railway station to book a ticket; it is done by gliding those fingers on the phone. But this website gives us the real feel of actually driving to the railway station on an exhaustingly sultry day. That’s our very own IRCTC. It teaches the internet generation what it is to be in a queue, and wait patiently under the scorching sun until we are given a seat in the Waiting List Number 786. Everyone from our internet generation should book a ticket in IRCTC to learn some moral science.

Trips to the library are completely avoidable as we can read them at our convenience on the tab. In most cities there are facilities to get groceries delivered at our doorsteps so no need to go there either. Pizza is delivered to my couch, and tomorrow it may be delivered to my mouth. Washing machines, dishwashers, blenders and food processors do most of the cleaning and chopping. A lot of work is thus reduced.

We used to set timers on cameras to click family pics, now there are remote controls to do that as well. Movie tickets are available online. At least 95% of bank transactions and school fees are paid online. Clothes and shoe shopping is booming on websites. And I look at the jammed roads and wonder…Where are all these people going?

Basically, the reasons our parents had to get off that chair and do some errands do not exist anymore; which is why we need to work out and eat right. However a certain someone at home has not worked out since last five months. Each day there was a new reason not to do so. I wonder there is some app on iphone which generates ridiculous excuses every day? Otherwise how on earth is it possible to come up with ‘There is a dog on that route which I suspect has rabies?’

It is really tough to inspire people and get them to do something for their own health. And it is tougher to inspire them on a daily basis, as there are lesser inspirational stories than there are excuses.

Here is my million dollar idea for the existing Nike-iphone app that counts calories while walking. Hubby WAS a regular user of this app, when he used to walk, long ago when Atal Behari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.  This can be upgraded for an additional feature: When the user does not use the app on a certain (lazy) day, the iphone should just shut down until the next day. The ipad should synchronize the same command and shut down as well. Nothing cripples men more than this. And I am sure the fear of the phone shutting down will get the laziest of men run for their lives health. All the ladies who have excuse generating husbands will thank iphone for least I will.

So as I was at my desk thinking of productive ways to get the hubby to exercise, somewhere else in the world, Nike came up with another brilliant idea. Someone designed new running shoes the laces of which will tie on its own. This is the same person that constructed an elevator to his gym.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My equation with Chemistry ( #ConditionSeriousHai ) !

Teenage is probably the most underrated phase of a person’s life. All the physical and mental variations and a ruckus of hormones, ultimately makes up a weirdo or in other words, a teenager. This was also the time when ‘Look at Leela aunty’s son. He is a topper in whatever he does’ rang in my ears even when my Mom was actually telling me to eat. Leela aunty and her son were marked in red, bold and underlined, and highlighted in yellow on my hit list ever since I can remember. And this is one woman I avoided like plague because she was bothered about my very existence. Apparently her son scored just 96% and topped the district or even the country but Leela aunty was wiping her nose in distress, because her #ConditionSeriousHai.

And I remember that day when I came out of the exam hall after the twelfth grade Chemistry exam. The question paper was very simply set with direct questions. Basically, I was not born to study Chemistry. As simple as that. Now if you want to inject organic and physical chemistry into my head that is not designed to accept this type of data, it is your call. This was my attitude all through the chemistry classes, chemistry tuition classes and chemistry entrance tuition classes. After that load of  chemistry equations and theories were dumped aimlessly into my head, I still could not balance an equation correctly, whereas my classmates did it in a matter of microseconds. Apparently Leela aunty’s son balanced equations with his left hand when he had to used his right hand at dinner.

So as I walked out of the exam hall I heard peals of laughter and my classmates discussing the question paper with beaming faces. I could almost see a 99/100 written across their foreheads. However diplomacy is the key to coexist with competitive parents. So when Papa asked how the exam went, I replied it was ‘okay’. By saying that, neither did I confirm that I would pass with flying colors, nor did I say that it was difficult and invite hell’s wrath. It was a situation of mental equilibrium. When I reached home everyone was not actually looking forward to see me because Leela aunty had howled from the top of her roof that her nerd of a son was throwing things around saying it was a ‘sub-standard’ question paper and he wasted his year for nothing. So basically this moron’s #ConditionSeriousHai.

The reply ‘It was okay’ to any question that was aimed at me related to exams kept the parents waiting for the results so that they could pounce on me. This means, that two months till the results came I could live peacefully in my house without it being converted into a T-Rex's nest. However, I tactfully avoided appearing at any get-together or Sunday school, as a measure of precautionary self-defense against suspected nosy aunties. Those two months till the results came was a period I needed to be extra careful. After the results are published the war takes a different turn altogether which may involve major bombing from all possible directions but that is a totally different story. Meanwhile, Leela aunty was silently having a party in her head, as her son’s batch mate was likely to hit rock bottom. And I tell you, there was not one but lots of Leela aunties around all whose #ConditionSeriousHai.

 If I tried hard and managed to get a mark more than her son, I am sure Leela aunty would have attempted suicide. So, my decision to stay within the average pool and never leaping out of it was in a way saving the life of Leela aunty and her son whom I doubt wore diapers at night.

Ten years down the line, I am doing just fine without learning Chemistry, just like Leela aunty’s son is after mastering it. The bottom line is that we will all be just fine regardless of our take at the Chemistry paper.

So Leela aunty, chill, have a Cadbury 5 star.  

This article was written for Indiblogger Cadbury Five Star contest - Condition Serious Hai.