Sunday, August 31, 2014

What 'Driver's License' Actually Means in India.

Unlike Muscat, there are lot of options for public transport in India, like if I want to eat Porotta and Beef fry I just have to get out of the house in my pajamas and yell at the rickshaw guy ‘ Chetta…Buhari vare ponam*’ [ *Brother I want to go to Buhari']. Or I can choose to just drive to Buhari- unfortunately they don’t have parking area but who cares we just park in the middle of the road. Because hunger cannot wait – everything else can, or should. I can also drive blindfolded here if I wanted to as there are no rules…in fact most people drive like they are blindfolded. Well Trivandrum is bliss in that way. Unlike some places up north where cows block ambulances on the road, and the dying person decides to consider it a divine intervention, in Trivandrum, dogs and cats rule the road, only in human form.

Getting a driver’s license is far simpler than eating Porotta and Beef fry. Some people just bribe the driving instructor and he will make sure that you, your mother, grandmother and paternal uncle gets license and start abusing the road, pedestrians and stray animals starting early hours of the very next morning. Only criteria being everyone in the above list should be alive. In some cases the driving instructor may actually insist that you turn up for the test. What a bummer! You still get the license. As a result every Jijo, Joji and Jojo gets a car (there is no dearth of car loans, you just have to prove that you are the owner of that coconut tree in your rented house premise) and start what they call ‘driving’.

This includes pretending that signals don’t exist, driving into a main road from a by lane at full speed without looking either way, honking without any reason every five seconds especially near schools and hospitals, showing the finger when someone refuses to be overtaken, driving across zebra lines at fifth gear as if it was a sign that angry zebras are chasing, not budging when there is an ambulance behind, continuously honking behind buses when passengers are boarding, honking like there is no tomorrow when old people cross the road, going out of the way to run over cats and dogs on purpose, run over sleeping people on the sidewalks, overtake on a single lane road because a lower end version of the same car was going ahead, use all kind of expletives if someone else does any of these and so on. Sadly Jijo, Joji and Jojo thought that this is how one can become cool overnight.

 However my driving instructor in Trivandrum was not the easy going types. Once he crushed my tiny feet with his gigantic sandals because I mistook the fifth gear for third! My foot was swollen for three days. It also did not qualify for ‘accident leave’ at office.

However my parents were not one of those ‘bribe-your-teacher-buy-your-license-fool-the-system’ types. Especially because this guy taught my mother and sister, he definitely had an idea about the average family intelligence. So I went many weeks for driving sessions, in the super-hot sun sacrificing all the weekend TV movies.

On the test day, after my turn the policeman asked me ‘So, you came to get a license?’ with a Shakti Kapoor smile.  And I was like ‘No Sir, I usually come to the Traffic Police grounds 35 km away from my house at 12 noon to buy donuts’ but I just smiled. I got the license.

If you thought that rocket science was the pinnacle of intellect that was humanly possible, it is time to rethink. There is something else that can actually come close to it, which is getting a driver’s license in Oman.

Because in Oman, they actually have rules.

And you need eyes on the back and sides.

To be continued.

Images Courtesy:Google Images.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Who are you to judge?

I was once asked, ‘Why can’t you be like her’?
And I could never get myself to like that person I was compared with.

Enmity and unhealthy rivalry among children mostly roots from the attitude of their parents. Some parents are judgmental or hypocrites of the highest degree…and these people are as harmful as drugs are to our society.

Contrary to popular ideas that all kids want only one thing – the TV remote, there are some kids that beg to differ. They prefer sports or toys instead. That everyone should behave in a way that is set by someone's 'perfect' child is an expectation that can be true for dogs and cats, not people. Some kids can talk very well at two. Some do not talk until they are six. This does not say anything about a child’s IQ or any other factor but it says a lot about the person who is making these comparisons. These are pointers to the fact that each and every kid is different, and whichever pace they grasp and perform, they will be fine. They will all turn out to be just fine. Just leave them alone.

My sister and I were often compared to a certain someone at church. This girl, let’s call her Alpha, was very famous in the church and the neighborhood for scoring consecutive A plus grades for mathematics in school.  And mathematics was supposed to be the subject in which the mark you score decides your destiny. Your emotional fate, which means if you don’t want to be discussed among nosy aunties in high pitched voices with frowning eyebrows then you should score well in Math. Mathematics is basically an aptitude subject. There are kids that find it easy, others who find it okay, some others that struggle. And I fell in the last category. I couldn't possibly get myself do math.

I was in hell. This was not because Alpha or her marks existed. But because Alpha’s parents decided to show off. Because they decided to scream from their rooftops that their daughter was superior in some way. And this marked our eternal grudge to Alpha and opened the way to complexes that ruined our self-worth.

However I grew older and there was role reversal. Now I have to listen to others compare their kids with mine. That my son does not speak as fluently (fluency is defined as the rate at which pathetic characters in cheap TV soaps deliver their dialogues which was obviously scripted by some moron over copious amounts of liquor), or that he is not tall enough for a three year old are things that bother other people! How tall should a three year old be? God!

This concern roots from desperation of people to establish that they have the perfect kid. The secret pleasure they get from this is directly proportional to the level of hypocrisy . It is likely that their perfect kid has inherited it too, who knows ! Kids know people, their intentions and how genuine they are. And I know that my son will grow up to never be best friends with the ‘perfect’ kids and their supremely divine parents. I will not stop him, as I know from my experience that it is not possible to be friends with the person you are compared with. The moment you compare, you are humiliating the child that will crush his self-respect in ways we cannot think of.

My basic question is this. Who else, besides parents, should be concerned about the child? Who? What does it take to leave the children alone?

On mornings when I drop my son at his nursery I watch all the parents. Some of them hug their kids and say ‘Take care..! See you soon’! And blow kisses. Others just say ‘Bye’ and go back to their vehicles in a hurry. Some others just leave them near the teacher and leave. Do you think the one that blew kisses loves her kid more than the one who left without waving bye?

Do you think so?  Who are you to judge?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Messier than Thou ..

Once, I walked into a men’s hostel holding Papa’s hands.

 It was not the hostel of the college I graduated from.  It was a warm Saturday morning and Papa decided to walk into the men’s hostel in Trivandrum, my hometown, to meet the warden for some reason. I also went with him, as it was too hot to wait in the car. Not that I had any interest to go inside ;-)

As it was weekend the boys had gone home, just a couple of them were walking around shirtless and clueless. I was amused, by the shock they got when they saw me.  We stood inside for like sixty to eighty seconds, during which the guys were doing the ‘Hangover’ act trying to recollect what happened to them the night before. Beyond that many seconds, anyone with normally functioning nostrils cannot survive in that building. Magazines strewn about, shirts hung randomly without clips, and that strong weird smell. The smell of a thousand cigarettes, stale food and dirty socks.

We came outside with the warden and they continued talking, while I stood beside Papa mourning my dying sense of smell. Then a guy came outside, dressed in a crisp shirt and jeans, shoes polished to perfection. He wore sunglasses that looked branded, hair wet from styling gel. As he walked past, I knew he wore some expensive perfume.

How can a person emerge out of that foul-smelling germ-infested building looking like he came right out of the Cinthol ad? Like hooooowww?

Let’s cut some slack here, it’s not just the men’s hostel. There are highly educated people whose homes look like the entire city’s garbage exploded inside it. You wouldn't believe the sartorial brilliance they impress us with post emerging from that trash can. Whatever happened to good hygiene and housekeeping?

Basically my Mom had an acute OCD condition. She couldn't stand even a microscopic speck of dust inside the house. She used to go to her Mom’s place, which also had pets gallivanting indoors, and start cleaning.
A real life Monica Geller. But when we were younger, everyone we knew had well-kept houses, I remember. Even if I walked in to my friend’s place unannounced it still looked tidy. Her room may not be the best example for it but teenagers are excused. We had a lot going on in our lives and had to please a lot of undeserving people, so tidying up the room was the last thing on our minds. As we grew older and had to marry, life got so boring that we thought we may as well tidy up.

Life in a hostel gave me a realistic peek into the upbringing of people in a bigger picture. Till then I had shared my room with my sister who too had an OCD, I was generally messier than my family but when I went to the hostel I realized my self-worth. There were girls who left cooked Maggie noodles in their rooms during semester holidays, and returned to a room of worms. There were others who dint mind sleeping with detergent powder, cloth hangers, books, shoes, water bottles, plates, plastic containers on the same bed. And there were others whose rooms looked like seven star hotels.  There were rooms that smelled so good and stuff kept so neatly even though none expected any guests in their rooms. The super clean rooms did impress me, but God I could not believe that people can be so lazy that they choose to sleep with a thousand random things on their beds instead of clearing them! In comparison my room looked like one straight out of a Karan Johar movie. And my parents thought that I was the laziest and messiest one!  

Parents were not allowed inside the hostel so there was no way to prove otherwise. Sigh. 

When I graduated college and started working in software companies there were colleagues alongside who coughed nonstop and others with conjunctivitis in closed cubicles  striving to meet deadlines that were more important than life. I graduated from messy, unhygienic surroundings to a whole new level of contagious diseases.

Now where do I start? 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When Goddess Fortuna smiled at me.

Once upon a time there was a lucky draw. There were four prizes. Five people participated. The one who dint get a prize was me.

That pretty much sums up how lucky I am when it comes to lucky draws and spot contests.  Well I am not complaining, but this long episode of losing out on prizes (otherwise called LIFE) has made me accept the reality, which is - Baby, just play the contest and go home. Don’t wait for the results. So you learn from me how to have fun without being rewarded for it!

On another note, it is a sweaty summer here and Sun God is the harshest in the Middle East.  Plus, there are a lot of mundane things going on right now. Mummy is attending cake icing classes, sister buying a new car, my son was bitten by his best friend because he beat him first, husband needs to get a tooth extracted, I am working like a donkey in office and no one seems to notice etc. Among these the topic I chose to write today is of course about the tooth extraction. Nothing else is even remotely interesting you see.

Basically there is not one tooth in my mouth which is untouched by a dentist’s magic wand. I am therefore so proud of my pearly whites that I am considering including that on my resume. So whenever that dreaded dentist appointment is due, my husband reminds me of how his every single tooth is like a storehouse of calcium surrounded by the most perfect gums. And how it has been the same for all his ancestors dating back to Adam and Eve. I did not curse him. I just thought - Good for him, I am on that soft, perfectly inclined dentist chair it is almost like a teeth spa – if there is one. Meanwhile he runs after my toddler with all that perfectly crafted set of teeth and gums.

However, his teeth had other plans. So last week, one of the backbencher teeth started showing its true colors. And there was slight pain, but it turns out that he (and probably all the ancestors) are terrified of dentists. So visiting a dentist needed some pushing, topped with recitation of some comments he made at me when I was going through a similar situation.

Moral of the story is, even if you don’t win lucky draws, life gives you other precious moments, during which you will consider yourself lucky (even if it is at the cost of someone's tooth ache :D )

And now to everyone who liked the Facebook page for the photo contest my son participated in- the good news is, WE WON THE FIRST PRIZE- A NIKON POINT AND SHOOT CAMERA !!! How cool is that !!??? Thank you , thank you, everyone who liked the image and helped us win !

And secondly, on the very same day, I won a giveaway on the Red Handed blog. (We all know Red Handed . The single most entertaining and fearless blogger around). The widget which chose the winners chose ME !  I was so pleasantly surprised and am so glad that finally the widgets are smiling at me (they used to hate me for no reason) I won Batman shoes designed by the innovative designer, Khushboo Rehani (SoleArt).

But with all that happening on the same day, I am kind of worried about my teeth.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Vote for Aaron Sandeep !

Facebook 'like' buttons are the easiest way to show your love and it is also the measuring unit of social acceptance. I totally disagree with this concept, as I can remember the birthdays of people dear to me without Facebook reminding about it and mobile phone numbers of my loved ones without missing a digit. Well, as long as I don’t suffer from amnesia I can right? And I should! Why would we depend on our gadgets to remind us of our parents wedding anniversary? That’s blasphemy!

And we know how parents of kids and toddlers flood our facebook timelines with pictures of their kids asking for ‘likes’ and how annoying that is. However competitions are held that way and it is not like we like to beg! And we honestly do not like sharing our baby’s pics just to show them off.

I always appreciated efforts and ‘like’d the pictures people asked me to, because it dint hurt me. And photo contests that are held on Facebook are judged by the number of likes and not the quality or creativity of the photo. The agenda is basically marketing, and we all know it. However, it is fun to participate because we are anyway social animals and cannot shy away from any contests questioning its legitimacy.

So here I am, requesting each one of you, to please go to the below link and click ‘Like’ on the picture of AARON SANDEEP you see there. It is a photo contest based on FIFA World Cup.

Singers are judged by the number of sms they get, photos are judged by the number of likes it gets. There is no room for talent; it is only the popularity that counts. It is not quality but quantity that matters on the web. I am not a fan of this particular competition myself, but two things: this is a competition held by my office, and secondly my husband being a popular photography enthusiast participated because it had the words ‘Photo contest’ in it.

So please shower some blogger love, go to the link and ‘LIKE’ Aaron Sandeep. It doesn't take even a minute!

Thank you so much in advance, I love you guys.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

When the help makes you helpless..!

 Most of us had or still have a helper at home who stayed with us long years like a part of the family. There were loyal, trustworthy and above all, genuine. They never demanded anything, but we gave them because we wanted to. However, things are not the same now. A huge percentage of domestic helps are annoying, dishonest and even immoral. It becomes impossible to tolerate some of them.

Recently I had this hilarious chat with my friends on whatsapp and it opened a dam of stories from them, who are settled in various continents. Here comes!

The Jewel Thief: These are usually women who talk and act like your own mother and gain all your trust. They talk about life, wisdom and loyalty. They also compliment you like no one has ever done before. They get the affection of your children and she kisses them like their grandparents would. She tells you how to talk to your husband (that is in a low voice with lot of respect, unlike her) and how to sit like a woman. You start to blindly let her clean all rooms without any supervision … and you realize that the gold ring is missing and the kitchen stuff start disappearing at a suspicious pace.

The Incorrigible Chatter Box: This one is all words. She has solutions to all first world problems. She wanted Sachin to retire. She likes Modi and gives her verdict on the same. All this when it is 7:59 a.m , the school bus is honking outside and breakfast is not ready yet. Her opinions are all over the place. She gives you tips on how to stop hair fall, get a fairer complexion because it is necessary to keep the husband interested, which God to pray to, and how to manage family expenditure. If you have one child she decides when to have another one, and if you have two she convinces you that three children are fun. She also misses few rooms while sweeping because of all this precious advice that is bursting out of her brain is getting in the way. By the time she leaves, you want to rest because so much information was conveyed in such a short time. But she doesn’t let you close the door because she forgot to share some home remedies for dark circles and dandruff. By the time you reach your room you will notice the bills that were on the floor of the room she swept like minutes ago – still there. So is the coffee stain.

The Ooh la la: She is as desperate as desperation can get. Her spiritual leader is Poonam Pandey. This one comes to work with the only intention, which is to gain attention (read: affection) from males in the family. As men usually don’t notice, they get themselves noticed by doing provocative antics. The first step towards achieving this goal is to study the character of the inherent males – father, husband, son age no bar. Once that is done, the next step is to strike conversations with them whenever possible. When the men are not interested in small talk with the house maid, then comes the most extreme step –Oooh la la. Trust me this is a real incident. One of my friends had this Ooh La La help who walked across the hall wearing a white see-through nighty wearing absolutely nothing inside. My friend’s father and husband were sitting there that time.

The Wannabe: This one does not try hard like Ooh lala. She already knows that all the men at the house in question and in that district for that matter had fallen for her charms. She is 54, has daughters and grandchildren, but the charm that keeps following her is like a curse. If the man in the house asks her to bring something because his wife was on a call, she immediately transforms into a teenager who just got asked out by her crush. She would generously give her kidney had he asked for it. One of my friends had once employed this Wannabe.
Wannabe called my friend’s husband and said ‘ Listen Sir, you should not talk to me anymore, chechi is already suspicious about us, I don’t want to be responsible for any fallout between you two…please keep your feelings to yourself’ and cut the call.
 Later the conversation between husband and wife (my friend) went like this:
He: Hey what is this ammachi saying? I just got and call and she said this. I just don’t understand.
She: (Cut the call and laughed her head off and got breathless)
He: (calls again to check) Hello what’s happening with ammachi?
She: I don’t know but nice choice!

The Oblivious Dreamer: An entire family depends on this person. But the Dreamer just doesn’t care. Dreamers are always late for work and mostly untidy too. Disheveled hair, unwashed face and a disgusting bad breath are her key identifications. Dreamers can make fake excuses sound believable and even after arrival they are freakishly dreamy. Punctuality is a joke to them. They do not understand time. They could take twenty minutes to make tea, and they teach us that slow motion does not exist just in Bollywood.

The Miss. Sensitive Skin: This one pretends to be a former Miss World. She wears colorful flip flops, but asks to change into another pair of slippers which we should provide because her feet are too tender to touch the floor. Glass slippers may be acceptable. She also needs a pair of gloves to wash dishes, another for mopping. Once these are done she needs a moisturizer to keep her hands from drying out. It should be Dove moisturizer, as other brands may irritate her skin. She uses only Pears soap and Dove shampoo (the one for sensitive hair) and her kitchen hand-wash must be Palmolive. Miss Sensitive skin is high maintenance, and the way she washes is also so mild, just like her skin, that the stain and dust in the house stays exactly where it was before she came.

The Wedding Caterer: This one acts like a five star chef. There is nothing in the world she can’t cook, she claims. And when you believe that, she cooks sambar, enough to feed at least 50 hungry laborers and serves it at the table in a biryani vessel for you and your husband who are the only people in the house. Her calculation of cooking for two people is screwed up so bad, that if you are not careful you could fall into that sambar bowl and drown.

The Drama Queen: These are usually financially reasonable helps. They have working husbands, sons, have own house with TV and gas connection. They are basically well to do and hardworking. However they are constantly threatened by this very fact that they feel the need to constantly keep lamenting about how long her children had been starving, and how in ages she has not draped a new saree.  Occasionally the drama gets so intense that crocodile tears are wiped with the pallu of her saree and you look like a complete moron who is making a dying woman work for you.

The One with External Affairs: This one is extremely busy. Her phone never stops ringing and hush-hush sweet talk and sound of kisses floating into the phone is audible even to the people in the next room. But like someone said, love is blind and deaf. You can even hear her fixing appointments with people over weekends. Oh and by the way she is married.

Pati, Patni Aur Woh: This one has her entire life in an open book, which is closed only to her husband. The book that is her life is so wide open, that the first day she joins she pretends to have known you since birth and talks about your husband and children with total freedom. She makes inappropriate comments about everyone and gets away unscathed because the house is dirty and you need her. Then she tells you about her sex life, impotent husband and her fear of getting pregnant due to… too many male ‘friends’ you see. She even had thought of an excuse to say if she ever got pregnant and gets questioned by the impotent dude. And that was ‘Congrats! You are not impotent! This is a miracle in the history of medical science!’

Have you had such rare specimens mopping around your house under the pretense of being domestic helps? If you do, please share it in the comments section! :D

 Image Courtesy: Google Images.