Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My best friend's delusions!


The fact that I am unable to hide the excitement of going home in December on a month long vacation is no news to my neighbors or the housemaid. I discussed this over and over again whenever they innocently asked me ‘What’s up?’ that now they want to get rid of me and wishes that I never came back. But who cares?  I am celebrating New Year at home..yoohoo!

I remember the days at my college hostel when I used to be slightly superstitious. Slightly. I mean not so bad enough to believe what they say about the black cat. For one, it was something about vacation planning and getting excited. My best friend always told me never to plan a vacation or a function way ahead and get too excited about it. If I did, it was most likely to end in disappointment. Initially I thought it was a joke, but she threatened me with it by her soft voice and big eyes that I believed it instantly. 
Atleast when she was around ;-)

Almost a year after graduation, I remember her verbal marriage invitation as soon as the dates were known to her. During the same call, she also banned any further discussions about it. Because the last thing she wanted was to miss me on her big day. Many times I started conversations with…’hey that hopeless tailor may mess up my blouse for your wedding…’ or sometimes ‘ my damn sandals broke…what will I wear on…”and she stopped me at that point and told me to shut the hell up. In anger, she also added that she dint care what I wore. Well I was pretty sure about that, you know.

I was a fresher who landed my first job and was at least eight months into it when her marriage was announced. A week after she announced her wedding dates, my boss called me and certain others to his cabin and discussed about an onsite assignment, which was to be at the client office in Mumbai. He said he will let us know the dates later. I went back to my seat only to churn out intelligent excuses to get out of this project. Then a brilliant idea struck me, one which most male bosses are known to comply. I made mental notes, prepared further believable lies and scripted an entire drama to perform at the boss’s cabin the next time he calls me to discuss the project.

Two days later, he called four of us again. In these two days, I was so thorough and confident about the excuse I was about to say, that I almost started believing my own lie. So we marched into the cabin, got seated and listened through the blue print and other technical stuff. Well to be honest I wasn’t listening because I am not going, no? I smirked at the three other excuse-retarded poor fellows who were going to Mumbai and toil at the client site. Then the boss stood up and gave us a verbal itinerary which had the earth shattering dates- we were to fly on the 16th of May at 6:00 am, and it was the day of my best friend’s wedding.

Well my excuse could not be expressed when the other three project mates were present because of reasons pertaining to my ego and self-respect. I waited for them to leave the cabin. When the door closed behind me, the boss looked up and asked, ‘Yes?’

I continued. “Sir.. I have few problems back home due to which I am afraid I won’t be able to travel on the specified project dates”

The boss who was expected to be surprised and taken aback (according to my imaginary script), leaned back on his plush chair and asked, ‘May I know if it is not personal?’

I continued my robotic well-tailored speech. “Sir, actually my parents are growing old and they are searching a suitable alliance for me. In fact a guy is coming from Pune to meet me on the same day”

Boss was amused at this. He asked, "oh so is he coming on the 16th?"

"No Sir, on the 18th"

Long pause.

It was the time for me to use all my grey cells. I had prepared only so much, because as per the script, the boss then chose another candidate and excused me from the project and wished me a blissful wedded life.

The boss continued in a deeper voice, “Okay may be I can convince your parents to call that guy and tell him to come 4 weeks later. What is your landline number?” and picked up the receiver. 
I sweated down my shirt. My hands shivered like that of a chronic alcoholic. I stammered a lot to finally come up with, “Sir, my parents are at work now, I will ask them this, Thank you very much sir”

I got the hell out of the cabin before he asked their work numbers. When I closed the door behind me, I couldn’t feel my legs anymore and almost heard the boss banging his head in laughter.

However that was when the actual problem began to unravel itself.  I couldn’t possibly show up at the wedding which mattered more than anything else. The blouse was also being stitched for no apparent reason. I did not dare to call my bestie and break this news. I spent the next few days in a pensive mood. I am now guessing that could be when my parents actually realized that they should start the groom hunting for me, because I appeared heartbroken most of the time. Well little did they know that I had second thoughts about the design of the blouse I gave the tailor.

 Days passed and the wedding came closer. I had still not broken the news to her that I will not be there. It was just a week to go and I had my project documents and other stuff in place. I dint call her, even though she called me several times in the day and disclosed some stuff her fiancée said and we giggled.

The countdown came closer and there were just three days to go. I was at office, attending meetings back to back. I couldn’t bring myself to reality. Suddenly the boss walked in, and announced:

“Guys, slight change of plans. You will be travelling on the 20th and not on 16th. Tickets will be issued shortly”

I was numb by happiness for some time. However I stayed nonchalant, as expressing happiness will give the boss a different picture considering the excuse I said.

Finally I attended THE marriage, and we had the time of our lives. I flew to Mumbai three days later. The colleagues on the adjacent seats briefed me about the project during the flight, since I wasn’t mentally present over the week.


Coming to think of it, everything was co incidental. What difference would it have made if I , as opposed to the superstition, got too excited and made plans about the wedding? I may have called her every single day to discuss that. Oh and a disastrous phone bill. May be that’s what she meant by disappointment.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Men will be men will be men !


Recently hubby and I received a gift voucher each as a token of appreciation on the success of an endeavor at office. It was quite a reasonable amount, and since the firm we work for is a leading retailer, the voucher could be used at any of our own outlets, which included department stores as well as sophisticated lifestyle stores. The Lifestyle outlet featured brands like Swarovski, Chanel, Nikon, Fizzler, Samsonite, Moulinex, and the like. On receipt of the voucher, I started weaving dreams.


Do I want Chanel eye liner or a handbag? Handbag –no. I don’t carry them to office, as I use a laptop  backpack. Over the weekend I have a toddler to carry or run around so the handbag will not be of much use. Most importantly the handbag will stay in the car and I will not get a chance to show it off. However the eye liner can be used on all the above scenarios as well. Okay so Chanel eye liner it is. It would be great if I could carry the eyeliner in a Chanel handbag…...but let’s get real. Oh my God, I cant wait to go to my friends in India and start the cheap show offs.

 Hubby interrupted my day dreams, held his voucher and said ‘Wow so the company is paying for Aaron’s pampers this month! hahaha’.

I jumped up in horror. ‘What?! Pampers ?’

‘Then what’? Asked he.

My dreams about the Chanel eyeliner shook vigorously but refused to shatter. It still stood a chance. I shook my head hiding the horror of buying diapers with that voucher and dint spill my ideas immediately -Four years of marriage and seven years of knowing him gave me an idea about what to say and when ;-). So we forgot about the vouchers until we were reminded again by some colleagues that it came with an expiry date. We ditched the Lifestyle store which had the Swarovski and Chanel, and headed straight to the department store, from where we got gifts for family and friends for Christmas and also the pampers. We spent much more than what the voucher was worth, but the vouchers covered up a major portion of the disaster of Christmas expenditure.

 At the cash counter, I told him how I had planned to buy Chanel eyeliner earlier but it felt a lot better this way.

On our way back, hubby was amused at my Chanel idea and said…

 ‘This time we can be extra lavish about pampers …hahaha..If I had not intervened you’d have gone to lifestyle and got that…  ‘

Pause.

‘Got that….Chanel…. ‘

‘Umm…’

‘Chanel…’

‘Eye… whats that… eye-opener?’

:-\

Monday, November 5, 2012

We, the Laptop Generation.


To be perfectly honest, I have a problem with the  previous generation who claim that with technology which advanced in leaps and bounds over the last two decades, everything has suddenly become easy for the new age woman. They may have rolled the rocks manually for grinding and blending, or washed those heap of clothes bare handed, but do they remember the members of the extended family who tended to their kids while they were doing the above? Parents of today and their efforts to make ends meet and at the same time bringing up children are overlooked and underestimated under the pretext of owning mixers and grinders at home.

If you take into consideration our grandparents, the minimum number of offspring they had was four. That is the minimum, I mean, bare minimum. The rule was you should have enough children that when someone asks, you have a decent number to quote.Double digits were considered to be an excellent feat. And, they enjoyed the fruits of grudging and gossiping in a joint family because the cooking, child rearing and household chores were shared. And yes, only the single breadwinner went out of the house, the rest stayed at home, with only a radio for entertainment. The other forms of entertainment were cold wars, unpleasant judgments, sleazy potshots, pretensions, boasting, saas-bahu sagas and other epical showdowns. Gone are the days.



Next came my Mummy’s generation, wherein the general trend of their parents coming down to take care of the kids (mostly two and sometimes three, but not more) was followed extensively. Maternal or paternal grandparents of the baby came down and cared for them, when our Moms went to work with the peaceful assurance that their children were taken care of by blood relatives and that no harm can come to them. This service was a wholesome package with FREE finger pointing, saas bahu confrontations, accusations about working women and the like.

Things changed suddenly. Now the families are nuclear. The term ‘nuclear’ can also hold true considering the state of affairs at home or the mood of the couple. A husband and wife set up home continents apart from their parents, and have children of their own. Without parents or kind relatives around, the wife either has to let go of her career or be stretched between home and work consistently under anxiety about the baby who is being looked after by a stranger at a daycare or at home. Not to mention the cooking and cleaning that awaits us at the end of the day, with a child weeping at our feet and a hot pot in our hands. It definitely helps if the husband understands, and even if the chores are shared, it doesn't seem to get any lesser. A friend says that her husband prepares bed coffee for her, and as we sighed in admiration of that guy, she continued to reveal that he uses at least 20 vessels for the same and the sink is full after two cups of coffee are made.

The tricky part is when there is a baby, or a toddler. In today’s world where one rarely gets any good feedback about nanny’s or daycare  and horrific news of child abuse fills the news channels, a parent simply cannot be at ease at any point of time. Come vacation, we fly to our hometowns and all we get to hear are questions about when the ‘next baby’ will come, yes, shamelessly, or about how the existing one is unhealthy as per their standards (which are usually mental images of those bloated kids from cerelac ads) and unfriendly statements that we are starving them. The hours we spend at the child’s high chair at meal times, staring relentlessly at his mouth and sighing after every handful is swallowed are just myths for them. All they know and choose to believe is that we, the laptop generation spend our days happily in air conditioned rooms and evenings at malls or bowling alleys. No, that’s not how it works.


Parenthood has become the most difficult one in today’s times. Children are being exposed to what they should not, at a very tender age through TV and internet, so handling them emotionally is not an unassuming task. From my own experience where my 17 month old is being taken care at home by a housemaid, it breaks my heart every time I wave him goodbye, and the elevator closes its doors dutifully as he looks on, teary eyed, and both hands calling out to me to come back. I wave him back, and cried during the initial days, but the tears dried up with time. I understood that I should not spoil him. Soon he will join a nursery, and it is painful to think that he is not at home anymore. But I have only myself to console and reassure. I get the wildest thoughts about him missing me and crying, or being bullied by other kids. Then I go through the nursery’s website and read the positive feedback they got from various insecure parents like me. Then the fire of anguish extinguishes partly, but remains dormant only to be ignited again in the next vulnerable moment. As a mother, I can tell you that it takes a lot of guts, patience and strength from within to endure the pain of leaving the child at someone’s care.

It is going to be a passing phase. It passes, but the phase doesn't get any easier with that line. But life is all about these little moments. The moments we realize how a child can be a part of ourselves and how they control our hearts and eventually our lives. That a child is God’s gift and parenting them is a divine task we are entrusted with, and that we need to endure the highs and lows that comes with it.