Category: Ramblings

The elevator hates me

The elevator hates me

*I solemnly swear that all instances quoted in the piece below are absolutely true. No really, it’s all true.*

N was down with loose motions and I was just back from the medical store. I stood in the lower basement waiting with my thoughts on my girl hoping she’d have been fine in my absence and wishing the elevator would hurry along.

When the elevator didn’t arrive for a while, I realised one was stuck on floor 6 while the other was on floor 11. I pushed the button again, not that it was required or made any difference, but finally, the one on 6 moved, I relaxed. It reached the ground floor and stopped. ‘Really?’ thought I, ‘today of all days?’ I willed it to come down.

It didn’t.

After a long lazy pause the one on the 11th floor began to creak its way down. It reached the ground floor and then .. yeah, it stopped too. I was almost stamping my feet in frustration and heading towards the stairs when it moved again and finally reached me.

That’s just one instant when the elevator has acted weirdly with me.
It hates me!

There I said.

This sounds like the rambling of a batty old woman but it’s true. I know it because this isn’t the first time something crazy like this has happened.

The first germ of suspicion was planted in my mind way back during my working days in Mumbai when on an official trip to the Stock Exchange one day the elevator went part way and came to a stand still. That, on a 20-something floor.

It stood there, a smirk on its face, (or so it seemed to me), enjoying my mounting panic. Mercifully a colleague was with me and we sounded the alarm. After much hoohaa the doors were prised open and we found ourselves stuck between two floors – too high to climb up, too low to jump down. It really seems easy in films. In real life, however, you either need to be the really sporty kind or have a spiderman boyfriend to bail you out. Since I am/had neither, a tall stool was positioned so we could step down to freedom.

Then recently, as I stepped into the elevator I saw a lady rushing towards it. Even before she motioned to me to keep it waiting for her I was reaching out for the ‘keep door open’ button. I threw her a reassuring smile to say that I was holding it for her. However, the elevator had other plans. Slowly, inexorably it started to shut. No matter how hard I jabbed at the button the doors continued on. I tried to wedge my foot but the otherwise all too sensitive sensors pretended not to sense it at all. Knowing my history with elevators, I had a feeling it would squash my foot with a wicked happy happiness and so I pulled back, and just in time too. Then, right before my horrified eyes (and the lady’s very very annoyed eyes) the lift shut with a gentle malicious click.

I imagined what it would have seemed to the lady – That I smiled at her and then shut the elevator in her face. What kind of a mean person would do that?

She now refuses to acknowledge me when she bumps into me and my hopes of making friends in this new place have died a silent death.

That’s not all. Each time I’m in a hurry I’ll be sure to find both elevators stuck on the floor furthest from me. And when I try to summon them, I can almost hear them arguing.

‘You go’

‘No you go’

‘I went last time’

‘So what you were just a floor away’

‘I don’t care. It’s your turn.’

… and so on. Quite like H and N when I call them for a chore.

If I hesitate for a moment, or stop to pick up my bag or pause to smile at someone, it tries to squish me. Once it carried away my stole, carried it right away in its evil jaws, even as I barely managed to save myself.

I’ve now taken to dashing in and diving out without giving it a chance to mess with me. Of course that means I sometimes knock over unsuspecting people. And then no matter how much I apologise and try to explain this strange vengeance, I come out looking stupid. All the while I can see the elevator laughing its mean laugh and if I as much as turn to give it a nasty look in return, I further damage my credibility.

What? Did I hear you say the elevator is an inanimate object and cannot have feelings? Hah! You, dear sir, have no idea!

I’m not crazy, okay?

Random ramblings about leftover rotis

Random ramblings about leftover rotis

The other day about half an hour after dinner H said, ‘I am hungry. Can I have a roti?’ The only emotion I felt at that question was annoyance.

It had been barely five minutes since I’d wiped down and cleared up the kitchen and the last thing I wanted to do was to pull out the entire roti-making paraphernalia and roll out one for him.

It’s another matter that I also dislike the idea of him eating anything half an hour after a meal only because he was in too much of a hurry to get back to whatever he was doing while having lunch.

Of course I can make a few spare ones but the thing is I hate/dread left over chapatis. I have no idea what to do with them. Oh I do have an idea, many ideas, actually, but most of them require either too much effort or some form of deep frying – both of which I am averse to.

Re-heating doesn’t make them palatable and the maid doesn’t want any. Cows and stray dogs are not so common around here, even if I could gather the courage to seek them out to feed them. And I do hate throwing food in the bin. So I’m pretty stuck, unless I resign myself to eating stale chapatis.

How did the past generations manage.. 

…I sometimes wonder – my grandmom and my mom. The number of people who would be around for lunch or dinner was often fluid. People would flow in and out all the time. Very often whoever visited at lunch/dinner time was asked to join in. And Boy! did they have appetites!

What’s worse, one could never ever, repeat, never ever, ask people how many chapatis they would eat. It would have set tongues wagging and become the worse kind of family folklore in the entire extended community as the epitome of bad manners. I can clearly imagine the whispers, ‘So and so asked so and so how many rotis will you eat.’ Yup, it would been quite the scandal. The person who had been thus humiliated would probably severe all relations with the family of that insolent woman.

In any case counting wouldn’t have really been required back then because rotis were supposed to be made and served hot and fluffy, as and when various members sat down to eat.

A story goes..

..that when my maternal grandfather (my mom’s uncle) would sit to eat and my mom, not really famous for her patience, would ask him how many more chapatis she should make for him, he would shake his head and reply with a rather vague and completely non-committal, ‘I’m eating.’

She had little patience with this tiresome tradition but was fortunate in that the trickle of random guests had all but died down by the time her generation took over. It was only occasionally that she had to chip in. I have to add here that this is her own uncle we’re talking about or else she wouldn’t have dared to voice that question. Also, my mom has been quite the revolutionary. She broke many traditions, which worked really well for us, easing the way ahead.

That brings me back to my quandary

As the children are growing, specially H, their appetites vary from day to day. Sudden growth spurts make them sometimes more sometimes less hungry from one day to the next. And so either I’m stuck with stale rotis or I don’t have enough.

After thought: I’m seriously considering adopting a stray.

Home

Home

Last November I went home on a short trip for my college reunion. It was the first time I was there without the children and it felt strange, too quiet. One morning I took my cup of tea to the swing on our terrace.

It was a cool morning and the sun felt good on my face. The tea was hot, with a hint of ginger, a little sweeter than necessary, just the way I liked it. Multihued bougainvillea bloomed cheerily in large planters at the far end of the terrace. The freshly watered plants gave off a delicious petrichor.

This wasn’t the house I grew up in. My parents shifted from our University home to this, their own bungalow, about a decade ago, when they both retired. And yet how easily I called it home. The children of course had known no other. This was their nani’s house. Each summer when we went to visit, they marked the room on the terrace  as their territory, forbidding anyone to go there in their absence. Such was the sense of belonging. But me? I moved out long ago. I don’t have many memories in this house, there’s no history.

How has this house, where I spend just a few days each year, come to mean ‘home’?

Perhaps it is because of the sounds of the city that seep in uninvited – the North Indian lilt in the call of the vegetable vendor on the road outside or the maids exchanging gossip and greetings in a familiar language before they rushed off to their chores.

Perhaps it is the flowers that bloom in profusion no matter where my parents live. From our first home in the old city where together they sifted mud and gravel, adding just the right amount of sand to coax out the largest roses, to the carpet grass in our second home that they lovingly tended spending long hours with gardeners discussing which seasonals should go where, to these gorgeous Bougainvillea here on the terrace, we’ve always had flowers.

Perhaps it is the odd pieces of furniture that have survived the moves, like this swing that I sit on, each creak familiar, each squeak telling a story, every languid move bringing with it a memory of long hours lounging on it mugging up for a Geology exam or solving Math equations.

Or perhaps it is simply the sense of space that ‘home’ has always had, the sense that I can never quite get in my flat, no matter how large it is. I go around opening doors and windows somedays when I get claustrophobic, in the vain attempt to make it feel larger. I get nowhere, perhaps because the feeling is only in my head.

Or perhaps it is the comforting presence of my parents as they sit talking, bickering vigorously about everything from why he shouldn’t travel so much to why she shouldn’t stay so long on Facebook.

Perhaps it is all of that.

Perhaps home is not a physical place after all but a feeling, a feeling that I belong.

 

Jumbled mythological ramblings

Jumbled mythological ramblings


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The maid was on leave. I was dusting, sweeping and mopping while trying to keep an eye on the children studying for their geography exam. I glanced at the two of them. N was bent over her book while H lay sprawled on the floor, writing.

‘What are you doing?’ I asked him.
‘I’m making a soil chart – alluvial, black, red, laterite,….’

I tuned out rushing to switch off the tap as water overflowed from the mop bucket.

‘…… loamy, clayey’, the tail end of what he was saying brought me back to their massive Geography portion. I glanced at N struggling through the jungle of vegetations and soils and I remarked rather absentmindedly, ‘Whatever it is, share it with N after you finish, okay?’

And BAM! Right there I knew how Kunti got Draupadi in the five-husband mess. When Arjun won her (Draupadi) in a Swayamvar and entered the house saying, ‘Ma look what I got!’ her obvious response was, ‘Whatever it is share it with your brothers’. And so Draupadi landed up with five husbands.

I have always felt truly sorry for that poor woman, and I mean Kunti. Imagine having three boys and then a pair of twins; boys again! What’s worse, she lived in a joint family with her sons and their one hundred cousins, all boys again. I feel faint each time I think of that much testosterone packed under a single roof. Oh and her sister-in-law would have been little help with eyes permanently blindfolded.

You see now how her patience must have been tried? That sharing line was the most natural thing for her to say.

The thought of the brothers squabbling over whatever Arjun had brought must have freaked her out even before she knew what it was. And she said the obvious pre-emptive thing any mom with multiple children would say, ‘Share it’. Thank goodness they were in exile and the cousins weren’t around. Small mercies.

It’s been twelve whole years – take a few months off for when the twins were infants – but since then, with every living breath of mine I’ve been trying to teach them to SHARE and they still don’t get it. It has been one of my most epic fails as a parent. And yet I persevere, reminding them to share share share till it has become a reflex, I say it without thinking.

Just like Kunti.

H goes to a birthday party and comes home with cupcakes – share it, I say.
N wins a goody bag at a school contest – share it, I tell her.
Her friend gives her a chocolate – give half to your brother, I tell her.
He wheedles a computer game from us – okay we say, but share it with N.

I can completely imagine being absentminded enough to say the exact same thing as I work at my laptop.

Am I being fair? Perhaps not. Definitely not in the kids’ minds. After all, as N tells me, ‘When I win something it is mine alone, and it should be my decision to share or not’.

Right? I’m sure Draupadi would agree and Arjun too.

However, as a mom there comes a point in one’s life when all one wants is peace at any cost and fairness be damned.

I have to add that all said and done, this new age funda of I-for-myself doesn’t quite gel. It’s more than just about keeping the peace – I do genuinely prefer the old Indian way of sharing – sharing willingly and with love. And till the kids get that, they can whine and complain but share they shall.

 

 

Note to self: When your child says, ‘Look what I’ve got’ – check what the ‘what’ is before asking him/her to share.

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Unfinished #BookReview

Unfinished #BookReview

Priyanka, with her grit and her determination, as also her ability to stand up to all kinds of trolling and bullying, has always been inspirational. Everything about her seems to spell, ‘Say what you will, I’ll do my own thing’. To me, that’s the greatest kind of freedom anyone can ever aspire for. And that’s what prompted me to pick up her biography.