Dame Wash-a-lot

I am in a deeply introspective mood. Economics has no explanation, common sense has no explanation. Continuum and chaos are the only probable explanations. Here is my problem.
For a family of three, we wash a lot.
“So?”, you ask.
By wash a lot I mean this. If I were to use a laundromat (the ones where you tip in the quarters for a wash, for those not in the USA), I couldn’t afford it. The financial strain would begin to show. We have a washing machine that groans when it hears approaching footsteps. “Not again!” I can hear it say. In fact, when I was once in an advanced state of delirium and woke up in the middle of the night to transfer the clothes from the washer to the dryer, I almost saw the dryer’s pitiable eyes, with tears flowing freely.

For the ones who live in countries with advanced washing machines, don’t smirk! I know the USA is missing out on the automatic, semi-automatic, washer-cum-dryer models etc, but President Obama has promised me he will be taking steps to correct the issue in the future by investing more in education (especially Science). So, I remain with the optimism that very soon I will not have to take the midnight trudge down to the washing machine to transfer clothes to the dryer.

Oh…it is true that sometimes I can’t find a spot for the folded clothes and dump them in the wash basket again. Some orphaned sock lands up there too, till I finally trash the loner. But these can’t account for that many!

With that level of washing, our clothes should be impeccable. Guess what, they sometimes are. Sometimes, I see my white and grey T-shirt with cute specks of crimson that undeniably came from the sweater in the load. I can recognize the “white” banians (vests and briefs!) from a mile away. They are the ones that have all been experimented to an artists palette down by the wash. I remedy the situation readily by repeatedly washing them again and again, so the crimson speckels barely show, while the bright clothes … well, lose their colour and look dull! I’ve tried sorting the whites with little improvement to show, and have quickly gone back to the old ways after an unsuccessful rehab exercise.

Now for the vessels! I enjoy cooking, I don’t deny it. I am also known for reusing vessels while cooking. Yet, everyday I find a full load of dishwashing. So, for one whole day, I made the family eat out. (Not that it required persuasion of any kind!) I refused to dirty my kitchen. Guess what, I had a dishwasher load in spite of that – glasses and bowls from god-knows-where after eating god-knows-what?

So, I give up! I surrender. I shall rename myself Dame Wash-a-lot like the character in Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series and spend the next few decades washing and humming a dhobin’s tune.

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Teenage begins!

He was named after Gautama Buddha – Siddarth. Yes, without the ‘h’ after the ‘d’ for those who ask, and believe me a lot of people asked! It’s funny how many people had to point it out, as though we had made a spelling mistake. He is nothing like Buddha – in fact he has every characteristic but tranquillity. Yet, he has provided our family with entertainment of every sort. He could be the court jester, the clown, the one who knows exactly what would get his mother and father wound up like a clock.

I remember the phone call. 13 years ago, I got up as usual in my hostel room wondering whether today would be the day. It was. In a few minutes after my daily duties, I received the call that changed my life positively forever, my nephew was born. He was also the first grandchild of our family. I left for home that very afternoon and arrived short of breath at a hospital 4 hours away. After a blurry conv with the elated father, grandfather, hugs etc, I held the most beautiful baby in my life.

“Hold the neck!” screeched a voice
“Isn’t he beautiful?” asked another
“Who does he look like?” demanded another. It was cacaphony, and then I realised I hadn’t congratulated the woman who’d made it through it all, and my sister looked elated and tired at the same time.

From then on, people have often wondered why is it I would throw every holiday to be with my nephew – the first one to call me “Chitthi”. I neglected college trips with class, turned askance at group trips to some place. Every conceivable holiday, I spent with the little fellow. I watched him grow into a boy and as he steps into teenage, I wait with bated breath to see how he would progress into manhood from boyhood.

Enjoy your teen years Siddu.

Go Penguins!

We had to go to Antartica. We couldn’t.

We should have been wearing thick jackets with woollen leggings, gloves, tracks and snow shoes bearing down with an amazing sense of purpose against the cold Southern winds. We should have been huddling together and drawing comfort from numbers just like the Penguins do down in Antartica. The Aurora Australis forming a beautiful back-drop against the chill night.

We had to go to Australia. We couldn’t.

We should have been yearning to splash some water over ourselves and licking ice-cubes while the unbearable heat of the desert seeped in through every conceivable pore, while Kangaroo gazing in the deserts of Australia.

Penguins and Kangaroos are the little ones favourite animals by far, and the journey to Antarctica and Australia proving cumbersome, we took the next best option and went to San Diego. That meant, escaping the cold of San Francisco, and basking in the warmth of San Diego.
Numerous trips into the Penguin encounter later, we held up for parental authority and firmly held that we will undertake no more trips into the dashed building again, only to be carted off to a ‘Pets Rule’ show!

I loved Sea World. I did enjoy the warm San Diego weather and the hospitality of an old friend.
It was fascinating to note that the high temperatures in both San(Jose and Diego) were the same while the fluctuation between high and low temperatures was what caused the teeth typing in San Jose.

The Thali

A Punjabi Pehalwan (body builder) and a South Indian lady meet. For the purposes of this story, let us assume that this is the first time the lady has stirred out of her village and is still taking in the sights of a town while waiting for a bus. Educated at her village school, she speaks English.

The occasion being Nombu, the lady initiates the conversation. Nombu is the festival on which one is supposed to petition the Gods for longevity of their husbands. In fact, the exact verse is

“Urugaadha vennaiyum oru adai-yum nookarean
Or naalum yen kanavan piriyaamal irukkanum”

Loosely translated, it means:
I’ll give you butter and some stuff to eat
Make sure my husband doesn’t leave me ever.

Seems like bargaining to me, but that’s the whole verse.

Anyway, the South Indian lady (S I L ) starts off by saying

S I L: Thali is my life. I will do anything for the thali (Thali is akin to the wedding ring/mangal sutra in South India)

Pehalwan (P): Yes…yes. Me too. I cannot live without thali you know (The pehelwan is of course referring to the food thali – meaning plate of food. In restaurant parlance, the thali is now synonymous with a wholesome meal comprising roti, rice, side dishes and dessert)

S I L sounding surprised: Really? You too have a thali? (Only the married woman wears the thali, men have no means of showing themselves married)

Pehelwan: What do you mean? You too have a thali? I am telling you, I cannot live without a thali!

S I L: Hmm…Interesting

Pehelwan: How many thalis can you have? *stroking his expansive belly*

S I L: What nonsense is this? How many thalis can you have! * ‘Abhachaaram abhachaaram‘ she mutters to herself meaning ‘Blasphemy!”

Pehelwan wondering why such an innocent question should cause so much grief to an individual: What is wrong with my question? Women – pah! I can have 4 thalis at one shot do you know? *flexing his muscles *
Pehelwan continues: I am feeling hungry now – how about having a thali together? There is a temple nearby somewhere. Look for it, there is a restaurant nearby I believe.

The South Indian lady flees before things take a nasty turn and chastises herself for even talking to another man. She finds her husband, and immediately falls at his feet and takes the thali out of her saree and dabs it reverently, while the husband looks on bewildered!

Rant over but ache continues…

Every so often I come across individuals who have been given the finest opportunities life can afford, yet behave like frogs stuck in a well. Education has no impact on them, interacting with diverse cultures and personalities has no impact on them. In short, with the best kind of exposure, they rigidly stick to their prejudices.

A jarring news item that came to my notice today.
http://www.hindu.com/2009/03/14/stories/2009031454830100.htm
Appalling as this sounds, the news item goes on to say that a 28 year old software engineer in Bangalore threw his 4-day old daughter in a well because he “did not want to have children”! A number of questions arise:

1) Why did he indulge in the act of procreation without protection if he felt this strongly about not wanting children? Surely, a 28 year software engineer in Bangalore has heard of birth control! It does say that he tried to convince his wife to abort, but she refused, and they seem to have gone on after that.
2) Why was a post-graduate education wasted on this individual? Clearly, education has done nothing to educate him on moral grounds or otherwise.

Everytime I come across something like this, my heart aches. An innocent life that so many people yearn to have in their lives, wasted in a moment’s rash behaviour.

Rant over, but ache continues….

The Perfect Envelope

The mind cannot concentrate while that obtrusive thing is there. It doesn’t really occupy much space, but when it is there, you cannot concentrate on what you are doing, till you have made the darn thing disappear!

If you’ve used Outlook with the new mail notification envelope set to to ‘On’, you know exactly what I am talking about. The tiny envelope can permeate your most deep thoughts and make you zone out of them in a jiffy! I have tried turning the notification off, only to have some harried person sneak up to me behind my back and bellow – “DID YOU SEE MY EMAIL?!” After jumping a good foot in the air, I then sheepishly acknowledge that I turned the notification off, because it was disturbing me.

Then, I realise, it is better to be interrupted with the yellow envelope than with an actual 6 foot tall person hovering over me literally. I am always seated while the person is standing. The craned neck gulps involuntarily, and it may be construed as a sign of weakness in case there were email wars being waged, with tiny words as swords on the battlefield of an email template.

I found that constructing complex rules and moving them to a different folder helps – the notification does not appear, but people always seem to find a way around my rules. I would say: If sender personality like ‘bullfrog’ and mail subject is unsavoury and if contents not terribly important to saving world then move to ‘Folder I might get to later on’.

Invariably bull-frogs break the system: they alias themselves to be vermin, or spice up the subject to make it sound like it needs reading and end up popping up in my icon area anyway.

I suppose it would be nice to sit and read automated notifications every minute if one had nothing to do. But given few of us have such luxuries, I spend hour upon endless hour cursing the relentless interruption, and admiring the perfect envelope icon!

The Perfect Envelope

The mind cannot concentrate while that obtrusive thing is there. It doesn’t really occupy much space, but when it is there, you cannot concentrate on what you are doing, till you have made the darn thing disappear!

If you’ve used Outlook with the new mail notification envelope set to to ‘On’, you know exactly what I am talking about. The tiny envelope can permeate your most deep thoughts and make you zone out of them in a jiffy! I have tried turning the notification off, only to have some harried person sneak up to me behind my back and bellow – “DID YOU SEE MY EMAIL?!” After jumping a good foot in the air, I then sheepishly acknowledge that I turned the notification off, because it was disturbing me.

Then, I realise, it is better to be interrupted with the yellow envelope than with an actual 6 foot tall person hovering over me literally. I am always seated while the person is standing. The craned neck gulps involuntarily, and it may be construed as a sign of weakness in case there were email wars being waged, with tiny words as swords on the battlefield of an email template.

I found that constructing complex rules and moving them to a different folder helps – the notification does not appear, but people always seem to find a way around my rules. I would say: If sender personality like ‘bullfrog’ and mail subject is unsavoury and if contents not terribly important to saving world then move to ‘Folder I might get to later on’.

Invariably bull-frogs break the system: they alias themselves to be vermin, or spice up the subject to make it sound like it needs reading and end up popping up in my icon area anyway.

I suppose it would be nice to sit and read automated notifications every minute if one had nothing to do. But given few of us have such luxuries, I spend hour upon endless hour cursing the relentless interruption, and admiring the perfect envelope icon!