Future of Mankind: Sifrhippus or Wall-E routes?

The hedgehogs in the area are confused. They came out thinking it is Spring (apparently, hedgehogs peep out of their hibernating homes and if they see their shadow, they think it is time to get up and get busy for the Spring),and then a few days later, the skies clouded over again looking very much like Winter, and hiding the hedgehogs shadow. Just when they found their blankets and decided to snuggle up again, they found their shadows again. Quite trying for hedgehogs frankly. I don’t know what I would have done if I were one. Point is, no matter what the climate is like, one can always push out a study on Global warming to an audience waiting to lap it up. If it is cold, you say,’See this is a result of global warming. The extremities in temperature.’ Then dramatically shake your head.

Another sure shot research topic is Obesity. Watching Wall-E always fills me with an unnamed fear. What with obesity rising and our inherent entertainment choices becoming sedentary, there seems little we can do to avoid the inevitable. But there is this news item that had me soothe my frayed nerves somewhat.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/science/sifrhippus-the-first-horse-got-even-tinier-as-the-planet-heated-up.html

Apparently, the Sifrhippus horse was a hulk (compared to what it is now I mean). But as a result of Global Warming, the horse has grown tinier over centuries. On the other hand, horses ran around then and horses run around now. I mean rarely does one find a Sifrhippus strapped up to his X-box and throwing his mane about involved in the game.

If a sifr had to run a mile for fodder then, he runs a mile for fodder now. So, his reduced bulk could be related to Global Warming.

Man, on the other hand, if he had to hunt a day for filling half his stomach then, he has to click a button for half a second now before it is delivered at his doorstep. For further explanation, I see a half-witted diagram is in order.

Do you think these two effects would balance each other out for a while.

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Edible Love

It is Tucky’s first Valentine’s Day. Apparently, it is a big deal. The daughter has been making him cards and more cards to honor the occasion. She wanted to be the first person to give him a Valentine’s Day card. So, she started a week ago. Tucky was beside himself with glee. He jumped at the card, blushed hard, giggled through his gums and ate it up. Literally. He took the card and used his stubby arms and drooled a liter of A-grade saliva onto it and within minutes, he had a soggy mish mash and a dour expression on his face.

When people make Valentine cards for their loved ones, they probably expect slightly better treatment and there might have been a moment of displeasure. I swooped in and tried to keep things light by telling her that next time she might try a tastier card for him, and the daughter guffawed.

Today, the poor girl gave him a ‘Glow in the dark’ card. That was met with the same enthusiasm and if possible, even wetter treatment than before. She, however was not in a mood to let little things like luminous infant bellies trouble her and laughed some more at his spirited performance of ‘Eat the Card’.

We are waiting for tonight to see if his stomach will glow.

Happy Valentines Day to all of you. May love, health and laughter fill your lives.

The Waiter’s Opinion of Me

We’d gone out to dinner. Alone. Together I mean. What I mean is we went together but sans the remaining brood. So, we spent time actually looking at the menu and wondering aloud where the past decade had flown by. It was the occasion of our tenth wedding anniversary. With the latest addition to the nest, our dinner conversations at restaurants resemble rhinos hobnobbing with flying monkeys. Some heavy lifting; snorts and sighs evenly distributed and atleast one flying object caught deftly by the super bowler of the Roadside Cricket League of Chennai followed by a heavy tip.

Consequently, the dinner alone felt like a movie in slow motion. There we were sitting with both buttocks firmly on chairs. I mean this quite seriously, but it has been months since I sat firmly at a restaurant chair. The waiter came in and handed us a bowl of bread and we started nibbling. Pretty soon, we had chatted our way through almost the whole bowl.

The waiter came on again, adjusted his bulging tummy and performed the daily specials with ado. He let the chicken roll on his tongue and he caught the slippery oysters and bathed them in tomato sauce. But of course, we being vegetarians, we enjoyed the performance and then told the old blighter that while we admire his recitation, what we want is the baked oyster creole de-lol sans the oyster.
I could feel him frost inside. I mean maitre d’s don’t spend their afternoons rehearsing the virtues of the creme boulignon de salmon and the oyster creme de la creme or whatever it was to be patted on their backs for learning the tough menu.

“Is cheese alright?” asked he, in a Frosty-the-snowman-ish voice.
Yes” said the husband
No” said the wife.

Did I mention it was our tenth anniversary dinner?

We do not spar in front of menu reciting waiters and we rounded on each other the moment his back was turned. “Why the cheese?” “Why not the cheese?”

“Poor fellow – did you hear his spirited recitation of the specials? The least we can do is say yes to the cheese!” says the man of my heart. The logic frazzled me and ate the last piece of bread in the bowl, which the fat waiter caught me doing. I could feel him thinking – They sure don’t look it, but do they eat a lot?

A soup went in just as glibly and going by the size of the soup bowl applied some old fashioned extrapolation and ordered exciting items from the menus harping on the theme of the evening viz. flora is fine, but fauna is not.

The entrees made their dramatic entrance – cheese was grated on one and not on the other, and we tucked in. By around the third morsel, we realised that we may have ordered way more than necessary for a dinner for two. The soup was the googly. We decided to box the husband’s entree (it being a more boxable kind of dish – mine being the squishy, mushy gravy filled kind of dish and ate off my dish.)

I have had the opportunity to remark on this tendency of people coming at you when the mouth is full before and I will say it again. Why this thumper of a waiter had to wait till we both had our mouths brimming I don’t know, but he did. Then he comes by and asks if everything is okay. Table manners demand that we finish our morsel, but to keep the already specials-deprived waiter waiting for an answer seems cruel. So, you take your napkin and nod vigorously (which in different countries mean different things) and smile and hope that the smile will signal the benevolence and then realise you have been smiling into your napkin. You then swallow a hot lot and eyes watering tell him everything is just perfect thank you. He looks at the dish in front of me – almost half gone, and the husband’s nibbled at. The glance was merely perfunctory I assure you, but it was there nevertheless.

I don’t mean to boast, but give us a task like this and we rock. We had polished off the dish in front of me beautifully. Not a scrap left. The waiter arrived again and we asked him for a to-go box for the other dish. “Sure Madam” he said and came along with the box.

I have a confession to make: Achilles may have had a heel to trip him up. I have Tiramusu. Offer me that and you have a benevolent, mellow cat. The Tiramusu came and the husband being the chivalrous what-not asks the waiter to put it front of me.

I wonder whether you notice a trend here – place everything in front of me, while he contributes equally to stuffing in the load. The proper waiter now really can’t help wondering “How on earth? I mean! How does she eat so much?” As per usual we lick the Tiramusu clean and the waiter arrives. But now, I feel guilty.

On our way out, I ask him how many calories the Tiramusu was. He says :”720 Madam. Is that okay?
Fine! Just fine!” I assure him. I can feel the unasked question again and say, “Since we both ate it. So, I mean the whole dinner…” The husband tugs me away…”Why are you explaining to him?” I grin sheepishly and wave him good night.

I don’t mind eating like a glutton err…gourmand, but I don’t want random waiter guy judging me for it. He waves back and looks forlorn at his own bulging tummy.

We decided to walk a couple of miles before turning in. And that is the story of our dinner alone. Glad to have it off my chest.

PS: The waiter was a jolly old soul who reminded me of Old King Cole

The Queen’s Correspondent

Ten years is about the time in life when one knows the really funny stories from the better half’s past/childhood. You’ve probably met the aunts waiting to tell you about how they pinched your husband’s rosy cheeks and how he cried when he dropped the ice-cream. It is also about the time one unabashedly nudges them to regale the stories for those gathered for the after dinner storytime.

“Oh…tell them about the time you went to Darjeeling?”
“Which one? The one with the pooris or the train?”
Then you roll on the floor and say, “Both are funny. Start with the train one and if folks are upto it, we can work the poori one into tonight’s show!”
It is at this point that things start to go downhill. You know before hand when the jokes come and you guffaw before the funny spots and ensure that even semi-rotten stories get the laughs they may or may not deserve.

So, imagine my surprise that I discovered something really funny when my tenth anniversary rolled around.

Engage the Queen of England to an after dinner conversation, and I am sure she has many stories to regale. She may touch upon world politics, fame, money, charity, armies, economies, humanitarian aid, United Nations, monarchy, familial obligations, the Middletons, her grandsons and many more. I don’t know whether she is a funny narrator of stories, but I doubt she could narrate a story involving herself to such mirth and laughter as the one the love of my life did.

I am not sure whether I have described the husband’s school before – allow me a moment’s diversion while I do so. It is critical to the story. The schools is situated in Chennai, India and has the clarifying word ‘English’ in its name (Just to add that aura of sophistication.) I don’t want readers to dream up an image of the Metropolitan Chennai and come at my throats about English medium schools in Chennai. This is one of the poorer areas where any English is a bonus, and boys studying in an English school were considered elitist. The school may have ‘English’ in its name, and nowhere else.

For reasons fathomable to pre-teen boys alone, it seemed like a good idea that they should write to the Queen of England. Why not a cricketer or a movie star? Why the Queen? Nobody knows! Possibly one of the boys had a crush on Lady Diana and was too shy to admit it, and settled for her mother-in-law instead. Anyway…give my husband an idea like this and I can imagine the teenager being swept away by the notion of being the Queen’s correspondent. Apparently, his confidence was not brimming then and he decided to write to the Queen first and then brag to his friends after she wrote him back. A short story about obtaining the aerogramme (cost Rs.5 then) later; the letter was sent.

The rigour of evening kite flying and fighting with one’s brother eclipsed everything else, and the Queen was forgotten. And then it arrived. A letter bearing the royal seal of the Queen of England addressed to the boy in Thiruvottiyur Chennai. The news that he had received a letter from the Queen was discussed in hallways and Pallavan buses; on cricket grounds and roof terraces. Quite an event it must have been. I quizzed him on the contents and he said something about encouraging young talent to reach out to royalty.

A letter has the power to change a life. This letter may not have changed the course of anyone’s life; but it sure gave an ordinary boy the nerve to dream.

Which is why, I loved reading some of the letters on this site: www.lettersofnote.com (Hope on over when you have some time and some of them are perfectly delightful like this one: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/02/she-doesnt-answer-phone.html)