Thursday, 13 August, 2009

Just coming madam...

See I went from Madras to Madrid and many people thought it had a poetic ring to it. It was destiny you come from madras and move to madrid How can Mad be anything poetic . In Madrid you understand MaƱana can mean today , tomorrow , next month or never . Right there it finsihes . They have no intention of coming you have no expectation they will . If and when they do you know every minute they are there it costs you a lot of money so you tolerate broken taps , washing machine that moves front and back while washing clothes. a drier that spews hot air into the room rather than on your clothes and the list grows... In Madras they never say anything as vague as tomorrow , it is always time specific ... madam we are just coming... that means hope unlimited .
I once ordered a dish washer and waited for its arrival. The man was to come at 12 . At around 12.45 I called Sar where are you... madam I am just coming... Ok . So how long is just coming ... say ten minutes ok make that thirty . Ok I wait thiry minutes and ten seconds... and call Sar engai sar . madam you just put phone down madam and I am coming only. OK I put phone down that takes what thirty seconds ... and then rush to door ... but where is my man. So I call again but now I dont get through . I get ring tone playing ... Naan Parthathile Aval oruthiya than nalla azhagi enben!! Ok I hang up ... I try again after ten seconds Now I get Ring tone 2 hey nakka muka nakka maukka Adradra Nakku Mukku Nakku Mukku Nakku Mukku Adradra Nakku Mukku Nakku Mukku Nakku Mukku and loop 1 loop 2 loop3 . Ok I go to kitchen splash cold water think I hear door bell and run out... but no dishwasher sar has not made his hero appearance . So I dial.... sar picks up ... I hear heavy traffic then dishwasher sar gets all scrambled and I ask sar ningu enga sar irrikengu ... madam on the way .. OK I am not hanging up smart guy .. Where are you... madam I am in perambur madam and I am just coming ... Yes can you tell me how are you planning this just coming .... you see sar I was not born yesterday.. I have been in respectable 29 C bus . I know that perambur is far from mylapore for you to be just coming. Madam dont get angry madam I will be there . I will be there by today evening latest. What do you mean latest 12 was to be latest.
Madam you see today I am only man on duty for area 3 and area 5 so I have to attend area 3 first as this is under A1 S2 Zone and then..what are you saying A1 S2 ennai ya suma number solra . You see sar now becomes ennaiya ... that is chennai lingo you always start smooth and end up in auto rickshaw lingo. meter plus 2 rs .

Now dishwasher sar is becoming very intelligent madam i am only employee you speak to my boss. Who is your boss - Shivaji the boss or Bruce Sprinsteen the boss . Ok I dont tell this to dishwasher sar I am madam I cant be so rude. So I get boss number . OK here it goes . I get Boss ring tone first . Boss is very Boss so you get special english music . I want to break free. trust me I want to break free and break someone´s head before I do . So Boss picks up . This Is Boss speaking how can I help you . So I start speaking A voice interrupts Press 1 for machine press 2 for powder press 3 for status press 4 go to hell . Ok press 3 woman comes on line can I speak to boss. No No he is Boss madam you speak to me. So who are you I am boss sidekick . Ok ms. sidekick I am waiting for my dishwasher name madam . yes name model number Z 12546 Ok order number XCV65789 See all these number jumbo stuff is to make you quit . so after all this side kick says i will need to place you on hold . Ok I wait then music comes on We at take your patience company value your time . we provide gadgets for the modern woman . a woman who takes pride in the sparkling glasses . In a nutshell a sari wearing bat woman who scales corporate peaks and is always home before husband with hot pakodas and steaming tea and gives cunning look to gadgets. Ok sidekick is back. sorry to have kept you waiting madam ok apology accepted . madam your file number shows that there has been a error processing request so we will need to re process your enquiry and send it to our warehouse . What so how long does this all take . we cant guarantee madam but maybe a week .
What there is a dishwasher of mine running the streets of Perambur and you say error processing. Give me your boss . I dont want to speak to sidekicks. So sidekick first acts all english and mighty . so i decide gloves off see i have been waiting the whole morning for this wonder gadget your guy tells me he is just coming and you say error processing give me your boss since you are not whom i want to speak. sidekick mutters in tamil Yaaru munjila muzhitheno . amen to that
so boss comes on line . boss is major suave madam i see you have a problem . we at take your patience look at solving all problem. we dont say problem we say we see a solution. ok mister cut the crap . I have been to marketing seminars ,so boss makes deep noise and has no idea what the problem is . so i say I give you ten minutes i want to know where my dishwasher is or you know i am calling people in high places. See i dont know anyone in high places but this works especially when you speak very firmly . sidekick immediately says madam your request has been processed and dishwasher will be there in ... as i see it it is crossing kilpauk.
was that meant to be funny
ok kilpauk so i call dishwasher sar .. sar enna sar yen time nallairruka rahukalam kuda aydathau . no madam i am on kilpauk bridge.
what wonderful .
So wonder gadget arrives at 20.00. Poor dishwasher sar comes and says madam boss said high priority , good . he puts the whole gadget everything fine but he has no tube to plug. I say what but sar this is dishwasher you need plug. Yes madam but since it was high priority we only bought machine. by know i am tired i cant take one more ring tone I say please leave.

Next day i am woken up by dishwasher sar he says madam today first visit is your house . oh wont you call before coming I am still in my negligee on which i have put kurta and dupatta . ok these are private thoughts. So all working .Dishwasher sar insists that i try all features. jacuzzi for expensive glass , care program, heavy duty scrub , sensitive spray .massage back rub for bone china .ok madam would you want to sign for AMC. we service free of charge . What one more call ten more ringtones . no sar i have one ring tone for you sodanai mel sodanai porum... . On that note we part as friends .
my dishwasher sar, anda daat buut kathra madam (myself), we know if we were to meet we would be happy to see each other as long as there is no ring tone seperating us

Monday, 10 August, 2009

Bring back the birds and the bees

dedicated to All of us who were brought up on a strict diet of Doordarshan , Black and White Tv´s and antenna´s that were used to measure height rather than change channels. please read on... How we enjoyed kanmani poonga with its cheap cut trees with children in bright ribbons holding on to it while the DD camera caught one teacher amma giving instructions ... and by the way on that subject we all remember this science program where the master would write on a blackboard which made the screeching sound and then took a tv antenna and then a cauliflower from his mrs´shopping bag and explained to us what the brain looked like. for many years i thought cauliflower was seriously brain food the highlight of one´s life was oliyum oliyum. It meant the end of more week of going to school, oiling your hair , putting your hair in double plaits , feigning stomach ache . I remember when we moved on from sridevi´s thunder thighs to amla´s leotard act in agni nakshatram. how many of us wanted to be courted by Karthik while he danced in egmore station. how we thought we were hep when we crooned something something or mottai madi... mottai madi ... oru love jodi . for many of us that was when we heard of the bird and bee concept lip locking... adrenaline rising etc...
But who can forget the sunday tamil movie. it was the moment when i would have an emotional turmoil. the first half of the movie you always enjoyed . after a nice sunday lunch when amma would bring out tarla dalal´s delights of vegetarian cooking and try to surprise us one more time from the dog eared pages that were our only windows to gourmet cuisines. then chennaiites didnt have kefi´s and azulaias and we didnt know gazpacho was a cold soup.... we liked continental food ... that meant anything with white sauce that contained garam masala and amul cheese.
ok back to the movie...
i used to enjoy nibbling on sunday´s left over lunch, some ice cream and entertain my family. see i used to speak so much that i sometimes had the feeling my mom used to send me to school so that her ears could get some rest. in those days tv didnt have so many ads also . you had the government ads. We two ours two. use mala D ,
tips on fertilizers ... would fill the ad space. until liril came along and showed us that women can imagine bathing in biknis under a waterfall while the whole family stood outside to use the loo.
while the ads ran always my mom would ask me have you done your home work .... my first response was always immediate... yes ma all done. packed school bag also. as the movie was reaching its climax amma would start putting the dinner .... and then appa would ask chellam paavum school tommorow. see appa was easy to handle , a few crocodile tears , appa i am your chellam no... and that was enough. amma was tough and still is . then comes anna he was the toughest nut to crack .
he would come down just as the hero and heroine would be in the swiss alps and rollicking about. hero in tight jeans and leather coat and heroine in naidu hall bustier that would make the jungfrau fail in front of these two peaks ....
then illayaraja´s tunes would fill the screen .... her pallu will caress his face ... his lips would get wet ... then as a thirteen year old you are contemplating whether you should continue seeing and appa and amma are nervously shuffling feet and talking about rising price of tomatoes ... a huge flower comes into the screen. since those days we never had the fear of the someone changing channels you knew you were still watching. big flower is still swaying , big bee comes into screen . it jumps on flower and sucks on all parts of the flower... see since in biology we learnt parts of the flower... i thought hey this was education after bee sucks ,it feels tired and flowers closes ... heroine is back now crumpled clothes and disheveled hair.. hero looks triumphant they hold hands and run into alps... two love birds come on screen and twitter away ( not twat or twitted just bird la la)
by the time this flora and fauna chapter finishes i suddenly remember biology home work not done hindi not even close ... maths oh god anna should not come to know ... english that i can fib... while villain is chasing hero and police is getting their bellies into an old van to chase this super villain in an aircraft and hero has only one horse ... i decide to go upstairs and face monday morning. one week of brid and bee education... have to wait for next week unless it is ramzan week or christmas or goklastami or navratri where sivaji ganesan every year without fail would come in 9 roles .doordarshan had a movie for every festival and never failed us
that was one helluva education. not like the bipasha basu telling us sex is good and priyanka chopra showing her cellulite free legs or kareena kapoor showing us size zero. give me my techni colour tamil movies with bouffant hair and harem pants and yes the birds and the bees ...they are so much better than discussing did they do it or didnt they....

Saturday, 8 August, 2009

Domestic help and domestic hell

a series on domestic staff and the memsahibs....
first one on the maid , her biological clock and the clock on my wall....
We joined the RTI club.The cool ones who are coming back home, oh its an exciting time to be back in the country we coo. the ones that populate the all amenities filled apartments with chauffer and maid. We were so excited about having a maid to bring coffee and a cook who would make anything I wanted. Previously it was the same , we had a cook who made anything I wanted, since I was the cook and i made anything i wanted .
So we moved into our little snob pad. See I am a snob sandwich. I look at the people who are so posh and think so well heeled and snobbish and look at the aspiring masses and think so superficial. Yes I am complicated too
So we landed in Chennai and day one took in the first woman and appointed her maid. My mom did all the interview and reference work . She has a good 30 years head start in intrigues of the domestic kind. I just wanted a maid. So first week I told her treat this like your home , your problems are like mine, we are equal opportunity people , so you eat what i eat... ( well my maid once ate up my humus ... saying nice chutney ma and then i said equal saapad not amuse bouche darling) and yes sundays you spend quality time with your folks. just chill you know
you see since i am this snob i like doing my own work, scrubbing toilets and making quick eats are my forte . i like to look at my toilet seat and feel proud on how sparkling it is , yes i am also have seceret ambitions to be Mrs. Harpic Chennai ( is that a real title already).
so maid comes ... first at eight .... then i tell her no dont come early you see aiyah likes to get up late . since i see myself as a queen housewife i couldnt get myself to tell her actually i get up at eight thirty when half of chennai has finsihed one meal already.... so maid comes at 9.00 . fine
slowly maid decides this amma is like putty in my hands . lets try 9.15
so maid comes at 9.17 by 9. 10 my Bp has risen i snap at husband who innocently asks maybe you should have told maid to come at 9 and then mom calls at 9.17 so has maid come . NO , ma she hasnt. I am standing near the lift to see if any stops on my floor. I have vessels in the sink . I am wearing my gloves ( for cleaning silly not boxing.... that comes later in the ramble) . Ma quotes the bleeding obvious. You know chennai is not europe. yes i figured that much. You should not be so kind to them , making frothy coffee and adding expresso foam . You should be firm and let them know who is the boss. With all this I am frothing at the mouth and maid comes. all yellow and washed ... see its friday . so maid why are you late. aiyah is late now and i have to go for my luncheon. maid says sorry ma , i wouldnt want anything more than to come on time. water lorry didnt come and today its adi friday . so i made vadais , , see we dont have mixie ma , so i grind dal with hand , then smeared myself in turmeric and prayed for you and aiyah .
by now I have melted completely . you prayed oh so sweet of you maid come have a latte machiato .
ok day 3 maid comes at 9.21 by now hell has broken lose. husband knows not to even tip toe downstairs. its time to practise lung power hold your breath and wait while wife is pacing the floor like a lioness on the lose .
so mom calls. you know moms have the knack of calling when you are in crisis mode and knowing exactly what is bugging you they will beat around the subject. by know you cant take the torture anymore you burst open . So mom says what are you doing. ah well i am cleaning the milk cooker. why maid has not come. i thought you said she comes at 9. yes i said ... she has not come. so mom says call her. i call ... her husband picks the phone and says ... amma i was about to call you but you see my mrs. has her ladies days and generally at that time she gets a bit bloaty and has pains. oh yes yes she must have heavy blood flow. so you see i took her to private doctor and they gave her a usi ma. big usi. by know i am thinking usi for PMS . oh god. so i say ask her to take rest and give her some tea with ginger she will feel better. by now Amma is taking me apart. where is your bravery why are you being so stupid. next why dont you send her a hot water bag...
so maid comes back and she cries . ma i am so sorry that i couldnt come. now since i have had so much bad fortune i want 3 days leave. WHAt 3 days NO i cant cope , i have guests , my in laws are coming and I have to retain Mrs. Harpic title , you dont understand. yes ma i do but my father is half blind , my mom is weak , my sister is unmarried.... so i say stop please go
so 3 days i scrub and toil and on 4th day i wait for maid´s return. now husband doesnt even ask he scrubs his tea cup and runs out of the house before the clock hits 9. and by the way i am having ladies days. so keep out. there is a canon lose in the city is basically how he decides to salvage the marriage
so maid comes not at 9 , not at 10 but at 11 . by now my bp has risen and fallen .
she comes with a bag full of mangoes . amma i plucked this from my garden and here meet my father . oh god the father is really blind . oh you poor thing . then maid says see ma since my parents are here i want to take them to see the beach they have never seen the beach. What you just came back . and your father is blind what beach does he see . what do you take me for a freak show
by now mom must be proud of me. so maid sulks and goes to kitchen while blind father sits outside .
maid breaks a pyrex dish .... smears turmeric on my pristine china and generally makes this aiyo rama noises . by afternoon i cant take it anymore. i tell maid ok i will arrange for your father´s eye operation you take the day off and please dont be grumpy. a grumpy in law i can live with but a grumpy maid is tough .
so there maid goes away for a week . then she is back . now father actually saw the beach and i get more mangoes as a gift. and yes the maid came at 8.59 ... and life seems so lovely
but in a few days it will be her ladies days , her daughter will jump the school wall , her husband will drink too much .... my clock will strike 9.30 and all hell will break lose.

in the end our lives are not very different ... but we need to live each other´s life to understand it better and in the end we understand each other so well so we give some and take all we can....