Grass is always greener on the other side

Grass is always greener on the other side

My blog of February is all about food and diet. And all about love too. Have you ever wondered about the strange love-hate relationship between food, diet and love? Sounds confusing right?

Food is our basic need and so is love. We need both food and love to survive. Then what happens, when diet comes into the scene?

Diet is like a racist leader…it creates divide and rule policy among food groups. Examples are no-sugar, no-carb, no-white foods, and the list can go on and on.

It sometimes creates pre-condition for being in love, especially among the youth. Your diet is right, you look good and healthy and are attractive. It even gives you an edge in some interviews.

Allow me to introduce, the three characters of today’s story.

Character 1: Shantanu Chakrabarti aka Shaan. 38 years old and works and lives in Chennai. Married to Simran Kaur for the last 10 years. Love marriage, of course!

Character 2: Jignesh Bhai Patel aka Jiggi. Same age as Shaan and lives in Ahmedabad. Married to Bhawna Ben for the last 15 years. Horoscopes were matched to avoid horror scopes later. Arranged marriage without a doubt!

Character 3: Moatoshi aka Moa. A year junior to the other two. Hails from Nagaland and blissfully single. Now works and lives in Mumbai.

Shaan and Jignesh had registered for a course by Rujuta Diwekar. After 12 weeks of waiting, they finally received a call to meet the reknowned dietician. So, both arrived in Mumbai and after some planning through whatsapp decided to put up in Moa’s bachelor pad.

‘Hey, Bongo! You look like a soccer ball now. Don’t you feel scared of going back to Kolkata?’ Moa joked.

Shaan had a serious look on his face as he scanned the apartment. He was trying to find some space to lodge his baggage.

‘Why?

‘You may get kicked by both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal!’ chuckled Moa.

‘No buddy. I am in serious trouble. It’s been 10 years of survival with rajma chawal and there is more air in me than a soccer ball, I feel.’

‘Hmm’. Acknowledged Jiggi.

‘I tried GM diet and no carbs diet but only for part of the day. When I was not at home. Simran knows to cook rajma chawal only. I yearn for some fish curry sometimes.’

‘There is a diet called the diet by origin. It says that if you continue to eat the food you grew up eating, your body best adapts to it. A plus point of arranged marriage. My wife cooks what my mother used to. Perks of arranged marriage.’

‘Makes sense.’ Said Shaan. Still unable to decide where to keep his toiletries pouch.

‘Its more to do with marrying someone with the same food background. Could be love or arranged.’ Added Moa.

Moa empties a shelf for Shaan and turns to Jiggi.

‘But Jiggi bhai, what’s with that little potbelly? You almost look like a 4-month old pregnant Somalian lady.’ Moa chuckled again.

‘Bro, don’t ask. My business went through a major slump and liquor became my comforter. I used to travel to Daman for the weekend sometimes to indulge in drinking.’

‘How is the situation now?’ asked Shaan.

‘Business has picked up again. Put now the potbelly refuses to go. So, like one day, I read about Madam Diwekar and how she transformed Ambani Bhai’s son. And I got motivated and registered.’

‘You are one lucky chap.’ Shaan and Jiggi said in a chorus.

Moa gestured with his hands, why?

‘You are not married, number one.’ Said Shaan.

‘You can eat your Chinese food everyday, number two.’ Said Jiggi.

‘No digestion problems since most of your food seems boiled, par boiled and bland.’ Shaan added.

‘And, no potbelly which walks a step ahead of you, but with you all the time.’ Jiggi continued.

‘Ssssshhhh.’ Said Moa.

Momentary silence.

‘The grass is always greener on the other side.’

‘I have been detected with diabetes and now I make a conscious effort to eat the foods which suit my body. I engaged with a personal trainer a few months back and now I continue to follow the exercises that was recommended then.’

‘Boss, where do you get the time? When I return from work at 8 pm, my children want me to do something or the other with them. That continues till they go to bed at 9 pm. By then I am totally drained out.’ Added Shaan.

‘Perks of not entering a family life’ grumbled Jiggi.

‘Now that’s not fair. I am almost the same age as both of you. I did not get the right companion to settle down. And sometimes I miss being a family man. But no excuses is good excuse. What about the mornings? Wake up early and do some form of workout.’ Added Moa.

‘Agree with you buddy.’ Both chorused.

‘You are not your weight’ reads out Moa as he takes Jiigi’s laptop from him.

‘Rujuta Diwekar says that we should not eat oats and other cereals for breakfast. It seems we should not begin our day with boring and tasteless stuff like those cereals. And all this while, we knew that Kellogg’s cereals was the best breakfast choice.’ Said Shaan.

‘Diwekar Madam talks like my Baa. She says you should eat enough ghee everyday. Did not pay heed to Baa’s free advice, now paying up with a course fee.’ Sighed Jiggi.

‘Ha, ha! We never give importance to anything free, unfortunately.’ Replied Moa.

‘Simran is glad that I am taking serious steps to becoming fit and boy, am I glad too. I will take the prescribed diet charts and now will get poha, upma and other yummy food at home. Simran has said, she will also follow the diet…it will be our journey together.’

‘Ohho, too much, love all over again, is it?’ Jiggi teased Shaan.

‘So, guys tomorrow your life upliftment starts. Before you transform into the good-goody students of Ms. Diwekar’s health conscious class, lets smoke some grass.’ Moa suggested with a serious look on his face.

‘You still carried on our little mischiefs from back old Pune college days?’ Jignesh asked with popping eyes.

A momentary pause.

‘Hell, no. Was just kidding!’ chuckled Moa again.

‘More than anything, I remember how I was ragged and asked to treat my seniors to something enigmatic. A local batchmate suggested and helped me out. Then I took you to the joint guy. My first and last visit.’ Added Moa.

‘And by the way, Nagaland folks don’t eat Chinese food.’ Winked Moa.

The three friends laughed and joked again after 8 years. They reminisced over some drink, food and all things good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little bit of Colgate

A little bit of Colgate

Who doesn’t want to hold on? We do move on most of the times, but sometimes we cling. Cling on to memories, cling on to something, an object. Only because that object reminds us of something, or has memories of someone.

Has it not happened to you, that when you connected with an old friend after 15-20 odd years on social media, you remember those special moments, people or objects that you shared?

I am not going to get overtly philosophical anymore. Instead, introduce you to the protagonist of the following story, Ganga Prasad Shukla.

Ganga Prasad Shukla was fondly addressed as GPS by his colleagues at the SBI Meerut branch. However, when he was working, GPS did not have the more popular meaning, that it has now, that is Global Positioning System.

Shuklaji had grown to the senior most position in the branch and earned a glass walled cabin for himself. From his cabin, he kept an eye on what was happening across the bank office.

GPS was now a widower and 71 years old. He kept himself fit by washing his own clothes, cooking his own food and a bit of gardening. However, his memory had started troubling him. Sometimes, he soaked his clothes in soap water and forgot to wash them. And when the maid, Malti discovered this and brought it to her master’s notice, GPS started alleging that Malti was doing this to get back at him. Getting back for not raising her salary.

One day, when Pankaj, GPS’s son visited him, Malti wanted to submit her resignation.

‘No, Sir…..the ultimate was when Dadu(grandpa) accused me of stealing onions from the garden. He says that I did it because the prices of onions are too high in the market.’

Pankaj’s 6-year-old son, Bunty affectionately addressed his grandpa as Dadu. When Malti joined the Senior Shukla’s house for work, she started calling him Dadu too.

Pankaj signaled her to get back to work and walked up to his father.

‘Father why don’t you come and live with us in Delhi? You can share the room with Bunty.’

‘No beta(son). How can I leave all this, the garden and…’?

‘Don’t worry. I will ask Malti to come and water the plants.’

‘That thief?” GPS became animated.

‘Sssh. Father why don’t you come for a month and… don’t you want to spend more time with Bunty? He misses you so much.’

GPS softened up at the mention of his grandson. Bunty had some speech delay which was detected. But GPS brushed the doctor’s diagnosis as utter nonsense. He spent 3 months with Bunty. When Bunty had picked up words faster in those three months than the first 3 years of his life, GPS felt a sense of achievement and returned to Meerut.

Before leaving Delhi, he smirked and commented to his son, ‘Go and tell that children’s doctor that his diagnosis was utter bullshit. God knows where these so-called specialists, charging ransom and don’t know a thing, crop up from. His father must have paid donation and…’

Pankaj did not disagree with his father, as he was silently indebted to him.

‘I tell you, handling a child needs a lot of time, love and patience. And that doctor does not even see a patient for more than 5 minutes.’

‘Father, we are getting late. Do you want to miss the train?”

‘Ohh, no, no. let’s hurry.’ He quickly went to the room where Bunty was sleeping and tugged in a Rs.50 note in his hand. That was his goodbye blessing for the little boy.

‘One minute, let me check if I have taken my silver glass.’

GPS had a silver glass, which was like a child to him. He loved it, cleaned it every day till it sparkled and even talked to it when he was alone. He could not imagine a life without it. GPS’s mornings used to start with a leaf of Tulsi (Basil) and some water in his silver glass. He had even named his glass ‘Chandu’.

‘Is Bunty ok?’

GPS was wondering the purpose of his son’s invitation.

‘Yeah, he is absolutely fine.’

So, GPS decided to go to Delhi to be with his grandson more than anyone or anything else.

Cough! Cough!

‘Son, the pollution levels have gone up looks like. Haven’t they started some alternate days’ scheme…don’t think that would make much difference, though.’

‘Hmm’

GPS was greeted by his daughter-in-law, Neetu, who usually spoke less and his grandson. His face lit up when he met Bunty.

Dadu was shown his room, the kitchen and the washroom. He needed to know the areas which would feel his presence every day, without fail.

‘So, Father, Bunty will return at 2 pm. Please open the door for him. The cook would have kept his food ready for him.’

‘Oh, don’t worry.’

GPS had missed his morning Tulsi water tete-a-tete with Chandu because he was in the train.

He completed the other rituals. Cooked some khichdi and proceeded for bath and washing his clothes.

‘Big Sir, I have finished my work. Please lock the door.’ Said the Cook.

GPS locked the door and continued with what he was doing.

He was a stickler with his meal timings. So, sharp 11.30 am was time for lunch.

He always gave a minimum of 15 minutes for the initial part of digestion. Meanwhile, he picked up a newspaper that lay on the table.

But he was extremely tired from the journey. He dozed off.

He woke up startled when it was 1.45 pm.

‘Still 15 minutes for Bunty to return. Let me take Chandu out and clean that chap. He will be ready for tomorrow morning.’

GPS beamed with pride, when his silver glass shone after the cleaning ritual. Just like a father would be, to see his child, neatly and well groomed.

He unzipped his bag, took out Chandu and kept it on Bunty’s study table. Then he tried to take out ‘Silvo’, the liquid cleaning agent that he used for his silver glass. He groped every corner of his bag. Next, he took out all his clothes just to be sure if Silvo hid in between his clothes. He had forgotten that the cleaning agent had got over two days ago.

‘Sigh! How will I clean Chandu now?

Just then he remembered, that his wife used to clean the silverware at home with a little bit of Colgate.

He used the teeth cleaning twig, called ‘Daantun’ and Bunty used some fancy kids’ toothpaste.

So, GPS decided to check Pankaj’s bathroom. He found the rescuer, the cleaning agent for Chandu. Colgate toothpaste it was!

He reached for a toothbrush and happily started cleaning Chandu.

Ding dong. Ding dong. The doorbell bell did not seem to stop ringing.

GPS flummoxed and rushed to open the door.

Pankaj stood with Bunty.

‘Pankaj beta, all ok? Did you go to Bunty’s school to fetch him?’

Pankaj seemed infuriated.

‘Papa it is 2.30 pm now. Bunty kept ringing the doorbell for long. He then went to the neighbor’s house and called me. Luckily, I was in this area meeting a client.’

‘And what is this mess on your kurta?’

GPS looked at the mess he wore on his sparkling white kurta. It contrasted.

‘Papa, all I asked you was to open the door at 2 pm for Bunty. Can we not depend on you for this one little thing?’ Pankaj’s voice reflected irritation.

‘Beta, I was only cleaning Chandu in the bathroom and did not hear the doorbell.’

‘For a petty glass, you made my son wait outside for so long?’

Silence.

Pankaj walked up to his bathroom and lifted his palm to his forehead as a reaction.

GPS had used the Colgate toothpaste, but forgot to put the cap back. And worse, he had picked Neetu’s toothbrush.The grey coloured mess that resulted from the cleaning, was all over the wash basin.

Pankaj saw the reason for all the chaos and mess, sparkling as it stood on the dining table. He walked up to it, picked it up and banged it hard on the floor. Chandu received a big dent.

Pin drop silence followed.

GPS walked slowly and picked up Chandu with shaking hands.

He mustered up some courage.

‘Beta. Please book me a ticket in today’s evening train.’

Bunty walked up to Dadu and hugged him tight.

‘Dadu don’t leave me and go.’

‘Dadu has to go back. He is old now and making big mistakes.’

Pankaj had calmed down a little by then.

‘But Papa, why is this silver glass so important to you. Is it more important than us?’

‘Beta.’ Paused.

‘Chandu has been with me ever since I was a child. It nourished me with water when I was small.It still does and it is my duty to take care of it. My father, your grandfather had bought it for me. And my mother used to give me water in it every day. It is through Chandu that I feel connected to them even now.’

GPS turned his back and proceeded to the room where his bag lay. Tears rolled down his eyes as he hugged his silver glass close to his heart.

The old man stuck to his word and returned home with his silver child.

ReNew Year

ReNew Year

Hail Decemb”re”! The final month of the year.

Decemb”re” because we consciously or otherwise, all of us(included), spend a major part of our time in this month reminiscing, reanalyzing, reflecting, realizing, realigning, reassuring, relive – the list can go on and on. And why not?

What does Decembre have in common with an airport and a tunnel? They all signify there is hope ahead, an end of a journey and hopefully a better one ahead. You arrive at an airport, there is a journey out of it towards the city or town. You depart the airport, you are skyward bound! When you go into a tunnel, as you traverse through the darker journey, there is an illuminated one you travel towards.

If you follow formula racing, you would know that a pit stop in a race, is the point where the racing car pauses to refuel. At this point, often a car’s tyres and damaged parts are replaced and the front wings are adjusted. The car is guided into the pit by a Lollypop Man because he holds a similar shaped “stop/ first gear”sign. Decembre is our Lollypop Man!

Even the television channels telecast programmes of what has happened through the year. Reflection!

When I look back at the road I travelled on this year, it was a year successfully completed with a book published and my new avatar as a “Blogger”. Reminiscence!

A friend of mine was unable to land himself in the right job opportunity, after struggling for the last couple of years. He is beginning to flourish as a photographer. Realizing and Realigning! That was his journey from the last Decembre to this one.

Made a new friend and relived her happy moment at the launch of her first book. Relived!

As a matter of fact, I was thinking of including it in my “New Year’s To Do “list – make a new friend, become friend with an absolute stranger. Realized even strangers have many things in common with us. Including a desire to become friends with an absolute stranger! Realization!

And that is why I would like to call it the Renew Year! A new year repeats itself every year….a harbinger of resolutions, hopes.

Meet Amrita. She is very successful in her career and a single mom. None of which she ever dreamed of becoming, as a child or as a young girl.

If you saw her, she would definitely remind you of the actress Tina Munim. There is an enigma on her visage, a poise in her graceful looks and a mischief in her dimpled smile.

She looks the same as she did 9 years ago, except the little crow’s feet lines which have formed near her eyes. She dabs a little of No.7 Lift and Illuminate Triple Action Serum. It immediately tones up her face. Makes her feel better and in control. In control of her slightly ageing-skin.

She picks up her mobile again. Opens a message from Girish. Her ex-husband.

With the mobile in her left hand, she turns to look at her 8-year-old, Aadya. Aadya moved a little and kicked the Dohar( a Jaipuri quilt) which had covered her legs.

Amrita knew it was futile covering her daughter. She would kick it on and off. But that never stopped her from trying to protect her daughter, from the cold. Amrita was very possessive of Aadya. A daughter born from a week of marriage. Girish and Amrita were married for exactly a week.

They had been in love. Contrasting backgrounds created the reason. Both were rebels in their own families.

Girish was an Aiyar and loved eating non-vegetarian food. He was the lead drummer in his school and a person, most girls secretly gushed at. He had a lethal combination of looks and talent.

Amrita Banerjee was attractive. She was not slim, nor did she have a good figure. But her charming face kept all the attention focused there. Though girls in her school used to wonder “why”…why do the boys in the neighboring school go head over heels for her. Amrita often overheard all the gossips about her. But she did not care.

It was an inter-school fest where Girish met Amrita. Cupid struck and before long love blossomed.

Eventually, Girish pursued engineering at a premier college while Amrita enrolled for a hotel management course.

Distance started creating cracks in their relationship. They talked less, communicated lesser. Each interpreted it in a different way. Amrita understood that Girish was busy with his academics and hence. Girish understood it as time’s course of telling them to move on. He had flings and several. But just as he cheated, he got cheated upon too. A blow made him look back, think within. He reached out to Amrita. Amrita picked up from where they had left off. Love letters resumed.

Girish got the best offer of employment on Day zero. He proposed to Amrita formally. Amrita said yes.

The couple had some difficulty in getting the families to agree. But on both sides, they knew they had rebels to deal with.

It seemed to be a perfect love story. A Tam Bram marrying a Bengali beauty. There was opposition. Isn’t a love story supposed to be complete only if it has stiff opposition? At least, that’s what we grew up seeing in movies and believing.

Girish and Amrita chose a destination wedding at Goa, followed by a honeymoon at Seychelles.

And just when the story could wind up with “and they lived happily ever after”, Girish dropped a bomb…he returned alone. He had only his Delsey suitcase for company. And Amrita, returned separately…..hurt and broken but not quite aware what she specifically carried with her.

Nine months later, she became a mother to a baby girl.

Her status changed to that of a single mom.

Amrita’s mother had the harshest reaction, when her daughter returned back to them sans husband sans a wedded life. But she gathered herself and decided to be the rock support her daughter needed.

Amrita immersed herself at her job at Taj, Kolkata. Aadya grew up more in the laps of her grandmother.

Aadya looked like Girish. She constantly reminded Amrita of what had gone terribly wrong in her life.

The first couple of days at Seychelles was as blissful as could be. They clicked selfies everywhere – right from the beaches, to the restaurants to the bed where towel swans welcomed the couple on their honeymoon.

The third day, Girish was a changed person.

“What’s wrong, Girish?”

“You are wrong. Look at you. You are fat. All those tires. Even the bikini is ashamed.”

Momentary silence.

“But I have never been thin. You knew me this way, always.”

“And you have no ambition either. How could you leave your job?”

“Huh?”

“I always wanted to have a smart and attractive wife.”

“So why did you marry me? You are the one who came back.”

Momentary pause.

“And, I put in my papers only because they did not have a suitable role for me at their Delhi office.”

Girish turned his back towards Amrita, his left palm reaching his forehead.

“It’s over!”

He hastily reached for his things, packed his bags.

Amrita sat down in stupor.

She still does it sometimes. Was it her mistake re-accepting Girish…

When she learnt about her pregnancy, her gain after the biggest loss of her life..she reached for the small jar of Paroxetine, the anti-depressant medicines her mother was prescribed. She had taken one and was about to take another, her attempt to forget or flee from the new big problem.

Her mother saw and almost made a Superman like dive and snatched the jar. What followed was a slap, incessant tears and Amrita tightly holding her mother at the waist. Just like she did when she was a small girl, when she did not know how to deal with a problem and worse, when she did not know how to tell her.

Amrita looked at the message yet again. Girish wanted to come back again. After vanishing for 8 years, he had developed a strong yearning to meet their daughter Aadya.

Amrita clicked on her FB profile pic. She now had short hair. She thought she still looked the same, when she was in a relationship with Girish. Only a streak of hair undecided if it should turn full grey. And that did not bother her.

She zoomed in the pic. For a change she was wearing a sleeveless black dress nicely teamed with stilettos. Of course, they were borrowed. Her colleagues convinced and coerced her into them, last Christmas.

Amrita had immersed herself in Handloom kurtas and salwars, after Girish left her. The loose clothing protected her from prying eyes and further body shaming.

She always felt good when she saw that particular photograph of hers. She wondered if Girish had seen it and hence trying to re-establish the relationship.

Amrita clicked on the friend request and the message Girish had left for her on the messenger.

Girish had developed double chin. She scrolled down. Relationship status showed Single.

Aadya coughed in the background.

Amrita decided to reply back to her ex-husband.

I can’t fathom why after all these years you want to meet our daughter. Biologically you are her father, so I can’t stop you. But while you were away and I struggled to juggle between a career and being a mother, Santa gave Aadya, a very loving father. I would like you to meet her…..my mother! My mother has cared for Aadya, yes that’s what we call her…..So, even if you want to introduce yourself as the father, it will only further confuse our child.But if you insist, I will not stop you.Before I conclude, sorry for not being able to accept your friend request. We both know, that we were not even good friends, else we wouldn’t have parted ways the way we did.

<Enter>

After a long time, Amrita smiled. Her phone rang.

Amrita had been selected as the new Head of Operations at the Taj.

She updated her app. Leaving for Spain – with my girl gang.

She sat in the car. When she had just rolled up the pane, a familiar hand touched the pane…and the pain. He tried to stop her.But she looked ahead.

Men love shopping too

Men love shopping too

Would you agree with the comment – Men buy, women shop?

When I say “buy”, I refer to the precise act of paying money in exchange of a particular product or service. Shopping expands to the vast experience associated with the act of buying.

In a study titled, “Men Buy, Women Shop,” researchers at Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retail Initiative and the Verde Group, a Toronto consulting firm, found that women react more strongly than men to personal interaction with sales associates. Men are more likely to respond to more utilitarian aspects of the experience — such as the availability of parking, whether the item they came for is in stock, and the length of the checkout line.

This trend still applies to approximately 85% of men, who do buying or shopping in one form or another. What then happens to the remaining 15% of the male community?

With the plethora of choices that modern age marketing has thrown up, even our “Men” get confused if they should pick a brand-loyal product or try something new. Online shopping, seasonal offers have emerged as strong points of consideration, when a man is buying or shopping.

There is a retail joke, which is in context and worth sharing. So, it goes like this – 6% of women shoppers are estimated to get lost in a shop if there is no sales associate to help. Whereas, the reason for men folks to get lost in a shop is, only when the product is out of stock! We can clearly imagine a man pick up his car keys, drive to the nearby supermarket to pick up his after-shave. He reaches the exact shelf where all the after-shaves are neatly arranged. He spends 15-20 minutes rotating his eye-balls from one after-shave to another, wondering where his product is, till a sales associate approaches to help him out.

But are all men cast in the same mold? Well, not really !

Ladies, step back….the new league of men shoppers have arrived. These men, sometimes look for an excuse for shopping and not necessarily out of need. With this, I would like to introduce the two protagonists of today’s story – Ballu and Chari.

Balwinder Singh Dhillon aka Ballu was a Sardar. I wouldn’t be lying if I said he looked exactly like Ranbir Kapoor in the movie, Rocket Singh. Ballu was trying to uplift his colleagues’ mood.

“C’mon Charu, forget it! You know boss rants after every appraisal.”

“Look Ballu, don’t call me Charu. I am not some Charulata that you keep calling me Charu. My name is Charitra….atleast call me Chari!”

“See this.” And Ballu looked around to see if there was any curious onlooker.

He quietly rolled up his sleeve and flaunted a Rolex.

“Have you gone mad? With no bonus and a measly increment, you dared buy a Rolex?”

“Hey, buddy! Look ( pause)…life has to go on. I was very demotivated after boss’s speech and the salary that we received. I needed an outlet. As usual, after I reached home, I picked up the phone while simultaneously warming my dinner. It was a steal deal.”

“Hmm….you are lucky. You are a bachelor.”

“No, I am Ballu!” Sardarji winked trying to lighten his colleague up.” Ok, bro! Do you want one too?It’s Black Friday!”

“You are mad or what? I have a wife and daughter to take care of too.” an agitated Charitra responded.

When Charitra got angry or agitated, Ballu teased him by calling him “Rakht Charitra”.

At the end of working hours, Ballu and Chari said good-bye to each other and left for home.

As soon as Charitra entered home, his wife informed him about the online sale on a popular shopping portal.

He did not have the heart to tell his wife that there was no bonus this time.

And increments? Well, enough to buy a paper-cone of peanuts sold at traffic signals, he thought.

Well, if its peanuts that I am getting, I ought to become a monkey.

He leapt up on the sofa and asked his wife to get her phone.

His wife was pleasantly taken aback by his behavior.

The next half an hour was spent in some needed and some indulgent and over-indulgent shopping. Charitra breathed deeply after he checked out from the shopping portal. He looked happy and felt happy too. No wonder they call it retail therapy, he thought.

Next day, he shared his experience with Ballu and both of them had a good laugh.

“See, bro! It’s a human instinct. If a person has the money, he will like to spend. It’s a thrill. Why should only women enjoy that thrill?”Ballu whispered to Chari.

“Ssh….people may not perceive what we did as normal.”

“Everyone knows women gossip, so they can do it openly. We too love to gossip, but are scared to be labeled so we do it in a hush manner. Just like that, the world jokes about women and shopping, so they even unabashedly use that pretext to check out a product, even if they don’t have any immediate plans of buying it. But what happens to men, who love and want to shop. I am sure there would be many like us.”

“Phew….Ballu, that is a million-dollar point you made today.”

Mobile indicates a message notification.

“Oh wow, it seems my toolkit is on the way. The courier guy should reach any moment.”

“Toolkit?”

“Screwdriver, hammer, spanner,….”

Ballu cuts his friend short.

“Hey listen, don’t do that. You may get accused of attempt to murder.”

“What?”

“On boss right?” Said a worried Ballu.

“Good lord, no! Well, on seconds thought, not a bad idea! In you, I have a perfect alibi.” Charitra winked in the usual Ballu style.

The two men –  two friends now bonded yet again, this time through a journey of discovering happiness through retail.

 

 

Monkey Business

Monkey Business

When monkeys get down to business, it can be really serious stuff. So, monkey business ain’t any tomfoolery any more. It can be a very serious and calculated way of doing things.

It seems, this incident only happened recently, in Mumbai. My mother-in-law was watching television in the living room and totally oblivious that a monkey had entered one of the bedrooms through the window. And before you start thinking, yes! the window had a grill. We live on the 3rd floor, above a level of parking, so that essentially makes it a height equivalent of four floors. Added to this, no trees in the immediate vicinity.

The monkey felt at home and helped himself to a couple of packets of dry fruits, which it found in that room. Only when the doorbell rang, and the watchman rushed in, was my mother-in-law alarmed of the uninvited visitor.

Those living in Mumbai can agree or disagree – a local newspaper had published that 3 monkeys had been ably trained to conduct theft and burglary, and their area of operations is Dahisar. They know how to cut through grills or squeeze themselves in.

This reminds me of my friend’s experience with a monkey when she was in Hyderabad. There, the monkeys are a step ahead in terms of capabilities. A monkey used to sneak into her kitchen and open the fridge and help herself. If she sampled a food which did not appeal to her taste buds, she would bang the bowl or dish on the floor. So, my friend made sure she double locked her kitchen and fridge before she left home.

During my hostel days at Varanasi, our hostels were also frequented by the monkeys. We attributed it to the vicinity of the Sankat Mochan temple. I lived in an all-girls hostel and the only men who were allowed in the hostel were, if I remember correctly, the electrician( bhaiya) and the mess waale( bhaiyas).

It was a routine for us to wash our clothes and put them to dry in the lobby outside our rooms.

And if you think, what I am about to share is a joke….it is not!

We were relaxing outside our rooms when a senior came and warned us about a group of monkeys who are visiting on and off and stealing essential clothing. We thought it was a prank by the senior, part of ragging. But we became a victim to the monkey menace who were stealing our necessities. Gosh! And it was only that segment of clothing that they targeted…God knows why, though!

So, now do you agree that Monkey Business can be a serious and well calculated way of doing things?

With that begins my short story.

The first set of aliens have arrived to build up their establishment on earth. They are in discussion with the CEO of Monkey Business Corp.

Monkey CEO: “Where did you hear about us?”

Alien CEO: “When we were doing the rounds around Earth during Super moon, the transmission of our UFO detected a conflict. We realized that it was your billboard which had a sound device, that was the source of the conflict. We disembarked our UFO and the rest is history.”

Monkey CEO: “Clever huh! You knew that the humans would be busy taking photos of the super moon that they would not notice you!”

Alien CEO:” Precisely!”

Monkey CEO:” So, where would you like to build your establishment?”

Alien CEO: “How about Uncle Sam’s land? Heard it’s the most advanced and sought after.”

Monkey CEO:” Wouldn’t recommend that…they are just recovering from an unexpected election result. The humans themselves are not so sure if they want to continue living there or migrate to Canada.”

Alien CEO:” Oh I see! Is it that bad?”

Monkey CEO: “Yes, Bro!”

Alien CEO:” How about the Queen’s land?”

Monkey CEO:” Oh don’t even think about it. If you visit them for a week, they will tax you. So, all your friends and relatives visiting you will hate you for all the tax they might end up paying.”

Alien CEO: “ Ohh….how about India?”

Monkey CEO:” India is a country we can never understand. Recently, the monkey para military forces had trained the forces to sneak into people’s houses and get all the cash they hide under their mattresses and jars. Our monkeys did an excellent operation in getting 90% of that cash. But, what a blow it was when their head of Government demonetized the Rs.1000 and Rs.500 currency. We had to abandon all the efforts and dumped the cash near Thane. That was covered in the local newspaper. Thank God, they did not realize that we had done it. Hee!hee!”

Alien CEO: “Now what? Which is the best place for us? How about China”

Monkey CEO: “That country is not within our area of operations….we have heard of rumors of monkey brains being consumed there. So, my employees refused to travel there for research and consulting for your prestigious project!”

Alien CEO:” Then do we have no chance at all to create our very own establishment on Earth? We wanted to collaborate with humans and create something big.”

Monkey CEO:” Ha..ha…you must be joking! Our greatest hero of all times, “Hanuman” helped the humans so much, but what did his descendents get? Till today, we get peanuts from them. When we demand equal treatment by entering their houses, they shoo us away. That human race….they forget they evolved from us. Now by holding long selfie sticks they spend most of the times in clicking photos and uploading their profile pics and DPs as they call it. You want to collaborate with such a species?”

Alien CEO:” Err…looks like it’s a bad idea. Well, then…we dissolve the project here itself.”

Alien CEO takes leave and the UFO zooms away from the earth.

Monkey CEO laughs and concluded….” Everything is a monkey business afterall!”

Of meanings, interpretations and synonyms

Of meanings, interpretations and synonyms

I could not think of a more relevant title for this blog, one after a hiatus of more than a month. A month is a long gap in between blogs for a blogger.

Just as November was about to begin, my daughter asked me, “Mamma do you know that November and December are the happy months of the year?”

“Who told you? Your teacher? Did you see something on TV?

She smiled with a look of educating me.

“The weather is at its best in those months. When our environment gives us the most conducive conditions to be happy, these 2 months definitely have to be the happy months of the year.”

As adults, we often complicate our thoughts and try to find a reason behind everything. I assumed December = Christmas = Gift from Santa Claus = Happy Child, hence probably the conclusion of happy month.

Thus, my mind discarded her “happy month”, but my heart probably bought in.

Synonym of November and December = Happy months

November on a global scale, saw a lot of surprises – the US elections, demonetization in India, the launch of Dubai Canal…yes, it is big for us, residents of UAE!

Synonym of surprises = Hopefully good!!

If we were to give a thought to how synonyms are presented, there are clearly 3 manifestations – a.) Dictionary/ Thesaurus/ Lexicon, b.) Implied c.) Assumed

Category a.) is simple, so I shall move on to the other two.

Implied. Also, fairly simple.

Examples, a tortoise = slowness, a midnight rush to ice-cream parlor = pregnancy cravings, potholes on Western Express Highway (Mumbai) every monsoon = money making and corruption, people mis-judging you = their truth, your lie…and the list can go on.

Assumed is the most interesting category of all.

If you are overweight, people will assume you don’t exercise. Even if you vouched, they will give you a look…. how is it even possible!

If you are listening to music on ear phones and someone tries to talk to you, you will invariably end up answering back loudly.

If you see a glass containing white liquid, you will assume it is milk.

And with that begins my story.

It was a November morning. Samira called for a taxi from the RTA in Dubai. She had recently relocated from India and did not yet have her driving license.

“Can I please request a big Hala Taxi (Innova Car)? I need to drop my kids to school.” She spoke on her mobile.

(Pause)

“Ok. In case it is not available, a regular taxi will do.” She concluded her taxi request.

Within 5 minutes, Samira received a call that the taxi driver was waiting at the entrance of her building.

She picker her purse, followed by the school bags and called out to her kids, who were busy in the adjacent room.

The taxi driver gave a blank look at his approaching customer, he was expecting more.

Nevertheless, he started the taxi but started grumbling.

“Madam, why did you request for big taxi? Big taxi is for people who go to the airport with lots of luggage.”

“Why? Is there a problem?”

“If people like you book big taxi, then the big taxis will not be available for the people who really need them.”

“There is no dearth of taxis here. I am aware of private taxis like Uber, Careem, also providing service.”

“I don’t like driving in these small areas like Bur Dubai. I usually ply in Jumeirah and Marina. In future, I will not take passengers in these areas”

“Are you Indian? What is your name?” (Samira almost made up her mind to lodge a complaint).

The driver got a whiff of her intention.

“No name Madam.”

“If I am paying the fare, what is your problem? ……..Well then, you should only focus on servicing your passengers with utmost safety. I don’t need a name, a complaint can be done without that, also. In Hindi, “Aap munh mat chalaiye, sirf gaadi chalaiye!””

Pin drop silence followed till they reached the destination.

The driver picked up a Malayali newspaper and did not utter a word. Samira paid 20 dirhams and left 1 dirham change.

Samira did not complain, she never would, she told herself. She did not want to punish that driver’s family for his attitude problem.

The taxi driver left from there. He received the notification for his next passenger pick-up. It was Burjuman Shopping Center, Bur Dubai.

Both Samira and the taxi drivers had their set of notions and assumed synonyms. For example,

Big Taxi = Only for airport transfers.

Big Taxi = Relatively more comfortable ride for kids to school.

Taxi Driver’s service expectation (Key Performance Indicator as perceived by customer) = Meet customer’s requirements with safety.

Taxi Driver’s service expectation (Key Result Area as perceived by Taxi Driver) = Target areas where the Western Expats live, for more fare with lesser number of rides per passenger and less Khich-khich (Nagging).

A taxi ride of only 20 minutes threw up different understandings of the same thing. The same thing meant differently to the taxi driver and his customer. It resulted in conflict too! But then the beauty of conflict is that sometimes we see more sense in adapting to the point we opposed and fought against.

The next day, Samira requested for a regular taxi.

And would you like to know what happened to that taxi driver? He literally followed Samira’s advice.

He stopped giving his opinions and advice. He almost felt that he would have lost his job the other day. His daughter’s wedding was only a month away.

Guest Blog : Reading and Knowing More by Soham

Guest Blog : Reading and Knowing More by Soham

Soham is a 10-year-old boy who lives with his parents and grandmother in Sinhagad, Pune. His father, Ajit Vaishampayan and I have been colleagues and friends from my first employment.

Soham is a keen observer and has an opinion about everything. And why not? If you are well-read, you deserve to have that, isn’t it? His writing below tells you more about that.

While going from pre-primary school to primary school, I was very much excited about the new things I have to learn.

Then I asked my father, “Baba, there are many new things and new topics to learn in higher classes, isn’t it?”

He said ,”Of course yes  but for that you have to study and read a lot.”

So the next day my mother and I tried to read newspaper.

But oh! It was just boring n dull!
Slowly n steadily I started to read various topics such as headlines, jokes and even tried some of the puzzles.

During that period my mother used to bring the periodical ‘Magic Pot’.

It was very colorful n interesting having short stories, puzzles, information about science and nature.

I liked to read them and was waiting for every alternate Wednesday for the new Magic Pot to come.

Aaji also encouraged me to read Marathi Balmitra to enhance my Marathi vocabulary.

Due to studies, extracurricular activities ,TV n net, we are so occupied that reading newspapers and books is very less.

But because of my Baba I want the TOI newspaper after I brush my teeth daily.
It is becoming my habit now and I know it is going to benefit me lifelong for my studies and in my development.

I enjoy it thoroughly. I read sports page regularly and other pages. Sometimes I get full information of EPL and football details.

Now I got lot of details about intricacies of US elections.
As I went on reading the newspaper, I started to know about US President elections and came to know about Donald Trump n Hillary Clinton who were the nominees.

I also got to know about the electoral college system and how it works.For example, Florida has many seats. So, winning Florida is like winning the half of the election. Every state has a particular number of seats and when you win that state you get a certain number of seats. When you get 270 seats you will win. As I was watching the live updates on TV, when Trump won Florida it was almost clear victory for him. I really enjoyed reading about elections.

The sports page of The Times of India newspaper is my favorite. My football coach used to call me Wikipedia as I almost know many things about sports like football, cricket, kabaddi, etc.

Of course, because of reading, my vocabulary is increasing. My confidence, my contribution in discussions on various topics in school as well as at home also. My general knowledge is increasing and I know it is going to have good long term effect on me.

I know in Marathi is rightly said,
“वाचाल तर वाचाल.”