Performance objective of my subordinate : ‘I want to have congenital relationships with my seniors and peers.’

My comments : ‘Needs to improve communication skills’

Growing up

We all have our notions of the birds and the bees. Here’s one.

“Stop! Cross the road carefully”, said Twilight Fairy.
“Don’t you know you might have an accident if you are not careful”, wise TF admonished younger sis.
“And then you’ll be taken to the hospital and you’ll have kids”. More wise words uttered by TF – age 7, to sister, age – 4.

Flashforward “bees saal baad”.

TF – age 27, sister age – 24.

Giggle giggle.. chuckle.. gasp. chuckle.. giggle .. giggle..

“And did I tell you I used to think that matches for marriage are made if the bride and groom physically resemble each other?”

That’s some more gyaan.

The toilet experience 1

My trip to Japan last year was a very interesting experience. Not just because it was the first time I was flying to another country but also because of the cultural differences. No one needs to be told that Japan is *the* place when it comes to technological advancement and optimisation of space. The place is very beautiful, clean, unpolluted, safe and the people very helpful. I had planned to make a separate blog for my Japan sojourn but that never really materialised. I wrote a couple of posts earlier, but that was about it. There are a lot of things about Japan, that would strike one in the first go. And then, some not quite so obvious.

One of the aspects – the technological advancement could be seen even in the way the toilets were. Once I went to an italian place and the loos were really hi-tech! The toilet seat had an arm kinda thingy attached to it and there were lotsa buttons nearby. I suppose they were probably to splash water on your butt from different angles :-). All I could do was guess, because the controls were written in Japanese. The buttons looked quite tempting in different colours, but since I didn’t want any fiascos happening in a strange place where I wouldn’t even be able to communicate what happened, I refrained. I must mention that the toilet seat was pre-warmed (and no it was not because someone had toasted it with their butt) which was a relief in those unbearable cold snowy winters! The controls and all made the “hot-seat” appear as if it was some space ship cockpit or something :).

Once we went to this place called Roppongi and went to a thai restaurant there, called Irewan. It was on the 13th floor of a building. The night lights view was too good.. and these ppl had some weird loos! They were one step ahead of the previous ones. They didn’t have so many gadgets and all.. in fact they were more “natural” coz they were practically open! I mean one side of the four walls was a glass pane from where one could see the cool breathtaking view outside (from the 13th floor) and the world could see you too! It also had a lot of potted plants right next to the WC. Then it struck me that such an advanced place would obviously not be so reckless in their planning, though one could never be sure because they certainly aren’t as conservative as Indians. I concluded that the glass was only one way and not really see-through as I imagined. I felt quite odd, but had no choice but to answer nature’s call there, trying to hide behind the foliage.

Most of the public loos there are equipped with sensors in all kind of places. If not sensors then the least expected lever would be designated for performing the flushing action. Every time I went outside, I saw new and different “technologies”. So much so, that by default, I would start expecting some weird gadgetry in each new place I visited. There was this loo in a metro station where I could just not find a hotspot for a sensor or any lever which would actually perform the flushing action. Another thing I had noticed was that it kept flushing automatically even when no one was inside. I tried imagining that may be that was the technique here but then that would be quite ineffective. The toilet would never end up clean when required and would keep wasting water when not needed. So at this particular place, I kept waving my hand at whatever remotely resembled a sensor and kept pressing everything that remotely resembled a lever. But to no avail. It didn’t work. Sheepishly, I had to make an exit because there was a long queue waiting. And as I opened the door Lo! behold! The thing flushed automatically. In fact the same had happened when I entered. But I must say again, quite a weird logic. Well, all’s well that flushes well :).

The Monsoon Wedding

No, not the movie. The one that I was busy attending since the past few days. It had most of the attributes of the movie itself. A typical punjabi wedding replete with lots of noisy relatives, chaos, fun, punjabi food, punjabi music, punjabi gaalis, lecherous elderly male relatives and of course not to forget the main ingredient – rain. All this was sans sex in the closet, (but then who knows, mebbe i wasnt aware), sans chunari chunari item numbers, sans a separate love story blooming for the household helps… ahem.. again, who knows mebbe i wasnt aware.

The functions started with the shagun ceremony. Since I was from the groom’s side, I didnt expect any mehendi wala at the occasion, but we did get one. I managed to get mehendi put on both palms, leaving the first three fingers of my right hand (utility fingers). Instead I got a pattern, something like a bracelet done on my wrist. Unfortunately, I also managed to smudge my mehendi in several places all over my brand-new-stitched-for-the-occasion-baby-pink suit. Reached home at 3am and got up at noon the next day. I had already done away with the henna at night out of the sheer frustration of not being able to use my hands. Still had a whole lot of things to rush up with. Had to buy some nice matching jewellery with yet-another-stitched-for-the-occasion suit.

This was the first time I had decided to get a proper hair-do from a parlour. For that I had to wash my hair and keep one and a half hours aside for the hair-do “job”. Suddenly after lunch, I realised that all these things on the agenda were just not possible if I had to leave on time. Leaving “on time” is something of a major debate at home. My dad always wants to be punctual at all these great indian weddings, where even the hosts are not present anywhere near the venue at the afore mentioned time. We (the rest of us) have given up by trying to prove each time in each such function that we happen to be the only ones at the venue, with no one to greet us except empty chairs and tables. sigh..Anyway, at 3pm I still had to wash my hair, buy myself some stone jewellery from Janpath, keep aside 1.5 hrs for the hair-do and of course get ready as well by 6pm. Impossible! Not to forget the rain which anyway slowed down things to a great extent. Some quick fixes were required.

I went to a neighbour to borrow some appropriate stone jewellery set to go with my suit. Got it thankfully and she also suggested a good parlour from where I could get a hair-do. She even suggested the kind of style I should go in for. Err.. I hadnt even decided on the parlour and hair style 😛 till then, so that saved me some time. But my luck didn’t last long. I went to the parlour in my car even though it’s a 5 minutes walking distance but spent half an hour going round and round the place that I thought the parlour was situated in. Because of the rain, there was just no one I could ask for directions.. the roads were absolutely empty! I was completely lost. I called up my neighbour again for directions, which were what I had already followed anyway. Finally I got one person from whom I clarified where the parlour was and reached the building which didn’t look like a parlour from any angle. There wasn’t any signboard either. I decided to ring their doorbell anyhow. I repeated the exercise of ringing the doorbell 3 times at 3 different entrances of the same building and finally the last one happened to be the entrance to an underground parlour albeit without a signboard!

Once in, I explained my predicament and also the fact that I was short of time. I blurted out exactly as instructed by my neighbour. “I want a bun which generally models and ppl like miss universe make”. The parlour ppl rushed up their act. About a 100 pin stabs in my head later and after being lighter by the weight of at least 1000 hair strands, my work was done. Not to forget the 250 bucks which exited my wallet quickly and the 1.5 hrs i spent here unlike the quoted “20 minutes”. Here I was, with a hair bun which was straight out of “The 70’s show” according to my sister. I was already late, but rushed anyhow, got ready and left. On the way, in the car, final touches were given to my appearance (read makeup, of which I am no connoisseur). I also managed to collide my head with the car’s ceiling and thus the bun several times in the car. I wasnt used to the sudden increase in height. But the bun was ok, courtesy the loads of hair spray that the parlour female had doused me with. So much so that I couldn’t even smell the favourite perfume I had sprayed. I also carried my transparent-pink-japanese-umbrella a la “Monsoon Wedding” style lest the baraatis would have to do some rain dance.

Once at the venue, where the baraat had to assemble, we were as usual earlier than the main baraatis themselves. The grooms sisters are supposed to tie a thread on the mare which the groom is supposed to ride. After this, the sisters feed the mare some horsegram or rather the pulses made of horsegram. All this hoopla got over and we went to the main venue of the wedding. Thankfully the wind was pleasant and there was no sign of rain (yet). Some of the guests for the wedding were foreigners. Before we knew it, they were clicking our snaps with great zeal. As my cousins and I waved at them, one of my “graameen” aunts slapped my back with a “bas karr!” (stop it). Maybe she thought I was having a major case of “chadti jawani”!!

I caught people staring at me – dunno whether the stares were appreciative or curious or plain amused. After all I looked like straight out of “The 70s show”. But I liked it myself. I didnt stay for the pheras since I was quite dogtired already with a previous night out. Left for home around 12:30am. The moment I reached, the skies poured. Maybe the heavens also shared the tears of the new bride.

Pregnant Possibilities

‘Are you pregnant?’, asked the lady behind the ticket counter.

‘Whoooosh’.. I could hear my confidence zooming past to never never land. “What?” sounded like a slap to my self esteem and vanity. Little did it occur to me that the question could be duty bound.

“Am I really looking like *that*!!”, I thought to myself.. seeking consolation from somewhere in the recesses of my mind, for the insult that comes with a nonpregnant girl being questioned abt pregnancy!

Ok, let me give a “bhoomika” here first. The scene: I was coming back from Japan to India via Singapore, early last year. Due to the luggage restrictions and it being the coldest winter I could have ever imagined, I did the smart thing of wearing most of my clothes :-). So eventually I was with inners, warm thermals, a t-shirt, a shirt on top of it, 2 sweaters, warm legging, jeans, 2 pairs of socks, a *big* heavy leather jacket (it weighs 3 kilos by itself) and a muffler. Not to forget the big, lady’s handbag (which was more like a cargo bag), an actual handbag (weighing 11 kgs) and a laptop (the case of which I had stuffed with all that didn’t fit in my checkin baggage). Only I know how I managed to balance this load on both shoulders. Ouch.

I had missed my connecting flight to India and thus got an overnight stay in Singapore. One of the freebies at Changi Airport, (how can a desi not avail of these) is a tour of the Sentosa island via bus or boat and that was the booking counter for the same in front of which I was asked that … offending question. As I was trying to convince myself that it was *definitely* because I was wearing too many pairs of clothes, holding too much luggage and walking in the most awkward gait I could manage with that luggage; she asked me the question again and I spluttered ‘No’. She had probably noticed my squeamish expression for she clarified that pregnant women are not allowed for the boat ride and it was a customary question.

That was MY reaction. But there are others for example my aunt who have an entirely different reaction to a synonmous situ. My aunt (who stays in the US of A) has 2 kids. Despite of having delivered them years back (they are teenagers now), she still looks like the docs forgot something inside.. in other words, central obesity makes her look like she’s expecting. Many a times she’s had to face situations like (and worse than) this. But they only add to her daily dose of laughs and in fact she has a nice time getting pampered! It can certainly work to ones advantage if one knows how to veer the situ :).

One such situ happened when she was recently coming to India. The ppl at customs asked her if she was pregnant. She replied in the affirmative and was readily whisked away so that she doesnt go through the scanning at customs, while she gloated with glee inwardly. Further, the ppl freighted her luggage all the way like slaves, because – you guessed it – she was supposedly pregnant. Whenever she goes to Supermarkets, she gets lots of sympathetic and understanding glances from ppl in all age groups. Some offer to carry her stuff. Some offer her water to drink etc. She even wins awed and appreciative glances by (desi) aunties who happen to watch her playing basketball in the pink of her pregnant state of affairs. The lady at McDonalds stares in awe when she gets an answer to her question regarding the due date. After all who wouldn’t when told ‘the baby is due tomorrow but I wanted to eat french fries today’.

Fortunately, for me, I haven’t managed to land myself in such spots..phew.