Apr 14, 2012

Desperate Public Parenting


The other day, Mylo parks the car, nods, and stretches his seat to catch a wink in what would be a half-wink chore for me - withdrawing money from the ATM. There was just one guy waiting and I with none of life's pressures on me, strolled to join him. Just then, a scooter stops somewhere behind me and I turn to find a mother-daughter duo. As I watch, the daughter jumps off the scooter, shares a look with her mother, and runs to take position behind the guy, while I was just two feet away from my destination. Now, that creature didn't have a purse, didn't look like she knew the full form of ATM, and was hardly half as tall as me. And as she was cementing two footprints, the mother casually parks her scooter, picks her handbag, and with the slowness of new born baby elephant rummages to find her ATM card.

As she reaches, what has now thankfully become a queue, the daughter energetically invites her and they share the position, casually waiting for their turn. Which-would-have-been-my turn! My turn! I stare at the mother to get an adult connection - nothing. As I was about to shape a retort in my head about queue etiquette, that two foot nuisance turns to give me a smirk.

I roar, "Hey, that's my place and you can't hold positions for your mother in a queue - like throwing a book in and reserving a seat on a busy bus! What are you, refugees? Oh, you need a dictionary for that, don't you?" 
"And you, you are being proud of your daughter cutting into a queue like that, when you clearly saw I was next! Shouldn't you be telling her what's wrong and what's right? Especially in public, towards strangers? You are setting a bad bad example for her. So get behind me or I'll chop her bloody ponytail off and kick your scooter down! "

But I didn't. Maybe it was something in my school anthem or the fact that I didn't have kids of my own, yet. So I waited my turn as I saw that two footer insist on entering the PIN and pull out the money. But as they exited towards their scooter, I glared at the mother's receding shadow wondering how our parents did it.

Sep 1, 2011

Turning Returning

In a retrospective fit, I asked Mylo his happiest moment of all time. "Uh.....the day we got engaged....?" "Not a trick question, so answer honestly!" Ten minutes and he was still silent.

When I was asked this question in a yoga session, a couple of years ago, I was told to think about it and answer the next day. I, for the lackadaisical approach to such questions as, your favorite color etc, thought they were nuts to stretch these sessions. But then I sat and sat. I had no clue. Happy yes, but happiest, I really didn't remember.

Recently, on TV, someone was exclaiming how the happiest moment for a woman was her wedding day and I wondered if that was true for Indian brides as well. On mine, I was hoping my sari didn't come loose, the lamps don't burn the mandap down, and I don't fall face down. Mylo was in attendance and did his bit. Thali, vermillion, garland. Pose, smile, click. And, why didn't that Uncle get me a gift?

Anyway, since Mylo and I drew a blank, like I did in that session where I stretched a happy moment to be the happiest, we went out for dinner.

Eating out, eating non vegetarian food has always ensured happiness. We ordered and glanced over to see this family of four at the opposite table. The head of the family was returning my glance with his index finger up his nose. I gave him a blank stare moving attention to his nose but he had no idea his finger was up to something. As his finger caterpillared its way centimeters away from his eyeball, my barbecue chicken arrived.

Amen.

Aug 16, 2010

Meeting Your Husband's Friend's Expectations

I'm not targeting that husband who appreciates his wife indulging in a conversation with his friends (and their wives) and offers the brilliant idea of ordering food or restaurant hopping, when he senses she'd rather laugh than sweat. I'm targeting that husband who appreciates his wife floating into the darkness of their bedroom or kitchen the moment his friends arrive, nodding sweetly and quietly, while waiting for the cue to serve the next dish.

Last Friday, Mylo and I carpooled with his colleague on our way back from work. Mylo had related funny anecdotes of this colleague and I imagined it to be a laugh-till-a-little-pee-comes-out drive. They pick me up and I'm all nice and asking him questions and waiting for a witty reply and he gives me drab responses. I figured he must be uncomfortable showing his funny side as it was the first time we had met - so I make an effort talking family and asking about his kid's chickenpox. Again nothing funny. Then, he starts talking work totally ignoring me. Now, Mylo is usually a kind man and is aware of his surroundings, and I'd always thought that's why I married him. But no, he dives straight into technical jargons and I feel like puking in the back seat.

Finally, as we near home, Mr.Colleague asks, "So will you be going home and cooking?" and angles his neck towards me.
(It's 8:45pm, take a wild guess Mister. I know your perfect wife is waiting with that hot dinner, but we don't care, and that includes my husband, coz he cares for me and understands that I can't be possibly cooking now, and so he himself will tell me to take rest and will order food in. Hah! And oh, by the way, now you have something to converse with me? And that too, about cooking?!) I stare out of the window as if I hadn't heard.

Mylo realizes my silence and says hesitantly, "Well....., today....... we might be eating outsaaaaaaide......."
"Oh you mean today too?" 
By the way, did I mention this colleague is a malayalee? I have to, coz there's an add-on smirk to every question and answer from my countrymen. It dates back even to their board exam answer sheets, like "Yeah right, you think I'll answer that! Be glad at least I came. OK? OK." Also, my countrymen judge, and if you know this, the perspective of any of their responses will never stupefy you again. And when they marry, they judge more and smirk more as if they have or expect to have perfect wives who 'listen' to them, 'obey' them, and who know they don't 'need' to participate when 'men' are talking.

But I still believed my malayalee countryman, my husband, was different, until he responded.
"Well, you know, it's just the two of us..so...we...kinda...you know...do our own thing...."
Why in the world was he sounding apologetic?!
Anyway, to which Mr.Colleague responds in silence. Silence. If he had laughed, I'd have added something witty, but he didn't, and I knew what that 'silence' meant. He had judged me. Not Mylo and me, just me. Coz malayalee men are one brotherhood and they believe their wants and needs rise from a common spring and any painful ripple that disturbs its tranquility creates a telepathic bond of empathy, far more powerful than a woman's intuition.

In that instant, in the back seat of that car, I had become a disqualified wife flagged for contamination. I knew he'd never invite us home or let his wife meet me ever.

That night Mylo went to bed dinner-less and I finished our stock of chocolate cream biscuits. Vindication of the rights of women. Hah Ennoda!

May 17, 2010

When You Don't Know How to Drive

... it's no fun owning a car. Seriously. If I were a blonde bimbo with a short skirt and a bikini top, I'd have ordered my way through this marriage. But then, we are this ordinary looking middle class couple. So when inside the car, I listen to my husband coz he's doing something pretty important which I'm ignorant about - driving.

Listening has everything to do with activity. When we've excitedly decided on a trip, I leave the house carrying water bottles, snacks, change of clothes, caps, umbrella, camera, route directions, hand bag and, batteries. He leaves with the car keys. Then he stands in the shade and asks me to get inside the car and start the AC. This because we only have open car parking at our apartment and the heat is terrible. So I get inside, get the AC on, arrange the stuff inside and wait for the grinning tormentor to get in.

Then we begin the trip. Yay!

There comes the toll gate, get the money.
I'm hungry, peel the orange and place them in my mouth.
Open the glove box I think I left that CD somewhere in there. Oops! Didn't see that hump, does it hurt?
Get that tissue box from the backseat, I can't turn coz I don't want that guy to overtake us!
Check Trip A, I need to know how many kilometers so I can purposely use some weird calculation to see the mileage we're getting.
Why aren't you taking any pictures?
Check if there are any vehicles coming from over my head.
I can't stop while you're drinking water, we're late.
Go buy it na, I'm too tired driving, so will wait for you inside the car.
See I'm driving, so I can't ask for directions and look for landmarks. You aren't doing anything! Why can't you do it?!

Sometimes I wonder if Mylo had a questionable past as a lorry driver who never got a cleaner to assist him. That's why children, studying history is important, it prepares you for the future. Anyway, one early morning he took me to the Marina and introduced me to the driver's seat. I instantly hated that insecure gear and that bloody clutch thinks no less of itself! Then he comes around and exclaims "See! Now you know how hard it is to drive. And why I'm so famished when I get home. And why I need you to do the rest of the work at home. And why it's important I need to have homemade nutritious food!"

So I made a few decisions:
Join professional driving classes
Get a maid
Get a cook

Love will keep us alive.

Mar 27, 2010

Parents

I believe after a certain age, it's a blessing to be able to see your parents everyday. I actually never wished for it or thought of it while I was away studying, working or busy being married. 

Now, when I take life at the pace I want it, it's an overwhelming completeness to have them beside me. As a child, I was never too close to them, though being Papa's pet was an enviable advantage. But I had my brother and he was all the love and fun I needed. 

Now, years later, I see each lock of their hair turning grey and their frame becoming smaller. I fear time's running out and there'd be a point when I won't see them ever, again. So I frantically make amends gift wrapping my time and money, and lacing it with love. 

And as I start thinking about stepping into parenthood, I realize the strength and love they've passed onto me so subtly. And yet, as a pampered child, I want them around when I have a baby, so I can be sure, they'll turn out right, just the way we did. The way, we instinctively know, love and respect life.