Holding on to my horse !

Phrase 3I think back on events from my childhood, and they seem to be wavy and shrouded in fog. A lot of my memories are in black and white, and the sound is garbled, as though I’m listening to them through the wrong end of a gramophone. I remember my father was very insistent that I learn English from a very early age. I cannot quite remember why, but there must have been a good reason. He would want me to speak in English with him, and not in our colloquial language (Bengali or Hindi). Most of the instructions that my parents would give in English would be unambiguous – like “Come here Ari!” and “Please be quiet!”. Such clear interaction allowed me to understand what was expected of me, and perform the task obediently.

Sometimes, my parents would use a phrase, that made no logical sense. Not that logic and reasoning were my strengths ever, but even to my under-developed brain, it seemed to make NO sense. I continued to work hard and try to find my way out of this “Phrase Maze”. 

Phrase 2I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect my parents had learned that these phrases and comments were guaranteed to stop me dead in my tracks from asking any more of my usually irritating questions. My mom had a classic – “Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed?” – that question almost paralyzed me. My parents had never explained which was the wrong side. Adding to that was the confusion that the bed was set against the wall. So, there was only one side I could have gotten up. There seemed to be add up to the “Never ending” list of things that I just DID not get. I think I spent years wondering which step of my morning routine was causing the problem. Or, was it something I did before I went to sleep. The confusion lingered on.. I never REALLY found a convincing answer.

Even today, I hear my wife telling this to me sometimes.. And I feel compelled to answer, and not with complete certainty – “NO, I don’t think so”

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Damn the Wisdom!

“Damn the wisdom…” – I told to myself

It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon in the Golden Week of 2012, when everything seems to come to a standstill. Life seemed to be moving at a pace that I always wanted to, slow and steady. An innocuous looking toothache had caused us to visit the doctor as a precautionary measure. Few medicines and pain killers and we would be fine, I thought.

Wifey and me were seated in the oral surgeon’s cabin. He was a diminutive man in his mid forties I presume, with a lyrical South Indian accent, a grim face, and a penchant for looks of sheer perplexity. It was as though, with me seated in front of him, he realized for the first time that he really did have to rely on that dime-sized mirror to see what he was doing.

Dr. Subbu (lets call him that)was studying the X-ray report carefully. He then, turned to us, and started grimly –

DOC: Well, looks like, we need to extract your wisdom teeth..

ME: Its just a little tooth ache, is it that bad? Does it need a surgery? Can we not do with some medicines or something?

DOC: (Feeling my apparent discomfort at surgery) You must get it removed ! You see wisdom teeth is one the vestigial organs.. No use, and only creating trouble for you.. Come let me show you!

Wisdom1The Doc explained that the problem was with the lower right wisdom tooth that had grown horizontally and butted its stupid head against the back molar. Apparently, the wisdom tooth was healthy. The problem was a cavity that had formed between the two teeth – a dark space that bacteria and food particles found their cozy home in. Eventually, this would decay the innocent molar teeth, and cause more trouble for us.

Dr. Subbu pointed to the Xray that revealed the real culprit – the wisdom tooth that was lying on its side and trying to grow laterally. I couldn’t fathom why something with the word wisdom in its name seemed to have less intelligence than a mushroom, which is a fungus that grows from dead trees, yet manages to find its way out without troubling anyone else.

My inquisitive mind, of course, wanted me to demand some rational explanation for the impasse.  I wanted to make a point, but looking at his grim face, I decided against it. It didn’t seem like a good day for such a high-risk activity.

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Dumb and Dumber !

I was a dumb kid. Correction – I am STILL a dumb.. Err.. Kid !!Image

I was always intrigued with life. Well, the feeling would go through states of bafflement, bewilderment and in some days, utter confusion! My brain seemed to continuously process information and look to find answers. This nearly-total lack of a mental filter can cause increased stress. Things find their way to my brain, things that don’t belong there, just as things don’t belong in my lungs, like dust.  Being inquisitive, I would ask lot of questions.. And would often be tagged as being dumb..

“Why do you ask so many dumb questions?” – my friends would say

“Stop it Ari.. Sometimes, you ask really dumb questions.. GO NOW!” – my teachers would say.

Every time I asked a question, my self belief took a beating. During those turbulent days, my pillar of strength was my mother. She always supported me. She said everyone goes through this PTT syndrome (no it’s not Push-To-Talk, it is Pre-Teen Trouble). As you grow older, you gain more KNOWLEDGE, and you will find the answers yourself.

I imagined that in the distant future, the fog around my brain would dissipate, the smoke would clear, and I will be able to begin the satisfying task of gathering pieces of understanding and storing them in my mind.  I was convinced that just like every item in the food store came with an expiry date, my dumb-ness also will have an expiry date? The day will arrive when I will finally have the power of “insight”, the gift of “knowledge”.

I patiently waited for the moment to come…Through my teens, my twenties, thirties..

I am still waiting.

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MD 13 : Spick n Span

It was unusually cool Sunday morning in Bangalore this week. It had rained the previous evening and almost through the night. I woke  with a rare feeling of energy pulsing through me – Its amazing how some days – it just feels right! “Today’s gonna be a very productive day” – I told myself.

Wifey was already making breakfast  in the kitchen, and my MIL (mother-in-law) was incessantly brushing away at the kitchen slab. She was cleaning up the apparent mess I had created when I tried to make myself some “Ready to eat” food late in the night – suddenly feeling hungry…

ME: Good morning folks.

WIFE: Good morning dear..

MIL : (Smiles and continues to brush the kitchen slab)

ME: So, what’s for breakfast?

WIFE: French toast!!

 Hmm…. I wonder why is bread fried with egg yolk is called french toast… hmm.. More research needed, but that’s for later…

ME: Ok… BTW, I feel today’s gonna be a highly productive day for me!

WIFE: (Gives me the We shall see Look)

MIL: (Continues to brush….)

ME: MIL, the slab is grey – it wont turn white if you continue to brush it!!

My MIL is a cleanliness freak – I think she has spent about 90% of her life cleaning something or the other. For her, everything’s got to be speck-less – yeah, in literal terms – no kidding!! Wifey – like her mother, has got the “Cleanliness DNA” well engrained in her as well. On the contrary, I am a bit of a messy person. Not the filthy types, but more the “cluttered and blissfully ignorant about it” types. As you can see, its not really a “Made for each other” scenario.

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MD12 : Desinglished

 I have always been intrigued with the usage of English words/phrases across different cultures. As an Indian in his first trip to US, I was stumped by Here to Go (Read it at Mishti Doi 1 : Here To Go). Indians are prone to using Desinglish [Desi (typical Indian) + English]. Most of the Indians are so used to it that most of the words / phrases seem to be NORMAL usages, yet they leave people from other cultures completely confused. 

So, brace up folks… here we go…

“We moved into a new flat recently” – my aunt said, as I started driving.

My uncle’s friend (Bob) was visiting from the US. While my uncle and his friend stayed back in Delhi to complete some official work, Bob’s wife – Jenny – was coming over to Bangalore on Monday to spend time with my aunt. My uncle (Ravi) and Bob would join the wives on Friday evening. I had been given the responsibility to help my Aunt pick her friend up from the airport, and drive her to my aunt’s flat….Errr.. Apartment.

The flight from Delhi had been delayed and arrived at 5 PM India time. We got into our car, and braced ourselves for a 2 hour drive through the heavy traffic.

Following conversation ensued…

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MD 11 : Super Saver Offer

“Which one is better?” – wifey asked, holding 2 packets of a detergent – one green and one blue.

I was out doing the activity I hated most – the weekly shopping at the mall. My role is usually that of a support actor running after the lady with the “stuff to get home” list – pull the shopping trolley, follow wifey around all isles as she keeps popping things out to me, few questions and opinions are seek-ed (though fairly infrequent) and finally pay the bill.

I am usually relegated from being supporting actor to a “guest appearance” when wifey is joined by my mom or my mother-in-law (MIL). Wifey-Mom or Wifey-MIL combination occupies the complete screenplay – so, I usually have no dialogues to deliver, and am in the background – my part being restricted to pulling the trolley and paying the bill.

Anyway, this Sunday evening we were out to nearby shopping complex. We were at the aisle which had “Detergents, soaps” when my wife broke off from a serious conversation with MIL, making several “I AM TOTALLY CONFUSED WHICH ONE TO TAKE” gestures and came towards me – the disinterested chap looking away and asked –

WIFE : “Which one is better? (Pointing to the 2 packets of a popular detergent in her hand)

I was stunned by this sudden need for EXPERT ADVICE. This was not in the screenplay, but I decided to play along, at least for now.

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