Thursday, April 28, 2005

Deal of a Lifetime

Scene: Year 2002, in the kitchen of my Chicago apartment.

I’m doing the dishes. The boyfriend is leaning on the counter top, sipping wine, and talking about this and that. I’m working hard.

He: I love the back of your neck
Me: (heart racing) *blush* *Replacing scrubbed pan and picking up cooker lid*
He: Come and have some wine. I’ll do the dishes later.
Me: No it’s almost done. *Replacing cooker lid, moving fast*
He: No, come. Don’t bother with them.
Me: It’s okay…I’m quick.

*He swoops me up and deposits me on the couch*
*I’m congratulating myself for meeting and roping-in spontaneous-lover-boy*
He brings me back a glass of wine, folding my fingers around the stem.
He: These hands are meant for this, not scrubbing, he says. Never scrubbing.

I believe I have attained domestic nirvana.


Scene: Year 2005, in the kitchen of our Boston apartment.

Hubby is doing the dishes. I’m leaning on the counter sipping wine. He is scrubbing the dishes twice before depositing them in the dishwasher. (Yes he is very thorough, yes he buys lots of cleaning products, 5 different types of scrubs and detergents for the dishes alone. No, don’t get me started on the rest of the stuff. Yes, we are aware it’s bizarre. No, we did not thinking of getting some help. Good therapy costs way more than good cleaning products)

Me: Remember? You really never let me do the dishes since then.
He: Hmmmm.
Me: I think it was very romantic.
He: Hmm.
Me: Do you really feel these hands are not meant for hard work?
*I lean on counter interestingly*
He: Hmm.
Me: Whaaat?
He: I cannot STAND the way you do the dishes. You never did the back of the pan. And you did not even remove the rubber-ring around the cooker lid and you had finished scrubbing and rinsing it.
Me: *Flabbergasted* You’re talking about that day? You remember the dishes I was doing???
He: Yes. And if you did the dishes in this place, we would be dead by now. You are the cook, sweetie and a great one at that.
(‘Sweetie’ part added to cushion blow of course, NOBODY fell for that)
Me: *Walking out of kitchen* I’m watching TV, have fun.

So much for the romance! But I have attained domestic nirvana. I don’t do any dishes around here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

You are a monster. One terrifying monster. How can you be so cruel? How can you steal so much? How can you take away something so dear? As if the taking was a given, you needed to do it step by step, in agonizing slowness and painstaking technique. As if, the taking away was just part of the fun for you, as if watching lives adjust to the loss of each cherished gift was the sequel to each episode of act of brutality, all components of the same master plan. Watching them adjust to this new low and then striking again. So they broke down again, each time a little-less-sure, a little more scared. But still they bent down and picked up the pieces. They formed a new picture with the shattered fragments. They still maintained that it was their picture. And it was. A gnawingly sad version of the same picture. But one that shone with resilience, hope, faith and at the same time, despair. Till the blows came down harder and more often, till there was very little time between mourning losses and bracing for the attacks. Till the picture was no longer recognizable. It was like a movie had ended, not because the scripted ending had been reached but because the actors had grown weary. Of your attacks. Because you are relentless. Because you are so evil, it makes you alive. And we are still picking up the pieces.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

All Grown Up!

Last month my oldest friend had a baby. We had met in kindergarten where she was the one with a drippiest nose and a HUGE handkerchief pinned to her pinafore that she had no clue what to do with. She was the one who climbed a Jamoon tree on the first day of summer, fell from the topmost branch, broke a leg and spent her entire summer vacation in a cast. She was the one whose sage advice to the silent, listening class on how the best way to handle the tight slaps of the Hindi teacher was to move your head side-to-side yourself, that way the slaps would never really hurt. If you offered resistance, you are the one who will end up hurt she said. Very sound advice that. She was the one who climbed the basketball pole in school with her skirt hanging over her head, just to show us that it could be done, it was not necessarily a guy thing. She was the Vice President of the one and only club I have founded, the one that was so secret we can’t tell you the name even now. In the 10th grade she stood on the stage in an important role in a serious Hindi play. She was in a sari, very dignified and all. She began her dialogue and the pallu started slipping. Any Indian can tell you what a no-no that is. By the end of the play it was on the floor. The hisses from the front row, the side wings, fellow actors, and soon the entire auditorium failed to get her attention. She was that serious about her dialogue. She was paired as my girl (being among the tall ones I was often assigned the boy role) in a folk dance. We had to turn round and round swirling these sticks in the grand finale. The fake braided hair extension that had been pinned to her short style left her head, did its own little dance, and traveled the entire breadth of the stage to hit the Chief-Guest in the knee. SHE is now a MOTHER. And a great one at that from what I can tell. The baby is an angel and my friend is up and about, planning her life and getting on with her own career. She regaled me with her daughter’s antics today, telling me how fast she’s growing up. But WOW, when did that happen? When did my friend grow up?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Move over Sam Adams, Horlicks is here.

Alpha accuses me of writing about my hubby way too much in my blogs (The fact that her's is a blog mostly dedicated to Pi-bashing is conveniently forgotten). I tell her that until I have a dog or a cat as a pet or maybe a baby of my own or my life takes an interesting turn and I give up my desk-job and turn into some adventure-monkey, the hubby will be my primary victim.
I catch a cold. 7 days later, I’m good as new. Then hubby catches it. We’re on day 3.
He: It’s really bad. I think I need to see a doctor.
Me: It’s a cold. It’ll go away.
He: No, it’s really bad. It just doesn’t seem to go.
Me: You’re on day 3.
He: But it’s just not getting any better. I better see someone.
Me: Please?
He: A doctor.
Me: Please.

He: She said it could be a sinus infection.
Me: Your sinuses are infected. You have a cold.
He: No, a Sinus Infection. She gave me something for it.
Me: It’s Tylenol.
He: “Tylenol Sinus.”
Me: No shit!
He: 'If you can keep your head, when all around are losing theirs..'
Me: blah blah blah

I humored him...but it did go away by the end of the week.

Hubby has taken to drinking Horlicks at night. Yes, Horlicks (The Great Family Nourisher of India that usually kids below the age of 10 drink). And I make it for him. People who know me know I am NOT the kind who mixes health drinks for family members who are not sick however much they might mean to me. But the practice sneaked up to me when I wanted to rinse out a bottle with just 3 spoons of Horlicks in it, so I could paint on it (Don't ask, I'll save that one for another rainy day on the blog when there's nothing happening). So I mixed it in milk and got him to drink it. (He can drink a LOT). Unfortunately a full bottle replaced this the following week and I confess I did make it again as I longed to try a cuppa myself, but it din't really take. So I hoped this chore would transition to the rightful hands soon enough. Last night:

He: (walking into kitchen and standing around vaguely) This Horlicks at night is really good.
Me: *Furiously rearranging photos on Picasa and emailing people* Yes? Making a cup?
He: Hmmm. *taking a sip of water*. I could make it myself if you are busy.
Me: *Blow a kiss* (Come on, that's universal language for "Thank you Sweetie, you're the best, please go ahead)
He: *Poised with water glass in mid-air, waiting*
Me: *Blow another kiss* (Universal language for "Go on now. Why are we waiting?")
He: It's cool. Finish your emailing. Actually I think later is better.

Is this his second childhood or had he never passed out of the first one?!! Should I be worrying about the fact that he drinks Horlicks or the fact that I see many years of Horlicks-making in front of me?

Friday, April 15, 2005

First Impressions

Honey I’ll be home soon” “No, don’t bother. No. I’ll take a cab... I love you!” He literally sang into the cell phone. All the while, he was fishing frantically inside his bag (which seemed to house pretty much every perceivable gadget in the market) for his Blackberry. Upon finding it, I thought he would switch to answering emails and shut off that cell. But no, it was just to compare some numbers and he was jabbering away in a second. “So I’ll be in Philly next week and maybe we can meet for drinks?” Pause. “Uh huh, Uh huh” Pause. “No, I understand! I’ll be there next month too, maybe then?” “Uh, huh” “Sure” “Yes, Yes” “Yes we should. Miss talking to you Kathy, love you!

At that point I discreetly switched off the little switch on the right ear of my headset. Noise cancellation was the last thing I required at the moment. That was the second woman he had said that to!! Of course it could have been his mother, daughter, sister, whoever, but the curious will remain curious and the book I was holding slumped just a bit. The attentive observer could have correctly predicted that I wouldn’t be turning too many pages for the rest of the time before our plane took off. I (meaninglessly!) felt satisfied that this Kathy had turned down his invitation for drinks. “Good for you” I rooted silently. He was on yet another call now and he kept the caller waiting while he switched to an incoming one. “Yes. John! So you do have a 4 PM slot open? Great!
Ah, this one is just business” I thought. We were after all in Business Class and he had invested in all these gadgets and it was still 5 PM Thursday. So if he had to work, I would be obliging, though everybody in the small cabin had already begun giving him the looks. “Good to hear your voice John, Miss you!” Eww. Well, he was just a very affectionate person I guessed. Till I heard him end the next call with an “I love you” again, this time a mumbled one. Maybe because he saw me motionless, head cocked or maybe he suddenly became aware of how he was “spreading the love” with the entire cabin within earshot. It was all odd indeed.

After take off, he settled down with laptop and Blackberry, shooting off emails and doing typical managerial stuff. He asked me the perfunctory questions and though I usually tell people a little bit about my work in such conversations (I’ve met some really nice and interesting people in my fortnightly visits to Chicago), I just wasn’t in the mood this time. It had been one of those days when you end up feeling exhausted but nothing significant has really been accomplished. I needed to unwind, to stare blankly at the most detailed birthing description in “Midwives” (my current read, I swear I did not know it was an Oprah Book Club recommendation. This copy did NOT have the seal) and then let my mind wander. These 2 hour plane rides home are very useful for being with the Self so-to-say. On arrival in Boston, project designs seem much clearer, code seems more debug-able and personal life seems altogether beautiful! He was a very persistent fellow though and I ended up mumbling more than a Yes and a No to his questions. He laughed at my jokes and he told me about his business. He drank his wine and ate his dinner, urging me to eat up too. He seemed nice enough and we became quite friendly. First impressions can be misleading and though I had initially sensed that he had thought me very lax to be wasting all this time reading a novel for somebody not on vacation and actually traveling on work, he completely dug my “de-compressing” theory when I explained its results to him. He decided he needed to take that up too and promptly shut down his laptop. I told him that when I had flown in the previous day, I had gotten some work done in-flight. (On hindsight that was such an un-cool thing to do - as if I needed to convince him of my professionalism! But I guess I was impressed with his work and successful entrepreneurs are interesting people and my own vanity and need-to-impress inevitably struck). Favorable tail winds (I love them!) took us to Boston in less than 1 hr 35 minutes. We walked out together, chatting amicably.

My husband waits at the exact same spot at the curb at Logan, each and every time I fly out. He comes directly from work and though there used to be days when he would try to cook and keep a warm dinner ready, those days are long gone. We usually head to 1 of 3 favorite restaurants right down our street, a short ride from the airport. I like that, not having to think or look for him or figure out stuff. There’s a short call when my plane lands and then I walk directly over and jump into the car. I left Mr. Entrepreneur at the curb and as I slid into the front seat I was almost afraid I would be subject to his standard parting-line too! It was a joke in my head now, one I would share with my husband, he being a man never generous with his 'I love yous' in public, I knew it would make a funny story. As my husband inched his way to the outermost lane through the long line of waiting cars, I twisted around to reach for the seat belt that tends to slide all the way back in a most irritating manner. I saw a woman step out of the Mercury that had been parked in front of my husband’s spot and stand on tiptoe in her 2.5-inch heels to kiss Mr. Entrepreneur. Something was odd but I couldn’t put my finger on it. As they stood there in a passionate embrace and we drove away, the words “No, don’t bother. No. I’ll take a cab… I love you!” rung out in my head, almost audibly. I recalled the mumbled version too. Maybe I’ve jumped to conclusions but the bad taste has yet to leave my mouth.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Life's To-Do list - Latin Dance - Check!

This Sunday we will be going for our final dance class. The class is called “Nightclub Survival” and it's funny we registered for it in the first place. With our clubbing days dwindling fast and our friends being gobbled up by suburbia or discussions of suburbia, homes, and thus impending poverty, (which is best done over dinner in a reasonably priced restaurant or in one of our apartments – no cover fee), classes for nightclub dancing seem to be so out of place. But let me tell you why I thought this was the best class for us. It promised an introduction to various types of dances – Salsa, Swing, Cha-Cha, Slow 2 step, 4-count Hustle....and most of all, it promised to help students find their sense of rhythm. Big promises. “They obviously haven't had my hubby as a student before” I thought as we walked into the really beautiful studio on our first day.
But he loves me and so he's doing this for me.” I thought.
Let's get this started and done with, evil blackmailer” he said.
Reality sometimes sucks.

See I love dancing and some real love for dancing is required when you sign up for classes and end up being paired with oafs who step on your toes all the time or guys way shorter than you or even being made to dance with girls. Tried slow dancing with another woman? It's creepy (surprisingly dancing freestyle with another woman is great fun). So I thought being able to do this with my man would be this great experience and after much coaxing and unabashed blackmailing, we registered for this 7 week course. The nice big lady (Why are all dance instructors so fat? All that dancing is supposed to do good things for your body, non? But the grace with which she carried all those pounds, sweet Jesus) was the most patient of teachers and she tried all kinds of methods to get my hubby into it. In all fairness, there wasn't a single step my man did not get down but something was awry..It was the much promised Sense of Rhythm that was oh-so-missing. We ploughed through Salsa, Swing, Cha-Cha...the basics were all under our belts; though the whole time it felt like an army drill. He counted under his breath and it did not really matter if there was music playing or not. Nice-lady and I were resigned to this fact and her sweet sympathetic smiles towards me multiplied with each class. UNTIL WE CAME TO THE 4-COUNT HUSTLE!!!! Lo and behold, we were doing the outward turn with a hand-change pass and suddenly I feel my man getting into it. We did the turn and followed up the rock-apart-recover with yet another impromptu one. He even added a little push with the right hand as he swung me out while drawing me in with his left. All done with a flourish which had Mrs. Galahad and me beaming non-stop. She bustled around him telling him this and that and it was like we had all seen the light. We moved on to a disco wheel and things were pretty crazy after that! We practiced it last night and as the music playing was the opening score of 'The Shield' it was slightly different but we were definitely there. It all felt very cool. One day we will dance in our kid’s wedding and my hubby will bow, kiss the hem of my skirt, thank me and tell me I was wonderful to have shown him the light. Be still my heart...

As everything comes with a price I have been persuaded to be his “Assistant” in his latest project – Stained Glass work. We had parted ways in a little antique store in the Outer Banks to do our own scouting. When we walked out a couple of hours later with a beautiful old stained glass lamp (my find) and 4 Spiderman comics from the 1970s (his find, obviously) he had that contented look of having fared better than I had. But since our return, the man has grown increasingly fascinated with stained glass and our dinner table conversations have circled around glass-cutters and glass grinders for weeks now. So we are going tool shopping this weekend and he will be setting up shop on our deck soon. If we make it beyond the preliminary stages without cutting our wrists (which need not happen only by accident you know), I will let you all know.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


The baby was just a month old. She felt exhausted all the time. It seemed to get busier with each passing day but she had recovered well from surgery and was more comfortable going about things now. A C-section from incision to delivery takes about 2 minutes but recovering from it is a whole different ball game altogether. She had already started to worry about the scar but “I have bigger problems than that with my body” she thought grimly as she lay her darling down for the 4th diaper change of the day “And it’s only just noon” she thought. Sujay would be back in an hour and they would then have to get ready for the long drive to the Doctor’s office. “You’re going to get your first set of shots, sweetie” she murmured as she kissed the soft head of curls. “Be brave”.

Nayana turning 1/12 of a year also marked the beginning of the end of her maternity leave. In a week she would be back to work. She wondered how things were at the office, there had been cut-backs in every department and her girlfriends told her things were crazy and they had all been putting in extra-hours every day and almost every weekend. “Good timing or very bad timing?” she wondered…but not as often as she used to do, before the baby. Timing had seemed all important at that time. The right time to get married, the right time to apply for that promotion, the right time to buy the house, the right time to have a baby. Everything had dissolved when they had found out she was pregnant. Knowing she was responsible for a whole new life was overwhelming to say the least. Her work as a Data Analyst had deliciously yet alarmingly lost its place in her mental priority list over the last month. It all seemed to belong to a remote world she had inhabited a long, long time ago when most things were made out to be a bigger deal then they actually were. Now day-care was her biggest deal. “Please let Nanu adjust” she thought as she watched her drifting off to her dreams, fed and changed and looking the picture of contentment, fists clenched as usual. It tore her heart that she would be able to catch these nap times and the hundred other events in Nanu’s day only after 6 PM soon. She kissed the tiny feet and stood up to start on some vacuuming. Maybe she could even get some washing done before Sujay came.


She picked up the phone hoping it would be a telemarketer so she wouldn’t be thrown of her schedule for long. It was her sister from India. “It’s okay yaar, it’s just 5 rupees per minute, thanks to all this wonderful outsourcing” She laughed and continued. “We can call too you know….but tell me, are you busy? I better ask you right away because take this as a warning, I am in a chatty mood” They talked like they were chatting after a year, it was always like that. Reema sounded cheerful. Her son had been sent off to school and the younger one was playing with Dadi. Dadu was off for a walk and promised to pick up her dry cleaning while returning. So Reema thought of her little sister and decided it was just the time to catch up. “So Sujay took the half-day off for Nanu’s shots?” she asked incredulously. “Yes, I find it difficult to drive for long after the surgery”. “O well you people do everything so differently” she dismissed and moved on.

Later, as she kneeled by the crib and looked at a sleeping Nanu she wondered about the opportunities Nanu would have. They had saved and skimped so they could live in the best school district of Atlanta. They could even easily afford private school for her when the time came. They would do everything to prepare her for her life ahead but they couldn’t do that and prepare her for her daily afternoon naps too. It had been an easy decision to come here looking for a good future but their future had involved only them at that time. “What would Nanu prefer?” she thought. “She is like me and she will surely thrive in this fast paced world. She'll be a strong little fighter” she concluded happily. Nanu woke up and instantly reached out. Taking her in her arms she felt the tiny fist gather her collar in that determined grip and suddenly she wasn’t so sure any more.