The Perennial Sniffles

A mini explosion threatened to bring the house down.The decibel was loud enough to send people scurrying out of their houses in panic.My husband and son slumbered on. All was well with the world. They were so accustomed to the comforting sounds by now, that at times, the absence of it caused some confusion.It was an impending disaster as I scampered frantically around the house with my eyes streaming. I berated myself for the hundredth time for not being more scrupulous. Suddenly I spotted the small bottle peeping out from the back of the medicine cabinet and pounced on it with relief.

1048240-cartoon-businesswoman-sneezing-poster-art-print

I was afflicted with the dreadful nasal allergies.

The family woke up grudgingly after being subjected to an intense stress testing of their sleeping abilities.But decided not to hazard asking delicate questions and conspicuously avoided the red eyes and twitching nose.The nasal explosions were timed to occur when both my hands were strategically occupied. When the collision between culinary and nasal catastrophes appeared imminent, I was forced to dash to the bathroom. The family was rather used to seeing me whizzing between the kitchen and the bathroom as I was prone to do most mornings.And woe betide anybody who managed to get in the path of a trampling rhino. My streaming eyes and nose were deterrent enough to scatter everybody a mile away. I wondered why I never had the common sense to build a wash basin inside my kitchen.

I had visited numerous shady-clinics and not-so-shady clinics who promised to put an end to my perennial watering nose.The only thing I know,unaffected by seasonality,droughts or global warming.But all I have to show for the innumerable visits and my famished purse,are the rows and rows of small empty bottles which now hold some vegetable seeds.I steamed my face till I resembled a lobster, but my sniffles were made of sterner stuff.

I walked around with an air purifier mask,opening it only to eat or sneeze.For some strange reason, a neighbor hurriedly closed the door after one look at my incongruous appearance.I slept with it and wouldn’t have been surprised to have frightened a burglar or two if the torch light had happened to fall upon my rather grotesque visage.Somebody suggested that I stand on my head as apparently the sniffles didn’t like being suspended upside down, but mine didn’t seem to mind them one bit.In fact, just to show that they were a good sport, they tried to see how I would react if they timed the explosion right when I was all knotted up.

I googled and searched till even the great Google was rendered mum on the matter. For my efforts, I was rewarded by finding one of my enemies.They looked like prehistoric dragons with tentacled feet.The dust mites which ruled the world of mattresses and bedding.But finding all the enemies which affected me was far more tedious than finding horcruxes.

Relationships have been threatened by fungus laden houses whose thresholds I absolutely refused to enter. Yellowed books telling stories of an age gone by in forgotten library shelves, were better to be forgotten for the sake of my nose.But even more curious was my apparent allergies to all ‘green’ soaps. I gasp for air when the household decides to spray themselves with noxious perfumes. Not for me, a romantic tête-à-tête where the man’s perfume comes wafting.I snorted derisively as a salesman tried to sell me those small pieces of cloth they call ladies’ kerchiefs, who quietly slunk away when he saw the mammoth towels I carried in my purse.

But there are times when it has saved the day. A calm and serene home stay in the plantations and the silence only broken by the singing of the crickets and sudden explosions.During one of his nocturnal birding forays as my husband was figuring out the way home, the far away sound of sneezing was like a beacon, aiding the way to poor lost souls. I was well suited to become a foghorn directing far away ships through the correct course.

Of course, all this became thankfully not-so-ubiquitous, once I found my savior. I would unceremoniously dump the knight in shining armor anyday for a small round pill called Montek-LC, quite unrelated to the noted economist.A quarter of a pill and I manage to keep the devil at bay. Whoever had coined that saying about apples, hadn’t heard of Montek or didnt have the foggiest clue about the sniffles.Stranded without food or water doesn’t scare me one bit, but stranded without my beloved Montek will have me quaking in my boots.

The time has come and I call upon all the allergy afflicted in the world to unite and come forth to form the Allergix Anonymous(AA).If you think you can be member of this elite society, then you need to stake a claim and prove that you deserve it!

The Great Indian Roads

Whoever said driving on Indian roads was a curse, didn’t have the foggiest clue about the enormous life-changing benefits it has.Take for instance my everyday drive to my son’s school . It has imbibed me with almost Zen like qualities. Though you might be hard-pressed to spot it amidst the generous profanities that spews forth, but let me assure you its there.

Curtsey: Times of India
Curtsey: Times of India

There was a time, when all it took to unleash the beast in me, was a full blown horn of a vehicle which appeared like a bat out of hell, with a mission to go right back.I would fix my face with most baleful stare I could manage,puff myself up like a pufferfish ready for battle and turn on the infernal anthropoid !..and.. and my anger would dissipate like a POOF , when by my side would appear this most insipid, half-witted bloke who looked like he could only open his mouth for eating or leering or both.But now, all that has changed. When somebody honks the living daylights out of me, I am now able to resist the impulse to reach for a shotgun.

I now understand.

For instance consider the ubiquitous honking. “Horn OK Please.” Could there a more amiable way to solicit somebody to blow their horn ? Who could resist that. I, for one, definitely cannot.At times I feel rather despondent when I am not able to oblige all the vehicles on the road. You see, it has this whole lot of positivity connected to it. Its equal. If you have a horn – blow it. It doesn’t matter if you have a three wheeler just hammered together as an afterthought or one of those sleek swanky cars.Its a message to blow your own horn and you don’t even need to be on Facebook ! Isn’t that liberating ? You don’t have to be lily-livered about broadcasting to the whole world that you have a horn and you can blow it.

It also demonstrates an astounding scientific understanding in the power of sound aka. acoustic levitation.We are trying our level best to see whether our powerful honking can lift the obstructing vehicle out of our way, especially when some nincompoops mistakenly believe they need to stop at traffic lights.Now those simple – minded folks who installed those traffic lights just wasted tons of money. Imagine thinking that the junta will halt based on some dumb pole flashing lights, though I admit that its kinda convenient for sticking chewing gums as you whiz past.

Our traffic is our biggest leveler. The autorikshaw-wallahs with the stained betel leaves,the scooter with a family of six astride, the cacophony of two wheelers, the starched guys sitting in the plush backseats of their Benzs’ and Audis’, the truck belching black fumes are all stuck in the same traffic jam. The traffic doesn’t give way based on how pricey a vehicle is. I found that thought absolutely resounding with social equality. You are only as fast as the slowest vehicle on that road. Tsch ! Tsch ! to all those dorks who decided to waste their dough on buying shiny SUVs and flashy sedans while they too move at the pace of the cycle rickshaw. Especially when the slowest moving vehicle always decides to experience life in the fast lane. I call that ambitious.

I also learned that changing lanes at your whims and fancies is not bad.It shows a single minded determination to reach your destination, no matter what.Lane changing on a whim also increases the reflexes of all drivers who need to break, swerve or run into the pole at a second’s notice. This is in fact the single thing which has been instrumental in equipping our country’s drivers with sharply honed reflexes. I determined to do my bit to uplift my country.

Its also a place sans rules.How many places can truly boast of being as liberal ? You can weave through the traffic at breakneck speed – enjoy the thrill of overtaking from wherever you want – shift lanes whenever you want – jump the lights – even do wheelies. Ooh La la ! I am waiting for the next-gen hovercars to experience skyjams.

Crossroads without those meddlesome traffic lights are the ones I dig the most, especially when we practically solve a puzzling theory. How can three vehicles form a triangle without the possibility of any of them moving an inch. While the drivers are absorbed in this interesting conundrum, the long line of waiting automobiles provide a colorful audience.Talking about color, I love the way, we greet each other on the roads. My language learning has improved by leaps and bounds as I coin newer adjectives cocooned within the confines of my car. I specifically delight in the minimalist gestures on the road – when so much gets expressed by the simple raise of the hand accompanied an ‘AEEE’.

Its also such a comforting feeling to have so many cars,buses, autorickshaws by your side, rather like the Kumbh Mela.If you erroneously thought that traffic was the only thing that was curative on the roads – think again. There is an organization which is exclusively responsible for our betterment as individuals. Its called the Bureau for Betterment and Maintenance of Potholes (BBMP). It was preordained that potholes were a necessary requirement for all roads – in a bid to make vehicles more robust, people more flexible and to make life generally more interesting. And the good BBMP said – Let there be potholes. Only the most stodgy kind of chaps could love the monotony of a level road without any potholes.I would be like a fish out of water. If you thought potholes always appeared out of thin air, then let me immediately dispel that notion and and apprise you of the immense effort that goes behind it.Sometimes, poor materials are strategically used or heavy vehicles are made to do the task. At other times,the making of potholes is so strategically thought out that immediately after laying a road, some industrious individuals from other responsible organizations are seen digging right across the road. These dug up roads are then conscientiously filled up with mud, leaving enough rocks on the surface so that we can still experience the thrill of the potholes.

There is also the occasional cows, drain water flooding onto the roads, just to liven things up a bit. I dig the games we play on the road ‘See I scared you’ and ‘My House is on Fire’. Some people like playing ‘One way or two way,my way is the high way’ by driving the opposite direction in one-ways. ‘Who stopped the traffic’ is my personal favorite. This is basically when one vehicle blocks the stream of vehicles by maneuvering exactly perpendicular to the direction of traffic bringing the entire traffic to a halt while it waits to get on to the other side. Ingenious some of them are – I tell you.

So while you tell me which games you like to play on the roads, let me go and have a word with that twerp who just dented my car.

High and Dry in a Waterless World

The girl next door hollered ‘Auntyji, please turn off the tap! The tank is full. The water is overflowing.’
These dratted environmental do-gooders were pesky. Their perpetual rants grated on my nerves. Save Water! Save Electricity! Save this! Save that! Didn’t the water gush out of my taps 24 hours a day? I was still squinting to see where the shortage was. One blighted chap even badgered me to monitor how much water I use to brush my teeth. They threw me dirty looks for leaving the garden tap open the whole night. Raising unnecessary brouhaha I say. My darling Bunty loved to play on the little puddles that formed by the morning. I couldn’t let him frolic in the dirty water on the roadside, could I? In fact, being the conscientious mom I was, I even got my garden pipe hooked to the Cauvery supply.

No one could fault me on my housekeeping. I insisted that the maid hose down the entire pavement and all the balconies every day. Even the driver knew, he had to hose the car daily till a nice pool glistened underneath lest madam assumed he had played truant.
CatchEveryDrop
That annoying girl was still shrieking something incomprehensible. I was sipping a refreshing glass of sherbet and nothing was going to shake me out of my torpor. I took a good 15 minutes before sauntering to turn off the tap. That irksome girl was still there looking daggers at me.

I didn’t usually let the water overflow for more than half an hour as a rule. Barring that one time when I had left the taps running and gone on a vacation. In my frantic search to locate my favorite shade of lip gloss, I had plain forgotten to turn them off. No big deal actually. But some people actually had the nerve to lecture me on the water wastage and for the flooding it had caused nearby – in spite of me explaining the lip gloss catastrophe. I had asked them to take a walk. It was after all my tap, my water, my money !!

And imagine their impertinence; for Holi they had actually warned ‘my’ Bunty not to spray the entire street with color. Last Holi, we had thrown this grand bash for all of Bunty’s friends, complete with a big tank of water. Well boys will be boys. The little chipmunks had jumped into the common swimming pool as well and the water had turned different shades of color. Those poor darlings couldn’t get to the loo in time, so had been forced to pee in it as well.

Then those nosey parkers had turned up again yapping away about some depleting water tables. I knew my multiplication tables too, I informed them petulantly. People will consume water their whole lives, wont they. We can’t change the way we live, just because the future looks waterless. And looking at the way people are exploding – literally crawling out of the woodwork in my opinion, it’s a no brainer we would be needing more and more water. We could drill all we want and still be left high and dry. The lucky ones could even strike oil!

Yeah, the writing’s on the wall and soon we might not have enough water for all of us. It would be upon us so fast; we would go cross eyed trying to figure out what hit us. And if push came to shove, we have it all figured out. We could do away with baths and other useless cleaning stuff and instead invent gadgets which would spray us with perfumed disinfectant powder. Food, of course, could pose a tiny problem. But again we could always rely on eating all other living things which might still be surviving which should last us, at least for a couple of years. Life would no longer be about a spiritual search for meaning, but just mean the quest for that all elusive drop of water. With the constant race for water, whoever would have the time to work or study? We could collect human fluids as well and work out ways to recycle. And don’t you pucker your nose at me! So I have just thought of these brilliant ideas for the new waterless world of tomorrow. So let’s see how long the water is going to last? 1 year.. 5 maybe ? 10 years?

Short sell the industries and schools, don’t waste money getting plumbing done on your new home, make drugs for water retention in your body, nasal clips to block out the stink of unwashed bodies, make…

Wait a minute… Was that Bunty shouting? ‘Mooommyy… there’s no water in the bathroom..’
Jeez! That was quick! I had better get to work fast before time runs out.

The Timeline Conundrums

I cast a woeful look at the burnt coagulated mess in front of me, which bore little resemblance to the lip-smacking picture on the recipe book.Well at least the Friggione looked redeemable.If you overlooked that weird greenish tinge – Nothing that a little photoshop couldn’t take care of.I scurried to get the camera and returned to find Jai poised with a fork – about to spear my prized creation. “Aaaah..Noooooo…I am not finished” I spluttered in horror as I snatched the bowl away.I clicked away from all conceivable angles before plonking it back on the table.Jai took a bite before reporting sotto voice that the potatoes seemed half cooked, and the bread looked like it had seen better days.The kids sniffed at it suspiciously and wanted to know if they could feed it to Boxer.Boxer was our pug who, as a rule, made haste to bury whatever I cooked.I snorted derisively.

Message1
Picture2_1

Jai was demanding querulously why I couldn’t rustle up some pronouncable dishes for a change – say rice and dal. I rolled my eyes – rice and dal indeed ! I might as well kiss my FB followers goodbye. Trust Jai to come up with the middlest of the ideas possible in middle earth !

I awoke groggily the next day after having spent the better part of the night hanging in a limbo between sleep and wakefulness checking the likes and comments every 5 minutes.I logged in to check.Yay ! 232 likes !!!
I scrolled down and immediately gritted my teeth as Sheila filled the laptop screen – smiling like a barracuda cavorting in the foyer of the new retro lounge bar in town.Whatever in God’s name was that atrocious stuff swaddled around her neck ! 412 Likes for that apparition !! People needed to get their head examined.

I hit like and commented.

Message2

Just like her to steal my thunder.I slumped back on the bed. Jai popped in to see if I intended to spend the day sleeping.I muttered something about feeling feverish.He checked my temperature ‘No fever’- he announced without ceremony.

Message3

I needed some pick me up comments, didn’t I.

Neetu: Get well soon dear..
Rekha.. 😦

I kept refreshing the page..I could spot Ruchika online..but no comment so far. Such a snooty female.And when I had literally spent an hour liking and commenting on all her horrendous pictures – even the ones where she wore those tacky outfits and heart shaped glasses.Gratitude where art thou.

-oo-

The next day happened to be our wedding anniversary and by the time I dragged myself out of bed, Jai had already headed to work.Well, lately things hadn’t been exactly sizzling but I wasn’t the one to be blamed here. No sir ! I had posted so many mushy messages on FB for Jai and my FB followers had adored every single one of them.

Picture1_1

Last year, he had acted so embarrassed when I had wanted him to pose cheek to cheek and raise a glass of toast.All he could see was that we were holding up the traffic in the middle of a busy junction and the Pani-puri wala who was the only one available to take our pic, had his chutney-sodden hands on the camera.
Oh ! for crying out loud, couldn’t he see the Marriot was right in the background and everybody would assume we were staying there.

Well this year,I planned to grab some eyeballs with a pic of me dressed in that slinky black number blowing hearts at Jai.. with the message.

Message4

Tushar ,the God of photoshop,had promised me some time after work. By the time, I returned from Tushar’s, it was late and Jai had already called it a day. Phew ! A day well spent. I was getting innumerable likes on the anniversary pic.

Well, I had better get some sleep.Tomorrow was the big day.I felt delicious thinking about the next day’s plan.

-oo-

The most exclusive party in town and I was going to get myself clicked there.

Sheila – Baby, here I come !

I hailed a rick and got off well ahead of the club. I adjusted my short dress – à la Gucci. I had spent days at the flea-market searching for designer looking stuff.Now who could tell the difference between Gucci and Goochi.
Picture3
I was just nearing the entrance when a tall woman, wearing an off shoulder dress and red stilettos, accompanied by a muscular bloke in a Cowboy hat walked by. I could smell some expensive perfume.I quickened my steps and took out my phone.’Driver, I want the Merc right at the entrance’ Looked like Red Stilettos and Cowboy Hat were some kind of celebrities as they were soon surrounded by some admirers.

In the melee, nobody noticed me waving enthusiastically while the guard outside clicked me. I had paid 500 bucks to that crook for a good shot.Suddenly the doorman noticed me and barred my entrance. Well,’Toodloo sweetie’,I winked at him, ‘I am done here’.

Wait, wasn’t that a Mercedes-Benz S-class ! Yesss, I definitely deserved one snap with that. The driver was having none of it.Finally he agreed to pose – opening the door for me, if I would part with my thin silver chain.Hmm..it wasn’t so expensive, Jai had given it to me as a birthday gift couple of years back. Well, why not !

My hands shook as I uploaded my pics ! Boy ! Shiela could never beat this !!!

-oo-

I was busy admiring my timeline when the doorbell rang.
I was still thrilling in that last coup de grace I had landed on Shiela. I was the new star at the kitty party.

Trring ! Trrring ! Couldn’t somebody open the blasted door and let people work in peace.Jai came running, gave me a glare and yanked the door open. A couple of men stood outside. They said something in hushed tones and Jai was pale as he turned to look at me – Income Tax.Its a raid.Somebody’s reported that we have ill gotten wealth.

For a minute, I was speechless and then I quickly regained my senses.My god ! Who on earth raids unimportant people ! This was a godsend I wasn’t going to pass up. While I furiously typed my FB updates, the officers finished checking and asked us to accompany them.

I spoke up – ‘Officer, thanks for raiding our house ! Can you please pose with me for my facebook update ? It would be lovely if you could display the Id card, so that people can clearly read it.’ The men exchanged incredulous glances and while we were ushered into the waiting car amidst my frantic attempts to get a few more selfies, I heard somebody mutter ‘Yeh Aunty ki tho #ConditionSeriousHai’.

-oo-

This entry has been written for the Cadbury 5 star contest #ConditionSeriousHai on Indiblogger.Seriousness is a very serious disease. From that annoying aunty, who’s more concerned about your life than your parents are, to your boss/professor, who’s more punctual than time, we’re all surrounded by people jinki #ConditionSeriousHai. Some seriousness victims take things seriously and the rest are genuinely serious.

Wife to a Birder – II

My son hollered ‘Boridyem playmobilia’ which promptly got my husband’s attention.Translated from tree-latin it means – ‘I am dying of boredom and I am going to play on your mobile’. It’s our in-house language which we designed shortly after my husband suddenly developed a strange disease.

Whenever we went out, he developed this weird habit of looking around and muttering under his breath and no, he wasn’t looking at the birds.If you remember, we had narrowly escaped bankruptcy after I put my foot down in ‘Wife to a Birder‘.I tried to listen in ‘Caesalpinia pulcherima…Holoptelea integrifolia…Bombax malabaricum…Barringtonia acutangula…Ficus religiosa…Pongamia pinnata…”
C&H
This was serious.Finally my bird-brained husband was becoming hair-brained.Of course, that didn’t surprise me one bit.All that hankering behind Munias and Prinias was bound to take a toll.

He was still taking off to his early morning birding jaunts, but mornings soon stretched into afternoons. I would eye his uneaten breakfast balefully and attack it with gusto.Better not to waste tasty,wholesome,healthy grub ! Oh..okay..hold your horses,I will strike off the ‘tasty’.

Coming back to the topic at hand, when afternoons threatened to turn into evenings, I decided to take matters in hand.Finally he trudged in with the SACK. During his early days in birding, he would just carry along his camera or a pair of binocs..but lately, he had starting carting around this mammoth sack which he wouldn’t let go even for a minute.I grabbed an opportunity to sneak a glance inside,when my husband was busy ogling a pair of silver bills nesting in the verandah. Bird book…butterfly book..insect book..tree book…tree book..tree book..leaves..more leaves..sticky fruit…EEK ! what was that..dead butterflies ! I hurriedly stuffed them all in.

I decided to broach the subject without further ado. There’s no easy way to break this, is there ? Yoohoo ! Sorry old chap, I think you are finally turning into a fruit-cake and you ought to go see a shrink.He barely raised an eyebrow.He was still muttering and furiously checking his camera and one his books.’Dalbergia lanceolaria’, he shouted suddenly startling me out of my shrink reveries. That evening, I had a hurried and whispered consultation with a family doc..he had gone completely over the top after seeing this Dalbergia somebody (Gosh ! I didn’t even know if it was a man or a woman ?? I hoped for his sake it was a man). That night, I had a fitful sleep with my husband mumbling strange names in his sleep as well..”Terminalia …..Limonia acidissima….” He was going to terminate me with lime-acid ? and he was speaking in code.

And all of a sudden on a fine sunny day, on a leisurely drive, who should I meet ? Dalbergia ! Not Dalbergia lanceolaria but Dalbergia latifolia. My husband was giving a commentary..also known as the Indian rosewood..a large deciduous tree…

Finally the fog cleared and so it was,that our in-house tree-Latin came into existence destined to attract the attention of this special category of ‘tree-ers’.

And I never thought I would say this..but I missed BIRDS. The Brahminis aka. the Rukminis, the Wagtails and the Bee-eaters.Such cute twittering creatures who would eventually go their away and let sane people suffer birders better. But not trees, they were everywhere – more ‘everywhere’ than I ever thought birds would be. The only other ever-pervading, omni-present hobby these days can be based on garbage – The Garbagers ?
Sitting beside my husband while driving has become an extremely dangerous sport with my teeth rattling every 2-seconds as we jumped over a pothole while he loving admired the wayside Tabebuia argentea. Once when a friend invited us to a garden party, I had to endure eating endless Paneer-Tikkas by myself as I waited for my husband to join me for lunch,who was busy enjoying the gardeners company.
We were watching a murder thriller…as the murderer’s hand slowly emerges from behind a tree and in the pin drop silence ‘Cupressus torulosa’ booms and earns us a few well-earned glares.

On a particular family dinner, I turned to see my husband in deep conversation with his brother when suddenly they shouted in unison ‘Tabernaemontana alternifolia’ ! I assured some gaping onlookers that it was the new series of Hannah Montana.
Ah..heavens forbid..it was catching !