Thursday, September 19, 2013

Home Alone: Episode 1 - Mums are magicians, Dads supermen

Trying my best not to make the house look like this
For the past couple of years, I have been in a strange position, home-wise. My parents generally stay in another city, since my father is on a project site, leaving me alone at home. Ideally, in a city like Mumbai, people would kill to have a fully-furnished house of their own, without having to pay any rent. But when it's your parents' house, it's a double-edged sword. You can't mess around in the house. 

If you've ever been a hostel-dweller, you know a lot of handy tips and tricks to make life easier for yourself - flip the bedsheet over and use it for at least another month, sweep the dust under the bed, ignore everything else till it bothers you or intrudes into your life.

But do that in your parents' house and you're done for. Mothers, I think, have a dust sensor in their noses. My mum can actually walk into my room and tell me how long it has been since I changed the bedsheet (usually in months). 

One glance at the ceiling fans and she tells me it's time to clean them (a concept that was alien to me). She knows I am not the only one living in the house - there are spiders giving me company, with their little webs in the corners of every room. Apparently, it's my duty now, to evacuate them out of their dwellings ('Just because we're not here, doesn't mean you live like you're in a hostel').

In short - I am in-charge of the house that my father built with his sweat and blood. No pressure, of course. To be fair, I do try to be as responsible as possible, but things do get out of hand. 

I once got up in the morning and happily read the 3 newspapers front to back, analysing every article I could. Then I walked into the kitchen, and remembered that I had kept the milk on the stove to boil. It had charred to a rich, black colour. In advertising terms, it was a perfect RGB (0, 0, 0). You could actually use the flakes as carbon paper. That was how black it had turned. 

I've left out a fresh packet  of bread on the table, only to throw it away 2 days later, because
Saving single men,
since time immemorial
the humid Mumbai climate caused a growth of fungus on it ('You should've kept it in the fridge', mom said). 
My father's old flip flops caught fungus due to the same reason. 

Bananas have gone black on me. I once almost ate a worm along with a pomegranate ('You ALWAYS check pomegranates for worms'). Nowadays, I follow a simple rule. Keep everything in the fridge. Even the chapati.

That's when you actually realise how much mums do. Remember getting angry at your mom because you didn't get breakfast on time, because she was preparing lunch for your father and making tea for grandma, while forgetting herself completely? Or maybe you remember the time you came home, tired from work, and a cup of tea or a cool glass of water was placed before you.

Bills were taken care of, and grocery was bought on time, without fail. Lift a month's worth of grocery and vegetables and you won't feel the need to go to the gym. Most of us have gone to sleep after dinner, never even thinking of the mess we leave behind on the table. 

It takes a lot of patience to clear the table, clean up everything, fill the water bottles, and then go to sleep. Only to remember that you forgot to keep the food inside. You've got to do that, otherwise it will rot and you'll wake up to a stinking hall. I've done that too.

Not that dads do any less. My gas cylinder started leaking (the regulator wouldn't stay put), and I had to call up my dad, who told me something about a ring in the valve. Somehow, he managed to fix it 'telephonically'.

One fine day, the pipe for the assjet (the little shower to clean your ass) decided to come off and the whole bathroom started filling with water. I panicked and called dad. He calmly told me to stop shouting, open the bathroom window, turn a knob outside the window and turn off the water supply to the bathroom. He would take care of the rest with the plumber.

I've learnt a lot, staying alone in my parents' house. If I had stayed in a rented apartment, I probably wouldn't have bothered much. It would just have been like hostel life - only a few notches better in terms of quality of life. 

But, this was the very house for which I saw my father toil away alone in a far-flung town in godforsaken Nigeria for three years. He narrowly escaped being robbed and murdered twice. It's the same house, for which my mum decided to toss her wishlist away in a remote corner of her mind, only so that the EMIs could be paid. One would be an ungrateful wretch not to make every effort to take care of such a house. 

Which reminds me, I forgot to clean up. 

On the next episode of Home Alone: I have some serious animal trouble, and a lot of running around to do.

Monday, August 12, 2013

BREAKING: Real life version of a Bollywood south Indian discovered

In what is seen as a landmark piece of discovery, a man who dresses and behaves exactly like south Indians portrayed in Bollywood films has been found in a remote village called Illapuram, which is situated in one of the four south Indian states. The writer is not quite sure which one.

Dressed in a dark-coloured vest and a lungi with checks on it, the man welcomed the writer of this piece with a coconut in his hand. “Drink this, everyone knows we love coconuts.”

The man’s name is Muthuswamy Iyer and like most south Indians in Bollywood films, he 
says ‘Ayyo rama’ in almost every sentence. “I am a Madrasi, and a proud one,” he says to your writer.

Short in stature and slightly rotund, Iyer is a PhD in mathematics. Despite his obvious 
intelligence, he is shy and socially awkward. So how does he get the attention of the ladies? “I generally don’t go out partying. I prefer staying at home and reading books,” confesses Iyer. “I speak to a girl only when she comes to me asking for help. After that, she goes back to her boyfriend who is being mean to her. I can’t really have a hot girlfriend.” reveals Iyer.

As expected, Iyer enjoys curd rice and any delicacy that involves curd. He says he cannot curd curb his urge to mix curd with every possible dish he comes across. “My favourite is 
noodles and curd. I just love it."

So how was Muthuswamy discovered? “I was getting ready for work and wearing my lungi.  Suddenly, I saw the trailer of Chennai Express on TV. I was shocked, and my lungi fell down! 

When asked about why exactly he was shocked, Iyer exclaimed, “It was like my life was on 
screen. Those clothes, those words, those actions! Yenna rascala, I behave the exact same 
way!” 

On being contacted, the director of Chennai Express, Rohit Shetty said, “I am glad someone is finally appreciating what I am doing. It is not true that Bollywood uses stereotypes in films and this man is living proof of this fact.” Shetty further added that all his films were inspired by real life and as he was speaking these very words, behind Shetty, the writer spotted two Mahindra Scorpios flying in the air and crashing into each other.

Muthuswamy Iyer is now ready to make his big move to Bollywood. “Various directors have 
contacted me for roles in their upcoming projects. My USP is that I don't have to get into character. I am the character,” he says confidently.

Muthu also plans to write lyrics and dialogues. “You don’t need much writing skills. I just have to use random words like ‘Ille’, Po and other simple words.” A well known producer quipped happily, “Here’s a refreshing change. We won’t have to invest in script writers anymore. Anyway, we don’t really have scripts in Bollywood per se, but now we don’t need 
one at all. We can just put Muthuji on screen and he will do the rest.”

The producer also revealed, after much coaxing, that a similar search has been put into action to find real life versions of all supporting funny characters from films – a man from the North Eastern part of India, who is preferably a waiter, a Nepali watchman, an old Parsi grandfather, and a loud, brash Punjabi who says ‘Oye’ in every sentence. “We will find them,” he says.

Muthu signs off happily “Bollywood, I am coming. Mind it!” All the best, Muthuswamy Iyer.

Image source: Wikipedia

Article source: Every damn Hindi film that stereotypes south Indians

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hairy Tales

I recently, at my own expense, learnt that it pays to look good. So I thought I should do something about it. As most of you might now, I have the genetic gift of hair. It grows at a rapid pace albeit in a haphazard, aimless sort of way. Just like Rahul Gandhi's political career. 

So, I walked into a salon which I shall refrain from naming (its name begins with the letter 'e' and the second part of its name also describes someone with a lot of money). Now, for someone who has never paid more than fifty rupees for a haircut, such places can be quite intimidating.

First impression of the place - all the barbers 'hair stylists' themselves had a variety of hairdos. My friendly neighbourhood barber Yadavji had hair. That's it. Here, everyone had pointed, spiky hair. So sharp and pointed one could cut some strands, make a spikestrip out of them which the police could lay down on the roads to stop criminals and speeding cars.

Confused, I walked up to the counter and said, "I need a haircut." Looking at the lady's expression, it was quite a stupid thing to say. I doubt they had people walk up to them asking for the latest iPhone (nobody does that, it sucks). 

I was given a printed slip and shown to my seat. I looked around; the place was filled with Punjabi women. I felt like I was in a Dibakar Banerjee film. How did I know they were Punjabi? Well they had big...bags, purses, clutches etc. Of makeup. What did you think, you dirty person?

And in this salon frequented by Punjabi women, the women were extremely demanding (Get me a magazine, I want cold water, chicken tandoori kahaan hai bh******)! Amidst all the pandemonium, a thin man (spike number 4 on the spikestrip) walked up to me. He ran his hands through my hair and said, "Sir, we will have to wash your hair first." I thought, 'Wow, they've got nice service. No wonder people come here so often.' 

He took me to a reclining seat and asked me to lean back so that my head went into a washbasin. This was the first time the back of my head was able to appreciate the ceramic masterpiece that was the basin. 

I felt like I was in a shampoo commercial. The tap was put on, and the temperature was just right - warm and heavenly. Shampoo was applied on the hair, a smooth lather was worked up and the ablutions began. Ah, this was the good life. 

Five minutes later, I was asked to get up and go back to my allotted chair. I walked with a swagger Cleopatra would've been proud of and asked, "Will this cost extra?"

Yes. A whopping 150 rupees more for essentially a palm's worth of liquid. This just wouldn't do. I interrogated, "What shampoo did you use?" A random French sounding name was uttered. Damn, if I'd known, I'd have shampooed my hair and come to the salon. But that's not the south Indian way to do things. Once you take a bath, your day has begun. It is a cardinal sin to take a bath and then go to the barbershop. And you don't just shampoo your hair in the basin. No sir!

Spike no 4 began cutting my hair. I asked him in jest, "First you apply a ludicrously expensive shampoo. Then you cut my hair. I think it should be the other way round." Number 4 smiled at me and continued on. Joke wasn't funny enough. Half an hour later, I got up. It was amazing; I was rendered speechless. The salon hadn't made even an inch of a difference to my hair. It still looked as if Yadavji had cut it.

I was swiftly handed the bill, along with a visiting card and some toffees. Damages? 450 rupees (300 for the haircut, 150 for the French shampoo). I dug deep into my pockets and found that I didn't have enough money. So I handed them a credit card. For a haircut. This was new.

I went home and showed my mother the credit card bill. She had a good laugh. Well, at least something good came of it. Yadavji, I'm coming back.