Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Of Daggers & Spears, Of Knives & Forks…

Before you reach the conclusion that I am planning an ambush let me clear up the confusion and wave the white flag of peace. Well, the heading is just an indication of my erstwhile (or should I say continuing) fear of cutlery…

For Neanderthal people like me who only had to use one’s hands for the purpose of feeding oneself, cutlery and allied things used to be looked at with sole distrust and a bit of fear, which would never be admitted in public. It also helped that Indian food per se, didn’t need the use of things like knives, forks and dessertspoons. All you need is utmost a spoon and your trustworthy hands and you could relish your food to the maximum.

Dad, the banker always used to stress the importance of learning to use cutlery which his tribal daughters would barely be listening while stuffing their faces with “palaharam” all the while keeping an eagle eye on mom’s plate so the first claim could be made for the last “pazham pori” or whatever was remaining. The taste of something fought for tooth and nail and eaten or something stolen & eaten is exponentially higher than eating amidst plenty. Dad used to tell us horror stories about some random banker who wanted to show off his table manners and ended up having to run behind his flying chicken fry after using the fork and knife. Even at Bankers club parties, the only “birdie dance” which we children partook was the flying birds out of our plates into our neighbour’s plates courtesy our supreme cutlery skills ;-)

Then came the time of leaving home and starting a job. In our induction we did have a small presentation on table etiquettes but no one was paying the least attention as our batch of trainees were busy trying out all items in the buffet and giving a general feeling like we just landed from Somalia.

In my earlier job I had to co-ordinate interviews for my organization on a few occasions. These interviews were held in 5 * hotels and as I was present the whole day there, I used to invariably lunch with the EVPs of my organization. Even though the co-ordination part was a breeze, I used to get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about having to lunch with the top-shots of my organization. I had visions of me ending up like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” with the waiter catching the crab. My hands used to tremble while taking the menu and then my eyes used to busily scan and look for dishes, which would necessitate the use of hands.

Eventhough I would have to loved to try the restaurant’s special ‘lasagne’ or “chicken steak” (afterall it was my company that was paying) very wisely with a heavy heart I would choose a burger or a pizza as that’s something I could very confidently tear apart with my bare hands. My admiration levels for my bosses went sky high when I saw the dexterity with which they could handle their cutlery. For me they were equivalent to Antonio Banderas in the “Mask of Zorro” and their use of cutlery was as good as the intricate sword fights.

Coming into the world of IT, I have been a witness to lot of cutlery gaffes.
I have seen so many sights akin to that of a torture camp; examples being stabbing a cutlet, beheading an apple and don’t get me started on the main course! The lack of skill becomes pronounced especially when you end up having to attend hi-fi lunch meetings wherein you are expected to dazzle the client with your supreme business skills and the cutting edge technology, which your company professes to possess. Half the time you are busy saying the rosary at breakneck speed and hoping for a divine intervention so that your application functions as claimed and the other half you are trying to cover up the fact that your hands are shivering and hoping against hope the fork in your hands stop rattling and stays put.

The one thing I have realized over time is that eating with hands is also an amazing skill. This conclusion was drawn after seeing some ‘phoren’ colleagues come home and trying to eat ‘desi khana’ with hands. Their method of eating was (i) drop food into mouth from a distance or (ii) take food by the fist and stuff the said fist into their mouth.

Feels good that my dear colleagues are also getting a complex about not able to eat delicately with their hands ;-)

Please, pls, plzzz tell me that I am not the only suffering from cutlerophobia…

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hair raising Tales

Statutory Warning: Any resemblance to any living persons are purely intentional ;-p

Scene 1:

Cast: Guy, Gal and Guy’s uncle on visit
Time : Monday morning mad rush from home to office.

Gal : *busy running and getting things ready* Onnu vegam irangunnundo….(Get ready quick). We will surely miss the metro if you take this looooong for your make-up.

Guy: * very painstakingly applying hair gel and creating tiny spikes on his already short hair * mmmmm… I am coming.

Scene 2:

Guy : T uncle, we are leaving for office now. Will come early today.

Guy’s uncle : * busy looking at Guy’s hair* Nee engane aano pokkunney? (Is this the way you are going?) Shouldn’t you be combing your hair before going to office ???

Guy: *turning bright red in embarrassment and giving a valicha chiri* Ayyo uncle, itha eppozhathey latest style (Uncle, this is the latest fashion)

Gal: *busy smothering her guffaws and trying to be the ideal marumakal* Ok uncle, we are leaving.

Scene 3:

*Guy mercilessly teased by Gal the rest of day *


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Childhood Scares

Just the other day hubby was not going to sleep and I told him “ Go to sleep, allengill kokachi varum” {meaning kokachi (a dangerous beast) will come}. Both of us burst out laughing and instead of going to sleep ended up discussing about the ridiculously named scary creatures of our childhood.

As far as my understanding of kokachi, he is this scary ghost, which resides in dark rooms and will take away naughty and disobedient children who refuse to sleep. Like the famous dialogue of Sholay “So jaa beta, nahin toh Gabbar singh aa jayegaa” my family (the maternal side) used to say “vegam orangikko, allengill kokachi varum”. When I checked with hubby, he said that he was familiar with such a similar creature but only the name was different. In his place, the name is “makaan”, “Kaatu maakan” (creature of the jungle). Ok, Ok, I got inspired by Bond, James Bond :-)

The other thing which naughty children were threatened with was that they would get “konthram pallu”. Now my Appachan (grandfather) and uncles have a vivid imagination and they used to describe “konthram pallu” as this huge tooth, which used to grow in the nose. It would grow bigger and bigger and then come out of the nose making the face hideous. The innocent children that we were, we used to touch our nose and check whether “konthram pallu” was growing after we did something particularly naughty.

I should say my uncles had such a gala time, terrorizing us poor nieces and nephew that we are planning to sue them for mental harassment. The next on the list of their cruelty is the story of the plant growing inside your stomach if you accidentally ended up swallowing seeds of fruits. Evenings were the time when the entire family used to gather for tea and palaharam (snacks). When one of the overzealous aunts used to feed fruits to the children, Appachan and uncles were waiting to pounce on the poor child who would invariably swallow a seed. Then would start stories of how the seed would become a sapling in the tummy and then grow into a tree that has branches, which would grow out of your mouth and ears. Stories would go on in full swing ignoring warning looks of the aunts and Ammachi.

We, as kids, used to love looking at the old wedding albums of relatives. It was quite hilarious to look at the yesteryear fashions like bell-bottoms and big moustaches. When we were looking at the album of any of our little cousin’s parents wedding, our uncles were ready to rag the poor child. They would start by asking seemingly innocuous questions like who is the bride and the kid would say ‘amma’ and then move for the kill. After turning a couple of pages, uncles would innocently ask the kid, where he was on his parents wedding. They would further say that his parents don’t love him enough and that’s why he wasn’t called for the wedding. Now our 3 yr old is in doubt and off he runs to the kitchen to find his mom to ask certain tough questions. The poor mother would end up hemming and hawing and give some pacifying answer like the kid was in her stomach and so on….

It brings a smile to my face when I end up reminiscing about the childhood days and I should say that we have had our revenge on our uncles as we used the same tactics on their kids and scared the hell out of them. It was particularly nice to see them squirming at their tiny tot’s question of where was I at your wedding… muahahaha…*evil laughter*

I am sure that all of us were routinely scared by “yakshi”, “pretam”, “rakshasi” and a host of other ghostly things. Do you have any names or incidents, which on remembering now sounds ridiculous?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sister Act

Came back yesterday after dropping sis at the airport and the house was eerily quiet. She was here for her semester break and it was fun to go back to a non-empty house when she was here. This time around, sis & me have been tickled pink by hubby’s & my colleagues being stumped by our resemblance.

Sis & me look very similar. Infact, the truth is she looks like me. Ha! I can say that with confidence, as I am the elder one. When acquaintances met sis and started chatting with her assuming it was me, it was fun to watch their expressions on later being told that it was sis and not me. Infact one colleague went up to sis and told her it was amazing that I had lost quite a bit of weight (Ahem, warning bells about my increasing weight, which for the time being I am refusing to hear.)

All this takes me back to the time, when we didn’t want to be dead caught wearing anything remotely identical. Rather we despised being told that we resemble a lot. Being the eldest grandchildren in both dad’s & mom’s side, we were invariably the flower-girls for most of the uncles’ and aunts’ weddings. The aunts on their wedding day lived in mortal fear that their bridal veil would be dragged down by us in the midst of a tug of war for the larger portion of the veil ;-)

Mum adding to our consternation had this habit of dressing us in identical frocks. This went on till the time we refused to get out of the house if we were dressed in anything remotely similar. The 4 years age difference between us, which looked so insurmountable back then now looks very trivial. For a long time for me, she was my baby sister who was busy snitching on me or was busy snooping around my personal diaries or plainly making my life miserable by wanting to ape whatever I was doing. The bond between us actually got stronger only when I left home on my first job. That was the time that we actually started speaking with each rather than the usual petty fighting. You know it always used to surprise me that we would be watching TV or looking at somebody and would come up with the same comment at the same time. Talk about Telepathy!!!

Now that hubby has also joined the gang it is great fun that we have this amazing wavelength where only one has to start a sentence and other would finish it. Most of the time, they are ganging up on me and deriving sadistic pleasure in pulling my legs.

Well Min, loved having you here. I feel really touched that you feel close enough to your chettan & me to count us in your list of close friends. I am closing this post by asking you the question, which Tina (hubby’s niece) asked you…. Entha elayammede pole irikkuney??? (Why do you resemble my aunt so much???)

p.s. Soul sistah : you better keep your side of the bargain now that I have written an entire post on you... ;-p