Sunday, October 25, 2009

Saturday Night Fever

Then :
Remember John Travolta belting out ‘Saturday night fever –yeeeeeah !’ pointing his finger in the air, and his pelvis too?
The theme song for singles ! I couldn’t wait for the week to end – to hit the night clubs, and when they closed – 7 of us hostel girls cheaped out at the Taj Coffee Shop over 1 cup of coffee for all of us – till 6 in the morning, when we jumped the hostel gate, jumped into bed –and slept through the education our parents were paying for.
Aaah, those were the days – or rather, the Saturday nights.

Now :
Saturday night is when the fever hits all right.
104 degrees. Burning heads, puking kids.
And what every sleep-deprived parent knows : No doctors are open on Sundays.
And kids plan their urgent, sick n dying, fevers for just then. Always. Without fail. They’re as healthy as horses through the week.
Mine both kept me awake all of last night (yup – it was a Saturday) - with loosies.
“See the night – see the night, feverrrrrrrr, we know how to do it”

So from spending the night dancing the groove – to the tango with the loo.
From cocktails on our table – to a bedside table with a dozen medicine bottles.
From the juke box – to the puke box !

You've come a long way, Baby, oh yeaaaahhhh !

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Short Cuts take too long

The shortest cut from A to B for me is invariably via C, D and E as well.
I actually went from Calcutta to Delhi once via Hyderabad, which meant that I was actually flying South, when I wanted to fly North. But the fare was so tempting. Of course, I spent a good many hours more, including one hour at the Hyderabad airport, stuck in the plane.

So, it is my long-term opinion that short cuts are not worth taking. I will teach my sons this. There is no short way out – you’ve got to study for the tests. Sleeping with the book under your head will not transfer the material magically to your brain in the night. I’ve tried it. Transfer Failure. Translated further into Test Failure too.

D’you know, there is no short cut in life, Nikash, I said to him this morning on our way to play school.
I no know, said Nikash, which is his standard reply to anything asked from complex philosophical phenomenon to What will you eat for Dinner?
There is no short cut, I repeat. And then I see before me a humungous pile-up of cars at a stubbornly red signal. And equally suddenly, I see the back lane that turns off to the left, and I swing the car over to the lane. It seems empty. Of course it is. It is a dead-end. Aaaah – so I turn back and take the next lane, which turns out to be a one-way, with a rather unsympathetic cop at the end. I turn back and get stuck, (now with a 100 buck fine too, in my hand) in the first humungous traffic pile-up, which has become even more humungous during my antics.
Why didn’t you remind me, Nikash, that there are no short cuts if life? I ask him.
I no know, he replies.

But I dream of the day when there will be tailor-made short cuts. Like 1 switch will replace the 1 hour that it takes to get 1 dosa down Nikash’s mouth. Or 1 button which will cook a 3-course-meal. Or 1 phone call which will get a 3-year-degree without studying for it. Hey, hang on – that’s possible. In Bihar, at least it was.

That brings me to the fact that everyone else seems to know how to take these short cuts and win. The auto-driver zooms past on the wrong side of the road, and makes it past the signal in time. A pushy mom pushes her pushy kid right up to the bank counter, while I wait in the never-moving queue. And all my landlord’s sons in Bihar became doctors while they just lay on their cots the whole day and chewed cud.

That’s ok. See – there are some things you gotta do just because they are right. I tell my little boy while bringing him home. Cheaters never prosper. It’s better to do things the long way and to do them right.
I know, says Nikash.
I turn to him with surprise, then give him a hug, while the light turns green, and the other cars whizz past.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tarzan & the Apes

Last week, we drove far and high into the Nilgiri mountains to get away from it all.
11 friends. No cells, no email, no TV, no electricity, no cars, no smoke….

Planned activities : 6 am steep mountain trek in fresh air
Actual activities : Finished a bottle of Chivas at night, and no one woke up for fresh mountain air or steep trek.

Instead, every day, took a jeep safari deep into the jungle. Aah, the beauty of trees, the smell of fresh rain, the chill of mist, the sound of silence…
“Look there’s a black panther”
“What other colour panther is there?”
“Pink Panther.”
“That’s not a panther. That’s a flying fox.”
“Foxes can’t fly. That’s a kingfisher.”
“Kingfisher is what my Dad drinks” ….
Warning : For the sound of silence, please leave 5-year-olds at home.

Actual no. of panthers seen = ZERO
Panther seen however by a barking deer, (according to our guide), which let out an alarm call. (Or may have been the backfiring of another safari jeep).

Wildlife seen : Deer, and more deer, and more deer. The deer were sending out embossed invites to their second cousins, removed thrice, to come and see the funny humans in the jeep.
Also seen : 1 wild, vicious, huge Indian bison – gaur. Neel got so excited, he almost fell out of the jeep, and got trampled by the vicious wild bison, which instead turned its humungous butt to us, and carried on munching grass and emitting greenhouse gases.
Result : 1 photograph of humungous butt of indeterminate origin.
Not seen on safari: a single leopard or tiger or even wild boar. But as a PR exercise, a whole family of wild boar piglets waddled over to our tent that night, to share our dinner.

Yup, it was a beautiful, blissful, brilliant getaway – marked by a singular lack of worry – about the things that usually worry us.
For example :
No. of calories consumed = 6 million and 47 (all by me).
Result : 1 photograph of humungous-butt bison again (oh, sorry, that was ME !)

For example again :
No. of rocks Niks climbed = 329
No. of rocks Niks fell off = 329

We went as 6 adults and 5 kids, and came back as 11 kids.