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It’s been so long

This blog has been so dead lately, I feel guilty. So many thoughts swim in my mind but nothing translates to words. Then I saw this on The Girl Next Door’s blog and this seemed the perfect way to awaken my blog from hibernation!

Here it goes..

  1. Tell me something about you that most people don’t know.
    I talk to myself. (Sheesh)
  2. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
    Eliminate rape.
  3. Do you like to dance?
    Oh yes! Have always loved garba and Bollywood. Lately I have taken a fancy to Zumba.
  4. Would you ever consider living abroad?
    Well, I do live abroad right now.
  5. Does your name make any interesting anagrams?
    Nope. It’s too small and common for that.
  6. Who made the last incoming call on your phone?
    At. Asking me to come and pick him up from work. We are sharing a car right now. So I play the driver most times.
  7. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?
    I downloaded Tera Zikr from Guzaarish. It’s a lovely, mesmerizing song.
  8. Last time you swam in a pool?
    I played with water in my cousin’s pool 3 weeks back. I can’t swim!
  9. Type of music you like most?
    Anything that is melodious, peppy and/or soulful.
  10. Type of music you dislike most?
    Rock music.
  11. Are you listening to music right now?
    Yes! I am ALWAYS listening to music. Right now, its Shikayatien from Lootera. I love this album.
  12. What color is your bedroom carpet?
    The flooring of whole house is covered in brown carpet like all apartments in US.
  13. If you could change something about your home, without worry about expense or mess, what would you do?
    Make every room color themed. Get in co-ordinated furniture. Lot of colourful furnishings. Create a magical garden.
  14. What was the last thing you bought?
    Groceries from Indian store. A rush-rush affair after college.
  15. Have you ever ridden on a motorbike?
    No. Have attempted once. Was a total failure.
  16. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?
    Never! I am too scared for those.
  17. Do you have a garden?
    Oh yes! A small balcony garden created very lovingly by me.
  18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem?
    Err. Not really.
  19. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
    I wish I could sleep more!
  20. If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be?
    Salman Khan. Isn’t that obvious?
  21. Who sent the last text message you received?
    My cousin who lives in the same city. Yeah, the same one with the pool.
  22. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
    Macy’s! Clothes, shoes, kitchen and dining ware, home decor. Everything there is so pretty.
  23. What time is bed time?
    Between 11 pm and 12:30 am. I know. Ridiculous. I blame it on US-India time difference.
  24. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?
    Ha! No way!
  25. How many tattoos do you have?
    None.
  26. If you don’t have any, have you ever thought of getting one?
    No way. It’s too painful.
  27. What did you do for your last birthday?
    Returned from a wonderful vacation to Mexico the night before. Attended classes at college on my birthday and took chocolates for classmates.
  28. Do you carry a donor card?
    No.
  29. What time do you get up?
    8:30 am… after a lot of self struggle. Don’t ask me about weekends.
  30. What inspires you?
    People who give and receive a lot of love. People who have a great healthy attitude. People who make their passions big.

Wow. It’s always fun talking about yourself, no?

Being Thin Is A Hassle Too

Why do you always travel by AC II Tier, I am often asked by my friends. They are usually aghast at my squandering. I then launch my woeful tale of how I am not given space to sit in AC III Tier and am made to sit in one sixth of the berth. Just because I am thin doesn’t mean I don’t need proper space to sit! All the times I sat huddled in the corner of the berth clutching my sweater and bag and book, almost falling off the corner, comes back to my mind. Any amount of glaring at the fat aunty or the irritating kid would make no difference; I would still be spending the whole journey saving myself from falling off and hanging on to my bag and sweater, looking like a refugee.

Here it was, one reason being thin brings me trouble.

All right, you will say, being slim is such a boon! You can wear whatever you want, the options open to you are wide – skirts to shorts to dresses to crop pants. Oh ya, sure. And I have hoarded them. But what happens one fine day when I start dressing up in my favourite pair of grey cotton checks shorts? I barely fit into them thereby looking bloated and shapeless. I must continue to be slim at all times. Addition of even a fraction of an inch of fat / muscle renders my entire stylish wardrobe useless.

I don’t remember this at all times, of course, (at most times, rather) that I need to watch my weight and be careful of what I am eating. Hell no. I eat. I lavishly slather cheese on my morning breakfast every day. Dollops of butter are used to toast 2 slices of bread. Chocolates are the best fillers during the day. And junk food? A must. A necessity of life. Fruits gifted forcibly by Mum are left to rot in the refrigerator because my hand reaches desperately only for chocolates.

While food is the chink in my armour, it is not easy when people cajole me into eating more. You are so thin, c’mon. You deserve to eat more. Moreover, you can afford it. At these times, how do I influence my weak, vulnerable heart not to get carried away? In such instances, I stop listening to my mind and do just that – get carried away.

For one, I am not thin. I am slim. I look slim. There is fat in wrong places I need to lose. After eating a lot for days together, I feel lousy and bulky. Unbelievable? But true.

I kind of like exercising. But if I do more of it, I lose weight rapidly and have to stop. Designing an exercise regime for myself isn’t easy. Look at what the gym guys did. They categorized me as underweight, low on muscle and BMI and refused me permission for aerobics. I was made to pull and push all kinds of manly weights till I went absconding and stopped receiving their calls.

It is also perhaps of the lack of fat that my teeth chatter even in 22 degrees Celsius. I am compelled to carry around jackets and shawls wherever I go. Imagine the sight I would have looked the other day, when I was walking to a movie theatre on a hot evening gripping a sweater. I know I am going to feel cold wherever I go, the mall, movie theatre or restaurant. I have to protect myself and keep warm clothing in my travel bag, car, office and home at the cost of being labelled obsessed.

Grass is always greener on the other side. So, every time you see a thin person, you may want to stop and think if that person’s life is really hassle-free!

Maid Conspiracy

I am stuck in the middle of a serious conspiracy – between my landlady and our common maid. The saas-bahu serial kind. When I saw it happening in front of me, it was surreal. I have spent almost a decade slogging at MBA college and then workplace. How was I to know that saas-bahu soap tactics are actually inspired from real life?

Even though I wasn’t happy with my maid and felt she was a work-shirker, ungrateful despite all the clothes and shoes I had donated to her, I stuck along with her. She worked (or did not work) in my absence – she had the keys, and took liberty to lie and glower at me when I confronted her during our rare Sunday encounters. She was hardly ever bothered if I tried exposing her undisciplined behaviour by pointing out strips of paper and rubbish lying in corners of the house. ‘I cleaned. I don’t know from where all this came’ she would shrug indifferently.

And poor I, a single working girl, did not have the time or guts to search for another one. I doubted I would ever find anyone who would be disciplined enough to work diligently in my absence.

I still don’t understand why the Landlady was suddenly so concerned about the maid not cleaning MY house; why she confronted (she claims) the maid several times for not cleaning my house properly. ‘I saw her. She only did jhaadu. No pochha.’ she said, seriously. The maid’s felony worsened every time we spoke. ‘I saw from my balcony. She did not come to your house at all’.

I was on my alert. Ok, I wanted a maid who would come early morning and finish off work in front of me but the Landlady’s keen interest in my affairs was fishy. I suspected foul play. Such was her keenness in getting the maid removed that she sent another maid to meet me early morning.

I agreed to keep her for a few hundred rupees more. After all, she agreed to work in the morning.

But, on a safe side, I did not refuse Maid 1. I will see how it goes with Maid 2 for 1-2 days and then take a call on Maid 1, I thought.

Landlady had too much on stake, looks like. She dropped over to my place at night asking for status.

‘Decided on something about Maid 1?’ she asked, plopping down on the diwan.

‘Oh yes. The new maid agreed to come in the morning. I will keep her.’ I replied.

‘Good.’ She looked pleased. ‘She is really nice. You don’t have to worry. I have removed Maid 1 totally. She brings her daughter along and she has been stealing stuff. I lost two imported liftic, one Rs. 1,200 worth watch and my bahu’smake-up stuff.’

I tried to look sorry.

‘I immediately thought of you. What if your stuff gets stolen? I will feel so bad!’ she exclaimed.

There is so much junk around my house, I wouldn’t never know if something is lost, I thought. I kept quiet on this.

‘So, you call her immediately and tell her you don’t need her. I don’t want to spoil her reputation but I don’t want thieves to work for me’ she dictated.

I thought this was too much. Landlady’s house is so bare. It’s me who keeps all kinds of cosmetics, shoes and junk jewellery around. I have never seen anything out of place. The maid barely touches my house and leaves in hurry, let alone go through my stuff. Moreover, I didn’t know how to tell her to discontinue politely without hurting.

‘But Aunty, hasn’t she been with you since years? Then, what happened suddenly?’ I asked smoothly.

‘Yes, yes. But now she has changed. Now what to tell you. See, she has not told me anything but I came to know through other maids. Her daughter – yes, that dark girl – has been married twice but got divorced in just 10 days. See?’ she said, looking horrified. ‘What kind of a girl is she?’

There you go. Proper housewives gossip.

‘And then you know what? Now what she says? She wants to marry her Jijaji!’ she paused, waiting for my reaction.

I was clearly horrified. Not because of the unethical act done by the Dark Girl but because I felt cheap listening to such cheap gossip. Is that all that interests these ladies? Is that all they talk about – their maid’s lives? And do domestic complications of the unfortunates affect their employment?

If I were to become a housewife tomorrow, I’d shut myself away from all such ladies and maids. I’d ratherwork on my own.

‘The poor elder sister, who has 3 kids, consumed poison! She said in the whole world did you only spot my husband? Just think. This girl has no morals!’ she tattled on.

These females watch too much TV, I thought. These dialogues have been used in Bollywood since 3 decades.

I wanted to hear no more. This was too low. I couldn’t just sit there listening to unusable gossip that was menial to the extent of being offensive. The scandals presented in daily soaps are just glamorous versions of real life happenings. They pollute our minds and houses.

I am convinced there has been some issue between the maid and Landlady, which has nothing to do with theft or kaamchori. I am sure she has spoken a 100 lies to me. How can a servant shirk work or not work ‘properly’ when the lady of the house is at home, watching her every move? So, they were basically a bunch of lies.

‘Change your lock, so that Maid 1 can’t enter in. I have got another lock.’ Landlady glowers.

What?

‘Errr. I don’t know. I am yet to discuss things with Maid 2. If it doesn’t work out with her, I will be stuck’, I recovered quickly and said.

‘Don’t worry. I will get you another one. Take this lock.’ she gave me an alternate lock.

I was happy with the conversation getting concluded. It had been too much already.

‘I was really concerned about you. Do let me know if you need anything else’ she said while leaving.

No, Aunty. Aapke kaafi upkar haialready, I muttered.

So there I was, victim of scheming ladies’ gossip. I don’t think I can ever learn to tackle their ways!

Jism 2 Review: Love, S*x or Dhokha? I am clueless.

The movie begins bang on with the sculpted nude back of phoren return Sunny Leone (Pooja Bhatt seems to be telling the audience in face – You came for this right? All right. Here it is!) introducing herself as Izna, a porn star. Her voice goes on to say how lonely and empty she feels and takes us through her tragic life. Her life hardly seems tragic when she takes her voluptuous body out of the bath tub, dresses in a half stripped red gown and goes into a dance club. She eyes Arunoday Singh, who is sitting there smiling stupidly, and leads him to a room upstairs. She loses no moment in dropping off her barely-there attire to a breathless and very desperate looking Arunoday Singh. Izna makes out with him in a manner that convinces you that she indeed is a porn star and this movie is likely to turn out into a porn movie.

How wrong were you!

We knew Jism 2 was going to be an erotic thriller, so there would be lots of skin show, thrill & perspiration. Instead, the movie revoked titters and lots of cackling. Our first gush of guffaw came when Sunny Leone wakes up in the morning to the sound of a singing male, looking totally confused, baffled and taken-aback and hiding her already much exposed bosom. C’mon, how did a girl, who blatantly picks up a guy in 5 minutes, feel shy all of a sudden?

A huge Ayan conveys to a still confused Izna about an important mission they need her for to which Izna very wooden facedly refuses. Ayan counter argues, childishly glowering, that she needs to do mulk ki seva and hence, become a part of this mission.

Our practiced porn star sees her opportunity here and hoists herself out of the sheets, as seductively as ever, and places her curvy self in front of Officer and says – Main mulk ki seva hi toh kar rahi hu apne kapde utaar kar’.

This had us in fits. Sorry, Pooja Bhatt.

Kab tak?! Kab tak in hotel rooms mein apni zindagi guzaarogi’, says Ayan, in forced anger, as if repeating a well-practiced dialogue on a school stage play. Ayan is protective of the damsel-in-distress already.

Worried Damsel violently heaves her bosom up and down and manages to spurt out a few lame dialogues. Later I will realize that that’s all she does throughout the movie.

Lady arrives in Sri Lanka, wearing what looks like a camisole with a blazer. Imagine having to meet Intelligence Bureau in this skimpy attire. Our Porn Star is only walking the talk, I suppose.

Her mission, as explained by Guru (Arif Zakaria, a very out of placed guy) is to enter Kabir’s (Randeep Hooda) bedroom and get hold of ‘data’ from his laptop. (What I would like to know is what is this data that Intelligence Bureau and CBI officials have been after since last 2 decades in Bollywood?). Kabir is an honest police officer turned terrorist (yawn) having killed hundreds of people and the Intelligence people, staying right beside him, are unable to catch hold of him and are helpless at the hands of a porn girl.

So, having heard about her job, Izna is speechless, never having had to do such a brainy, taxing job ever in her life; her profession never gave her scope for this. How could she cope with the demands of this job? Though she has excelled in fulfilling lot of other demands and has had men under thumb (and everything else), this is something uncalled for, isn’t it?

Tumhe sab kuch karna hoga. Sab kuch’ Guru says with a very meaningful look. You can almost sense him sneering (and lusting) inside. Probably this makes Izna feel better about her contribution and decides to give it a think.

Ayan follows like a confused child and Izna finally lets out the story with lot of chest throbbing.

Some years back, before porn happened, our lady here was shy, unsure and easily pushed around. She is paid by evils to deliver a bag to a drug gang and that’s where she encounters Kabir, a police officer then. Kabir is convinced she can never be a part of the gang because poor thing looks scared and shaky and picks up the chuttas fallen from her purse on the road painstakingly. Like a real honest man, he lets her go (keeping the symbolic coin) without refrain. But it’s the lady who feels estrogen rising and lands up at his doorstep with flowers and a letter written with blood (Apne dil ki shikayat khoon se kardi, bas ek shikayat hai ki kaash mere khoon ka rang mere ishq ki tarah gehra hota)

Demure Damsel is in love already.

A song and a massage later, Kabir is gone from her life.

‘Usse pyaar karna meri woh pyaas thi jisse pyaas bujhti thi meri.’ Lady concludes her story.

The USP of the movie is its corny dialogues. Dialogues that will defeat Nirupa Roy’s melodrama. Dialogues that will leave you in fits of laughter. Dialogues that will be the paisa vasool factor of the movie.

The indecisive Izna agrees to work on the ‘mission’, undulating between Ayan and Kabir. Since she is so stiff and the only expressions she can come up with are shock, furring of brows and a few misleading tears, we never get to know whom her feelings of love lie with. You might think it is Kabir after she says Hum dono ek doosre se jhooth bol sakte hain par iss jism ka kya karen?’ to Kabir. But when she kisses Ayan, you are lost all over again.

Meanwhile, Ayan has fallen in love the Lady. He resists his possessiveness and jealousy every time Izna speaks fondly of Kabir. And finally, when she packs her bags to go to Kabir, he stomps, cries out and acts like a stubborn 5 year old wanting ice cream from that hawker. Subsequent to this scene, Ayan is sullen and brooding, like he won’t rest till he gets his ice cream.

I won’t spoil the joy of watching this movie by revealing the twists and turns and climax for you; you might want to preserve some suspense, thrill for the end. You deserve it for enduring the movie.

Randeep Hooda, even with all the hotness he possesses that dragged worshippers like me to the movie hall, makes a horrible Gangster-cum-Devdas-in-making. I still worship him. I do. It’s just a wrong decision he made, I give him that benefit of doubt (Why, Randeep, why????). I could almost read his mind all the times he looked so longingly at Izna – What the hell am I doing here, sharing the screen with a third rate ‘actress’??!!

Arunoday Singh clearly needs to grow up.

Sunny Leone. Keep your mouth shut and bosom under control, please.

Girls. Watch this movie for the cheesy dialogues.

Guys. Go and watch Sunny Leone porn.

Calling A Toll-free Number

I am sure I am not the only one who has gone through the agony of talking to call center agents. Getting to reach an actual human, through an IV is difficult enough, the agony increases when the human agents also start behaving like robots. I know, I know, they have hearts and are real people and all but they sound like robots. They sound so artificial, so mechanical – like that doll which rattles off statements when you charge it.

Hardly able to bear the blow of my malfunctioning refrigerator, I was put through the ordeal of registering my complaint at company’s toll-free number. Perhaps, the reason why they make the call centre number toll-free is because their agents are not going to be satisfied before they ask you a 100 questions and say 50 pleasantries like have a nice day and sorry to keep you waiting. The IV machine does its bit by presenting 100 confusing choices to you that you almost give up trying to help yourself.

In this case, luckily, the IV machine just presented 2 options: Customer or Dealer? English or Hindi?

So, I chose Customer and English and the agent came online.

Agent: Suprabhat. Main aapki kya seva kar sakta hu

Ugh? Hadn’t I chosen English?

Me: (In Hinglish) Hi, This is NS here from Vadodara.

Agent: Customer or Dealer

Ugh? What?

Never mind.

Me: Customer

Agent: Calling the first time or have called before

Me: (Taken aback) First time

And last, probably.

Agent: Which state

His ‘questions’ don’t need question marks in the end because they did not sound like questions. His voice sounded like a computer generated voice.

Me: Gujarat

Agent: City

Me: Baroda.

Agent: You are telling me the place. I want the city.

Me: (Teeth clenched) Yes, Baroda is the city. Ok, sorry. Vadodara.

Agent: Pincode

Me: (wondering if I will ever get a chance to tell my problem) Errr wait. Ya. Here it is.

Thank you, Google.

Agent: Address

Me: (Cursing myself for calling here. Cursing the refrigerator. Cursing everyone in general)

Agent: What product is bothering you

Me: (Feeling jubilant. At last!) Refrigerator

Agent: Model name and number?

Me: (Speechless) I don’t remember. But ya, it is tiny and grey in color.

Is this the only intelligent answer I could think of, you may wonder. But you know, when you are so down and are feeling least hopeful because the last ray of light also blows away, you can’t think.

Agent: What is the problem

Me: It doesn’t cool. I mean, it does, it cools and things become cool, but not cold. There is water in the freezer. I mean, ice doesn’t form

Great. This Robotic Question Bank has intimidated me to an extent that I am stammering now.

Agent: Ok. Your complaint has been registered. A mechanic will come within 48 hours; he will call before coming. Anything else.

Me: (Hell no!) No thanks

Agent: Call karne ke liye bahut bahut dhanyavad

Aapka bhi.

Done. The problem communicated and resolved in 30 seconds. And for that, I had to go through full 10 minutes of giving half of my bio data to him while he filled some silly customer form.

Robotic Question Bank probably looked like this

Tele callers are no less botheration. Every time a telecaller calls, I think of some wisecrack to throw back at him or say something very smoothly and escape. But I end up listening to the entire memorised speech and feel lousy thereafter. After Robotic Question Bank, it was Persistent Telecaller’s turn to annoy me. Despite disconnecting his call 4 times, he kept calling. His persistence irritated me. I picked up the call only to hear a singing motorized nasal voice talking about some insurance plan in shuddh hindi. I disconnected your call 4 times, which means I can’t talk right now, ok?, I sputtered. He abruptly fell silent and slow and disconnected the call with a have a nice day.

And the guilt surfaced. I was rude to him! He was just doing his job (in a very annoying way, actually) and though he is trained and used to rude customers, he still has a heart that can get hurt.

I wish there was a better way of handling them without causing any humiliation to the caller and any exasperation to self.

Maybe I should learn some acting skills. Next time such a caller calls, I will cry out Hello? Hello? I can’t hear you!

Cure To All Diseases–Shopping

Doctors have earned riches curing paranoid women’s compulsive, imaginary illnesses – migraine, stress, strain and the like. Medicines must have failed making a good impact, generous care and attention at home would dissipate without impacting but if there is one tool, tried and tested on women across ages and species that cures all ‘diseases’ with 0% failure, it is shopping.

I have seen my mother’s migraine miraculously disappear just at the thought of going to a mall (my mother had fallen sick, due to imaginary strain I’m sure, days before travelling to Singapore this May. But the moment we boarded the train, she turned her glowing, smiling face to me and asked – do I look sick? To which I had to reply in negative very blandly). I have felt my frustration over a nagging boss vanish incredibly by entering the department store. If only sensible, honest, mature doctors gained from their own life experiences and gave the correct tip to ladies.

My mother’s doctor in the above case was one such gyaani. While he gave a few medicines to Mum, he called Dad later and told him – Travel to Singapore, she can, without worry. Wait and watch what miracles happen the moment she is out of home. And it worked. I am sure that doctor has daughter(s). Being in minority in the family spells disaster that he must have learnt in his many years of fatherhood.

Over flowing cupboard or not. Fluctuating size or not. Correct occasion or not. Women needto shop. Shopping is a necessity. Like grocery shopping. Wait. Actually, a bigger necessity than grocery shopping.

And sale time? That’s war. And women from all corners of the city come creeping out onto the battleground, all attachments, responsibilities, and ailments forgotten. Their determined, rigid facial expressions can put any penalty kick facing football player to shame. Women leave no stone unturned in spreading resent, especially at workplace.

Woman 1: (Eyes wide. Gleaming) I shopped yesterday! Flat 50% off at XYZ mall!

Woman 2: (Eyes narrowed) Really???

Woman 1: (Mad jeering monkeys jumping in her head) Ohhhh, you didn’t know????? You should have told me. I would have definitely taken you along!!

Woman 2: (Grrrrrr) That’s ok! I didn’t want to shop anything anyway!

Woman 1: I got 3 kurtis for Rs. 200 each! Such a great bargain, na???

Woman2: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

The most docile housewives turn into monsters during sale times. How wrong are you to think that these simple, undemanding housewives are not ambitious and wouldn’t hurt a fly? They are home makers, protecting and binding the family. Hell, not hurt a fly! They elbow fellow shoppers, push them out of the way and trample bystanders when they are on their shopping mission. Their poor husbands have failed to recognize the fiery alter-ego of their wives. Now you know why every man is afraid of his wife? Because his wife has a hidden Durga Maa side which is dangerous to be invoked.

How much ever he hates it, a husband will ALWAYS accompany his wife on her shopping mission. Not that he has much control but he still can curb the expenditure a bit. But once there, what does he do? His wife greedily looks at the racks and sprints to join the battleground, her grit and fierceness startling the unsuspecting husband and he withdraws to a quiet corner where he finds several lost looking men. Only there does he find peace, among his fellow comrades.

Women with small kids abandon them mercilessly. Their husbands are shocked at their wives’ sudden change in temperament. They are perhaps yet to learn the norms of the game. They will learn the hard way, alas. They entertain their kids in the outside play area, silently thanking the mall authorities for being so considerate. The innocent kids can’t read their fathers’ glum faces nor do they know of the approaching catastrophe that their father is going to witness in the form of a thin, long, glossy strip of white paper. The ink on the paper will fade soon but the burn in his pocket will be permanent. Beneath the forced smiles is dread. Alarm.

Seasoned husbands (like my father) sit patiently in one place either fiddling with their mobile phones, trying to figure out the complicated buttons, or staring into space. They can sit patiently for hours. All they need is a sofa. A seasoned husband knows better than to keep pace with their wife and/or daughter. He knows they have forgotten him and will call him when they need him (to pay the bill). He also knows that his opinions are neither valued nor needed. At peace with himself, he even starts small talk with the other sofa-mates. No, they do not encourage each other to form a Harassed Husbands / Fathers Club, they merely talk about politics and government.

Many newly formed relationships can break after a shopping trip. Guys develop cold feet. Initially, they participate happily in the assisting in shopping process, watching their girls going in and out of trial rooms numerous times. But then the strain shows up. The strain of not knowing the difference between those two black dresses. The stress of having to repeat you look gorgeousfifty times. The pain of loitering outside ladies trial rooms among over-excited animated women of all shapes and sizes. The difficulty of having to pick the better outfit without actually knowing the difference or giving a damn about either. And finally when they see happy looking guys shopping on their own, they develop ‘issues’. Commitment issues, mostly.

Men may feel whatever, but the exhilaration and kick that women get by holding glossy shopping bags is unmatched. Take my word; there is no therapy better than shopping in this world. It works on all ‘problems’. Such a simple, basic, easily available therapy. And doctors don’t get the trick at all. Alas. Men just don’t understand women.

The Age-old War

I have seen my mother do it. I have seen my landladies and aunties do it. Cursing our maids is a ritual performed by Indian women since old ages and the tradition continues even today. If there is one individual a woman wants to have control on, besides her husband, it is the maid.

The Shanta Bais and Champa Bens of India have been ridiculed; have been the target of our mockery on Channel V spoof shows and Star One comedy shows. That is one place where they are rendered helpless and we can sit back on our comfortable sofas and laugh at them. In reality, they have the power that can make the most dominating wives and wicked mother-in-laws look like wimps.

They look ordinary, frail women but don’t let their outer demeanour mislead you. They belong to the most important, indispensable species of humankind. Had it not been for their importance, women would not be spending sleepless nights trying to build schemes to leash their maid, trying to find that one comeback line that can shut a maid’s loud mouth about how less she is being paid and turn her into an obedient robot. That would be ultimate bliss. In today’s era, it is not diamonds from her husband that a woman aspires for; it is for her maid’s submission.

How much ever the female employer does the tigress act, deep inside she is a chicken. The biggest fear she lives by is her maid bunking work. After each day she thanks God for making the presence of a maid felt in her life today and prays that such endowment will be granted to her on coming days too. The absence of maid can have collateral effect on her whole family, not just her house and her mind. Husbands withdraw, happy to do so, and are afraid to open their mouth lest they annoy the enraged, vexed tigress. The kids talk to each other in hushed whispers wondering why their parents are looking so doomed and put on their best disciplined act in fear.

The morning prayers are now replaced by urging God to shower blessing again on her family if the woman has ever done any good in her life. She leaves for work limp and lost feeling like her whole life is crumbling in front of her and hopes for an angel to come and save her from the jinx. And when the maid finally graces her home with her presence, she declares her to be the best maid in the world.

The work done by the maid is given telescopic scrutiny and any fault found is noted down in deep black to be brought up in the next confrontation session in the court of God. Our gardeners cheat us, so do our car cleaners and watchmen, but it is the maid who deserves the brunt of our suspicion, criticism and discontent. The confrontations are predictable. Madam saying you don’t do any work properly here and Bai saying increase my pagaar first. Madam’s confident disposition starts shaking when Bai acts indifferent. Any further rising of voice is enough to send Memsaab propelling back to the prayer room.

I had to get dragged into this battle too. I stay alone and managing the already worn out and shabby house is between me and the Bai now. Being a single working girl doesn’t help. For one, the Bai has a gala time doing work half-heartedly (if ever she does, that is) in my absence and not come on weekends, which is the only time I can meet her. Instructions on phone reach deaf ears and if they do register, response comes in the form of pagaar badhao. Juggling office, bills and shopping wasn’t sufficient to drive me insane, now it’s the Bai causing me to mutter to myself in the lone house. Such is the fierce bearing of the maid I’m already behaving like a madwoman in my Twenties (OK. Very late twenties).

I will not let her win. I will bribe her with my old clothes and shoes. And food. But I will not increase her pagaar.

(And the war continues).