Saturday, 7 November 2015

That's because you're a guy!

This is one sentence all of us guys have heard. Your girlfriends say it, your sisters, your colleagues - pretty much any woman/girl you might've had the fortune of meeting. It is one sentence that ends conversations of road trips together, night outs, plans to chill at the beach past 7pm, and many many more such things. It conveys one emotion that is so omnipresent in society - fear. I wouldn't term it paranoia since that would add the term “irrational” before the word “fear”. It is a rational fear, I agree.

We all know where this fear stems from. Everybody reads the news. Nobody is nestled, cushioned in the ignorance of what happens outside their walls. Some of us may even know people who've had not-so-pleasant experiences. We might have been victims of such antisocial behavior. This is India - a place where the cops needn't impose curfew past 9pm because our parents do it for us, a place where society decides what morals we must stick to, a place where the paths our lives take are dictated by pakkathu veetu aunty’s remarks.

I find it depressing that many people I've met live to please. A common enough emotion that traverses language barriers, culture barriers and the gender divide is, “Ava enna nenaipalo?” Now this “ava” does not include just uncles, aunts, cousins, parents, friends, teachers, etc. (though it needn't include anyone). This extends to people walking on the same road as you, people sitting on the street outside your house, whatever, you get the point.

I was recently engaged in a conversation with one of my cousin sisters (please don't tell me that's an “Indianism”! I can argue against that later). I said I don't like that sentence and I didn't even agree with it. Even guys can be assaulted and mugged. Her counter argument was merely this, “You don't have a pussy. I do”. When asked if it came down to just that, she replied in the affirmative.

First, it is very disturbing that the women in our country are forced to be on guard like this all the time. We're reduced to the equivalent of jumpy rabbits - ready to dart out at the slightest hint of danger. A life of fear ain't a life worth leading, at least that's what I think.

Second, I've heard about many guys (some of whom I personally know) whose displays of gallantry have been mistaken for mischief. I suppose I may use the word paranoia here but sometimes, as they say, better to be safe than sorry. I agree. But is there nothing we can do about this phenomenon? If we don't act soon, this might become uncontrollable (I'd like to believe it ain't yet there).

We've had raging debates on how to tackle this issue, we've had boardroom discussions and also chaiwallah oda bench la heated arguments as to why this shit happens and what we can do about it. So I doubt I'm saying anything new when I say this but we need to be a little more open about discussing sex. Now I don't just mean serious discussions about sex or just educational content that we're supposed to get in classrooms (which we don't because the teachers don't want to read it out). My 10th grade teacher refused to teach the topic on puberty and the associated changes that the human body undergoes. She claimed it was “silly”. She also went on to declare that condoms don't work and sex is a sin. Anyway, what I'm saying is, these discussions should include everything from answering curious kids to educating ignorant adults. I remember being clueless about what was going on when 30 or so of us, all family, travelled to Tirupati and my sister didn't come to the temple. When I asked her, she didn't reply. My aunts laughed, patted my head and walked away. My mother was reluctant to talk about it in front of the others. Why? I still don't understand.

We should also talk about how fun, or not, it is. We should discuss all of this. And it's not like we don't know any of this. We didn't become the 2nd most populous country on earth by the miracles of God! We worked towards it. Might as well talk about our work.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

My week at home

My parents, brother and grandmother departed for Kashmir on Saturday, May 23, 2015. I dropped them off at the airport and brought back a very thirsty Outlander. The petrol meter showed that the car would stop at any moment and I kept constantly throwing glances at the fuel indicator. Not that that would've helped, I was just anxious. After all, who can push a car as big as that to the nearest petrol station? :P
I managed to get the car home and also park it, albeit a little skewed! (Parking that behemoth was a task in itself!) But who cares? I had the house to myself for the next 9 days. Nobody to tell me to take it out and park it straight again! Anyway, day 1 was boring. Visited a friend and got back home after a while. I had never been home alone for so long. I'd always have mom or grandma calling me up an hour or two after I had gone out, asking me when I'd be back home.
Dusk enveloped the house and after a game or two of DoTA (I played a LOT of DoTA these 9 days), I went downstairs to sleep. But sleep eluded me. I kept tossing and turning (No, I was not missing them. Please. It was nothing that cheesy.) for about 2 hours and finally managed to sleep only by midnight.
Day 2. Sunday. My cousin Janani said we could go out for dinner. I was really looking forward to that. Saturday evening and the subsequent morning really showed me how boring solitude could be. Almost all my friends were out of town and the ones who were in Chennai had exams. FML. So I tried passing the time watching TV, playing DoTA, reading the news, pretty much anything that wouldn't have me glancing at the clock every 2 minutes. And so Sunday went by and I went out for dinner. Dinner was a treat. Animal Kingdom was a good restaurant. The only problem was that they overfed me on the "appetizers" so much that I couldn't even taste the buffet spread. We visited the beach after that and then went our ways.
Day 3. The week starts. I had to wake up early, make my own lunch, bathe and then leave for my internship. Lunch was a quick Nutella sandwich and after I got back, I tried experimenting with some cuisine my mom taught me. Rava upma. I knew the recipe but I had never tried it out under supervision. So this was going to be my first attempt. The rava managed to stick to the burner of the stove, I forgot to boil the water properly before adding it to the pan, I added too many "odachakadala" (I don't know what that is in English). Basically, I had the this-is-my-first-time-in-the-kitchen dinner.
The rest of the week went by. I bunked 2 days of internship because I contracted a fever. Home was boring. I played DoTA. And when I got bored of playing DoTA, I watched TV. And when that got boring I tried sleeping. But I'm not really a during-the-day sleeper. At least not all the time. So I did the dishes, took out the trash and did some household chores. This is one thing I'm proud of. My mom was on my case about how they're going to come back home and find the whole place in a mess, or worse, burgled. I'm proud to say I managed to keep the roof, the walls around this house and everything inside, intact. I even put the clothes in the wash and hung them out to dry on my own.
It may seem like I'm making a lot out of nothing. So many people do this everyday; day in, day out. But it was a big deal for me. I don't know how much of detergent to add. I don't know when to take the clothes from the clothes line. I don't know how to run a house. At least, I'd never done it on my own. Not until this week.
Days went by and the weekend was upon me. On Friday, I decided I'd had enough of being home alone and bored to death. So I packed a set of clothes, grabbed my computer and headed to Porur, to my Perima's place. Stayed there for a day. Saturday I visited Janani, watched a movie in the evening and even went for a night drive. Sunday morning I visited my maternal grandma and got back home by around 5pm.
My dad had called a while earlier asking if I could pick them up from the airport at 7pm. I had exhausted all the money my grandma left me and, if you'd remember, the Outlander was absolutely dry. I hadn't even taken it out the last 9 days so the petrol must have dried up, even the few milliliters that were left. So I told him I couldn't.
But after I got home, I decided I didn't want to give the impression that I wasn't doing anything at home. So I washed both the cars, swept the dust off the floor from the kitchen and the living room, I took out all the trash, unlocked the rooms that they'd left locked and basically made the house family-ready from bachelor-lives-here.
After I was done with all this, it was almost 6pm.
An idea struck me, why can't I pick them up? I still have cash in the bank. I could actually surprise them at the airport! I sent my dad a message saying I'd pick them up, grabbed whatever money was left at home (5 bucks), got my wallet (70 bucks) and figured I could withdraw some more at the petrol station and started my dad's car.
I stopped the car at the petrol station and grabbed my wallet, got out of the car, and sprinted to the ATM. Sprinted because there was a blue Wagon R behind me waiting in line for fueling up. I didn't want to keep them stuck behind a parked car in the queue. But lo! My ATM card decided that this was the time to spaz out! The ATM said my card was invalid. After spewing a few of my choicest expletives at the mute machine, I sprinted back to my car, started off and backed out of the petrol station. Nobody was giving me 80 bucks worth of petrol. And even if they did, I couldn't go to the airport and back with just a liter in the tank.
I got the car out and eased it onto LB Road. I spotted an ATM outside the BSNL office opposite the petrol station. "Yes! I can withdraw cash there and then get back here. Refuel. And still catch them in time, at the airport." Everything was going fine.
I parked the car at the side of the road and got out. I reached for my wallet and... "Where's my wallet?"
I searched. Frantic. Under the driver's seat. In the glove compartment. In the back seat. I even checked the boot, although that part of the car hadn't been opened for 9 days. I checked and checked. Cursing myself all the time. I locked the car and ran (literally) back to the petrol station. I asked the dude over there if he'd seen a black wallet lying on the floor. He hadn't, he said. I went over to the ATM that refused my card. Not there. I went to the manager's room and asked him if anybody had given him a lost and found wallet. Nope. Nobody had.
I sprinted back to the car, hoping I'd find it now. I was just tensed. I needed to relax and search. It wasn't at the station. So it had to be in the car. I ran back to the car, across the road. Some guy on a bike screamed at me asking if I was blind. Whatever. I don't care dude. I need my wallet NOW!
Another frantic search yielded no different result. My wallet was miraculously missing. I'm still dumbstruck by that fact. I had it IN MY HAND!
Anyway, I shot my dad a message saying, "Plan changed. I can't pick you up. Sorry" and drove back home. Cursing myself and looking around the car alternately.
I'm still sweating from the activity as I write this post. I'm waiting for my family to get home so I can tell me dad I lost my wallet. Let's see what happens! :/

Update: I found my wallet. Seems I forgot to check under the backseat. I think I must have gotten into the car and I must have THROWN it back into the car! :P