Gharonda

It’s been a really long hiatus from blogging this time. As clichéd as it may sound, I have been ultra busy with something, and that something is very predictably going to be the topic of this post.

The husband and I have started our house hunting yet again for the third time in the last four years. Now don’t give me that look. We are not into house hoarding. We bought a couple of houses in the past, which we had to sell due to totally different reasons. So this time around, I am keeping my fingers crossed, hoping this purchase will last longer than the earlier ones. Long enough for the walls to bear the stubborn pencil marks tracing the height of the growing child. Long enough for the rooms to be weighed down with the echoes of laughter and joy, of love and hope, of arguments and anguish. Basically, long enough for the house to become a home.

House-hunting, I feel, is akin to spouse-hunting in a number of ways. You feel the vibes, positive or negative, within the first ten seconds. You start fantasising. You start comparing the current one with the ones seen till then. You become anxious if you very badly want it.  You become touchy if nothing works out for a long time. You wait with bated breath for the right one to come riding one fine morning. Just like that. Unannounced, sweeping you off your feet.

Though I never had the fortune (or misfortune) of checking out multiple grooms before settling on Mr Right, the house hunting left me with much more on my hands than I could handle. Further, the tiring and stressful process of house hunting with a toddler in tow was made infinitely amusing, intriguing and frustrating, all at the same time, by the broker fraternity. They are, no doubt, an interesting lot. I understood certain tenets about the broker community. Their’s is a tough life in a highly competitive, disorganized sector, where transparency and work ethics are extremely rare. The brokers struggle to swim their way through turbulent waters, the bigger sharks gobbling up the smaller ninnies along the journey. As a result, many of them resort to umpteen tricks of trade to keep their hearths running warm.

Some excerpts of our routine albeit amusing conversation with brokers:

Scene one:

We were ushered into a seedy looking house with chrome lights and all, filled with empty beer bottles in every possible nook. The floor was strewn with cigarette stubs. So as not to appear extremely rude, we gave the place a cursory glance before hurriedly stepping out.

Broker (very smugly): Kaisa laga sir?

Hubby: Arre ghar dikhao, bar nahi

Broker: Saab yeh sab to common hai na. Bachelars toh gande hi rehte hai. Ye to phir bhi thik hai. Last week group of working girls key aha party leke gaya. Shorts me ek ladki ne cigarette ke saath door khola. Jain party toh udhar se hi laut gaya! Aaj kal ki ladkiyan tej hai na!!

Well well.

Scene two:

Me: Gym hai?

Broker: Pata lagatu hu

Hubby: Kabhi bataoge?

Broker: Ek do din me

Hubby and me: Huh???

Scene three:

Broker: Maam, yeh dekho. Proper 3 BHK hai.

Me: Proper matlab?

Broker: Arey madam, yaane ki accha 3bhk hai.

Me: Oh. Okay…Par yeh toh top floor hai. Aapne bola nahi mujhe phone pe!

Broker: Higher floor bola tha na madam…

Me: Uhmm…Higher floor…

Scene four:

Hubby: Arey kya mast flat hai.

Me: Wait, pehle compass nikalo (experience had taught me that the best flats were invariably south facing)

Hubby: Kya yaar, yeh bhi south facing hai!!

Broker: Par aapne bataya nahi vaastu compliant chahiye.

Hubby: Hmmm. Toh suno hamare requirements:

Vaastu, feng shui or jo bhi sab hai uske saath compliant hona chahiye

Bada balcony chahiye. Madam ko papad sukhana hai (winks at me)

Top floor or ground floor nahi chahiye.

Shaam ko 630 baje tak ghar me light aana chahiye

Aajoo Bajoo me kahi bhi road nahi hona chahiye

Khidkiyon se greenery dikhna chahiye

Aur haan, hamare budget me fit hona chahiye. Bas. Hubby turns to me, ‘Anything else’?

Me: (Now a bit unsure of the way the conversation was progressing) Hmmm…Balcony se sun aur moon dikhe to accha hoga…

Broker: (Visibly frustrated). Saab, main line up karke call karta hu.

Obviously, he never called back.

Scene five:

Me: Yeh ghar nahi jamega. Hame bada balcony chahiye.

Broker: But maam, log to aajkal chhota balcony maangte hai. Dengue bahut hai na.

Me: Kya???

Some of the other amusing events included the fact that the door of a house was wide open when we went to see it. Apparently some broker in a tearing hurry who had shown the flat before us had forgotten to lock it (!). We also got a lot of leads from quasi-brokers, typically housewives who leveraged contacts at kitty parties and bhajan mandlis to generate that ‘little but not-so-little’ side income.

Okay, for the record, we have, till date, seen only about 46 houses. If ever there is an award for accomplishing this with a very hyper toddler, you now know whom to nominate.

Seeing my crestfallen face, my resourceful maid who is socially very active mentioned that a house is available in our own society. ‘Didi main kal flat number laati hu, tension nako…’.

Hmmm…Tomorrow the 47th house then!!! Woohoooo

The Ice Age fiasco

           We never believed our very active (read ‘hyperactive’) 15 month old daughter S would be patient enough to watch a film in the theatre. And so we never tried. But the musically inclined little one fell so much in love with the songs of the film Cocktail on TV that I couldn’t resist giving it a shot. You had to start somewhere, so why not with this? The other pluses about the movie being that even if there were to be a ruckus, I could breeze out of the movie with no major heartbreak (given the unrelenting poor reviews it had got). And since the movie hall was expected to be 70% empty, we could move about and around as frequently as required. So me and S, off we went for Cocktail, with a cousin for company. Here I must mention that the husband promptly backed out saying Cocktail was not HIS kind of movie and so he gallantly volunteered to skip the movie (now please don’t ask me what HIS kind of movies are, coz that’s another post altogether!).

              Well, surprise of all surprises, our evening rocked!! S thoroughly enjoyed the songs and was dancing freely in the nicely vacant theatre, while we lazily munched our popcorn. The movie was no good, but our trio made the best of it, given the entertainment provided by S. I could not believe that we had so effortlessly breezed through her first movie, and I cursed myself for not having attempted this sooner. ‘It’s all because of my staid unexperimenting husband’, I muttered. I returned home with a gait in my walk and rubbed it all off on the husband who, nevertheless amused, very promptly made it seem as if it was no big deal that he missed all the fun.

             And then I read this blog post about a mom and kid bonding over an animation movie, and boy, was I touched! I so wanted S to look wide-eyed at an animation film, and watch her face light up with joy. She accompanied me to Cocktail, so I should definitely take her to her kind of movies. Simple logic, or so it seemed. And this time, I was in no mood to leave the husband out of the fun. I scanned the papers and figured out that Ice Age 4 and Krishna and Kans were due for release. Perfect timing! I told the husband I was booking tickets for the movie Ice Age 4 that weekend. ‘Ice Age 4?’ he asked. ‘What about 1,2 and 3?’. Here, I have to clarify that the husband does not even remotely follow animation movies. I had to really coax him to come for this one, giving him a long emotional lecture on what I thought were the ultimate tenets of parenthood. And since he never has the heart to refuse something where either S or his parenting approaches are involved, he relented. And we planned to go the following weekend to Krishna and Kans so as to give S the joy of both desi and phoren animated films. I did a small victory jig.

             As we settled comfortably ensconced in our Gold class seats for Ice Age (yes, I had chosen the best class for the occasion), it seemed all so ‘picture-perfect’. That is, until the guy with the 3D glasses came. As soon as we put on our glasses, S decided I looked really weird in them and started tugging, insisting that I remove it. Well, me being the primary bearer of S, had to relent. Now if you have ever tried watching 3D movies without those glasses, you would agree with me that it gives you a strange kind of head and eye ache. ‘I should have booked 2D’, I hissed to the husband, who was watching the movie unperturbed with his glasses on. Five minutes into the movie, S let out her first cry of boredom. Unfazed, I softly tried pointing out the various animals to her. No luck. I pointed out some kids nearby who were watching the movie. She suddenly clapped her hands with joy and lurched out of my lap wanting to play with them. I tried explaining to her in my unruffled-mother-who-can-handle-any-situation voice that this was not time to play and that a wonderful movie lay ahead. She watched for few more minutes before asking for water, biscuits, water, puffed rice, juice (huh? I hadn’t got that with me, she had obviously overestimated her mom there), biscuits and more water again. Needless to say that each of these demands resulted in a substantial amount of ruckus and total inability to focus on the movie. We played with the 3D glasses for some time and when I tried re-concentrating on the movie, S let out huge wails, enough to disturb the people sitting around, who gave looks which clearly implied why I was torturing a poor little baby by forcing her to watch a film she so obviously did not enjoy. I had a brainwave, took S out for a short walk to help freshen her up. By now, I had completely lost the movie plot and my unruffled-mother…. avatar. I returned to my seat to find the husband watching the film with a sudden found interest for animation movies. I glared at him pointedly for quite some time, no use though.

                 My discomfort was broken by the intermission. I heaved sighs of relief, which, however, were not to last long. When the coke-samosa-french fries combo ad was aired on the screen, S bawled a long ‘Mammammmm’ in the most piteous and hungry voice she could find. I got pure dirty looks from the crowd around for not only dragging a disinterested poor little baby, but also a hungry, underfed and tired one at that, all maybe in our desperation to watch the movie. I immediately despatched the husband to buy some popcorn and the reminder of the movie was spent peeling the soft portion of the popcorn and feeding it to S. I walked out of the movie hall not daring to risk any conversation by meeting anyone’s gaze.

          Apparently the husband enjoyed the movie. Needless to say, we didn’t go for Krishna and Kans the following weekend.

 

The garden gnomes

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There is this park near my home where I go for my morning walk. Okay, correction. I TRY to go for my morning walk. Much as I am tempted to put on my earphones during the walk, I almost always listen to my mind (and one of the husband’s very precious gems of advice) to drop all gadgets at least for this brief period of time, and concentrate on the environment instead. Well, that leaves me with the onerous task of minding my step so that I don’t trip over any of the inadvertent stone peaks rising from the jogging track. Or worse, trip over a garden gnome!

‘A garden gnome or lawn gnome is a figurine of a small humanoid creature, usually wearing a pointy hat, produced for the purpose of ornamentation and protection from evil sorcery, typically of gardens or on lawns.’  (Courtesy Wiki). Sorry about the rambling.But this post is not about that. I am talking about the modern gnomes that could very well inhabit any park in your neighbourhood.

Today’s garden gnome categories are listed below, in no evil order.

The Wise and the Wizened: These are our retired male septuagenarians and the most common group of people you can find in any park. Well, with life’s travails conquered, or plainly accepted and delegated to their better halves, their days are agog with an amazing amount of cheer. They therefore shift their attention to world politics, something they always wanted to do in their heydays, but never got around to doing. So, every morning, the more ‘enthu’ cutlets in this group round up the other ‘follower’ personalities to be brainwashed, and launch into an extremely hot debate on what Gandhi, Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and the likes did, or did not do. Their political conversation and views are somehow still stuck in a time-warp spanning from 1950s to 1990s. Well, I am not meaning to understate the importance of any of these events, but hey, who wants to listen to such long-past-gone political trivia first thing in the morning, when all you are intent on is to salvage a moment’s peace to counter the madness of the day lying ahead.

Bottomline: Grow up boys!

Who is the fittest of them all?: In a space where 95% of the people moving about are trying to reduce their potbellies, or control their rising sugar levels, or trying to become fit enough to attempt at least bare minimum physical activity with their kids, this elite group takes the cake for being as fit as you could possibly be, with a 10 on 10 figure, in the perfect exercise attire, and generally appearing to give a look of disdain to the lesser mortals around. This species is generally found to be walking or jogging in anti-clockwise direction (or in a direction opposite to that of the said lesser mortals) so that it’s far more easier to get their right of way and breeze unrestrained at any given time.

Bottomline: Gawd, why are you even exercising? Next time, maybe you could try exercising indoors? Ok? OKAY?

The Blues:  Applicable to either sex, this group is not concerned with walking or exercising. Most of the time, they are staring straight out, in a general state of melancholy. The married couples of this group might sit next to each other on the same bench, but are strictly separated by a chaste distance of minimum two feet. You will often find each of them looking in two different directions, and not saying a word. It is sometimes so unnerving, that you would have probably found it more of a relief, had you seen them having one of these normal ‘married-couple bickerings’ or even hurling a couple of abuses at each other.

Bottomline: Why infect the larger population with your own despair? PDA (Public Display of Affection) may still be acceptable in parks, not this!

The RI of NRI: This clan chooses to converse on all things containing even a remote speck of NRI. They originated when India Inc originated, and started sending out their best men to work on ‘phoren’ shores. All these people have one thing in common – one or more of their tribe has gone or is living abroad. This breed can discuss a wide range of topics right from what-to-carry-to-usa to Obama’s latest outsourcing stand. The IT sector can take a bow to how these people effortlessly demystify the on-shoring saga. No amount of ET reading can compensate for the ‘on-the –ground’ raw data that is dished out here. It requires a certain knack to identify this group, as the species clearly doesn’t believe in loud or over-the –top conversations. Do not dare miss any opportunity to eavesdrop, as the topic may change from ‘ranting about an unmarried NRI daughter in the 40s’ while doing one round of the park, to ‘comparison of top IT companies’ per-diem policies’ in the next round!

Bottomline: You guys clearly need to be elsewhere. Don’t waste your talent by frittering away your collective knowledge in the park.

And then there are the other groups like the Noisy Neanderthals. Whose idea of a good workout in the park is probably to attempt those exercises they are not allowed to do at home.

And you have the Earphone Enthusiasts, where you really need to focus to imagine how their faces would look sans their permanent attachment of ear-phones.

Serial Killers, whose unwavering daily conversation topic is the soap aired the night before.

The Crib Club, where ladies generally rave and rant about the other ladies in their life. But that’s another post altogether… !!