Birth Super Control

This story needs background, so please bear with me.

I first asked my mother what sex was when I was a very little girl. I was in 3rd grade, and I think about 7 years old. I went up to her crying, because one of the girls had said I had had sex. Sobbing, I told her that no such thing had happened. My mother, credit to her for not laughing her guts out, sat me down, wiped away my tears, and asked me what had happened. I told her the whole story tremulously, and promised I hadn’t had sex at all.

Of course my mother believed me, because I hadn’t the foggiest idea what sex was in the first place. In my mind, it was like holding hands with a boy. She then asked me why I thought it was such a bad thing; which is something that stayed with me unconsciously many years later. She said that there was nothing wrong about sex, and it was a way that two people who loved each other could express that love.

Cut to a few years later, and I had a little more understanding, a lot more fascination, and none of the horror of sex. I went up to her and asked her what it was. By this time, my classmates had cooked up innumerable theories, and trying to keep them straight was doing my head in. So I went to the most reliable source of information I knew of: my mother.

Well.

She explained all right. She started with the X-chromosomes and Y-chromosomes of DNA. I kid you not. She began to explain the physical differences between a man and a woman from a genetic level. [My mother has only ever encountered cis-gendered, straight people. She has developed boundless inclusiveness for other orientations and gender identities since [thanks to yours truly], but she wasn’t aware of those realities at this juncture in the story.]

She then went on to explain that sex was a biological need that every living being had, right from humans, to animals, birds, fish, and plants. It was in their gene pool so that they could procreate and have babies to love and grow their families. Sex was not something to be ashamed of, but to be celebrated and done with consent between two adults of sound mind.

I don’t remember the full conversation and its particulars, but I left her side that afternoon profoundly disappointed. Sex being taboo is honestly one of the contributing factors to its overall mystique. When it is reduced mercilessly to a biological need, and [easily grossed out people please skip this next part] akin to the need to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate [seriously, I remember THIS very clearly], it loses 99% of its allure.

Years passed, and I am now in my 30s. I have come to realise that my mother understands the concept of sex, or “making out” as she persists in calling it, even though I have told her different many, many times; but she is blissfully unaware anything related. For her, it was basically a love-making act between husband and wife. End of story. I have since educated her a lot more on the actual goings-on that happens between closed doors, and always been rewarded with widened eyes and a jaw that has quite literally dropped open. When my father was there, it was even funnier. He shook his head at me trying to tell my mother these things, and walked off with no little embarrassment.

I have to say; I am fortunate to be able to have had these conversations with my parents. They are by far the coolest pair I have ever encountered.

So on to the incident.

We had just moved back to Mumbai from Goa, and were in the process of resetting a house that had not actively been lived in for a while. Plus, there was a lot of a junk that my grandmother and aunt had collected [both being human squirrels] that we needed to jettison as they were either useless, broken, or both.

One afternoon, my mum was clearing out the contents of the toiletries shelves. This was a mass repository of spares and extras for toiletries in active use, those that had been bought at some point and merrily forgotten thereafter, and the detritus of travel. Because my aunt worked for a time in a flight catering company, and both my parents were hoteliers, there were innumerable tiny bottles of shampoo, conditioner, travel sewing kits, shaving cream, disposable razors, mini soaps, and associated paraphernalia.

I, on the other hand, was sorting through paperwork. I don’t exactly know when the mantle of dealing with paperwork fell on my shoulders, but if I ever get a time machine THAT’S what I would alter in my timeline. [Obviously, I am being facetious.]

Anyway, whilst in the midst of this purge, I get called to the kitchen by mum. She has something clutched in her fist, and she’s looking at me with all the fascinated trepidation that a child has when encountering something forbidden for the first time.

Her eyes as round as saucers, she asks in a whisper, in case my father hears I presume: “Are these condoms?!” and opens her fist. And I look.

In a small plastic ziploc baggie, there are two small, mound-shaped, orange objects made of what appears to be styrofoam. They were NOT condoms; but old-timey earplugs that airlines used to give out to passengers with sensitive ears.

It took me a minute for my mind to process these few things:
1. These are old, but fairly pedestrian, ear plugs.
2. My mother has clearly never seen a condom in her life.
3. I’m an only child.
4. How am I an only child?
5. I don’t really want to know, but I can’t really stop following that train of thought.

In the time that it took me to think these things, my mother was standing there like a deer caught in headlights. “Well,” she demanded with urgency, and that broke the mute spell I was under.

“Mama,” I said, as I tried very hard to control the tremor of wild laughter bubbling up inside my throat. “These are earplugs. How come I’m an only child, if you have no concept of what birth control looks like?”

The deflating look of surprise did me in though, and it was with a very sheepish: “Don’t laugh at your ignorant mother!” that I left the kitchen in peals of laughter.

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Terminal Humour

The other day, again when I was working quietly, my mother suddenly burst into peals of ringing laughter. Since she is renown for her proclivity for puerile humour, I waited for the gusts of merriment to subside before asking, not without trepidation mind you: “What is so funny?”

This:

[Ignore the last line. It is a colloquialism in Marathi, whose import I have no hope of translating into English. And an immediate equivalent doesn’t spring to mind.]

Now, I found this mildly amusing. Not hysterical to the point of tears running down my face, which was mom’s condition. So I asked her why it was so funny. And her explanation was something!

Me: “Dude. This isn’t THAT funny. Why are you laughing so much?”
Mom: “I am imagining Queen Victoria turning into Shivaji!”
Me: *snort* “The joke is about the train station, not the people!”
Mom: “Can you imagine? That fat, pug-faced..” [I started laughing here.] “..old, regal lady sprouting a beard?”
Me: “Oh God. Ma, you’re too much..” *laughing*
Mom: “And balls and penises!”
Me: “Wait. Penises? PLURAL?!”
Mom: “Well yeah!”
Me: “I think I would have heard about it if Shivaji’s anatomy was that, erm, unique.”
Mom: “No no. It is a terminus na? Multiple platforms, exits, lanes…”
Me: *facepalm*

True story.

Fashion Police

One evening, last week, I was trying to work quietly, while the midget was checking out the photographs of the media-crazed coverage of Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma’s reception in Mumbai.

I made a concerted effort to concentrate on reading about strategic financial management for a client website, but I was finally laughing too hard to concentrate.

In an effort to document my glee, I started documenting these earnest asides from my mother. I was not disappointed.

1. Rekha: She looked so nice in the linen sari she wore last time, now she’s gone back to looking like a Christmas tree.
2. Priyanka Chopra: She dresses so well normally! Couldn’t her stylist iron her sari?!
3. Amitabh Bachchan: Needs a stylist desperately. He looks like an upholstery cover.
4. Shahrukh Khan: He had dressed like a human being for once! [I have no idea what this is supposed to mean!]
5. Sidharth Malhotra: His sleeve is embroidered in one place, like an accent. Cushion cover in the making. Combined with Amitabh, they make a fantastic sofa set.
6. Varun Dhawan: Trying too hard.
7. Nita Ambani: She drips money. It’s not a bad look; it just LOOKS expensive.
8. Katrina Kaif: Look at this mermaid. [I lost it at this one.]
9. Ibrahim Ali Khan: There’s a turtle on his jacket. Why?
10. Siddharth Roy Kapur [next to Aditya]: Ooh these brothers look good! For once he doesn’t look like a pumpkin in a churidaar-kurta.
11. Shashank Khaitan [Had to Google this.]: His dhoti, I think it is a dhoti, is straight from the laundry basket. And who wear turquoise socks with brown suede shoes? I’m lost for words. [Clearly.]

[Peppered amongst comments about how beautiful most of them look.]

Silly Trifecta

Not that I would ever admit this to him (because he would make incessant fun of me), but I have an amazing friend. I spend a lot of time chatting with him, and we’ve gotten into this comfortable equation of sending each other context-less updates a few times a day. It’s really the best.

Having said that, he is a clown. I am also a clown. And add to that, my mother is ALSO a clown. Case in point:

(He calls me Mom sometimes, because I am the responsible one of the two of us. Also, I can be very stick-in-the-mud at times.) He texted me, asking about what to reply to a match of his on Tinder, when the poor girl said: “What’s up?”

His initial idea was to say “Ceiling” but I threatened to disown him, to which: Mom! 💔. We then ramble on for a few more minutes, before I decide to role play. So I ask: “What’s up?”
And he says: “Ceiling.”
Me: “I’m used to this shit, so I will continue speaking to you.”
Him: “Mamta.”
[Now, in my defence, ‘Mamta’ is a first name in India. So:]
Me (genuinely confused): “Banerjee?” [An Indian politician from West Bengal.]
Him: *facepalm* “Maa ki mamta. One day a random projectile will fly through your window.”
Me: *dying of laughter*

[Maa ki mamta = Mother’s love]

Second case in point:

He calls. And:

Him: “Dude! Ghar me spoons nahi hai.” [There are no spoons at home!]
Me: “What? Did you throw them out or something?”
Him: “No. I forgot to wash them the last time I did the dishes.”
Me: “… and your mind equates unwashed spoons to NO SPOONS AT ALL?”
Him: “Obviously! Keep up dude.”

Third, and final, case in point:
I was telling my mum about JH calling me “Mom”. And her response: “Why didn’t you tell me I have a grandson?!”
Crazy people.

Mon Petit Chou

One day, I bought a head of cabbage. The very next morning, my mother turned part of that cabbage into coleslaw, which was delicious.

The same afternoon, I was at work with the same coleslaw as a part of my lunch. I was silly enough in those days to share my lunch with a few colleagues. One of these colleagues LOVES to argue with me. In fact, I have since proved to him that he only argues with a few people, and I cannot understand why I am one of those miserable unfortunates.

That afternoon, he argued with me that “those green strips” couldn’t possibly be cabbage, because “cabbage is white and disgusting”, and the “green strips” were NOT disgusting.

I spent 5 minutes trying to convince him, explaining the buying and making process in detail, before giving up and admitting that the green strips were a mysterious vegetable that I called cabbage just to propagate a conspiracy.

Go Ahead And Injure Me

So, today I went for my 4th MMA class in a row. My previous streak of attendance was 6, but I had to break it because of sunburn on my back. But this post isn’t about that.

Today was Jiu-jitsu day, and it is a testament to my lack of ability that I am not sure which kind we are doing. The class starts with forward rolls, which I cannot do at all thanks to negligible upper body strength. I intend to work myself up to that point though, so I powered on through the rest of the class. Suffice it to say, there are holds and squats and swivels and whatnot.

For most of the routines, you need to have a partner. They lie on their backs, and you practise holds and locks and squats and swivels and whatnot. One of these holds involves placing a knee on your partner’s abdomen, and your hands on their shoulders or biceps. You then swivel your leg, using the knee as a pivot, and mount your partner.

My partner was a little unsure of these moves, so I went first. I placed my knee rather gingerly on her, because, let’s face it, I am heavy. But because the weight is distributed, the pressure is not actually that much. She was most encouraging though, and said to give it all I got. Her exact words were:

“Put your knee on my stomach! Don’t worry about it at all.” And added, as an afterthought: “Both my parents are doctors!”

I had to stop the routine though. Because I was laughing so much at that, I couldn’t stand straight.

Koolness Quotient

Since I’ve stopped working full time, I haven’t had to commute as much. The occasional client meeting is scheduled, and I drag my unwilling body through the traffic-choked roads of Mumbai. An upshot of this situation is that I have far fewer stories of commuters than I had before. [And that’s the ONLY thing I miss about my commutes.]

The other day, I did have a client meeting. It promised to be a protracted one, because I had to get this lady to talk about herself, the company, and her work. I was drawing a blank with respect to website content, and I needed the fundamentals to get started. She had been so busy for the preceding two months, my team and I were left dangling.

So I planned to spend my ride there thinking about questions to pose, in case she ran of things to say. It was essentially along the lines of an interview, and I needed to keep her train of thought moving constantly. The easiest way to do this is to ask open-ended questions, and then follow up ones. And thus I was contemplating.

But I wasn’t alone in the car. Of course not.

At first, I wasn’t unduly perturbed by the specimen in the front passenger seat. I grant you, he was listening to music with the volume turned up so high, I could hear the lyrics of the songs, in spite of him using earphones. This was mildly obnoxious in of itself, but then he got a phone call.

Now the caller was evidently a girl, and during the course of the conversation, I got a strong feeling that she was interested in him. Why? Because he was abysmally rude to her during the whole conversation.

She suggested meeting up; he said no. Then said yes, but only wanted meet up near his place. Then he said he wanted to go to a particular restaurant, and when she presumably demurred, he was churlish.

He called her a number of names, but when she said something in response, he claimed it was “offending” and sulked audibly.

He derided her for “reading Shakespeare for sure”, and vehemently expressed his absolute hatred for romances. Then went on to talk about reading Mein Kampf, patronisingly telling her that it wasn’t a romance (d-uh, because I HATE ROMANCE. Yuck.) He went on to describe the book in the most general terms possible, telegraphing that he either didn’t get very far or he wasn’t taking the text in at all.

There were many more instances of what I thought was awful behaviour. And since I couldn’t escape the aural assault, I figured I might as well try and understand why someone as abrasive and unprepossessing as this piece of humanity was clearly so attractive to his caller.

And then it hit me; he was a cool dude! He had a Nirvana shirt on, he drawled lazily, he listened to music, and I saw that he smoked, once he got out of the car. Basically, he exuded “bad boy”, and that sort of vibe is catnip for certain people of a particular age.

While I was taking all this in, I started feeling very old. I too found bad boys attractive at some point in my college years, although I sadly did not have the same effect on them. But I now realise I have grown out of that phase completely, and I now can’t stand them.

It made me shudder to think that at one point of time in my life, I would have been the girl on that call, quietly bearing this bad behaviour because I was at the mercy of my fledgling emotions, desires, and insecurities. I wouldn’t say I know completely better now, but I thank my stars that discernment is part of my current mental makeup.