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.

Perfection Time Capsule

I slowly want to reincorporate my old blog into this one, a few posts at a time. Here is one I found of a sunny morning in Goa, with my favourite people in the world.

I love my job (not the working culture, the nincompoops I deal with or the lack of process – but the actual JOB) but I do look forward to the occasional day off. I say ‘occasional’ because I rarely get a Sunday completely to myself at home, regardless of good intentions. Today started off on an awesome note, and I really hope the awesomeness continues into the day/week/month/year.

1. Got up late this morning. (8:45 am, in case anyone was wondering)

2. Crawled out of bed and padded my way two flights of stairs, to see mom still cuddled up under the covers with the cocker spaniel, and dad just disappearing into the bathroom. Mom was complaining bitterly that he woke up and therefore she now feels guilty about lolling around. I, of course, felt no such guilt and promptly jumped into my dad’s spot for a quick snooze. Bliss.

3. Cocker spaniel had other plans, and therefore decided that since my face was accessible to her, she must give it a thorough washing. She was unceremoniously shoved away, and dragged into mom’s arms for a cuddle. Happy me, happy mom and happy dog.

4. Dad comes out of the bathroom, and mom gets up grumbling. I ignore all such happenings, and the dog escapes from mom’s clutches to come and snuggle against my face. My face is now full of soft cocker spaniel fur. Love it.

5. Surface about 5 minutes later and hug father, amidst loud complaints that it is HIS room and HIS bed and she is HIS wife, and what right did I have to come in the middle? Smile seraphically at annoying father and amble into the cold to play with gambolling puppies. Heaven.

6. Play with puppies for a few minutes, and then get into long chat with neighbour about said puppies, my newspaper, the Hanuman chalisa and various other issues. Fun.

7. Amble back into the house, only to find father has disappeared to get milk and bread from the shops. Hinder mother’s bed-making by jumping on half-made bed and encouraging cocker spaniel to do so as well. Then proceed to complain loudly as both of us are thrown out of the bedroom and the door is locked behind us.

8. Dance around the kitchen to cheesy Bollywood tunes blaring from the kitchen speakers. Yes, we have speakers in the kitchen. No, I will not explain. Yes, I can be bribed to explain.

9. Get handed some more work by the father. Demand exorbitant payment to do said work. Get backed up by tiny mother. Outnumber father. Girlie power, yay.

A number of my perfect moments feature my parents and my dog. Unsurprising, really.

Drinking Habits

I sometimes wonder where I get my idiotic sense of humour from, but then I remember some of the things my mother says to me (and some of the things my father has done) and I am no longer surprised. Case in point:

I was chatting with mom about a container of soup I have ordered for lunch, but can’t finish. She suggests I bring it home, to which I demurred, because the container is of the flimsy plastic variety, and there are good chances that it will spill. To which my brilliant mother says:

“Why will it spill? Are you drunk?”

Right. 3 reasons why this is crazy:

  1. I am a teetotaller; a fact she knows very well, being one herself.
  2. It is the middle of the afternoon.
  3. I am at WORK. In an OFFICE. With OTHER people.

Yep.

Payment Terms

I thought I knew all my parents’ stories, because to be fair, I have heard them many times over. It is a source of constant joy, as I think of them coming terms with the world as rather adorable. Neither of them spared themselves or their pride in the retelling, so the piquancy of each tale has lasted.

So when I heard a new story about my dad a few days ago, I was really thrilled.

When he was working in Goa as a hotel general manager, he had a trusted lieutenant in the form of his HR manager, AM. AM, in turn, had immeasurable regard for my father and, since his passing, has kept in touch with my mother regularly. My father had only praise for this younger person, and always said he would go far.

A few days ago, AM messaged my mom to express how much he missed my father and his stewardship. He stressed on how much he learned, just by being with my father, and he narrated a tale to that effect.

One evening, a security guard was yelled at and slightly roughed up by some of the hotel guests or surrounding taxi drivers. He was understandably upset, and marched off to the HR manager to lodge a complaint. My father called him into his office, offered him a seat and a glass of water, and asked him what had transpired.

The security guard went into a harangue against all and sundry. Once he had quietened down a little, my father asked him what his name was. He replied: Namdev. Next: what is your salary, Namdev?

AM, in his retelling, said that he was in shock when he heard this question. What was the GM up to?

The guard went very quiet. My father asked again: what is your salary Namdev?

15000, he replied.

And what does a guard usually get paid?

5000, he replied.

That’s right. This is a difficult business [the hotel had a casino attached, although my father had nothing to do with that part of the business], and there are going to be upsets. We will take action as necessary, however the fact is that we pay extra because being a guard here is difficult.

“You get 5000 to be a guard. And 10000 to take shit.”

I was so flabbergasted on hearing this story. My father was a practical man, but he had a very kind heart. But above all, he had charm and humour oozing out of every pore. I was stunned when AM said that the guard nodded and left without further discussion.

Apparently, I haven’t heard everything.