Saturday, April 29, 2006

It's Saturday!

Oh man... I feel all tingly-happy just because my favourite comic characters finally sorted stuff out. Oh yes, and the cute couple got together, what does that tell you about me?

Oh, all right, yes, I was one of those going all teary-eyed and mushy inside when Ross and Rachel went to the planetarium for their date. So what? I'm a sucker at heart. Now you know.

Made me remember some really nice stuff. Crazy things V and I did together last year and before that. I admit we fought like crazy the six months before the marriage (when I moved out of Cal, for those who just came in) but something must've been going right else I wouldn't have run up to Cal about fifty billion times in six months just to make sure he was still him and not mutating into some horrible non-V monster.

For some reason, I spent a long time thinking about the time we ran away, the two of us. It proved a couple of things:

1) I rock at planning holidays, just like I rock at planning.
2) There is something so magical about the mixed grill breakfast at Kev's that I just have to fry up a mixed grill of my own tomorrow morning, even if I actually have to wake up tomorrow morning and go shopping to do that.
3) That I love drizzly weather even though it makes my knee problem play up so badly that I can't do much beyond lying in bed moaning in pain. I can still watch the rain through the windows.
4) That V and me both feel a lot happier about life if we sleep in the same bed, even if we are not on talking terms which we are not roughly 2.31 nights a week on average.

See what I mean? This mood's dangerous. I just caught myself in time else I would have gone on further and told you lot more about the way we ran away and the excuses we came up with to explain the absence and stuff like that. Which you don't need to know, not that is unless you're planning an escapade of your own in which case feel free to comment/mail and ask for advice.

We just had the company Open House session where all employees and bosses get together and update each other and (are supposed to, at least) air all grouses. We were told where we are heading with our new software and afterwards, there was grub from Kathleen. All quite interesting, not to mention satisfying. After work, I'm off to Tolly Club to see Tim Supple's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Mejokhurima (Cousin T's mum) was raving about my mother's planner book used for my wedding. M'khurima helped out at a wedding recently and she was comparing my mum's superhuman organization skills with the chaos at this other wedding. What can I say? When Dana said the same thing while helping out at my wedding I told her, "It's the Mother of Sunny... and we all know what Sunny herself is like!"

But speaking of organised people, I really ought to let my ranking go on that one. I've noticed (and had it pointed out) I'm no longer as finicky and on the spot as I used to be, for better or for worse as the case may be. Dunno, guess the baby's really mellowing sour ol' me.

And ok, since I won't be blogging till Monday, here's Aunty Sue's advice for you all out there: when you decide to marry/settle down in whatever way, ensure you do so with a person who owns (and knows how to use) a Swiss army knife. It's a vital adjunct of every household. I might crab about my father drilling holes into walls and putting up goofy electrical wire everywhere but I'm not denying it's useful to have somebody around who actually knows how to use a hammer and more. Now you all know why I married V-the-monster.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Goa Finally Happened!

Took a couple of days off blogging, what with one thing and the other. Tuesday was spent at Tolly Club. There was a seminar organised by the company, where Dick Shaver spoke of Direct Marketing and generally gave some of us a lot to think about. I'm not sure all of it applied to what we do, but some of it certainly does, and the rest of it, the general marketing stuff, made sense when Sumit Roy was giving us tips on publicity the other day. Sumit, of course, was speaking in terms of theatre, but that requires advertising too and getting sponsorships is so hard. Bleady.

Anyway, that was Tuesday. It was ok as days go. We were given a decent lunch at the club and tea and all that jazz, so I'm not complaining. :-) Afterwards I met Harsh who gave me a lift to rehearsals. Oh, and while we're on the subject I'd like to point out what an utter brick the boy's been all through Goa. He just wouldn't let me lift a finger if he could prevent it! I spoke to him very sternly about minding his own business, but I was grateful.

Wednesday was spent mostly at Gyan Manch (the hall where we performed). What with Sunday having been a more than usually disastrous tech, it was really necessary to get a smoother run on Wednesday to boost morale all around. When I say all around, I mean Director Shuki's. It was a very long day though, and I came home tired and depressed, what with family stuff and all... I was all ready to sleep what remained of the evening away when Mejopishi called and said we were all going out to dinner at Mocambo. Now, as we all know, there is nothing that chirps me up quite so fast as the prospect of a trip to Park Street so I pulled out the glad rags and slapped on the old warpaint and spent a happy evening after all. Greek Drunken Prawns, Devilled Crabs, Chicken a la Kiev and vanilla ice cream with choco chips in it contributed to the sweetness and light. Food's a good thing, na?

And then it was Thursday, election day and show day all in one. I bunked the election bit since I wasn't feeling too good and the thought of leaving home a couple of hours earlier just to go vote for some unknown person in Ranikuthi wasn't incentive enough to make me assert my civic duties. Yes, I know I'm a failure as a citizen. And no, I don't care. I'll vote next time.

Show went off fairly well (to Shuki's wonder?) albeit a little slower than it ought to have. Dana pitched in at the last minute and did her "uncanny efficiency" bit at makeup, providing sets and props and generally soothing Shuki-who-was-convinced-nothing-was-going-to-work-out. Sonali, who hit town late on Wednesday night also dropped in backstage and chipped in. Nice to have her back in town, even if it's only for a week. All of which only goes to show Shuki ought to worry a lot less. Her plays have done well both times, and she knows she's got a good bunch (well, mostly) working for her. But then, who's preaching, if it were my baby I'd probably be much worse than she she is...

V didn't make it, yet again. The man seems to be making it a habit of missing my shows. Well, his loss. I sang. Harsh says I mixed up words, but since I was singing in a trance of sorts, I don't know if he's right. He probably is.

And for all those who showed concern and vulgar curiosity about the fracas I spoke about in Monday's last post, the issue is not much clearer so far as facts go but I do know something: the people who delight in bitching about me ought to be more careful about their facts. There is embarrassment all around and yet again, it has not been possible to prove their accusations. Well, it's difficult, isn't it, to prove something happened that never did? I'm being deliberately obscure here because of, well, reasons. I'm sure Cousin T would approve, not to mention Bhai.

NOTE: Just to explain, Dana happens to be Sumit's daughter. One of my favourite families, together with mother Katy and son Ronaan. Speaking of Ronaan, he's directing Vijay Tendulkar's Silence! The Court is in Session at Gyan Manch next Saturday (6th May). Go catch it if you're in town, I'm told it promises to be good.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Before I Go Home Tonight

Things at home just got very rocky all over again. Why do I bring it up? Because of what Cousin T (who's getting a lot of free publicity today) said. Somebody apparently said something and that was attributed to daughter-in-law from hell (henceforth refered to as DiLH -- I'm all heart, ha ha ha). Hence the rockiness of the whole scheme of things.

It got me thinking for a few minutes, maybe I have been too indiscreet on my blog after all, and somebody out to make mischief used that. So I went through all the stuff I wrote this year and I coitenly did not find anything that can be used against me, not in this way. Friends at work say I don't discuss home stuff -- none of us do, really, except occasionally discuss how funny fathers can be about grown up daughters -- so it's not as if something I said was overheard and twisted.

So why would anybody do such a thing?

Alternatively, does such a person even exist or is 'she' merely a convenient figment of somebody else's imagination?

I've gone beyond getting angry at these things, I only want to end this shit one way or another. No, I'm not feeling conciliatory at all, so I don't much care which way it ends so long as it does end. And I'm serious about not caring which way it ends because one thing I did do last month was chose my priorities, and keeping unreasonable family members happy figures nowhere on that list. They do this to me and Vicky, what would they do to our child?

So if this malicious liar does exist, she will be sorry for what she is doing. V has said he will see to it and I believe him. If she doesn't exist, somebody else will be even sorrier.

Of Cousins and Warnings. Oh, and Weekends Too

The good news: I haven't killed V.
The bad news: There are 3 Eversharp knives at home, all occasionally posing great temptation.

My cousin T says I shouldn't write so openly on my blog, and who knows, she's probably right about that, so all those would-be-weirdos out there, the last bit is also for you.

Warning aside, another hectic weekend passed. Tech rehearsal yesterday. Those who have no idea of what happens before a play is shown, that is when we book the hall and try to work out lights/sounds/sets etc. and, preferably, go through the play once just as if it were a proper show. It's more hectic than a show day, obviously, and yesterday was no different.

I was thinking though, on my way to work this morning, that I could take on much more work last year. In Uni I was used to being in fifty million different places each day and getting work done in each of them. I would wake up early in the morning and run around till night and somehow be in one piece and wake up again the next morning and do all of that all over again. Yes, I would get tired, but not so weary as I do now. And I would quite frequently skip meals, which I cannot imagine doing now. Not just because of the voracious appetite but also because I'm convinced if I don't have my Kurkure just when my body craves it I will probably give birth to a child who will not be able to digest phuchka. My mother says that's impossible, but we all know how Psmith says we must distinguish the Impossible from the Improbable. Given the child will be mine, anything is possible, really. It might even turn vegan, in which case it will go against everything I believe in and I will just have to shoot it. In which case all the trouble I'm taking now will have been an utter waste of time. V says I spend too much time thinking rubbish. I say he doesn't know what can happen when his genes meet my genes. We both come from weird families.

I miss my waist.

And just think of it, if the kid tires me out so easily when the brat ain't even born, what will
happen when it reaches toddler-stage? I intend to model myself along the lines of Mother Dooce who is eminiently sensible and very, very practical. For those who wonder what parenthood can be like, I recommend her site.

Cousin T's reprimand is still in my head and so I will perhaps not go into more detail than this, but I would also like to point out, I am not really as expansive as folks think I am. I know I give my name but that's easy to find out. And what I write about doesn't tell readers as much about my actual life as folks think they do. Of course, she said what she did to point out that relatives can also read my blog. And I say what I said months ago, let them. I swore to myself that post-marriage I would just not wear a mask for the families, either mine or V's. If I'm not good enough for them the way I am, it's not my loss really. And I say that very seriously. Taken me a long time to be able to say it, but I mean it now and don't intend to be apologetic about that. If people read stuff here that they didn't know about me, it was because they didn't think to ask me.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Feminism in Marriage

Ok, folks, let's all take a minute here and keep silent and be very, very grateful that my project is over. It's been hanging over us since last week and finally, we've done our bit. On Monday we'll dissect it and go over all the places we went wrong -- but for now I have a blessed hour to myself.

It's been such an exhausting sort of week so far and the weekend won't be any different from what I can see. This weekend will be devoted to Goa work, so far as I can see, and, ok, Shuki, I admit it's time. That's my director folks. She complained because she read my blog and found me saying that I'd be glad when this production's over.

Now see, I will be glad, but only because I really need the time to do other things which keep getting postponed. Like, meeting my doctor. Or, trying out some cooking. Sort out my poor little flat. Read The Green Mile and return it to coz J who will in turn return it to the friend whose book it is. Upon reading the list, I think my priorities are a trifle mixed up. But what else would I do? The doc can wait a week (she's a nice sort), but the washing machine and Goa certainly can't.

I wrote some poems in my head last night, and one more a little while ago. But instead of frantically rushing for pen and paper to set them down for later editing, I was content to forget them. Is that a sign of ageing? Or an acknowledgemnt of my inferiority as a poet? Or sheer laziness? I dunno mon. See, time was, when I was different. And now I'm me-the-way-I-am. I'll change again soon enough. So there's not much point cribbing about me-the-way-I-am.

Now, in response to Rimi: In a post she wrote about marriage and women and it reminded me of something I'd been wanting to bring up for the last couple of months. See, this whole marriage thing gets you in ways you don't expect. I mean, I'm a liberated feminist and all that, despite the marrying and staying with the in-laws -- hold on, is that why that ended so disasterously? Hey, I kept my maiden surname! I own skimpy clothes! I have feminist affiliations! Maybe that contributed to the disaster? No maybe, they certainly did -- but no more associations, I was talking about the effect marriage had on me.

Pre-marriage, when I faced heckling on the street, I was always aware that it would perhaps not have happened if I'd dressed more unattractively. I mean, if I dressed up in a pretty saree/salwar kameez I'd get heckled too, but not if I were slouching down the road in ill-fitting, ugly, loose clothes. That's a fact I tested out. Post-marriage though I felt -- and don't ask me why because I only realised I felt this way after I was feeling it -- that somehow the sindoor (the red powder married women wear in the parting of their hair) and loha (iron bangle bound in gold we wear for some reason. Not sure why, but I rather believe if you take it off for a sec you've effectively killed the bloke who entitled you to wearing it in the first place) gave me a shield of immunity from roadside heckling. There was a young boy who tried calling me something along the lines of "Hi Sexy" and I raised surprised eyebrows at him rather than give him the bored glare I keep for such events. Thing is, I was surprised.

Now what on earth brought that about? Maybe it's the culture I grew up in, where marriage maketh a woman. (Spinsterhood/singledom maketh sluts, didn't you know?) It's a highly dubious thing anyway, and boy do I know that, but I still felt that silly, inexplicable way. If I had got married I was damn well protected. Weird.

But it's true too. When I do wear sarees and look rather matronly I get different treatment on buses. Veggie sellers in the market no longer give me that patronising tone I had to face when I used to shop earlier. I wear sindoor. Therefore I must be one of the initiated. With a nod to Wishful, my only response to that will be, Bleady.

I meant to end this post there but I'll add a note to say I'll be unavailable on the net till Monday. So please don't send me emails requiring urgent responses. If anything requires immediate attention, call me. Oh, and those grumbling because I never chat any more, the 'net's off at home (who has the time anyway?) and chatting is against company policy here. Yes, even Googlechat.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Of Slavery and Curses

Ok, those of you who've been anxiously asking me how I'm coping with such a workload -- hang on, nobody did that! Well, anyway, I'm doing not too badly so yah phooie to you all.

Been a very busy week so far, I must say. What with putting the flat into (some kind of) order, going to a wedding last evening -- the dressing alone took me half an hour, what with having to do my hair and stuff, always a long task :-( -- attending to repairmen and servicemen, not to mention giving the best part of each day to our employers. The funny thing is, now that the Goa show date is approaching (27th, next Thursday that is) I seem to be swamped under work at office too. Ain't fair. All of last month I didn't have much to do on either front. And there's the flat crying out for attention. Still have to settle things like newspaper delivery, laundry pickup etc. Anyway, I have reminded myself that I'm not the houseproud type and never was, so it don't matter if my living-room looks like nothing so much as a refugee camp without the comforts. But V says I exaggerate and who knows, you all might agree with him... you usually do!

Anyway, although there's trouble on the homefront and everything, I do like having my own place once more. It's fun having my own kitchen (I got my first ever gas cylinder, on my own connection I mean, this morning!) And it's really nice having V spoil me with things like the morning coffee. Then again, I strongly suspect he does that because he doesn't trust me with the electric kettle. That's what comes out of marrying a control freak. I understand his feelings, being one myself, but I still resent it.

A lot of you must be getting rather bored with this wealth of domestic detail but this blog is also about the Days of Sunayana Roy. Look at the header if you don't believe me. And may your disbelieving souls shrivel and blacken in the years to come. Speaking of curses, my brother was hit with a really funny one last week, although he doesn't know of it. Mum-in-law, particularly exasperated by daughter-in-law from hell (yours truly bows deep) hoped that my brother married a girl like me, then we'd know what it was like. I was tempted to tell her, that would be more of a relief than anything else. Not because I'm particularly virtuous, but because to my family I'm a known evil -- as compared to the unknown evil my mother's resigned to my brother marrying. And if you think that shows my mum in a poor light, folks, you never met my brother.

Anyway, got to get back to work, some of us have to slave for a living you know.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wonder of Wonders

No post today, maybe tomorrow too, because there's plenty of work for me at office :-D

But keep the mails coming in.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Moving House

As mentioned before, spent the weekend moving. Always suspected but didn't really know how much stuff V and I possess, between us. And every single time I've moved (more than most people know) I really regret buying all my beloved books. This time around, there were V's as well. Only, his library is a little smaller than mine, thank god.

So many things to think of, when you're setting up a household from scratch. Last time around, i.e. when I moved down to Cal to study at JU six years ago, Ma pretty much did it all for me, with inputs from Mejopishi (the aunt I lived next door to). This time around, it's all me. Wouldn't be such a big deal if I only had myself to think of, but there's V as well and the poor man has been working his hands off all weekend.

Which brings me to something I thought a lot about this weekend. Things at the in-laws being what they are, and people generally being as stubborn as they are, the move was not easy. And it was all quite upsetting. But if I had to choose between a great husband and perfect in-laws I'd still go for the man I married. For so long now I've boasted of his handyman qualities, and the last two days he completely proved his worth. For some silly reason I wasn't well over the weekend, so I wasn't really of much help where the actual shifting was concerned. So you can say he did it all himself. And the reason I'm proud of him is that, unlike me, he really has no experience.

Anyway, enough of the fond blather. What I have been up to:

Friday: Met the guy who's to put up curtain rods etc. at the new flat. Afterwards, took the Metro down to Esplanade where I had a pleasant breakfast of alu paratha at the Chowringhee Hotel. Old gent who seemed to be one of those Anglophile relics you still see sometimes kept me company. Went down to Chandni to look for pedestal fans (we have a mezzanine bedroom with a very low ceiling) afterwards. Pat had told me that Princep Street (off Chandni) has a great variety, so I went hunting. Obviously, no 2 people seemed to think it lay in the same direction. Wandering around (luckily it was a cloudy sort of day) I found myself at Hind, then got bored and took the next little lane which seemed to have millions of fan shops and fan repairing shops. No prizes for guessing what lay around the corner... yes, the Princep Street post office. Sigh... Called V out to come and help me buy fans, since his office and lunch break were both near. Thank god I did, because he instantly negated both the fans I'd chosen as being not powerful enough :-)

That done, we arranged for the fans to be delivered and went down to Kamalalaya building for the microwave and washing machine. That took a little less time, and eventually we ambled down to Sudder Street for lunch at Blue Sky Cafe (also known as Cafe Blue Ciel, to my perennial amusement). V's lunch 'hour' eventually became more like three-and-a-half. I went home and later caught the latest JUDE production of Beckett's Dramaticules at Southern Avenue in the evening. V, poor man, rushed home in the evening to collect delivery of all the stuff we had bought.

Saturday: Moved some stuff in the afternoon, from Jodhpur Park (in-laws' place) to Selimpur (new place). Dr.D came over with his car and helped. Lunch and dinner outside because of situdation at J'pur Park. V cleaned up the bedroom while I pottered around downstairs. Washed the window grills too. Do I work him too hard? Was tempted to point out dirty bits he'd skipped but thought my life wasn't worth it.

Went shopping for groceries etc. later. Bought masses. V seems to think that households can be stocked at a few hundreds, poor deluded soul. It's a good thing we were given so much cash as wedding gifts, it does give us a bit of a buffer. So we're spending our entire salaries this month, from what I can make out.

Sunday: Woke up at unearthly hour to pack. V smartly dismantled the bed before I could snuggle back in and abandon the packing. Movers came in the morning. For some reason, the three-wheeled cycle-cart contraption is known as a cycle van here in Cal. They carried our stuff in that. Scratches resulted, but nothing very upsetting. Moving took a while, and I was of no use, what with feeling ill and stuff. I blame the child, and shall bring it up to do household work from age 8 as revenge. Went back to J'pur Park for lunch. Atmosphere still strained and I was foolish enough to 'serve' V at lunchtime. My mother's right maybe, I'll never learn discretion.

Plenty of small stuff left to be moved in the afternoon and V's friend J was supposed to help us, but he vanished. It was too late to get a cab so I finally asked M'pishi if we could borrow her car. She said yes and it really helped. Accordingly, have decided to forgive (and forget) this time last year when she kicked me out my flat. Moreover, she fed us once we had finished, and her meals are always satisfying. Afterwards I slept there for a couple of hours while V went to fix up the bed and do other sundry things around the flat. He came back to the pishi's for dinner, which we shared with cousin Jimm, the pishi and pishemshai having gone to see Konkona's latest movie.

Why do I add so much detail? Because I want to remember these days. The good bits at least.

And for those who asked, we are now to be found at

Ground Floor,
[number removed] Selimpur Road
Calcutta 700 031.

(If you read this post a couple of hours ago you'd have seen "Calcutta 700 0something". I have changed it since because when I went to book the gas connection during my lunch-hour the man kindly told me what post code I live in now.)

Phone numbers remain unchanged. Those who want to drop in, take the lane next to Carmel school and follow it where it curves left. Walk down a bit and you'll find us on your left. Look out for the rusty balcony from whence emanates the sounds of jazz. Occasionally, when I get to control the iPod we listen to other stuff, but V is a larger being than I, and also, he can look much more pleading than I can, so I hardly ever get to be DJ.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

No Milk Today (or something like that)

No blog today, I've been busy. (So there, Mr. Niyogy!)

Next post on Monday since I've taken Friday and Saturday off from work.

See you then, all.

Off to see the latest JUDE (theatrical) offering now.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Smoke that Cheers

This post has been sparked off by reading Scott Adam's deliberately controversial little post on smokers and smoking.

When I gave up smoking at the end of last year it was the culmination of several years of seesawing. What finally worked for me was the thought that I'd be living with the in-laws and it would be problematic (to understate the point) to smoke at 'home'. Since I don't believe in being the kind of person who rushes away desperately every few hours for a smoke, it was easier to make myself kick the habit.

Before I go any further, let me elucidate: I'm not talking about cigarettes. I don't like the smell of tobacco and never have. I'm talking of joints. I was never a heavy weed smoker, but I liked my smoke. Time was when I had to have it daily so I brought myself down to the occasional binge.

V was also a fairly regular smoker. (A little known fact about our pre-dating days is that the man gave me my first cigarette. Which I appreciated at the time since I had just climbed off a Ferris wheel and the smoke helped me stop the world from bucking wildly.) Where we clashed was that I disliked tobacco and hated the smell -- and he disapproved of grass and hated the smell. Clearly, we were not about to form one of those cosy husband-wife smoking parties.

I offered to quit if he would. He agreed and we both did. I stayed off for about 13 months and I think he staggered through a few weeks. Which incidentally only underscores what I have always said about ganja being an easier habit. Easier on the body. And believe it or not, easier to kick.

I went off the wagon spectacularly last year in a fit of wild depression but climbed right back when that living-with-the-in-laws bit kicked in.

All of that was basically the background to what I really wanted to say, which now follows. (Those already bored at this point will not be allowed to comment. I'm psychic and I will know!)

See, both V and I smoke when stressed out. Now the kid's an added reason never to give in to the temptation -- but that doesn't make it easier for me. Yesterday Kanti rolled one and I wanted to, you cannot imagine how badly, take just one tiny little whiff. I don't think one miniscule bit of smoke will damage the kid either. But then, who wants to take the risk. But I really want to stress on the fact that you smokers cannot tell me I don't know what it's like.

Yet, knowing what it's like, I will still request that:

1) you don't smoke when you are in a public conveyance. I'm not farting in your face, am I?

2) you be careful of where you ash. It's not just about finicky hostesses, but also about damaging objects that are precious to somebody else. Like, their hair or their clothes. Or an heirloom carpet. Or a favourite book.

3) ask before you light up in somebody's house. If they don't want you to smoke most people are usually considerate enough to let you do so on the balcony.

4) accept the "No" an ex-smoking friend says. He might not be finding it so easy to stay off the smokes but he must have a reason to make the effort, so why make it harder for him?

5) not smoke in essentially family places like restaurants which encourage children (say burger joints), amusement arcades etc. because these places are simply filled with kids who really could do without the smoke you are adding to the already polluted atmosphere. It's no coincidence that asthma is on the rise in the metros. Have you ever seen a 5 yr-old blue in the face, unable to breathe? I have, and you don't want to.

6) do not take your children/guests with breathing problems to cafes which you know are free smoking areas. As a parent/host it's your duty to show that consideration. Also, as a fellow citizen, you should not object to a smoker lighting up in a designated place.

Well, that's my Goody Two-Shoes act for today. V probably has a lot to say, but I guess he'll continue to do the lurking thing.

On a lighter note, here is something I wrote about weed some time ago.

On an even lighter note, it's funny how the entire cast of Goa -- who are mainly smokers -- gets frantic if I come anywhere near them while they are smoking. I've even been bodily pushed away just so that the kid they are all looking forward to is not harmed. My friends are funnee.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tips on Tipping

Spent some time reading waitservice blogs today. Read a lot about what they feel about tips. Well, I feel strongly on tips too. And since this is my blog, whaddya know, I will write my views here.

I was a poor student till less than a year ago, and that meant going out somewhere posh was an Event, almost always something to be saved up for, or to be paid for by not having something else that I really wanted. Those days I tried to make sure I always ordered enough to be able to afford a 10% tip (which is still considered decent in India, as far as I know). You see, I started out with the assumption that the service would be good. When it wasn't, I didn't bother tipping. It was good money, tough to come by, and I wasn't spending it on poor service, thank you very much. But sometimes the service was better than good, and I tried, I promise you faithfully dear reader I did, to pay that bit extra to show my appreciation.

What I minded, particularly when I was out with other people, was when my host or co-diner (i.e. when the bill was split between us) tried to skimp on the tip. Now I believe bad (read 'inconsiderate') tipping reflects your upbringing, so I used to pay the extra, to make it what I believed the service had been worth. Usually, the co-diner/host was happy about letting me do it. May I point out that you put your parents down every time you allowed me to show that mine had taught me a little respect for the person serving me?

I also minded when people overtipped, because they weren't confident enough to state that the service had not been up to the mark.

Now, things to think over:
1. In India, regardless of where you're dining, the service folks don't usually make a lot of money. City guides request visitors of various metros to tip the waiters, since that is their largest source of (an usually meagre) income.

2. Good tips will be remembered. Invariably.

3. The quality of service in many high-end restaurants is shocking. I've had a waiter almost empty my leftovers into my lap because he was too busy smiling at me to hold the dish steady (The Hyatt Regency); I've had waiters who have no idea what they are serving, and no, they don't think it's necessary to know (too many places to name); I've had waiters who think they are too good to serve me because I looked too young to be able to afford their service?/I'm a woman sitting alone/whatever reason they came up with. And I went in about a year ago to book a table at Bar-B-Que, one of Calcutta's best-known restaurants for a family dinner I was hosting, only to be asked if I was certain I really wanted a table for fourteen. Why? Because I had come in early by myself, and what would a chit like me do with a table that large? In an almost empty dining-room they tried to tell me I couldn't have my table. Eventually though I convinced them that I meant business and was not about to be ordered around by a bunch of men. The dinner was a success and the service excellent. I tipped decently -- but it would have been an even larger tip if they had not tried to intimidate me in the beginning.

When V and I started frequenting The Tea-Table (T3) a little further down Park Street I noticed that a particular waiter gave him special service. Asked after him, remembered his favourites, stuff like that. Turned out that whenever he dropped in by himself, he usually sat at that guy's table, and usually tipped almost double. It paid off, literally, because, well, let's just say the guy gave him a nice freebie from time to time. (He doesn't any more, because of restaurant policy changes, and no, you cannot know who he is or which his tables are. We're jealous of our privileges.)

I picked up this thing about tipping from my father. In his student days he worked as a waiter and also as a bartender, and he is extremely demanding about the quality of service. When he gets what he wants though, he makes sure his server knows he appreciates it. I'm not just talking about tipping, though. Time was when he flew almost every other day, if not four, five days of a week. The airline hostesses of several flights got to know him and there was this one hostess who always remembered that my father's a diabetic and likes his tea black. Little things make a huge difference to business travellers. He often mentioned her, and when he went abroad, wanted to buy her a little something as a thank-you. I guess we just need to remember that waiters/service people are people with jobs. Like me. Or my father. Or, even, little old you.

Oh, and for those of you who were wondering, now that I'm a big girl and have a job an' all, I always tip like I believe the service deserved, and not necessarily only as much as I could afford. And if I'm going out with somebody I know is cheap about the orders and tips, I either go Dutch or pay for it all. It's worth it, just to avoid the embarrassment. And I get to eat as much as I want and just what I want.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Moving and Sleeping

Back after a long weekend. Had a bit of a fever Friday morning so I excused myself from work and slept the whole day at Moore Avenue (the Roy family joint, where Ma camps out). Was supposed to be packing the stuff I wanted to take from there, which I eventually did in the evening. But I slept all day, and man did I need it! Later in the evening I went shopping for fans. Also located my old movers and booked them for the next day. Inbetween, spent a lovely half-hour at the Uni. People who knock JU are daft.

Saturday was moving day. V and I went down to the flat bright and early, because the electrician was coming to fix the fans and lights and stuff. We had a picnic breakfast of hinger kochuri/ alur dum and hot jilipis over there. Afterwards, I went off with (V's bud) Dr.D and the movers to get the stuff from Moore Avenue. V, having finished with the electricians, joined us there. The entire operation did not take more than an hour, which is a nice thought. I'm getting good at this! We meant to do more in the afternoon, such as sort out the stuff that has been dumped in the new flat, maybe even carry over some more stuff (from the sasurbari, that is) but it was too hot, so we slept instead. I went to Goa rehearsals in the evening and had a lot of fun. I guess we're a nice bunch, this cast'n'crew. Anupam bought me some jhaalmuri, so I forgive him for exclaiming "It's a Mom!" everytime he sees me...

Came home tuckered out, but rather happy for a change. Nice if you can get it.

Sunday was even quieter, actually. We signed the tenancy papers at last, although we didn't get any further with the moving.

Quiet afternoon. Watched Joy Baba Felunath and slept some afterwards. Rather, V slept and I read Anansi Boys. In the evening V and I went to a concert at Madhusudhan Mancha. It was a 6-hour, Hindustani music affair, organised to commemorate the late Kanai Dutt, our new landlady's husband, who used to be a fairly famous tabla player, I understand. Is this him? Anyway, we were there for an hour and it was rather good. A lady sang chaitis from Benaras, and she was one of those fun singers whose enthusiasm for their music is infectious. Wish I knew her name. After that, V and I picked up mutton biriyani and kebabs from Golpark and went over to Dr.D's place for dinner. Incidentally, I do not recommend the Golpark Bawarchi. The service was bad there five years ago, which is why I'd stopped going there, and it wasn't much better yesterday. Food's good, but at that price I expect far superior service. Nor do I think it's unreasonable of me to do so.

It may not have been the more exciting weekend, but I did need the rest. Those of you who mailed/ commented and wondered why I wasn't responding, now you know.

Note: If you've noticed, what with the movie and then the music, Sunday had a distinctly Benarasi flavour.

P.S. Anansi Boys brought back memories of reading African folktales as a kid. My cousin had an enormous collection, each of the books being devoted to a particular country or region, all called Folktales from ... Anybody know what I'm talking about?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I Worked Today!

After all these days of slacking, us copywriters had our noses put to the grindstone yesterday and it's only now that I took it off, bruised and sore. What I mean to say is, we actually had to work. Such is the state of affairs, that I actually felt a little indignant when we were told that we would be given some work yesterday... One wonders why my employers continue to employ me.

That apart, I'm eating like a pig. Something about being pregnant makes you fearfully hungry most of the time. I've devoured kosha chicken with parathas, chocolate pudding, cheese tomato sandwiches, potato fries and gumballs all of today, and I'm still feeling more than a little peckish as I type. Sigh... I guess my waist is now well and truly relegated to memories of my youth.

I'm also feeling dreadfully broke, considering I have to pick up clothes from the tailor as well as the laundry and can do neither till I motivate myself to hop down to the ATM. I know, it's only a few minutes from where I live, but by the time I walk home, those few minutes seem like forever. Nevertheless, I deposited my first salary check (from this company I mean) the other day (well, V did, but it's the same thing) and therefore I cannot actually be broke. So, there remains only to motivate me...

Nearly time to go now, so more later maybe. Shifting furniture and stuff from Moore Avenue to our new rented place this weekend, so hard work ahead. Any volunteers?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wednesday, Post 2

It's been such a comfortable sort of day thus far. My eyes are still troubling me and the headache's a killer -- but my clothes have been good to me. I appropriated this pair of claret-coloured pajamas form V's wardrobe this morning, and they are so much more forgiving of the bulge than my horrible jeans. I am on the point of swearing off jeans for a lifetime.

These pjs, on the other hand, are comfy, cool and have a drawstring waist, so they are as comfortable as I can get while actually wearing something, I'd say. So V, guess what's not coming back to you?

For those (mostly male?) readers who are on the point of objecting, I'd like to point out that it was I who made him buy the pajamas, so they're sort of morally mine anyway. Besides, I'm the government. V's the boy in the back-room. I can nationalise whatever's best in the interests of governing our little kingdom. In this case, my bodily comfort, a direct link to my peace of mind, which is the direct cause of peace and harmony in our world.

Check out this pic -- one of my favourites.

On a different note, commiserate with li'l ol' Sue. Red ants invaded the bed this morning and I was bitten all over. Not a pleasant way to wake up at all. I felt perfectly justified in poking the husband awake and making him put soothing stuff all over my back. Why should he sleep while I get bitten?

Wednesday, Post 1

Lots to write about today. Take yesterday evening, for instance. I was walking home from work, strolling up the Dhakuria Bridge and not paying anything any particular attention when it struck me that a peculiar, scraping pair of footsteps was marching along to mine, even slowing down when I did. So I stopped and looked around me in a vague sort of way. Saw the steps belonged to a ruffianly-looking runt in pink. Now I have often observed that the mere fact that I'm wearing a skirt (as opposed to say a pair of trousers) often gives folks the idea that I may be followed, because, don't you know, wearers of skirts are more gentle, feminine, easier to intimidate. Patricularly if the skirt shows more than your toes -- and mine showed the backs of my knees!

Anyway, it was 7 in the evening, the bridge was crowded and I felt a little naughty. The runt had obviously been carried ahead, but then he stopped some yeards in front of me, to let me get back in front. Let the creep work a bit for his pleasure, I thought. I had just reached the top of the bridge, too. The thing is, anybody watching me ambling along like I do these days will rarely grasp just how fast I can walk when I want to. I may never have been a brilliant speed-walker, but I can outpace the average pedestrian.

So the fun began. I suddenly took off, and man it felt good to be walking so fast again. Reached home in a record three minutes. I had heard the footsteps quicken on the bridge, but lost them entirely by the time I reached the road. The runt was obviously nowhere to be seen by the time I turned into my block. Cool. But it got me thinking, what about when I can't walk so fast? Hopefully by then Ally will be in Cal.

More later. While you're waiting, ruminate over this. Where were you when self-esteem was being handed out, sister? I do not judge women giving in to violence, but justifying it, and to this extent, is just plain pathetic.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Full Of Grace

Been resisting the urge to blog all day. But it's funny how quickly the day passed, all the same. When I woke up this morning I didn't want to get out of bed. That might have been because the alarm went off at 5 a.m. If you remember, I was staying with my mum, and she had a plane to catch early this morning. So early in the morning I did the long haul to Dum Dum. I went in, thinking to get me some coffee and use the loo, but the damn shops weren't open. Silly airport. It's the only one of all the internationals (in India) that won't let you come out once you've checked in. I don't get the logic of that. If you've reached the airport, sent in your luggage, isn't it in your best interests to make sure you don't miss the flight? And come on, we're in the domestic terminus, who's going to want to kidnap the average domestic passenger? Ransom just isn't an option for most of us.

Anyway, went home (to the marital thingummy I mean) afterwards, since the office wouldn't be open so early. Got half an hour to return the bedroom to something approaching normalcy – really necessary considering that V had been allowed to run riot for two days straight. It did not surprise me to find clothes badly mangled from being sat down on. I mean, we are talking about the man who took out the front stack of shirts just so that he could get at the beautiful pale yellow shirt I had carefully hidden away for important occasions at the bottom of the stack at the back. I wonder why I bother. Let him wear every nice thing to shreds and go around in a couple of months like he hasn't had new clothes since the nineties. Men!!! And when I say Men!!! like that, I usually refer to my husband who needs a spanking and my father who tried to sneak through my wedding in a torn shirt and my brother who likes to wear his new clothes now so that they are unwearable by the time the occasion for which they were bought turns up.

Ok, done ranting.

Day's not been too bad actually. Indianpeppone reminded me of one of my favourite authors and I spent a little while checking out a Don Camillo Windows theme. My cold's as bad as ever but today I came armed with a hanky as well as tissues. So there, you nasty little cold bugs. (Yesterday they had me where it hurts. I had a woefully runny nose all day and had forgotten my hanky. Spent all day running to the Ladies'. It all eventually led to the nose joke.)

Incidentally, if anybody wishes for translations of Guareschi's work, I think you can get some here. Site's a little slow though.

Blogging has spread in my little community. My copywriting colleagues are turning to it, and you can read their efforts here, here, here and here. I don't know how long they'll keep it up but it's nice not to feel so furtive/guilty about blogging from work.

Coffee time now, so more in a while, crocodile.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Sniffily Yours

No blog today because I have picked up a cold and had a bad headache all day. The star of the show was a runny nose, and of course I forgot my hanky!

Can't wait to get back home. Have been staying with my mum since yesterday and will be there till tomorrow morning when she leaves. I really needed the spoiling.

See you later, alligator.

P.S. Oh, I nearly forgot, keep meaning to ask you guys -- take a minute and feed this cute mutt. His 'owner' never remembers and I feel awful about it. Some people oughtn't be allowed to have pets!

Writing on Tuesday morning:

Last night I thought, what colour ought to best describe my nose after I'd been sniffling all day?
Runny Pink, of course!

Good morning World, I'm back!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Turn Me On. Please.

Does one woman need four blogs? I have this one for amusing myself. I have my secret one for confessing my fears. And there's the one I created for my writing which I never updated. And then there's the original blog. I link to it from here because I wrote in a different phase of my life and that comes across. When I wrote in there I could still write love letters, flirt with unknown men, hate my parents and be very mature in a naive sort of way. I was something I am not now, essentially confident of myself.

Like a flower waiting to bloom
Like a lightbulb in a dark room
I'm just sitting here waiting for you
To come home and turn me on

Like the desert waiting for the rain
Like a school kid waiting for the spring
I'm just sitting here waiting for you
To come on home and turn me on

My poor heart, it's been so dark since you been gone
After all, you're the one who turns me off
You're the only one who can turn me back on

My hi-fi's waiting for a new tune
The glass is waiting for some fresh ice cubes
I'm just sitting here waiting for you
To come on home and turn me on
Turn me on

I'm waiting. Seems to me, I've been waiting for so long now.