Monday, May 08, 2006

Looking At The Positive Side...

Mimi, my daughter sent me a 'positive' poem by SMS today morning. Obviously meant for children, but it has a message for us forever-grumbling adults.

A little birdie in the sky,
You look up and it shits in your eye.
You don't mind, you don't cry,
You only thank God that cows don't fly.
- Anon.

Well, well well -these 'bluesy' lyrics came in handy because only yesterday I was fuming with indignation after a foolish purchase. Walking around in the shopping areas around the Second Avenue in Anna Nagar, close to the Roundtana [what a fascinating name for a traffic circle... a friend told me it is the Tamil version of 'Round Turn' -the last consonant gets stretched here with every last word in each sentence].

Setting up home is a heavenly pastime for young women, less so for married and frequently relocated women. But for most men it is a RPIA. A royal pain in the arse. I bought two buckets for the bathroom when the taps started going dry without a warning usually around midnight in my new house -as if a ghostly housekeeper was watching me rub soap all over, and then whoooosh, no water. With soap on your face and eyes tightly shut, you can't even remember where the god-damned towel is. I shiver to recall three such incidents before I bought the bucket to store emergency water.

Taps in Chennai, give off blood. And I am sober right now. The first day, I left my dirty hankie in the wash basin, and remembering some errand, left the tap slightly, ever so slightly leaking that it would not make any sound. When I came back, horror of horrors, my spankingly new white spotless hankie had a red sun in the middle. Printed by some amateur lithographer high on marijuana or stronger stuff. Approaching it as a booby trap, very cautiously, as cautiously as a male hedgehog would approach the female in heat, I lifted a corner. The blood red spot remained, mind you the lights in the bathroom were not on, a streak of faint light was coming from the other room. I touched the bloodied spot. No spooks sprang up, no vampire came flying through the window. I thanked God Chennai does not have gekkos that go tchut tchut with a loud croak in the bathroom. Had that happened I would have screamed...

The bloodied spot vanished when washed with water. I surmised, there must be dirt in the olden plumbing. It has to be rust, for the reddish colour matched the colour of my beard. Purnima, my email friend and now a neighbour, who has been helping me like a local guide, had warned me there is too much iron in the water. Don't ever drink. Yeah, do drink bathroom tap water, being highly disorganized, and feeling thirsty in the middle of the night. But iron meant iron oxide, the metallurgist in me protested.

So I had to march to the store selling plastic goods, a huge store with at least six or seven young girls who insist on talking in rapid fire Tamil, and I bought myself a dull pinkish coloured translucent plastic mug for those forlorn buckets holding enough water for two baths. Pouring the whole bucket seems so uncivilised... I saw a heap of plastic shopping baskets, which one finds in all shopping malls. Meant for helping you carry your knick-knacks, those you purchased.

The Tamil-insisting girl, came like a mouse sensing cheese, snatched the basket, and got me a matching pink coloured basket instead. She beamed, I beamed right back, and put my things in the basket. The Tamil-insisting girl at the counter billed me, I paid up and she got a huge laundry basket type plastic bag, stuffed my purchases and bade me goodbye.

At home I discovered to my horror, she had billed me for the pink basket too. I am being very careful with my purchases, and I didn't want to waste money nor stuff my new small flat with useless items. My blood pressure would have burst the manometer glass bulb, and I was fuming from my ears. The sun shone fiercely outside, my feet were more than warm, nearly impossibly warm and they ached. So I took a royal bath instead, a wash really, without soap, just to cool off.

Looking at the positive side, I patted my back. It was a good purchase. I had been buying apples and oranges for a quick midnight bite, and they had been rolling off the dining table, off the bed, as if they were automatons impersonating fruits. Now, ahem, I could imprison them in this lovely pink basket with big slits to air them and keep them fresh.

One lives and learns, I guess.

(c) Max Babi, May 2006.


At 9:17 AM, Blogger Ishqa said...

:D orange fruits and red rust stains - your life gets more and more colourful, dear friend...

At 2:01 AM, Blogger Mahfuuz said...


Now I understand what you said.
I wish to be as wise as, if not better than, you when I reach your age. Please take this as a compliment.

At 2:38 AM, Blogger Ozymandias said...

Only you could write such fantastic stuff about a plastic bucket and mug!

At 10:23 PM, Blogger david raphael israel said...

delightful Max -- I guess sometimes the Tamil-insisting girls are blessings in disguises; and apples & oranges lyric devices.

At 7:53 AM, Blogger Batul said...

Max, I can almost see you in Chennai. You make it all come so alive. Mimi's sent you a really funny "pome". I know you must be feeling like cows are shitting in your eyes at times, but like a true writer, you make stories even of that stuff.

At 8:33 AM, Blogger Max Babi said...

Thanks Richa, Vijay, Raamesh, David good old unrelenting supporter of mine and Batul -the surprise!

The misadventures will taking a small break these days, getting my apartment fixed. I keep jotting stuff in my diary, there's enough of that to fill out 60 posts!

At 2:51 AM, Blogger gautami tripathy said...

I really love the way you spin anything mundane into so much interesting!

Adventure, misadventure, anything suits us fine! We get to read such great stuff!

At 5:39 PM, Blogger Dawn....सेहर said...

Awesome !!! and it is indeed a lesson ...that we learn from others sometimes and from self experience..




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