Last week, I was at home for four full days. This had been the longest time that I have been at home since Diwali last year. And all it cost me was taking a day off. There was a public holiday for May Day last week. Adding the weekend to this public holiday along with the one day off which I took, I had four blissful days at my disposal.
The initial (and usual) plan was to spend them at home doing nothing, except watching movies, sitcoms and more movies. By the way, I became a proud owner of a DVD Home Theatre system. I paid the last installment for it and finally became an owner of something worthy, at least for me. Coming back to the post, my plan was to spend these four full days at home. But going by my past records of executing a plan, I was least expecting this plan to work. Not that this was much of a plan, I was half-expecting it to work smoothly. None of the plans I have made have worked out so far. So, expecting the unexpected, I marched on my way to home in a rickety state transport bus, just thinking of how to schedule the movies, so that I can view the maximum number of them.
A long time ago, precisely on the 23rd of April 1985, a very beautiful and heavily pregnant woman went into labor and gave birth to an innocent, sweet and beautiful girl child. After some years, this girl child in discussion started speaking and thinking and doing things on here own. This made us all to give a second thought to the initial adjectives that we had bestowed on her. She is still sweet and beautiful, but not at all innocent. Her description would take a separate post in itself.
To cut a long story short, it was my baby sister’s birthday last month. Now that she is all grown up and earning herself, she decided to throw a luncheon to us. This is the first self-less act which she has done, which I can recall. I guess a little bit of idealism has rubbed off me onto her (blowing my own trumpet (on second thoughts, this sounds kinky)). Since I was not in Mumbai during her birthday and for a couple more weeks after that, the lunch was kept on hold until I could be present. Hence, the first day of my four holidays was reserved for a lunch with my family, my maternal grand-parents and my maasi (mom’s sister).
The venue was ‘Only Parathas’. This place packs a mean paratha, or so I have heard. The place has a nice ambience, the service was good and the food was delicious. Before anyone could reach the restaurant, I smuggled a cake in and passed it to the waiter for bringing it with lit candles with ‘Happy Birthday’ tune playing in the background. Nobody expected the cake, and it turned out to be a pleasant surprise for all. Later, the food was ordered with the usual dhamaal of ordering. This included the usual who-wants-what, sharing-a-dish dilemmas, the Jain / Non-Jain food, confusing the waiter, cancelling couple of items and reordering them, etcetera, etcetera. The food was fabulous, and everyone seemed to have the same sentiment about it. I have eaten many horrible things at equally horrible places, that any half-good thing tastes good to me. Then came the desserts followed by the bill. My sister swooned down on the bill as soon as it was presented, did a rapid check of it and placed her debit card next to it and asked the waiter to get it cleared. I saw a flash of pride on everyone present there by this act. You know, all elders feel pride and a sense of elation when kids in the family, whom they have nurtured and guided and cared for since the time they were born, behave like all-grown-up people. I guess their feeling would be - ‘Mission Accomplished’.
Later we went to this new hyper market, called ‘DeMart’. It’s a nice swanky place with all the grocery and other household needs under one roof. I had the maximum fun here. Trust me; it was quite funny to watch three old women, with one trolley each, rushing in different directions of the store with the grandfather, sister and meself running after them. I was browsing through the aisles with my granny and it was fun watching her pick up each and every item available in a shelf, turn it over, check the price, raise an eyebrow and then grumble that everything has become very costly and how it used to cost so less in those days, and then return it to the shelf. At some places, I would point to some very useless stuff and try to coax her into buying it. After some time, my grand-dad caught up with us. He has the least amount of patience for such browsing. I could see him fuming and fretting over the slow progression of my grand-mom. After around two hours of shopping, all the oldies were tired, and we proceeded to my grandparents’ home. My maasi had purchased lot of stuff and ordered for a taxi, all the way to her house. This pleased me a lot, since my home is en-route, she would drop us at our place. I thoroughly enjoyed this day, and yearn for more such to come.
The next day, in the morning, I scanned my drawers where I keep ‘those-that-we-do-not-speak-of’ piece of clothing, and realized that I was short of them. I promptly decided to buy some. My dad is a chalta-phirta encyclopedia of places in Mumbai where you can get any item in retail at wholesale price. If I ever purchase anything from a store which sells at the MRP rate, I am sure, he would abandon me, or would be handed an equally cruel punishment. Hence, I had to consult him on where can I get some. He listened with an enthusiastic ear, then scanned his cupboard and concluded that he too needed some. So, it was decided that phather-puttar-jodi will go for some personal shopping today without the ladies. I could see a glint of vengeance in my mom’s eyes, but nothing could be done about this shopping trip.
In the afternoon, we landed at Chakla Market (damn funny name if you ask me). This is the place where you get all the innerwear clothing items at wholesale rates. And the prices are always a little less than the MRP rate. So, if you buy a decent quantity, you do actually save a lot of money.
I have never understood why a person frets about the color of the underwear so much. I mean, neither the wearer, nor any other person is going to see you in it (not necessarily, you may say). So there is simply no point in choosing the color. However, there is another attribute which is of a greater importance and that is the size. People, bigger or smaller sizes clothes are manageable, but bigger size undergarment is not comfortable and it ends up riding up into the-place-where-the-sun-does-not-shine, and if you end up with a smaller size one, then either a lot of Sachin Tendulkar style adjustment of you-know-what can help you or, later, some ItchGuard.
My dad and I did the grave mistake of not noting down the size which we wear before reaching the shop, and hence, we were left at the mercy of the shop-keeper for deciding the size which would fit us. Shop-keepers of such items are masters of identifying the size of a person’s undergarment by just looking at them. I once read a signboard in the undergarment section of a mall that trials of the piece of clothing being discussed here are not allowed, due to hygienic reasons. At that point in time, I felt it was quite humorous, but not now. I was tempted to go to some public toilet nearby and check it, but then, dad hit upon an idea and placed a call to home to inquire our respective size. This million-dollar idea of moi dad was successful, and we did some peaceful shopping, without the shop-keeper looking us up-and-down and sizing us. I thought he was disappointed that he was not able to showcase his talent.
Next comes the interesting part. My dad is of the opinion that I still do not earn, and hence never allows me to pay for anything if he is around. Coincidently, when the bill was being prepared for the items purchased, my dad was hooked on to his phone, and I solemnly settled the bill and walked out of the store with the goods in hand. Somehow he did not realize it at that point in time. Later, at home during dinner time, it struck to my dad that his first born child had paid for something even with him being around. This made him leave the dinner half way through and run to his wallet. I guess he was getting bitten by guilt pangs. Immediately he did some mental mathematics and produced the actual amount paid to me. Another thing about my dad, he will always pay the actual amount. He will count is three times before handling any money to anyone, and that includes the nucleus family too. I have tried to trick him into paying more or less than the actual amount many a times, but have not succeeded so far. My dad tried to shove that money in my pocket, but me being a honhaar baccha, refused. My dad is a very insistent person and one needs a very strong argument to make him change his mind. Then, with a 100-watt Phillips-ka-bulb, sorry, 100-watt Wipro-ka-bulb (I am wafaadaar, you see) shining on my head, I blurted out the following:
‘Meri taraf se yeh chaddiyan aapko gift. Gifts dete hain taaki lenewaala denewaale ko woh cheez use karte waqt yaad kare. Mein chahta hoon ki aap mujhe roz yaad kare, aur issiliye yeh gift. Aaj se aap roz subha chaddi pehente waqt mujhe yaad karenge.’
After this, there was a brief moment of silence with many blank faces staring at me, followed by a loud laughter from everyone. Poor Pappa was left with no option but to put the money back in his pockets.