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Archive for February, 2011

So, we’ve been here all of fifteen days when one of our neighbours, an American, invites us for dinner….at five in the evening! My stomach lurches at the thought of eating a full meal at five and not only because I’ve had a relatively late Nandini thali lunch. So I am like, are you sure it’s dinner, and not high tea? I mean I know Americans eat early but even by their standards five is a tad too early.

But then the hubby educates me, a North America-virgin, on the concept of Thanksgiving. He tells me that the women have usually been slaving all day long and it’s usually the first meal of the day which is served any time it’s ready. In this case it happens to be five. All of a sudden a certain Friends episode starts to make sense (the one where they force Monica to cook a thanksgiving spread and then ditch her to go do other pressing things like watch ball game).

So we walk to the party, dutifully clutching a bottle of Old Monk. The American loves the drink and understandably so. It’s the only Indian hooch that’s worth having. Other than Kingfisher, of course (the one bottled in/near Mumbai. The Delhi Kingfisher is the pits).

The American promptly takes the Old Monk and starts swigging straight from the bottle. It makes me think of the Hindi film dialogue, agar mard a bachcha hai to seedha botal se peeke dikhga.

The party consists of an eclectic mix of people. Artists and animators from America, one of whom looks like a skinny HOG, complete with a bandana and boots and tattoos. There’s a young couple engaged to be married. Then there’s an American of Malloo origin and the host straightaway asks me if I like Malloos. The Malloo and I, both are taken aback by the bluntness of the question. 

“What about Malloo Christians?” the American persists mischievously. Both the Malloo and I blush and look away from each other. “They’re all right,” I mumble.

It’s embarrassing as a people to be so transparent to others. On the other hand, it doesn’t take a very astute person to deduce that no one likes anyone from another state in India.

Everybody at the party has been there since noon. The men have been watching a ball game and the women, well, like all good wives, they have been slaving in the kitchen, helping the hostess arrange the potluck dinner. The common theme, though, is that everyone has been drinking. Like, a lot. This makes them indiscreet and share confidences of a personal nature with us.

The female half of the engaged couple wonders if people can see them have sex ’cos they don’t have curtains. The women stop whatever it is we were doing (what were we doing? Ah yes, drinking). We look at each other, our bloodshot eyes containing the same query. OMG, did she really say that? A part of me (the sensationalist writer/immature attention seeker part) is envious that it was someone else who brought the party to a halt.

I want to say, “Well if they couldn’t earlier, they will certainly try harder now,” but I don’t.

More tomorrow…

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Meanwhile, a little later, I’m kinda alone with the male half of the engaged couple, trying to fill that thing called the uncomfortable silence.

As usually happens in such situations (it’s practically a blueprint. Notice it next time), we begin the social interaction by swigging from our bottles and smiling at each other dorkishly. Then we both speak at the same time.

 “So…”

 “So…”

 “You first,” he invites.

 I open my mouth to speak, only to realise I don’t really have anything to say. Meanwhile, he’s looking at me expectantly. So I rack my brains…except the pressure of situation gets to me and my mind goes blank.

 For God’s sake, it’s not like I was on the stage in front of a room full of people! Just say something clever and witty and….

“So, you have sex with your curtains open?” I blurt out.

 And noncommittal.

 Before my horrified eyes, the guy squints at me and says, “Sorry?”

 Is that sorry as in I can’t believe you said that or sorry as in I didn’t catch ya?

 It is possible that he didn’t hear me. What with the music, the ball game and screaming kids, it is pretty loud. Thankfully, it is the latter. One would think that having been granted a reprieve like that I would make amends. Not me, no, sir.

“Why are you getting married?” I ask next.

After he overcomes his initial shock over such a bald question, he gazes into the distance as he ponders the imponderable.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” I say hastily.

His mouth forms into an O as he thoughtfully exhales. “No, no, you’re right. I don’t know why I’m getting married. I don’t want to.” And he goes on to talk about the redundancy of the institution called marriage.

Crap.

I can see the woman hovering nearby. Out of the corner of my eyes I see her approaching. I start panicking. “Oh no, no, no.”

“No, you’re right. Marriage is a fucked up institution. I’m going to tell her after the party that I need more time.”

“Oh my God!” 

Too late.

We both turn around to see the woman behind us, staring at us, her face ashen with shock.

Before you judge me, you’ve got to understand, I spend most of day, alone. Sometimes (very rarely), when the work is going along great, I’m happy, but mostly, I’m in a bad mood.  I have no conversations with any human beings apart from my maid, cook, gardener and the car wash guy. Which is a good thing because they are the perfect targets for my ire. Besides my work comprises thinking of ways to subject my heroines to potentially humiliating situations. So, is it any wonder that I have zero social skills?

Anyway, to drag a long story longer, my faux pass (is that the plural for faux pas?) don’t stop there. Meanwhile, after having swigged a half bottle of Old Monk (on top of the beer he’d been slugging since noon), the host decides the time is just right for a moonlit motorbike drive. Apparently he’s some kind of a bike aficionado ’cos he has a garage full of bikes. He invites me to take my pick of the bike or ride pillion, whatever I fancy. I fancy staying out, I tell him. He shrugs his shoulders and calls me a loser. He then similarly dares the men, and men being men, cannot resist a challenge.

 I saunter back to terrace to join the women folk.

 “You didn’t join them?” The hostess wants to know.

 “Are you crazy? With them being so drunk and all?”

 Her eyes widen in horror. She starts hyperventilating and rushes to talk to her hubby. To no avail. As any woman will tell you, reasoning with a sober man is next to impossible. Add booze to the equation and you have a better hope of India wining the world cup. She rushes back and glares at me balefully. “I need an intervention.” (how American’s love this intervention business.)

 So all the women rush downstairs but by then the men have already left. They return after a nail biting two hours. We hear that the host, sloshed as he was, fell off his bike a couple of times on the kuchcha road and knocked over the society barricades for which he was fines 500 bucks. But other than that he was none the worse for wear. And thus ends our eventful thanksgiving.

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Okay, I’m back after a looooong break. In my defence, there are extenuating factors. I was in the process of shifting cities and, like settling into any new place, it took me while to find my feet in Bangalore. That’s right, I am now a resident of namma Bengaluru. Actually I’m in a far flung suburb of Bengaluru called Whitefield where, initially, I rubbed shoulders with goras and celebrated Thanksgiving (more on that later) and Christmas (more on that later still).

How did that go? How does any interaction with they proudly display their (that’s assimilation into Indian culture by casually discussing THE place for best dosa (it’s not) and equally nonchalantly bitch about Raja with equal vehemence.

But then we moved out of Palm Meadows and into a more Indianised community where, reassuringly, we’re planning a bhang-filled Holi party (definitely more on that later).

I’ve been to the city called Bengaluru six times, seven, including the time I went to UB City to see Led Zepp (lica, as it turned out). More on that later.

I’ve seen precisely one movie (in a theatre). Otherwise my run rate of at least a movie a day continues. And since you ask, it was Band Baaja Baaraat, or as they write here, Band Baaja Bharath.

Let’s see, what else have I been up to?  I’ve been rechristened, Smitha.

And, oh yes, this appeared in a paper in Sweden. Google translation.

That’s right, I’ve been farting. A lot.

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