…people bustling…trees rustling…

Archive for July, 2008

A Nail-Biting Finale

Keratin a fibrous protein. In humans, it is what hair and nails are made up of. Apparently, it tastes really good. Tiny sensors on the tongue ‘think’ keratin is better than no taste at all. Hair contains a lot of melanin, which being a dye, is bitter (unless you are blonde). Next best thing…finger nails. (Due respect to toe-nail-biters)

Ever imagined how many metres of nails a person chain-saws down in his life time? Nail-biting is considered a very unhealthy habit in most parts of the world. Addiction quotient is right up there with alcohol and marijuana. But your fingers are always clean, aren’t they? So are mine. No worries there. Addiction? I bite only once every half hour. That too only 10 fingers. I have self-control, I’m not an alcoholic.

You know the feeling when we need one goal in the last ten minutes to win the semi-final. I have my index finger between my teeth (is that what is meant by having the bit between your teeth?). A shot on goal…BITE!!! and the bite-able part of nail is gone. The ring-finger. Ummm…smooth. Which side should I start on? It’s in the perfect shape to be bitten off. I can’t see it. Tongue sensors can. Nah! I’ll bite this later. Let me finish off the rest of this hand. But we scored in the 84th minute. The best nail lives on, doesn’t it? No. I bite it anyway.

“Ehh! He always has his hand in his mouth. Gross!” is what I hear.”Get that hand out of your mouth now…go…wash your hands.””Stop biting your nails.” Slap!!! Aww that hurt. “May be now you’ll quit biting nails.” I don’t understand your problem. They are my nails and it’s my mouth.

Most of all, I hardly realise that my hand makes its way from the side pocket of my jeans (yes, I am trying to quit) into my mouth (‘into’ sounds nauseating. Imagine putting your hand INTO someone’s mouth). Anyway, feels good. A custom mouth made manicure. Ahhh! But all good things must come to an end (like such use of clichés).

I pledge my devotion (to my country and my people???) towards personal hygiene and save myself the public embarrassment of being called ‘gross’. Is a month enough to quit biting nails? I used a nail-cutter after just 15 days.


Lane Cutting

Rotting in the suburbs is not exactly my idea of living in Mumbai. Mumbai is the one which the British tried to build. The city. South Mumbai, town, where everything is planned and pleasant, not to mention populated. To me it’s like the ideal place where everything is where it should be, and laws are followed like they should be.

I had been there recently. Reached my place of interest and found a no-parking board. If lionesses don’t guard their kill, hyenas snatch it away, rather, steal the kill. So we had to find a pay-n-park. ‘Maqdoom Ali Flyover ke neeche’ is the place to park our rides. 1 hour – Rs. 40.00 and Rs. 20 for every passing minute after that. Yes, minute.

We took a car to town. And took a taxi from the parking place. We are rich, right? Anyhow…turned out the ‘work’ we had at our ‘place of interest’ was infact no-work. We taxi-ed back to the lot to find that our car had been buried in layers of hatch-backs and the only way to retrieve it was to wait. But to our good fortune, a sweet fragrance hit our noses. Ahh! Dead fish.

It was here. Dakaar! “Sahab ek ghante se upar ho gaya hai…” How much more? “Paanch minute sahab…bees rupaye aur dena padega” Oh! Only 20 more. Here, Take it. “Sahab hamare chai paani ka kya?” Listen kind sir, we do not have money to buy ourselves a mint. Your ‘chai’ is way off our budget. And we left.

Seat belts save our lives. However (u should know by now…i hate this word) if we do not wear a seat belt, we’d be killed if our people know what we ‘gave’ for not wearing them. “License…” – we say something – “Ha kaay karat hota? Lane cutting aani seat belt….don she(200)” – Sir it won’t happen again – “theek haay dya shambhar…asa kara naka baba…” Lane cutting, wont happen again, we swore.

McDonalds. We’re happy. That Haji Ali stretch just around that right turn. Green. “Baju la ghe. Hay kaay karat hota? License?” – We say something (which is degrading our already torn-to-pieces ego) “Asa karaycha nahi re baba” – Sir we were in a hurry to get home. We’re sorry…”Ho te mahiti haay mala…aata don she rupaay bhara…me paavti banavto….” Sir please…”Bara…Shambhar de” He seemed a nice person. Should’ve offered him my McVeggie but i think he likes 100 rupees ‘desi daru’ more.

We had our flirtation with applications of ideals and principles. Would be better if we had none.


Shopping with Mom

Did you know I was a kid sometime back? Hard to believe but it’s true. I also had my share of shopping, the lion’s share as far as economy is concerned.I got a new ‘consumer-commodity’ almost every time I went out with mom. Not necessarily shopping…just out of the house…anywhere. However (here’s that word again!), consumer commodities for a ‘kid’ included plastic toys, bag of chips, an eclair even.

I was out with mom again. She wanted to buy a dress or two for herself and my aunt(mami) and my cousins. I was the porter. You can tell by my 19 inch biceps and 45 inch chest. Porter? No. Bodyguard. We entered a shopping complex. Yes, one of those places in Mumbai where people selling stuff-on-a-table stand, where we buy stuff after half an hour of ‘negotiating’, where prices are dropped to the fourth root of the original. Can you believe they had none of them branded products!

But the prices dropped only to a quarter. So we decided on a no-purchase. We entered a proper shop. Proper – 4 walls, 1 roof, one wall of shelves. We saw all of the colours in the visible spectrum. “Which one do you like?” Mom asked, in kannada. “How would I know? You want to buy it. You choose.” I said. I am all grown up. I am so old, I’ve lost my ability to differentiate between colours. And I also can’t say which shade of grey looks brighter. But I’m still mom’s lil’ boy. “Take the yellow one.”

Now for my cousins. She wanted to buy them ‘tops’, as in clothes that cover the upper half of the body. We don’t know if they wear urbanised and branded clothes. Oh Thank You Lord, for creating those outside-the-shop hawkers. “Should I buy one of these?” I was asked. “I don’t know mom…I’ve never shopped for a girl.” I was hoping I had a sister, so that I could stay home and watch F1 Qualifying.

A thought, absolutely out of the blue-grey, ‘High brands sell so that we have something to wear. Hawkers sell so that they have something to wear.” hit me when the negotiation was going on. Again, no-purchase. “Mom I need underwear.” There…I had my share of consumer-commodity for this shopping spree.

We called it a day. We wanted to walk home. “Mamma, I want…., Nevermind.” “What? Do you want to eat a sandwich?” she asked. “Nevermind. Lets go home.”

Yes. I wanted that sandwich.