Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Delhi trip, and how I survived it -

Hi everybody. This is Sheela Shenoy reporting from 37000 feet above sea level. My husband, the light of my life, the beacon of my existence, the polestar of my universe, the one and only Naren is flopped on the seat next to mine, giving his well known impression of an intermittently functioning motorboat, to my amusement and to the chagrin of the stout chap across the aisle who looks like an unusually cantankerous solicitor or accountant. Naren's snoring seems to be disturbing his perusal of some species of business newspaper. Ah well, into each life some rain  must fall.

We are on our way back from Delhi where we had been to attend the wedding of a very dear friend's niece. The groom too was known to us very well. It was an event we were rather looking forward too, and it didn't disappoint.

The bride was someone both of us have known since she was a child. She has- and has always had- one of the most dazzling smiles I've ever seen and is extremely smart without being nerdy.

Unlike my husband. He is, or can be on occasions, extremely geeky, without being in the least bit smart. This can be irritatingly impractical. He spent a half hour once at an airport explaining to a completely disinterested kid why the sum of the first n natural numbers is n into n plus one over two and all the while we were being paged for boarding, earning us dark stares from our co-passengers and the crew. And if the kid grows up into a dysfunctional adult with an irrational fear of bespectacled people, you know who's responsible.

Speaking about geekiness, I am reminded of our courtship days -we had the old fashioned arranged marriage- when I was extremely was anxious to know what kind of a dweeb I was marrying. My sister advised me to find out from conversations. Since I was in Mysore and Naren in Bombay, the only way this could happen was over the phone.

Those conversations did not go well, let me tell you. The first time we spoke over the phone, after the hellos and the how-are-your-parentses,  he explained to me why the square root of two is an irrational number. My first post-engagement phone conv and I get this!

The second time he told me what he thought about the planned economy - not much, apparently and I should care! - and the call after that was a detailed outline of Michael Porter's theory of Competition. When I tell you I went into this marriage in a state of despair, I'm sure you know exactly how I feel.

If Naren were ever captured by an Amazonian tribe and prepared for roasting on a spit, his escape plan would be to engage the headman in conversation and prove to him that the square root of two could not be expressed as a ratio of two integers. His reasoning being that the headman, upon seeing the proof, would immediately fall to his knees and the entire tribe would worship him as the god who did things to numbers. Which is why it is dangerous to marry engineers. But I'll leave that for another post.

Coming back to the topic at hand, viz. Delhi, I must confess I had a superb time. The weather was nice and chilled, if a little smoggy. A lot like Mysore in the winter, which made me nostalgic. To combat the blues that usually accompany nostalgia, I decided to squeeze in a session of retail therapy in which I managed to find some lovely footwear and shawls.

Naren is always cribbing about my alleged footwear obsession but he is easily silenced with a look. This time too, it was no different. One basilisk stare and he was following me like a lamb. And just to show him  that I'm not obsessed with footwear, I bought myself a shawl, a stole, two kurtis and two salwar suit materials. So there. But to his credit, he carried all the bags faithfully and without complaint. It might be that he loves me. Then again, it might be that I let him have beer with his lunch. The latter, I guess.

And now here's the pilot mumbling something over the speaker. Flying over Baroda, 35,000 feet and other unsupported observations. I've always thought a pilot's job stressful, flying a whacking great can through the air at 800 km per hour, wondering all the while if that little monkey of a ground engineer has tightened all the bolts.

Of course, supeerficially, pilots have a great time because there is virtually no way of verifying if any of what they say is actually true. Statements like "We are flying at 35,000 feet" are the safest because no one is carrying a measuring tape, and even if they are, definitely not that big. Some pilots get carried away and tell you that the temperature outside is -40 degrees knowing fully well that you can't open the window and check for yourself.

But all of this does not make up for the stress of being an airline pilot. Take landings, for instance. I can well imagine the scene in the cockpit when the plane lands. Especially the way the pilot applies the brakes when the plane touches down.

You know how it is. The plane touches down, bounces a couple of times and then -and here I'm relying on my skills of logical deduction- the pilot presses the brake pedal really hard, probably with both feet, his hands clutching the armrests of his seat, or the steering wheel, if a plane has one, his knuckles white with the strain, the co-pilot hunched over with his head between his knees,sobbing out a prayer, hoping against hope that the bloody thing will come to a halt. And when it finally does come to a halt, the pilot, with shivering hands, probably pulls out his tucked-in shirt, trying to cover the fact that he has peed in his pants. I'm not saying that is what happens, but I'm willing to bet this is almost exactly it, scene for scene. This is what is going to happen today as well. I hope they manage to make it stop.

Ah, they're announcing our landing. In Mumbai, this usually means an half hour of circling, but hopefully today we'll be luckier.

The Spice Jet stewardesses have the most amazing singsong way of reading out the flight announcements and the safety drill. I haven't heard anything quite like this, including the "eternal god" prayer my sons are forced to say everyday in school. I am especially impressed by the announcements in Hindi, which sound exactly like Queen Elizabth the Second would, if she were given a crash course in Hindi speaking. I wonder what prevents them from speaking like normal people.

Bye for now, folks. I think the pilot will be going into his brake routine anytime now. I could use the laughs

Cheers and bye for now


milcom_ said...

You serious about the Square root of 2 part??!!

Anand Ramachandran's Evil Twin said...

Come on, Sheela, be fair. Naren loves you. Because you let him have beer with his lunch.

A tiny jiggling mass of atoms in the Cosmic Dance of Nataraja Shiva said...

Very funny :). On a related comedy from Seinfeld's stand up -

sumit Das said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sumit Das said...

This is the first time I am commenting on your blog though I have been following for some time now and really think that you are one of the funniest person around in the blogosphere. I noticed some typos in your post like "supeerficially" , which just made me wonder that is that a funny way to get back to your wife to show that she is not that smart as you are:D?

Siddharth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Siddharth said... fair for engineers. Not all engineers are of the root-of-2 kind. I tried to impress my would be with the very interesting stories of diodes and transistors. It is a different story that she also seemed to have expression similar to yours at the time of our marriage. :D

And all husbands love to carry their wife's shopping bags. Promise!

Dr. K Bodhi :D said...

You did end up marrying the dude after the first two conversations. Hmmm....He must have something going for him.

And please write more!

maxdavinci said...

whoa! you ought to post a lot more frequently.

and the square-root-two is so trademark narenji, fab post!

Anonymous said...

too good... kept laughing thru the entire read...

mentalie said...

my goodness, your husband is such a lucky man! you give him so much um, credit, character and charm :) that aside, this has been the most hilarious ten minutes of my day so far. thank you!

Bea Walker said...

You're a smart one Mrs. S
You really are a peach,
You're canny as a shopper
Don't listen to Mr. S mutter
Mrs. S

You're a brave one Mrs. S
You really have appeal
Though Naren may be square
You married him aware
Mrs. S


You take it from here Mr. S!
Apologies for the verse, but after all, 'tis the season :)

Voracious Blog Reader said...

Hallo Naren/Mrs.Shenoy,

I have been following this blog for a looooong time.

After reading this Post, I have a strong feeling that Naren himself has written this Post.

Does anybody else feel the same?

Voracious Blog Reader

niks said...

Too good Mrs. S or is this Mr. S again ? ;-)

Sheela Shenoy said...

milcom_ Of course I am!

@anand - Hehe. True. It's the ONLY reason he loves me.

@tiny - Thanks. And thanks for the link!

@sumit- Hehe. But I AM the wife

@siddharth - Ah, one more! The tribe increases! Good boy, for carrying shopping bags.

@Dr.K. - I had no option. Arranged marriage and all. But after 18 years, i think I could have done worse. Then again, I could have done better...

@max-Thanks. And it's Sheela, by the way

@memunish. Thanks. That's kind of you :)

@mentalie - Thanks! I'll try to ensure Naren doesn't see your comment and get a swollen head

@Bea - Hey, nice poem:) LOL at the 'square' bit!

@voracious - hehe! Very perceptive. But that is because I've been coaching him personally in the art of writing..

@niks - No,no it's still me!

Anonymous said...

"niks said...
Too good Mrs. S or is this Mr. S again ? ;-)"

"@niks - No,no it's still me!"

Er...very unequivocal, that :P

What can I say, if after the the square-root-of-2 phone call she still married you, she deserves you! Cheers to you both :)


LG said...

Totally enjoyed reading your post esp the square root of two and amazonian tribe head, I went into my imagination world and enjoyed the whole scene :))

LG said...

masala idli ee thara madirlilla mala..I will try it sometime.

Scattered Thoughts... said...

you are the lucky one.. who has a husband like Naren.. if you don't believe.. ask Mrs. Gupta!! and that reminds me I need to make sure she never reaches to this blog and and get to know, this type of husbands do exist :P

Deepak Gopalakrishnan said...

Hahaha, superb! I didn't know that you were a contributor on this blog too. I guess the title should be changed to 'Autobiography of an ordinary couple', then?

In any case. We engineers are a lovable lot, really. Now excuse me while I go and encode a few albums in 936 kbps FLAC so I can run them through my Grado SR80s.

Cheers and happy landing!

The Cloudcutter said...

Finally! I was beginning to wonder whether Naren was making you up...

Kavitha said...

You married him despite a "conversation" about the sqrt(2) being irrational?! Now, I wouldn't call you too rational :-)

Beer or Love! Doesn't matter as long as you get the footwear...

The MEANDERthal man said...

So you are a family of Wodehouses? :) Nice read!

Raju said...

I am just going to use this occasion to showcase my extreme nerdness. I did a whole course on the theory of why some numbers are rational and others are not, why some are algebraic and others are transcendental and what not. And did really well in it.

So Naren, my heart goes out to you.

Anonymous said...

was hoping for a FYF surviving delhiesque post.. but this did not disappoint :).. i think mr.naren makes a poor attempt at immitating you in his other posts. this trumps all, okno, a lot of other posts on this blog..

narendra shenoy said...

@litterateuse - Well, I had no option but to marry Naren - dictatorial father and all. Happily, it's turned out ok, though he's never going to be mistaken for Hrithik Roshan, no matter how much beauty cream I make him put on

@LG - Thanks!

@scattered - Hehe. Don't be sayiing things like that lest he get a swollen head

@Deepak - Haha! And thanks!

@Cloudcutter - I do exist, though I'm nothing like what he makes me out to be, the propagandist!

@Kavitha -I didn't really have an option - us Indian girls didn't back then, but as they say, it doesnt matter which car you drive, it's how well you drive it. If you know what I mean;)

@meanderthal - Thanks! No, I'm not much of a wodehouse person, at least not as much as Naren is, though I do agree he is really funny. Wodehouse, I mean. Not Naren.

@Raju -Hmmm.... well, number theorists have my respect

@Anonymous - Thanks

Coconut Chutney said...

We demand you get your own blog, Mrs.S!

You guys are one helluva couple. :D

Anonymous said...

A friendly couple with a hilarious blog together is great for the blog world. :)