Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Diwali at chez Shenoy

Well, finally Diwali came and went. I spent it sleeping in bed. For a change, this was not because of a hangover. I had this really virulent attack of gastroenteritis, an ailment in which the alimentary canal makes many humorous sound effects and generally leaves the afflictee with the athletic ability of respected shri vajpayee. By the evening, I was walking around like a Tai' chi master.

My dad (who is a doctor) is away in america, but when I rang him up for help, he took all of fifteen seconds to diagnose it over the phone.

"Touch of gastro, nothing to worry about" he told me, and prescribed a medicine which worked like magic. Almost the next day, I was turning cartwheels and accepting invitations to parties.

The afternoon one went fairly ok. I had a couple of vodka and limes without dulling the intellect even a little bit. If I had been in that line of work, I would probably have discovered a fundamental particle or two.

The evening session was a little more drastic. We were invited to my sister's house and her husband uncorked some rather classy rum with a fancy name. I had no more than two drinks, to the best of my knowledge, but I  managed to get plastered to a level I haven't been since I discovered that I had passed my engineering finals.

Few things, dear unmarried reader, bring out the demon in the old helpmeet more than the spectacle of a plastered husband. It is a no-no on the scale of forgetting to pick up the kids from school or getting her a bar-tool set for her birthday. The missus was very not-amused and I am very strictly on the dry side of the barometer till further notice.

So, happy Diwali everyone. I hope you have a great year, filled with joy and prosperity, love and friendship, warmth and understanding, and of course, some decent scotch.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Diwali and its part in my downfall -Part II

(Just in case you missed the earlier post, I was speaking about the dismissive manner in which the missus spoke of single malt whiskeys. And the assault on my valuable collection of books on philosophy)

As you can well imagine, no thinking man can stand slurs to malt whiskies. After racking my brains for a suitable repartee and finding none, I decided to maintain a dignified silence.

"OK," she said, by way of compromise, "I'll let you keep six of these books. They can go into the loft on top of the loo."

As a consequence of this radical rearrangement of philosophical thought in our home, our raddiwallah is now the proud possessor of 'Aristotle's Ethics', 'Plato's Republic', a jolly old book named 'The Great Political Theories' and 'Existential Thought - A Primer'.

I sat there numbed. I had never read any of those books, to tell you the truth, but it was nice to know they were around. I mean, if you wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night realising  you had forgotten a great political theory or two, 'The Great Political Theories' will no longer be around to illuminate you. I mumbled words to this effect.

The missus moved in for the kill.

"Cheer up, Naren.Look at the bright side of this. You are eligible to stand for Parliament now."

"Huh? Hows that?" I asked, leading up to the sucker punch.

"You've just sold your Ethics to the rag-and-bone man!"

"Ha Ha. Very funny. You know, Aristotle was the greatest thinker of the ancient world"

"Aristotle was a moron who believed men had more teeth than women"

"They don't?"

"Shut up and identify five t-shirts that are going out."

And so the day continued. By evening, my cupboard resembled Old Mother Hubbard's.

"It is bare!" I exclaimed in dismay.

But she wasn't really listening. With a cheery "Bare is in, baby", and proceeding to hum "The Bare Necessities" from the Jungle Book, she went on to her own wardrobe, which I bitterly noted she did not de-populate. Women!

"How come your wardrobe doesn't get the treatment?" I wanted to ask her but she shooed me out of the room and continued the proceedings in camera.

The next day we spent all morning and half the afternoon shopping for gifts. Trays, candles, chocolates, that kind of thing.

Why this inconsequential act has to command so much pomp and circumstance is beyond me. It is not as if you gift someone a set of wine glasses and he or she says "Oh my god! Just what I needed! I resolve to love you twice as much as I used to!".

He or she just pries off the little "With Best Compliments From" label and puts one of his or her own to gift to someone else.(This has been proved true with respect to casseroles. There are only three casseroles in the world, all of  which get repacked and re-gifted. Apparently this has been going on since 1902.)

We of course invest the simple act of buying presents with the care and attention of the Pentagon purchasing military hardware. Hmm. Perhaps that's not such a great simile. What I was striving to emphasize was that the six hours or so that we spent in the mall buying stuff that no one wanted could have been reduced to fifteen minutes if it had been left to me.

"I couldn't trust you to buy a flyswatter, Naren", the missus retorted, when I voiced my aforementioned views. "You got your best friend a pressure cooker last year"

"What's wrong with a pressure cooker?" The truth was that we were giving pressure cookers to the workers in my factory and I happened to have a few left over.

"Nothing, except that it is not a chic thing to give. Can you imagine say Shobha De giving Vijay Mallya a pressure cooker?". I had an answer to that. I am not Shobha De and he is by no means Vijay Mallya. But I kept the trap shut, which is the best response when the argument is drifting into uncharted territory.

(The Missus is howling for me to take her voting. Part III coming soon)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Diwali and its part in my downfall -Part I

Diwali is a magical time of the year at the Shenoy homestead. This is the time when the missus suddenly discovers that the house is in a mess and has to be cleaned out.

What is magical about it is that I don't die. Every year, there comes a point in the proceedings where I am conviced that it is all over and she is going to stab me with a sharp instrument. And every year, that moment passes without her actually doing it.

Of course, as my elder son pointed out, this could merely mean that the probability of this happening is increasing. They're learning the basics of probability in school, you see, and for some reason he is fascinated by it. I mean, come on. Probability used to be THE most boring subject when we were younger. There was a time when I had to learn the Income tax Act and even THAT was more interesting than probability. But I digress. Coming back to the res (it IS res, isn't it, Jeeves?), the Great Cleaning of the Shenoy Cupboards had begun.

It started off innocuously as usual. The children's cupdboards are still under the direct overlordship of her highness, so she knows exactly what is there in them. More importantly, she has the complete rights of high middle and low justice, and the kids can only whine in a muted fashion when they behold their favorite outfit going out to meet its maker on the grounds of looking like a gunny sack.

Kids are resilient, however, and with a philosophical shrug they went back to playing computer games surreptitiously, under the pretence of collecting project information.

"Guys, please study. If your mom catches you playing games on my laptop, I've had it", I implored.

"Relax, annie, she's doing cupboards. You know what that means! Whole day, easy!" said younger son.

"Hah! Half the evening too, if she finds that Archie comics collection of yours" said elder son, with a snort.

I stumbled out in a lost fashion. The thing to do when these kind of clandestine activities are happening is to put as much distance between yourself and the crime scene as possible.

Well, the kids' cupboards got done in a day. There was a bit of head shaking and mumbled can-you-believe-the-state-of-this's but no serious melodrama and you would have been convinced that a workshop on meditation was being conducted on the premises. And no, the rascals didn't get caught playing computer games.

The heavy stuff started the next day, when she got to my cupboard. You see, I lke to think myself as a sort of a polymath- a man of a multifarious personality. A bit like Leonardo Da Vinci. Though I must confess that when I attempted to paint Mona Lisa, it came out like a South Park character and made the wife and kids nearly choke (that's an interesting anecdote I must tell you one of these days).

Not that it detracts from my talents. The way I see it, if Da Vinci was an 'n' sided personality, mine  would be a '(n-1)' sided one, that's all.

Digressing again. What I was getting at is that, being a multifaceted chap and all, I end up collecting a good deal of 'stuff' that is potentially valuable, though at the present moment the exchange value would be 2 rat droppings. The missus has this ruthless "live for the present" streak in her and wants to throw the whole bunch out.

"What is this", she asked me, holding up an old PC motherboard.

"It's a motherboard", I said

"I know that". She learned Computer Science in college,  I kid you not, though she hates the subject with all her heart, which is another story I have to tell. Relax, I won't tell it today.

Where's the CPU and the Memory?"

"Er, there's no CPU and memory"

"Throw it out then. What's the use of keeping ..." and petered out into a diatribe on pack rats.

I tried to explain that I was planning to use an old CPU from another computer and try to get it running on linux but I could tell it was no use. The lady had taken a personal dislike to it. No amount of reasoning could convince her that I would ever get around to using it. She was right, of course, but it was the principle of the thing.

She gathered her attention to a pile of books on philosophy that has been her steady target for years now.

"Naren, you have NEVER read a single one of these. Please PLEASE at least NOW throw them out."

"Sweetheart, in the intellectual circles that I roam about, Satre and Kafka are essential reading"

"Nonsense. None of you bunch have ever read anything further than the labels on those ridiculously named single malt whiskeys. Laphroaig! Sounds like French for 'frog'.

"Excusez moi, garcon," she said, in a falsetto  "esker vouz avez La Froig?"  and I bet your keister he'll come back with something that had been a tadpole a few weeks earlier".

The missus can be quite sarcastic when she feels like it.

(gotta go now. taking the brood out to dinner. stay tuned though. Part II follows)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My world celebritiness

My dear friends,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this function specially organized for the purpose of honoring me on the occasion of my elevation to the position of  'world celebrity'.

A deeply thought comment, dripping with wisdom, on the advisabililty of spending Rs. 6000 on an order of butter chicken has been quoted in the Mint  here and now in the Independent here  

To put this into pespective, here are my words, along with famous quotes from competing writers

Shakespeare: To be, or not to be: that is the question.

John Keats: A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.

Narendra Shenoy : But is it worth 6,000 rupees? The answer, dear reader, is a resounding yes. Provided, of course, that it is somebody else's 6,000 rupees.

Eminem: You make me sick.

As you can see, I am right up there with the best. I am expecting to hear from Paris Hilton any moment now. Of course, my response will be measured, fitting of my stature as a world celebrity

"Mr Shenoy!" Ms. Hilton will gush "You are famous!"

"Oh, it's nothing, really" I will murmur in the muted response characteristic of the truly humble

"Nothing? Nothing? Your wise words have been quoted by world newspapers and you call that nothing? Oh, Mr. Shenoy, I am overcome by your unassuming ways. Please, make love to me right now."

And of course, I will decline respectfully, being a man of character.

The missus has taken a surprisingly dim view of these happenings.

"So someone copy pasted your wisecrack and you're a world celebrity? Give me a break!" she said.

I wisely refrained from telling her about the Paris Hilton thing. Women can never handle that kind of competition, even when it is hypothetical..

And anyway, even Shakespeare had to sufer this kind of stuff

'What kind of rot is this "Friends, Romans,Countrymen, lend me your ears" you've written here, Bill?' Anne Hathaway is reported to have said,  'Why can't you just say "Yo, listen up, y'all!" like the rest of us?'

Yeah, why not, Bill? Wives!