Sunday, May 28, 2006

The importance of bai...

It will be a foolish DINK (Double Income no Kid) or SINOS (Single Income no Spouse) that will deny the importance of a bai – the ubiquitous maid – who dominates our very lives. More so in a place like Mumbai where the local train jostles to dominate your life and very being, thus adding to your woes.

The bai determines what you wear (or do not wear!), when you wake up and when you leave for work. The bai who does the cleaning and washing at my place – an otherwise efficient lady – suddenly decided to absent herself for two straight days. Result: a distraught me had to do the clothes and dishes myself. To my great relief, she reappeared after two days. Noticing that I had done the clothes, she asked incredulously “tum kapda dhoya?” Yes ma’am, I prefer to use as little deo as possible, thank you!

Being fascinated by figures the way I am, here is a bit of statistical trivia: there is a 1.0 correlation between the time my bai comes in to work and the time that I reach office. Sample this: the bai ten minutes late to work, I get delayed to work by ten minutes. The bai decides to skip work, I get delayed by anywhere from one to three hours for work. [Author’s observation: that’s because I oversleep, not because I am doing the work myself]

That brings me to the topic of the importance of local trains in a Mumbaikar’s life. But that’s another story, and another blog. Watch this space.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Maa nishaada..

These immortal words from the opening verse of that epic of epics Ramayana come to mind as I muse on the materiality of mundane existence. Not because my inner voice - that little fellow who sits on my shoulder by my ear whispering things with a mind of his own - tells me to do goodly deeds, but more from a sense of putting a lazy saturday afternoon to better use than lounging in front of my PC and surfing arbit sites.

Nearly a third of a century and a couple of inches hairline hence, the mind, like that of countless young people (I take the liberty of calling myself young!), continues to look for the all elusive wowsecond similar to Rishi Valmiki's witnessing the heartless killing of the krauncha bird couple that led to an outpouring of anguish and the consquent composition of the Ramayana.

And then, as the dark clouds lift from the heart, a story long forgotten and filed away in some deep corner of the brain flashes. It is the story of a little girl who cried 'wow!' when a gust of breeze wafted off her pretty balloon to the heavens. A flood of memories rush in, each a wowsecond, a sliver of life when all else but the beauty of life is forgotten. Like the rainy afternoon last July, while walking along the Worli seaface thinking depressing thoughts about the long evening of work ahead, a large wave crashed against the seawall, bursting spray all over me; in the wowsecond that followed, my eyes opened to notice a bunch of urchins jump with joy as each crashing wave drenched them in surf, a family with the car parked by the roadside enjoying the strong gusts and the occasional spray from a distance, the early evening sun no more than a silver plate through thick clouds....

Many such memories from my yet short life jostle for space... I turn on the music, playing hits from the movie Rang de Basanti, and turn around for a serious chat with my colleague about this assignment that we are working on in the office...