Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The One Where we get Locked Out

Well yesterday was an eventful day for scatter brained, careless (I prefer carefree but the husband will hotly debate that), “running into disasters” me and my cautious, meticulous and “preventing potential disasters” husband.

So after a short day at work, we reached home well in time to see the setting sun, savored tea in the balcony, enjoying our new breakfast table and kids (not ours!!!) shrieking in the background (what’s with them anyway do they have a mute button). After considerable dithering and dothering, humming and hawing there was no “running” away from what needed to be done next. With a good 90 minutes left for dinner we had no option but to go running if for nothing else but just to keep up the illusion that we are a health conscious couple and we are not letting blissful matrimony ruin that for us.

Well reluctantly (though outwardly cheerful) we got into the gear, took our respective music contraptions, mine the Ipod and the husband’s his phone (normally we go running without any music contraptions) and went out. After about 2.5 kms of puffing and panting, suddenly the husband yanked off his headphones and asked (with a carefully cultivated mixture of panic and irritation creeping in his voice) if I had kept the keys to our apartment in the regular hideaway. “Errr no” said I, smiling sweetly, hoping that would make this crisis blow away. Well that was not to happen. Neither had he and there we were at 8:00 in the evening dressed in our tracks, smelly, sweat dripping down with no money (before any smart alec comments no plastic either to save the day). The only saving grace was my husband’s music contraption, his phone!!!!! Now the phone was a great source of security and relief for my husband even though he was completely aware that it would not miraculously fit into the keyhole and open the damned door for us. Having clearly established that we were in the middle of a full blown crisis the husband immediately started evaluating all the options we had and I just about controlled myself from gleefully declaring “isn’t this just like when THE Friends get locked out”. Thankfully I did not and therefore live to tell this tale.

“Why don’t we ask the security guard for the key” meekly I suggested, the husband guffawed loudly declaring there was no way the security guard would have a spare key. I did try protesting “After all Mr.Tregger had the spare key to the apartment “, again good sense prevailed and I muttered something about it being worth a try. Try we did and I hate it when the husband is right. The security guard did not have spare keys; however he did have a few interesting ideas to break in, ranging from breaking the lock of the door, smashing a few windows, rattling the door to the balcony so as to yank the latch open. All ideas as expected were rejected by the cautious husband.

So there we were with only one option left “collect the set of spare keys from the husband’s office drawer”. Hmmph now you are thinking with the spare keys tucked away safely the story cannot be interesting any more. Hold your horses and read on……..

Well as luck (or the cautious husband) may have it the office drawer housing piles of useless correspondence( from Nirvana Diamond, Airtel and the likes) and the precious key was actually locked!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And yes the keys to that “drawer with the precious key” were locked inside the house. So there we were back to square one, stranded outside our home, smelly, tired and now hungry.

This is the part where my faith in security guards and my husband’s faith in his phone paid off. So he called his office security guard and asked him if he had spare keys to the drawer. With baited breath he waited for the answer, after a minute’s pause the husband heard jangling in the background as the security guard woefully declared that he would have to locate that one small key in the bunch of thousand other keys!!! My husband suggested breaking the drawer open, but that was met vehement disapproval at the other end. So in the end the husband instructed the security guard to try all the keys one by one while we went ahead looking for a locksmith.

Now in the city of Bengaluru where pubs/discos and even “shanti sagars” close at 11 we were to discover that no locksmith either is available at 8:30 in the night. After trying unsuccessfully for a while we called up the office security guard in complete desperation. This time with the steely resolve to use all our United Nationsque negotiation skills and if required Uncle Samsque threatening skills.

Luck finally did shine on us and the harrowed security guard informed an equally harrowed husband that the drawer had been “opened”. Halleluiah. Now all we had to do was catch an auto, reach the office, recover the keys and get back home.

But as they say in tinsel town the struggle had just begun. All those who have ever tried to hail an auto in Namma Bengaluru will painfully know that getting an auto at 8:30 in the night, with signs of a downpour and no money in your pocket to pay the fare (that may actually buy you that auto) is not child’s play. But we were not to be disillusioned, having held our fort the entire evening we braced ourselves for the next challenge. So we were in the middle of the road wildly waving our arms to hail any auto that cared to stop and make that round trip to MG road. Miracle of miracles, after 3 autos rudely turned down our request of hauling us from here to there and then back here again (one of them did not even bother to refuse, he just hrmmphed and moved on!!!) one of them actually did agree to ferry us on our expedition. I swear at that moment I felt exactly like the front runners of the Amazing Race Asia when they successfully negotiated with a taxi to ferry them around Kolkatta (yes I watch too much TV, but you are on the internet all the time so don’t judge me! Triumphantly we boarded the auto for what we prayed was the last leg of our adventure.

We reached the husband’s office, recovered the keys, quickly gobbled a few bourbon chocolate biscuits (in the process negating whatever little calories we had burned by running) and finally headed back to the auto. Our return journey started on a rather auspicious note, with the roaring of thunder, the cackling of lightening and big drops of rain falling on our noses. We huddled ourselves in the middle of the auto while the auto-driver unperturbed drove on.

Then around halfway through the auto wallah stopped and my heart missed a beat too. I could not believe that we were finally living our dream of starring in a Bollywood pot boiler complete with melodramatic twists and incredulous turns.

Our legitimate marriage did play a spoilsport, I mean how romantic can a hungry, tired and “waiting to take your life if blamed for the predicament” married couple be? They certainly cannot hold a candle to a much in love, “tortured by society” and “I will give my life for you” dating couple. I overlooked the small complication as I mentally scanned the brimming over repository of Bollywood romantic rain songs. As I settled for “kaate nahi katte ye din ye raaat…” from Mr. India, the auto-wallah got out of the auto with a seriously dirty towel and wiped the window of his auto. Nonchalantly he got back into the auto, started it and off we were. My dreams of starring in the Bollywood pot boiler were ruthlessly crushed under the tyres of the auto and the auto-wallah’s dangerous driving.

We reached home at ten, without any further “twists and turns”, paid the auto-wallah and settled in with a hot bowl of soup to watch our favorite program on TV. Happy to be home.

That was the end of our little adventure. Infact as I wrap this up I think all married people can empathize with me as I blissfully contemplate changing the title of this post to “The one where we get locked out and do not blame each other” J

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Last week I got a gift. My husband got me an “art set”. Colors for painting fabric, ceramic, glass and what not. A set of crayons, a set of cartoon pens, a drawing pad, some lovely drawing pencils wrapped in shiny gift wrap. And was I excited.
Now all those who know me please do not get shocked. For the un-initiated “fine arts” has never been my forte (putting it mildly). Colors rarely remained within their boundaries when I deigned to color a picture, no one could give a suitable name to the forms I drew and drawing straight lines even when there was a ruler around became a challenge. I was never the gifted child who copied the flower in all its glory from the blackboard during art class, I was never graded an A+ by the insipid art teacher who actively deducted marks for not copying the flower perfectly.

I once remember making a chart to be used as a class aid while the teacher taught us about the conquests of Akbar the Great. I really slogged and put in all the artistic energy I had to ensure that nothing was amiss in the drawing and the chart was a befitting tribute to Akbar the Great. “Today shall be my redemption”, is what I thought as I trudged happily to school, smiling as smugly as the mustached Akbar was on my chart. Well I CAME into the class, the teacher SAW the picture and laughter conquered all. After a few minutes of raucous laughter the teacher quieted the class and declared it was best that we proceed with the class without the “teaching aid”. To put it mildly my tryst with the fine arts ended there for the next few years at least.

As an engineering student I struggled considerably with Engineering Drawing and Machine Drawing. It was horrifying to say the least. With a contraption called the “drafter” I struggled to draw straight lines, angles, top views and side views. The only successful attempt at art of any sort was the birthday card I made for my boyfriend. The fact that he is my husband today is only because he showered lavish praise on that “sweet birthday” card I made with active help from my more artistically gifted friends.

And then things changed. Suddenly one lazy weekend while aimlessly flicking through channels I came across this interesting program called “Art Attack” on Disney. The non clinical approach towards art with the instructor actually acting as a guide while allowing his viewers to make mistakes, innovate and lend their interpretation to various projects that he worked on made it really exciting. It also helped that most of his projects were about sticking things together and slapping loads of paint untidily rather than drawing intricate patterns and designs on thick art paper. Actually what really helped is that his projects were for viewers aged 7-10 and therefore none of them intimidated me at all!!! (Ok some of them did not). A few weekends of watching “Art Attack” did the trick. I also discovered something called MAD on Pogo on the same lines. Finally the bug had bitten me. Finally the Art Attack had happened. I ATTACKED all art supplies and art projects with a vengeance and devoured them till the remnants of my attack could not be identified as art.

Some interesting attacks have been:

  • Painting a tall biscuit jar into a flower vase. Well here it is proudly housing the bright flowers.

  • Painting an unused saucer (unused because first we never bothered with it and then when we thought about restoring its rightful place under the cup during our morning chai routine, the cup broke.) Finally I think the saucer is living its destiny housing the creatures of the sea I have painted on it along with the smiling moon. Don’t ask an artist why? Just absorb the beauty of this piece of art!!! Don’t know what we will do with this, but suggestions anyone???

Other attacks shall follow soon; other unused objects in the kitchen, bathroom and elsewhere shall get transformed into works of art. But what amuses me about this new found hobby is not that I pride myself in creating these obviously juvenile projects but how much I enjoy these art attacks.

I never enjoyed art as a kid. I never painted cute pictures of “my family” that were proudly displayed on the fridge for all to see. I never colored during lazy Sunday afternoons without a care to the world. “Drawing and Painting” (actually add stitching, embroidering, nib painting, soft toy making and all the forms of art “hobby classes” taught) were never my cup of tea. I never liked doing any of it.

Suddenly things have changed. Even while some of my friends go about creating life, their own flesh and blood, their screeching little ones and some others go about attainting great corporate heights I have found happiness in these childish “art attacks”. Friends guffaw when I tell them about this, even my mother is surprised. And what amuses me is that I really enjoy this and often wonder why as a kid when I was supposed to be blissfully trying my hand at art I abhorred it so much. And now I may sound bonkers but the answer to this question brings me to something I passionately believe in and that is the incompleteness and inadequacy of the Indian education system. If this blog had enough readers a lot of them would have jumped out of their seats to defend the famed Indian School Education that produces great IITians, IIM Grads etc etc. I am not for a minute saying that Indian schools do not teach us to slog enough. But I am saying that they do not teach us to think enough, be creative enough and be individual enough. Every time I attend a training session which exhorts us to “think out of the box” the irony of it all never fails to amuse me. We spent all these years at great institutions of learning with only one agenda: “How to think within the strict confines of the box”, reading very specific text books, dealing with specific questions and answering back with even more specific replies. Very Strait Jacketed, no room for any lunatic doubts, no space for a different point of view and definitely no liberty to draw a house with crooked windows in a garden full of red grass under the green sky. And therefore I never drew and painted. I know you think this connection is abstruse but the fact is that it was very inconvenient for most teachers I encountered to let children draw what they wanted to rather than what had been carefully planned for them. I just found it very stifling to copy the “vase full of flowers” in all its perfection, coloring it in the colors prescribed by the text book.

Don’t even get me started on how competitive the Indian Schooling System is. The concept of “doing your best” does not resonate well with Indian teachers, students and parents alike. It always has to be THE best. An even more alien concept is “ENJOY what you do”. The truth is that I never enjoyed drawing and painting because I was never good at it and definitely not the best. The pictures I made were always “wrong”.

Fortunately time passed by and education (which has nothing to do with my degrees) liberated me enough to understand that it is not about drawing the “right” picture but only about a lazy Saturday afternoon in the balcony, sipping some tea and painting away without a care to the world.

“Viva Art Attack”