Friday, July 23, 2010

Unruly kid or poor parenting ?

So there we were in one of Bangalore's largest retail stores for clothing when we spotted a young couple and their noisy kid standing next to us. No different from the rest of the Bangalore's Sunday evening shopping crowd except for the fact that the dad was carrying the small kid who was whacking his mom with a rolled up newspaper. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw that. If he could do that to his own mom, I wondered what he would do to strangers who were within striking distance. Which is why I discarded my plan to shop from there.

Half an hour later I was checking the sneakers in another shop in the same mall when I saw the same unruly kid rolling around on the chairs that were there, thereby preventing others from sitting down & trying out different pairs of shoes. 15 minutes later we sat down to grab something to eat when we found the same couple sitting at a nearby table having an argument over how their kid was misbehaving. To make matters worse the kid started kicking the glass wall for no apparent reason. While we were watching the drama, the dad resorted to the age old technique that has put all kinds of mischievous kids in place - One Tight Slap (OTS). And then there was silence. Both at their table & ours.

Excuse me, do you have this in ....

The first time it happened it was embarrassing for me. The second time it was ok. Now Im so used to it that it doesnt bother me. But it does leave the other person extremely embarassed. And me laughing.

Its probably my 'helpful' face. Whatever the reason, I often get people coming up to me in stores asking me whether this shoe is available in other sizes or if there are different colours that are present etc. And when I explain that Im there to shop just like them they turn beetroot red.

Ive actually noticed that this happens to me irrespective of how I look / dress. Ive been clean shaven with short hair and dressed for the corporate world & still had people come up to me & ask for different sizes. Ive sported a grizzly gargantuan beard that kept almost everyone away. Except for those women who came & asked me if the same pair of shoes was available in pink.

Now Ive decided that the next time someone asks me something like this, Ill ask them to sit & wait while I go get them what they want and quietly walk out of the shop. So the next time you spend over 15 minutes waiting for the sales guy to bring you the same shoes in your size before getting irritated & walking out of the store, you know who youve spoken to.

One Massive Problem

We men been always been fascinated by the seemingly impossible to sever link between women and shopping that only a global recession could weaken. And now that the recession is slowly lifting we realise that we are, to be honest, helpless.

Today's men believe that they are expected to love their wives, work hard, put food on the table, provide shelter for the family and bring up the kids as best they can. Most women however believe that they were born to and hence, expected to shop till they almost drop. Just like Roger Federer was born to light up tennis courts and politicians are born to be corrupt. And if they dont buy anything they would like to go to malls. To decide on what to what to buy when they do shop.

How many times have men found their women (moms / sisters / cousins / girlfriends / wives) return from what was supposed to be a simple lipstick shopping trip with a car full of bags containing shoes, dresses, stoles, handbags, nail polish etc: ? Of course, women resort to one of the two proven and highly despicable shoe escape routes to explain how going to the mall to buy one lipstick ended up with a massive shopping bill.
Scenario 1 : "I saw that pair of shoes and I knew it would go perfectly with my green dress and so I had to buy it"
(Of course they dont explain why they bought the dress if they didnt have matching shoes in the first place ....)
Scenario 2 : "I saw those shoes and I thought they would go perfectly with a green dress"
" But you dont have a green dress "
" Errr which is why I also bought a green dress and then I saw this lovely top which goes so well with my red shoes and so I had to buy it as well ..."

Men being men have not sat back and let women call the shots. They have tried several different techniques (obviously without much success) in an effort to break this evil nexus between women and shopping. Nowadays if news of a company wide pay hike is imminent, men try to keep women away from newspapers, tv channels and colleagues only because women think that a pay hike means more money to spend. Some men have tried accompanying their women on shopping trips hoping that they will be able to curtail the inevitable expenditure. Unfortunately women see this as 2 extra hands to hold shopping bags which means more shopping. Some men have been trying for years to explain the concept of a shopping budget. Apparently its like throwing a glass of water into the sea. Some rather unwise men have tried confiscating their wives credit cards. Apparently the consequences were so severe that they meekly returned the cards within a few days. But help is at hand (contd...)

The Simple Solution - Neil's 8 Golden Rules

(Continued ....)
The answer to our prayers lies in few simple rules that I have developed based on my years of experience. So the next time you get invited to go shopping, stop pretending that watching golf on TV is interesting. Readily agree to go and ask them to bring their partners in crime. I mean friends. Initially remember to use discretion while offering your opinion (wont matter anyways). Slowly but surely they will warm up to the idea of you accompanying them & will even start asking you to help them decide. Which is when you bring out Neil's golden rules & follow them to the last letter.

Rule #1 - The most expensive dresses / bags etc: should be met with a "This is nice but it isnt really you"
Rule #2 - Rule #1 is very important since you are going to be footing the bill
Rule #3 - Dont blatantly search for the price tag & then say it isnt really you. Pretend that youre looking at the dress carefully (work your eyebrows a bit) & then casually check the price tag
Rule #4 - Dont just say this isnt really you and walk away. For the first 5 - 6 times, find something else that is equally good but lighter on the wallet. If you are in a stingy mood pretend not to like anything. Not recommended though.
Rule #5 - If you have gotten away with this 3 time in a row, take the initiative & find a nice item (lipstick, bangles, hand bags etc) and insist that you buy it for them. You do this once and they will not pick up anything for the next few shopping trips besides groceries.
Rule #6 - Do not underestimate the power of rule #5.
Rule #7 - Do not let the success of my advice get to your heads.
Rule #8 - Do not let these women get their hands on these rules !

Thursday, July 08, 2010

New medical condition discovered - Mental Asphyxiation

Everyone keeps telling us that we are unbelievably lucky to be staying virtually next door to a fashion college that is reputed to have the prettiest girls in town. Not true (the lucky bit not the pretty women part) I keep telling them but nobody believes me.

The problem is that these girls seem to suffer from what has been appropriately termed as 'mental asphyxiation'. Common symptoms include
- the inability to have a sensible conversation (we have unfortunately overheard enough and more of their illustrious conversations that unfailingly give us a headache each time)
- randomly bursting into a song in the middle of a nonsensical conversation (I am an unfortunate witness to this)
- joining other women who have randomly burst into a song in the middle of a nonsensical conversation
- dressing differently from the rest of the general public every day since they belong to a fashion college
- stand and blink for long intervals despite being surrounded by their friends
There might be other undiscovered symptoms as well but I am not willing to risk my mental well being by spending time observing the behavioural habits of these unfortunate victims. If you feel brave enough to carry on advanced studies in this field, do contact me but dont go around pointing fingers at me if your family kicks you out in 6 months for blabbering incoherently and / or walking around with golden streaks in your hair.

True story

A relative of mine was admitted to hospital recently and was doing research over the internet on his prescribed medicines . He sent a mail to his family saying " I just found out that one of the medicines is actually meant for horses. But thats ok, I always know I was a stud ..... "

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Buzz off !

It never really was David vs Goliath. We Cochinites have been waging a battle with the mosquitoes (fondly called 'mossies') for decades who have always ended up victorious. Being Indians our bodies have found ways to deal with it. The mosquito bites dont really leave very visible marks on our skin though foreigners have a torrid time here. We often think they have been attacked by a swarm of bees when in reality they have just woken up after a night spent tossing and turning while trying to chase away those darned mosquitoes. Plus our skin isnt really sensitive to their bites (the mossies not the foreigners).

I really have lost count of the number of times that Ive spotted mosquitoes too intent of feasting on my legs to notice my hand inching closer and closer to them until I send them back to their maker. Interestingly at least someone (or rather something) finds my legs attractive but I suspect that one would feel that I digress. In fact a friend of mine still fondly recollects how I was describing my losing battle to those mossies over chat while I was slouched in my chair in front of the computer with my feet on the table while typing with my right hand and swatting mosquitoes with a rolled up paper in my left hand.

The only thing worse than finding mosquitoes feeding off you is hearing their rather annoying buzz as they decide to fly around your ear when you are all tucked in and ready to sleep. This means to have to flail your arms (careful if youre married cause you might end up sleeping on the couch if you whack your better half) in the hope of chasing away those darned insects and quickly cover yourself up with your bedsheet while praying that you managed to keep everyone out (the mosquitoes not your better half, unless you prefer the couch that is).

To be fair the Corporation does spray water bodies and other potential breeding grounds before the breeding season of the mosquitoes. This season they seem to have done a good job as I barely seem to have spotted any mosquitoes and I havent killed one yet ! So there I was content, thinking I could enjoy the World Cup bereft of the company of my not so friendly insect friends when I heard the same annoying buzz come from my TV, courtesy those blasted vuvuzelas. So now I have to listen to that endless drone throughtout all the matches. In fact my ears still ring hours after Ive turned off the TV. Last I heard George Bush II was cursing because he has now found the prefect way to make illegally detained prisoners give up secrets without having to subject them to stripping, barking dogs, intimidation and water boarding. He was heard muttering "If only South Africa had held the last WC, the world would have been a better place...". Now that I think about it David didnt need his sling after all.

Through a looking glass of sorts

Its early June and each time I step out of my place in Bangalore I look out my window with a furrowed brow and worried eyes. The month of June heralds the arrival of the monsoon in southern India and the last thing I want to do is ride around in the rain and come down with a cold. Need to go get a packet of chips before the start of the World Cup match only to find that its pouring cats and dogs outside ? To hell with the chips then, Im not getting half soaked just to munch on something. People avoid commuting in Bangalore when its raining, the only problem being everyone thinks the same way. Which means that the roads are mucky and traffic is a royal pain the moment the rain lets up. Monsoon in Bangalore isn’t the most pleasant of times.

Its late June now and Im back at home in Cochin enjoying a well deserved break from all the corporate madness that Ive been subjected to. Im sitting by the window curled up with a book and enjoying the perfect setting that the cloudy gray sky provides. I feel the ever so soothing and yet gentle touch of a faint pre-rain breeze (Sadly most people dont even know what that is). I look out the window in anticipation. A flash of lightning in the distance. The eventual thunder roll. I count the seconds between the lightning and the accompanying thunder only to realise that Ive forgotten the calculation Im supposed to do with that number. The book is absorbing. Eventually I hear the sound of the incoming rain. It almost sounds like the rain God is saying 'Shhhh'.

Maybe its all about the window.