What is the difference between a cave man and a flat dweller? Really, nothing much. Both shut themselves behind a seemingly secure entrance. Both needed/ need to venture out into big, bad and dangerous world every morning with weapons. What are these weapons? For cave man it is club and similar arms to crush the life of his potential feed. Today, such weapons have shrunk in size. They are mobile phones, blackberrys , Ipads, tables (larger , the better)lap tops (lifeless tops and not lively ones). The dress code has changed. From garments which match the climate, we wear dresses most inappropriate either to the climate or our own body structure. Well, we have progressed a lot.
Every morning when I venture out of my flat with several of the weapons listed above, I wonder which of them would be of greatest use that day. The present day skill is to kill your opponents such that they continue to live but with lot of internal bleeding. I know it well, after all my boss is black belt degree holder in this art ( belt is made of mix of tiger, lion and buffalo skin).
I have always wondered whether cave man would have a weekly break or would he have to work all the seven days. Any way I enjoy a five day week. In the midst of it, there came two holidays, which my co-cave dwellers did not have. Padma is giving company to my daughter and so I would be enduring solitary confinement during the day.
Priya completed the lunch and breakfast preparation in a flurry, tasted a few morsels of breakfast and packed a small sample for lunch (her employer – a foreign based bank- frowns on any lunch that takes more than 180 seconds to 300 seconds). My son Anand, works with a more benign employer (having significant level of Indian Government blood and parentage) and can have an Hindusthani attitude to physical nourishment. Both of them rushed out (every day all of us leave together) leaving me in splendid isolation.
I started my morning prayer believing that God also would be more relaxed and would be able to give undisturbed attention to my regular submissions. Instead of five to seven Power Point Slides, I could insert slide number eight and nine of the back up set. These contained the right model number of Bose Home Theatre, vacation in South America to see Isuzu Waterfalls (biggest in the earth). Back up slides 1 to 6 were regularly scheduled on Saturday and Sunday.
I commenced my communication meeting with God and had begun to catch his attention when the door bell rang. It was for collecting the waste from the rubbish bin. In my hurry to complete this chore, the wet waste (kept separately) spilled slightly. I cursed my clumsiness and spent some time cleaning it up. I then resumed my communication. I hoped God’s attention did not stray to my next floor neighbor who, I suspected, was vying for God’s attention. I believed I had an edge as his mother tongue was different and we all knew that God communicated only in Tamil.
I was about to commence the puja with flowers when the servant maid rang the bell (disturbing my tempo) and walked in briskly with a jadu. She seemed to be determined to sweep anything that lay in her path. I decided that discretion is better part of valor and repaired to another room and to be safe sat on the cot and resumed the interrupted missives to God.
There is an old saying that religion is the opiate of the masses. I have a lingering suspicion that religion can turn into an obsession unless its place in our life is viewed and understood in the right perspective. So before mind became totally focused on breakfast, I ended my prayers and turned my attention to more worldly matters.
I believe that Breakfast is the best meal of the day and never hurry through it. I had just commenced when the phone rang. It was Padma’s friend inviting her for some program. Women and brevity are normally mutually exclusive. So I watched my breakfast slowly turning cold while she wound down her long explanation on some program at another location where Padma’s participation was eagerly expected (headcount issue?) .
The most powerful weapon in the house is the TV Remote. I had undisturbed possession of it and commenced what many state as their hobby in employment application form- surfing the TV. Every channel seemed to believe that only Home Makers watched TV during the “happy hours” and telecast only cooking related shows. The cuisine related to Italy, Greece, France, vegetables with exotic colors , non vegetarian dishes (I am a vegetarian) and everything other than what we normally consumed.
Next was movie channels. I was sure there would be some action movie or thriller going on in some channel. These seemed to follow the ‘happy hours’ routine with movies relating to family/feminine issues. Every movie seemed to have women undergoing unknown/complicated issues (to me at least). The only action I could see was in a dubbed version of a Telgu movie in which in which everybody was speaking some outlandish version of Hindi in a comical manner and human bodies were flying at frequent intervals defying normal laws of gravity.
I gave up and comforted myself by watching old movie songs and reading the latest pulp borrowed from the library. The hero was about to extricate himself from a tight situation when the door bell rang. It was courier with a renewed credit card and wanted proof of identity. It took me ten minutes to complete the process of getting a credit card thrust on me by an enthusiastic saleswoman (on phone).
By now I was tired and fell into Dhyan Mudra for the next 90 minutes. I was almost close to touching my favorite deity when the laundry man came to deliver the ironed clothes and wanted payment for the last month’s bill. Tallying of his bill with our records and payment took the next half an hour. I was wondering whether it would be worthwhile to make tea or skip it when the old newspaper chap came.
By now, it was already 5.30. It was as though I had been in the midst of a tight back to back schedule. Padma rang up to ask me to go to the next building to meet her friend and to pass on gift for a marriage which she would not be able to attend.
By now , I could well understand why women preferred to work , even in a drudge dead end job, rather than get stuck to house hold chores. An office environment assists in working in a structured manner with all conveniences at your beck and call. To convert a house into a home requires immense and very subjective efforts which we sometimes let go of.
Should I express appreciation of Padma’s efforts or should I reserve it and dish it out in small installments like dessert?
Let me ask her what she prefers. After all she decides in all such matters.
*House Husband (HH)