Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Reeling

I dodge behind a pillar when I see them approach. I wear sunglasses and avoid eye contact with anyone once I step outside the building. I even take the stairs if I see that the lift is already occupied by one whole person.

You never know whom she’s gone and made friends with.

No, I haven’t suddenly decided to enter the gumshoe business, nor am I practicing writing a bad spy novel. What I am doing, is reeling in the aftermath of the four-foot-ten-inch hurricane of friendliness and outgoing that is my mother.

She was here for two days. Two measly days. And in those two days? She went and befriended, advised and made life-long devotees of everybody within a ten-mile radius of my life.

My frequent admonitions through gritted teeth as I tugged on her sari aanchal, were of no avail. No amount of - “Ma! Stop smiling at strangers in the lift!” and “You don’t have to make conversation with the sabziwalla for christ’s sake!” or even “Please ma, let him drive his cab. Do we really need to know which part of UP he’s from?” - helped. And now she’s gone, and left me to fend for myself against this sea of super-friendly strangers.

Somedays I am convinced that I am a victim of a baby-swapping episode.

In the last one-year, all my lift rides had been spent in a peaceful contemplative silence during which the lift-attendant and I conducted in-depth studies of our personal footwear. I wondered whether my shoelaces were tied into perfect bows, how the pink swoosh contrasted nicely against the dark blue background, whether the soles were bouncy enough…you know? Lift thoughts. Now? I am suddenly and without warning being addressed as ‘baby’ ('baby'??) and asked solicitous questions about whether the house-keeping staff turn up on time, whether my bai is doing her work well and that if I ever need anything, I only need to inform security to send ‘Manoj’.

Every gaggle of aunties I meet now, accosts me with friendly cries of “Hello beta! You must tell your mummy that the boy/medicine/yoga exercise she recommended for my young-female-relative/age-related-ailment/random-joint-pain worked wonderfully! She’s getting married! / I’m cured! /Look at me do cartwheels now!” At which I can only smile weakly and reply, “Yes auntie, I definitely will” because I have no idea who these women are.

The sabziwallas now all flash friendly smiles at me, conduct conversations in Bhojpuri, which I don’t understand and offer me vegetables I don’t know how to cook. When I tell them I cannot understand a word they are saying, they laugh and say, “Achcha aap nahin samajhti hain? Koi baat nahin. Apni mataji ko hamari taraf se namaste kah dijiyega.”

The neighbours, whom till today, I only knew as the people who shifted their furniture at odd hours of the night, now stop me and tell me what a nice, friendly, social lady my mother is.

I have to fight the temptation to lean against their shoulders and brokenly sob, “You don’t know the half of it!”

I’m sure my real mother is a quiet, reclusive academic, who lives in a small, secluded cottage in some remote hill station. And then I wonder how she must cope with her unintentionally adopted miniature hurricane.

***

Update on the Baby Front:
The only thing more horrifying than your mother telling you to start making babies, is when she starts telling you how.

Excuse me while I go and pick up my ears. They sort of melted off the sides of my head while she was talking.

18 comments:

the saint said...

ha ha ha! Pore you

ggop said...

ROTFL on the update! I hear ya :-)
About moms, some of them sure are friendly. They can talk to anyone and everyone. I think the quiet academic thing is a myth. My mom was an academic throughout her career and she certainly fit the profile of your mom.
gg

Revealed said...

LOL! I too suspect myself of being a changeling! Cos it isn't just my mum, it's my whole family. It's not just that they're bonkers but they're unabashedly unreservedly bonkers! They try to *include* people in their insanity! Most trying!

(And though WV said 'gee! freaks!!!' (gfrks) at me, I'm not going to comment on it cos I'm nothing if not reasonable, and it's true that there are no more desperate viagra vendors lurking around)

Falstaff said...

“Hello beta! You must tell your mummy that the boy/medicine/yoga exercise she recommended for my young-female-relative/age-related-ailment/random-joint-pain worked wonderfully! She’s getting married! / I’m cured! /Look at me do cartwheels now!”

...is hilarious. I can't help thinking through all the different combinations mixing those up could lead to. Think of all the age-related ailments a fine upstanding boy could cure. It's enough to make an aunty do cartwheels.

The Great Ganesha said...

"Lift thoughts." hilarious! nicely done.

30in2005 said...

Can I just say that this is the exact same problem I have with my mother - she lands up for 2 weeks and befriends everyone in utterly unfriendly London - porter, all neighbours, check-out people in supermarket, bus drivers, park keepers, counter lady's in pharmacy....the list is endless.

I have learnt to live with it and studiously ignore polite inquiries, behave as if I have no idea whom people are refering to and generally go back to grouchy self as soon as she has left!

I feel yer pain!

The Chronic Skeptic said...

The Saint: I'm confused now. Are you laughing at my predicament or sympathising with me? :S

Ggop:
Aren't all academics quiet and reclusive? Well *fine* then, I'll just have to come up with an alternate profession for her.

Hmmph!

Revealed: Your family sounds suspiciously like my family.

"Kya tumhaare haath pe bhi trishool ka nishan hai??

Falstaff: Ooo! That's brilliant! :D And maybe yoga exercises to find a suitable boy (although in a weird twisted way I can actually see that happening)?

The Great Ganesha: Hello new person! And thank you, glad you liked. :)

30in2005: I'm trying very hard to go back to my grouchy self, but I panic when I'm smiled at by aunties and the reflex action is to just smile back.

These mothers, I tell you!

Revealed said...

Aaahaa! Parted at birth, were we? :P

(This might make the best Bollywood movie EVER, cos *even* I am now confused as to who was adopted/orphaned/abandoned/changelinged when).

(WV: urnnxhwr : I'm not going to even *try* to decipher that, but it's something earth-shattering, I'm sure)

Amodini said...

I know exactly how you feel. My mom is a super-social person, and she and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum. When I go back visiting, I meet lots of aunties - all my mom's good friends, who come to meet me (amazingly), and are vastly surprised that I'm so "quiet".

Beth said...

See, what happened is, I got your mother. My professor mother is usually quite content to keep to herself (even though she's from the southern US, where most people will talk even to a post). You can send me yours and have her find me one of those afore-mentioned boys.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

lol!!!! i remember how my best friend always thought my mom is so sweet and soft-spoken..until she came and lived in our house for a few days. all illusions disappeared.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Very neat piece of writing. If this is the effect your mom has on you, maybe she should visit more often.

J.A.P.

Szerelem said...

Thankfully, my mom is reclusive like me!!

The only thing more horrifying than your mother telling you to start making babies, is when she starts telling you how. Sorry, but I could not help but burst out laughing at this.

Re Revealed and you bein seperated at birth, the first step should be asking whether you visited a Kumbh mela as kids, no?

Diviya said...

ha ha ha, your mum is cute!

The Chronic Skeptic said...

Revealed:

This might make the best Bollywood movie EVER…
YOU want to be in a Hollywood movie too?! That proves it without a doubt, we be of one blood, ye and I!

(temple bells ring madly in the background, lightning flashes)


Amodini:
Ooh yes! Sometimes I even feel a little bad for them, the poor things. They try so hard and all they get is monosyllabilic replies, if that.

Beth:
A mother who keeps to herself? Do you realize what a rare, precious jewel you have there? Send her back!

Re: my mother and the aforementioned boys:
She used to use a word to describe them: susanskrit. Translated into English that just means cultured, but if you are familiar with (my)mommy-speak what it really means is ‘Vegetarian, teetotaler, spineless and guaranteed to bore you out of your pants’.

Why do you think I moved to Bombay?

TGFI:

Well, my mother has never left any room for pretty illusions. She's a true student of the WYSIWYG school of thought. *sigh*

J.A.P:
Why, thank you! You’re nice sometimes.

>If this is the effect your mom has on you, maybe she should visit more often.

I’ll stick with average writing. And my sanity, if it’s okay with you.


Szerelem:
>Thankfully, my mom is reclusive like me!

Oh right, go ahead and dangle your mom in my face, why don’t you? Hmmph!

>The first step should be asking whether you visited a Kumbh mela as kids, no?

Oh we’ve sorted that one out. Read above.

Diviya:
Your mum is cute!

Well, yeah, she is...mostly. :)

Shripriya said...

This is hilarious. My mother is so friendly, she has actually befriended a complete stranger and found me a friend in a new city once! At least she has good taste - I am still friends with that person.

Akshat Kaul said...

this is one of the very few times i've really laughed out loud while reading a blog.

you have found yourself a fan. and a fan has found you :-) .

Anonymous said...

Just fell off my chair laughing.What can I say D... except that I hear you.As a fellow sufferer of the "Hurricane Momma" syndrome all I can do is shake my head in mutual sympathy :).

Ps: Thanks for reminding me why I enjoyed reading your blog.You Go gurllll!!!

SteppenWulf.(Though the clue is fairly obvious,go figure :) )