...chhappar phaad ke deta hai.
I was, I think, about 7 years old when I first heard this phrase. The mental images which came with it were fascinating because I hadn't a clue what a chhappar was and had promptly mentally substituted it with the similar sounding chappal. The picture in my head therefore, was that of a benevolent (if slightly batty) god, who stored a goonie-esque stash of loot in the soles of his giant Kolhapuris (they were thick-ish soles). On days when he was pleased, he'd rip the insole (upsole? what do you call the upper half of a Kolhapuri chappal?) in two and tip a cascade of treasure into your house from his giant slipper in the sky.
I remember finding this system a little odd, but who was I to argue? He was god, he moved in mysterious ways.
And that phrase (with the chappaR as opposed to the chappaL) pretty much sums up what all of October has been about.
So first, there was the Series of Mysterious Ailments in which a bunch of dastardly viruses decided to make my body their own personal island of fun. My temperature would zip from one end of the thermometer to another, leaving me struggling to either pull on three blankets, or weakly kick them off. Most annoying it was (although for a couple of delirious minutes, just before the shivering set in I'd think, "Ooh...winter! In Delhi!" and get all happy).
Then the fever came down and the deafness happened, only it wasn't real deafness* - just a sort of internal deafness which blanketed all outside sounds but magnified the inside-your-head noises ONE HUNDREDFOLD. To get an idea what I'm talking about, plug your ears with your fingers and chew on a piece of toast. I swear to you, you will never see toast in the same light again. I spent a good three days listening in wide-eyed wonder, to the sounds of my mastication (which, I know, sounds terribly dirty but isn't).
THEN there is employment. Full time, five days a week, with a pretty paycheck at the end of the month thank you very much. It is with a division of the Big Bawa Company (henceforth referred to as the BBC) and so far, after eight days of being an employee, I can say that it's been good. Day 1 went by mostly figuring out the most essential things: where the loos were, what kinda food the canteen served and how many cups of coffee I could drink before people would start looking worried and back away slowly when I started to talk to them (for the record, it's four), and the subsequent days have just been packed.
Employment has come with it's own bunch of insights which have, more or less, nothing to do with the job itself.
Insight 1: Andheri = Hell. Allow me to recount a conversation I had with an auto-walla, one rainy day in August. The autowalla, his auto and I were stuck in knee-deep water (this is 2007, mind you. NOT 2005), traffic hadn’t budged an inch in the last half an hour and horns were blaring all over the place.
Autowallah: (In a voice dripping with weariness) Madam, aapko maalum hai yeh jagah kya hai?
Me: Er...Andheri? Aapko nahin maalum kya??
Autowallah: Madam...yeh jagah...jahannum hai, JAHANNUM!!
(Fierce blowing of auto horn)
Insight 2: Your mother (by which I actually mean mine) was right when she told you to be picky about the boys you chose to play tonsil-hockey with. Because many years down the line, when you find yourself working with one such boy, while on the surface you may be discussing things like lesson plans and scripting and enterprise application training, the one thought running around in your head will be OH MY GOD THIS MAN'S TONGUE WAS ONCE IN MY MOUTH. Disconcerting, girls and boys, is the word we're looking for.
Insight 3: I have turned into my father. After making a career of being a directionless drifter, I have turned into one of those people who *thrive* under pressure and boy, is THAT a shock for MY system. In the last week and a half, I've had deadlines that would normally have me curled up on the floor crying, but the newly-employed me? She is calm and collected. She is going in to work early, making lists (the ailments have obviously affected a chromosomal mutation) and positively burning with a quiet efficiency.
You know you fight it. You're rebellious, you drink, you (try to) smoke, you get tattoos, piercings, and a collection of exes that make you cringe and still, one fine day you will wake up and find that you have turned into your parents. That life, she's got a sick sense of humour.
Oh and by the way god / giant slipper in the sky? Since this is officially the end of October (AKA the Month in which It All Happened at Once), you can go easy now. No, really, I wouldn't mind. NO. SERIOUSLY, STOP IT!
* And smartypants family shall refrain from commenting about how ‘You can’t lose what you ain’t got’. You're all deaf anyway. And maybe I'm not deaf, maybe you just all need to be more interesting? Y’ever think of that?