Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Jab bhagwaan deta hai...

...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?


Tabula Rasa said...

the mind throbs at the picture of you burning with a quiet efficiency. great slipper indeed.

Falstaff said...

Re: Insight 2 - of course, the other way to think about it is to be more picky about who you work with. Random enterprise application trainers are a dime a dozen, but a really good Puck-man is hard to come by. (pun not really intended, but gleefully discovered)

Jabberwock said...

I had childhood visions of a giant slipper in the sky too! Always thought there was some connection with those scenes in serials/films where you see people bending down and touching footwear with their foreheads, or holding chappals reverently in their hands.

??! said...

aaaaaaaaaaaaaand she's back.

this post was just a wonderful start to the day. especially the Andheri bit. So true. But also, Mahim.

good on you about the job. so this means less posts than normal?

IdeaSmith said...

LOL woooomahn, you're hilarious! If I had any reservations about your new job turning you boring and ordinary like the rest of us, by God, I was wrong!! And for a change, I'm thrilled about it! :-D

Chronicus Skepticus said...

TR: 'S not THAT hard to imagine - I can *totally* burn with quiet efficiency. I'm positively aglow with the stuff right now.


*slow blink*

Ah! Got it. I wait...oh what the hell - Falstaff, what on *earth* is a 'Puck-man'??

Jabberwock: Jai, I have *never* felt closer to you.

(Which is, I suppose, something both of us are very relieved about :D).

I never made the connection between the GS in the S and *real* footwear though. Except for the obvious 'Slippers made slippers in their own image' deal.

??!:'re so sweet, thank you!

I haven't been in/around Mahim much - and now I guess that's a good thing.

Re: The posts
God I *hope* not! :s

Smithy: *Such* a sweetie she is!

BTW, 'boring and ordinary'? The last time I checked, boring and ordinary did NOT come with horns and a tail. ;D

sumant said...

Wait, your mother gave you advice on choosing tonsil-hockey partners?

And here I was thinking that we were the liberated generation! Clearly, I live in some kind of warped timeline. No, make that time-circle, since we do, after all, become our parents in the end.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

You get better and better. Wunnaful.

Except when you link to Arundhati Ray. Gak.


Falstaff said...

From Wikipedia : "Puckman is the official mascot of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's men's and women's ice hockey teams."

Kind of Robin Goodfellow meets hockey jock. Plus obviously the connections to peck and pucker, not to mention things that rhyme with Puck.

Revealed said...

Count me in the whatitsnotaslipperinthesky gang. Course it'd make a lot more sense if it was a slipperinthesky. (By it, I mean life in general, and god in particular.)

Akshay said...


??! said...

kyun ji? Do hafte ho gaye. This is called regular?

Chronicus Skepticus said...

Sumant: We-e-ll, I took a few "creative liberties" with that one. What she's more likely to have said was, "Young lady, if I ever catch you within a 3-foot-radius of a boy, your ass is going to get a whuppin' it will NOT forget!" :)

J. Alfred Prufrock:
Eh? Since when did YOU start being nice? But umm...thank you.

As for AR, I know nothing about her as a person, but I think she's a *very* good writer.

Falstaff: Ah! It (sorta) all makes sense now.

As for things that rhytme with Puck, I am SO glad that (in this instance) things did not get to THAT stage.

The pictures in my head would've been...*WAAAY* more worrying.

Yikes, and also, ick!

Revealed: Good golly, you too?!

So essentially, there were these hordes of kids who not only imagined a giant bounteous slipper in the sky, but also thought it completely normal? MAN, kids are weird.

And a winsome smile right back at you, no-longer-illegal-one. :)

??!: *tracing circles in sand* We meant to, honest we did! Only, y'know, employment got in the way and well, there was barely enough time to breathe let alone blog and, well, you know how it is. (You *do* know, right?)

So what we'll do NOW, is not make any promises. :)

P.S. Y'know, I don't know what it is about this comment, but it reminded me of someone I used to know. Creepily. As in, he was kinda creepy.

You're not from Jodhpur are you? (Please, *please* say you're not!)

upsilamba! said...

main kya phir gayab?????

Anonymous said...

But CHappal doesn't really sound that much like CHappar