Thursday, September 24, 2009

So many pedestrians, so little time...

To the Licensing Authorities who dole out driving licences very leniently to women, I'd like to make just one suggestion--Don't.

Don't get me wrong here. I love women, especially since I am one myself. I think they are brilliant and beautiful (except for the ditsy ones), but good drivers they are not.

This particular rant has been brought on by me having to spend about 20 minutes longer in traffic this morning than I should have, only because a woman driver, who came to a diversion, couldn't decide which road to take. She sat there, sans seat-belt, peering left and then right, and then heavenwards, looking for a signboard, I presume, or perhaps, a sign from God. Most normal people would, at this point, roll the window down and ask for directions. Note here that I said normal people, which naturally excludes men, since they would not ask for directions even if they were lost in the deep, dark recesses of the Amazon jungle, surrounded on one side by cannibals, and on the other side by a very hungry anaconda. It's against their male pride or something, as I understand it.

So this lady does not think of asking for directions from the half-dozen or so people surrounding her car and glaring at her angrily. She chooses instead, to call someone on her cellphone, to ask where she should go, gesticulationg the whole time she speaks, as if that person can actually see her. All this while there's a cacophony outside her car, to which she is oblivious, apparently, and even finds a few seconds to laugh at a joke the person at the other end of the line has cracked.

Impatience and rage has washed over the traffic like a wave, and I'm afraid the guy driving the earth-mover is actually going to mow her car down and flatten it like a bottle-cap. Finally, a traffic warden comes upto her car and knocks on the glass. She looks up at him and nods as if to say, 'Yeah, yeah, I'm going. Why's everyone having a baby about this?''

The warden shakes his head as if to say, 'Women!' and waves the traffic on.

So, my proposal is that we change the rules to ensure that women are required to pass a driving test every 6 months, just to check that in that very short span of time, they haven't forgotten a few vital things, like say, switching on the left indicator when they actually mean to switch on the left, or for that matter, switching the indicator on at all. Or trying to park their six-foot wide car in a parking space that is about five-and-a-half-feet wide. So, to my fellow women I 'd like to say--

Ladies, in case you haven't noticed, your car is not a sponge. You cannot squeeze it in to tiny spaces, and the space does not magically expand to accomodate the car.

It would really help if you could save the very important conversation with your daughter about what she did at school today till after you reach home and are safely within the confines of the four walls of your home, where you no longer endangering human lives.

Try to resist the urge to drive very large cars that make you look like you are a squirrel trying to steer the Titanic. At the very least, it will severely limit your visibility and cause you to create dents, scrapes and scratches on the car for which your husband/boyfriend will secretly hate you for the rest of your life, because the bitter truth is that, yes, he does love his car more than he loves you. Deal with it.

Another helpful hint is to try to learn the names of the parts of your vehicle. It's very difficult for people to help you if you say things like, "Oh, I don't know what's wrong. There's smoke coming out of the thingie with all the wires in it, you know?" No, they don't know. You wouldn't go to the Doc and say " I have a pain in the part of my body that digests food and has inlet and outlet pipe-like thingies." You'd say 'stomach', wouldn't you? Same principle applies here.

Before you ever dream of getting behind a steering wheel, learn how to change a tyre. Standing with your hands on your hips and staring at the flat tyre helplessly does not in any way cause the tire to repair itself and self-inflate.

Oh, and if your car starts making strange unfamiliar sounds, please call someone's attention to it, to avoid scenarios like--

Boyfriend (BF)   : What's that sound?

Woman              : What sound?

BF                     : That knocking sound.

Woman              : Oh, that! I don't know, really.

BF                     : How long has it been making this sound?

Woman              : Oh, I dunno. About a week?

BF                     : A week? Why didn't you tell me?

Woman:             : Oh, it slipped my mind! And anyway, I figured that it's something minor, because the car's still running fine.

Ladies, these kinds of conversations and logic usually cause BFs/ husbands to have minor brain aneurysms, so if you love the person in your life, and are a law-abiding citizen and care about yourself and humanity in general, do yourself a favour. Get a driver.

Friday, September 18, 2009

With friends like me, who needs enemies?

On Sunday, I call J and ask him if he wants to go to the Landmark bookstore. Yeah sure, he does, and I'm ringing the doorbell to his apartment at 11 a.m.

He opens the door, dressed in cargo shorts and a t-shirt that has four thin, disgruntled-looking guys on it. It reads the 'Dead Kennedys' but there's no picture of Bobby, Ted or JFK on it. I mention this to J, and he looks as me as if I'm a retard (yes, I know the PC term is 'mentally-challenged', but since I'm only thinking it in my head and not saying it out aloud, I'm sure I can get away with it without being burned at the stake). I have been, since birth, compulsively curious about facts that are totally useless and irrelevant to my existence, so I persist. "Look it up," is all he says.

He smells of last night's stale smoke and cologne, mingled with sweat and something unidentifiable.

"J, " I say (and I can say this to him because we're chaddi-buddies) "have you had a bath today?"

"No, of course not. It's Sunday" he says, by way of an explanation. I blink, taking a few seconds to digest this, because I'm sure it was said with the intention of making sense.

"So is that a religious thing?" I ask, "not bathing on Sundays?"

"No. It's a guy thing" he says. "It's a me thing. I don't shave on Sundays either" he says, rubbing his hands over his stubbly jaw rather proudly, and defiantly, I think. I should know stuff like this about a guy I've been friends with ever since he puked all over my dress at my third birthday party, right? I'm disgusted by this blatant disregard and total lack of personal hygiene, so the words tumble out before I can stop them. "So do you even not shit on Sundays? Is that a part of your 'guy thing' too?"

J, without moving a single facial muscle--"Nah, that I do. Sometimes even more than twice."

Ewwwwww! Information overload. I did not need to know that.

"Could you at least comb your hair?" I implore, and then squeak miserably, "please?"

"Sure" he says, and he runs his fingers thorough his hair. It looks exactly the same as before.

"NOW!" says a voice inside my head, and I let the words fall carefully, like dropping the last coin I have into the telephone slot.

"Oh, did I tell you? M called me earlier. She'll be meeting us there later. Is that okay?" I ask, my eyes widening innocently. I can see his ears twitch involuntarily, like a dog's, and then " M? No, that's cool, " he says nonchalantly.

M's this girl that J has a thing for. He's been completely and irrevocably in luuurrrve with her for about 1 year, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days and, oh, about 8 hours. He turns into a blithering blob of self-concious jello everytime he's around her- a fact, he believes, that has totally escaped everyone's attention.

J hasn't stepped over the threshold as yet. He's considering something, and a voice in my head (one of the many that live there) says, "That was so below the belt!"

"You know, you're right" he says, heading back towards his bathroom. " Since we're going out and all, I guess I should change my t-shirt."

Splashing. Closet doors slam. Something falls. He curses. He emerges, dressed in jeans and an ironed shirt, with matching shoes and belt, and smelling of something divine. 'Joop!' I'm guessing. Total time taken -12 minutes and 53 seconds. The stubble's still there, but I have found it in my heart to somehow be more forgiving about that now. He's even combed his hair, and looks sweet, like Mama's little boy about to be taken out for ice-cream on a Sunday evening.

We reach the store, and he pretends to shop. Once I have picked up whatever I want, I give it to him to hold, and go to the washroom. I hold my hands under the dryer and dry one finger at a time, brush my hair, re-apply my make-up, check if there's anything stuck between my teeth. Nice and slow. I come out eventually and say, "Let's bill this stuff." He can bear it no more, and he bursts out with " Er...did M call?"

My hand flies to my mouth and I roll my eyes. Ladies and Gentlemen, and the award for Best Actress goes to...

"Oh, she called while I was in the washroom. She can't make it, because she needs to do some stuff for her mom. I told her it was okay. Maybe next time." There's a loud crash, and invisible pieces of his shattered heart fly everywhere, scattering all over the floor and hitting other shoppers in the eye ( I imagine). "But, since we're here and you're looking so good" I continue, as I link my arm through his and walk out of the store, "why don't we go for lunch to someplace nice? My treat."

He sighs. 1 year, 3 months, 1 week, 6 days and 11 hours now. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm breathless!

I've been really breathless the past couple of weeks. Not the ditsy, 'Breathless-Mahoney-from-Dick-Tracy' kind of breathless. The actual 'unable-to-inhale-oxygen' kind of breathless. At once, I jump to the conclusion that I have Swine Flu, though I display only one of the ten or so symptoms, and am convinced I am going to die, so the doctor tells me to go to the Chest Hospital. Chest Hospital? They have a hospital for chests? Okay, I say, and troop off. In my state of oxygen-deprivation, I can't help thinking that if you went to the doc and she asked you "What's the problem?" and you said "Well, my chest's a size 32B but I'd really like it to be a 36C", would she look at you strangely, or would she just laugh? As you can probably tell, the oxygen supply to my brain is depleting really fast and I'm shortly going to be pronounced brain-dead.

I'm wearing an N95 mask in the hospital, and the particles from the mask are tickling my nose and getting into my mouth, and making the situation worse. I'm scared to take it off, though, because this looks like just the place to be attacked by primed and ready-for-action specimens of the virus.

They're quite courteous and all, the staff, which I find very surprising indeed, considering that this is a Govt. hospital (one of the few authorised to treat Swine Flu cases), and everything's where it should be. The departments have neat boards outside them, and the counters, files, vials and everything else is numbered. 5S, I think. They've been subjected to 5S too! They take a sample of my blood and put it in a little vial. They label it. They have a problem with my name. Most people can never spell it or pronounce it right. I help them with it. Yes, yes, S-W-I-N-G, I say, like in 'jhoola'. The x-ray technician makes me turn around and press my chest to a metal plate (yes, it's one of those old-fashioned things) and for a moment I feel like I'm going to be executed, western-style, where the captive is told to turn around, and is then shot.

They ask me to come back for my reports the next day, which I do. My blood's OK, it says. My Hb's 13.8. Healthy as a horse. All the other numbers on the report are in blue too, and nothing is in red, which means that all's right with the world.

I take my chest x-ray and look at it. Hmmm...I tend to think my chest is the size of a pigeon's, but this looks more like the x-ray of, say, an eagle's chest, perhaps. I bring it to their attention, that this looks a bit...large. The technician's assistant looks at my chest and then at the x-ray, as if to confirm. The assistant's a woman, which is a good thing for her, else she'd have been missing a tooth or two, by now. She checks and comes back with another x-ray, with something scribbled onto the report. I hold the x-ray up. Yes, this looks more like my rib-cage. I take it to the doctor, who peers at the unintelligible scrawl on the report. She mutters under her breath, something on the lines of "What the f*&% does this mean? Why can't they write more clearly?" She thinks perhaps that I don't understand what she's saying, because I've been speaking to her only in Hindi and English. She assumes therefore, that I don't understand Marathi, and swears some more. She holds the x-ray up in the light for a little while longer, and I look too. All I can see is an uneven patch in the middle of my chest. She decides that the report, which reads 'Mo chger mendutir +' or something to that effect, DOES NOT say 'H1N1 infection' or 'Swine Flu', so she prescribes me enough medication to kill a Great White Shark, and smiles when I leave. I am relieved ( I think).

So here I am, five days later, drugged to the eyeballs, and still unable to breathe. I just took my last dose of the medication this morning, and I noticed that this is the same as the medication they give Swine Flu patients. Yikes! So if I had it, it's now gone. I'm going to another doctor today who will, I'm sure, insist on another slew of tests, but this time, I'm going to insist on typed reports in English, not in Klingon. So there!