Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Meet the V's

A long conversation with the Balding Successor on life, the universe and everything earlier today left me at my pensive best. As I set about the task of setting right the many wrongs of the world, I couldn’t help but wonder how much lovelier a place the world would be if I’d inherited more from my kin than my family’s trademark wavy hair and a double chin. For over a decade now, the M family has marvelled in unison at how a ToI-reading cynic was born into a perfectly perfect TamBram family such as theirs. To be fair though, the feeling is mutual. My idea of a day well-spent is one with at least hundred miles between me and the nearest kinsman. Exceptions do exist, of course, in the form of my brother, my parents and a smattering of cousins, uncles and aunts from here and there.

I have always had a soft corner for Sister V, though. For one thing, she makes the best vengaaya sambar this side of the Vindyas. For another, the V’s are officially my guardians for my stay at R-Land. As rosy as it might all seem, setting off for their abode in Mayur Vihar Phase-1 is hardly the lovey-dovey homecoming it might seem. Nothing comes easy in life- and certainly not vengaaya sambar.

I have not seen a leech till date and hope I never do. When people narrate their encounters with the horrid creature, I try to picture the person in the V’s living room longingly eyeing the door. The V’s have an uncanny sense of hospitality, you see. No one is allowed to leave their abode until he/she is left gasping for freedom. Pleas, excuses, alibis and lies are all nonchalantly dismissed by Old Man V, capped off with one of his trademark apothegms. “Chandni Chowk is no longer the place it once was.” “Birthday parties are for toddlers.” “Weddings are for 30 year olds.” “Movies are for retards.” I once even claimed I wanted to visit the local temple only to be told by Old man V that temples in the North weren’t worth visiting, before setting off on his own version of the Canterbury Tales.

After delaying the inevitable for a month, I finally gave in and promised Sister V that I’d join them for dinner tonight. Reluctantly, I stand outside the Sector 19 telephone Exchange patiently awaiting the arrival of my beloved 323. I find I'm so agitated, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the agitation only an imprisoned man can feel, an imprisoned man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I don’t make it across the border. I hope Old Man V forgets that he even had a nephew named Dela. I hope the buildings in Mayur Vihar Phase-1 are yellower than they were in my nightmares. I hope.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Bigger, Longer, Uncut

Though hardly the haughty narcissist people often accuse me of being, I spend an unusual amount of time in front of the mirror. My average day begins with five whole minutes spent staring at my own visage, more often than not, analyzing my hairline with a deep sense of satisfaction. Considering that no male family member in living memory has crossed forty with his hairline intact, satisfaction could make way to a minor sense of triumph at having safely crossed the halfway mark if I chose to dwell on it. I don’t. Not today certainly. The battle wounds from the previous night’s momentary lapse of reason were still fresh and bare.

A rush of blood, an hour too many in the sun and I was off on a date with the nearest barber. ‘Cuting- Rs. 25; Shawing- Rs. 10’, the board declared in emphatic red text. I left the place twenty minutes later- some stubborn bargaining ensured that I was ‘cute’ and ‘shawen’ for as little as 30 bucks. I returned more than pleased with myself. And then it began. I still hadn't taken off my shoes. Even the aroma of the aftershave hadn’t yet died away completely. “What did you cut your hair with? A lawn mower?” enquired one. “Get yourself a native American head-dress,” suggested another.

More brickbats have followed over the course of the week. For my part, I still see nothing wrong with my haircut. We Tambis are simple folk, you see. Our mental faculties assess hair solely on a single parameter basis. It’s either long or it isn’t. My instructions to my barber too are plain and simple- "cut it short". The entire ’60 degrees from here, a furrow there, a ridge here' routine is well beyond me. The very profound, “Why is the world a wannabe?” springs to mind. 

I always found it fascinating that values, opinions and habits accrued over an entire lifetime could change in little over a second, or, as one lovely song put it, dafatan. The KFC incident, the Thomso conversation, the walk down Nanda Talkies Road last winter- my life is littered with epiphanies. I had another later that night.

Everton played Chelsea in a fairly one-sided FA Cup final at the new Wembley. For the first time in a while, I caught aglimpse of one Marouane Fellaini. My hair shall never be taken lightly ever again, I decided.