Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Remedy

Have you ever blamed a compliment on your saree  for the blob of malai kofta curry you dropped on the pallu subsequently? The evil eye! Your admirer's  expansiveness turns to guilty dismay, "I should have gushed less!" You recover shakily to assure, "It is alright, I will have it drycleaned, " but the moment is marred. As a rule, Indians have a colicky equation with admiration. We are spasmodic, both at giving and receiving it. How often have you drooled over a friend's silver bracelet only to be hastily assured it is a cheap imitation? She fears your envy! Or doesn't want you to feel any lesser. "What a gorgeous bag!" you exclaim. The wearer splutters, "Oh, it is very old, a hand me down from an aunt." If sounding ungracious helps save mishaps, so be it. We must be the world's most comorbid race. We acknowledge envy exists and  guard ourselves with mantras, chillies, limes, prayers and charms. We spit, make frantic signs, rip white rags into seven strips,  swirl camphor smoke and emanate a range of audio effects to banish ill will. Families store and apply these formulas as traditional, customized arsenal. A runny tummy? Out springs a fistful of rock salt. Falling grades? Water and kumkum. Emotional rejection? Wait, we have the perfect poultice of mustard seeds. And the all time, all favourite Indian domestic deterrent to rival the Tsar Bomba? A black dab from the adoring eye.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Donkey

Have you niggled yourself occasionally that you failed in life on
the projection front? That you remained a donkey at work rather than a peacock. All plodding, no show. You were not street smart enough to give your boss a peak into your late night home work and traffic lights notations. You were raised to believe that hard work paid! No one said anything about its qualifying visibility! You laboured over a near flawless report but there it was, your plain plastic cover tucked under your rival's ethnic themed folder on the Vice President's table. While you were racing back from a last minute administration tie up, he was rounding off the "With your blessings" routine. Your sincere interactive sessions with your juniors paled in comparison with  his resourceful hobnobbing at the executive table. While you flailed to keep up on a sputtering stream of organizational loyalty, he flew on the asics of unadulterated self-interest. You kicked yourself every September when report cards were being rolled out. Why didn't you update your boss more regularly? Why did you get boxed into a hole? Why did you get defensive when being criticised? Why didn't you raise your head from the grindstone once in a while? Then along came the man himself one day, asking you to stand in for him at a graduation speech while he went globe trotting to pitch business proposals. He tossed you his prepared text, "Here, should you want to use it. The topic is: Hard work does not speak for itself. You do!"