Saturday, April 28, 2007

The female of the species...

Never do I crave more for a sister; than when my mom calls out -
"Sagar, will u accompany me to buy my saree..."
"Nahi ma... got work...", i dismiss...
"But u do so much for your friends... & when I... ", she annoyingly protests.
"Ok fine... let's go..." I cut short her sentence & sheepishly submit.

Now begins the ordeal...

She has a handwritten chit of the address to a shop that's newly opened in some corner of the town. Vimla mausi's friend's daughter has shopped there & she has spread the secret word amongst the female circle of how exquisite the collection there is...
"Why not Shopper's Stop", I mumble inaudibly...
"U said something?", she enquires; disinterested in my answer.
We leave...

After finally reaching the place, we r greeted by a middle-aged man who leads us to the hidden treasure. The shop's decently big & has all male employees! Duh... so much for saree shopping!

I cannot but emphasize the patience of every employee therein! Had these guys applied the same kind of patience at penance, they would have been 'maha-yogis' by now.

"Yes?", enquires our attendant.
"Sarees", my ignorance blurts out at this shop exclusively meant for sarees!
"Paithani", my mom corrects, after giving me a grim look & refining my reply.

One by one the guy unfurls a 100 sarees in front of us.
My mom's unimpressed & she shows no sympathy for the guy who so patiently is trying to understand what her mysterious mind is unable to distinctly vocalize...

"Which one do u like more?", she asks me, holding 4 similar looking sarees in front of me that differ only by a slight bluish hue.
Too much of a choice for a guy who buys only jeans & that too in just 2 shades - light blue & dark blue.
"Errr... this one", I point out randomly.
"Oh! I liked the 3rd one more"
"Hmmm... Let me look again", I say to shorten the decision process.
"On second look, the 3rd one does look better. Good choice", I persuade her.

"By card", I wave my debit card to the owner, who forgivingly ignores me.
Experience has taught him that fickle is the mind of a lady.

Now begins the acid test for the 4 short-listed ones.
The fabric, the borders, the embroidery, the glaze, the shade, the price...
All have to align... an event, rarer than the alignment of the heavenly bodies to cause an eclipse...

Finally, the attendant wears all! Disgusting & funny is the sight of fellow brethren wearing lady's costume to please a lady! The long stare & a raised wrinkle on her nose still indicates her disapproval.

Finally, after what seems like an endless ordeal, she does finalize one.
Still unsure, she asks the attendant to hold it in 'natural light'. The fellow sensing near victory, leads us to the door of the shop & unfurls it there. Now this time, I'm embarrased. Too conscious of other onlookers. But oblivious is the woman who has her heart set on something!

Finally she nods, they pack, I pay & we are out of the shop. I now know the kind of joy experienced by the overworked, overdragged & exhausted crew of Columbus' ship on sighting land! I dare to look back, only to see attendants to other ladies holding a saree in 'natural light' at the doors of the shop! This time a chuckle escapes me... the first time in the last N hours...

I am more than glad to be back home & my mom has realized that the colour of the saree she just bought resembles one of those she already possesses. She will be visiting the shop again tomorrow to exchange it!

Wonder if an experience of this kind inspired Kipling to pen down his poem, "The female of the species, is deadlier than the male"! I fully empathize, Mr. Kipling.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The march of love...

I've been an ardent fan of the animation series called 'Pingu', depicting the everyday chores of a penguin family. So when the movie, 'The march of the (Emperor) Penguins' was released here on Friday, I decided to catch up with some 'real' cousins of 'Pingu'.

It was a typical National Geographic classic documentary, a story of survival against all odds... But I must say, I was moved by what I saw.

Thousands of flightless souls walking 120 kms. to reach their breeding grounds, many perishing on the way due to extreme exhaustion & hunger, their absolute fidelity for the season & the hardships they willingly embrace to raise their chicks!

What touched the most was the utter unquestioned trust these lovers have for each other & how much they are willing to risk & sacrifice for the little kid!

Once the egg is laid, the mother, after repeated rehearsals, transfers it to the dad & then proceeds to the sea to feed. Thereafter for 4 months the father stays back, goes without food, carries the egg on his feet & walks on his heels to protect it from the ice-cold snow below. He braves temperatures of -68C & icestorms on its back to protect the egg. After 4 months the chicks emerge & miraculously moms return well fed. The dad then transfers the chick to the mom & leaves to feed himself. These sequences are repeated till the chick is able to fend for itself.

Casualties are many, but the survivors surpass this count. The victories are of the spirits!

It's painful to see infidelity ripping off human families & the growing impatience, distrust & indifference amongst human lovers.
All afternoon soaps claiming to instill family values, & individuals lecturing endlessly about love & sacrifice, need to watch this 'March of love'.

Acknowledgments -
Painting illustration - Michael Skidmore