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One thing I love about having guests over is being treated to great food by mom.You see,my mom’s a bit of a ‘Guestophobic’. The moment she gets to know that guests might be coming over,she sloughs off her ‘good ol’ mummy skin and turns into a lean mean cooking/cleaning machine, fully equipped with Colin sprays,vim bars and other deadly weapons.
And she makes it pretty obvious too.You can see her scurrying around the house, cleaning and re-cleaning, laying new bedsheets, cooking a thousand dishes in shahi andaaz and taking out designer glasses and plates which otherwise I’ve never seen before. And then she finds innocent targets like me doing constructive things (watching tv) and puts us to work. Before I know it, I’m standing in the market with two overflowing bags of vegetables in my hands wondering,”how the HELL did I get here?”
Even when I’m not around to see the action, I get to know about a guest’s arrival the moment I come back home and mom opens the door. She has this typical smile on her face which totally contradicts what her eyes are saying. It’s her trademark “guests are here don’t act goofy” smile. “OH! Aagaya eh eh eh” she says loudly so that the guests can hear. “Aaja beta andar aajao” . My eyes water with the respect I’m being given. But when I cross her to enter the house, she whispers in a chilly, threatening voice “Namaste bolna..”
I can almost hear the “or else” following it.
But it’s the part after that which I so desperately want to avoid. CONFRONTATION
It’s a very complex situation. Both the parties, I, me and the guests, are not really interested in talking to each other. But the social norms are such! DAAYUM.
So I try to put up my best fake smile and nod like a goof to whatever they say and let out a cough like laugh when they try to crack jokes which really just manage to crack my skull. So the conversation which sounds like this :
Uncle :“arrey beta! Kaise ho?”
Me :“bas uncle theek. Aap kaise ho?”
Uncle “badiya badiya. Baal toh dekho kaise khade rakhta hai ab. ha ha ha! Chin pe ye bakri ki tarah kya ugaa rakha hai?”
Me (nodding like crazy): “he he uncle.uh..he he he”
The actual meaning behind the conversation is this:
Uncle : “arrey beta! Im Not interested!”
Me : “bas uncle. I’m also not interested”
Uncle: “I know,I know. I’ll crack a lame joke on you now. Give me your best fake smile boy”
Me (nodding like crazy) : “okay how’s this ?”
The battle can sometimes continue for hours,with each firing salvos of irrelevant questions at each other.Victory is finally tasted when you see them getting up to leave. The smile I have on my face then is genuine.