The Blind Date – a short story


Mili was seething. Her friends had been setting her up on blind dates on and off. All of them were happily settled – or so they thought! They wanted Mili to settle down. And being a perfectionist, with a clear list of likes and dislikes, none of the men she met passed muster.

“Thanks, but no thanks!” she thought.

The reason for her anger was that her friend, Naomi, had asked her to dinner, as her husband’s (Naomi’s) business partner and friend, Vihaan, was visiting.

But at the last minute Naomi and her husband had asked her to meet Vihaan alone, as their son had to be rushed to hospital due to a severe wheezing condition. They told her that they had tried to reach Vihaan, but that his phone was unreachable.

She understood the situation, but was still mad. She would have preferred to stay back at home to catch up on some work or just watch some TV. Now this!

So, at 7.30 p.m. sharp, she was at the restaurant and was surprised to see that Vihaan was already seated at the table.

They introduced themselves and she passed on the message from Naomi. He looked slightly put off.

They ordered starters and something to drink. They discussed the weather, the latest movies, and their tastes in music. Soon, they discovered that they hailed from the same town and had studied in the same primary school.

They warmed to each other because of this shared history. They laughed more easily now. They even teased each other a little bit.

He loved the way she articulated her thoughts, with a wry sense of humour. She loved the fact that he was well-read and widely travelled.

After dinner, when they started dessert Vihaan stepped out for a call. And when he came back and hitched up his trousers to sit down, she saw that his socks were mismatched. There was a dark brown and a black.

All the positive vibes flew away. This was in her DISLIKES list…men who couldn’t take the time to pay attention to detail. She was ready to leave. It irritated her too much.

He had seen the shocked look on her face as he had sat down. When she looked away, he looked down at his socks.

“Damn that power cut”, he thought. It had happened just when he was leaving the hotel, and he had hoped that he had the right pair. Obviously not. He could sense her coolness.

“One of those obsessive types”, he thought.

They ate their dessert, in silence. He then asked for the cheque.

She said, “I would also like to share the bill. I insist.”

He tried to talk her out of it, but she seemed to be one of those stubborn types.

He paid the bill with his credit card and showed it to Mili.

She looked at it and said, “Just a minute.”

She took her handbag, which was hanging on the back of her chair. She opened it and furrowed her brows. She clucked in exasperation as she realized that her wallet was not in her bag. She had changed bags that evening, to complement her outfit.

She blushed a beetroot red as she told him that she could not find her wallet. It was mortifying.

She told him that she would transfer the cash to him. He told her that it was his treat to her.

As he walked her to her car, he said, “Next time you can treat me, and I will wear matching socks and hope that there’s no power cut.”

The shocked look on her face was priceless. He grinned and walked away into the night.

Cold spice


Many years ago, when my husband and I were at a loose end one Saturday, we decided to go out for an ice cream. My husband heavily recommended a small ice cream shop, whose specialty ice creams were all the rage.

We finally got there. It was a hot and humid day, so it was the perfect day for an ice cream.

The shop itself was small and unassuming. We sat down and reviewed the menu. Exotic ice cream flavour-names caught our eye. And as I scanned the menu, my husband laughed out aloud.

He said, “I know what you should have. The Green Chilli Ice cream.”

“Green Chilli Ice cream?” I repeated.

“You love spice and you want ice cream, so imagine..it’s the perfect combo for you”, said my husband.

I gave in, still not convinced about the flavour. But well, the order was placed and we waited. I have to admit though, that I was a little excited to try it.

Our ice creams arrived. The scoop was a pale green.

I dug into it with the spoon. The cold hit my tongue first, following which the spice of the green chillies spread across my tongue, sharp and piercing, the cold no longer numbing the senses.

My husband looked at me expectantly.

“Hmmm, can’t really say anything, have to eat some more”, I said.

But five spoons later, I was still struggling with the ice cream.

I told my husband that cold spice is not really my thing, though I love spicy food.

Green chillies were never meant to be made into ice creams.

My husband had to eat both our portions, as I ordered another regular mango scoop.

Have you tried any interesting ice cream flavours?

When the lady went shopping…


The mail has brought good news. Points that I have meticulously gathered on my credit card have borne fruit in the form of shopping vouchers…Yay!!!

I am out at 10.30 a.m. to buy out the entire mall with these vouchers. There’s a feeling of dizzy happiness as I contemplate, make lists and eliminate choices in my head.

When I finally get to the mall, I head straight to the clothes section. What a riot of colours and designs. I start with a few tops, go to the trial room, try them on – I like only one out of the seven. I go back again, come back with one more batch from two other brands. None of them seem to look nice on me.

But I am determined. I go for the third round. I am not adventurous now, I bring back a mixed batch of my regulars and the ‘ohhh I wish I could wear that’ clothes.

One of the dresses from the ‘ohhh I wish..’ category seems to have been designed with me in mind. I gasp in joy and excitement. I dream of parties to which I will wear this outfit, I dream about clutches and footwear, accessories and hairdos.  I have decided on this piece. I look at the price tag; my eyes pop out as I realize that it costs double the value of my vouchers.

I am unhappy. I want a friend, who will egg me on to buy this dress and fight my hyper-active guilty conscience. I want coffee…..

I go back for round four. My hair is a mess and my arms are aching from all the trial room excursions. 

Round four is the sober me – all the excitement has fizzled out.  My goal is to get full value for the vouchers in my handbag. I focus on my regular brands and head to the cosmetics section, and ask for my regular lipstick.

The sales lady says, “That’s an old model, we now have this dual matte and gloss lipstick. This is all the rage now.”

Oh! Am I out of touch? I buy the dual lipstick, to be in the ‘now’!

Three tops and one lipstick, and I have exhausted the voucher amount.

Four long hours- that started off with promise and hope and colours and designs – have ended on a sober note.

Vouchers spent, nothing has  changed, three new additions to my collection, and I STILL HAVE NOTHING SUITABLE TO WEAR.

Kids and what they say


Children are so influenced by how we adults talk, the way we gesture, the way we modulate our voices and the way we behave.

It is fun to hear them unconsciously behave like their parents or older siblings by observing them on a daily basis.

One such funny incident comes to mind, as told to me by a friend.

We Indians are cricket crazy and when some exciting matches are being played, the whole family sits and follows the match closely. With lots of food and some full-throated yelling, it is no surprise that the young kids in the family also get caught up in all this excitement.

On one such day as my friend’s family sat and watched a rather exciting match, which had a nail-biting finish that saw India winning, a little boy in the family, who was all of 4 years old said, “I haven’t seen such a thrilling match in my entire life”.

Four years…a lifetime indeed! All the adults burst out laughing.

On my guard


So, my left ankle is slowly getting better and I am able to walk around, albeit with a pronounced limp. After my fall, my knee seems to have a problem with the ankle’s movement and for the last few days, I have had to wear a knee guard to keep the knee from buckling.

Both my children have been so very very helpful over the last ten days, making cards, running errands, spending time with me and generally giving me oodles of love.

They are quite relieved that I am mobile now.

Yesterday, when my son got back from school, he heard me talking on the phone with a friend, who had called to enquire about my leg. I mentioned to her that I was wearing a knee guard.

After the call, my son asked me if I was really wearing a knee guard and if yes,   could he see it?

I told him I was wearing a knee guard, but that it would be difficult to show it to him, as the jeans could not move up till my knee.

Strangely though, he persisted and wouldn’t let go.  I finally showed it to him.

“Phew! he said.

“What?” I asked.

Pat came the reply, “I thought you had borrowed my sports knee guards, and I was worried about how I would attend my training this week.”

I laughed out aloud and assured him that these were my own.

Really, the things that kids worry about!

The Mystery of the Missing Shoes


A few years ago, my friend and her family stayed with us during the summer holidays.

One day, we planned to take the children to the zoo.  Just when we were about to leave, my friend discovered that she couldn’t find her daughter’s shoes.

My friend’s daughter was 3 years old, and my kids’ slippers were much too big for her. So, we launched a massive shoe-hunt, we emptied the shoe cupboard, my friend emptied all her suitcases and bags. We looked under the sofa and cots, we checked outside the house. There was no sign of the missing shoes.

We wondered if we could just carry the child and pick up new shoes on the way.

Suddenly, the little girl said, “Papa, I know where shoe.”

All of us watched her as she ran to the balcony and pointed downwards.  We went to check. There they were, a pair of pink shoes, fallen seven floors below, on the roof of the building’s porch. We wondered when she had thrown them!

We brought out the ladder and took it down to the porch. My friend’s husband had to do a bit of a Spiderman type of jump. As we watched, he waved his hands victoriously to show us that he had managed to get the shoes.

When the little girl saw her shoes,  she clapped in glee, and when we saw her, all of us burst out laughing.

What’s in a Nose?


Books talk about aquiline noses, Greek noses, up-turned noses, and 11 other types of noses, but have you heard of a rain-predictor nose?

That’s a first, I’m sure.

This fact would have been a great surprise to me too, but for the fact that the said nose belongs to yours truly.

The realization that one possesses talent for art, music and dance is great,

But what does one do with such a skill; where one’s nose can predict, often quite accurately, when it’s going to rain!

I realized this after careful observation. Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed that whenever I’ve been in humid weather or in any coastal town or city, my nostrils get mildly blocked.

However, on certain days the block is complete. I’ve always observed that on such days, there is definitely a heavy downpour later in the day. As the rain abates, my block usually clears up. Strange, but true.

While no meterology department is looking to hire me for sure, I love to surprise guests and family members with my predictions, which are quite accurate.

When my husband’s parents visited us last year, my father in law always checked with me before stepping out.

Somedays we would wait to see if my prediction came true…and as we sat down for our afternoon coffee, the rain usual fell in torrents and we laughed at this strange rain-predictor that’s my nose.

Coffee or Tea ?


image
Image courtesy – Wikipedia

People have likes, dislikes and  ambiguities. However, when it comes to coffee and tea, most identify themselves as either coffee drinkers or tea drinkers. I don’t know too many people, who like both tea and coffee with the same fervour.

I love coffee. Period. The choice is as easy as black or white, maybe a few wisps of grey, when one of my friends serves me a cup of tea that’s laced heavily with fresh ginger or lemon.

I make a mean cup of coffee, but my tea making skills …well, what’s that? Enough said.

My husband and daughter are the midways, they relish both coffee and tea, so I’ve passed on my ‘barely-there’ tea-making skills to my daughter, so she can take care of her Dad.

So, why am I telling you all this? My tea making skills were put to the test. Sigh!

Two of my friends had come home to complete a community project that we were working on.

I’d made some spring rolls and decided to make coffee after we’d finished our work.

When I asked if I could serve coffee, one of them said she would prefer tea. The other friend also said that she wouldn’t mind tea, probably to spare me the extra effort.

Hmmm…tea???? My mind jolted awake…but my head, the traitor, nodded vigorously, aided by my mouth that added, “Sure.”

My tea jar had been refilled with a fresh box of tea leaves from India.

I set the water to boil and added the tea. As it boiled and bubbled, the aroma seemed okay, but when I added milk, the colour remained white, with a mere hint of brown.

I sweated…what could I do? This looked like milk. Oh dear. I added  a few more spoons of tea (I know, that’s not the way to make tea).

I called out to my friends with a fake laugh, “Girls, I am serving you white tea ok?”

So, I served it with all the dignity I could muster.

One friend sipped and said, “It’s ok. Must be one of those that do not infuse colour. It’s quite ok.”

The other friend looked pained after the first sip. To her ‘tea’ probably meant what ‘coffee’ means to me, so I totally understood the expression.

I love coffee.

Strange Things Do Happen


Sometimes, when we read about strange incidents that have happened to people, we stop to wonder whether such things can actually happen in people’s lives.

There is one such incident that happened in our lives, many years ago.

We’d just bought a new car – a beautiful, deep green colour. Shiny and clean, waiting to guzzle up the miles.

My husband usually drove to work in the car. A few days after we had bought it, my husband called me at work and casually mentioned that a coconut had fallen on the car; from a tree that was close to where he had parked. A small dent appeared on the roof of the car. We laughed about it and moved on.

image
Image courtesy – Wikipedia

Exactly ten days after the coconut fell, and I was at work, my husband called me again.

He said, “Guess what happened to the car?”

I laughed and replied, “Another coconut fell on it?”

He said, “No, a coconut tree fell on the car. The hood is completely smashed in.”

I gasped and reeled from the shock of his statement.

He had taken pictures for insurance purposes and forwarded them to me.

I was amazed at how the tree had fallen. There was a row of cars parked, and the tree had fallen exactly on our car, not an inch this side or that side.

We were glad nobody was near or inside the car, when the tree fell.

Maybe, the initial coconut fall was a warning of sorts, or the tree was trying our car on for size. Whatever it was, it happened.

Strange things do happen. Sometimes we are those people, whom others read about and say, “Can’t believe that actually happened.”

Do I really have a choice?


I am in the supermarket. I am here to pick up a few essentials. As I walk down the hair products aisle, looking for a new shampoo plus conditioner, I am amazed at the range of hair care products. Nothing new here, but for some reason it grabs my attention today.

Each shampoo bottle on the shelf, stakes its claim to address specific hair issues. There is not one bottle that merely says ‘shampoo’.

So, let me see – there’s hair fall control, straight hair, anti frizz, hot oil, dry hair, anti dandruff, volume, herbal, protein, enhanced protein, regular use, mild and gentle, organic, dry scalp, moisturizing, hair mask….!

I laugh out at the range. So, if I want to address hair fall issues and also want my hair to look straight, do I have to buy both the varieties? What if I want volume in my hair on one day and a gentle fall the next…?

What are these brands trying to achieve by offering such specific solutions? What about people who want a plain shampoo that just shampoos? What are the choices they have? Will they be forced to buy one of these ‘solutions’ to solve a problem they may not have at all?

By trying to differentiate themselves from the competition, are these brands truly able to retain loyal customers?

I am flummoxed now. The more bottles I see, the more confused I am. I may well end up buying my usual one.