Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Autoricksha Confessions 1: Carefree Errands

A long time ago an off-spin bowler called Tilak Raj - frustrated at being unable to find a place in the Delhi cricket team - came to Vadodara and found a regular place in the Ranji side. One day a batsman called Ravi Shastri stopped by and hoicked all six balls from one Tilak Raj over for sixes. Years passed but whenever Tilak Raj let a long hop slip, copious laughter could be heard around the stadium followed by a chant that went "Ra-vi-shas-tri!"

We all have our embarrassing moments that haunt us forever. And since I've got plenty I thought I'd occasionally use a Taxicab Confessions type of post to see if I can get rid of my demons. Here is the first one.

When I was a kid I was expected to help with the household chores. I ended up running most errands especially those that involved trips to the general store. Occasionally Mum would give me a note with something scribbled on it and say "Beta, just show this to the storekeeper and he'll give you a package. Pay for it and bring it home". Once I left the house I used to note that the word "Carefree" was written on it.

I didn't know what it was but since Mum didn't want to ask for it herself and didn't want to embarrass her son either, I figured it was something to be reticent about. So Little Aspi would walk up to the counter, feel his ears turn red, show the paper to the baniya, try to ignore the slight curl of the lips and bring the package home. Often I tried to figure out why this object was such a big secret - it seemed soft enough. Heck, it didn't smell bad either.

All of this was extremely painful because of a storekeeper called Laalu who would find new ways to torture me each time. Often he would unfold the note on the counter and smirk "Abey, which size do you want? Heh heh" I would come home in tears. Many times, if Laalu was manning the store, I would go right back home and keep checking every hour to see if the coast was clear for me to go buy the mysterious item. None of this I let Mum in on.

Then one fine Summer, my favorite cousin-sister (lets call her Raveena Tandon for now) hit puberty and this became the hot topic of discussion. As such I learned much that vacation about you know, periods.

One of the side-effects of this particular state for Raveena was that my highly conservative grandma wouldn't allow her to touch anything in the kitchen. Raveena would place me on special lookout all afternoon while she romped around the kitchen touching everything in it as an act of rebellion. Why once I even found her hugging the refrigerator. I didn't understand this until years later when I read this by Gloria Steinem in Ms. In any case, that Summer I finally learned what Carefree was.

So back to the errand situation. Armed with this new knowledge, I developed a cocky confidence. I even walked in one day to buy it with Laalu manning the store. And of course Laalu asked me the question with a snicker to which I shot back "Whatever your Ma uses, give me half that size".

Now three things are worth noting here. First, I probably invented "Your Mama" jokes but never get credit for it. Second and third, not only was this a very misogynist path for me to tread but also didn't make very much sense. But such is the conditioning men undergo to feel shame whenever one of their womenfolk is mentioned by a gairmard, that Laalu turned a nice shade of purple. Immense satisfaction coursed through my body.

Laalu never made fun of me again and I went back to mere awkward discomfort at running this errand.

Also:

56 comments:

indiequill said...

Hahaha, my mom used to hide tampons in the cupboard and refuse to tell me what it was. but dont tell her i told you that or she'd die of embarassment at her daughter telling you such chee chee things.
Also, you're lucky you dont have a daughter coz otherwise you'd still be making trips to the store for her. but maybe your wife makes you do it. i think its only fair men have to do the tampon shopping coz women have to do the rest of the work.
And bad, bad lil Aspi for making fun of Mrs. Laalu Sr. There, I did my bit for feminism today.

Anonymous said...

hahaha!! That's a great write up, Aspi! Way to shut Laalu baniya up with the very first (supposedly)mamma joke!! It's about time you get recognized for that!! :D

btw...can anoyone tell me how to put my name on the msg instead saying 'Anonymous' and typing it in at the bottom...sorry...computer illiterate! :D

--girlie girl

Aspi said...

girlie girl, below the box where you type in your comment, you'll see some selections under "Choose an identity". Select the box next to Name/URL. You will be able to type in a name. Leave the URL box empty.

leera said...

Wah aspi, my fave post so far. I will demand a regular aspi's confessions column.

I remember what a big deal amongst the girls in my class in middle school it was, whenever anyone started their period. In fact the girl who was the first was regarded as a queen amongst pre-pubescent 6th graders.
My mom was pretty matter of fact about it. No big talk, just practical assistance.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Aspi...but it's not working. Oh well...i guess i'll just have to go the ghetto route!

--girlie girl

anu g said...

Girlie Girl, I have a worse problem than urs. I cant enter any comment in the comment columns since permission is denied(?).This has been happening since more than a month. So each time, I have to see the error message, find out the post number, go to blogger.com and the relevant post-number, and then type out the message there.It took me almost a week to be able to figure that out!Well, what I am trying to say is that u r not the only suffering drifter:). And dont worry,until u manage to solve ur problem,( if u can), most of us read the whole comment, so we know who its from.

Aspi said...

And can I just say how much I appreciate all of you having problems still coming by and commenting anyway. In fact, I even spent an hour today changing the UI around a bit so as not to startle anyone.

sidekick said...

aspi, marvellous auto ricksha confession! look fwd to more. i think u shd try yr hand at a book - novel, short stories, anecdotes... any format that draws upon that terrific ability to take an innocuous little incident and embroider it into a hilarious and evocative tale.

With this one, naani yaad aa gayi - not mine but the BH's. She was the only one who could terrorize me into seclusion once a month. While I wished I could rebel as Raveena did, bahus in their sasuraal can't afford that luxury so I just seethed in solitude. It all seems so very benign and funny now that the grand old dame has passed away.

anu g: sorry it's been such a trial for u to comment I appreciate that u've stuck with it :). girlie girl, we'll read yr comments no matter what name u go by ;)

Mind Rush said...

You make Gloria Steinem proud!
I agree with Sidekick that this episode of your life deserves to be crafted into a short story.

Aspi said...

Yaar, Sidekick and Mind Rush thanks for the vote of confidence. But once I wrote a collection of short stories - one was very special to me. I worked really hard on it. And then like an idiot I lost it on my hard disk.

Since then, short stories have been on hold. But if I can write that one back again, we'll be in business.

Usually my short stories are ridiculously long (by the 2000 word standards journals set these days) and hugely not funny.

Sania said...

sidekick - what's BH stand for? I see most people use DH.

Ah, problems. Don't have any problems posting, but if anyone can get me into grad school, I'd appreciate technical assistance there. Aspi, are there UI settings for that?

One of my most embarrassing adolescent moments was when my father took me to the drugstore to buy said 'auxiliary equipment' - the cashier was a classmate in HS - the products scanned wrong and my father proceeded to tell the boy that they were on sale, so the kid had to run to the feminine hygiene aisle and do a price check. Apparently preventing my mortifying embarrassment wasn't worth the buck fifty. Oh, parentals.

Aspi said...

I believe BH - which is sidekick's fond alias for her husband - stands for Bitter Half.

Sania, that is a hilarious story and one that made me cringe while I was reading. Wonder how the next day at class went.

anu g said...

Sidekick,I guess I am too addicted to keep away. And if I havent passed comments on some posts, either its becos its to do with hollywood which I am not familiar with, or its a topic which ...mmm....let me put it this way, I think I am like Indequill Amritha;s mom where discussions of this sort r concerned:).

Amrita said...

Anu g - I knew I liked you for a reason! :D

Sidekick and Sania's (OUCH!) comments make me want to write a post about horrible period stories.

Btw, Aspi, I think Leera's on to something with the regular Aspi's Confession Column. All those in favor say aye!

Bella said...

aye! :)

Aspi said...

Ah, thank you everyone and anu g, sorry for posting something uh, indelicate. All I have in my defense is that its good therapy.

I was planning a few more. If anyone has anything they'd like to do anonymously feel free to add - like I said: its good therapy.

girlie girl said...

Sania...that's a great story...I couldn't help but laugh (SORRY!).
Anu g, I'm glad I'm not the only one whose having computer-related problems...but I'm glad that there is a way for both of us to share our comments!

--girlie girl

girlie girl said...

oh, it worked!! :D

Aspi said...

All right! Now we need to fix anu g's problem. Anu g, when that computer savvy nephew of yours shows up, ask him to install another browser on your computer like say Firefox or Flock and see if the results are different.

SkD said...

HAHAHAHAHA....Aspi, i have no clue how u went thru all dat embarssment!
gudness!my mom always used to chnage de TV channel whenever 'whisper' ads showed....n all dese napkins n stuff used to be secretly smuggled in de house from out of the blue!
i once saw mom buying de packet n asking de baniya to pack in it newspaper...ROFL..n den de men of de house were not supposed to know about dis..n stuff...my mom didnt even educate me on dis phenomenon..gud i read it up myself...den i was forbidden to go n play outside after puberty at 5th grade....how i rebelled after dat!!!.man.i crack up everytime i remember those gaavthi days!!

PS:Is de situation still de same in india?

megan said...

hahah thats nothing, i found a condom in my male cousin's room one day when i was a kid (10 or 11) and i didn't even know what it was at the time.. talk about sheltered upbringing.. me and my other cousin opened it thinking it was lolly then we were like WTF and thought it was a balloon..

my uncle saw us playing with it and he chased us around the house, in retrospect it must have been so embarassing for everyone.. my cousin probably got into huge trouble thanks to me..

yeah i asked my mum once "if ppl dont wanna be pregnant, why don't they go to bed with underwear on" my mom's like "it doesn't work like that" but she never explained thank god, otherwise i would have been scarred for life..

i used to also think if i sit down on a chair that another guy sat on, i'd get pregnant LOL

i was /am so innocent

anu g said...

Thanks for the advice Aspi.My young cousin obviously has better things to do, and never came over. I am just letting things be cos I 'm managing to post comments.
And please dont embarrass me further by apologising.Its ur blog, and u have the right to write what u feel like.
Sidekick, I am really impressed that u went thru all that just for ur granma-in-law. Thats so sweet.U need to be termed the BH,the better-half:).

Anonymous said...

And Aspi, I can see ur message on the top of the homepage (the stuff here is playful intent, so take it easy....) much bigger and brighter. Got the message:).

anu g said...

Oops, the last comment got posted in anon mode.That was me.

Aspi said...

Like in that Gela Gela song, I'm going to use this word in meaningless words. So Megan, Hozena! I can't decide which is funnier - the chase story or the sitting on the chair bit.

I sat Motorsandal down recently to have the conversation with him. It's documented here.

He seems to coping quite well :)

sidekick said...

Sania: BH, DH --> same difference ;). I feel for yr awful drug store moment! BTW what program/grad school are u hoping to get into?

Amrita, Aye! Do give us yr spin on the period story.

I think Megan deserves her own confessions column - that was hilarious!

Thanks, anu g! I remind the bitter half of it often :) . His nani was a formidable lady who I admired and was confounded by in equal parts. She insisted that all the little girls of the families that worked on her farm should not be yanked out of school and personally monitored this. At the same time she would drive me nuts with her orthodoxy - the seclusion of women during their period was the least of it. The unfortunate "achoots" who worked on her farm could not enter her home although she was solicitous of them and her well meaning interference in their lives showed how much she cared about them. She is definitely my hero in that she lived life on her terms! She died about a year ago and Aspi's post brought back a flood of memories.

Aspi said...

All right sidekick, I'll raise a toast to the BH's nani - who sounds like a woman of my family: always doing everything fiercely.

SkD said...

LOL Megan, thanks for de laaf!!
I had even worse experiences wid condoms mannnn...
wen my bro n i were kids, we always found pictures of naked women in mom's cupbaord n in front of her we used to ask about dem,...n she sed..."its dirty stuff.." n she used to tear dem...innocent as we were we never knew weher de hell all dat came from!!
once instaed of just de packet...my bro actaully found a condom...n asked dad wtf it was....dad very coolly sed it was a ballooon n actually showed us by filling the condom wid water [like we do in holi]...mann dat condom was STRONG....held upto 3 lts of water i think...hahahaha...de ballon grew quite loong n thick before dad started dangling it in front of my bro who freaked out n hid below my bed!!

Sania said...

sidekick - I'm trying to get into business schoo. "Trying" being the operative word here.

As I've been saying to anyone who will listen - "you don't happen to play racquetball with the dean of admissions @ _________ do you?"

Jo said...

Lol! Thanks for sharing that!

megan said...

hahaha skd - your parents had condoms in their room..omg

i am so glad my parents only ever had sex twice their whole life and my half brother was conceived through artificial insemination..

god only intended it for procreation!!
boooo recreational use of sex

Amrita said...

Oh God! condom tales! I've blocked them completely from my mind. I'm the result of a virgin birth as far as I'm concerned.

Aspi said...

Let's all spare a thought for the unfortunate guy called Conrad Lobo in our school. We can all use our imagination to figure out what his nickname might have been.

megan said...

conrad lobo? i don't geddit

what about wayne kerr?

even Manhor which is a desi name sounds funny here. My friends used to laugh at that name and i never told them its a common desi name.

Spruha said...

Great post!! Really reminds me of both Dadi and Nani. They tried really hard to keep some insane restrictions for me but thankfully Mom had my back. You would think that they wouldn't to make someone else's life hell, after having gone through it. I still can't seem to believe that they all obliged without any objection!

SkD said...

yes, meg, dey had condoms in de room...all over de place...below de mattress, below de pillow, in de drawers, cupboards.....and guess what...THEY STILL DO!!!.hahahahaha....SHIT!Some sex drive i must say...ummm...actually we used to sleep in deir room 3 days a week....we had a separate bedroom too...but dat was only utilised for 5 days when mom used to dump bro n me in our room!which i never figured why some days we were der n some days we werent..now i know:-)

m said...

why couldn't your mom go on pills or depo provera or something? that way they won't have to bother with condoms and can get it on anywhere they want.. and you get better sensations.. not that i would know but i have heard from people :P

why don't you leave them an anonymous note...

SkD said...

Actually..she is on pills n oder stuff too...but man...condoms rock!
but..well..sumthing diff....from ur words sounds like u, too,r a virgin..am i right?

m said...

of course i am saving myself for my wedding night.. i am a member of the chastity club at my university

she is on pills and other stuff and also condom???? omg she is taking extra precaution.. you must have put her off kids for life.. j/k

SkD said...

yea prolly...shes off kids since 25 yrs!
U KIDDIN ME RIGHT??
the chastity club shit?n savin urself for wedding nite crap??not that i have done it but....belive me its HELL!I dont think i can wait dat long..but heck dont have a choice now dat me single!!:(

sidekick said...

aspi, thanks!

sania: sorry! no raquetball/golf connections :) . my commiseration though - i've been around plenty of people who did their MBAs (the BH, my brother, assorted cousins and friends). so i've read plenty of b-skool essays and served as a sounding board. suspect that isn'nt the sort of help u're looking for - but its always available if u need a fresh infusion of cheerleaders :). good luck!

Amrita said...

Just jumping in to say I would like M and SKD to continue their conversation. Thank you.

Aspi said...

Filed under: How long can, not should, you wait?

SkD said...

was dat a question for me aspi?

Aspi said...

No, that was just me trying to be funny. No need to answer anything :)

Mind Rush said...

I second Amrita's comment.
And may I add...M and Skd, please write to Mind Rush re: your dilemmas. Heck, your parents should write to Mind Rush too!

incognitoooo said...

i got a problem

mind rush, whats your email address?

SkD said...

Thanks Mindrush.appreciated.email address please!:-)

anu g said...

This article was filed under cricket??????

Aspi said...

Thanks for catching that anu g. This blogger tag word completion has done me in numerous times.

mayG said...

dropped in from ritu's .. just love your blog design :D wanted to tell you this right away.. now i'll go read your stuff!

Aspi said...

mayg, welcome.

Who's ritu? I'll have to check my backlinks one of these days.

Shail said...

Carefree errands made very interesting reading!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.