Sunday, 3 March 2013

Of phones and vegetables.

Looking at the numerous shops in wide-eyed wonder, I was was ambling through the roads of Mussoorie, one winter, long time ago. I was in class 5 and was fascinated by the shops and wanted to buy everything--spoons, combs, shawls--everything. Baba's voice shattered all such grand plans- 'Egulo shob Kolkata tei pawa jay'. 'All these things are easily available in Kolkata.'  He bought a red cutlery set and a woollen cap both of which I guess he thought would not be available in our beloved city. (Parents!)

This dialogue was repeated on every holiday. In Puri my mother wanted to buy a hnari , (a vessel we use to cook rice etc.), now don't ask me why, (this was a woman who brought home a honuman-kola-khachche soft toy from Fonria Pukur). She did get the hnari but not before Baba could grumble - "Ki dorkar chilo? Egulo Kolkata tei pawa jay".

Anyway so basically going somewhere with Baba, and buying something without him grumbling was a rare experience. If you needed the thing then no problem but if it was a thing you want to buy just on a whim then God save you! Buying around 10 kilos of fruits and then washing them and displaying them on a huge dining table in a not-so-huge room is perfectly normal but buying some clothes just like that is what demented people do!

He is lucky enough to find friends who are equally abnormal. One of his friends has a farm somewhere in Baharampur and whenever he comes to Kolkata, we don't shop for a week. He brings a supply of vegetables and fruits that we have trouble storing in the kitchen. Once this friend of his brought this huge bunch of litchies and after displaying them on the dining table, my father expressed his wish to have his photo clicked with the litchies. FINE. I indulged, brought the camera as my mother looked from the kitchen where she was busy admiring brinjals. The woman loves her begun
and if there is an abundant supply at home, rest assured that the goddamned vegetable will be on the menu, sneaking its way into every dish like James Bond, shukto with begun or better still neem-begun, mach with begun, two slices of begun bhaja and some aloo-begun er torkari--till we are ready to scream . . . and then gauging the situation, she camly says "ponka chilo , na banale kharap hoye jeto" (it had pests, so would have rotted had I not cooked it all).

 -- I digress... where were we ? yes, Baba and litchies. So I got the camera and was ready to click and through the lens I saw a grown-up man smiling like a silly kid pointing at the litchies. I asked "Is it necessary to point?' 'Yes! My friend has brought litchies, this is what friendship all won't understand click.' (Of course I won't ... we are a screwed up lot who buy cups of coffee for 100 bucks and don't send kilos of fruits to each other's house--how would we know!)

Something about buying useless things like clothes irks my father which now that I think of it, is good--great in fact. Because he is convinced that he looks good in two colours--red and yellow. After various shocking episodes of him bringing home shirts of both these hues, now only my mother and I shop for him.

So on one birthday, I decided that I need a new phone. I wanted a particularly expensive model and that was supposed to be my birthday gift. I don't know what sort of a miracle happened and he agreed. In reality I never expected him to. But he insisted that we walk to the store (which is at walking distance but I take an auto... actually once I took an auto and realised that the distance is embarrassingly short so I got off a little further than the intended stop.) So we walked to the store and I got my expensive phone (earlier I owned a black and white Nokia so EVERYTHING was more expensive than that!) and we waked back. He was not grumbling but his face was swollen... like Akbar's flaring nostrils in Mughal-e-Azam. I knew what he was thinking-his first salary was perhaps half the phone's value, some families survive on that amount, he was perhaps spoiling his daughter rotten, how did he EVER agree to it... and so on. So on that day I told myself that until the day comes when the phone just falls apart and fails to come together again--I will continue to use it. (I loved it ...but that was secondary.) My resolve was strengthened further when during a family gathering someone spotted this phone and asked me the price, I innocently revealed it and the concerned relative pinched her sister in a not-so-subtle way... (look-how-kaku-is-spoiling-her was the subtext of that pinch I guess!)... And that's why my darling I am not changing my phone, I am not buying those 'smart' phones, those touch-screen phones. I am happy with my dinosaur-age relic.

The last bit was all that I wanted to say when I started writing but you see my first class-teacher was damn right when she had said -- "she is very talkative".



melody_itni_chochlatey_kyun_hai said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swaramita Chaudhuri said...

The above comment was made by me : Swaramita :)

simantini said...

I was wondering where you are getting at with litchies and the photograph of your father and the auto-shop conflict! And laughed my heart out after I finished reading the whole post!!!

moo-moo said...

@simantini where I am getting at--is a question, which even I can't answer!

Simantini Sinha said...

May God bless you!!!!