Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Home Alone and some economics…

Warning: Long post. Do read only after you got bored of playing snake in office for the nth time…

Looking back…

While reading this blog about travails of families where parents had to work in separate places gave reminiscences of my home.

Back to the time when I was waiting to start my higher studies and my brother was still in school. Probably the time didn’t matter at all. It was difficult in the beginning to adjust to the new lifestyle when a ridiculous central government policy resulted in mom being transferred to an island near Mumbai and dad to some forsaken place in Tamil Nadu. And ofcoz we were envious of Mom coz she got to work in a place where the military stores all the ammunition they got and rumors say the stationery stores out there sell past expiry date Prithivi’s and Agni’s for Diwali…The kids out there had plenty of fun

So it fell on myself and bro to take care of the 12 bedrooms, 8 cars, 11 swimming pools attached bungalow in a 250-acre plot we have in Trivandrum (sorry I got dreaming while writing this part..; -P). We had pledged full confidence in taking care of the house partly due to the newfound freedom and primarily to give some confidence to parents who were going to work elsewhere.

The initial few days were wonderful or better said it was gastronomical nirvana. Chicken...Mutton...Beef…Fish all cooked and ready to eat stocked in the fridge…amazing television time for the idiot-box deprived...a round the clock working computer (updated with the latest NFS 5) which was bought under the pretext of learning C programming by this humble and devout student (well Vinu if u are reading this the Michael Jackson video which we copied on the first day instead of installing some C language was a big disaster... ;-P)…Waking up early morning at 11:30 and lazing in the sofa reading the morning newspaper at leisure.. Long telephonic conversation with friends…so lazy were those days that we wouldn’t defrost the fridge until the fridge started shivering!!...

If you don’t find these outrageous I must say it was more outrageous than a Britney spears joining nunnery…coz we were not exactly the rich kids in the block. Just like the typically sarkari family going for the cheapest government supplied ration rice and frugally metered telephone calls …So all what we did during the first few days of staying alone at home were obscene even in our own eyes…

One month later…

The phone bills skyrocketed much faster than a GSLV…and the telephone department started sending letters to Dad telling how they were grateful to him for holding up a crumbling enterprise

The house had gathered enough mud that would have made a decent miniature ancient Greece or something...

Our house had more dried leaves than whole of Kerala. (Who said Kerala is green. you should have come to my place back then)

Our green color Maruti now had a new color. A chisel was used to chip of the thick layer of chocolate dust on the bonnet.

And more importantly the fridge was now stark naked almost pitying at its once prosperous barracks.

Year of Glasnost

A revolution was imminent under those circumstances. There was widespread discontentment amongst the plants, the car, the kitchen and the goldfish in the tank (which we were not sure was still alive due to a thick layer of green algae). The kingdom was in utter disarray with criminals like cockroaches, lizards, ants, spiders etc etc enjoying a free run. In an unprecedented move the inhabitants decided to change the face of the country.

We learned work sharing and very important economic principles at a young age coz my bro found that he was actually doing the difficult part of scrubbing the plate’s n stuff. So a new system of living called Kureekatism (in the lines of communism…socialism or whatever u call it) was introduced at home. Work was split on mutually agreeable terms and the famous ‘Pattom Pact’ was signed. The residents rejoiced this decision. Even Jesus whose photo was hanging on the wall seemed to give a funny smile at us.

The new laws and work regulations did wonders and new age technologies were introduced like using pressure cooker for cooking rice, vacuum cleaner for cleaning the floor and hit spray for killing mosquito’s. Domain skills in cooking curries, breakfast and other edibles were improved (received the golden globe award from medical college thattukada association). Infidels like insects and others were driven out from the country even though they kept coming back. The kingdom was fighting back!

New challenges

And then it was one fine day we got the news that our paternal grandmother would be staying with us coz her caretaker relatives were going abroad…. A relative had arranged a caretaker for my 90 something grandmother and to complete the mayhem my grandmother’s caretaker was another 60’s something grandmother. The new ammachi at home would cook food for us and lend an ear to my grandmother’s small talk. So it was in the end a picture perfect scenario of two schoolboys and two grandmas’ in one home where their combined age outnumbering ours by several multiples. Needless to say our responsibilities increased manifold. We had to heat water to an optimum temperature and carry it all the way to the bathroom, place a stool and several other attachments inside... After each bath we had to dry up the bathroom floor coz ammachi feared she might slip in there. All this on a daily basis. And to make matters more complicated ammachi was strict on punctuality (a very strict pathyam follower). She wouldn’t take lunch at 12:55 pm…she wants the meal on the table exactly at 1 pm.and if it is 1:01 pm she would be unbearably hungry... She couldn’t bear the television noise past 9 o clock for she slept quite early...I guess ammachi was with us for about 8-9 months before she went back to our native place. So again the house was like old times with just myself and bro and a house.

The Wonder Years

Staying in such a house had its own fun...

There was a half yearly ceremony called combined studies which occurred usually a day or two before the university exam when the house would be swarmed by my friends, at times the number reaching 15…One of the rooms was exclusively for my bro... all other rooms with 3-4 guys in each and each room were used for certain specialized studying activities. One room for core studying, which would be used sparingly. One room for studying the intricacies of playing cards … one room for television viewing where we suggest how Mohanlal or Al Pacino could have acted better… one room for random kathifying (blabbering of everything under the sun)...And finally in the evening we ride to the nearby Ambalapattu restaurant to finish whatever they cooked that day. The university exam would happen next day but the real adrenalin rush was on the day before when we discover in sheer hopelessness how huge our syllabus really was…

We were given a lump sum amount to take care of house expenses like food, phone/electricity/water and other umpteen bills. We had a finance budget day where I will present this ‘heavily doctored’ budget (sure taking in mind how much we can ethically steal ;-P). After a few budgets the Prime Minister’s relief fund cut down the rampant corruption by providing generous aids and in the process teaching a few good lessons.

And then there used to be frantic cleaning of the house as soon we got a call from either of our parents that they might come down soon. There was war footing working happening on the day before D-Day…Cleaning the house for me meant hiding the dust to obscure corners or coating the car with a bucket of water. But my method differed with bro and we finally decided to do some actual cleaning. And next day when parents come they sigh in relief seeing that we are after all not bad caretakers and we sigh glad that they can go back to their workplaces without worrying about home .It is used to be lots of fun…

During those times the citizens in the kingdom were rewarded with ESOP’s called weekend happy meal allowance for dinner in a restaurant in the weekends. The clever entrepreneur’s we were, the dough would be saved for more useful things like having a beer or hanging out with friends and the usual fun in college. Here I used to get envious of my bro who might have been the richest man in India but for the withdrawal of ESOP’s after economy became self sustainable…


Eight years gone by…Jeez...Cant believe it…
I can go to the best hotel in town and eat till I can’t take in anymore. But they don’t taste as good as the parotta bought using hard saved money from Ambalapattu…
I have some frugality rubbed off on me. Though I hate to admit that. ;-P

These are just a few tit bits. There are countless many more which I might have learned sub consciously.

Now looking back at those years…I guess it wasn’t easy...but definitely worth the lessons it taught us…


silverine said...

That was a really nice post. Cleaning up the house before mum came home is something I identify with. When our mom went to Kerala, similar scenes happened in my house. And the frantic cleaning before she came had some hilarious results. But hats off to you both for not squabbling and working on mutually agreeable terms :) I think kids like you grow up more street savvy and independent than others.

Adorable Pancreas said...

Nostalgic, huh? I'm one of those (un?)lucky people who've never been separated from their parents. Ever, not counting various hosital stays (my dad has a funny heart that acts up occasionally).

Anyway, I know Ambalapptu restaurant! near st. mary's right? Score one for me! Whooppeee, yippeee, yahoooo et al. I know Tvm like tha back of my neighbor's hand. Finally!

Great post! :)

Adorable Pancreas said...

I'm such a scatterbrain. Memory like an ant. I think I'm insulting ants... Anyway, what I meant to say is, can I blogroll you?

Abhi said...

Nice post. Didn't know you cared so much for your home! I am another unlucky guy who's never been in such a situ. Don't know how i'll take all that when it happens in a flash. Bt if things go as i plan, i'll have a good weapon to counter all this called "Wife 1.0-Designed for household work" or "Wife 2.0-Doesn't do a thing, but has a maid".

Randum nadanille, njan thendum

mathew said...

thanks a lot..
would love to see such small tit bit home stories in your blog..

and btw am not a kid..;-P

@adorable pancreas
oh yeah ..just goin back in time..
btw Ambalapattu is near the LIC office..St mary's is still a kilometer away.. ;-P

and always a pleasure to be blogrolled..thanks..

thanks a lot..
man i dont see any probablilty of you getting versions like you have mentioned..adakalle keyri pani cheyyu..;-P

Still Searching said...

Such a nice post! I wanted to read the whole post even though I had some work to do! Its very cute the way you and your bro took care of the house, and I guess u must've learnt a lot about taking care of yourselves at that time!

Btw, I realized that I didnt do the tag because I was caught up with some stuff, and then posted something else! Still have to read your tag post also!

silverine said...

"and btw am not a kid" err....you were born fully grown up?


KiKS said...

Domain skills in cooking curries, breakfast and other edibles were improved (received the golden globe award from medical college thattukada association)....
Avarkku athra nalla business undaakkikkoduthu, alle??? :-P

Superficial Gibbering prater said...

delightful..typically mathew....

The Black King said...

Wow... you HAVE learned a lot! :)

Mishmash ! said...

The warning somehow was quite re-assuring that I had to read it! I really envy you for all those wonderful months/years you enjoyed in your kingdom. How lucky you guys were...!!and am sure there must be a real bonding b'wn u and ur bro now coz of those years.

And this Ambalapattu restaurant and Kesavadasapuram shops and thattukadas and the porotta and beef fry from all these places are so familiar to me, even tho I am not from TVM , but my other-half is from there and keep referring to it every now and then....and now that is one of the MUST_TRY things in my life :))))


J said...

:) That was cute! This brought back a memory when my parents went away to TVM to attend a wedding and my sis and me ( in school n college then) went thru a similar routine :). I've been to tvm a few times and pattom, kesavadasapuram etc ring a familiarity!

alakananda said...

nice post! the frantic cleaning up before mom's visit happens to me even now, after 12 years of marriage. i totally identify with that :)

Jackfruit said...

good one.. :)

Venkatesh A.R. said...

hey Chekku, that was a nice anecdote.
reminds me of how we used to clean up our rented home when working in Chennai, just before our owner comes for the rent collection.
once i brought my parents to that house when they visited chennai, and believe, my mom asked me for the broom-stick to clean up the place.. luckily my father defended me and said "bachelor rooms are always like this, leave it"!!.

Nanditha Prabhu said...

that was a nice post!it did bring nostalgic memories of good old days!

ap said...

My Bro and I used to stay together in a rented house (almost for a year)while doing Btech......So
the doctored budgets was one thing ,I can easliy identify myself with.. :).
That was also one reason my father asked for a transfer to our place!!!

mathew said...

@Still searching
Thanks a lot..I wouldn�t be honest if I say No to that!!
Well looking forward to your take in the tag..

;-P Okay��

Oh yeah..I had a frequent eater blue card membership there.. ;-P


@Black King
I think so..hehehe..

Oh yeah..we had a nice time together .although we used to disagree a lot..
Oh really�tell him unfortunately they aren�t as good as they used to be..Am sure he must be a Chinnu�s restau fan as well..

I guess such little stories are common in every home..

Hahhaa�even after 12 years�well old habits never die..

thanks..and thanks for dropping by..although u make me hungry with that snap..

Lol!! Same happened when Siva�s mom came to our house in Mysore..and that too inspite of the fact that we had cleaned up for the occasion..

thanks a lot..

High fives..so doctored budgets are common ..eh.. ;-P

amna said...

hehehe.. kollaam.. it was fun to read :)

and the lessons come handy eh? they always do, as much as i hate admitting it. i like to portray that i had a tortured childhood and i still emerged good cuz of my own strength (hehe, never works!)

Rejil Krishnan said...

haha...ur ‘naked fridge’ and ‘pattom pact’ made hilarious reading..nt to forget the nostalgic five-star Ambalapattu...
Your humour makes every blog an interesting craft. I was laughing at the military diwali stores…side-splitting thought… and did lilly ma’m sent a few Prithvi’s via Akash/aero-route [arrowroot]?? :-)
..Raring to read more of ur wit which was reserved oly for the gals sitting front row those days in 8th C…hehe

Anonymous said...

haha.. that was a great account. and pattom! u lived in pattom? we would be neighbours then!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading your nostalgic trip. It also transported me to my good old days. As you know i often get inspired by your writing i'm contemplating something on the same lines but i guess whatever i write might not go through the sensor board which i have to deal with now a days. :-) This is why i think i should have created a blog persona for myself on the virtual world like nariyal chutney. :-)