Saturday, May 16, 2015

Of Rice and Men

It was a Monday morning meeting and I was waiting in the conference room for the Senior Product Manager (PM) to make an arrival. He was usually punctual. In fact he was always punctual. You can see folks adjusting their watches when he walks into the office. At least the ones still wearing a wrist watch. The rest just know it was time to start pretending to work.
I surfed Ebay, trolled some news sites, and did the mandatory likes on photographs on Facebook. There were quite a few of them. I hastily unliked a photograph of some Himalayan baba sitting in the buff next to one of my gullible North Indian friends. This friend describes herself as "very spiritual". The next photo had her sitting on the baba's lap and baba sporting a rather inscrutable expression. I am sure she found the experience “spiritually uplifting” heh heh.

In the early 2000's she was the devotee of a Sadhvi. Sadhvi fixed all her devotees marriages, both national and international. Spiritual friend had her fix a wedding for me too. But I didn't care too much for the anemic Spaniard with the scrubby goatee. Besides it was my hasne khelne ke din in those days. I wondered aloud if I could do some browsing of the Sadhvi's grooms catalog. Friend was shocked and flabbergasted. She had never heard such a sacrilegious suggestion. Arranged marriage, she explained to me wagging her finger furiously, was God's way of uniting me with my soul mate. I yawned and she broke off the friendship for a while. I was relieved, till spiritual friend decided to forgive and forget. Which was annoying often.

After that I was mostly darting behind buildings and trees when I saw her approaching with photographs and albums. She tried hitching me to a pedantic Englishman, a painfully thin and "aromatic" Italian, a brusque 50 year old German and phlegmatic other nationality I don't remember. I got away with some sacrilegious suggestion or other and a whole lotta temporary suspension of friendship for some time, till Sadhvi got her married to an Estonian who was mostly stoned. She flew to Estonia and then moved to England in a container and then onto Mexico crossing the border into the US with her husband in a truck with mostly Spanish people co passengers. It was rather cramped she said in one of her numerous mails to me. But Sadhvi's framed photograph kept her steadfast. Now that her husband is in rehab, she has gone back to work as an "alternate medicine" dispenser in one of Sadhvi's clinic in the US. She is mostly stoned and doesn't trouble me anymore.

It was 10 am when PM walked in. He looked sleepy and disheveled. He barely sat through the new product meeting nodding off now and then. This was very unusual. PM was a dedicated man who was first to arrive in the office and last to leave. He could explain the features and modules of the new application he was building any number of times and repeat it again when I woke up from my slumber. He seemed to be in a lot of distress.

“What happened Srikant?” I asked with unabashed curiosity.
“Didn't have breakfast” he said sleepily. “I am so hungry.”

My eyebrows flew up. This sounded real juicy. “Why don’t you go eat something and come back?” I said sympathetically.  “It’s all right” he shrugged. “What is it that you wanted to talk to me about?” he asked none too enthusiastically.

The next day, he looked even more distressed. So I took him out for lunch. I wanted to be the first to get the dirt. The developers working with him were seen gnashing their teeth in despair. I had, as usual got to the kill before them. Lunch was an extraordinary affair. PM ate like a zombie. After watching him for 10 minutes I finally asked him what was bothering him.

“It is vacation time” he said gloomily. “The family is in my native place.”
That made sense. The poor fellow was missing his wife and kid! My eyes teared up. The man was obviously a softie. I thought his wife was really lucky.
“I am a creature of habit Silverine”, said Srikant, interrupting my happy thoughts. “I am used to Kanchipuram Idlis on Monday morning, Dosa on Tuesday, Pongal on Wednesday, Akki roti on Thursday and Upma on Friday. I cannot eat omelet everyday!!!” I frowned. This didn’t make any sense!

“My lunch is also follows the same pattern! I cannot eat this Cafeteria food! A working man has to eat. It is the least I can ask!!”

I looked at him. It all made sense now. The poor man was struggling for food with the ungrateful wife away on vacation. I picked up the delicious looking payasam and poured him some over his head. Then the paneer makhani followed by the butter chicken masala. Then I kicked his arse all the way to the office where the ladies gave him a tongue lashing. By the time they were done, PM was a changed man. He was heard calling his wife and asking her to stay an extra week at her parents place.

Next day he was bright and early, full of enthusiasm and energy. We patted ourselves on our respective backs and went to work with a sigh of accomplishment.

At lunch, PM opened his tiffin and a delicious aroma filled the dining area. We looked at each other and nodded approvingly. He had obviously made his own lunch. Then his phone rang and we heard him this conversation, “The food is fine amma. But you didn't make curd rice? You know I cannot do without curd rice at the end of the meal!!!”

He didn't know what hit him. But he is recovering fine at the hospital. His mom is making him some special soup for an early recovery. We don’t think there is any hope for him.


Guruji said...

How genderally, racially derogatory to conclude that all we simen (South Indian Men) - irrespective of our castes, creeds, social statuses, management skills, suitbootedness - are one and the same when comes to our craving for curd-rice and k.t kunjumon chosen heroines. We would like to remind here that we on the other hand are world renowned epicures who also love a vast variety of other delicacies such as podi and urlai roast.

[“Long live long leaves” ~ Guruji]

Pradeep Nair said...

Hi, back after a long hiatus? ... Interesting story. Food addicts?

Mandrake said...

Ha :)

y u no blog of late?

MC said...

OMG!! I logged into blogspot after like few years and I see you have posted after several years. Wow! Perhaps its time for a comeback by all the original bloggers!

MC said...

:-P Poor PM.. He needs to be initiated to the likes of FoodPanda..

Art said...

I can totally relate to it... Have seen so many of this kind in office... Luckily my husband is not like this...

silverine said...

@guruji: Thousand apologies :-)
@Pradeep: Spoilt brat actually :-)
@mandrake: Blogs are so 19th century no! lol rarely get time to blog these days :-)
@MC: I would sell my soul to see SK revived. This time turn off the comments :-p
@Art: Lucky girl!! Most of the men in my office are spoilt brats :-p

Blunt Edges said...

Tell him to have aatu kaal soup. Aids recovery. :)
Great to read you again Silverine!

silverine said...

@blunt edges: You mean it cures spoilt grown up brats? :-) Good to see old blog pals hereabouts!

Gauri said...

So nice to see your post! Welcome back! You are here to stay, no? - gkam

That Girl said...

I used to read your blog a loooong time ago, happened to bump into something online which sent me here! Good to "see" you again!

Destiny's child... said...

I am too late, I know! But men like this really deserve "otta idi" :D
Great to see the good old fellows blog again. I was away for a long time too. Hope you are doing well. :)

Arti Honrao said...

Good to see you again :)


MindFreaK said...

Good to see you back Silverine !

manoranjini said...

Great to see you back in action . Reminded me of my own good old blogging days ,being younger, loving your funny writing , all the blogging action of those days . Cheers and keep on rocking . *Gone to read the rest of your recent posts*