'And when Sarla said she preferred Europe to living in India, my wife's indignation knew no bounds.'
Kishore Singh on life after a summer break :))
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
On Sunday night, when my wife flew back after a fortnight in London, my son and I dispensed with the services of the driver so we could fetch her home.
The flight landed early and we were still en route when she called from the tarmac to say, "I know I should not have counted on you for such a simple task. Now I'll have to wait in this sultry heat while both of you make your way at leisure," even though it would be an hour before she cleared immigration, harangued attendants at the duty-free store and exhorted customs officials to go ahead and find something in her bags.
On the journey back, she ticked off our son for taking the wrong route (he hadn't), woke up a friend to inform him of the city's dirty roads and unkempt parks, and picked on me for no reason at all.
"Welcome home," I said to my wife, "I've missed you."
She smelled the dog and pronounced him dirty. She pulled up the cook for "too many spices" in her food. She told off the gardener for not having enough petunias and peonies in the pots.
She complained that the water smelled and the air was grimy even though the rain had washed away all pollution.
She said she hated car horns (though we hardly ever heard any in the colony), strangers who didn't greet each other in the lift (we don't have one in our building), or dog walkers who didn't pick up the poo behind their dogs (though she herself never walked on those pavements), and pronounced all of NCR an uncivil society.
On Monday, when her car stalled at a red light, she got out to upbraid other motorists for their impatience. She's still upset because another intrepid woman driver hired a posse of youth to lift her car and deposit it on the pavement before driving off.
On Tuesday, she rang up another friend to complain about rude parlour staff. Her friend said something about network issues and my wife is still waiting to hear back.
On Wednesday, she armed herself with packing materials and labels to lecture the good shopkeepers of INA Market on how to display their wares and ensure hygiene.
By Thursday, she was in a more forgiving mood and merely handed the dhobi's kid a box of tissues to wipe off his snot-filled nose -- though she did sterilise her own hands with sanitiser immediately after.
By Friday, a semblance of normalcy was setting in when she invited a friend for coffee and cake -- and, no doubt, scurrilous gossip. "How I've missed all this," she marvelled, while her friend regaled her about goings-on in the neighbourhood.
So it was only to be expected when various friends started returning from their summer sojourns across Europe, my wife should take umbrage with them.
"Have you heard Sarla's accent?" she mimicked her friend, "s’il vouz plais indeed!"
She thought Radha was being snotty for complaining about the 'filthy' weather, and laughed because Madhvi thought the Delhi Metro had 'too many Indian people' for her comfort -- was her first and, probably, last foray in a train.
And when Sarla said she preferred Europe to living in India, my wife's indignation knew no bounds. "You are an embarrassment," she pronounced nobly over drinks, "when instead of embracing your inner Indian, you want to be phoren," followed by a scathing catfight.
Life, after the summer break, is wonderfully back to normal.