Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Snack With an Ancestor

The lights are on. No, they’re off. On. Off again. And so goes my day at the office today. As I was sitting in the dark, my face illuminated by my laptop screen, I wonder with a sigh whatever happened to the good old days when power going out would shut down all the computers and bring everything to a stand-still? Now we have laptops with extended life batteries that enable us to keep working even in the darkest of hours. It’s an outrage, an infringement on my rights as a resident of an electrically challenged nation. Then the big outage occurred this afternoon and even the generator was not working, the whole office was in the dark except, of course those of us with laptops. Thanks to modern technology, we can’t even use outages as an excuse to skive off.

At last, we were all told to shut everything down, which was music to my ears… I walked across the little street to the little park and shared a bit of wall space next to a monkey. I was eating fruit, he was eating leaves he was picking off the tree and suddenly it was me and my genetic ancestor sharing a moment of primitive bonding. Just as I was about to hand him what was left of my fruit, he finished his meal, turned his little red bum toward me and marched off without so much as a wink. I felt snubbed, abandoned even by my Darwinian history. For all I know it could have been a third cousin 200 times removed and now I will never know... How will I find him or her? I hate to sound prejudice and shallow, but all them monkeys look alike to me.

So today while animatedly (is there any other way?) conversing with my colleagues, I said something that surprised me when I heard it in my very own voice. I was so shocked I forgot the exact quote, but it went something like this: “I am not so comfortable having servants.” Where did those words come from? I was forced to ponder the subconscious part of my being that had so rudely and indiscriminately forced its way out of my body. But it is true. I am not so comfortable with it. All joking aside, I find it difficult to have someone do things for me all the time. I have friends that don’t even get their own glass of water or open or clothes their own windows.

And at work, it is the same thing for me. If I need water, diet coke, a plate, spoon, napkin, coffee, pen, paper, anything at all, there is only one word I need to know; “Gopal”. Gopal arranges everything for the team on my floor. And what I can’t bring myself to do that my colleagues do without thinking, is no matter where they are, they shout his name and here he comes, ready to do whatever needs doing. This is not done in a rude way, it is just the way it is done. At home, while I do not have a live in, everything is done for me. The house is cleaned, clothes are folded and hung up, meals are cooked, if something spills on the floor, the maid gets it. I don’t even rinse a glass on my own here.

Even the while idea of DIY is not really done here. If you order something that needs to be assembled IKEA style, it will be delivered and assembled for you. If you buy curtains, they will hang them for you. If you go to the grocery at the market, you buy what you want and they will deliver it. Even Subway and MacDonald’s deliver. Need clothes? Just have them made. One evening over drinks, my friend Abdul said “I never wear ready made.” I was instantly jealous. Why didn’t I think of that line? In my opinion, that is a line that should be reserved for cinematic lighting and a DeMille style close-up.

But back to the topic at hand, I have to remember that it gives people a job they may not otherwise have, but coming from the western world, it is just a cultural adjustment I find difficult to adapt to. Of course if I could find one to work out for me and whip my body into Adonis like shape while I slept, that would be brilliant!

1 comment:

  1. Like all celebrities, I have been misquoted. I said, "Ready Made is not for me!". "Never wear Ready Made" would be incorrect. In this fast moving world, I don't have the time for tasteful indulgences and have to make do with what's available. :)