Friday, February 22, 2008


Like Kevin McCallister before him, Manuel should never be home alone.

I learned this the hard way. Manuel arrived back in Delhi one week before me and that seven days proved just to be a tad too long for him to go unsupervised. When we were in Amsterdam, we stopped by the Iittala store where we got 2 temperature resistant glasses for coffee, tea or other very hot beverages. As Manuel had a higher luggage allowance than I did (thanks Swiss Air!) he brought the glasses back. Once back, he decided to make himself a nice hot cup of coffee. But, does he use the heat resistant glasses? No. Does he use the bone china coffee cups? No. Does he use the stone carved cups? No. We have this really nice set of thick purple glasses. Four of them to be exact. The purple glasses are amazing and usually kept in the freezer, waiting to be pulled out and filled with beer. Manuel had other ideas for one of them. Manuel decided to shun the coffee designated dishes for something a bit more colorful. He boiled his milk (he hates coffee made with water) and added the coffee and poured the whole thing into the purple glass. That made the glass very unhappy and so it exploded, sending purple glass and coffee all over the kitchen.

After cleaning that up, he decided to do a bit of redecorating with the speakers from the cinema surround-sound system we have. Keep in mind that we are in a rented flat with rented furniture and have no idea what the place will look like in a month or two, or where anything in the flat will be. Manuel decided that certain speakers should be mounted to the wall. So, he takes some instrument designed to make a hole in the wall (I am a bit to scared to ask what he used) and realizes we do not have a hammer. Does he use a brick? No. Does he use the sole of a shoe? No. He decides to use one of the stone carved mugs we have. A nice set of four bought about 6 months ago at a craft market here in Delhi. We were told it was made from stone and virtually unbreakable. 2 weeks later the handle just popped off the teapot. So we were down one teapot, but had four large mugs, four smaller mugs and a little serving dish in the even we ever felt like serving anything in a civilized and Bree van de Kamp like manner. Manuel, unable to find a hammer or any substitute for a hammer instead grabs one of the large stone mugs and uses that to beat the screw or nail into the wall. About three or four millimeters into the wall, the bigger hole appears in the mug itself which then has to be tossed in the trash. The mission to redecorate abandoned and all we have left to show for it are stone fragments and a small grey hole in a white wall. It almost looks like it would be a peephole in some tit-flashing teen flick. He told me all of this in a low voice on my way from the airport to the house last week.

Last Friday evening on the way home from work, I noticed a huge cloud of smoke rising over the buildings of Lajpat Nagar, the area just across from Defence Colony, where I live. However, as I got closer to the house, I was more able to pinpoint where the fire was. It was not coming from Lajpat Nagar, but from Defence Colony. And then panic hit. The fire wasn’t just anywhere in Defence Colony, it was coming from the area where I live. I phoned Manuel who had just left the house and asked him where the fire was. “What fire?” was all he had to say and so I told him to look up. Then he screamed into the phone “Oh my God, it’s our house!!! Our house is on fire!!!” I screamed back into the phone and then he started laughing.
I didn’t see the humor then and I don’t see it as of yet. Perhaps later in the week.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Abandoned and Alone

So here I am, back in the land of the living. Not that I have been hanging around in the land of dead or even the un-dead like some male version of Buffy or the Halliwell sisters. Spring is in the air, and there’s a spring in my step, I have a new job, a new phone number, new computer, new clothes and like Lady Marmalade before me, a new attitude. I am back to using my mind, my Internet connection and my iPod. Could things be any better? Valentine’s Day is now just a blurry memory and my favorite Indian holiday of Holi is just around the corner. I have already taken my left-over and unused colors from last year and placed them out where I can gaze upon them from time to time. I can’t wait to be covered in layers of pink, blue, green, red and other assorted colors.

But it is not all daffodils and tip-toeing through the tulips. There is an emotional monsoon looming on the not-so-distant horizon. It was just the other night, over dinner at a fabulous flat across town that Stephen dropped the bomb. There we were having the obligatory bubbles from the yellow labeled bottle when it was announced that he and Pierre are leaving Delhi in just over two months. I was immediately crushed by the insensitivity of the decision. My first thought was “what about me?” They should know by now that I have serious abandonment issues. My emotions spanned the entire Oscar winning range. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream. I wanted to hit someone. It was all very Sally Field at the end of ‘Steel Magnolias’. Questions like “who will we do Sunday afternoon drinks with by the pool?” and “where will I ever get another gin martini?” filled my head like a bad hangover. I was drunk with despair, high on hysteria. I had been unexpectedly blindsided by the cruel rickshaw of reality. But then I asked myself “what would Scarlett (O’Hara, not Johansson) do?” and so I decided to face the issue head on taking a deep dive into the sea of denial. Now at least, I have someone other than my parents to blame for how my life is turning out.

It’s times like this I am thankful for friends like Chris and Poul and their freezer dedicated to the vodkas of the world. No matter what the mood or the occasion, they have the appropriate vodka which they keep at that perfect brain-freeze inducing temperature guaranteed to dim the lights of even the brightest of sorrows.

I know everyone thinks I will crumble. That I will lay down and die. But no, not I. I will survive.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

If I have said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. Valentine’s Day is for losers.


At this very moment I am making an “L” shape with my thumb and forefinger and putting it against my forehead. The only thing missing from this day for me right now is a DVD of Jerry Springer’s greatest moments or perhaps even tickets to “Jerry Springer: The Musical”. Before anyone says I am being bitter and a bit of a Valentine’s Day Scrooge, let me clarify that I am in no way, shape or form against open and grand displays of affection. It is the day itself and what it has come to represent that I am completely opposed to. Let us first keep in mind the origin of the day itself. According to legend, the first Valentine’s card/declaration of love and adoration was sent from Mr. Valentine himself. While he was in prison. I assume that means he can also be blamed for the trend of women who fall for and then subsequently marry men who are on death row for things like, oh, I don’t know, killing their parents. Eric Menendez, anyone? I am sure that deep down underneath that cold, calculating and murderous exterior, he’s really a nice and sweet guy. Very sensitive. Imagine the future they have together. Not even allowed conjugal visits. I know it is all very Carlos and Gabrielle Solis, Desperate Housewives Season 2, but she was at least putting out for the hot gardener while he was more likely than not some inmate’s bitch.

But I seem to be getting side-tracked.

Years ago I had an argument with Doug and to this day he does not see my side. I personally think it is rude to ask someone if you can try something on their plate. It is not the sharing of food I find rude, but the social obligation to say “yes” to the question whether you want the person forking around with your food or not. I find it rude to ask a question to which the responding party has but one acceptable answer. If you answer “no” then you are seen as a complete jerk with anti-social behavior bordering on psychopathic. I became a black-sheep of the wining and dining set. I stood my ground and wore my new-found anti-social status with pride making sure everything I ordered would create feelings of lust and envy from those around me. Someone would ultimately ask if they could try my dish and I would say “no”. They would assume I was joking, give a bit of a giggle and move their fork in my general direction. I would fend them off with my knife until they realized I was serious and then they would toss dirty looks my direction the rest of the evening. I got quite a lot of pleasure over the ability to ruin someone’s dining experience with such a small little word. And actually, all I wanted was someone to agree with me that asking was rude. If they would have, I would have opened up the gates to my plate and let them fork themselves into a frenzy. But they never did.

And that brings me back to Valentine’s Day. It is a day set aside where we are socially obligated to make grand and public displays of affection and love and adoration. And we are seen as anti-social being bordering on psychopathic if we don’t. Pity the woman in the office that doesn’t get any flowers. Pity the one that get’s carnations instead of long-stemmed red roses. I know plenty of women who send flowers to themselves complete with gushy card they can pass around the office for everyone to drool over. Do you really think there are that many secret admirers out there? And for the men it is even worse. God help the man that sends the carnations or only 6 roses when the rest of the women where the object of his affections works get 12. I find the whole obligatory part of Valentine’s to be repulsive. I think that anyone needing a day set aside and the constant advertising that reminds us to make some sort of gesture to that special person needs to seriously re-examine their relationship.

I think it says so much more when a card or post-it just shows up in some unexpected place on some ordinary day of the year. The surprise candle-lit bubble bath for no reason at all. Even being able to just sit next to each other reading our own books and enjoying the company of the person sitting next to us. That to me just says so much more.