Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Diwali ki Safai

I was sitting on the sofa with my laptop, catching up on my latest social media notifications and stories, when my phone rang. With my eyes still fixed on my laptop, I stretched my hands to pick up the phone.

It started with the basic niceties of a typical call from close relative, without the slightest hint of how this routine call would drift to become the dreaded call of the season.

“Have you started off with the Diwali safai?”

“Hain”, my eyes popped out and jaw dropped. Is it that time of the year again? So soon?

I placed a hand on my heart and said “All is well. All is well”.

I had almost forgotten the call until that day. One of the whatsapp groups forwarded a pic displaying hundreds of gold bars, silver crockery , bundles of notes lying on the ground and a message saying that we have just started with the diwali clean up. And the idea of diwali cleaning came back to haunt me.

I had to come with a fake yet original answer quickly to satisfy all the soon-to-come calls of concerned family members, asking me the status of my “safai abhiyaan”.

Diwali clean up is a serious social issue. The weaker sections of the society, not capable of spotting a single spider web, hint of dust behind the doors and aliens residing in the kitchen cabinets feel the sudden pressure from the maid-equipped, calendar minding and bragging sections of the society.

If you are brave, you might answer, “No, I shall not.”

But the weak hearted like me, hide behind the excuses like, kids exam time, or we just moved in here, or we are about to move out of this house or I will start later because I am fast.

I know I need to be more creative and less repetitive. I want to rather say, “Why don’t you ask the husband?” or “I’ll do it when its off-season for the maids and they are relieved from other houses?” or maybe “The forecast says it will not be sunny this whole week, so why bother giving everything up in the sunshine?” or “By the time I finish the herculean task, the first thing I finished cleaning will be the same as it was when I started. Don’t you think so?” or maybe “I finished everything already when the PM launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Under his mantra “Na gandgi karenge aur na karnedenge”, my home is ever so clean.”

You can dodge every question unless your mom is on the other end of the line. Every season, I tell her that you should ask me this question when there is enough time for me to finish what I start. And every season she answers that she was busy cleaning up and a homemaker should know better. I have to tell her the truth. I confess and beg her to come down after she has rushed up with hers. Maybe that’s the reason she never tells me well in advance, or I’ll make her come down to my place in real. I tell her it’s hard. It’s unfair for a single person to clean up what has been messed by the whole family. It’s unending. Its cruel.

And she tells me all over again, how cleaning up will bring good luck. She tells me, how this is a way to clean up atleast once a year. And how it is a way to make sure you give up what you haven’t used for the whole year. It’s her way of telling me to go through all my stuff once and avoid pressing the panic button when something is to be quickly located.

Its remarkable how firm the roots of safai are in the hearts of moms and how they struggle and stumble in imbibing the same in their children every year.

Yet every next call that I get, the pressure mounts as the frequency of being asked and bragging gains momentum. Next month or two, feels just like the exam preparatory days in school. Remember those days when the smarter ones used to call to tease the hardworking yet slow ones.

“How much course have you finished yet, my dear” asks the one friend who enjoys others pain.

“I don’t know yaar. I haven’t touched most of it yet. And what ever I had finished seems like a new chapter to me now.” I reply wiping my forehead and sit down as I lose the ground under me.

“Haha. You’re funny. Don’t worry you will be fine. Don’t go by my standards”, come the words that stabbing-friend for who this call is more like a stress buster and entertainment.

The only difference between now and then, is that I used to take the insult to heart and buckle up to work harder. But now, I think.

Happy Dussehra!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Classification of WhatsApp Groups

Whatsapp is officially as much a part of our lives as the morning newspaper. It might not serve the purpose as much as twitter and facebook, taking a sneak peek into others lives, but it surely connects you to people you call your loved ones, at least you call them loved ones on their faces.

But not all the groups get your attention in the same way as others. You have a hierarchy in which you choose to check your messages and that tells the priority of that group in your life. Agree?

So here is my classification of Whatsapp groups according to my degree of love-hate relationship with them, not particularly in the same order though-

  1. Relatives aka Happy Bday group – Now what would you write in a group that you know that your uncles and aunts are part of too. So all I do in these groups is either wish Happy Bday, Anniversary, Congratulations, Best wishes after being reminded 50 times by other members. Or forward some religion specific forwards to tell them that I too am religiously involved and active (even if that means actively forwarding and being forwarded religious stuff in other groups).

  1. Kids School Moms aka Guilt Trip group – Oh this one is a scary group and never ever fails to remind me how scrappy I am as a mom. Most of the moms here are super active at all times. If the kid is late from school by 5 min, they start questioning and reporting about the traffic status on the roads these days. If the kid was absent from school that day, they start inquiring about the homework right from when the other kids start for school and are a good 10 hours away from returning back home. Everything from school toilets to tips and tricks for raising kids well, is discussed every day, every minute here. I know they mean well and are great moms, but they never cease to surprise me. And you haven’t heard the worst yet. The exam time is when the moms are most nervous and they make sure it reflects in the number of messages they send on this group. Question paper, model test papers, number of pages in the question paper, who finished the paper first, which apps to download for educational play time, how many mosquitoes were there in school, how many leaves teacher takes and post pictures of completed home work is all well covered and under control here. Oh gosh, I feel better venting that out.

  1. Siblings’ aka Most Beloved group – Now this is the group that I can never miss being part of any conversation. We might not message on a daily basis, but know that if I message in distress it will be heard immediately and I won’t be left alone until I feel better. We make fun of each other and then suddenly say the exact same words when it concerns our parents. Its because we connect at a different level and always know that we will never be misunderstood. Love you guys!
  1. Out of touch Friends aka Forwards group – What is the best way to keep in touch when you don’t have anything to say? Its simple, you forward messages. You can still show that you care, by forwarding the relevant and newest forwards. If you don’t overdo the forwarding, chances are you will always stay in touch with even your school friends. I do have my doubts if this kind of staying in touch does good to anyone, but then again what’s there to lose. The worst that might happen is that they might decide to walk out of the group and your link will be dead (again), but then you were already out of touch, remember.

  1. Crib Friends group aka unloading – There are times when you just want to hear “Yes, Me Too!”, “Stay calm, this too shall pass!” or “You need a coffee, come home”. This is the group where I text just to hear these words, not any advice, no side effects but just for them to raise their hands to mark their presence that we are sailing in the same boat and hold hands.

  1. Stupid Marketing groups aka Ignore – 99% of the times I don’t want to be a part of these groups. But that 1% of the time, when I really want to buy some stuff and have nowhere to go and have no clue what’s trending, they come right to the rescue. You sometime can’t exit from the group because you even know the person often and want to just avoid that awkward moment when you meet again in person.

Do you agree with me?