Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Voyeur

The windows occupy a large part of our bedroom wall. I usually don’t keep the blinds of this particular window open, as it faces the neighboring building. One night, while talking to a friend on the phone, I absentmindedly started to play with the blinds of the window in my bedroom. I twisted them open. Instinctively, I started scanning other people’s homes through their open windows. I peeked through the windows to catch a glimpse of their lives. It aroused me to realize that they weren’t aware of this unwelcome spectator.

That’s when I saw a young woman walking around in her apartment. Quite a shabby pad for a pretty thing like her, I thought. Before I could move on to the next window, she started peeling her clothes off, I mean, actually stripping! In no time, her skimpy top and everything else was on the floor. At this point, I had to pinch myself. I thought to myself, these things only happen to other people.

I hastily hung up on my friend, after explaining the grave scenario. If it were up to him, he would have caught the next flight home. I rushed and switched off all the lights, and watched this amazing live performance by Nudie from partially open blinds. She was blonde and tall. She was probably in her late twenties and looked good naked. She walked around naked, read her book naked, manicured naked without even bothering to give a look sideways. Now, one would think Nudie might realize that her blinds were open and that there could be onlookers trying to get to know her. I was sure that any minute now she would retreat into the dark abyss never to return. But, she didn’t disappoint me. She regaled me for the whole evening. I was quite amazed. Maybe Nudie was an exhibitionist who loved to show off her assets. Maybe she was trying to woo someone in our building. Maybe she had psoriasis and couldn’t wear clothes. Did I care?

Then there was this other woman, Creepy. She lives in the apartment above Nudie and thought I was peeking into her house. She kept eyeing my window suspiciously, peering from above the book she was reading. Here I thought I was operating discreetly. At one point, Creepy stormed up to her window and shut her blinds seemingly angry. Huh? Some issues you must have, missy! If only you knew what was going on under your snooty nose
Suddenly, after an hour or so, Nudie disappeared. I couldn’t tell where. To another room, maybe. She surely couldn’t have felt my eyes on her. I waited patiently by the window. I ran to the kitchen and brought out a bar stool and orange juice and made myself more comfortable. But she refused to make her appearance. I was getting restless and a little frustrated.

After some ten long minutes of waiting near the window to no avail, I was giving up the hope of seeing her again that night. That’s when I heard a loud knock on my door. A little startled, I ambled towards the door. My eyes popped out of their sockets and my heart leapt out of the rib cage to see her at my door. For a minute I didn’t recognize Nudie with her clothes on. She was really beautiful up close. She wore jeans and a plaid shirt and looked much younger than I thought she was. Maybe she was in her early twenties, I corrected my previous estimate. She had an enviable aura of confidence surrounding her.

“May I come in? My name is Heather, by the way. I live in the next building.”

It suddenly struck me that I had been gawking at her all along. Collecting myself and checking my heart rate, I managed to mutter “Yeah.. Hi. I am Monica. Uh… What can I can do for you?” I ushered her in the most akward way.

“Hi Monica, pleased to meet you. Sorry to barge in like this. I have come to collect my fees. That would be 63 dollars with tax.” She replied in the most business-like tone I have ever heard.

“I don’t understand. I owe you money?” I stuttered. Wow! I thought. This woman had the gall to approach me and ask me to pay her for something I didn’t really seek out. Why would I, in my right mind, want to watch a naked woman do her nails? I nervously noticed that she had lavender color painted on her nails. From the window I couldn’t really tell.

“Yes, for my services. You spent an hour watching my performance and it is only fair that you pay me now.” She replied shrugging her shoulders with an admonishing look as if she were talking to a child.

“I think you are mistaken. I don’t know you at all.” I managed to blurt out much to my own astonishment.

She rolled her big blue eyes.

I was already regretting my deed the minute I saw her at the door. She had caught me unawares and all this was unbelievable. I knew she was wronging me, but I was at a loss of words. “Er...um...I don’t think I was aware of a fee. In that case, I wouldn’t have...”

“That’s what they all say dear. I gather you really enjoyed the ride. So why are we hesitating here? Just write me a check or pay by cash and I shall leave amicably.”

At this point, I had resigned to paying her. I didn’t want to be embarrassed anymore. I became bolder and began to haggle. “Aren’t you a little pricey? 60 dollars is a bit too much. Moreover, if I were given a choice, I would have preferred a man instead of you.”

She sighed and leaned forward. “If you had gone to a strip bar, everything would be predictable. So I charge extra for that element of surprise and the whole illicit experience. And sweetheart, naked men are ugly.”

She did have a point. I seemed to have a lot of fun being a voyeur. So I paid her 63 dollars in cash. Didn’t really tip her, as I wasn’t too sure. I knew my husband would not be pleased with this unwarranted expenditure. But she seemed pleased and walked away after shaking my hand, hoping to meet me again.

When Harish got home later that night, I explained this bizarre situation to him. ‘Honey, you won’t believe what happened to me today…’ I rambled on about Heather. At first he seemed disinterested in having this discourse with me. But when I reached the Nudie part, he sat up with interest and didn’t get back to the newspaper till Heather said bye. He looked at me nonchalantly and said, ‘I have to admit, this has got to be the most innovative story behind those new shoes I see on the rack today.’

Recently Parmanu reminded me about Nudie while he was having fun with Pinky. Trying my hand at short stories, I had written this inspired by a true incident I had blogged about long ago. I remember Gabby running to the other room and yelling, "Alpha, come here quick... this is a better view."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The dilemma of being a man

God forbid you are a guy born in this day and age. Oh, so you are. My heartfelt sympathies. I know society is very hard on you and I figured I'd compile a list for easy reference when in doubt. If you are gay, you have enough problems as it is, so you are exempt from this study. But if you claim to be as straight as an arrow, here are ze commandments you need to follow to be a man.

1. Thou shalt unconditionally love sports… the rougher the better. Affiliation to a certain team is must… be it the Mylapore cricket team or the Northwestern Wildcats football team. No rooting for the local Hubbard Hags knitting league. Woe be you if you are caught watching the food channel.

2. You need be on top of Bush (that one too, but this time I am talking of bad things), latest happenings in Chechnya, dips in the Wall Street and Natalie Holloway’s case (hoever dragging) at the same time. When asked about your company’s sustainability report, thou shalt blurt it out.

3. Thou shalt be the ultimate handyman and use parts of the body as a tool kit. Feign ignorance about opening up the vacuum cleaner and not able to locate the scrubber drier, and thou shalt be doomed.

4. Thou shalt not take the easy way and listen to all-knowing astute wife for the fear of being labeled hen-pecked.

5. Manliness doesn’t permit you to talk about clothes with other buddies. You like his shirt..cool.. Just don’t express your feelings on how you were looking for one just like that. Clothes excitement should be limited only to ugly shiny sport jerseys with the number of your brain cells typed boldly at the back.

6. Your face could be a pimple fest and resemble mice-eaten cheese, but thou shalt not be seen with a face mask or any such alleviation techniques.

7. Thou shalt come out stinking from the bath, but will never use the Raspberry Burst body wash sitting in front of your eyes when the normal soap is over. Aromatherapy should be confined to spraying air freshner after the normally stinky crap session. Candles are for kinky stuff only.

8. Thou shalt strive hard and worry endlessly about a bright future ahead with a career that says- Wife, you can relax and cater to your hobbies; my salary will provide for your shopping sprees, your dream holidays and support your extended family too.

9. Thou shalt be able to tackle big bad guys, the way Rajni Kanth does but without the cigarette-juggling. Trying to avoid dark alleys and rolling car windows can be safely construed unmanly.

10. Sense of humor is a must. When your woman cajoles you to crack her up with a tantalizing joke because she says she is having a depressing day, thou shalt not hand over “Vivek’s Comedy” DVD (like Pi did once. He is doomed to be less of a man now.) When asked to be taken out to an expensive place, a gas station is not the right destination. Sucky sense of humor will not be appreciated.

11. If not getting any, thou shalt show extreme frustration by spending time obsessively on X-Box, strumming on guitar or watching porn...whichever you can afford. Eve teasing is also an option in some parts though not recommended because it is a sure shot give-away.

12. Thou shalt fear the word 'cute' for no apparent reason.

13. Thou shalt not fear roller coasters, horror movies, cockroaches, snakes…….

….the list goes on. Basically, tsk tsk.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Stay still, my heart!

This whole thing sucks. When you haven’t written a darn exam for years, I’m telling you it’s not advisable to start writing one now (at least not as a hobby). I am a bag of nerves thinking that I will flunk for the first time in my life (please note that it will be my FIRST time). If the exam was tomorrow, you think I would fret so much? At that time, I could leave it to fate..but now the onus is on me! Not even two months to go, I haven’t even mastered two chapters of the 85 (doubters like Zoheb can contact me for official site proving that there are indeed 85 chapters). All I am doing is turning down party invites and pacing up and down my apartment, trying to avoid furniture in my path. Shucks! There is no space to even pace around here! This is so frustrating!!!!

People tell me it’s OK to flunk. There is always the option of taking it again. So many people do take this exam at least four times till they pass (please note this also). Four times? Equating to 12 months of preparing and having no life! Also, can you imagine what kind of standards I will be setting for my grandchildren? I can never tell my children to go inside and study. My husband will be first to take them aside and let them know that their mom wasn’t all that smart as she makes it out to be. Ah, the woes of future parenthood!

I am told to look at the Somalian refugees and the homeless in Chicago. I could also compare my position with the women in Iraq. Let me tell you a freaky thing- I am willing to bet on my befuddled brain that these women in Iraq must be looking at me for solace. They must be going- ‘At least we don’t have to write an exam like that girl in Chicago!’

Wait, something good did come out of this. Pi has decided to work on his Phd and try finishing it! I guess a person can take sleeping, watching TV and loitering around aimlessly only for so long. This is of course a ploy to avert me from his real intentions. He doesn’t want to be told to cook, clean and give me any sympathy. We both spend enough energy looking at each other from the corner of our eyes for any movement from our respective study material. When he gets up for peeing, I suddenly sit up and exclaim, “Aha! There you go fooling around again. If you have nothing to do, go make some dinner or brush your teeth.”

As a result, we’ve been living off of bread crumbs the crows deposit at our window sill. Fungi have bought out real estate in our bathroom. Instead of table cloth, we have layers of dirt. To give it some pattern, we just have to run our fingers in a zigzag way or write formulae.

He had better not know I wrote this post or I have a grocery list coming!!!