Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lost in the Concrete Desert

Part - 2

The other evening, over a cuppa I told husband, "All these days I knew about only one Aman and now I know two of them". Looking over the GDN, he raises his eyebrows to know whom am I talking about. "Zeenat   Aman!, the first one  and now the second one being  Aman Plaza". Putting the paper on his lap, he starts laughing. "What's so funny, you know Zeenat Aman of our very own Bollywood and now whenever I say Aman Plaza I feel she owns this building". Continuing to laugh, husband says, "Don't talk about Zeenat Aman, everyone will start thinking about her movies "….."Ok, ok". I know where all the conversation would lead to. So I stopped.

The next day afternoon, the world cup fever caught up with us, well… it did catch us red handed though for another reason! Me not being a cricket enthusiast was sitting and watching the game when the door bell rang. Still talking about the match and not looking at the door, I open and what do I see, "Captain of the England team in shorts and T-shirt"?!! Coming back to senses as fast as possible, "Yes"? "Am your neighbor", at once the beginning 'boo-boo' incident of trying to open the wrong flat came racing down the memory lane….. "Come in". After taking two steps in with his Hawaii chappal, stops suddenly seeing our foot ware lying nearby, promptly removes his chappal (chappal, very Indian way of saying, isn't it?) and holds them both in his hands and follows me to the living room saying "WOW", which sounds like VEW, British accent, you see…. I turn back to introduce him to husband but couldn't react seeing him following me with the hawaii in hands. I politely show him the floor, meaning to put them down, sense prevails, he walks back and places them next to ours and comes forward and shakes hands with husband while my mind is telling me to tell husband to wash his hands immediately after our 'white' neighbor leaves. He begins straightaway but politely, "Am your neighbor and I'm sorry to say that you are disturbing us by talking loudly"! For a second both of us are stunned! We didn't expect this. Taking another second, husband says, "We are enjoying the cricket world cup matches on TV and we are sorry if we have caused you any disturbance" "O, that's ok, just wanted to say… " "Hey, you guys are Indians?, you have a beautiful living room, mind if I bring in my wife?" By now, 'wide eyed me' muster to utter, "Yes". In walks a Philippina looking young pregnant wife, with a deep cut halterneck frock   which can easily pass of as a lingerie,  shakes hands with both of us saying, "Sara". Being typical me, I ask which country is she from, for which she says "Japan". "Why do these Philippinos, Chinese and Japanese have similar features"? My mind pops up yet another question. Sara says, "We watch movies every afternoon and your talk is rather disturbing, you don't seem to be speaking English and we don't understand anything." Thank god for that. "O, were we that loud? Excuse us if we have disturbed you". Being a structural engineer, husband starts a technical lecture saying nowadays how the builders don't build thick walls between flats to cut costs, to the attentive listeners. "Why don't you sit and have some juice", Indian hospitality offers, "No", smiles Sara, I would like to see your house since it looks big". By the way, theirs is a two bedroom flat. Guided house tour begins from the kitchen and ends up back in the living. VEW, VEW, VEW!, following us everywhere. Showing the kitchen, husband proudly declares, "We are pure vegetarians" for which the England captain, sorry, forgot his name, says, "You don't even eat fish"? "From when did fish become a vegetable?" I ask myself. Husband says, "No". "VEW"! "How many times does this chap says WOW in a day?" I wonder! Entering pooja room, both of them hold their hands together and say aloud. "TEMPLE"? "Ya", I nod. "So many Gods"! One more "Ya'" from me. "I'm a Buddhist", says, Sara. I at once sense the instincts of husband, who is in the brink of breaking into the Siddartha / Gouthama Buddha Epic, and at once look at him and say, "Shall we move on?" As we finish our tour, the English captain looks so lovingly at Sara that within me I'm praying that they both will not show their intimacy to us!

Captain looks at me and says, "You should teach Sara some Indian curries, they taste real good", for which Sara adds, "You eat with your hands and the whole palm smells of the curry even after washing your hands". I chip in at once, "But when you cook, the whole building smells, isn't it?" Husband gives me a look, meaning, "You are being rude here"! Ignoring my comments, Sara says,"You teach me how to eat with hands and I'll teach you how to eat with chop sticks". We both nod smilingly. "Chop sticks, me? She doesn't know me still, eh?", I question within. Leading them to the door, husband says, "From now on we'll have to talk a bit softer", looking at a "smiling me" and adds," But in a few days from now, when your baby cries, we wouldn't mind at all", says looking at the couple. I mentally give a 'high five' for giving them a parting shot, a "googly" here.   "We are very friendly neighbors, you see". I at once remember Lagaan, the hindi movie! Shutting the door behind the "original British family" and having a confused look, I ask, "Did we do the right thing by moving into this building?" Husband says, "Only time will tell"!

Next morning, while flipping through the pages of the GDN, I got to see Classifieds on page no.40. Taking a sudden interest in hunting yet another house, I start scrutinizing for a better place, but alas, cannot find anything suitable in and around Juffair. "Ah, why not I call the agent who showed us this flat? A good idea". Dialing his number, and after exchanging pleasantries, ask him a direct question, "Mr. Sridhar, can you show us another apartment or a villa in and around Adliya or Mahooz. "Why Mrs. Srinivas, it's not even a fortnight you people have moved into such an enviable building and you are already thinking of moving out?" He seems to be totally bewildered! Telling him a short story about our experience with our neighbors, I continue and ask him, "I have seen one compound villa in Adliya (here, I'm withholding the name of the compound for reasons not best known to me), which seems to be quite good and in our budget, why not see there, Mr. Sridhar"? "O, Mrs. Srinivas that is a racist compound", comes his reply. "WHAT, A racist compound?" I almost bark, "Yes, there are a lot of Britishers in there and they don't want any Indian neighbor because they don't want to see an Indian man strolling in the garden with lungy and ladies in their nighties in the mornings!" "Wow", a very Indian sounding one comes out of my mouth, "Go on Mr.Sridhar, haven't heard any such thing, very interesting". "Yes, Mrs. Srinivas, they expect neighbors, I mean men to wear shorts and ladies to wear skirts or pants as casual wear and anyway, who do they think they are to decide the dress code for their neighbors", gives a roaring laugh!!!!!   Once again, I don't know what to say, but a "Yes", whatever that meant. "Well, Mrs. Srinivas, I know your taste and living standards (what does he mean? Low or high, never mind, whatever…) and I also know Mr. Srinivas doesn't wear a lungy at home, keeping all these in mind, will call you as soon as I find a suitable accommodation".   "Ok, thank you Mr. Sridhar".

Now, my thinking process has stopped here. I don't know what future holds for us. At present let me think positive and be happily whispering in Aman Plaza, no, not owned by Zeenat Aman but by a Bahraini. Whisper, Whisper!

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