Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bye bye… Bengaluru!

Is it easy for me to quietly slip from my home in Bengaluru to my home in Bahrain?
Well, I don’t think so…
First is the family circle, who knows our travel plan. No complains but every aunt, cousin, uncles etc are aware of with numerous questions coming along with it. It’s all in the family. Perfectly fine.
Then it is the turn of friends and neighbors. No problem.

As I get on to the high stool to bring the suitcases down from the loft, it is the morning of my travel date, this is quite unusual but everything has a reason behind it, as my travel has become so frequent between these two places, I do not have much to carry. Ok then, fewer luggages more comfortable, any day.

Coming back to the people around me, I have a whole lot of whom I interact with on a day to day basis.
First it’s the milk man whose duty is to drop the milk and curd packets in the drop box I have provided on the door, ring the bell and buzz off.
Here in Bahrain, I bring the milk can from the super market which last for a few days. There is no milk man doing it.
Then it is the paper man who has to do the same thing.
Here, I see the GDN delivery man once in 3 months when he comes to collect his dues.
Next is the flower woman who has to drop a string of jasmine for my daily pooja.
Here, whenever we go to the temple we pick up jasmine or any other flower that is available and every season we get jasmine flowers in our compound.
The fourth in line to ring the bell is my maid. Here yes, my house boy comes daily.
The fifth one to ring the bell is my cook.
I do not have a cook here.
The sixth is the garbage collector (now it’s a rule in Bangalore city, we have to separate the dry and wet garbage in two separate covers otherwise she will not touch it)… Wow, Bengaluru if waking up to the environment! I like it. Here my house boy disposes off the garbage daily.

So the bell has to ring six times every morning starting from 6 am to 9 am. In between the bell goes off any number of times with other people coming in, earlier I used to complain but now am kind of used to it and to give company to the calling bell there are two other instruments waiting in tow, well you guessed it… it is the landline and the mobile phone. Added to this is my cook’s mobile too, what with so many siblings, I don’t dare complain.

Why doesn’t the calling bell ring these many times here? Simply because the life style is different here, isn’t it?

The drop box at the door generates a lot of curiosity among these people.
The milk man, the first one, does his duty of dropping the packets early every morning.  Some time the flower woman comes before the paper man. If the paper man sees the packets and the flowers,  he has to know why its not picked up and rings the bell twice, thrice… till I answer the door though the standing instructions to all these people is to ring the bell, I mean press the switch only once. When I answer the door, he goes…, “ Did you wake up now amma, aren’t you feeling well, the milk will get spoilt, Bengaluru’s weather amma (does morning sunlight spoil the milk? I don’t know), I was wondering where you went early in the morning even before the milk man came?” Bah… even though I want to get irritated with him I can’t because of his genuine concern towards me! I tell him calmly, I always have extra packets of milk in my fridge. I also want to tell him I have milk powder at home but stop at that. He doesn’t even seem to listen but goes on, “Please take it inside as soon as it is dropped otherwise you are wasting money”. WHAT???, I want to scream but I say, “OK”, with a smile and he reciprocates happily. I was just lazy that day to climb down the stairs, that’s all.  I can’t afford to be lazy here. I close the door and walk up the stairs thinking at his concern.

Now comes the big question, before I leave I have to tell all these people HOW? Why, how? I know I will be bombarded with questions once they come to know I am gone for a month. No escape. Let me tackle one by one.

Milk man – “I will not be in town for almost a month, so start dropping the packets from the 5th of February onwards”, I say.
“Aiyoo, where are you going akka, one month you wont be here, why akka?”
Three questions at one go!
If I tell him Bahrain, then I will have to geographically explain to him where it is situated and that will be followed by a few more questions, so I tell him quickly, “Yes, I have some work, I have to go out of Bangalore, come from the 5th ok, don’t forget”. I exit quickly, seeing him standing there with a grin, he repeats, “One month”. I say, “Yes, one month.”

Flower woman – She has been giving flowers from the past 30 years and she knows everything about our house, so no need to explain. When I tell her that am going to Bahrain for a month she says, “Go and look after your husband well”. WHAT?? Well… I smile and nod, if I open my mouth then she will straight away brand me as a modern woman who is leading a jolly good life in Bangalore while her husband is working hard in Bahrain, I know.

Paper man – he is the most difficult of the lot. “I will not be here for almost a month” So please stop the paper from the 10th of this month to the 5th of next month.” Before even I could complete my sentence, he goes…straight question, “Where are you going amma?”  “Bahrain”. One second he looks as though he is trying to place where Bahrain is located and then says, “ O, Saar is there know?” I say, “Yes” with a smile. “Ok, Ok, vacation naa?” “Houdhu”. He gives a big ear to ear grin and turns to go. Thank God he didn’t ask me questions. I wondered what that grin meant though!

My maid too is an acquaintance of 30 years but she has her own demands. She knows about my Bahrain trip from the day I planned. I tell here to wash our front yard daily, put  rangoli and water the potted plants with out fail. She nods with a smile and demands, “Give me one saree before you leave and get me one saree while coming back from Bahrain”. I gave her a saree last month, I talk to myself. She knows that she will get what she wants and that’s why the demand. Old devil (not exactly though) is better than an unknown one, exploiting me every now and then.

My cook has worked in my father-in-law’s house for 10 years but is relatively new to me but when she gets to know about my travel plan she very politely tells me, no asking just telling. “You can cut ten days salary and in that money get me chocolates with peanuts in it”. Am zapped!!! I give her a question mark look!!! She continues, “ My eldest sister’s daughter lives in Chicago and every time my sister visits her she brings lots of chocolates and we all at home like this peanut chocolate in particular!” “Ok”, I say with a forced smile. She must be talking about Snickers! Anyway, I paid her full salary and assured her of the peanut chocolates.

One more person I forgot to mention is the Cable TV guy. So, he too will have to disconnect the cable connection for a month and he asks, “How many times you keep going and coming amma?” Well, any problem, I wonder!

So, everything is done and everyone is informed and I’m ready to fly.

Some one in the family says, “Every year Bengaluru used to be very cold during December/January but this year it’s not at all cold”.
The other one jokes, “ Achhu/Asha is here that why.” Well, well…. I take it in my stride.

I land in Bahrain, the weather dips to 11 degrees C. My husband quips, “All these days it was not at all cold”, meaning, you brought in the cold weather! Did I?

Adding to this, my friends too tell me harmlessly, “It was not at all cold all these days Asha, it’s only now that’s this cold!!!!”

Biting cold, do you ask? Yes, it is, let me switch on the heater and enjoy my stay in Bahrain but one thing I can be assured of, I can leave Bahrain quietly, hey… did I say I have to update my status on Face book to Bengaluru when I leave? Well…up to me.

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