There are some superstitions that were born out of sensible advice. “Don’t go out during a solar eclipse or else you’ll go blind.” Translation: I know the whole phenomenon is beautiful and everything, but I don’t trust your capacity to resist staring at it until you’re blind as a bat. And since we won’t have pinhole cameras, dark goggles or white canes for a few centuries to come, park your butt indoors until this thing blows over.
“Cover your mouth with your hand when you yawn, otherwise the Devil will get inside“. I’m going to venture a guess that ‘Devil’ was the name of the family’s pet mosquito. Apt, when you consider the notorious blood-sucking habit and how common it is for families to have a million pet mosquitoes without even knowing it.
And then there are a few that make no sense whatsoever.
- “Don’t let the baby look into the mirror. He will grow up with buck teeth.” Huh?
- “Don’t pass the salt with your hands, or else you’ll end up fighting with that person.” Honey, I love you and that’s the only reason I’m seasoning your food using my toes.
- “Don’t get your picture taken at sunset. It will shorten your lifespan.” George Clooney should be dead by now, from all those Oscars red carpet photos taken at dusk.
There’s yet another category: those superstitions that started out with meaningful purpose, but somewhere along the way, lost… um, their way. Nomadic tribes shared the day’s kill with the entire group because (1) you needed a group offensive to kill something bigger than a rabbit and (2) there were no freezers to keep your woolly mammoth leftovers. Later among settlers, everyone knew everyone in their village, even without Facebook. So it’s logical that you invite the entire community if you’re hosting a decent lunch. It was an excuse to meet and greet, and frankly no one wanted to be uninvited from the next big dinner.
Flash forward to the 21st century: what’s the deal with inviting a thousand strangers to your wedding?
Me: “Why can’t I have a teeny-tiny wedding with just friends and relatives?”
Parents: “OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG!”
So there we were, my new missus and I, receiving obligatory, not-really-whole-hearted blessings from a gazillion people we haven’t met and will never meet ever again, while they snapped up the wedding feast (which we’ve been told later, was “OH, SO DELICIOSO!“). Thanks for sharing that. Now please excuse us while we stuff our starving bellies from empty plates filled with blessings. Now there’s a wedding memory that would last a lifetime.
The next time someone goes boo-hoo over a broken mirror, I will personally deliver their 7 years of bad luck.
Colleague: “So what plans for the weekend?”
Me: “Well I bought a bike yesterday, so…”
Colleague: “Wow! That’s so great! Congratulations!!”
Me: “umm… bicycle”
Colleague: “Huh. Okay…”
Me: “But when they say ‘bike’ here in the US, they usually mean bicycle. Only in India we generally say that for motorcycles”
Colleague: “Well you see I’m not an American. So I’ll just call it like they do in India”
In case you were wondering, the weekend plan was to go biking… uh, cycling with the missus around a lovely park next to the airport. It sits on the river at one end of the runway, so it’s a great spot to watch planes land and take-off right over people’s heads. And best of all, it’s within biking cycling distance from all the DC monuments. Oh, think of all the fun we’ll have!
It took me at least ten minutes to figure it out how to ride a geared bicycle. Ten LONG minutes of looking like a Bugs Bunny cartoon: pedaling like crazy but going nowhere. And by the way, who’s the genius who thought it would be a great idea to put hard seats on bikes? With every push of the pedals I could almost hear my butt go “Ow! Ow! Ow!” When it looked like I finally got the hang of the gear thingies, the wife asks if I’m ready to go. It took every ounce of willpower to stop myself from suggesting a half-hour break.
She sped off like a marathon champ on her squeaky, rusty, ancient bike. And here I was, tagging along a couple of light years behind her, wheezing, gasping and pedaling for dear life. They say the brain has two halves.
I like the second half.
A million years and a billion absolutely clueless gearshifts later, the missus comes to a stop at a fork in the biking trail. “Which way do you want to go?” she asks as I pull up next to her. I want to decide but somehow I have lost the ability to think!
This sudden stop after the vigorous workout has completely messed up my insides. Slight nausea from all the panting, which reminds me of all those godforsaken attempts to go to the gym. What memories! Now the nausea is worse. A weird silence fills my ears, drowning out all the noise – the traffic, planes, my darling wife’s blah-blah-blah about the biking trail, etc. etc.
“Okay, so that’s where all my blood has been. Why is the earth spinning in the opposite direction? Is this how someone passes out? Shit, this feels AWESOME! Somebody should make a movie about this. Hey! WHOA! Don’t do it, man! Don’t throw up in public. They’ll ask you to pick it up like dog poop. All those tourists are staring. You’ll become the poster-boy of losers all over the world. Shake it off! Shake it off! NO WAIT! Bad idea…”
You know how they distort audio and video in movies to show the point-of-view of a person on the edge of consciousness? Well, I did see my wife say something but all I heard was “Aaaaaaarrr Yoooooouuuuu Oooookaaayyyyyy?”
“Me? I’m fine! Cool! Relax, don’t worry” And then… letting go of the bike. Staggering onto the grass wearing a stupid grin, pretending to admire the surroundings. Sitting down slowly… ah, forget it! Lying on my back, arms folded behind my head and tapping my feet on the grass. Trying to look like I stopped to admire the stars. These stars. You can’t see these stars? Oh, they’re great. Spinning and everything!
“See, THIS IS WHY I tell you to exercise daily! We have barely biked for 2 miles and you look like you’re ready to drop dead!” There’s no situation so bad that you can’t make it worse by adding a little guilt. Words of wisdom spoken by a true… WHAT? TWO MILES?? THAT’S ALL???
That’s when I realized: I am going to die here. Either that or the missus is going to lend a helping hand in speeding up the process. Lord, why didn’t I marry a girl my parents chose for me? IDIOT! MORON!!
A few less dramatic rest stops later Mrs. Champ asks, “Do you want to keep going all the way to Rosslyn?”
“Hmm… you know what? I have my sunglasses on and it’s going to be dark soon. What do you say, we go back to the park?”
Great. Now I’m going up on the Pathetic Excuses Wall of Fame.
Later that night in the comfort of the indoors (and a soft pillow under me) I hear the wife talking to her mom. You know, the usual stuff – “Today I cooked A, B, C and we did X, Y, Z… blah, blah, blah…”
Mother-in-law: “You cycled for SIX MILES? That’s almost TEN KILOMETERS! Are you both fine? Weren’t you exhausted?”
Me: (Please don’t tell her. Please don’t tell her)
Wife: “I’m fine, Ma. I exercise every day. But you should’ve seen…”
Me: (Kill me. Kill me now)
Before we go to bed she says, “Your legs are going to hurt really bad in the morning”
Me (reaching for the extra pillow): “Ever heard of pain relocation therapy?”
Wife: “No. And why two pillows?”
Me: “Let’s just say my legs are the last thing I’m worried about”
A few weeks before the inevitable and undesirable winter, the office-folk were narrating stories of the previous year’s snowfall. Part of an unofficial annual tradition, I figured. One of the Wish-Granting Gods flew by at that exact moment and heard me say “You know I’ve never seen snow ever in my life.” Voila!
Me to Wife: “…and when I was walking back to the car, it started SNOWING. I drove home through SNOW! Falling SNOWFLAKES! And I drove THROUGH them!! YAY!!!”
Now I admit I must give a lot of credit to my wife for keeping a straight face and an unfrustrated mind whenever I went bouncing off the walls like I was on a high. “My first international flight. Whee!” “I just saw the Empire State Building through the window. Yay!” “TOM HANKS is on TWITTER and I’m FOLLOWING him! WOO HOO!!”
You get the picture.
So when I came home with 200mg of instantly melted snowflakes on me for the first time in my life, she waited patiently for me to float back to Planet Earth. Which took a really long time because I spent the entire afternoon staring out of the window, waiting for the car engine to cool down enough to let snow settle on the hood.
I was so excited we had to celebrate that magical day by going out for dinner. I brushed all the ice and snow off the car before we started off. And then spent the entire evening sitting on my hands and howling in pain from the frostbite.
“Why the hell did you have to clean the snow with your bare hands, you dumbass?”
“Because I didn’t want to ruin the new winter gloves you got me”
There are times in a marriage when an honest, innocent and straight-from-the-heart answer will only make things worse. Case in point.
“Aren’t you at least worried? Your brother is here just for 3 weeks and now you can’t show him any of the places because of this lousy weather”
“Aw, who cares about those dumb monuments? Let’s all stay home and watch the HISTORIC SNOWSTORM!”
The full moon does strange things to some people’s minds. In my case it’s snow.
A couple of days later I gave my brother the biggest gift he ever got during his visit. A chance of a lifetime to dig the car out of the snow! You should’ve seen the look on his face. He was trying so hard to fake anger and hide his excitement. He and his little games!
The resourceful Missus fashioned a snow shovel out of a steel bowl. A strong, reliable snow shovel without a handle. As we proceeded to clear 2 feet of snow around the tiny car with a bowl, neighbors looked at us like we were digging a tunnel with a toothbrush.
I pretended to act cool the only way all my years of upbringing (in front of the TV) taught me. So I rolled up two large snowballs and fired them off towards my wife and brother.
They took my digging bowl away and handed me a spoon.
“The guy on the radio said we’re getting another snowstorm. And this will be the real ‘historic’ one, breaking all records apparently”
“Really? Woo hoo!!”
It’s hard to live with some kinds of folks. Go ask my wife.
This time we were smart about the whole game. We started scurrying around for a shovel the day before the storm. The Walmart employee looked at us like we asked for his kidneys.
Me to Wife: “So what if they don’t have any shovels. We dug the car out once and we can do it again. You have nothing to worry as long as I’m here”
(2 hours of digging later) “Nope (panting)… This one’s not our car either. Let’s move to the next one”
Two Days Later
“Another snowstorm? Are you KIDDING ME??”
I was less excited and more determined this time. Spent half the day calling hardware stores.
“Hi, I know this is a dumb question but do you happen to have any shovels in stock? Ok, are you at least expecting a shipment any time soon? Er… umm… Yes, that’s an urgent proposal and I’ll need your inputs by Friday if I have to send it out before the deadline. Ahem… sorry about that. My boss just walked by…”
(After 4 hours) “You HAVE them? TWENTY?? Can you please hold one for me? I can be there in 10 minutes. No? Ok, never mind. I’m coming over to your store right now”
Naturally I came home without a shovel. Two more days later, we are digging out again. I turn to the owner of the next car, “Hey buddy, do you happen to have a shovel I could borrow?”
“I ain’t got one on me, man. But why don’t you ask at the building front desk? They got 6 of them for folks to borrow”
“Why don’t you just park here in this little side street? I TOLD you we’re never going to find a parking spot at this time of the day.”
“Great! Now we’ll have to walk ALL the way to the restaurant.”
“Would you rather keep driving around the block for another hour? Be my guest, but I’m hungry and I don’t mind eating alone.”
“Okay, okay. There, you happy? Let’s enjoy our long, ‘appetizing’ walk now.”
“Hey, you’re the one who made the reservations at rush hour…”
“Shh… wait. I don’t think we were supposed to park in this street. Check out this sign”
NO PARKING ALLOWED
FROM JUL 16 THRU 30
“Ok first of all, that sign is on the ground. They must have taken it off.”
“Why would someone take it down before the 30th? It fell off, I’m telling you.”
“What difference does it make? You see so many other cars parked all over this street. I’m sure it’s ok. Can we please go now?”
“What if they have a permit? What if they are government vehicles? You know, like the FBI or something”
“A special parking permit for tiny streets? Is that supposed to be funny? Even if these other cars had a permit, they would put it up on their dashboard… uh oh”
UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE
“Holy crap! Check the other cars”
UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE
UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE
UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE
“Do you think it’ll be ok if we just kept our car here for a little while? I mean, no one’s going to look for that sign on every single car, right?”
“YOU THINK? A bright-red tiny car among lots of big, black SUVs… why, they’ll think this one must belong to OBAMA because it looks so special!”
“Fine, fine. Get in. We’ll find some other street. Why isn’t this door opening? Oops!”
“WAIT! THAT’S NOT OUR CA…”
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
No matter how many times my faith in it is reinforced, Murphy’s Law feels compelled to remind me again and again of its universal validity. Again and again and again. Every single day.
How else do you explain the way EVERY morning I board the bus to find all the seats taken? All except that one next to HER. Just one empty seat. No more, no less.
I would have gladly stood for the entire 30-minute journey if all the seats were taken. But NOOOOOO…… there’s always that same single, empty seat which stands out, sticking out its tongue and mocking me, “I dare you to sit here, Ha!”
What’s wrong with HER that makes me fuss about a seat? Nothing. Please let it be on record that I said “Nothing”. There’s nothing wrong with her and she’s just a normal person minding her own business. Except. She occupies 50% of that solitary empty seat. Above and beyond 100% of her own, in case you still didn’t get it.
I know you’re getting all judgmental now. So what? You are allowed to because you don’t have to go through this everyday. Well, I too could get judgmental about all your workplace whining if I were my own boss, but I am not and so I don’t. Totally different train of thought, but anyway…
Now I don’t want to be the jerk who avoids sitting next to someone because he/she is big. Rather I don’t want the other passengers to THINK I am that jerk, so I end up sitting in that seat. Now begins the fun part.
People think I sit with half a butt hanging out in the aisle because it’s funny. They think I’m going, “Ho ho ho! It’s hilarious to watch people tripping over my leg. So hilarious that it’s worth sitting on one half of my bottom everyday, ha ha hee hee…” They glare at me for their inconvenience, not noticing that I have obviously relinquished control over half of my body to gravity. I guess they expect me to sit on Biggie’s lap.
At the next stop one other seat becomes empty. Is it okay if I move to that seat? Or would it be the social equivalent of pointing to her and yelling, “FATTY! FATTY! FATTY!”? I decide to avoid that risk and stay put. Yes Murphy’s Law, I can see you grinning there like a sadistic idiot. Now SHUT UP!
The bus makes a sharp left turn, pinning my obese neighbor against the window. Thank Heavens it wasn’t a sharp right or else I would have crumbled like a biscuit. After a few more transactions of people getting on and off, two adjacent seats are now vacant. WINDOW SEAT! Great excuse for ditching Biggie’s neighborhood.
Just when I get up with my bag, some dude from another seat swoops in to occupy my destination. Back to square one. Since I performed the elaborate act of standing up with my backpack – and because my bus stop is nowhere near – I put it on casually and take my seat again. This time resting only 25% butt. Remember the stupid backpack? That’s why.
I get it, okay Murphy? Your Law is the big, fat, fact of life. The universal truth. You have made your point. Now will you please leave me alone and go harass some non-believer? Do I have to get a tattoo to prove I’m on board with your views on life’s inescapable cruelty?
Suddenly I find myself leaning into the aisle. In case you didn’t know, it’s hard to fight gravity while sitting on one-fourth of your ass. And then it hit me: the bus is making a hard right. Oh, crap!
God, if you will please make this driver slow down, I promise to… umm… well… Okay, I promise to keep that other promise to work out every alternate day. Why isn’t he slowing down? Okay, okay… I’ll work out every day! PLEASE! Are you listening? HELP! NOOOOOOO…..
It’s high time I got fired as the ‘Vacation Research Analyst’. You see, that’s the job I hold at home. Rather that’s the one thing I can do right, to put it in a certain someone else’s words. That is until a couple of weekends ago.
After two months of planning, cancelling and mostly daydreaming for our much-deserved break from the daily grind, I finally handed in the recommendation from my research to the Home Minister: Virginia Beach, here we come baby!
And then weather.com blew my recommendation to pieces. Turns out I was selling the prospect of spending an entire weekend wielding umbrellas and wearing raincoats on the beach. But hey, weather forecasts are always subject to change, right?. Who knows, we’ll probably see “Mostly Sunny” the day we land up there.
And then all the hotels got sold out. All of them! All the rooms! This is not even summer, for God’s sake! Moreover, it’s supposed to be LOUSY weather over there. I finally found a place and booked it before they too ran out of rooms. ‘Walking distance from the beach‘ was no more an option.
And then the wife finds a better hotel. Cheaper. Best of all, one-and-a-half blocks from the best part of the beach. If you have never haggled over the phone to wiggle out of cancellation charges, you should try it. It’s so much fun, you wont forget it for the next three or four lifetimes.
The next thing on my list was to come up with an itinerary that would let me keep my aforementioned job. Sand sculptures, fireworks, speed-boating on the sea, local food, the annual Neptune Festival Grand Parade… I crammed a week’s worth of stuff into a day and a half. I spent the better part of the week painting the picture of a perfect weekend. And packing day arrives! Clothes: check. Camera: check. Driving directions: check. Learner’s permit for me: hold on, still studying.
And then I failed the test. Well, I’m sure you saw that one coming, but Mrs. Ishu certainly didn’t. Five hours to go and I don’t have a valid license to share the burden of driving. I took advantage of the Magic of Telecommunication to convey the grand news. And that my friends, is the real reason I didn’t get run over by her that day. But by the time the anticipated hour arrives, all is fortunately forgotten in the excitement (Didn’t dare to ask if it was forgiven too).
So began the long, much-awaited drive. Wonder of wonders! Something’s wrong with the A/C unit. The fan is making weird noises and it’s getting really hot. After a quick browse through the manual, I try to make up for the morning by fixing the stupid thing.
And then… well, let me just skip ahead and not make things worse. By the time we got to Virginia Beach, the wife was too exhausted to whine about anything at all. Now there’s only one thing that can motivate her. “The Sand Sculpture Contest! Master artists from all over the globe! Are you sure you wanna miss watching them create stunning works of art?” Well I didn’t use those exact cliched words, but the gist of it did the trick. I grabbed the camera, she grabbed her sweatshirt and we shot off towards the beach. And…
What can I say, it was all over before we even left home that afternoon. No artwork-in-progress to witness. But all the exhibits were standing there, complete and awaiting the admiring stares and clicks. Now I’m one of those who never get paintings. By definition, my handwriting too should be classified as abstract art, but let’s not get into that now. The sculptures created out of the shapeless, insignificant sand around us were too gorgeous for the art-hater in me. So I set about doing what I do on vacations – clicking away, ignoring my driver completely.
After sunset it’s time for the arts and crafts stalls which reminded me a lot of the handicrafts fairs that happen back home. There was also a Pakistani lady who set up a mehendi stall. “Herbal Tattoos. Painless. Comes off in 3 weeks! Go Green!” Fact: You can sell just about anything here if only you use the right words.
And then the speedboats and the fireworks got cancelled. Unfavorable wind conditions, my ass. Serves me right for studying the camera manual instead of traffic signs. The remaining highlight of the next day’s itinerary was the Grand Parade. The only highlight left. But of course we did rent bikes and rode up and down the length of the beach on the boardwalk, so that did a lot of cheering up.
By the next day we were in for a surprise. No, not a bad one this time. The cruise operators said the dolphin-sighting trips are still running.
“But the dolphin season is only until September. And the forecast says it’s gonna rain today”, I offer my keen internet wisdom.
“Sir, the cruise is still on and we have one today at 11am. Are you interested?” (That’s customer-service lingo for Stop whining. Are you in or out?)
We’re in. We were also the last two souls to board, keeping the entire boatload of tourists waiting for the highly anticipated tour to begin. “Captain, do you still have a minute? I’ll just run to my car and get my sunglasses.” If the guy was pissed, I didn’t know it because I was already running across the parking lot. Of course, my darling wife made sure they didn’t leave me behind. I had the camera, after all.
And then it began to pour. That’s right! Little note: when you’re out in the open sea, ‘cats and dogs’ doesn’t even come close to describing torrential rain. I pretended to act busy protecting the camera with my thin shirt. Half an hour into the cruise, all we can see are gulls and pelicans. Not too bad, but that’s not what we paid for. Just when I’m ready to jump overboard before a certain someone pushes me, the guide calls everyone to the left side.
Dolphins, ahoy! Unknown fact: When the wind makes the boat sway, the dolphins come out to play.
Thanks God, for making these dumb creatures freakishly happy whenever the waves roll. The Weather Gods have finally given us something good. Those last ninety minutes of the weekend were the best for every one of us on board, as we watched the graceful arcs the beasts made whenever they came up for air. Even in reality it feels like watching a nature show or a Sea World ad in slow motion. Not kidding.
The most surreal hour and a half. Towards the end every one calmed down from excited whoops to silent reverence. To all those people, the cruise saved the weekend. As for me, I get to continue to do the one thing I can do right.
So while I get busy researching how to wreck the next big getaway, go take a look at snapshots from Virginia Beach on the other blog (of course, I don’t need to remind you about those pain-in-the-ass navigation arrows).
DISCLAIMER: Do not try the following at home. Ishu holds no responsibility for what happens to you if you do. So avoid this crap by giving your eye doctor the finger if he tells you to marinate indoors for 2 weeks.
DISCLAIMER – 2: Ishu also holds no responsibility to what your eye doc does to you after the aforementioned action.
Tips for surviving a 2-week ban on books, TV, laptop and outdoors:
- Celebrate the break from work 🙂 Woo hoo!!
- Call friends everyday and bug them. Forget it if you’ve got that touch-screen phone which you are now not allowed to look at, so can’t use
- Settle for bugging just those friends who made the big mistake of calling you
- Get some audio books. Good ones. Note: Audio book is not the same as the ‘read out loud’ feature on a PDF e-book. TRUST ME, IT’S NOT.
- Sleep a LOT. If you’re having any difficulty achieving this goal, try the aforementioned ‘read out loud’ feature in Adobe Acrobat (recommended: bank statement PDF)
- Have nightmares all the time, usually featuring characters from the audio book you are listening to
- Give up on audio books. Swear never to say “Lord of the…” EVER.
- Listen to all the media coverage about Michael Jackson’s painkillers addiction. Proceed to freak out, stop medication, freak out big-time, continue medication
- Get uber-religious and ultra-spiritual without warning or explanation. Listen to the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagavadgita, all in a single day. Proceed to call the wife during an office meeting and dictate a 10-page list of ‘Humanitarian Things To Do As Soon I’m All Better’
- Be a good husband and let the wife freak out this time. Note: Do not try this when the wife is at home. Always call her at work and then let the shit hit the fan. This gives her time to exit the ‘husband-killer’ state of mind before she returns from work
- Run out of people to call up. Last resort: folks from the workplace
- Tell yourself “NO, I will NOT let this boredom drive me that crazy!” and successfully avoid calling the office
- Answer all telemarketing calls and try to discuss the latest Hollywood gossip until the caller hangs up on you
- Ignore the fire alarm in the building until the fire engines arrive
- Catch hold of the guy from the 2nd floor, who cooked under the smoke detector and beat him up. Once the alarms stop, wake up from the dream and go back into the apartment
- Wait until the wife has got her hands full with cooking, dishwashing, laundry and vacuuming and then shout a random phrase every 5 minutes. Recommended phrases:
- FRUIT JUICE!! - WATER!! - FRUIT JUICE (THIS TIME WITHOUT SEEDS)!! - WHADDYA MEAN APPLE JUICE HAS NO SEEDS? COME HERE, I’LL SHOW YOU ONE! - FRESH UNDERWEAR!! - THE BLUE ONE! THIS GRAY ONE DOESN’T GO WITH MY PYJAMAS!! - PLEASE!! - PRETTY PLEASE WITH SUGAR ON TOP!! - ROOM SERVICE!! - HELP!! MY WIFE IS AN AXE-MURDERER!!
- Wake the wife at 3am and ask for lemon juice
- 3:15am: “This has got too much sugar in it. It’s making me nauseous”
- Wake up and say “1 down, 13 days to go! Yeah, baby!!”
- Wonder why the suitcases are missing
Ideally I should name this post “And then I quit Marketing – AGAIN!” Well, now you know what it is all about.
At the Wal-Mart checkout counter —
Guy1: But the barcode is showing me 17 dollars
Me: I know that. What I’m trying to tell you is that we picked it from the 13 bucks shelf. 13 bucks for a 12-inch dish. This one is 12 inches. You see this bigger one? It’s 14 inches. THAT ONE is 17 bucks. It says so on your store shelf.
Guy1: But the barcode is showing me 17 dollars
Me: (###%$#@%%^$%^) I KNOWWWWW that. Someone put the same “14-inch for $17.00” sticker on both dishes by mistake. You can clearly see the smaller one is not 14 inches. It’s only 12. It’s. How can two different sizes cost the same?
Guy1: Maybe it’s a better quality
Me: It says “Stainless Steel” on both of them! They have the same barcode number. That’s not possible, right?
Guy1: Sorry, sir
Me: (For not having a working brain?) Can I speak to a supervisor please?
Guy2: Yes, sir?
Me: (after narrating the entire Ramayana) It’s the same brand, same product with different sizes! What difference do you think will be there in the QUALITY???
Guy2: I dont know. We are not the manufacturer. Maybe there is a difference. I can only go by the barcode.
Me: Your own staff put these two dishes in their correct shelves even though they had the same barcode
Guy1: Maybe they are different types of dishes
Me: DUDE! It’s the same manufacturer. They have the same product code on both the stickers. You see that? And this thing is obviously smaller than the other one. You see that too, right? How can two different things have the same product code?
Guy2: It’s a manufacturer defect
Me: (Ok, genius) Listen, we need this and this is the only one available. Is there any way someone can help us here?
Guy2: I can give you a 10% discount
Me: (You ARE a genius!) You are giving me a discount so that I can buy a 13 dollar dish for just 16?
Guy2: (enthusiastic) Yes, sir! That’s right 🙂
Dinner date with the wife at a Japanese restaurant. Nice place. Tucked away in the subterranean corner of a shopping mall. We actually had to use a MAP to find it inside the building. Not kidding.
The first thing I notice as soon as we are seated is a pair of chopsticks put there for each of us. (Heh heh… yeah, right! They expect me to eat with THESE?) The smirk on my face fades away as soon as I hear, “Hey, do you want to try eating with chopsticks? Let’s try, come on! It’ll be fun!”
Now if you haven’t heard of male ego, then you’re a male. So there I go, head held high, chest puffed up and ready to face Armageddon. I ruined my evening with one word: “Ok”.
I now begin to feel the map was just the beginning.
Now this restaurant was expecting a lot of chopstick-illiterate chaps like me. So they even printed instructions on the wrapper. With line drawings of long, delicate fingers. Not like mine at all.
Brilliant! Ok, relax. I can do this. Primary objective: Make sure the food survives the journey from plate to mouth, without falling back into my plate or that of the big dude at the next table. Secondary objec… well, let’s just forget the drawings because I’ll never look THAT graceful eating with chopsticks. Not even if I am born Japanese for the next 6 lives.
So wife and I begin our training. Chopsticks 101.
- Take chopstick number one and hold it between your thumb and forefinger. No, not at the fingertips. You know that webbed, folded corner between the two fingers? The one you hardly use because you are not a duck? THAT one. (Funny, I never noticed until today that it reminds me of a T-Rex)
- Now hold chopstick number two between the fingertips.
- Keep chopstick one still and move chopstick two like you’re writing with a pencil.
- Now pick up food, bring it towards your mouth (now my hand is quivering like crazy, as if I just heard someone say “Let’s watch ‘New York‘ again!”)
- FINALLY reach the destination (home, sweet home) and grab the food like a hungry shark before it can slip away
- Repeat process until you die of a thumb cramp
First course. Soup and veg salad. I almost told the waitress she might as well take the salad away because I never touch bland, boring food. Ever. But I wanted to warm up before a grand-scale embarrassment with the main course. So I picked up a few strands of grated carrot from the salad bowl, carefully led them away from gravity and successfully dropped them into my soup. Primary objective failed.
Wife on the other hand, was attacking the vegetables like a pro. This is supposed to be her first attempt at using chopsticks? Great. Just Great. I stared at her for five whole minutes, while a chandlerbing-style thought ran in my head, “Look at her GO! It’s as if she was a samurai in her previous life. What’s wrong with ME? Oooh… don’t open THAT door!”
Ok, time for a break. Few spoonfuls of soup later, I’m back in the arena. Little piece of cabbage is precariously perched between two thin wooden points… slowly and VERY VERY UNSTEADILY rising from the earth… and we’re almost ther… OOPS! My fingers just moved a quarter of a nanometer and the cabbage escaped, spinning and soaring through the stratosphere in slow motion and landed with a big splash in the soup.
Not my soup.
My darling wife looks up with an expression that says, “You are one friggin’ step away from becoming sushi”. Ok, that’s enough of the salad for me, thank you.
Main course. Wife orders a chicken-shrimp-noodle-something. After half an hour of listening to the waitress pronounce weird names of the vegetarian entrees, I decide to go with a safe choice, “I’ll have whatever she is having. But I am a vegetarian. So could you make mine with no meat?” Now I don’t know the Japanese word for ‘freak’, but I’m 100% certain the waitress used it then.
The food arrived. Looking oily, brown, extreme-fried. DELICIOUS! Just when I’m about to dig in, the wife points to some white-ish blobs at a corner of my plate and asks the waitress, “Isn’t that shrimp?” I said, “What? NO… that can’t be shrimp. Mine is the veggie dish. No meat”, and looked up at the waitress with an expression of hope and desperation. “Right? Please say yes”
The waitress takes one look at my plate and says, “No. No meeth” (Sweet relief!) “Only shRRimp”
Me: (WTF!) “What?”
She: “Yes, yes. No meeth. Only shRRimp. You eeth seafood. You like ith”
Me: “No, no. I don’t eat ANY kind of meat. Not even seafood”
Her expression could only have one meaning. You poor bastard. I pity your sad little life.
She: “In my counthry, we eeth seafood AND we eeth meeth” (Fantastic country!) “It’s okay. You wanth me to puth your noodles on another plathe?”
Me: (What exactly is the point of THAT?) “No, the plate is fine. Thanks. Just remove the shrimps. That should be ok”
Exit shRRimp. Now let’s double-check. Noodles. Oil. Cabbage (Not AGAIN!). Onions. Deep-fried onions. Mega-fried onions. Soy sauce. Broccoli. Tomatoes. CHOPSTICKS! (Mommy!!)
A solid piece of cabbage didn’t survive the trip to my mouth. Now I’ve got a big, entangled mass of oily noodles sniggering at me. I wait for the waitress to leave, so I can embarrass myself in peace. But she is engrossed in an animated conversation with my wife about ‘my counthry, your counthry’.
Finally I picked up the tattered bits of my beaten ego and feebly asked her for the one and only thing I wanted in the whole, wide world.