I celebrated last New Year with a potluck dinner at our friend's place. The group was made up of my husband's college friends and their families. Potluck was a misnomer since one of the wives had called each of us to plan the menu and allot dishes. Actually celebrated is also a misnomer since the New Year found me flat on the friend's daughter's bed, missing the general cheer at the countdown and all. No, I did NOT get drunk. This is what happened:
I wake up early; and all that cooking after a day at work left me a little sapped of energy. I dolled up in record time, packed the food and set out, albeit drooping, for the party.
Actually party is also a misnomer for the ladies all congregated and what could be the topic of the day but recipes! I did try to contribute..... to keep awake. This went on for.....oh quite long. My effort to speak about monkeys or snakes was futile. Cook-talk refused to loosen its grip over the group. Finally the talk turned to other things. Beauty treatments. This just might be interesting. I thought. The discussion, at first rambling, soon focussed on hair colouring and then to henna.Everyone grew lively, shedding new light on the ingredients and procedures for making the henna concoction. Imagine my dismay at powder, grind, mix, add and stir creeping back into the territory like some Pak soldiers into Kargil. They seemed to have a life of their own and a mission to overpower (me). Meanwhile the potency of coffee powder in the mix as opposed to tea and the cleansing effect of lemon juice, the shine enhancing qualities of castor oil were all thoroughly debated and exhaustively studied. Again I tried to talk about robbers and Adnan Sami's intestinal bypass. However the looks I got turned suspicious at my red rimmed eyes. By this time I was so lost, I couldn't have found my voice if I wanted to scream.The chat then meandered to craft work, I wished I could shut my eyes.
Escape... That's what I needed to do. No one noticed as I wandered towards my friend's daughter's room where the children had gathered. Actually children is a misnomer too.(Am I repeating myself? Excuse please - the whine of a yearning-for-sleep individual is as inebriating as wine itself) So children is a misnomer too, for they had all grown up into college-going youth. Ah youth - the fount of new thought, that dynamic mix of energy and enthusiasm. Their company would infect me with life or at least life enough to keep gravity from getting my eyelids.
No sound could be heard from inside. I turned the door knob and entered the room to find the youngsters lolling around on the chairs and floor watching TV. What I saw on TV froze my blood! On the screen was a fat black man and a blonde woman going "mmmmmmmmm that is sooo ggoood! Aaaaaah..... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm". My shock at finding the youth engrossed in the blonde's ecstasy over a chocolate cake did loosen the persistent embrace of sleep. I sat on a vacant spot on the bed next to a friend's daughter who resisted my attempts at conversation. Ah these youngsters - they are entitled to an attitude or maybe she didn't want to talk about the fun stuff in her college and her aspirations and even whether she thought Simon was actually a good guy or.... anyway to cut a long story short, I shut up again- I'd become an expert at this and the silence in the room was broken only by the fat chef and blonde stuffing some obscene looking meat with stuff and slathering it with fat...
Sitting on the bed hadn't been a good idea, for coupled with the stillness of bored youngsters, it was an ardent invitation to Sleep who kept stroking me with tempting hands. The problem was that whenever I sat and dozed my mouth would automatically open and my neck would absolve itself of its responsibility to hold my head up; with the effect that I would get transformed from a dignified lady into an ungraceful lout. I hate it. Having presented this ugly side of mine on aircrafts, buses, during speeches, concerts and sundry other occasions, I had extracted a solemn oath from my daughter never to let me be seen as Ms.Revolting. She, being a concerned and law-abiding person and she being in the room with me, in fact seated on the floor right opposite me, took it on herself to wake me the moment my mouth went into fly-catching mode. She would say something that ended with 'Amma',- the last said in a piercing and sharp shout that forced my eyelids open in shock. So it went... Nod nod...AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA "He's adding so much butter AMMA" and I would jerk upright. In 2 minutes again I'd go nod nod nod... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA "The woman is so dumb, no AMMA?" And my eyes would fly open again. After many such rousing attempts, persistence died within both of us. My daughter simply ran out of things to say. I was past bothering - I could appear as clumsy as Sandra Bullock at her worst for all I cared. The gaps between Nod and Wake grew shorter and shorter, just like labour pain. Keeping awake had become sheer torture. So I abandoned propriety, snuggled on the bed between the wall and somebody's backside and surrendered to bliss.
The ending is a happy one though. This year's party call has come. And I've watched so many cooking shows and searched so many cooking sites and memorised so many recipes. Can't wait to show off.
Most of us love to complain.Untold suffering seldom is, they say. Be it the boss or the systems and policies at the work place or the inefficient civic authorities or a disappointing movie ... the list is endless. While teaching class twelve I had to get students to write letters of complaint. It was disturbing that they were never expected to be taught to write a thank you note or a note of appreciation. No wonder we are a nation of whiners - see, I am whining about it now.
The pleasure that we get from grumbling is cathartic - you get the offending matter off your chest. The act also unites people who have had similar experiences. Many whine sessions involve people competing to relate the greater grievance. If someone actually addressed our grievances, and we had nothing to be miffed about, I think we would be really miffed!
Sometimes we simply want a sympathetic listener who will take our side. And some people just don't get that. I was once whining to colleagues, about my weight gain. 'Even a tiny piece of cake gets converted into a tyre on the waist,'I said. All I wanted to hear was that I looked good despite a tyre or two. That's when this chemistry teacher earnestly explains to me that energy intake to the body that is not used up is mostly stored as fat in the fat tissue.The conversion efficiency of food energy into physical power depends on the form of energy source - type of food and on the type of physical energy usage, that is which muscles are used, whether the muscle is used aerobically or anaerobically. He continued explaining that the efficiency of muscles is rather low: only a small percent of the food energy is converted into mechanical energy. This low efficiency is the result of only a tiny percentage efficiency of generating ATP (whatever that is!) from food energy, losses in converting energy from ATP into mechanical work inside the muscle, and mechanical losses inside the body. These depend on the type of exercise and the type of muscle fibers being used. He then began to draw - maybe the molecular structure of a fat tissue or something - but stopped on seeing my face.
I was in tears.
There are those who give advice and practical suggestions to overcome a problem. These creative problem solvers don't get it that the whiner isn't asking for a solution. At least my husband doesn't(get it). Like the time when on returning from a parent-teacher meeting, I went on about how exhausted I was, how belligerent the parents were, how useless it was to talk to them how I was the last to leave only to find the bus gone, how I had to wait for another vehicle,how other teachers' spouses had come to get them, how sore my throat felt and how bad my head ached. Without taking his eyes off the TV he suggested, 'Make some tea and take a Panadol. You will feel better.'
My sudden sullenness did bewilder him - after all, he had tried to help, hadn't he?
A little cribbing isn't a dangerous thing but sometimes it becomes excessive. Constant complaining must be some kind of disease and what's more, it can be catching. So beware.