A very happy 2018 to all the employees and readers of your esteemed publication. May you achieve even greater heights in the coming year.
I have just returned to my house after two weeks vacation in my brother’s house in Mumbai. Have you been to Mumbai? His house is near Old Air India Colony in Santacruz East. Like myself he is also retired. For so many years I have been telling him, “My dear Janaki, you come to Chennai, you come to Chennai, you come to Chennai. You come here, get a nice proper house with air supply, and live like a civilised human being. What you are, living in flat that is smaller than tiffin box, and water will come only between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.?”
Will he listen, Sir/ Madam? No chance. According to him, Mumbai is the greatest city in the world. One morning, we went out for a walk through one nearby park. He said, “Brother, have you seen such a park anywhere in Chennai?”
Sir/ Madam, this park was the size of two shuttle courts. I told him, “What nonsense you are talking brother? In Chennai you will find more greenery inside one plate keerai vadai (two pieces).” And then as usual he got over-emotional and started saying, Mumbai is like that, Chennai is like this. I kept quiet. Chennai is my family property or what. You say what you want, man. As he was giving man ki baat about Mumbai, I started thinking about keerai vadai .
When we got back from ‘International Mathrubootham Conference of Mumbai Better Than Everything 2017,’ his wife had prepared lavish lunch.
“Neighbour’s daughter is coming for lunch,” she said. She is staying in Singapore since marriage, but has come on Christmas vacation. Sharmila is very close to my brother and his wife because she has been living in the building since childhood. I said, “Very good, always exciting to meet people from other countries and cities, which are world class but not up to Mumbai standard.” Oh, what a tragedy lunch it was, Sir/ Madam.
Whether you have seen superhit Malayalam film Akashadoothu about husband and wife (Madhavi) who both grew up in orphanage? Then first, husband is alcoholic, then he is murdered and then wife gets leukaemia and then just before dying she has to give all children to adoption? That was Sound of Music compared to the lunch.
First of all, as soon as Sharmila came with family, they started telling how Mumbai is so hot and polluted and useless and uncultured and horrible public transport compared to Singapore. Slowly I could see my brother’s face turn from rose milk pink to orange orange to Maruti 800 red. Just as he was about to public transport the casserole into Sharmila’s husband’s face, my sister-in-law took my brother to the guest bedroom for urgent discussion.
Then there was Sharmila’s daughter. Sir/ Madam, please don’t misunderstand. Your child, your problem. Who am I to say anything and give advice? As if my children are taking part in Olympics in the morning and Nobel Prize after lunch.
But still, what is this nonsense. The child, some name like Osmania or Tilapia or something, will only eat French fries. Morning, afternoon and night. French fries. So I thought, let me be like grandfather to this child, who is eating prison food. I said, “Come little girl, let me give you some curd rice, national dish.” Immediately, Sharmila’s face turned into modern art. “Please don’t give my child this poison,” she said.
Excuse me, what nonsense, how dare you. She said, “Curd and all in India first of all unhygienic and second of all full adulteration. It is very risky. French fries is better.” I lost all self-control and Mrs. Mathrubootham had to take me to the guest bedroom for urgent discussion. Meanwhile, my brother went out to purchase French fries.
Afterwards I told my brother, what nonsense people are these. My brother agreed and then he asked me a very important question. “Brother, 24 hours in Mumbai you will get French fries. Same is possible in Chennai?” Never.
Yours in ultimate frustration,