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Sunday bonding

How do you spend ‘quality time’ with your spouse? Most couples have their own little thing they like to do. Some watch movies together. Others cook a meal together. The adventurous ones bond over a long drive. Myself and wife, we go on a wild goose chase that culminates in one or more purchases that are random, expensive, or both.

Regular readers of this column may recollect that last summer we had embarked on an epic adventure into the badlands of Noida in search of that rare treasure: north Indian mud. This time, too, mud was involved. But the script was somewhat different.

Famous last words

Last Sunday, I was on the terrace reading the newspaper when I noticed that the wife was engaged in some gardening-type activity using kitchen implements. I should have minded my own business. Instead, I said, “If I were a plant, I would have no respect for a gardener who can’t even be bothered to get her tools right.”

The wife looked up and said, “You’re right. This kitchen knife won’t do. Let’s go buy a khurpi.”

“A what?”

Khurpi,” she repeated. “A kind of trowel.”

“Oh,” I said. “Let me check my diary and confirm if we can schedule this purchase next week.” Famous last words.

Within 15 minutes we were on our way, in search of a roadside vendor she had spotted ‘somewhere in Noida’ two years ago. But wonder of wonders, we found him almost immediately. He was exactly where she said he would be: somewhere in Noida. Wife stepped out of the car, bargained briefly, and returned with a shiny new khurpi, looking pleased at having overpaid by only 200%.

“Can we go home now?” I said.

“Since we’re already in Noida, let’s visit Furnicio.”

“Who is that?”

“An Italian boyfriend you don’t know about.”

“This is totally against Indian culture,” I said. “How long has this been going on?”

“It’s a furniture retailer,” she sighed. “I wanted to check out their garden furniture.”

“Excuse me?” I was stunned. “All these years you’ve vetoed my requirement for a recliner. Now you want to buy a new sofa for the resident money plant?”

“C’mon,” she said. “We need new garden chairs, and a bench.”

“Aren’t you like putting garden furniture before the garden? You know, like cart before —”

“Turn left,” she said, looking at Google Maps. “The Furnicio outlet is not far from here.”

Stop talking

I turned left, and we entered an alley that got narrower the further we went, until we reached a dead end. Where Furnicio should have been, there were two godowns and a cow.

“Looks like your Italian boyfriend is avoiding you,” I said.

“Strange,” she said. “Google Maps says it should be right here.”

“It must be hard,” I said. “Being betrayed by Furnicio and Google Maps at the same time. Maybe Google Maps is helping Furnicio.”

“Will you please stop?”

“I can’t drive if I wanted to,” I said, pointing to the dead end. “You’ve brought us where there is no space even for a U-turn.

“I meant stop talking.”

She took over the wheel. She gave up on Furnicio and drove straight to the furniture market in Sector 10. All the showrooms were shut — obviously, since partial lockdown was still in place. But because everything was shut, there was so much parking that we couldn’t resist. We decided to park and walk around a bit.

As we were passing a shuttered showroom, a guard motioned to us. “You want to buy?”

“Outdoor furniture,” the wife said.

“Recliner,” I said.

Mil jayega,” he said. “Entry from backside, sir. We are officially not open.”

“I don’t think we should go in,” I wanted to say, but wife was already halfway inside the compound. So I hurried after her.

“What’s going on?” I said, when I caught up. “I don’t like this ‘entry from backside’ business. Are we buying furniture or ganja-charas?”

She wasn’t listening. She climbed a stairway and pushed open a metal door. We entered a massive room, as big as half a hockey field. Someone turned on the lights and we found ourselves facing an endless maze of sofas, arm chairs, beds, recliners and dining tables. I started checking out the recliners while wife got into a complicated conversation with the manager over a wooden bench she’d taken a fancy to. We finally ended up ordering a recliner from Malaysia and a bench from, I suspect, Badarpur. Together, they cost us four months’ worth of Kattabomman’s school fees.

“You said we’re going out to buy a khurpi,” I said, as we were driving back. “A bench was never on the agenda.”

“Neither was a recliner.”

“A recliner at least has use value,” I said. “Who buys an expensive bench just to impress a bunch of squirrels?”

“You see this khurpi?” she said, pointing the sharp side at me in a vaguely but not totally non-threatening manner. “Apparently it also has some unorthodox use values that go beyond gardening.”

G. Sampath, author of this satire, is Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2021 3:33:31 AM |

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