Wednesday, April 26

The shortest straw

I am in between jobs right now. Not jobless, though I've had the chance to experience that twice. No, between wrapping up at the previous workplace and joining the new one, I flimflammed and hoodwinked my way to a 2-week break.

Now here's the situation. I am 34, single, without any serious responsibilities and with a reasonable amount of doubloons in the bank. Most people in these shoes would have planned or simply trotted off on a nice vacation somewhere. I am not most people. And it is only now that I am experiencing the power of conditioning (not air conditioning... egads, this summer heat). You see, for 2 and something years, I've worked, without a break. I take my weekends seriously and made it known loud and clear that I was not prepared to hotfoot it to the office to show "commitment". Every now and then, official working weekends couldn't be helped, though any sharp-eared character could have heard my jaws grinding in irritation. Unofficially, I reckon there were almost none where some ideas or scripts did not have to be thought of or fleshed out. So, now that 2 actual work-free weeks have been presented to me, I don't know what to do.

Sure, I wake up latish, enjoy every sip of filter coffee with gusto and loll over breakfast. There are no trains to catch, mails to check or deadlines to meet. Yet, I can feel something gnawing at my gut. This scenario feels wrong. I know, I know... it's crazy and stupid but try talking my brain out of it. I wander about the house in the somnolent Pune afternoons, read books in various rooms, gulp down glasses of iced tea, water the plants and generally mooch around in the accepted fashion. God knows I need this vacation. But I'm not enjoying it 100%. That's frustrating the dickens out of me.

For one thing, everyone and their uncles asks the standard question "Oh, why aren't you taking a trip somewhere?" As if I were the village idiot to whom this idea never occurred. I flash the weary smile of a latter day Stylite and explain my predicament. There's no one to holiday with. My friends are busy working or simply do not have the time. And I'm rather fed up of doing things by myself. Alone. I live alone, I travel singly (though I am given the opportunity to get intimately acquainted with a variety of sweaty armpits and backs on the Bombay trains), I cook meals for one and yes, there's no one in bed except me. After a point, it begins to try a man's soul. Even one in admittedly as limited a supply as mine.

I used to enjoy taking solo trips. I have no problems eating in restaurants or watching movies by myself. Heck, some weekends I am happy as a clam to be left to my own devices. Par ab mujhse na ho payega. So, I am pottering around the house, playing cricket in the evenings, arranging to meet old friends for lunches or dinners, and yes, even blogging. But it isn't joy, jollity and song.

However, one unexpected benefaction of my time has been to my patti (grandmother). Her annual visit to Pune has coincided with mine. That does mean I cannot lurch home late at night smelling like a brewery (these old folks have noses that would put wolves out of business). Though that is the least of her worries at present. The change of weather has given her a nasty cold & cough. The pater is rather getting on in years himself and busy to boot and the sibling has balanced work and life to ensure absence from home for most of the day. This has left the resident dogsbody to perform the medication ministration, as it were. That's fine by me.

One of my earliest memories of childhood is of suffering from chickenpox at the age of 2. I vividly remember a fever that left me delirious and the acute pain of a sore throat. I lay in a much-washed, cotton-soft sari clad lap, being fed rasam-rice by hand. That was my patti. Over the years, there have been many occasions her love, care and cooking have soothed my illnesses away. Now, it's my turn. Not because there's a debt to repay but because love works in many a mysterious way.

Life has a funny way of coming full circle, what?

Song for the moment: Anthem - Leonard Cohen