Categories
Humour Thought and Reason

The TamBram’s guide to saving Money

(Thank you, BlogAdda)

Aaah..finally some useful tips in the wake of the new year (Oops..are we in Feb. already?!)

The TamBram’s guide to Saving Money. And these are just simple steps that almost every middle-class TamBram household practise on a day-to-day basis.

Step 1: Save milk, Save gas

Image Courtesy: Internet!

Place ancestral milk-boiler on hob. Snip milk packets at very end, pour gently. Now, tip boiler sideways or backwards (its an art, mind you, to ensure the boiler doesn’t just fall off the hob!), and click a couple of times, until finally, the sticky, old lighter yields to emit a tiny spark.

Warning: ‘Gas Saved’ inversely proportional to ‘Time saved’.

And now, the master stroke. Carry empty milk packets to Kitchen sink, rinse with around 12 ml water (roughly 2 tablespoons Plus a little extra that goes in ‘FREE’), and WAIT, do not throw away this. Add this milky water (er.. I meant, diluted milk) to the boiler. Hardly matters that you open the boiler again, increasing gas/time to boil!

Double stroke: Boiler lets out shrill whistle when milk is done…shrill enough to awaken both your household and also your neighbour’s.

Note: Effective Annual Savings on Milk = 12 (ml) * 365 (days) = 4.38 solid litres of milk per year!

PLUS, A one-off saving on Cost of ‘Alaram Clacks’ = Rs.85 * 3 (your’s and your neighbours R and L) = Rs. 255!

Step 2: Save food

Ensure you buy only the smallest quantity of vegetables for that day’s cooking. Don’t bother yourself with stocking food properly, you know, to efficiently save time, energy and effort. You must only buy 1/4 kg Okra, 1/4 kg Potatoes, exactly 2 Tomatoes, and a few chillis for that day’s cooking. Hey, and don’t forget to harass ‘that cheat’ of a vegetable-vendor for your entitlement of FREE sprays of ‘Karvepilai’ (curry leaves).

Most important – while cutting vegetables (or making poor servant do it), ensure you peel the thinnest layer of skin, so as to Maximise use of vegetable in question. Especially Onions. You must ensure that new daughter-in-law peels ONLY the top-most and thinnest layer of the onion and chops it up finely, through watery eyes. (Itseems water/tears are good for eyes, so you can save on Visits to the Opthalmologist too) Ignore fact that DIL is getting late to work, and that she probably earns a 6 or 7-figure salary! You are, after all, saving about 10 paise on that Onion, you see!

Note: Effective Annual Savings: 1) Onions: 10 paise * 365 days = Rs.3.65 per annum (2) Opthalmologist for DIL: Rs.2500 ?! Wow!

Step 3: Charity and Economy

Ahem..sounds tricky, doesn’t it? But here’s the secret. Give tired servant her daily dose of coffee. Only, use cheapest brand of instant coffee powder (not your ‘Dikaaktion Filter Kaapi’) and WAIT, its supposed to be ‘half-milk, half-water’, didn’t you know? Needless to say, it has to be a pint sized tumbler and not the regular one, Duh!

On a side note: If servant asks for loan, ensure you say, you need to check with husband/son (as the case may be) and give it to her in installments, as ‘we don’t have that sort of money, you know?’. Ofcourse, she doesn’t know about those 15 sovereigns of gold (and unused assorted silver lamps) in the cupboard.

Note: Effective Annual Savings: Marginal amount of milk saved: 75 ml a day * 365 days = 27 LITRES! Gosh, sounds huge when you see it this way!

Step 4: Recycle, Recycle.

Now, now, we aren’t talking about recycling Plastic/glass or any other thing that the Western world is so hell bent on using, to make the world a Greener place. We are referring to the Art of recycling gifts. (Do Read Salil’s post on this, its one of a kind!)

Now, let’s set a few ground rules here.

* Gifts for strangers – Go for that cheap plastic ‘lemon set’ that Patta maami recycled (er, gave) you as a house-warming gift. Ensure you peel off her husband’s ‘Retired Mr.So-On-So’ Visiting Card that also served as a ‘Gift Message Tag’. Ensure you paste your own husband’s visiting card.. er.. gift Tag, instead. And most important, cram in names of EVERY FAMILY MEMBER so you economise by giving one single gift. Also shows how ‘close’ the family is, doesn’t it?

* Gifts for close relatives – Look for a tattered envelope, chuck in an even more tattered 500-rupee-note, and again, remember to cram in names of entire family on the envelope, and if there is space, write in a ‘congratulations/happy birthday..blah..blah’ message too. Now, you can display your family’s diminishing fortunes, by using a ‘used envelope’ and striking out the existing name from it, and writing your recipient’s name below! Ta da!

* Gifts for VIP relatives – For instance.. your ‘Sammandhi-amma / Samdhi-ji’…(and by that, it is strictly meant, ‘Divine MIL of Daughter’ (NOT Mom of DIL)), then make sure you get out that tiny stock of ‘phaarin scent’ that ‘Rukku Maami’s son sent from Kaalifourniya’ and actually gift-wrap it for the big occasion.

Note: Effective Annual Savings: Rs.150 (chalta-hai-gifts) * 4 occasions = Rs. 600 and Rs. 1000 (VIP gifts) * 2 occasions = Rs. 2000 PLUS Re.1 (estimated cost of envelope) * er.. 2 occasions = Rs.2 . Total savings: Rs. 2602 (ATLEAST).

Step 5: Regular  / Forced savings

Gold is an everlasting investment, as everyone knows. Most TamBram households regularly invest in a chit fund or gold chit.

Ting Tong! Maturity time… Now you have 12 months of savings.. say, about Rs. 6000. Woohoo…you have a choice of investing (ahem!) that into white or yellow metal. That is, traditional Chit companies usually offer either stainless steel utensils or gold. So you can either get that stainless steel ‘paniaram pan’ you never wanted OR that pair of old-fashioned fake-looking-pearl earrings you never liked!

But wait, if you do want to buy a decent piece of Gold jewellery during Akshaya Tritiya.. er.. the last I heard, one gram cost about Rs.1600. So you can get.. er..3.5 grams.. but hey! we forgot the making charges..wastage..blah blah!

Whatever! The emphasis here is on ‘regular / forced savings’ and not ‘unnecessary spending’.

Note: Effective Annual Savings: Er.. what savings? We’ve invested everything into metal !!!

 

So there! Traditional Tips for a Modern Lifestyle! Go on, Save, Save and Save this year 🙂

[All images are from the Internet..the great WWW]

Categories
Awards Short story

Nanny Maa (short story for Indus Ladies Mothers Day contest)

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Thanks a million, for taking the trouble to vote for my short story (submitted for IndusLadies Mothers Day contest)! I have made it to the Top Five!

The second round of voting is underway, so I need your help again.

Please visit    http://indusladies.com/partners/poll1.php

and Vote for my entry: ‘Pal of Crocodile Tales’ as soon as you can!! Thanks a ton!

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Reema watched the children play quietly in a corner of the room. They built castles from building blocks, and painted vibrant colours using their fingers. They giggled as they enjoyed their ‘Messy Play’. ‘I wish Monu were here’, she thought wistfully. Her three year old lived with her mother, while she worked as a nanny in London.

It had happened all too soon. The recession, Rakesh losing his bank job, the looming loan installments on their apartment. She didn’t have an option, but to resume work at the nursery she had been employed with earlier. She winced at the irony of not being able to afford the same nursery for Monu. ‘He will be looked after much better in India. Family, school, friends…’ Rakesh had assured her.

‘Reema, its potty time. Could you take the toddlers please?’, Meg called. Reema first took the girls into the toilets. Then came the boys. ‘It burns…’, cried Mick. ‘Don’t worry. We’ll ask Mummy to take you to the doctor’, she replied. It seemed to soothe the boy, and he hugged her. As she held him for just a second, she remembered the last time she had hugged Monu.

‘Mamma! Look! Granny sent me a present! And she’s got lots more. IN INDIA!!’, Monu cried excitedly. Reema looked at the train she had bought yesterday, and had signed: ‘Your loving Granny’. ‘I’m so happy, Mamma! Can we meet Granny ? Plllleeeeeeasssssseeeee… I want my presents’. She hugged him in a tight embrace. She felt choked. Her plan was working. Her heart was breaking.

A series of gifts of Thomas and Roary toys, colouring books and pencils followed that week. By Sunday, Monu was all set to meet his ‘loving grandmother’. In a home miles and miles away from home.

Rakesh didn’t lose much time. He booked tickets on the same Air-India flight on which his friends were travelling. ‘Look at them, Reema. They don’t even have an option! No jobs, three kids.  They start from scratch…’ Reema didn’t let him complete. She had heard this often enough in the last month. She slipped into their bedroom and sat by Monu’s side, stroking the mop of black hair and kissing his soft, tender forehead. ‘In two days, my little angel…you won’t be with me. Oh God! What have I done to deserve this?’. Hot tears streamed down her sunken face and dropped onto her track pants.

‘Aw…I’m sorry’, cried Mick. ”That’s Okay, dear’, she replied, wiping the drops of paint that had fallen onto her trousers. Her favourite Dorothy Perkins, bought from her first salary. She had cried miserably that afternoon, hiding inside the toilet.

‘Lunch!’.  The nannies cleaned the room, quickly transforming it into a dining area! Today was ‘Soup day’, which meant, a day of struggle! The toddlers pushed around the bland leek and carrots, while the infants unabashedly dribbled it out.

‘Let’s go for a nice walk after lunch, alright?’, the assistant manager came around, trying to cheer the children and staff alike. The former nodded excitedly, while the latter suppressed disapproval at the thought of having to dress and chaperon four children each!

The nannies strapped one end of the wrist-link onto three girls and a boy, and tied the other end to her own wrist.

They strolled leisurely around the sturdy bridge across the River Thames. Little Leah shrieked excitedly, ‘Boat! Boat’! The other children immediately looked in that direction. ‘Hey! Its Ducky!’ cried Mick. Before Reema realised, he started to run towards the steel barricade, so he could get a better look at his favourite black and green duck, that was bobbing away on the surface of the glistening river. ‘Slow down’, Reema cautioned. Mick quickened his steps towards the water. Reema tugged at his wrist-link. It was too late. The link snapped!

Thrilled at his new-found freedom, Mick ran as fast as he could on those little feet. ‘Noooo! Come back!’, cried Reema. She had to stop him. But she couldn’t just let go of the other three children. She quickly glanced around for help. The other nannies were chatting amiably, the children in tow. ‘Somebody help! Meg!! Meg!!’ she screamed.

Mick was now leaning precariously through the lower rung of the barricade. Another tilt, and he would fall into the river. There was no time to lose. Reema tied the wrist-links in hand to the rim of the dustbin on the path. ‘Stay here!’ she shouted to the baffled children. ‘God, please, please save him! Keep these children safe!’ she muttered, as she ran towards the barricade. The other nannies finally noticed, and quickened their pace. ‘That’s Mick…he’s falling through the barricade!’, cried one. ‘Oh Gawd! Hurry!’ screamed another at the children who trudged behind, blissfully unaware that this was their last outing from the nursery, for a long time to come.

That evening, when the shutters went down at the nursery, everyone was in a state of shock. They were still unable to digest what had happened. Mick’s parents had been informed immediately. Reema had been temporarily asked to take a few days off. There were to be no further outings until ‘the incident’ had been ‘thoroughly investigated and necessary measures put in place’. The children continued with their daily activities of rhymes, colouring and increased sessions of Messy Play. Occasionally, someone asked for Reema. But they soon forgot.

A month passed. And another. Six months now.

‘Rakesh, I’m sorry!’, Reema whispered into the phone.

‘No…’

‘I really am. I shouldn’t have left’

‘Don’t worry. How are you?’

‘Okay’

‘How’s our apartment?’

‘Looking great, with the new Italian flooring’

‘Wonderful !!!’

‘Monu’s enjoying his new school. I think he hated the Government school, where Mummy sent him earlier. He loves this one though. Huge playgrounds, friends..everything, really!’

‘Fantastic! This is all because of you, Reema’.

Silence.

‘If you hadn’t saved that boy, none of this would have happened. What was his name? Mike? Mick?’

Silence.

‘You risked your life to save his! And his parents rewarded you. With enough to last us a lifetime!’, Rakesh said softly.

‘Don’t be silly, Rakesh. Mike..  Mick..  Monu..  all the same’.

Reema’s voice faltered slightly, as she reminisced that fateful day. She remembered running towards Mick, yelling ‘Monu…Monu…!’ all the time. Mick had turned and smiled. She hadn’t realised the strangeness of it all then. She had just grabbed him by his jacket, and yanked him back onto safe ground, and showered kisses (against the rules!), crying uncontrollably.

The teardrops fell on Monu’s cheeks, as he shifted in his sleep. Reema quickly patted his back and whispered ‘Go back to sleep, my Angel!’.

Tomorrow was Mother’s Day. She was going to buy presents. Two sets of Thomas Tank Engine. One would have to sent by courier to London.

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* Featured blog in Sulekha.com Expressions

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Guys n Girls,

I have submitted this story for the Indus Ladies Mother’s Day contest (click link). Please vote for me if you like the story. If not, do let me know (so I know what to do when you participate… hee hee…just joking!!!).

Cheers…

Categories
Incidents

Christmas in Recession

The world may be in recession, but the Christmas spirit is not dampened yet. A walk into Canary Wharf last night proved us right. The sky-scrapers blinked office lights within, while leafless trees outside stood stolidly, with lovely blue-white decorative lights adorning them. At the entrance of every building stood atleast one beautifully-decorated Christmas tree, that did much to considerably liven up the place. And if this isn’t enough to boost your spirit, take a look at the Big Christmas prizes you could win at the My Voucher Codes site. Its worth a click, anyway.

Cheerio!

Categories
Incidents Short story

My (s)hair of woes!

Inspired by recent posts by Shail’s nest and Tattoo.

Why do (we) South Indians have the stickiest, oiliest, completely lack-of-textur(ish?!) hair in the world? I cringe when I see those familiar thin, curly, sticky little pigtails (rat-tails, if you ask me!). It brings back some uneasy memories… of… of…. why, of me (the school-girl, of course)!!!

A recent visit to the hairdresser left me short…of what…you will soon realise if you are kind enough to read the rest of the post.

I sashayed confidently into the parlour wearing my new sequined kurti from Sona’s boutique. The air-conditioned room was a welcome in itself. But that was the only welcome I received. The girls/hairdressers didn’t bother to even turn in my direction. Even the dazzling sequins didn’t succeed in distracting their attention from the ‘K-soap’ they were watching on TV.

I resigned to meekly asking them for a hair-cut. ‘I’d like a hair-cut…’. They looked at me foggily. Clearing my throat, I repeated myself, this time, more assertively. ‘A HAIR-CUT’. That seemed to work. One of the girls grudgingly stood up, and led me to a nice black leather chair. As I kept my handsome new handbag down, the girl asked me what cut I’d like.

I am not really stingy, but what with the recession and all, I am trying to be penny-wise, these days.

‘Very simple…an ordinary U-cut’, I replied.

The girl was used to clients like me. She got the drift and replied, ‘U-cut is (Rs.)200, straight-cut is (Rs.)150’.

‘Um..Ok..’ I gulped. I was most tempted to ask for ‘A straight-cut please’, but what the heck! I might as well pamper myself, for once. And I didn’t want her to get the better of me!

‘That’s fine’, I croaked, inwardly resenting the extra Rs.50 that I had to shell out now! I could have used that to pay up the ransom that the autorickshaw driver would demand !

I quickly consoled myself, though. Had I been in London, the same would have cost me atleast GBP 35, which is (even with the pathetic exchange rate) Rs. 2618!!!! And all for a fast-thinning bunch of strands.

The girl very slowly removed the cute white hairclip (which by the way, was also sequined!!) I was wearing and left it on the table in front of me. I suppressed a gleeful smile. Finally, a nice hair-cut at an air-conditioned parlour! Yay! Until……I happened to catch her expression in the mirror in front of me.

—-

She shakes her head from side to side.

‘What?’, I wonder.

She parts my hair to make it frame my face. And tilts her head.

I get anxious. ‘Has she found a gaping hole in my skull?’

She disdainfully lifts the hair that barely covers my left ear/cheek and drops it down again. And repeats the same with the other few strands that hang by my right ear.

Anxiety pangs get the better of me. I look up at her beseechingly, like a helpless not-so-little puppy.

She doesn’t seem to thaw! She looks as grim as the steadfast K-Bahu who wallows in self-inflicted misery, and whose reflection now falls in the same mirror in which I see mine !

Finally, the girl breaks the suspense. ‘Madam, your hair is oily’.

‘OK…so ?’

‘So, I can’t cut your hair. It won’t be even!’

‘I don’t mind’, I almost blurt.

‘I can give you a hair-wash and U-cut’, she mysteriously adds.

I helplessly watch on. Waiting for her to utter her golden words.

‘Rs.600’, she adds, almost mockingly.

—–

Needless to say, I returned home. Cut really short. The spirit, I mean !!