Oh, you're at home only.
Among the countless problems which I was prepared to face, after relocating to India from UK (after all, phoren country desi dil and all that) the one that I did not anticipate the least, proved to be the one which bothered me the most—the incessant ringing of the doorbell.
In UK, I had my peace, my time, my privacy, my solitude, my art, my writing, my..., my... ,my..---well, you get the picture. In India, I have my doorbell.
It starts right from the morning and continues incessantly throughout the day, every 15 minutes, I kid you not. We live in a home which has four bedrooms , two of which are downstairs and two are upstairs. I work in my bedroom upstairs which compounds the problem of answering the doorbell each time it rings, as I get more than my fair share of a rigorous work out by climbing up and down which I never intended in the first place. Please note, I said work. A writer/artist being viewed as a working person seems to be a concept as alien in India, as Lady Gaga being found doing her next gig in Bhawanipur, Supaul in Bihar. Not that either is impossible but we have to accept, some things just do not happen.
In my children’s school, the other day, during a Parent-teacher meeting (How I dread those things) a well meaning member of the staff enquired politely whether I am working. With an ever so slight swelling pride in my chest (after all my last book did make it to the best-seller list and my SECOND book has just been released and getting rave reviews), but trying to sound modest, I replied “I am a writer and artist,” the word artist being whispered inaudibly, just in case it would be construed as a boast. “Oh,” the questioner dismissed what I said with a wave of his hand, “You are at home only.”
“Yes,” I admitted, “I am at home only”, but I think the sarcasm, the subtlety and implications of my carefully accented stress on the right words had as much impact as a Maa-behen gaali uttered in the streets of Delhi, upon the slightest provocation.
This ‘Home only’ is what I have identified as the root cause of the problem of incessantly ringing doorbell.
“Madam, aap ghar mein hi hai na” is a sentence I often hear.(For my English friends, it can be loosely translated as ‘Ma’am, you will be at home, right?”) From my observations in the way it is uttered and by whom it is uttered or muttered as the case may be, it has many connotations.
1.When said by the house-help, it means she will come at whatever time she pleases.
2.When said by the plumber, it means I should NOT grumble if he says he will be here at ten, but rings my door-bell at two. (After all, madam ghar pe hi hai)
3.When said by the ironing guy, it means he is unable to tell me when he will deliver my clothes.
4.When said by the carpenter (who I have had to chase a hundred times, as setting up a new home requires so many things that only a carpenter can take care of) it means the same as when it is said by the plumber.
5.When said by the staff at school, it means “ Home-makers should take care of their children's studies.”
6. When said by the people in my residential complex, it means “Why don’t you come and join us and take active part in the various activities being organised by (a very enthusiastic )residents association?”
7.When said by the newspaper guy, it means I should keep mum even if my newspapers are not delivered on some days! (Madam aap ghar mein hai. Aaj shortage hua .Swalpa adjust maadi)
8.When said by the nice Aquaguard guy who calls home to check how the service is (yeah, they actually checked that!) it means I have to clarify that yes, it is indeed me and not my clone who has answered the doorbell.
9. When said by my children (Mummy will you be home?) it means they will ring the door-bell fifty times in an interval of two hours when they go to the park to play.
10.And finally when asked by Satish ( he asks politely ‘Are you at home?) it usually means I have to be around to sign for the courier.
Never mind that a couple of really exciting things are happening in my life, right now—
-- I am working on a COVER Page story for Deccan Herald (I was truly honoured when the Editor called and asked me if I could and I readily agreed)
--I am being interviewed by Radio Indigo (for those in Bangalore, I will let you know the date of when it will be broadcast--will announce it on this page ) and there will also be a chance to win signed copies of both my books on Air.
-- My second book is getting rave reviews and I am being flooded with mails by those who have read it.
--There is a new addition to the family!! (and I am so totally in love with her). But that needs an entire new post and I promise an update as soon as my doorbell stops ringing.
The door bell ringers (apart from the 9. and 10. mentioned and I truly do not mind the 9. and 10.) of course have no clue about the above mentioned exciting things in my life. After all, they are engaged in their own exciting activities which necessitates that my door bell is rung. After all, it is the door bell of someone who is ‘at home’ only.
Disconnecting the door-bell only makes the door-bell ringers turn into woodpeckers on 1000 watt speakers as they unleash their knocking power on my already battered door. KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! (after all madam ghar pe hi hein)
Now excuse me, I have to run-- there goes the bell.