Happy Married Life: Rule no. 9

February 21, 2010

Rule Nine:  Learn to coexist with the telephone

Wives have a lot to be indebted to Alexander Graham Bell. The telephone, that marvelous invention of his would prove to be a source of unlimited joy, diversion and gossip among women much after Mr. Bell was laid to rest. And in the Indian context, it brought closer the “panghat”, the place where women converge to fetch water for the daily household needs. Right into the living room, and with the advent of the cordless phone; indeed into the bedroom, study, lawns, terrace, balcony, and more commonly the kitchen. The mobile phones in the recent decades have really expanded the reach of this “panghat”, she could be on the road, in an airport lounge, in the shopping mall; anywhere. But never too far away from her friends.

She can come back after an eight-hour gossip-cum-movie-cum-tea-cum-gossip-cum-dinner session with her friends and she would pick up the phone again and get into a one hour chat with one of the friends who had shared the previous session with her. And they could go on for a few more hours- on the phone- till the ring of the other phone cuts this chat short.

“Excuse me, could you please hold for a moment,” she says to her friend, “There is somebody on the other line.”

That “somebody else” is another one from the same group of friends.

“Hey”, says the wife, “can I call up later, I have so-and-so on the line”

The “somebody else” accepts this explanation while the wife returns to caller one. And then back to caller two.

I am sure this has been repeated across the friends’ chain. Caller A in conversation with caller B while caller C balancing the chat between callers D and E. To be sure, the caller F and G are trying to get into one or the other of these conversations.

God help you if you are trying to reach your wife in this melee of phone calls. Just be patient, bide your time, and expect to be attended to in the next 3 hours. Too bad if you trying to tell her that you can sense the onset of a heart-attack and you are on your way to the cardiology ICCU of the nearest hospital. Rest assured that your call would get responded to in the next three hours, much after the implantation of the 4 stents into your blood vessels!

What about the mobile phone, you ask? Do not even bother to try to call her on her cell phone. The cell phone is either buried deep into the detritus occupying her commodious purse making it impossible for her to hear the ringtone, or it is in a “silent mode” even hours after she has finished watching the film show, or most commonly, the phone is completely discharged. Sometimes the cell phone may even nestle in a stack of previous day’s newspapers, or even in the bin used to store the monthly provision of chawal. Just be patient and keep an account of the various reasons why the cell phone rarely gets answered. The pursuit of this is a reward by itself for the multiple unattended calls. Never bother to call her on her cell phone.

A cell phone for her is a device which she can show off to her friends, or at best a device which she uses to call others when she is on the move. The “others” could be diverse range of people: instructions to the maid-servant as to what to cook for the day, checking on the kids at home as to what they are upto, or even the odd vendor ordering provisions to delivered at home in her absence. In short, a cell phone is her link with her world, and not the others’ link with her’s. Understand?

For similar reasons never bother to send her an SMS. It probably would not get read ever. Maybe actually it will, but way beyond the timeline it warranted. Like never text her that you have advanced your flight and that you are reaching home four hours earlier. She will welcome you home with a look of surprise, “How come you came so early?” No point in telling her that you had text-ed her way in advance. She would probably pull out her cell phone (if she can find it) and read your message aloud, right in your presence. Then she would tell you that you were better off calling her and transmitting the same info. Orally. No point in telling her that you did indeed try reaching her on both the landline numbers- and her cell phone, of course- and as a last resort you sent her the text hoping that she would read it sometime (before you reached home). Just grin, maybe apologize to her for your faux pas, and tell her how pretty she looks in her dress, suit, nighty, whatever. Diplomacy is the need of the hour!

Text her only when you have to convey some data. Like the revised flight arrival time of her mother coming for a visit, or the show time of the movie which you have booked in advance, or the latest data of your cholesterol levels. Do text the information, but remember to call her as well on her cell phone and both the landlines. Or better still call your neighbour and request her to tell your wife to check the text message. None of these would work, for reasons mentioned above, including the neighbour who after all is someone’s wife as well. Best is to call up the housing complex’s security office and request them to call on your wife- in case she is home- and tell her to call you back. If she is not at home, just keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best!

Now to conclude, this delicate matter of telephone bills. Never ever mention to her that the telephone bills are high- though they always are in your opinion. You even know why they are high as you have diligently gone through the itemized bill and probably have entered the calls in an excel sheet and sorted the calls on the basis of who you think the caller is. Just don’t tell her that a 74-minute long-distance call is not a great idea, if anything else it is a drain on the family resources. One stray remark and you are bound to get into a very difficult discussion about how she is the custodian of the family wealth and how you (the husband) are squandering all of it away, and how mean you- the husband- are in casting aspersions on her innate sense of thriftiness. And, please, please, never flaunt your mathematical skills and tell her that she has chatted with her mother for 2387 minutes the prior month over an aggregate of 65 calls.

Just grit your teeth, pay up and start saving money to pay-up for the next round of telephone bills.

Happy Married Life: Rule no. 8

February 7, 2010

I have written in an earlier post about seven rules of a happy married life. Here is rule number 8. This is important enough to merit a post of its own.

Rule Eight: About Joint Shopping Expeditions

Going on a joint shopping expedition to buy a dress for the wife is always a tricky affair. Stay out of it, if possible.

If you are into this by yourself, it is rather simple. You have a budget (Rs 500 or Rs 2500 or Rs 5000), you have the material in mind (cotton, silk, etc), you know the kind of design you want (Pochampalli, Banarasi, Chikan etc.) and you have a general idea of the colour (blue or pink). You reel out the specs to the counter guy (or a girl) and select from the bunch he or she offers. You choose one, ask for it to be packed, get your credit card swiped and off you go clutching the shopping bag. At peace with yourself. In a matter of fifteen minutes you are done.

Things are a bit different when you accompany the wife. You would go to a counter and ask for saris or dress materials to be shown. The sales person would pile-up his selection without even asking for the specifications. The wife would rifle through the bunch and ask for a broader choice. Bunch two is offered. As you are still trying to act as an interested participant in this activity by seriously going through the weaves and colours on offer, you find the wife speeding away to the adjoining counter in her quest for alternate choices. You stare at the piece you have selected, and you look hapless at the salesman who, more often than not, gives you a withering smile and then you make haste to join our wife. Who is busy evaluating a fresh set of choices. You barely catch up with her when she moves to yet another section. If you are aware enough, the choice of counters which seems random is actually in ascending order of the price of the goodies.


The wife makes a choice. Actually it is never one single choice. Always two or three. One in mauve, the other in lilac and the third in lavender. And now comes the dramatic moment. The sales person drapes each of the selection in turn on his body telling you what the pallu design is in contrast to the “main” design. This happens if you are buying a saree. If you are buying a dress, this display is done by the wife herself. As you are wondering which one to recommend, the wife chirps, “I like the lilac one. Mauve is pretty good too. Come to think of it, lavender is ok as well. What do you think?” Her eyes lock with yours as you are left groping for a choice.

This is the defining moment in the shopping expedition. Stay very calm, keep your wits with you. Make just the right remarks. Do not, for God’s sake, say that lilac and mauve look lousy on you, just take the lavender. Never! And for God’s sake again (and for your well-being too), never rush her. By saying that she needs to hurry up and that she can choose whichever colour she likes. Provided she decides quickly and that her choice is within a thousand rupees. Or even two thousand, depending on the level of generosity you feel at that point in time. Be calm, as I said, keep your wits with you. Here is how you should approach the situation.

You ask the salesperson or your wife- whosoever exhibiting the wares- to do the act all over again. You go back and then lean closer weighing the options available. And then you make that all important comment. You turn to your wife, lock your eyes firmly with hers and say,

“You know what, I am personally partial to lavender. Mauve is not bad at all. And actually, lilac goes so well on you. What do you think?” Put the ball firmly back in her court. Notice this deft reversal of colours compared with her sequence of choices.

The likely answer would be, “I wil go with your choice. You have a great taste in these matters.”

Do not succumb to this ploy. Just do not say that none of them suits her (and your pocket) or that just lavender is the option. Be totally diplomatic and say, “If I were you, I would take them all”.

She will hum and she will haw. And she will be thrilled to bits. That is precisely what she had in mind.

Let her take them all, maybe you should add one parrot-green thing on the side making it four. Quietly have your card swiped and walk out with the shopping bag (you should always carry the bag, come what may) looking like the happiest person on earth.

If you are not, at least the wife will be!