I received the most unusual phone call few days ago. Unusual because I met the caller once for a few hours.
When I was in India and my best friend was in Beijing, I wanted to go to Hard Rock Café Bangalore and asked few of my best friend’s acquaintances if they wanted to tag along. Her husband is an active member in the expat community and she said she wanted to come along.
She is in her 50’s, very beautiful, but terrible in her appearances.. I know I didn’t make much sense with what I have just written.. pretty and terrible in the same sentence.. Imagine a beautiful Tam Brahmin woman, flawless skin, almond eyes, beautiful wavy hair.. Eye brows thick and bushy that has never seen a tweezer and a matching moustache , wearing a deep blue salwar top that has seen better and younger body at some stage, cream colour pants that too has seen better days, onychomycosis of the toe nails, cracked heels, old bata slippers…
It was her first visit to a pub and what I noticed apart from her appearance was her sad eyes.
She told me ” I wish I could live a life like yours”
That was a bit odd.. I didn’t really like the life I am living, there is so much more I want, so I was a bit curious why she said that?
Turns out, she got married to an MIT graduate when she was 19. She was in the first year of her degree course. She never completed the degree. They lived in US for the next three decades. Now, his mother is old and she wanted to come back and live in India, so they moved back to India. He travels a lot for wok and only gives money to his mother. His wife has to ask her mother in law for money. They have no kids.
She is trapped in beautiful gilded cage and there is no way out. So she thinks.
But there is always a way out.. always.
I cannot stress it more.. there is always a way out, you just have to find it.
During our conversation, I mentioned something about how much I love long distance driving.
She replied ” I miss driving. Here my car is manual and I don’t know to drive a manual. In US, I learned to drive an automatic”
I told her “stop giving excuses to your dreams. You can ask your driver to teach you to drive a manual. It is not rocket science and it is not too hard.”
She looked at me as though I have just said something very poignant. It was such a simple suggestion and she didn’t even think about it. I know when you keep staring at the closed door for a very long time, you think of being trapped and don’t see the little window by the side that you could use to get out.. I just wanted to point the little window to her.
I gave her a list of things to do.
1. You don’t need money to do your eyebrow. All you need is a little tweezer and then do it yourself.
2. For the Fungal infection in the toe nails, ideally she needs to be on anti fungal tablets. If her mother in law doesn’t give her money, then the option is to use a solution of soda bicarb and hydrogen peroxide..
3. For clothes, take the mother in law out for shopping.. buy her a beautiful expensive saree by buttering her up and make her spend some money her son sends to her and then guilt trip her to buy you a few salwar kameez. (this may or may not work, I have not met the mother in law)
4. Fudge the bills and accounts. Find reasons for not taking the car and get money for auto..and walk..and save that money. You will also lose some weight. When you buy groceries, if the mother in law is not checking the bills, comment how ridiculously expensive things are getting and add a couple of hundreds to the bills. (by the way, the best place to hide your money is the cistern..place money in few Ziploc bags and chuck it inside the cistern. The key thing here is couple of Ziplock bags….just to ensure that your hard earned loot is not water damaged)
5. Invite friends over and make sure the mother in law is treated with utmost respect in front of them, so it is easy to guilt trip her later.
6. Find a job. She doesn’t have the skill set to get a proper job, but she knows the expat community. She can be a baby sitter, she can run an Indian cooking class. she can teach the expats about Indian culture..She can organize tours and travels for the expats.
I went out for a few drinks and she went back home with crazy ideas..
I didn’t think she would act on any of it.
She called me to few days ago to tell me that she has learned to drive a manual.
There is always a way out.. so stop staring at the closed door and find the window and get out.