Thursday, January 14, 2010

Need help feeding your chickens?

A friend recently invited me to join her on a trip to Europe. Knowing me, she should not have bothered. I think twice before venturing on a trip to our backyard. It is true. I like traveling almost as much as I like scrubbing a toilet bowl.

I need more scientific data to prove it but I am convinced that an aversion to travel must be a medical sickness. Why else would the thought of going to sun-drenched beaches and other exotic destinations put me under a self-induced coma? What else would explain my need to pretend hearing loss whenever the term ‘vacation’ is mentioned? If my considering a visit to Paris on par with a visit to the Dentist not sick, I don’t know what is. I do hope that someone will hurry and publish a paper soon about this new disorder/syndrome ‘travelophobia’ to give my theory validity and save me from the many murderous looks around the house.

That being said, I do have some good news. I have stumbled on to a place that I might just like to visit. I know that a lot of my friends and family have already been there. They must have fallen in love with it because all of them have pitched tents and settled very comfortably over there.

What is most noteworthy about this place is that it seems to entice folks from all walks of life to try their hands at agriculture.

Welcome to Farmville! At Farmville, anyone can be a farmer and you better believe it. A friend of mine who has earned a well-deserved reputation for bringing home a bag full of rotten tomatoes from her grocery trip without fail every week is now growing a field full of healthy big, red tomatoes in Farmville. A cousin who has never owned a pet in her life is now caring for a cage full of chickens in her farm. I am forever hearing stories about lost sheep or calf that wander in to people’ farms looking for a new home. Talk about a mobile petting zoo!

What actually pushed me over the brink of uncertainty and to seriously consider overcoming my travel phobia to visit this place is the way this place seems to inspire generosity and samaritan values in people. Are you sick or on vacation? Are you worried that your crops will shrink and wither away in your absence? Quit worrying. A few good neighbors in Farmville will drop in and fertilize your crops out of the goodness of their hearts. Need to go out of town for a few days? Count on any inhabitant of Farmville to come feed your hungry chickens. Found a lost baby calf on your farm? Be at peace knowing that you will get it adopted in this beloved city in no time at all. Such generosity is mind boggling and can only be inspired in Farmville!

Got to go now and dust off my suitcases to get ready for our family vacation to Farmville! Hold on, my Facebook friends and cousins with puny crops, hungry chickens and lost animals! Help is on the way. Who knows? I may end up buying the farm south of yours and pitch a tent there myself.

-Meena Sankaran

PS: To all those non-Facebook users who look lost after reading my post like the poor animals on Farmville, here is a little explanation. Farmville is a game application on Facebook that keeps folks around the world busy 24/7.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year Resolution

Just four days in to the New Year, I am already wary of wishing anyone a ‘Happy New Year’ anymore. Not that I have anything against passing around some cheer and goodwill. Usually I am all for it. But due to some mysterious phenomenon, the birth of a New Year seems to whet folks’ curiosity and after returning my New Year wishes, they invariably want to know what my New Year resolutions are. Their happiness and health somehow seem tied to finding out the status of my prior years’ resolutions too. The conversation that follows this line of inquiry is, to put it mildly, quite embarrassing.

You see, I have the same single resolution each year. There hasn’t been any change to it over the past few years. I am steady and reliable that way. My modest resolution for every New Year is to lose enough weight to be able to recognize the image in the mirror. That is a perfectly plausible resolution, if you ask me. I am not aiming for world peace here, am I? Forget about fitting back into the wedding clothes. Forget about making the ‘Economy’ class seat in an airplane look roomier. All I want is to buy one dress each year that is not labeled ‘Jumbo’ size.

Let me tell you why weight loss beats all my other resolutions to the door each year. It does get a little annoying after a while to be singled out in a crowd and complimented on your chubby cheeks in social gatherings. Also, I don’t particularly care to have my cheeks pinched to see if they are as soft and round as the babies who model for baby food commercials on TV. Really! But my indignant scowls almost always go unnoticed so I have finally come up with an ingenious, if temporary, solution for this problem. I don’t knock on the door of a party without first sucking my cheeks in and holding them in to form artificial dimples. Lucky for me it fools them every single time.

I don’t know about you but I take my New Year resolution very seriously. Every January 1st, I go and enroll myself in the nearest fitness center. Then, I go out shopping and spend a week browsing the stores looking for a dashing new gym outfit. That being done, I sweat another week trying to find a water bottle that matches my new outfit. After all, there is no point looking shabby when you take an important step in your life. While at the store, I let the store clerk convince me that my feet have outgrown last year’s shoes so then I go home as the proud owner of a new pair of latest technology shoes that is said to melt pounds even while I am sleeping. You have to admit that I can use some extra help here.

I usually pack a lot of enthusiasm into my first few weeks at the Gym. This year, I got a head start by signing up for the gym membership the week before Christmas. The novelty of the new shiny machines keeps me going back. Every Cardio machine is tested and tried but the weight machines intimidate me so much so that I pretend an acute aversion to those monsters and dismiss them as unworthy of my attention. I compensate for this cowardice by walking around the living room couch 3 times a day with a 5 pound potato bag from the pantry. Do not underestimate your potatoes for they can muscle up your arms in no time. Every time I cross the bathroom to pick up a load of dirty laundry, I catch myself looking in the mirror, stretching my arm, straining to see the as yet invisible biceps and triceps. I have a hunch that I will watch those muscles bulge in just another week.

On top of puffing my way to health, every January, I also try to learn to eat all things that taste like sawdust. You may know these as ‘healthy’ food. It takes a lot of inner strength to sit in front of a plate of sickly-looking leaves that is termed ‘salad’ and not gag. It takes even more to push it down your throat. Determination, they say, is the key to stay on a healthy diet. And I have no shame in admitting that I have the determination of a dead earthworm. If you ask me, you have to be critically insane to choose a bowl of oatmeal or a salad over a bowl of hot steamed white rice and a cup of spicy sauteed vegetables.

And there lies the secret to my failed New Year resolutions. But this year I am determined to let this farce play out at least until end of February before I shelve it to be pulled out and reused next year.

Happy New Year to all of you. May the New Year bring good health and laughter to you and all your dear ones.

-Meena Sankaran