Thursday, March 25, 2010

How do you measure love? In grams, gallons or bytes?

If you believe in reincarnation, then you should know that my father is a reincarnation of the famous English poet and philosopher Thomas Gray. My sisters and I will swear on this for we were the only lucky ones privy to our dad’s profound philosophical insights.

As children, we grew up on quotations from Thomas Gray’s poem ‘Elegy written in a Country Churchyard’. The following lines from this poem were discussed so extensively, so often that if I were to wake up from a coma with amnesia a few years from now, I will still recite them without missing a beat.

“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”

Can you think of a better way to teach your children the futility of joining the maddening rat race called life? Dad enriched our childhoods further with acute philosophical observations like ‘Beauty is only skin deep’ every time he caught one of us standing in front of the mirror unashamedly admiring our own reflections, questions like ‘Were we born into this world with the comforts of a fan and a fridge?’ whenever we whined incessantly about the power outages and the unbearable heat of Chennai. It was only natural that we nicknamed him ‘Mr. Gray’.

Now the point of this whole big introduction is to show you that I come from very good erudite stock. Those who believe in the laws of genetics would naturally assume that I would be, at least a little bit, philosophically inclined.

If you had bet your house on that, all I can say is 'oops'. I am afraid you are about to join the ranks of the homeless. Just like weight loss, philosophy eludes me. But determined to thumb my nose at fate and get the hang of this profound thinking business, I had been picking my brain lately about something that I can think profoundly about. I never had this much trouble even when raising toddlers. After hours of exhaustive brain picking, I came up with a question that might convince you that I am my father’s daughter.

How do you measure love? In grams, gallons or bytes?

The commercial on TV that claims ‘some things are priceless but for everything else, there is Master Card’ is based on the assumption that love is not measurable. I can put a big hole in that theory and for this I have my kids to thank for.

Both my kids love me just as much as I love them. I know this because I can measure their love quite easily.

I can measure my youngest child’s love by how many kisses she blows my way every day. The daily count starts in the morning. On her way to the bus stop each morning, she stops after every few steps to turn around and blow kisses to me. It doesn’t bother her that the bus is fully loaded and the driver, parents at the bus stop, the kids aboard the bus are all impatiently waiting for her to hurry and board so they can be on their way. She doesn’t let a little pressure like that deprive me of my daily love dose and always takes the time to blow my quota of kisses before boarding. At last count, she topped her own record with a round 100 kisses a day. Now anything less than 80, I feel unloved.

My eldest child is unique in many ways and all the more so in her expression of her love. She pats my head to show her support and rubs my head in a circular motion to show her affection. Please be sure to note the difference here. To pat is to console while to rub is to love. The more she loves, the harder she rubs. On days when her love for me peaks, I worry a little about premature balding. For now I am using a special herbal hair oil treatment for damage control. The day when all that rubbing leaves behind a hint of a bald spot, I will have to gently redirect her loving hands to rub my arms. Who knows? I might even save some money on salon waxing!

So how do you measure love?

-Meena Sankaran

Friday, March 12, 2010

No more Uncle Sam? Hallelujah!

I heard my husband walk through the front door calling my name over and over bursting with joy. One look at his face and I was ready to drop down on my knees and thank President Obama. Hallelujah! We got tax-exemption. I was sure of it. What else could have put that goofy grin on his face? Joy so pure and unadulterated on someone’s face can only mean a few things:

• You just received a notice in the mail from the IRS offering you full tax-exemption for life
• You struck oil in your backyard and now have to fight off the Sheikhs of the Middle East for your market share (or)
• You won a 50 million dollar lottery and Uncle Sam was kind enough to say ‘Never mind my share, you get to keep it all’.

Every year around this time in March, I find myself plagued by nightmares where I am running breathlessly through the dark and shady alleys of a city with Uncle Sam hard at my heels screaming hideously ‘Pay up, pay up, pay up’. I wake up drenched in sweat with eyes darting around in terror expecting to see an IRS agent cackling down at me with an audit notice flapping in his arm.

Obviously I wanted tax exemption more than anything else. Duh!

It turns out that that wasn’t the reason for the face-splitting grin on my husband’s face after all. His cell phone was dead. As in dead as a doornail.

Not a moment too soon according to my husband. It might sound callous to you but he had been waiting a long time for its death. Don’t get me wrong, he loved his cell phone. Such was his love that had I not stopped him, he would have called the governor and demanded a full State mourning and funeral befitting a fallen hero.

He did love his cell phone. It is just that he loved the new Droid phone on the market even more. All of Richmond knew that he had been secretly eyeing the Droid phone for a while now when he thought no one was looking. Did he really think that no one would notice those long sighs, vacant dreamy looks and the slight drool on the corner of his mouth? I knew and I sympathized with him. It must be really hard to be a gadget-junkie and not be able to play with the newest, shiniest and beautiful gadget out there.

All he needed was a valid excuse to go shopping for this new toy. The only excuse that didn’t bring truckloads of guilt with it was if the existing phone should die. And now finally it is dead and gone. Once I managed to calm him down and stop the hyperventilation, he was busy calling his friends to convey the good news after which he proceeded, in a frenzy, to check the websites for deals, do price comparisons and analyze the available accessories.

Today he is the proud owner of not one but two Droid phones thanks to the popular BOGOF sales technique. No happier man ever walked this earth.

If you are driving in our neighborhood and happen to catch a glimpse of another driver directing his Droid’s voice activated GPS to ‘Find Wal-Mart’ or ‘Find Chuck E Cheese’, be sure to honk and say hi to my husband.

-Meena Sankaran