Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The nine yard nightmare!

By some cruel and sadistic fate, I have been steadily growing rounder with each passing day.  If you were to stand on a hilltop watching me climb the curved road below, it may seem to you that a perfectly circular roller is fighting gravity tooth and nail to roll upwards laboriously.  But hey, I am not here to groan and moan about my weight loss woes again but to let you know of a prodigious idea that I have had.  I have decided to cash in my plump karma chips at last and go trick or treating on Halloween this year with my kids as ‘a perfect mathematical circle’.  I will get to enjoy a sack full of candy without spending an obscene amount of money on a weird costume.  Beat that, hah! 

I amaze myself sometimes with brilliant ideas like these.  Last summer, I had another such one.  It all started with a traditional family religious ritual that required me to wear a nine yard saaree and serve food to women sitting cross legged on the floor in front of a plantain leaf.  If you think serving food wearing a nine yard saaree was hard for me, you should have seen me sitting on the floor a little later trying to eat out of the leaf myself. 

First of all, which sadist designed this saaree, I want to know.  I bet you all the gold on Wall Street that it was a man because there is no way a woman would have asked me to wrap 9 yards of material around me without at least throwing a lifeline in the form of an in-skirt to hold it all together.  I refuse to believe that a woman could do that to another.  So I have just a few questions to ask the guy who came up with this nine yard madisar design. 

Are you out of your scrambled mind?  How do you expect me to hold the folds at my waist AND bend to loop the tail of the saaree through my legs?  And if I fall on my poor head while bending, what happens to those folds?  Do you seriously expect me start over until I crack my head again?  More importantly, given the fact that I have 9 yards of cloth to cover myself, why are my legs playing peek-a-boo with the world? 

Anyway, I gave it my best shot last summer.  I took step-by-step lessons from my sister who makes the household goddess Martha Stewart seem like a clumsy gypsy.  In spite of her showing me precisely how to tie the saaree, I bungled it and managed to tangle myself up in a knot.  Sisterly love saved the day as she helped untangle me before begging me never to ask her for help in tying this saaree.  Next I watched some how-to-wear-a-nine-yard-saaree videos on youtube but that was no roaring success either.  Finally I threw my inhibitions to the wind and let an elderly woman in the family tie it for me.  I assumed the pose of the Christ on the Cross and stood resigned through the whole ordeal. 

Finally it was done.  I was at last wearing a madisar saaree.  I looked totally weird but never mind that as I was used to it.  I had important duties waiting for me.  There were 9 hungry women sitting cross-legged on the floor in the other room looking expectantly at the plantain leaf in front of them.  I would not let them down.  I had to go serve them food.  I squared my shoulders and started to march towards the kitchen to fetch the food. 

Wow!  ‘Not so fast, my dear’ said my legs.  With a look of horror, the cook caught me just in time before I crashed into her kettle of payasam.  Since I was a quick study, I quickly learned the trick to walk without tripping – to walk like a penguin.  I have mastered this penguin walk so much so that if I were to get stranded on North Pole someday, some penguin family may just adopt me.

There I was standing over the first plantain leaf with a bucket of payasam and 9 pairs of eyes turned and looked hungrily at me.  I looked down and the leaf seemed frighteningly far away.  How was I going to get the payasam all the way down there?   Praying to all the supreme powers of this world to help me to not fall on the leaf while bending, I planted my feet apart and gingerly bent down and scooped a cup of payasam on one side of the leaf.  By the time, I crossed leaf# 4, I was giddy with pride.  If you are a newcomer to the world of nine yard saarees, the trick is in planting your feet wide before bending.  Just remember that.  Yes, you will look like a cricket batsman taking his stance but it beats tumbling down on the laps of the hungry folks on the floor.

The nine yard saga continued with my turn coming up next to sit on the floor cross-legged and eat the sumptuous meal.  Have you ever seen a penguin sit cross-legged on the floor?  Neither have I and hence I had no one to take pointers from.  After a few minutes of trying to elegantly sit down like all those other women in the room, I gave up and simply plopped down like a sack of flour on the floor.  Okay, now I was in business.  The 12 course meal was served and looked enticing on the shiny plantain leaf and I eagerly reached my hand out to taste the sweet pachdi only to find my arm stop a bit short of the destination.  Come on….you have got to be kidding me.  I knew just then how the squirrel in the ‘Ice Age’ movie felt about the elusive acorn. 

I may not be ‘accomplished’ in the Jane Austen sense of the word but what I am is resourceful.  If I couldn’t bend down to reach the food on the other side of the plantain leaf, I decided to get the food closer to me.  It was really quite easy.  I glared menacingly and intimidated the women serving into lining up the food items closer to my reach.  My glare, I am told, can scare the life out of the Lord himself.  There was hardly any choice for me.  Really!  Either that or like a fool, I had to look helplessly at the food and drool over the sight of it the whole time and I will have you know that I am no fool. 

Anyway, that was when the idea bulb went on once again in my head and I found a tailor who took my nine-yard saaree and tailored it for me.  Hallelujah!  No more ‘Christ on the Cross’ pose for me.  No more walking around like a penguin.  No more fear of looking like a mummy.  All I had to do was to slip in, tie the pant, wrap the cloth once around and voila, I would have myself a madisar saaree. 

Well, the reality did not quite go like that.  Two weeks ago on my current trip to India, history repeated itself and I found myself practicing my penguin walk once again. 

I figure some ideas of mine are just more brilliant than the others.