Saturday, February 07, 2009

Mum and Dad's Excellent Adventure

Before I commence, I should mention that this is a long overdue post. The events related here occurred about a month ago, but there were submissions and other random occurrences that prevented me from writing, and afterwards whenever I had the time, I worried that I was not sufficiently 'inspired' at that moment to do the topic justice. Honestly, I feel that way now as well, but I've realised that if I sit around waiting for the 'muse' as it were, this will probably never get written. And I cannot deny this story to people who have the privilege and pleasure of knowing my parents.

I have to admit that at the time these events occurred, I was not in the same city, or even in the same country, so my perspective is that of the third person. Nevertheless, perhaps this makes it all the more entertaining, as the story was related to me by my mother, who has a very unique outlook on life. I loved her point of view so much that a large part of the story will be related through iChat transcripts (I saved the conversation the second it ended).

So now to the point. The setting: the day before my submissions, me scrambling last minute as per usual, alternately Googling images and pulling my hair out. Suddenly, Mum pops online on iChat.

MUM: *brightly* Hi! Are you there? Watcha doing?
ME: Sort of. Working. *hint hint*
MUM: I had an 'interesting' day...
ME: *imagines some vague relative re-emerging from the mists of Time to come over for tea* Oh, really?
MUM: ...we chased a thief and caught him and got back Daddy's cellphone that he had stolen!
ME: ...WHAT?
MUM: Read again.

So now, we pause for a little more backstory. A couple of months before my departure, much to my displeasure, Mum had hired a live-in houseboy. No more wandering around the house in 'comfortable' clothes for me, but to be fair she really needed the help, and my grandparents needed some form of Hindi-speaking servant around. I would have found him much easier to tolerate if it wasn't for his habit of 'affectionately' squeezing the life out of my dog after bellowing 'Saaaaaam' in the tones of a wounded bear. Ugh. But anyway. Once I moved to the UK, I developed the habit of saying 'beat him' whenever the houseboy was mentioned, even though I didn't really mean it and Mum obviously would never do such a thing. Eventually, the aforementioned went on leave indefinitely, and Mum had to hire another houseboy. This one was unreliable, smoked and had a cellphone that rang a lot, making him even worse than the previous one. I urged Mum to sack him, but she felt bad about 'sending him out into the cold' for some reason (even though it's not in the least bit cold in Chennai, ever).

Now back to the story.

ME: Was it the houseboy? Beat him!
MUM: I sacked the houseboy yesterday. He didn't have a chance to take anything as we watched him leave, but he did not take his things.
ME: You finally sacked him? Why?
MUM: His work was bad and he smokes and is shifty. Anyway... basically what happened is, the boy didn't return, but sent the fellow who brought him (Manoj) to collect his pay and his things. This character was standing around near the kitchen door (by the cupboard where Dad charges his phone) while Mum ran up and down getting the pay together. The next morning, Daddy couldn't find his phone, and when they tried calling it, they got the 'switched off' message. Uh-oh.

MUM: So we thought and thought and reconstructed everything and concluded this Manoj had taken it.
ME: ...and?
MUM: I told Daddy I would not let him get away with it but try and catch him!
ME: Wow. And then and then?
MUM: I called the boss Chakravarty and he said he'd already sacked Manoj, but offered to get us another servant. I said heck with the servant, I want our phone!
ME: *highly impressed*
MUM: So we hatched a plot to snare the guy without him suspecting anything, and went to the office but he didn't show up. So the boss and his brother got into our car and we hared off to Alwarpet and finally caught him there...
ME: Oh, boy.
MUM: We put him in the car, with Chakravarty and his brother on either side and Daddy and I in front, and said give it back or we'll take you to the police station.
ME: Haha!
MUM: Daddy looked stern and drove, and I did the talking.
ME: You sound like Mafia!
MUM: I told him, look, we're really not interested in having you beaten up by the police. So just give us the phone and we'll let you go. Anyway, he denied it most unconvincingly, so Daddy starting heading to the police station, and then he suddenly said he had it at the place where he was staying.
ME: *speechless*
MUM: Are you there? Do you want to hear the rest?
ME: ...yes please. I await it eagerly.
MUM: So then we hared off to St. Mary's road and reached a fancy house like a fortress where his sister and aunt work as servants. Chakravarty had asked the lady of the house to hold his bags and not let him take them. So we stopped and Chakravarty's brother went in to search his bags, but the phone wasn't there. He brought the bags out, and then...
ME: ...and then???
MUM: And then the chap takes the phone out of his underwear where he had hidden it! It was in the car with him all the time!
ME: ...I hope Daddy's not using that phone.
MUM: Well, he had wrapped it carefully in plastic, so it should be clean...I hope.
ME: Tell him to trade it in for the C905.
MUM: You tell him. Anyway, while we had been driving, I turned around and gave the boy a lecture and advised him to change his ways and turn over a new leaf. Told him he'd land in jail or worse if he continued like this, and other people might not be so charitable. He said "I want to go back to Calcutta!" I said, "Well, go to Calcutta, but be good and do an honest day's work and you'll be okay."
ME: *disbelief* Wow, I'm not around so you're adopting random thieves.
MUM: Well, he looked small and miserable!
ME: ...
MUM: Anyway, after that he had the gall to say "I don't have money to go to Calcutta, give me some money" even though Chakravarty had sacked him for swindling them out of 50,000 rupees...
ME: Please tell me you didn't give him money. I bet he's a drug dealer. Beat him.
MUM: Anyway, we left him walking across the road with his bags. That's the first time in my life I've chased a thief and caught him!
ME: now we don't have a houseboy? :)

Anyway, it turns out we may get Wounded Bear (aka Robby) back after all, but everyone's feeling a lot fonder of him after the above experience, because although he had no manners, he also had no loudly ringing cellphones or cellphone-thieving friends. So, it's all good. And I am highly amused by my Mum's thief-reforming tendencies. All this interesting stuff seems to happen when I'm not there!

ME: See, it's all that houseboy's fault! Beat him!
MUM: You come and beat him.

Well, neither of us are going to, obviously, but I hope someone does.