Friday, June 11, 2010

Tea and biscuits, anyone?

Whatever happened to the ritual of friends coming over home to an evening of tea, biscuits, farsan and good conversation? Our daddies and mommies do it, but when we become them, we probably won't.

It is a strange time to be me.

After about six-seven months of smooth sailing, I'm suddenly jobless.

Without a doubt, joblessness is a difficult state to be in, especially if you're living in Bombay. Your friends will ask you to explain your situation and say, 'Let's meet over coffee and discuss'.

'Catching up' over a cup of coffee costs you at least Rs 50, an amount which isn't too difficult for you to shell out at this moment, but it could be a coffee that would go down as a regressive one, in a few weeks from now if you don't land a job which pays at least as much as the last one did, if not more.

Friends, dependents in your family, the whole fucking society - they all make joblessness even more uncomfortable. Facebook albums do the most damage. Status updates from friends going on a holiday. Europe. South Africa. Australia. Singapore shopping binge. Photographs uploaded by people you know, probably showing them holding their bottle of beer as a trophy, chilling at the coolest lounge bar in town. Your guy friends posing with semi-naked women (who it turns out, are colleagues, much to your mom's horror, making her comment, ''Draupadi's vastraharan would be so pointless in today's times. You won't be able to spoof it either.'').

Your friends wonder why you won't join them over the weekend spending binge. Rs 250 - daylight robbery at the multiplex to watch a movie. Request denied. Long island Iced Tea at Hard Rock? Rs 300. Request denied. ''Let's go to Blue Frog!'' Entry Rs 500. Assured: A place to stand. Want to sit? Book a table. Enjoy your meal. Estimated expenses per head? Rs 500 at least. Request denied.

You feel that the world has suddenly become rich.

And it is true. There are some things money can't buy. Provided you have the willpower and better sense to tell yourself - this is not worth the price. And in Mumbai, depending on your social circle, you might get the opportunity to tell that often. After a point of time, you're an outcast. Which is exactly the state I'm in.

Does that mean I would have indulged in the above mentioned activities with a regular job? Yes and No. (More on that, later.)

It's at times like these I wonder whatever happened to the simple pleasures of life.

When was the last time you invited someone home for tea? Tea, biscuits, chaat, conversation?

My cousins in Kolkata would be surprised to read this, but I've come to realize that the social circle I've come to mingle with over the last three years in Mumbai, has almost NEVER done a tea/coffee evening get-together at their house. Whatever happened to VISITING friends over the weekend for an evening of simple, good conversation?

I've tried. And unless there's alcohol or a party to go along with it, the request has been more often than not, declined.

''What's the occasion?'' I've been asked. ''Who all are coming?'' ''Why suddenly?''

I'm amused. As a kid, I was witness to frequent visits by family friends who would hop over home - unannounced - and on most occasions, we'd be delighted to host them for the evening. Provided they went back home for dinner ;)

You may argue that on weekdays, one can't pull this off. But its on the weekends I realize, that there's a dramatic difference in the way people behave. On weekend, home is just not where the heart is. And even if it is, you don't want to share it with anyone.

Does this change after marriage? Does this change after you buy a house and you feel okay not only to have impulsive guests, but also planned dinners?