Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Keeping Mum

Warning: This post contains a picture that might be slightly nauseating to some. I mean it, so read on at your own risk. For you witty wags who insist nothing can be more nauseating than my picture in the sidebar... well, you've been warned!

My mother dropped in on me last weekend. She had the option to come to Delhi on some work, and grabbed the opportunity to check in on her errant son, who does not eat meals regularly and doesn't call home often enough :)

I was, naturally, very happy to have her here. It's nice to catch up with family stories and have awesome home cooked food (that said, my culinary skills have vastly improved as compared to the last time I mentioned them on this blog. Maybe I'll write about that later.) And its good fun to show her my office, take her through my routine and lifestyle, and drive her around Delhi/Gurgaon to show her that drivers here really are as crazy as I make them out to be. And scare her by driving at three times the speed I drive at in Chennai. And of, course, to come home from work to find the house sparkling clean and a week's worth of cooked food in the fridge :)

Having a parent over, however, does put a lot of pressure on one. Especially if one is a bachelor. And especially if one is a bachelor living with two other bachelors, making for one hell of a bachelor-style home.

As information regarding a visit (from a relative or the landlord) filters through to the group, a mild sense of panic sets in owing to the need to clean the house and make it somewhat respectable. And so the manic cleaning starts.

1. Out go the four week old newspapers lying around on the floor, atop the chairs and under the sofa.
2. Ditto for the empty juice cartons and cigarette packs (I don't smoke, but my flatmate does. I would, of course, smoke if I was set on fire but as that is not a regular occurrence, I feel comfortable stating that I do not smoke.)
3. In a bachelor household, "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" is not just a song. It's a real life logistical difficulty, an issue of storage space. For variety, there's whisky lying around as well. All need to be deposited in a safe place.
4. Most of the furniture (and the floor, and the walls, and the electrical appliances...) has a layer of dust thicker than normally considered healthy. None of us has dust allergies, but if one of us was... well, let's just say there'd be a room to spare at home. Out come the dust cloths (yes, we actually have them!)
5. The sour milk/curd in the fridge and the rotting vegetables we passed on in favour of Maggi need to be disposed off.
6. The packets of Maggi and MTR Ready-to-eat meals are discreetly puched to the background, and the spices, pastes, purees, pulses and veggies are emphasized to indicate self-reliance in terms of cooking.
7. It's time to clean the vessels in the kitchen as well. It is at moments like his that one discovers weird string-like microbial growth in a container that once contained something edible but hasn't been touched for weeks on end. I'm serious, I'm not just saying this for effect. See for yourself.

Yes, it is disgusting. I know.

This was not a dish of noodles. Detailed investigations later revealed that this was, at some point in time, a serving of daal, as evidenced by the glimpses of yellow below the stringy stuff in the picture above.

And all this is just the common areas (living room, kitchen, etc) in the house. My room is normally quite an ungodly mess by itself. I tackled the issue quite well, I think. I'm feeling rather proud of myself, actually.

1. Three weeks worth of sweeping done in three minutes
2. Two weeks of dirty (and, in some cases, smelly) clothes dumped into the washing machine and later hung to dry. This also helps spread a nice, clean, detergent-ish smell about the room
3. All potentially objectionable content (I shall not go into details here) disposed off in a retrievable fashion at a secure location
4. Books falling off shelves and strewn on the bed/floor collected and arranged in a neat pile on a table imported into the room for this purpose
5. The extra bed in my room (usually covered with aforementioned clothes and books apart from old newspapers, biscuit wrappers and credit card statements) emptied, wiped clean and covered with a new bedsheet that smells only mildly nauseatingly starchy
6. All dusty items stacked in one corner of the room to give the impression that it is only that corner of the room that I barely touch while the rest of the room is cleaned twice a day with disinfectant
7. The cupboard containing my clothes straightened out to give a sense of being organized
8. Air freshener liberally used and the door to the balcony opened to let in fresh air. (The latter, unfortunately, resulted in a lot of sand being blown in necessitating step 1 above being repeated.)

The end result was surprisingly good. I had no idea my flat and my room could look so nice and welcoming. It just goes to show what one can do if one forces oneself to puts one's mind to it.

And, here's the most important step, the best piece of advice I can give you, one that could come in very handy if you find yourself in a similar situation. Hope you've got a notebook to take this down.

Leave the door to your flatmate's room strategically ajar, so that you can smugly tell your parent(s), "Look, this is how bad my room could be. Now, aren't you proud of how clean I am?"


Gayatri said...

couldn't you have put up a pic of your clean room instead? GROSS!!!!!

But yeah, I understand the overall sentiment :)

Kath Lockett said...

Oh dear!! For all you know, that dahl could have the cure for cancer growing on it! :)

pnoasnidtiinvie said...

a) Does your mother know that you blog ;)

b) "All potentially objectionable publications (such as the comics my mother thought she'd weaned me off 10 years ago)......."

What kind of comics are we talking here ? Chandamama ? Chacha Chaudhry ? Archies ? When did these become objectionable ?

Now either you got into (ahem ahem) "objectionable" comics wayyyy too early OR the example provided apropos to "objectionable comics" in this blog is of the mildest nature :)

further clarification would be greatly appreciated :)

Nandini Vishwanath said...

Thank God you did not do all this when I came over. The dal vessel is very believable though. Remember that milk bottle in your house. God save you and your roomies.

AC said...

@ Gayatri: Well, by the time the idea of a before/after pic struck, the after had become like the before again!

@ Kath: Well, that goes a long way in explaining the unnaturally great health I've enjoyed of late! :)

AC said...

@ pnoasnidtiinvie:
a) Yes, she does :) And she's a fairly regular reader too!
b) I realized that was just way too random, even by my low standards, and not something I'd like to have to explain... so I've changed that sentence to avoid having to clarify it. Better safe than sorry!

@ Nandini: Hey, both the milk bottle (which I don't remember, but will take your word for) and the daal are exceptions rather than the norm... we're really very neat and clean people!

Anonymous said...

you should had a before after snap.
and i know about edibles turning into creepy things which would start moving if left for a little longer cause i perenially had friends in hostel who were responsible for such things.And i used be the person to spot such stuff and dispose them of!!
and i wanted to ask about you mom reading the blog but you've already answered that!


Steph said...

Ugh, from the look of that, I'm surprised you could take standing so close to it to get a picture without passing out from the stench.

Shel said...

I don't think I can eat dahl without thinking of that picture anymore! Lol. =D

Ajith said...

I belong to a group which was once kicked out of an apartment after landlord visited it one day :)..Needless to say, we kept it in an even better way :)

AC said...

@Ag: Things which would start moving?! Ugh!

@steph: Actually, there was no stench at all... it was copletely odorless and dry, which also made it pretty easy to get rid of :)

@Shel: :)) Bon apetit!

@Ajith: Hopefully we'll never come to that!

squarecut.atul said...


I must tell you, if you are married, and you need to stay alone from your wife for a few days, then similar situation can develop very quickly.

And wives are not as forgiving in such matters as mothers, I tell you.