Posts Tagged ‘Phil’s Photos’

Your Cheatin’ Help

I’ve never looked into someone’s eyes and unabashedly said, “You are lying to me,” unless I was sleeping with them and they were sleeping with someone else, or I suspected they were.

Venu, the guy we inherited to clean the pool and feed the dog, is a tricky one. He is small and delicate, with green eyes and a smile that would, somewhere else in the world, get him anything he wanted; and right now he wants 300 rupees. Around six bucks. But instead of just asking for a loan, or a gift, he has made up an elaborate story about buying milk for the dog while we were out of town last month.

“Venu says ma’am owes him 300 rupees,” Bhaskar translates.

I laugh. It is true that we often feed the dog yogurt, for his digestive problems. Yesterday, I accidentally fed the dog milk, thinking it was yogurt, and he spent the morning throwing up all over the lawn. “Kaiser doesn’t drink milk,” I say, “it makes him…” and I act out throwing up because my translator is an unreliable resource.

Bhaskar pretends to speak and understand English as well as the next Indian, but yesterday when he answered the question, “What is this neighborhood called ?” with the words, “Yes ma’am, we’ll go on the weekend,” I became concerned that his daily translations of more important matters might be causing more problems than they are solving.

“How much did he spend ?” I ask.

“300 rupees.”

“Okay, let’s see: one bag of milk costs about twenty rupees, right ? That’s fifteen pints of milk, and we were gone for maybe five days. So that means Venu fed Kaiser one pint of milk, which by the way, makes him VOMIT, three times a day, for five days, and that adds up to – he’s LYING.”

I lost both of them a long time ago and I know it, but I take advantage of the fact that they can’t keep up with me, and just blow off steam. I want to let them both know that I am not just the nice white lady who kisses babies and gives out money – I am also the crazy white lady who has lived in India for long enough to know when she’s being taken advantage of.

“Why is Venu lying to me ?” I ask.

“He is telling lies, ma’am,” Bhaskar shrugs.

Venu stands there trying hard to look innocent. He sticks to his story: “Three hundred rupees. Mil-ik. Kaisher.”

I stick to mine: “You. Lying.”

I douse Venu with badly translated logic; he wobbles his head and chatters emphatically to Bhaskar, who chatters back with words that sound like Count Dracula with a stammer: “Blah blah, blah…” I have no idea what is transpiring between them, and at this point Bhaskar’s explanations are of little help.

“Venu says he tell sir of the necessity to purchase mil-ik for Kaisher.”

It takes a few seconds for the meaning of this sentence to sink in. “I need to talk to sir for a minute,” I say and go upstairs to the air-conditioned cave Phil calls home.

“Did Venu tell you of the necessity to purchase mil-ik for Kaisher ?” I ask. Phil is in his signature position, half sitting, half lying down on the bed, his head and shoulders nestled into pillows with a computer on his lap. He looks over the screen and wobbles his head, “Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve never actually understood a word he’s said.”

“You are no help.”

“I’m beddy beddy sorry, ma’am,” Phil chuckles, and goes back to pimping our blog.

I’m torn. I hate being taken advantage of, I also hate the idea of having an unhappy employee who has access to our house and everything in it.

The owners of the house, from whom we inherited this drama, had warned us not to let Venu’s wife into the house, as things tend to disappear in her presence, a rumor which has earned her the name, “Klepto-bride”. Also, last month Venu’s brother, Hari, disappeared with three thousand rupees the maid had given him to deliver to her daughter in their native village. He never arrived, and hasn’t dared show his face back around here.

Apparently the family isn’t as concerned about their karma as their red dotted foreheads imply and the locks on all the cupboards and drawers in the house are starting to make more sense.

I go downstairs; Venu and Bhaskar are still standing in the dining room. I really have no idea where to go from here, so I say the same thing I said to the last cheating bastard who lied to me: “I really don’t want to deal with this right now,” and I walk away.

Rat. Parkour. Kitchen.

Last night there was a rat in the kitchen. He didn’t have the long slithering black Manhattan-trash-pile-on-the-hot-summer-night tail that makes me want to scream and pass out; he was more like a giant-sized field mouse. A Beatrix Potter creation with soft brown fur who would have been perfectly at home sitting on a pin cushion reading the newspaper. But still, he was a rat, a five-inch long disease-carrying rat… apparently built on springs.

The rat launches himself from the table, bounces off the back of a chair then flies to the window five feet away, scrambles up the blinds and disappears. By now my screeching has gotten Phil’s attention: “We have rats !” I shout, as he hurries downstairs. “Rats – BIG rats,” I point at the window blind.

Phil grabs a paper bag, I grab a cow whip that the maid laughed at me for buying. I whap at the blind while Phil stands ready to catch the varmint in the bag. I whap again: nothing. I open the blind then let it roll open.

Phil sees a shadow dash into the kitchen on the other side of the room and shouts, “Fucking hell, that’s a huge rat !” We run into the kitchen just in time to see him slip behind the fridge. Phil muscles the fridge away from the wall. The rat darts across the floor to the water cooler. We scream like seven-year old girls.

I smack the water cooler. The rat flies over the microwave to the towel rod below the cupboards. He scampers the length of the cupboards. When he gets to the stove he leaps three feet to the window, and scurries to the top of the blind. Cow whip – check. Bag – check. He peeks at us over the top of the blind, and we’re pretty sure he’s laughing, great peals of silent rat laughter, because this is hilarious. The two of us are doubled over, howling.

After seeing this rat in action, both of us know we haven’t got a chance in hell of catching him. It is impossible not to be impressed. He may be the most efficient being we’ve seen in this country to date, the first creature who appears to know exactly what he’s doing (in this case, evading his captors), and is going about it in the most ergonomically streamlined way possible (see “parkour” in the Wikipedia; or watch the opening sequence of Daniel Craig‘s James Bond movie, “Casino Royale“).

I tap the blind and he launches himself from the top of the window into the sink full of dirty dishes. He bounces from a soup bowl into a saucepan, then tumbles over a tea cup. Our kitchen has become an Indian Tom & Jerry cartoon, a live rat theater production of Ratatouille. He escapes and we can’t stop laughing.

Phil and I look around the kitchen. “Of course we have rats,” he says. “Look at this place.”

Dishes in the sink, trash on the floor, food on the counter. The maid doesn’t really get the whole “clean” thing. She is great at mopping the floors, but seems to be baffled by things like glass counter-tops and emptying trashcans. She’s nearly as bad as I used to be at doing the dishes directly after dinner. Phil and I have trained ourselves not to complain about each other, so we forget to complain about her.

The maid and I need to have a talk.


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Seven Stranded Castaways

A portrait of our island crew. Clockwise from left: Luke, ’70’s moustache heartthrob; King Andrew, being fey; yours truly, in a skirt as usual; Pamela, clearly thinking funny thoughts, Nurse Nina, dresser of wounds; Miss Philippa, hater of fine literature; and Jo Lamb, Olympic crossword champion.

Mad Dogs And Englishmen !

by Noel Coward
In tropical climes, there are certain times of day
When all the citizens retire,
to tear their clothes off and perspire.
It’s one of those rules that the biggest fools obey,
Because the sun is much too sultry and one must avoid
its ultry-violet ray —
The natives grieve when the white men leave their huts,
Because they’re obviously, absolutely nuts.

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The Japanese don’t care to, the Chinese wouldn’t dare to,
Hindus and Argentines sleep firmly from twelve to one,
But Englishmen detest a siesta,
In the Philippines there are lovely screens,
to protect you from the glare,
In the Malay states there are hats like plates,
which the Britishers won’t wear,
At twelve noon the natives swoon, and
no further work is done –
But Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

It’s such a surprise for the Eastern eyes to see,
That though the British are effete,
they’re quite impervious to heat,
When the white man rides, every native hides in glee,
Because the simple creatures hope he will
impale his solar topee on a tree.
It seems such a shame that when the English claim the earth
That they give rise to such hilarity and mirth –

Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The toughest Burmese bandit can never understand it.
In Rangoon the heat of noon is just what the natives shun.
They put their scotch or rye down, and lie down.
In the jungle town where the sun beats down,
to the rage of man or beast,
The English garb of the English sahib merely gets a bit more creased.
In Bangkok, at twelve o’clock, they foam at the mouth and run,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen, go out in the midday sun.
The smallest Malay rabbit deplores this stupid habit.
In Hong Kong, they strike a gong, and fire off a noonday gun.
To reprimand each inmate, who’s in late.
In the mangrove swamps where the python romps
there is peace from twelve till two.
Even caribous lie down and snooze, for there’s nothing else to do.
In Bengal, to move at all, is seldom if ever done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Heavy Metal Thunder

It was boy’s day out. After, there was blood.