Monday, July 16, 2012

Memories I Wish I Could Forget

There is nothing like sitting down with your girlfriends, taking Jeigar bombs and sharing stories so embarrassing that it can make you cringe even after ten years have gone by. So here are a few cringe-worthy moments from my life: some that I haven’t even shared with my mom and others that are so impossible to erase from my memory that I decided I might as well make a blog post out of it.
1)      Grasshopper in the Metro
When I lived in DC, I commuted via metro (“subway” if you’re a New Yorker). As I sat down in the metro one day, a man sat across from me and laid his jacket on his lap. I noticed a huge grasshopper on the back of his jacket. That thing was the size of my face and probably had some mutated superhuman powers that I didn’t want to find out about. I told myself to remain calm and assured myself that the probability of the grasshopper coming at me was very low.
At that point, the man decided to move his jacket and all I heard was a loud buzz and flutter coming towards me. I screamed like a banshee because I knew it was on me; it was probably on my face but I couldn’t tell because my mouth was open and shrieking and my eyes were closed.
The same time that I had jumped and screamed, the woman sitting next to me did the same…simply because I had done it. While I frantically looked around to find the grasshopper, the woman kept yelling “Oh my God! What happened?! What is it?!”
“There is a grasshopper,” I yelled in anguish, like I had just encountered a pile of dead bodies. “I think it’s on me!”
A passenger spotted the grasshopper instantly and said “It’s on your ass!”
“OMG,” I yelled, “Getitoff! Getitoff! Getitoff!!”
He rolled up his newspaper and started whacking me on my ass until the grasshopper plopped onto the floor, and then rolled onto its back.
The man who had brought the grasshopper in on his jacket then proceeded to state (rather blandly, I might add): “It’s just a grasshopper.”
I had to stop myself from jump-kicking him in the face. I calmly picked up my purse and laptop, walked to the other end of the metro and imagined various ways of dismembering the man’s voodoo doll, which I’d make that weekend.
2)      Carrot squeezing in the grocery store
I hate even remembering this story because it is that embarrassing. I was about ten years old and I was beyond absent-minded. I had gone grocery-shopping with my mom and while waiting for her, I decided to day-dream. I picked up a bag of carrots and started pinching and squeezing them, while day-dreaming about how my Barbie shoes would be a smashing hit at middle school tomorrow. When I was done mutilating the carrots, I noticed a father and his 4 year old daughter stare at me like I was crazy. It was then that I realized that it was not my shopping cart that I was fucking around with, but somebody else’s.
To this day, that memory haunts me and I invariably think the following things in the following order:
- Why was I mutilating carrots?
- I wish I could apologize to the dad and her daughter and say Indians are not that crazy. I have tarnished their images of brown kids for many years to come.
- A four year old was looking at a ten year old with a “WTF” expression. There is no recovering from this.
3)      Interview Jitters
I used to be horrible with interviews; primarily because I couldn’t speak half as well as I could write. Several annoying little memories still linger in the dark corners of my mind that I wish I could scrub clean. The first time I had an in-person interview, for example, the interviewer walked into the room to shake my hand and said, “Hi Shilpi, I’m Jim.”
I immediately replied, “Hi Jim, I’m Shilpi.”
Damn you! My brain would yell. Damn you…ugh…let me handle the rest of the interview.   
4)      Aliens in the Sky
For a long time, I was convinced I had had alien encounters. Without a doubt, I can blame X-Files for this particular phenomenon. One evening after school, I finished watching an episode of X-files and wondered where my parents were. I went onto the balcony to look for them, thinking they had gone out for a walk. That’s when I saw a circular, suspiciously UFO-like, shape floating through the sky. Wouldn’t it be funny, I thought, if that was a UFO?
Right at that point, the UFO stopped mid-air and started coming towards me. My mind did two quick mental calculations:
“Do airplanes usually make sharp right-angle turns like that?” my mind asked. No, I replied out loud.
“Okay, are you on crack?” No.
“Definitely Panic.”
I whipped around and ran back into the apartment, running face-first into the screen door that was in my way. When my parents returned, they found me hiding behind the couch and the screen door lying on the floor with my face imprint on it.
5)      Balcony Ablutions

When I was five, my primary goal in life was to outsmart my mother when it was time for me to eat. To help expedite my eating (I would take 3 hours at a minimum to finish a meal), I would think of various ways to dispose of food while mom was distracted with motherly tasks.
Now, my mom is smarter and scarier than the average mom. So crap like spreading the food around the plate to make it look like I ate it didn’t work.  So I would hide piles of food in a bowl and keep it under the table, or in the tea cups displayed in the showcase. Sometimes I would even hide it in my fist and rest my head against the closed fist, announcing I was done, while my mom suspiciously wondered why I was posing like Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker”.
Mom figured out all my schemes in less than 5 minutes, except for one. She would peek into the living room every two minutes to check on my eating progress. In those two minutes, I proceeded to fist a bunch of food into my hand, run into the balcony, and throw it over the balcony wall with the skill of an Olympic shot-put champion. This lasted for an entire week, after which I was grimly betrayed by the neighbors who lived downstairs.
I remember the scene vividly. I was walking from one room to another when I overheard my mom speaking to someone at the door.
“No no,” she said, “These days my daughter eats everything. “
“Hmm,” replied a voice from behind the door, “Well, we are…pretty sure she’s been throwing food out because we hang our clothes to dry under your balcony…and we have stains of daal and rice on it…..I think this one right here is paneer makhni?”
Rats! My brain said. I knew it’d be a problem if we couldn’t actually see over the balcony!
My mom then turned her head to look at me and it was something like the woman in Exorcist, where the body doesn’t move but the head makes a 180 degree turn and makes you wish you were never born.

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