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Shuddh Shakahari Desi - "A Day in the Life of Mrs Expat"

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"Shudhh Shakahari Desi" is all about you and me: my exposure and experiences with your culture, your food, your language, your music blended in a humor curry of my own hopeless attempts to become you and my struggle to evolve as the sole epitome of National Integration, as I grew up and cultivated my own self embracing all of my nation in over 15 states in India. Am hoping you will find some of yourself with a bit of me strewn in here...


Episode -14

A Day in the Life of Mrs Expat


After Bimboboti (which is my Bong coinage for a Bimbo), my next favorite character is her perennially teenager, Peter Pan mother, Madam Bhimroti and their neighbor, Mrs Expat.

Mrs Expat, after her prestigious college and maybe a University Degree (to match up to her search for the IIT-IIM tag of a husband), lives in a plush sea facing apartment, speaks English with an upmarket accent (that still cannot quite decide whether the American or British English is more stylish) with her children and starts faltering after the first paragraph because her small town not so international school did not provide her an accent or grammar that could stand the test of time (in most cases, the syllables start falling apart after 5 minutes of a conversation). She has a Filipino maid who speaks English with a call centre touch and a lap dog for company who has mastered the art of posing for Facebook when dear Mr Successful Corporate husband is away traveling for work (or so he says). Grapevine tells me Dear husband can be regularly spotted stepping out a Thai Massage Parlour where he is a "frequent flier" seeking special services. Ahem!!We shall leave it for another discussion on another day. 

Mrs Expat also has a bunch of friends who are as identical as balls of cotton. All of them meet every day after a few hours of sweating it out in the gym to stay fit and look good in the brands that carry them. (They no longer carry a brand. It’s the other way around. There comes Zara’s commonest design and size M and Mrs Expat in it). All of them dress well and dine at a friend’s place over a spread of international gourmet, exchange stories about the latest must visit exhibitions (no art here. We are talking jewelry and wardrobes), the plights of managing a domestic helper, and of course, the one friend who has not turned up for the lunch. The food is of course, "phirang" low carb, healthy and only the very "desi junta" eat the spicy rich Indian cuisine. It's a different story that the host has yet to learn that glass tumblers must be placed on the right, and that table etiquette requires you to "close the plate", and that knives are meant to only cut and not forced into the mouth for a lick. The finishing school called "back home in India" obviously did not have trained grooming experts. Post lunch, they pose for photographs, piling, spreading over each other like wafers in a Pringle can and click pictures for Facebook. By the time, Mrs Expat reaches home, her whatsapp is full of memories of the best afternoon adda she has ever had with the bestest of friends, while on a parallel chat, she is busy disclosing to her only friend she trusts, how the others are the equivalents of a certain breed of feminine canine. Her afternoon is spent in a nap, some tea and watching Pakistani serials on television. Ask her the story line. She does not know. Her eyes were only mooning for the hero. She however has noted down the name of the boutique that sponsored the wardrobe and accessories of the heroine. In her list of next must buys are Pakistani salwar suits and some silver jhumkis that no one can match.

The evenings in Mrs Expat’s life are busy again. A socialite friend has just launched a book and it’s good to be “seen” with a glass of vino, blowing kisses in the air. After all, that’s where Mrs Expat can now flaunt her Tiffany. The kids are busy playing Rugby or have locked themselves in their rooms watching a film. They find her dramatic, technologically challenged and too "emo" to hold a conversation for long without getting exasperated.

Mr Successful Corporate Husband is travelling again and when he’s home, he is too tired to entertain her or too bored. And he struggles to have a conversation with her. Cricket—she does not get it! Business-darn, woman understands nothing of the market. Yet, she has an opinion almost about everything and expects him to agree. His greatest fear is indulging in a conversation that could reveal his travel secrets! She looks sexy in photographs and manages a good home and performs all the duties of a “good wife”. That’s good enough return on investment. To keep her at peace, he takes her out for dinner sometimes and on exotic holidays. The rest of the job is taken care of by the platinum credit card.

I bump into her in the elevator. She looks lovely in a saree and gushes that it's her new found love and that she has pledged to wear 100 sarees this year. She speaks almost with the same pride and integrity that takes ownership of eradicating the poverty of the world! She also speaks about sharing the Deepika Padukone video on My Choice on her wall. It takes me a while before I realise her life is confined by Facebook Walls. I narrowly escape her invitation to be a part of her saree selfie fare just in the nick of time leaving her with the space, the focus and the thumb therapy she needs to find a meaning in her life.


About the Author : Ananya Mukherjee, former editor of HRM Asia, is an acclaimed writer and journalist with more than 1000 publications to her credit. Her journalistic acumen in print and television covers a whole gamut of subjects including politics, lifestyle and business. She is a passionate short story writer, columnist, avid reader, keen traveller, blogger, theatre artiste and a trained dancer. Ananya currently lives in Singapore and spearheads Internal Communications in a Multi-national Company.

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