Learning How To Drive. Just A Little Too Late.

Throughout my existence, I have mastered many trades. I became fully potty-trained at age of 2(parents argue that I was 6, but I doubt that they remember it correctly), I championed the art of sabotaging one’s own future by opting for medical stream at 16, then went on to (dare to) get married at 28. Yet, there was one necessity-of-urban-life art that was elusive for me: developing a taste for wine while using 800 English language adjectives to say in place of “YUCK”. That, and the art of knowing how to drive a car.

It is not a popular blogging idea to talk about your failures in life, but what prompted me to share my story was a recent report that Milind Soman, the unofficial mascot of the ‘Association of wives pestering their husbands to reduce that beer-belly’ had recently learnt how to drive a car. AT 54 YEARS OF AGE. The headline for this article was probably on the lines of ‘Milind Soman learns how to drive at 54 and we can’t stop saying #LearningGoals while for me, because of not knowing how to drive at 28, the general family opinion would read ‘Ankit Sharma is still a Dhartee pe Bojh’.

Agreed, he is Milind Soman. Even at 54, he could run from Mumbai to Lonawala while carrying his girlfriend(with her two large suitcases of luggage) on his back and call it a weekend getaway. At 28, my fitness levels had dropped down to cancelling the plan instead of opening the Ola app if an Uber was not available. It took a while to understand that with his face and physique, Milind Soman could even get away with voting for Congress in Delhi elections.

In general, I was late with my means of conveyance milestones. At the age of 12, when other boys of my age were learning how to ride a scooter so that they could take that cute girl from the tuition classes to the bakery two block away, I was learning how to balance myself on a bicycle. At 21, while my peers watched and tried to emulate Formula One and NasCar, I learnt how to ride a motorcycle, conditions applied*. (*Must have a pillion rider who also knew how to ride a bike, and riding at a speed which would mean the fifth gear was redundant)

Let me be clear. It wasn’t for the lack of intent or effort. I have taken driving lessons four times in my life, and by the last session of each of those, I was confident that I could transport myself from point A to point B in the city at an average of 18km per hour and 3 abusive words per turn and overtake. Then, due to lack of practice and willpower, I slowly forgot most of the teachings, except two:
1. Always use indicator to switch lane/make a turn.
2. Stay 20 feet away from a car with a ‘Gujjar Boy’ sticker.

My family always tried to motivate me to learn driving through the age-old method popular in closely-knit loving families: verbal ridicule. I finally managed to find a teacher who could teach me on a car without a second set of foot control, and after 10 days, I felt ready to get out on the city roads and have the moral entitlement to make jokes about female drivers. Then I got a car and safely parked it at a nearby parking for 3 months because of the personality trait commonly known as ‘zabardast phattu hona’.

I finally took my car out independently (with the missus sitting next to me who, if needed, could get the car out of trouble) after two months of getting married. This is also a moment to appreciate the wife who had patiently waited for this moment, for about 9 years as a girlfriend and then 2 more months after the wedding. She learnt driving way before I did, and then supported my initial period of practice by opening window and shouting cuss words at other drivers so that I could concentrate solely on the road.

12 months and about 18000 scratches on the car later, I can proudly say that I know how to drive now. I live and hence drive mostly inside the city area of Delhi, so it means that my chances of becoming a patient of chronic hypertension are now higher. It is still a better prospect than getting into a typical Delhi road-rage, simply because you did not stay away from the ‘Gujjar Boy’ car. As they say about driving in Delhi and teenage pregnancies, saavdhani hati…

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The Anniversary Special Edition Post

In this era of short flings, superficial feelings and lack of attention span, rarely do you come across a couple who look so lost in each other’s eyes and completely in love with each other. But enough about how Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone behave in front of the camera. This post is about me and my wife, because (this is my blog and) I just completed one year of married life in December, which has been the most educational year of my life.

The start of the year was full of filmy nicknames for each other. While I preferred the respectful ‘Mrs Dharmarha’ or ‘Madamjee‘, she went for the much more loving ‘Abbey Oye‘ and the occasional use of ‘C’ word. Towards the end of the year, I was waiting for the right opportunity to start calling her ‘Bhagyawaan‘ so that we both could officially start feeling like an old, cranky couple.

People say that songs and romance die out within the first six months. I don’t really argue against that opinion but the truth is that around 40 years back, lovers used to sing about comparisons of their better halves with the moon and stars, whereas the music trending these days is “Ye Ladki pagal hai-pagal hai-pagal hai-pagal hai” and “Haye mera saiyyaan psycho”. So, there really is no point in singing songs for each other now. According to the wife, not only does it keep the mutual respect alive, but also keeps her ears safe.

To excel at my ongoing domestic learning, I’ve started to make contributions for the kitchen as well. My contribution inside the kitchen is, however, limited to throwing things in boiling water, hence my culinary expertise includes only green tea, plain Maggi and boiled eggs (and of course, warm water). Yet, I make significant contributions for the kitchen away from the stove:

  1. I procure groceries from the departmental store. It usually happens after my wife prepares the list and gives me six reminders with increasingly aggressive tone of voice, but I think it counts.
  2. I buy vegetables from the local vendor while managing to look very knowledgeable. The trick is to ask the price of each vegetable and then saying “mehengaayi bohot ho gayi hai” after every response, because I have no idea about the current prices.
  3. I was kidding! I know the current price of every vegetable, which is ₹(price that the vendor asks for minus 10). That is also my super-successful bargaining technique.

Due to obvious reasons such as the fact that we are almost 30 and are not working on any MTV reality shows, I will refrain from talking in detail about our chemistry as a couple while using the word ‘connection’ 800 times. I will just provide an example. Credits to loss in brain cells due to age and marital status, we played a game on Facebook where we had to describe the past one year as a Bollywood title. I can proudly disclose that while I explained my year as ‘Khatta Meetha’, my wife, the true Bobby Deol fan that she is, chose ‘Bardaasht’. See, ‘connection’!

I am still learning about being a good partner, and I have multiple ideas to motivate myself. The most important idea is to remember that my wife is a surgeon, and she knows how to use a scalpel.

Hawww-inducing couple goals?
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Let The Hairfall. And It Crumbles. We Will Stand Tall?

With a (now)visibly receding hairline, this week I entered the movie hall with a hope for solution only the second time in life after Salaam Namaste. It was to watch Bala, and look for any possible solutions to the biggest problem in my life other than my decision to opt for biology in eleventh standard. Correlation is not always causality but I’d like to think otherwise in this case.

You couldn’t blame my optimism regarding the movie, since it featured Ayushmann Khurana in lead, the guy who has so far solved taboo around sperm donation, body-shaming, impotence, casteism, blindness and ‘want-a-friend call service’ singlehandedly. The least one can expect from him now is to help people grow a head full of hair without having to apply buffalo-dung and bull-semen. This is a spoiler-free post, so I won’t tell you what happens in the movie, but let me tell you from personal experience so far instead: NOTHING SEEMS TO WORK.

Androgenic alopecia. That’s the medical terminology for male-patterned baldness. In a few cultures, it is taken as a sign of maturity in men, which is a blatant evidence of nature’s gender bias, where the two signs of wisdom in my life as a man have been twisted, painful molar teeth and a balding scalp while maturity in women is signalled by, I don’t know, may be shorter shopping trips to the mall.

Yet, Androgenic alopecia is nature’s way of telling us that in this superficial world where beauty for majority may be only skin-deep, a man can manage to look uglier even after getting his braces removed. A sparsely populated scalp is the latest body feature that will help me repel people from 15 feet away as opposed to the minimum proximity of 8 feet that it takes to observe my nose clearly.

I can assure you that I’ve worked on it. I’ve tried multiple oils and shampoos and fluids that look like oil or shampoo, including Bhringraj oil, the oil that is known for making the top end of people from southern part of India so dense that they could bulldoze their way out of thick-walled buildings with it. I have also discussed this problem with someone with highest possible expertise in this field:

My Barber: Have you tried an 800-rupee shampoo with a bottle volume of less than two hair-wash?
Me: No.

My Barber: Can you afford hair transplant?
Me: No.

My Barber: Do you realise I just cut hair and you actually need a dermatologist?
Me: May be.

I guess I need professional help soon or face a time when the words shampoo and conditioner lose their meaning in my life, not that I really prefer using the shampoos labelled ‘anti-hairfall’ since I’m convinced that they are clearly being sold as a prank.

Major problems that men with less hair face in life are not getting married and getting laughed at, and both of these point don’t matter to me since I already fooled a woman into marrying me and she seems to have made peace with sharing the burden of getting laughed at for having a patchy-topped husband. My major issue is prospective injuries to my scalp due to the 40+ temperature in New Delhi. I am counting on not knowing when to stop rubbing sunscreen on my face to prevent that to some extent.

Okay then, I’ll apply some antibiotic cream on the scalp wounds where it will hurt. No, it doesn’t matter if buffalo-dung has antimicrobial properties, IT IS NOT AN OPTION!!

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