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‘Privileged’ Leave

india Updated: Jun 15, 2008 02:27 IST
Sushmita Bose
Sushmita Bose
Hindustan Times
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Last to last week, I took the week off from work. For the first time in my life in Delhi, I wasn’t taking off to go out of town. Which means I wasn’t going to Calcutta; I wanted to stay in. And yes — how could I forget? — I had Six Things To Do.

1) Get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the bank I’d taken my car loan from; the NOC states that I’ve paid off my loan, and the car is now mine and mine alone. I should have collected the NOC last July — but what the hell. 2) Renew my car insurance (it expires on 20 June). 3) Check on a mutual fund scheme I had invested in three years ago; I have a feeling the glib-talking agent gypped me. 4) Clear my pad. 5) Hook up with my brother and sister-in-law before the baby arrives. 6) Call up my parents; haven’t spoken to them in three weeks.

Six things to do; six days over which to do them, I thought smugly. On the seventh day, I would rest. Even God rested on Sunday.

I hopped across to The Boss’s chamber. Could I get a week’s privileged (or is it privilege?) leave (either way, PL)? “Hmmm, you going out of town?” he asked hopefully.

Nope.

“So you’re going to be looking around for a new job?” he plodded on even more hopefully.

“Let’s just say I have to work to do,” I scampered out.

By the end of the week, I’d watched 15 movies and come to at least one major socio-economic conclusion: the kirana store will never, ever go out of fashion in India — Wal-Mart or no Wal-Mart. Delivery boys from Kapil Stores, the friendly neighbourhood shop, rang my doorbell constantly while I was on PL. Folks living on the two floors above me seem to be in need of replenishments every hour — and the delivery chappies kept confusing floors, and had to be redirected upstairs.

The Cable Guy — who always looks at me disapprovingly (he probably doesn’t agree with my lifestyle) — also stopped by to collect his dues. As did the paperwallah, the kurawallah, the kabadiwallah, the subziwallah, the fruitwallah (the last two worthies ring the bell — at all odd hours — whenever they see my car parked outside)…

And yes, my landlord called the first afternoon. “You haven’t gone to office today — are you alright, can I get you some medicines?”

Er, I’m okay, I said, you know, taking it easy

On day three, he was convinced I was dying. “Should I call for a doctor?” Funnily enough, he hadn’t noticed that I was going out for a few hours every afternoon — and then every evening. Some of my friends had got wind of the fact that I was on PL. “Let’s catch up for lunch, what say?” “What about a drink in the evening?” Etc, etc. I was eating out almost every afternoon, and then drinking every evening. My midweek I’d put on a couple of extra kilos.

I felt the weight of it all on Saturday afternoon when I met my no-carbs-diet friend, who’s now been reduced to a shadow of her former self. “You’ve lost too much weight,” I observed through a Vodka-induced haze.

“You could do it [the only-protein diet] too, you know, instead of being plain jealous,” she tossed back her curls.

Let me start right now, I decided. I stolidly chomped on boneless pieces of chicken salt and pepper and avoided carbs. By the end of it, I couldn’t take so much lean intake; I ordered two helpings of lychees with ice-cream and gratefully polished them off.

When I came back home, I took stock of my to-do list.

1) Get the NOC. Status: Not done

2) Renew my car insurance. Status: Not done

3) Check on the mutual fund scheme. Status: Not done

4) Clean up my pad. Status: Not done

5) Hook up with my bro and sis-in-law. Status: Not done

6) Call my parents. Status: Not done.

I hadn’t even found a new job.

The next day was Sunday. I rested.


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