A lunch box full of retail therapy

The sister, who has recently moved to New York City, messaged me this morning. We (nearly) share a birthday, but that and a love for Katie Atkinson are the only thing we seem to have in common. Ten years and a world of difference separates us. If we were reincarnated as bears, she would be the polar bear swanning around with Santa Claus in a Coca-Cola feature, while I would the grizzly featured in the ‘before’ advertisements of hair removal creams. She dresses exclusively in – what I firmly believe are – funeral colors, while she won’t be caught dead in the rather lively hues I favor. She thinks social media and indeed all forms of social communication are a complete nuisance and would have been happier if Graham Bell had taken up, say taxidermy, instead of inventing the telephone. I, on the other hand, am the kind of person that help Zuckerberg and his ilk make a rather comfortable living.

So she pings me with “should I get you some warm clothes, sales are on” accompanying the message with a photo of pale grey sweater. “Are you mad, that will never fit me and besides it is not my color.” After some similar back and forth, I call her, as I type on my smartphone with the same speed as the glaciers that my sister will bound on in her polar bear avatar. “It’s so cold here, ben,” she says, and I can practically hear her shivering, “I bought sweaters and a mini jacket and gargantuan one to wear over the mini jacket and sweaters. I can barely move.” In sympathy, I climb into bed, and draw up the covers though it is a beautiful sunny day outside in Bangalore.

“I can’t come to NY in winters then.”

“Don’t worry, I shall get you clothes to keep you warm”

“It’s not that, and anyhow, I have started working full time and I have limited time off.”

“Then what is it?”

“All winter clothing is dull and the color of ditch water and I want to dress in bright colors when I am in NY so that Brandon is convinced that he has to photograph me for HONY”

“What makes you think that he will photograph you if you are disguised as a peacock? What makes you think that I shall allow you out of the house looking like a peacock?”

“Only because you don’t want me to be famous,” I sulk. “How’s college?” I ask, wanting to change the subject but secretly thinking of the deep philosophical things that I shall share with Brandon when I meet him.

We chat a while about her college (fine), mid-terms (deplorable), what she does for dinner (still instant noodles), Trump in US and demonetization in India (both phenomenon beyond both our understanding) and a bit more about the weather (the wind is blowing so hard that she believes she will fall over, but that may be because the new jacket is so heavy).

“How’s it to be back full time?” she asks, “I am sure you are not prancing about in glee.”

“It’s not all that bad as I imagined it to be. And to mourn my loss of part time flexibility, I went on-line and was rather reckless with my credit card.”

“Don’t tell me ben, you bought yet another lunch box, you already have a cupboard full of them!”

“Erm. I bought three. Though I had to return one because it damaged. And the Borosil set with its own insulated bag is a twin to the set I already have so that does not count, does it?!”

“You already have it, then why…”

“One set for hot food, one for yogurt and mid-day fruits”

“Don’t you think you should be thinking more about how you can contribute to the company’s strategy or something rather than think so much about food and lunch boxes?”

“My body is my temple…” I make ‘Om’ sounds.

“.. Rubbish! Isn’t so much glassware heavy difficult to carry?”

“Yesterday, I backpacked it all, and I did feel rather unbalanced,” I confessed, “like you and your jacket,” changing to a chortle. “And so I have back up stainless steel set, and a wonderful plastic one for my salads. It’s so nifty with separate sections for wet and dry and a teensy tiny cute container for dressing,” I say in an admiring voice that moms usually reserve for their first-borns, “do you want to see pictures?”

“Oh please, ben!” Get a life! Anyway, I gotta go and binge watch Wire so while actively nor writing my term paper.”

“Ok go away then,” I sulk.

“But seriously, do you want me to buy anything for you, the whole of America is on sale this week.”

“On the subject of stores, since I watch a lot of Shark Tank, why would America name a store bye bye baby, like why do you guys not like your babies and say goodbye to them.”

“It’s buy buy baby, and I cannot believe I am related to someone this intelligent.”

“Ok Ok,” I hasten to change the subject yet again, “get me a lunch box that I saw on-line. It comes with this freezer bag that will keep my salad so cold…”

“You need help, ben, you need help! I am going to call mom.”

Let me clarify that when she calls me ‘ben’, it is endearment/slang for ‘sister’. I have not overnight metamorphosed into a forty five years old Caucasian male, who makes movies with people named Drew and Cameron and runs a side business in lunch boxes.

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