The first thing the wife does on waking up every morning, even before drawing the curtains to see the sky, is to ask Alexa about the temperature for the day. Based on the response, she decides whether to wear a sweater, don a jacket or take a wraparound. Gone are the days when our body shiver was used as a barometer.
Sometimes, I ask the wife, how would a foreign-sounding lady sitting in Georgetown or Glasgow know how cold or warm Gurugram would be?
She laughs at my technological naivety. Being in daily interaction with our grand-daughters — 10 and 15 — she of course talks from a position of superiority as the girls keep the Nani updated on the latest. As for me, the decades of living on jugaad have hardened my resolve to resist change. Also, with my fast-depleting grey cells, I do not wish to overtax the contents of my cranium.
When the wife goes to Mumbai visiting the daughter and I live alone, I do not engage with Alexa. The reason mainly is that I can hardly hear what the lady says. Once or twice, I have asked her to repeat what she has just said. But she simply says she cannot understand. Once angrily, I even shouted, ‘Alexa, if you were my wife...’ She disarmingly said, ‘Sorry, I do not understand’ and went off, presumably to irritate another jaded oldie with similar auditory disability as mine.
I follow my own system. Our maid lives on the second floor and has to cross an open terrace to take the stairs down. When she comes with the morning tea, I first observe how she is attired. If she is using the thick Naga woollen shawl that the wife has given her, I know the weather would be harsh. But I still ask her just to re-check. If she says ‘Thand hai, uncle’, I never doubt her words and reach for my thick socks. I also occasionally ask her whether it would rain. She gives me a definite opinion of her assessment, even if her forecast goes wrong, which happens rarely.
Of late, the maid has been vague and evasive. Two days ago, when I asked her about the likelihood of rain, instead of giving an explicit response as before, her answer was irrelevantly non-committal. After a visible shrug, she said, ‘Pata nahin, uncle, jo bhi theek hai wohi hona chahiye.’
I think she has been watching too much TV and has learnt a lot seeing our celebrities give their ‘opinion’ on the ongoing farmers’ agitation.