Perils of a Personal Shopper

06 Sep


I’ll say one thing about my dad – for a man whose idea of overwhelming affection is a hearty handshake, he’s completely unfazed by the more intimate details of physical existence.

Over the years he’s held my head over the toilet bowl as I vomited with the alarming vehemence of all small children bringing up their dinner, helped my mom take showers post-surgery because she didn’t feel comfortable with a home nurse, held my uncooperative brother down so he could get his shots, uncomplainingly bought lingerie and sanitary products when asked, and never allowed his natural squeamishness (if he has any) to get in the way of gathering important information such as the consistency of stool samples.

When my mother tells me her tummy hurts, I ask her if she’s been to the doctor yet. I don’t really need the details, which I wouldn’t understand in any case. When my mother tells my father her tummy hurts, he interrogates her extensively on the current state of her digestive system before doing anything else. He not only wants the details, he’s conducting research for a long talk with the doctor, the pharmacist, and however many nurses he can get to talk to him, at the end of which exercise he will arrive at a decision as to whether my mother is mildly sick, seriously ill or just plain faking it to make his life miserable despite her outraged assurances to the contrary.

You can always tell when he’s been spending too much of his time worrying about my mother’s health – it’s when he stops discussing the intimate details of other people’s health issues the way people of a certain vintage do, and starts talking about ours. It’s never pleasant to hear about other people’s struggle with cancer or general decline or lingering death from a mysterious disease that was later revealed to be the common flu or something equally innocuous that went undiagnosed thanks to the doctor’s incompetence. But it is uncomfortable on an entirely different level to sit in an acquaintance’s living room and listen to an extended discourse on explosive diarrhea and the many challenges it can present.

Perhaps it’s generational or maybe as you get older you become so used to your body’s constant complaints, you no longer feel the need to keep certain information to yourself because you know everyone around you is either similarly afflicted or will be at some point in the future. There is no longer any need to pretend your intestines are gas-free, that your poop doesn’t stink and indeed arrives in neatly wrapped packages that flush discreetly down the drain, your body is virgin territory for infection of any sort (especially funky ones that spread), you’ve never so much as heard of halitosis and every single one of your joints is in perfect, flexible, sexy condition.

I still feel, however, that this is no excuse for Daddy to walk into a supermarket, dial my number, hold his phone inches away from his face in typical fashion, and then proceed to yell at the top of his voice:


Strong opinions are a family failing.

[Tangentially, Nicholas Kristof]


Posted by on September 6, 2009 in Personal


17 responses to “Perils of a Personal Shopper

  1. rads

    September 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    rofl! daddy dearest! The best kind there is 🙂

    I think my dad’s obsessed with all things medical of mom’s. By God, he could easily write a detailed 250 page report of her and he’d be accurate to the tee. My husband on the other hand needs google maps, and step by step instructions if I needed a particular medicine.


  2. Kokonad

    September 6, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    This is a beautiful, beautiful post! 🙂
    I feel that dads in general have great bonding with their daughters, and most of my friends including me, would rather have a daughter than a son! I don’t know how accurate I would be if I generalized this to today’s junta.
    But once again, a beautiful, beautiful post. 🙂

  3. bollyviewer

    September 6, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Your Dad sounds deeeelightful!!! Why not take his advise and try Brand X? ;-D

  4. bollyviewer

    September 6, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    PS: Hugh Jackman. HUGH JACKMAN!!!! drool droool drooooool…

  5. pitu

    September 6, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Your dad sounds adorable 🙂 And I, despite belonging to a much younger generation take genuine pleasure in discussing matters of the scatalogical kind. The poor husband is used to questions regarding the doggy’s walk- was the consistency hard like truffles or runny like caramel? I think your dad and I will get along splendidly!

  6. Gradwolf

    September 6, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Daddy’ “little” girl!

  7. dipali

    September 6, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    At least this conversation happened over the phone! You weren’t there:)
    Your Dad sounds rather nice!

  8. apu

    September 6, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    heh heh. can I have your dad? at least you have a personal shopper!

  9. DewdropDream

    September 7, 2009 at 5:49 am

    HUGH JACKMAN!!!!! *HUGE sigh* mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    I love you Amrita, for putting up that photo. Made my monday morning, it did! 😀

    Daddies, adorably amusing. Growing up, I thought my father was rather clueless, he never knew which class I was in, let alone which section. There were times when I wondered if he knew anything at all. Until of course, I grew up and while I battled with mum over myriad things, battles elegantly phrased in flailing arms and frustrated expressions, Dad would stand there calmly and deliver the answer such that it satisfied mum and was exactly what I wanted to say. How he came to be that, I’ll never know.

    Well, at least I know wedding shopping won’t be that bad with him around. Thank goodness!

  10. memsaab

    September 7, 2009 at 9:28 am

    So I will love both your parents, Amrita 🙂 My dad could not shop for me if my very life depended on it (beyond the wheelchair-dementia issues—he never could). And I love the Hugh Jackman photo too. My niece wore a Snow White costume every day for a year until she outgrew it (and even beyond that, a bit). Ah, memories! She’s in college now!

  11. ramesh

    September 7, 2009 at 9:55 am

    haha funny story .. my father’s idea of dealing with health issues is prescribing tinidazole (a stomach medicine) for any symptom, be it hallucinations, headache and in fact any strange affliction ..

  12. desiGirl

    September 8, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Ok I couldn’t see anything beyond the gorge Hugh. *heart*

  13. M

    September 8, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Lovely post, lovely picture – funny, Jackman left my unmoved, until I saw this pic with his little girl!

    M (whose dad would rather DIE than discuss anatomy with her – anything else, yes, but nothing related to the human body!)

  14. Amrita

    September 8, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Rads – lol! give it up, hubby’ll never be as good as daddy!

    Koke – thank you! we fight like cats and dogs when we disagree with each other but yes, we do get along the best with each other too.

    BV – he already thinks he knows everything, dont you go giving him ideas now! And yes, le sigh @ le hugh!

    Pitu – EWWWWWWWWW! gross! you and he are truly made for each other.

    Adithya – pardon, is my princess complex showing? 😀

    Dipali – oh, i never go shopping with him in person if I can avoid it. Someday I’ll have to write about the experience – because it’s an EXPERIENCE believe me!

    Apu – that is true!

    3D – they’re adorable arent they? I feel bad posting pics of him about with his kids but he’s so CUTE! and lol @ your dad suddenly “growing up” when you needed it!

    Memsaab – you probably will! My dad bought me most of my clothes until I was old enough to go to college and care about clothes on my own and i have to say, he had better taste than I did. I want a snow white costume!

    Ramesh – lolz, at least it’s not Windex!

    DG – are you back from sabbatical? In that case welcome back with the gorge!

    M – he’s a good daddy: Jackman as well as my dad. Although their parenting styles couldn’t be more dissimilar! 😀

  15. the ppcc

    September 9, 2009 at 5:02 am

    I love this post, and I love your Dad.

  16. desiGirl

    September 9, 2009 at 7:25 am

    sabbatical = trip home! yep am back!!! and what a lovely welcome back this was. drool drool! how u babe? same same?

  17. Sue

    September 16, 2009 at 5:34 am


    Vicky wants to know why I buy as many as I do, do I remember I already have a lifetime’s supply in my wardrobe, didn’t I buy three packs just last month. I have offered to give him extensive public explanations and then he has decided to take his male self to the frozen food section instead.

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