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28 Feb 2010

The List Family

In Big B (a.k.a Amitabh Bacchan) style, I go, "Dhuniya mein do tarah ke log hote hain" i.e. there are two types of people in this world -- the List people and the Listless people. 

When I say listless here, I don't mean the sad and mournful crowd. I mean people with less lists. I know, listless should at the very least mean 'with no list' if I were to re-define the word but hey, allow me to exercise poetic (er, writers') license here. This is something like the guy who sells juice in our office pantry. When you say 'sugarless', he's not sure whether you want less sugar or no sugar because, depending on what local language you are translating into English, you could either mean sugarless or 'need sugar but less'.

I digress again. I must be the only person on earth who interrupts myself during my own conversations (in this case blog). Coming back to the list and listless people...

The Listless people are those who use lists but at a somewhat subconscious level. They use mailing lists, contact lists, friends lists on social networking sites and so on but only because that is almost a basic feature of the application in question. They would never consciously make a list. Some do not have a list because they can remember things and some because they cannot be bothered to make one. Of course, there are special cases where some people have nothing to do, hence no list, some have lots of things to do and know they can never strike off everything on the list, hence no list and a few others.

My friend K belongs to both categories of listless people - can remember, can't be bothered. He thinks he doesn't need a list because he remembers things. If he doesn't remember it, it probably wasn't important enough. Both of those are untrue, by the way. 

My Lucky never makes a list because she has it programmed into her head. It never changes. Food, Walk, Sleep, Play. Food has sub-lists of chicken, chappati, egg, ghee, etc, but that depends on her mood. Walk is taken care of by her family and when it is not, her basic body functions remind her. Sleep is something she does to fill all those hours that she is not doing other things. Play is when someone is fighting and she needs to stop it, when she feels like it, when everybody is excited and she does not know what it is all about, when there is a guest who she takes a liking to - in short anything that excites her calls for a game of ball.

I belong to a family of List people. We are The List Family. 

The List people are those who are obsessed with lists. We have a list for everything - shopping list, to-do list at work on weekdays, to-do list at home on weekends, list of things to pack when heading on a vacation, list of things for the husband to do, list of tablets for Lucky, list of things to remember, list of places to visit, to-do list for the year, and so on and so forth. 

As a kid, mum used to make a list of things to buy from the nearest "provision store". We would carry it to store and hand it over to the shopkeeper. He would fill a polythene bag with items on the list, mark the price against each and return it to us. We paid and returned home, where mum checked each item in the list against the items in the bag and the price of each. As we grew up, there was no list if we had to buy only a few items (say 2 or 3). With the advent of the supermarkets, where everything is in plain sight and she only has to pick stuff off the shelves, her lists have relegated to the past, except for an occasional day when she needs something delivered or wants one of us to buy something but do not have the time or patience to stop and listen to the list (or remember later). She is almost a list-less person now.

Dad has always been and will be forever, an obsessive list person. He taught my brother and me to make a list when we had to pack things for a trip (in the earlier days, it used to be a month-long holiday in Kerala, visiting relatives... now the trips are wide and varied, mostly short-term). We both still follow it to the letter. In fact, the three of is are so dependent on the list that if there isn't one, you can be sure that we would forget something! When we were building our houses, all 3 of us had our own copy of lists (sometimes my brother would make multiple copy of his list and distribute it to all of us) of things to get done, things that needed fixing, things to buy, and so on. When we have to go out for dinner, we start making lists of restaurants that we could visit, score out names based on the list of requirements (mum needs rice, dad does not like music, the husband is worried about leaving Lucky home alone for long, brother and I need non-vegetarian food, sis-in-law needs a not-too-far place...). It's a 2 to 3 hour exercise to decide which place to eat at. There's usually a list of a few places to book at, just in case the first place we called did not have a reservation or did not meet some of our requirement. There's backup1, backup2, etc.

Most of my weekends start with a Things-To-Do list on a whiteboard, from which I score off items as I achieve them. A lot of times the list is very optimistic, which means that at the end of the weekend, the list is updated to things that need to try to get done over the week or put it on next weekend's list. I also have grocery list (on the rare occasion that I cook, I find that most of my spices and powder are either spoilt or have been used by mum), a shopping list (clothes, shoes, etc), a git-voucher list (all gift-vouchers that I have and expiry date) and a few others. Sometimes I think I need a list of lists because I end up losing a lot of my lists and I am lost until I hit a crisis situation again and need to make a list. I have a pen and paper in every room (including the kitchen and bathroom) so I don't have to fret when something pops into my head. For a while, I even used to have a list of blogs I wanted to write. It would frustrate me when I could not make the list or remember enough to write about something much later. Fortunately, I am over it now. No blog lists! I have the Blogs-I-Follow list, list of labels and the other features that Blogger allows me but no personal list, thank God! 

The husband makes lists too. Weekend lists, not so much off late, because his list seems to have been committed to memory, just like Lucky's. Bike, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Laptop Time. Some days it include 'Clean', which usually involves emptying out the contents of his wardrobe (refer previous blog for picture), folding the clothes and putting them back in. It only lasts till Tuesday or Wednesday but he does it anyway. Sometimes it also includes putting his books back in the bookshelf. It's usually back all over the place by Monday.

It's strange that the husband is a list person (he has a bucket list too) because his family seems to be a listless one. I have never seen my in-laws make a list. My mother-in-law tells her husband what to buy and he brings home the shopping. At times, he does not even need to be told. When the sister-in-law had to leave to another city to pursue a career, she asked my husband what she needed to carry with her. Out came the whiteboard and marker. He made a list of things, ranging from underwear to tissues to clothes, shoes and certificates, to pack. The sister and I were amused. For some reason, that seemed to encourage him because the list branched into sub-lists detailing what underwear, how many pairs of shoes, which certificates, etc. It has been a month since the sister-in-law left, the list is still there in her room.

The brother and his wife are at home this weekend (they are usually at his in-laws'). When he is at home, he usually fixes broken things or cleans the house. Today, he took up fixing one of the drawers in the dining room and while at it, found an assortment of items that were almost forgotten and the wife (sometimes me and mum too) repeatedly bought - dish scrubbers, mops & sponges, room fresheners (six bottles, all either Lavender or Jasmine!!), etc. So, his task for the day was to fix the impulsive shopping habits. We emptied out the two drawers at their place and the box at my house, to see what items we already had and did not have to buy for a long time to come. We could start a stall with the numerous dish-washing scrubs and cleaning liquids we have! The first thing he did was get his wife to make a list (oh yes!) of items they had. Another list of items to buy. Then we compared items, exchanged what was on their have and have-not lists, they scored off items as they gave me some. All my items went back into my store-box, theirs into the drawers. At the end of it, he put up a list of things each drawer contained. 

So, The List Family has varying degrees of list-makers... starting from the no-list Lucky, mum, husband, dad, me, sis-in-law and brother respectively. Oops, did I just make a list of the list-makers in the family? Yikes! I'm almost as terrible as my brother, aren't I? Must have come in the genes. Remember, dad brought us up that way... make a list of things... ouch!

1 comment:

  1. Nice one!!! Thanks for the comment on remembering things and not being bothered about ;)