Saturday, May 23, 2009

Single in the City

Being single and staying away from my family was one of the things I looked forward to growing up.
I had thought of all the fun, and the parties, no deadlines, no third-degree about men who dropped me home (Jeez Dad, I didn't take down the car registration number, didn't really foresee the possibility of having to pepper spray my friends).
Word to the wise: Living with your parents is not that bad.
Okay I know it's irritating that you have to share physical space quite often and give up the remote control to Balika-Vadhu-reruns, that treacly, diabetically sweet, addictive (not me, my friends)soap.
I also found it irritating to be answering calls from mom's friends (made me realise nobody was calling me that often). However, however my dearies, thou shall not a foolhardy step take, that too in the heat of the moment.
So living alone, with the all the fun and all the men, OVERRATED. After you've burnt your rajma one time too many and on a day that you've really worked you're ass off, you will begin to appreciate mom's watery dal and hybrid raw papaya-raw banana curry.
Not to mention that you always have to get the door (at all times, twilight, break of dawn). Things don't get taken care of while you're at work (like the ironing, the internet, the plumbing, the electric bell gone awry, the clogged drains..the list is endless). I think I'm all in favor for extensive research on The Economic Evaluation of household work and its inclusion in the National Income.
The other day I actually absent mindedly tried to unlock someone else's door for 15 minutes while the watchman wondered if I was nuts. No luxury to be absent minded when you're on your own honey. I'm a decent cook and all I found myself at the end of a tired crazy day was making a distress call to my mother because I had found worms in the new pack of wheat flour. I mean I make allowances for the viciousness of the bugs in my flat, but man this smacks of poetic justice!

Kind of like god's way of telling me 'I-told-you-so' punctuated by images of my parents doing the victory dance.

I think your parents actually want you to move out, but they do this reverse-psychology thing and try to convince you that it's not a good idea. So that you go ahead and try it, and agree with them and then they can say OK NOW, we're very proud of you and we want you to live on your own and take responsibility for your life!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Of picky parents and poor souls

A friend of mine told me about her sister's marriage, and how her normally mild mannered father became finicky. In a population that speaks India's smallest language (roughly a million people only), the father wanted only a Brahmin boy from their subsect.

Uphill task? Well there was a distant cousin (with those specifications, he had to be from the family), only he happened to be studying at the Stanford. So the father would of course not hear of it, the prospective son-in-law being 'unemployed' at the time.

Well, parents do want the best for their children, no doubt.

Picky parents and single women go well together. Well, atleast all those single women who don't want to get married. God save the ones who do..and are on a mission to do so. And if you happen to be a man who is being scouted for by such women, you are in grave danger of losing your hair, not to mention your independence.

For not only will you be chased crazily around the plot by even the most together of women, you will also receive threats, and be subjected to devious and puzzling mindgames. Almost every other hour, you may expect a trick question. You might wonder what happened to the gentle souls you fell in love with. They cry copious tears that make you look for a bottle of glucose in case of dehydration. They laugh and cry as if stricken by mania. And you wish you knew the answer to the colour of the curtains in your dream house and whether it matched the answer you gave last time.

Several years ago Oscar Wilde had an epiphany, he said women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

bridesmaid again...not the bride yet..thankfully

This wedding turned out to be that of my best friend's. Thank god she's older, although mom did ask with a pitiful look, "Don't you want to get married seeing all your friends do that?".

I thought my family was a cute way of course, now I think most families are like that.

The bride aka Bonnie aka Best Friend #2 is oscillating between being Bridezilla and calming hyper Bengali nerves (did I not mention it was a Bengali wedding). The mother is overstretched between instructing the maid and feeding you and everyone.

On the day of the wedding, amidst the chaos or rather in the Midst of Chaos, the father of the bride is blissfully unaware and solving Sudoku.

I'm Bonnie-r Bondhu (Bengali for "Friend of Bonnie's")and half Bengali by now (you know you are if you agree about Fish ranking higher than any other meat. Note to my strictly vegetarian parents: You just have to agree, not eat it.)

In keeping with typical Indian ishtyle, Bride aka Bonnie went to the beauty parlour, and Bonnie-r Bondhu aka me went along for moral support and slapping the gay make-up artist if he were to screw up.

Bride and Groom sit before the holy fire that makes their eyes water and noses run. Yet they pledge firm commitment despite the testing circumstances.

In short the wedding went as per plan, I wiped a tear from the corner of my eye in truly filmi fashion and later Bride and Groom were expected to consummate their marriage in a house filled with atleast 20 other wedding guests. (Seriously, have some compassion).

I think there is some merit in being the bridesmaid...and not the bride.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wanted: Female driving instructors

If any of you ladies have had the misfortune of learning to drive from a member of the male species or just had them sit by you while you drove, you would know what I'm talking about.

So most of them would simply refuse to let you drive, declaring you a public hazard. Also if by a wicked stroke of fate you were to drive, they would constantly be wincing like they had a scorpion in their pants. Needless to say, one of their hands would be tentatively hovering over the handbrake, like one of those blokes from the westerns fingering their guns, ready to blow your face.

And if you're unlucky enough to be learning from a close friend/relative of this species, it's a trip to hell and back.

There's yelling punctuated by hysterical advice giving. You suspect they're hiding their face (they blame your driving but come on) near traffic signals. There's uncontrollable anger at your unwillingness to change gears between 35 kmph and 45 kmph. There's shuddering and undeniably loud sighs of relief when you brake. Reversing is a challenge, but nothing compared to when you have edgy men sitting next to you. Then as if the 'L' screaming Loser on the back of your car wasn't enough, your reversing siren going berserk and the male taking control of your steering wheel.

And don't even get me started about parking. Usually it ends in a heated argument and you being ejected of your car.

If you're a lady, I hope you would take some time out in the name of empathy and reach out to the nearest lady driving with an 'L' board on her car and a frenzied man inside it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Couch conversations

Dad has seated me down on a couch for a conversation very sweetly. Yikes I dread those times. A creeping feeling is coming over me.

'Sandhya, I'm ok with anyone who's a Brahmin. Marathi, Bengali, Kannada..but let him be a Brahmin please.'
Ya right.

'So what are you doing about it? We are very tired of trying to find someone of your specifications.'

Dad I'm not allowed to date, am I, with your permission?

'Everyone says you're too short for them.'

Talk about adding insult to injury. What about Gulliver being too tall for Liliputians?

'And then you don't want a Software Professional.'

So there is no other profession in the world now that Indians are taking up? The whole lot of Indian men don't have to be software engineers. What about physicists and artists or professional wrestlers or TV weatherpersons..? (And no offence to software professionals, I have been one myself fleetingly.)

'Plus you're not really getting any younger...I mean you look young, but the clock is ticking...'

This is just getting worse isn't it..

'So basically you're telling me that I should find a guy of your specifications because you're too lazy to do it?'

And then Dad shook his sweet disappointed head. Sideways. Two times.

'Sandhya, why can't you be like other kids, who want normal things? Why do you want to be rebellious? Why can't you want a husband and a family and want to settle down?'

Doorbell rings as a welcome reprieve. It's Mom.
'Poor girl. She comes home only so often. Let's speak to her later.' She says to Dad.

Wow, but beware...I told myself. This is the calm before the tempest. Wait for somebody younger to get married and voila, there I'll be on the couch again...

Friday, February 8, 2008

are you moving out? gasp..gasp..

My mom awoke to this shocking revelation when I told her I needed to stay closer to work.
'What!' was her expression for the first two days.
'I won't speak to you' was her attitude for the next three days.
'I know you're in the room and I pretend as if everything is the same, but I'm mad at you and you should know that' was her tune for the week after that.

When there was about a week left, she became sad.
Then came the bottles of pickles, rice crispies, salted, dried and fried red chillies, and other condiments that I had begged for. They're all neatly arranged in bottles. She also gives me a rice cooker and a few steel utensils, all meant for my marriage. She's a little disappointed that it's not the occasion of my marriage that she's giving away steel utensils. But I tell her, it's a start and that seems to cheer her up oddly.

'You have to come home every weekend,' she said. And she religiously meant it. She is not satisfied if I don't sleep at least three nights in the house (Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night).

Dad has been stoic about the whole thing. He has lately been observing with great detail the entire process of making Sambhar for 200 people by a Bihari who's opened up a new South Indian snack shop. So he's busy regaling us with stories of how buckets of water and Dal are poured into a giant vessel and cooked. (He does this with actions, so its funny, really.)

My sister is happy, now that the disputed area of the shelf space is no longer under conflict. She is also dreading the fact that all the attention, concern will come upon her. ('Vandhna, you're aren't eating enough. You've become so thin! You've lost so much weight! Eat this banana. An hour later, you have to eat papaya and drink a whole glass of milk.' She hates bananas and milk.)

I'm ok. I miss these crazy dudes, but they make me laugh like hell.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

south-indian weddings

So I dread going to weddings, for very obvious reasons. I'm at the age where any relative/family-well-wisher/woman-friend of my mother would be proactively seeking me out in a crowd and bombarding me with only one question.
'So when are you getting married?'
Or another variant. 'Is there anybody you have in mind?' (This one came from a friend of my mom's whom I have previously seen just once in my life).
Or yet another variant. 'We are now going to have the next wedding meal at your wedding.'
To all such questions and insinuations, I have developed a standard response. It's called 'grin and bear it.' I have realised with time that the best thing to do is to not argue and just accept that this is better than a lot of things...being hungry and poor, having bird flu, being tortured in a Chinese prison...
The wedding I went to was punctuated by a lot of other 'usual' South-Indian-wedding events. Eating Rasam-rice with a spoon, a video of you being taken while you have your mouth fool of beans curry, waiters almost throwing food onto your banana-leaf-for-a-plate etc.
After the last you-just-watch-while-we-get-you-married comment was done with, I was dying to go home(Public conveniences...really are you kidding me?). And the conversation on the ride back home was also dominated by how a younger cousin of mine(younger than even my younger sister) was married and was expecting a child. I was back to my smiling routine.
Till the next wedding, I'm smiling.