Monday, July 28, 2008

Did Anyone Say Marriage??

To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.

Ogden Nash (A Word To Husbands)

One thing that bugs me sure and often, is how a man and a woman can stay together in matrimony, year after year, decade after decade, when it is so obvious to me that men and women are not meant to stay together.
Marriage, as a concept, fails dreadfully. It involves the constant cohabitation of two people who do not share families, upbringings, perspectives and are not even of the same gender. It seems to be, from the beginning, a power struggle, one party doing its best to dominate the other party, which either gives in passively, or schemes and struggles to overthrow the power hierarchy in a bloodless (or even bloody) coup. They hold each other back; make their partners feel guilty for whatever it is that they enjoy doing, whether it’s shopping or beer. They are mostly incompatible. If one likes to sleep with the window open, the other cannot sleep unless it is shut and curtained. If one loves parties, the other avoids them like the plague.
And yet, the miracle is that marriage, as a practicality, is generally a brilliant idea. And people who are married will moan and complain and grumble, but they will, without fail, try to convince all their unmarried friends, children, children of friends, friends of children, that married is THE ONLY WAY TO BE. And though the two halves of a couple may be as different from each other as chalk is from a cheese pizza with pepperoni and anchovies, they still manage to develop an inexplicable friendship. And I think what keeps most marriages ticking for years, in spite of the theoretical impossibility, is not love or romance or even dependence, but this very friendship, this understanding that grows with cohabitation.
And since I began with Ogden Nash, I’ll finish with some favorite lines, also from Nash.
“…That is why marriage is so much more interesting than divorce,
Because it's the only known example of the happy meeting of the immovable object and the irresistible force.
So I hope husbands and wives will continue to debate and combat over everything debatable and combatable,
Because I believe a little incompatibility is the spice of life,particularly if he has income and she is pattable”

Ps- I want to thank my ma and baba for not listening to their wiser instincts and quitting a long time ago. Today their marriage turns 28 years old.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Bubble in a Bus

This morning, I saw a miracle.

Actually, what I saw was a man and a woman on a bus. A very crowded, sweaty, smelly bus, full of mostly rustic villagers on their way to the station.

The woman was at least 35. She was fat. She was plain to look at, but she was decidedly urban. She looked educated. And she was married.

The man was scruffy. He was wearing dirty trousers and a five-day old beard. He couldn't have been younger than 40. And because I was sitting next to him, I could distictly smell stale whiskey.

They got on at different stops. They scuffled and shoved till they managed to find seats next to each other. And then, in that moving hell, they proceeded to create a little bubble of intimacy and tenderness, nearly completely oblivious to what the people aroud them were thinking, saying, or doing. In that bubble they held hands, whispered, touched each other, and the woman rested her head on the man's shoulder.

For an entire hour,the bubble remained unbroken. Then the lady got up. The man touched her hand, she looked at him, and then she got off and walked away briskly.

After a while, he got off too, and ambled away. And i sat there, in the little smelly bus, puzzling it all out. Middle aged adulterous lovers meeting secretly in public buses every day?! It seemed too bizzare to be real. Too out of this world. What could I call it except a miracle.

And yes, it makes me blanch to think i live in a city where the only possible rendezvous of clandestine lovers is a crowded public bus.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mean on Monday

Handsome Chocolate-Boy friend moans- “ Marriage? Marriage is ages away! I have too many other things on my mind, I can’t think of getting married. Anyway I don’t think there is really any girl who is meant for me.”

Me : Don’t worry shona, lots of girls around who are gorgeous AND dumb.

HC-B friend: They wont do for me. Amar tader poshabe na.

Me : They are the only ones who’ll do for you. You see, unless they’re gorgeous you wont think they are good enough for you. And unless they are dumb, really really dumb, they wont be able to stand you at all.

Soul-crushing, if unoriginal. Bitchy mood today. Monday morning. I rest my case.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Adventures are Injurious to My Health

My friend Sagar, when he was jobless, used to be an enthusiastic rappeller. Rappeling, I found out from him, is the activity of scrabbling over huge rocks for no discernable reason.
My friend Kiran has discovered and unleashed the mountain biker in himself.Earlier, he restricted himself to football and the occasional clandestine fishing boat excursion off the coasts of his native Kerala. Now he saddles his bike and vrooms off to Leh from Delhi every other weekend. He also rafts and does various other scary things.
My jeej is an experienced para-glider/ bungee-jumper/ air-floater/ something of the sort that requires you to fall miles through the air. He is also tattoed all over.
My brother spent the previous month in a series of god-forsaken tiny villages in MP, voluntarily working for an NGO. He lived without electricity, toilets, phones/ network coverage, and in constant threat from naxalites, hostile tribals, and wild boars. On his way back, he bathed in the very dangerous Allahabad sangam, with half charred dead bodies from nearby cremation grounds floating past.

When I talk to these people, I hear them tell me how they nearly (always nearly) lost their lives, how they saved somebody else, how they enjoyed the most spectacular views, and how they are going back next week for more. Then they ask if I’ve done anything interesting lately, and I say “ I… ummm…. I…. oh, I’m reading a new book.”
If these people wrote blogs, such blogs would be full of cliff hanging, breath taking, soul chilling adventures, not boring home-office-friends posts. But of course they have much better things to do than write blogs. Go snorkeling for instance.

Actually, no. I do get my share of adventures sometimes. Some mornings, I accidentally get off my bus while it is still moving (!!). And once, not many weeks ago, a mad person chased me across the street a couple of yards with a brick in his hand (then he saw a foreigner and lost interest in me).

But there must be something wrong with me, because I do not tie ropes to myself and clamber over boulders, I don’t swim around in diving gear hoping to meet sharks, I do not jump into extremely unsafe looking rafts/ rope-cars/ skis, and I DO NOT jump out of airplanes, no way. Not only do I not do these things, I do not crave to do them. That must make me sub-normal. Maybe I am missing a hormone or an enzyme that drives these people to their insane hobbies. Yes, I would like the lovely views and stuff, but I’d rather spend my holiday in bed, thank you, and see the views on my computer when my friends send me the photos.

PS: What drove me to write all this in the first place? My colleague asked me this morning if I’d like to go rollerblading with her on Sunday(that’s tomorrow).

I said “ummmm, I’d love to but I have a book to finish.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Boss, The Feminist

This morning my boss (hereafter to be known as 'The Monster') called me to his cabin and showed me a painting he had done.

I had to admit, it was good. It showed a naked woman, or at least a mass of shapes that could just about be recognised as a naked woman, in a claustrophobic rectangle, straining to get out.

As the other trainees fawned sycophantically, The Monster eyed my reaction. Then, maybe because he was worried I would think it was something out of the Kamasutra, he proceeded to explain. : "This, you see, is how i see womankind being suppressed by society. Crushed, caged, deprived of any freedom..."

The trainees looked as if they might wet themselves any minute in sheer servile delight. As he went on, I stared at him, nonplussed. Just a few months ago, on my first day here, this man, this very same hideously ugly bully, had told me (eyes darting gleefully all over my person) that in his opinion, women were really no good in the corporate world. They were inefficient, unknowledgable, grossly dumb (well, he used nicer sounding words but this is the gist of what he meant). He would never let his wife work, not outside home anyway, (Mrs. Monster is a qualified chartered accountant). Since then, I have seen him harrass female colleagues, female trainees, female subordinates, with the sole purpose of proving his supremacy over them. And now apperantly his heart is bleeding at the plight of womankind, and he has gone and drawn a picture about it.

Now what in the world is more vexing than a male chauvinist PIG pretending to be a feminist?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Desert Rain


On my windowsill,

Its raining!

My friends in other states do not believe it rains in rajasthan. They go, "Oh, its a desert state, right? Of course you don't get any rain!"

No, we do not wake up to find our beds turned to rafts. We do not paddle on tyres to cross the road. We don't even have to wade through waist-deep water to get to office.

But we do get our share of the monsoons.

Yesterday morning i woke up to find that it had rained all night and the street in front of our house had turned into a mountain brook. And it was not as much rain as a bone drenching pour, continous, unrelenting, like being inside a waterfall. And of course the truant schoolkid in me danced a little jig "No Office dang pota dang dadang dadang dang".

It cleared up a little later, but i cocked a snook at the dry-washed morning. No way was i heading for office now that i was back in bed...

(my apologies for my friends in Mumbai/Kerala/the North-east, for getting so excited over what must seem to you a puny drizzle, but you have to admit, there is something sleepily romantic about desert rain)

Oh, by the way, I wrote the haiku up above.