Monthly Archives: October 2008

>Party people

>I spent most of the last fortnight partying. Highlights of the life I’ve been leading:

  • It’s most embarrassing to be living in a house where your family members get to see you for only a few hours everyday not because you’re working too hard, but because you’re partying so much harder! Well, The Guy and I overcame that debilitating sense of embarrassment to keep our social commitments that kept us tirelessly on our toes till the wee hours of the morning!
  • The night before Karva Chauth, we partied long enough to be back just in time for the sargi in the morning. It saved us the trouble of disturbing our own sleep and getting ready for the early morning ritual.
  • Diwali night was spent with friends and we returned home at seven in the morning, had omelets for breakfast and went to sleep. You can’t raise your eyebrows if I tell you that we woke up in the afternoon, had lunch and went back to sleep to wake up just in time to head for another friend’s place in the evening!
  • Bad hosts turn me off. Why invite guests if you aren’t inclined to take care of them? At this one party we attended, the hosts actually ate before the guests did. It was enough for me to brand the party a flop.
  • So cards were the flavour of the season. And though we don’t play big stakes, on a bad day you can lose a decent amount of money if you don’t exercise restrain. But if you don’t have that restrain and are a bad loser, don’t play. Because losing a great deal of money doesn’t justify cheating. This really sophisticated woman may have pocketed the gains from cheating, but she’s lost her reputation for it. Madam was noticed slipping cards under the pillow to come up with a trail of Aces!
  • I danced atop a table. At a party. With a dozen people around me. I have pictures of it as evidence that need to be destroyed.
  • At the same party, I slipped on the dance floor and lay on the floor pretending to laugh at myself just to get over the embarrassment. I can’t even say nobody saw me – they all did. Whoever didn’t must have been told about it. I know you know I was sloshed, so do I have to spell that out for you now?
  • The Guy was beside me of course, to ensure I do not make conversation with anybody who wasn’t drunk enough to not know that I was five tequilas and a vodka down!
  • I don’t smoke. A puff or two in six months doesn’t make me a smoker, does it? Not unless my big sister is watching me do it and assumes I do that every time I party. I hate coincidences!
  • Partying is inversely proportional to creativity. Which is why I’ve been unable to blog as often as I want to.
  • We’ve been so hooked to partying and seeing our friends every single day, I think I’ll get withdrawal symptoms if I have to quit!

>What will be, will be

>Last night The Guy and I dressed up in our pretty party clothes, got into our car and headed to our friend’s place for a Diwali do. On the way, it dawned upon us that we hadn’t got them any gift. So we stopped at a shop to pick up a box of chocolates. We ended up buying a piece of crockery instead – not very expensive but very presentable indeed! And while the gift was being painstakingly wrapped, the conversation with the friendly shop owner veered to the erratic stock market, the impact on the fortunes of millions of people and Diwali. We rued the state of the economy and the effect of the recession on various industries, we commented on the cut-throat competition at our work place and his, we sympathised with the shopkeeper next door who had to shut shop because of dwindling finances and tough competition… And then The Guy and I paid for our purchases, got into our car and drove off to the party at a swanky apartment in a posh locality where the hostess had brought out her best china, silverware and treated us to her culinary expertise.

All I’m trying to say is that it took us precisely as much time to forget about the sad state of the economy as it took us to step out of that shop. Five minutes later, we were too busy enjoying the good things of life to care about how the recession was affecting us.

Conversations about the rollercoaster ride that the Sensex has taken so many investors on keep coming up every now and then. The Guy checks every few hours how many points the Sensex has dipped or soared, never ceasing to be amazed by its downward trend. Newspaper headlines remind us to be wary of the times ahead, though in not so many words. And yet, we continue to live like nothing’s wrong with this world.

I hear the markets are deserted despite Diwali being around the corner. But I’m still heading to the market every other day to buy gifts for family and friends, to shop for new clothes for the festival season, to indulge in fancy diyas and candles. I’m attending parties every single day: food trials at upcoming restaurants, pre-Diwali bashes, cards parties, grand first birthday celebrations, late nights, more invitations to more fancy parties… It’s almost as if my life’s insulated from all that’s happening in the real world. I pretend every morning that work is still the same when I know that it may have changed irreversibly though that may become evident only six months later. I like to believe that nothing has changed yet.

It’s not as though the rate of inflation doesn’t bother me. It’s also not like I have saved enough to see me through a lifetime of financial crunches. It’s just that I don’t have an option but to go on with life doing what makes me happy. And is there anything I can do to make things different? At work, I’m giving more than my hundred percent, but I can’t wish back the money we’ve lost in mutual funds, can I?

I cannot be eternally bothered about these things just as I cannot be eternally bothered about when the government will finally take away my house. When they have to, they will and I know I’ll be able to do nothing about it then just as I’m able to do nothing about it now.

I think about these problems with a heavy heart because there are some problems of life you cannot resolve by yourself. And they are the worst, because they leave you feeling so helpless. But if I have to make a choice between feeling helpless and feeling happy, I choose the latter. I cannot stop living the way I do for fear of what the future might hold for me.

>The Sign

>

What will be, will be. But it’s recognising the sign of what is going to be that thrills me. No, it’s the showing up of the signs that is more thrilling.

Sai Baba walked into my office yesterday. Just like that. We haven’t been followers of Sai Baba – neither me nor The Guy nor our families. A month ago, an astrologer, face reader, clairvoyant rolled into one suggested I keep a picture of Shirdi Sai Baba in my office – it would be good for me, he simply said.

I rarely consult astrologers and do not believe in superstitions. I do not however, undermine the science of astrology either. Or the power of clairvoyance. So I made some attempts to find a photograph of Sai Baba for my office. Admittedly, they were feeble attempts and I didn’t bother to go out of my way to find the suitable size of photograph for myself. it was always at the back of my mind that I had to get Sai Baba’s picture. And yesterday, he walked into my office in the shape of a little statue gifted by someone who had just returned from Shirdi. I was surprised. It was almost as if someone had read my mind. It could have been a coincidence, but I like to see it as a sign. I had to get associated with Sai Baba this way or that. And it was this way!

I believe when something is meant to be, no matter how trivial, things just fall into place. It was a series of coincidences that led me to The Guy! I was (only) sixteen when I met him in the strangest manner possible. My friend and I saw The Guy at an inter-school function and thought he was rather cute. After our Board exams we did what was then quite the trend – decided to give him a prank call! All we knew about the guy was his name and the school he had gone to. On a lark, we picked up the telephone directory and assumed that since he was an alumnus of Army Public School he must be the son of an army man (which certainly wasn’t true of all the students studying there). So we looked up the telephone numbers of all army men with the same surname as his. And the first number I dialled was his!

It was the first time I was ever talking to him and I spoke for an hour and enjoyed every minute of it. When I told him during our first ever conversation that he shouldn’t join the army like his father because his wife would miss him while he was away, I had no idea I’d be his wife five years later!

My friend, who was my partner in crime, had predicted much before The Guy and I even started seeing each other that we’d end up together! I laughed at her, not knowing then how right she was. And I laughed at her also because I knew we two – The Guy and me – were like two opposites. We hardly had anything in common. So how could we end up together?

Our five years of courtship was a secret I kept from my parents. I had no idea how I would tell my parents I wanted to marry him. How would I tell them that I met this guy through a pranks call and want to now marry him? As luck would have it, I never had to. One fine day, my mother asked me if I wanted to marry The Guy! It was that simple. I couldn’t believe my ears when she asked me that – I mean, how could it be possible that I was getting married to the man I wanted to without even having to say as much. How could it be possible that the much-hyped “love marriage” would get arranged so easily without the slightest bump in the ride? All I had to say was “Yes”! And everything just fell into place, just like that!

In retrospect, the events of the first day I spoke to The Guy were signs I never recognised of things that were to come my way. And there’ve been plenty of things before and after that that lead me to believe that signs aren’t just a series of coincidences that occur in our lives, they’re just waiting for us to discover them!

Do you have a sign story?

>Age, wisdom and parenting

>The wisdom that comes with age also brings with it an arrogance that doesn’t become that age.

Everyone grows older, and everyone accumulates wisdom through their experiences. But not everyone grows wise enough to know that their’s isn’t the only wisdom in the world. They do not learn that somebody half their age may know differently. Which is why sometimes I think, parents don’t always know what’s best for their children, even if they wish them the best in the world. They forget that when they were young, they learnt from their own mistakes and that their children must make their own to learn things. And sometimes, what seems like a mistake may not be one at all. You don’t stop learning even if you’re 65!

Age gives parents the authority to substantiate their point of view with years of experience. But their experience may be different from mine or someone else’s. And the lesson it teaches may be still more different. You cannot substitute my experience with yours.

An adult is not a child even if you are a parent. And under the guise of a well-wisher, a parent cannot take away his children’s point of view. You cannot expect a 30-year-old to follow blindly in your footsteps like he did when he was three! As a child first and then a parent, did you not learn that you must let the child come into his own? Did you not learn that the decision to charter his own course is not a lack of respect or a lack of love for you but something more innocent?

If years of parenting has not taught your child to differentiate between right and wrong, nothing you say now can teach him. And parents sometimes forget that to teach is different from imposing. They forget that to support your children is different from creating dependability, to love them is different from binding them.

And when children have grown up they don’t just want love, they want respect too. Just like parents do. I know that because I’ve enjoyed that kind of relationship with my parents. I also know that because not everyone has been there.

I’ve seen adults grapple with their unsatisfactory relationships with their parents. I have seen disappointed children in 30-year-olds shed tears because the parents they love so much don’t understand them or their choices. These are the parents I talk about: 5o-year-olds who live with the arrogance of being their age, who feel abandoned by their children but have driven then away with their own behaviour.

I do not intend to make sweeping statements. But I hope I never become the kind of parent who drives her own child away.

>Let me be quirky

>So I got tagged to write about my quirks. By Monika and Sue. And I thought this would be a good breather between my passionate posts.

The rules:
1.Link the person(s) who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours…
4. Tag 3 following bloggers by linking them (- says Monika’s blog. Sue’s blog tells me to tag 6. I’ll stick to Monika’s rules here because just about everyone seems to have done this tag already.)
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

Quirk #1
I talk incessantly to myself. Sometimes I talk aloud but usually I talk in my head. It’s like I’m writing in past tense about everything that I’m doing in the present tense. I picked up this habit quite early in life – the first time I read an abridged version of Rebecca and got enamoured by the narrative style used in the novel and tried to replicate it. Sometimes, I have to tell myself to stop recounting my life to myself as if it were somebody else’s. But it’s become second nature to me now.

Quirk #2
I always, always, always throw a tantrum before my meals. Don’t ask me why – I have no clue. Sometimes it’s the way the food looks, sometimes it’s the way the rotis are not done properly, sometimes it’s that the vegetables are over-cooked… It could be anything to put me off just before I sit down to eat. Interestingly, an astrologer once told me I’m quirky like this!

Quirk #3
If I’m on a cleaning spree, I need to be all violently charged up. Angry too. As if I’m upset with all things dirty around me. The Guy can’t understand why I need to get all worked up if I’m cleaning things up. Frankly, I can’t understand either.

Quirk #4
I fold any clothes I pick up from a shelf at a store. I feel guilty if I do not put them back where I picked them up from. Just makes me feel nice about taking the load off the sales force!

Quirk #5
I need a new hairstyle for every New Year’s party! JLT.

Quirk #6
If you give me a pen and a paper for no reason in particular, I will scribble on the sheet random words from a conversation – if I’m having one, or my thoughts. And between thoughts and words, I’ll definitely write the alphabet in cursive writing like they taught us in school. Almost all my diaries and notebooks have a very pretty version of A to Z written somewhere.

Quirky enough? Now it’s your turn:
1. Mystic Margarita
2. Roop
3. Devaki

>Compromise

>

A compromise isn’t always the best solution. But it’s the best solution you can come up with for a woman. Usually.

An independent, educated, much married mother of two, breadwinner of the family must understand that when her unemployed-for-years, wasteful husband and his parents want to blow up all her hard-earned money, she must compromise. And she does that – for 20 years of her married life she compromises, accommodates her high strung in-laws, she compromises on spending time with her children because she has to be out earning a livelihood for her family, she compromises on her happiness and peace of mind. And when she finally decides to say “Enough,” she must realise all over again that she needs to compromise. Frantic calls are made by her parents as well as his to explain to her why. But can anyone explain why she should try so hard to make this marriage survive? Or why she should care that her selfish in-laws go telling the world their daughter-in-law wants to turn them out of the house or that her husband has gone to live with her sister? Can anyone explain why she needs to let her children live a farcical life, knowing that beneath the calm surface nothing is alright?

Nobody has answers to that. They only know that she must compromise. For whom? For a man who lives with her because he doesn’t know better how to sustain himself? Or for the parents-in-law who need her money to feed their vanity? What of this woman who gets nothing in return? She doesn’t even get a life of her own!

As relatives of the woman-in-question, my in-laws were asked to chip in – with advice for her to compromise. That request came from no less than her parents! The mother can see her daughter’s plight but cannot see that there is a way out for her, that she does not need to compromise, that if she supports her daughter’s decision she’ll save her daughter’s life.

You would think a woman like that – she’s financially secure, fairly influential and at a senior position in the government – would know better than to stick on in such a situation. She would be able to take her own decisions, to get up and walk away from all this mess. But what is it about our conditioning that we continue to live in loveless marriages, just so that we can tell the world we’re still married? Why do we want to bury our troubles when we know they will rise up like a phoenix?

She could easily walk out with her children and live a more normal life than this appearance of normalcy affords her. But she has stayed on all these years in hope of a better tomorrow. But nothing has changed and when she finally decides to stop her harassment, they say she should compromise. Why?

Do the children (two daughters: one older than her years, the other younger than her age) need a father who is a liability? Is there any security in having a man in the house who will splurge on his whims, make unwise investments with his wife’s money and needs more looking-after than the children themselves?

It’s quite alright for this society to accept a woman in the untraditional role of a breadwinner of the family. It does not mind that she goes out of the house to ensure her children can study in good schools and her husband can wear nice clothes as long as she comes back home and does not talk about her achievements. But it makes such a hullabaloo if she wants to live by herself. These moral guardians of our society don’t raise an objection when the husband sits at home doing nothing at all, not even helping with the rearing of the children, but it raises its judgemental eyebrows in disapproval if the woman wants to speak for herself and stop this exploitation. Why is it okay for her to break one stereotype because it suits everybody but not okay for her to break another?

If I could, I’d tell this woman I’ll get her all the legal support she needs to back up her decision. I’d give her my emotional and moral support too. But my support does not count. The people who count think she should compromise.