Category Archives: Social nonsense

Stimulus

It may be a sign of growing up, or growing wiser – when studies, friend circles, and clubbing no longer takes precedence in your mind, and gone are the days when you dreamed of stability – career, house, car, marriage and kids, when you worked yourself to a frenzy on the weekdays and blew up your hard-earned money on clothes and partying on the weekends and making grand plans for Friday / Saturday nights. You no longer remember the person you used to be, and those ‘adolescent’ days occasionally come back to you in a mist of nostalgia, but you no wish to live them over again.

I find myself constantly craving a stimulus, be it intellectual, artistic or sexual. I turn out to work wearing jeans, sweatshirt and sneakers and tune in to books, music, anything to get me through the day. Weekends find me enjoying quiet cups of coffee and smokes with my own thoughts or a book for company. I find myself flitting amidst the crowd, breathing into the lull of people’s conversations, covertly stealing characters out of their lives, making up stories in my head.

Hanging out with friends means conversations; a quick recap of mundane lives, then give me the dirt, cut to the chase, dig deeper into the humdrum, provoke me, stimulate me. Intimacy can be achieved over a cup of coffee and two hours of honest-to-God talks, and I want that intimacy. Tell me what moves you, tell me your recent favorite character, tell me about the people in your life, tell me what gets you worked up, what bullshit worldview have you adopted, what do you dream of when you wake up in the middle of the night, sweaty and too tired to get up for that glass of water?

In turn, I will tell you my stories. Let me tell you about this fascinating character I met on my travels, what zone I am in, my crisis situation, my sex life, where all this introspection is taking me. Come, talk to me. Be my muse and I’ll be yours.


Hi! Feels good to be dropping in after a long blogging hiatus! What’s up? 🙂

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Matchmaking

The concept of ‘matchmaking’ has begun to greatly interest me. I’ll roughly define the term for you guys:

Matchmaking

Noun

The act of finding the right match / partner / spouse for a relative, friend or acquaintance*, and including negotiations between families till culmination of the same into marriage.

*Acquaintance for this purpose includes friend of a friend, colleague, neighbor, neighbor’s dog, watchman, Life insurance agent, salesman / grocery storekeeper...

This noble profession is usually taken care of by bored middle-aged aunties, who have perfected the necessary skills over the ages, such as:

  • Sharp hearing sense – Their ears prick as soon as the word ‘marriage’ is uttered or whispered in households in a radius of 10 miles
  • Analytical sense – They will give the candidate a sneak, keen once-over as they pass by, and collect a bio which includes height, weight, skin tone, income, fitness levels, artistic talents, cultural views and even the ability to cook.
  • Marketing skills – They are born saleswomen when the product is an eligible bachelor / bachelorette.

The youth of recent times, however, seem to have more faith in Matrimonial Services, which are efficient and impersonal, and can cast a wider net in deeper seas. You can simply access their secure online database (which has pictures), and just filter through categories such as caste, language, religion, location, education, mansion, perception, inception, hypertension, suspension, acceleration…

A third party matchmaker like these matrimonial sites, forces you to apply your judgment in doing a rough character assessment, based on which your whole life will be shaped. You need to accurately assess if the potential match has all the qualities you look for in an ideal life partner (Yes, all candidates know EXACTLY the qualities that their ideal match should possess). And if you find a match, in matchmaking terms it is a success!

In case you’re thinking THIS is scary, just hold on.

As if online marriage databases are not enough, China has a “Marriage Market”. The Shanghai Marriage Market. It is a very real & tangible market, in which “parents of unmarried adults flock to People’s Park in Shanghai, China every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 pm”.

If parents don’t do this, how else can their only child, their little baby, find a wife and have kids, so as to continue their family’s lineage, oh dear Lord!

Mail-order bride

A mail-order bride is a woman who lists herself in catalogs (online or otherwise) and is selected by a man for marriage.

“Women in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other Eastern European countries are common white mail-order bride candidates.”

This concept is still present. Wikipedia is not kidding!

Well, where love is blind, arranged marriages pull your eyes wide shut.

Interesting, right? I’m fascinated. Already flicking through mental catalogues of deliciously well-built mail-order men in swimsuits!! Do I need to make my intentions clear before placing an order? And how do I pay, in cash or in kind? 😉

Cheating, Deepika’s #MyChoice video & more…

Homi Adajania’s video ‘My Choice’ on ‘Women Empowerment’ featuring Deepika Padukone and 99 other women, has gone viral, which was what they wanted, but has created an outrage, which was not perhaps what they expected.

Deepika, looking gorgeous as always, says things like ‘My body, my mind, my choice’. She goes on to say that the kind of dress she wears, what time she comes home, whether ‘to love temporarily or lust forever’, ‘to have sex before marriage, outside of marriage or to not have sex at all’, is her choice. That, according to her is women empowerment.

I think everyone agrees that the video has nothing to do with women empowerment. She seems to have taken the opportunity to tell the world, ‘Yes, I am bold enough to think about running around naked, coming home at whatever time I want, choosing not to have a baby, or even having sex outside of marriage.’ The video has taken the word ‘empowerment’, and flung it far and wide, beyond the focus of the camera lens, where even Deepika’s billowing hair cannot reach.

That said, I may then say that the video was an attempt to make Indian women aware that they do have a choice, and to tell them to make their own choices. A choice to not have a baby if they don’t want it, to not have sex if they don’t want to, to dress the way they like as long as they are comfortable with it. 99 women are not in the video to simply fill up the edits in Deepika’s footage; they are independent women with strong personal opinions of their own.

People have focused way too much on the ‘having sex outside of marriage’ part. I did not hear Deepika say, “You should have sex outside of marriage.” She merely states that it is a choice. Yes, a choice to cheat is incredibly selfish, and will probably shatter your partner’s life. But it is, after all, a choice. The woman (or man) who chooses to cheat knows somewhere deep down, the repercussions of such a decision. I do not think Deepika meant to say that a woman can cheat and get away with it, or that a woman is allowed to cheat but a man isn’t.

It’s a choice. I’ve been on both ends of the cheating cane. It hurts, sure. A simple message expressing that he wants to be with her, how he longs to take her in his arms… is enough. Enough to realize you are faced with a choice to give him another chance, or to leave him. The choice to cheat is simpler. You don’t cheat if you’re happily committed to your partner. Making a choice to cheat, in my opinion, says you do not care enough, or that in your mind, you two are already broken up.

There is enough grey between being faithful and cheating. In the end it all comes down to what choices you make.

Extrapolate

Under society’s stern stare, I am the same person I have been for years. I live in the same house with the same disgruntled parents, I drive the same bike, pursue the same profession, and my look hasn’t changed much over the years.

into-the-wild-into-the-wild-09-01-2008-21-09-2007-3-g

Society really isn’t complicated at all. It is set in its simple ways. Fashion trends may come and go, but it takes generations to have an impact on the thinking of the collective, especially the Indian minds.

If you ace a professional qualification, you’re right on the track. You’re in a relationship with someone from a good family, of your own caste, religion, profession, etc and they let you act as you please. You have a cultural hobby, such as singing or classical dance (in addition to the well-accepted profession that earns you good money), it means you’ll easily find favor with the prospective in-laws.

If there’s one thing society has perfected over the years, it is extrapolation.

extrapolate

ɪkˈstrapəleɪt,ɛk-/

Verb

  1. Extend the application of (a method or conclusion) to an unknown situation by assuming that existing trends will continue or similar methods will be applicable. “The results cannot be extrapolated to other patient groups”
  2. Estimate or conclude (something) by extrapolating. “The figures were extrapolated from past trends”
  3. Extend (a graph, curve, or range of values) by inferring unknown values from trends in the known data. “The low-temperature results can be extrapolated to room temperature”

Society’s definition has a somewhat different application. They measure up the past behavior of the kid, and extrapolate it to decide his / her future.

“The future happiness of one person can be extrapolated from past 10,000 years of Indian civilization.”

First thing they ensure, of course is that the kid hasn’t run away from home in his teenage years. Then they make sure he hasn’t dropped out of school / college to start off some business. Disinterest in academics and entrepreneurial spirit are big crosses on their list. Society does not bother with these types; they are outcasts. And in case the outcast makes it big on bright business ideas, then one by one, they come crawling back, eating up their words, and licking clean the crumbs off their plate. But that’s another story.

The next thing you need to do is ensure you’re not (publicly) a drunkard / smoker / stoner, and also do not possess any knowledge / special interest in sexual matters other than what is taught in school sex education. Of course, there are ways and means to lead such lives in secret, and as long as one knows what you do, you have a place in society.

If you haven’t fallen off the grid by now, then this is what will, or must have happened to you. This is your future, as the graph must, and will, extend to:

  • An accepted level of education

They really prefer it if you are an engineer, doctor, CA, lawyer. Such degrees ensure step 2. If not, a graduation level education is a bare minimum. That ensures a paying job at the least.

  • A stable earning job

Here it’s better if the company you work for is known among social circles. Better yet if the company is located in some IT park and you have a company cab / bus picking you up right near your doorstop. Bonus points if your company gives you a laptop / car for your personal use!

An MS degree from the US is the new rage. Studying in the US, and then staying back to pay off the loan means stability, independence, respect, and a good match for marriage.

Once things are well established on the career front, the focus turns more personal. Skip the next step if you are in a relationship that’s accepted by the folks (Instead of accepted, read: date fixed for marriage)

  • Searching for a prospective bride / groom

This is probably the most complicated aspect of Indian society. They start the process early, so as to give a couple of years’ margin to find just the right person you can spend your entire life with. It usually means you register yourself on some matrimonial service, and even fill out a form specifying the kind of partner you are looking for.

Believe me; they have specifications for height, weight, and color. I’m not lying, I’ve seen it. The whole process is comparable to a commercial market … imagine a showroom for cars. You specify speed, color, model, make, price, average, fuel, dealers, discounts… Get it?

I can go on and on… but I’ll reserve this topic for another day.

  • Engagement

A formal engagement is really an invitation for people to comment on how good the young couple looks together. It’s also an announcement to the world that the two previously-eligible bachelors are no longer in the market.

  • Marriage

The excitement, the extravagance, the costs, the reception, the drama, the tears…

And thus begins the married life, which, for the girl is a new life in a different set of closed walls, with a different narrow society of in-laws.

If you’ve done it right until now, a big whoops. It’s not easy till here, and it’s not getting any easier.

  • Kids!

That’s right, what’s coming up, are kids. Right after you manage to fulfill basic expectations like own house, own car.

And then, your life is an upside down tangle of adhering to society’s expectations, and once you do that, soon you’re on the other side. In a few short years of watching your kids grow up, you begin to heap your own understanding of society’s expectations on them, and the cycle continues…

Simple, isn’t it?

Talk to me. If you have managed to break out of society’s barriers, or wish to, let me know. I’m sure it can be done.

A summer friendship

It was almost like a summer romance; a friendship that was as sudden and unlikely as rains in March. The three of us first met on a train speeding to Delhi – the start to an awesome trek in the Himalayas. One was a lanky curly-haired boy of 21, who alternated dangerously between acting like he’s five, or getting lost deep in thought. The other was a sweet-looking helpful girl who I didn’t really interact with during the trek… Not in my wildest dreams did I think three such varied individuals would become inseparable within less than a month’s time.

It began simply for one reason, that of the trekking group of 15 or so, we were the only three people who had ‘time’ on our hands. We were all unemployed; I was awaiting professional qualification after which I was sure to start job-hunting, and these two were 2 years younger than me and had much lesser worries of education and jobs.

And so it began. We were like three forever-hungry and almost-always-broke teenagers, and on most days we had no option but to lock ourselves in my room, shut the blinds and watch back-to-back movies, since we could not afford going out. On lucky days when one of us had some money, we treated ourselves to chicken subs and wraps, and that too secretly, as it was in addition to what my Mom used to prepare for lunch.

Now, I had already realized that living with the parents past The Twenties is a big disadvantage. To top that, these two taking up residence plus dining in my room, was maddening enough for my parents, but they were pretty much helpless, save the weekly fights we had on the ‘kind of friends I bring into the house’, and how ‘I was wasting my life’. Nothing unusual there…

We all knew this was short-lived, and would come to an end once one of us started working, or my parents decided to throw us all out, whichever happened earlier. We thus had an unspoken pact to spend every waking moment together. We prepared bucket lists of movies and series to watch, and devoured brilliant films of every possible genre, day after day.

Momos
Chicken steamed Momos!

The evenings were the highlight of our time together. The best part about my building is a terrace on the 10th floor, which has a splendid view of mountains and city lights around the necklace-shaped bend in the road on one side, and speeding lights of cars zooming down the highway on the other. It was this terrace that had become our sanctuary, and here we retreated to enjoy our evenings with delicious chicken steamed Momos, and some John Mayer playing in the background.

Conversations were never needed on such evenings. We were dreamers, artists in our own ways. Silence itself was our conversation, and we were often at peace, lost in synchronized thoughts, perhaps… When the moon rose and the sky reminded us of the nights spent in the Himalayas under a glorious blanket of stars, I knew we all felt that connection some alive within us.

Terrace
View from my terrace…

Looking back on those days right now, I would honestly be perplexed at how we spent 2 months doing absolutely nothing productive or worthwhile to boast of. But then I remember the laughs, the music, the fights, the wrestling, occasional partying, and I know they were magical days we may never get back… A life-long summer friendship, and some moments of peace that vanish in a heartbeat…


Housing.com is this new wonderful thing on real estate that everyone’s been talking about… Although personally I doubt I could find something there as wonderful as my terrace and these long-past moments with friends!

Rebel, just a little

There is a cult of rebels born in every generation. These are the ones whose very basic instincts make them defy authority, especially that of the previous generation.

It manifests at a very basic, domestic level. The parents object to a particular set of friends and you make it your agenda to hang out with only those friends, till your parents give up and accept there’s no harm in it, which was your point all along. You grow up a little bit and suddenly get all serious and committed at an age when others are still frolicking in frocks and going on mock dates. After years of quarrels and ‘This is just what I want in life’ and ‘Can’t you just be happy for me’ showdowns, finally everyone around begins to accept that this is how you want your life to be. And then, just like that, you decide you like it better when you are unpredictable.

On the outside you appear soft-hearted, composed and relaxed. Who could guess that you’ve played your part in breaking the heart of someone pure and innocent? Who could possible understand the turmoil underneath that calm, composed exterior? You prefer that the rebel in you is known to as few as possible, making sure that every time you rebel, you have the element of surprise working in your favor.

You struggle with the very definition of settling down. You hate it when the water is still for far too long, and after a while of quiet contemplation of silence and peace, you can’t resist the temptation of throwing in a few pebbles so as to see the ripples break that surface of unrelenting calm. You are always craving the thrill, the excitement, the rush of adrenaline coursing through your veins.

And then there are those who have that instinct to rebel but whose struggles never go beyond the caged structure of their own mind. These are the ones with higher potential and stronger instincts. But they are not free. The more they try to throw off the load on their shoulders, they themselves add a little bit more. It’s a structure within which they are bound, and all the rebelling falls just short of the boundary. They accept that their rebel power is limited only to the walls of their mind.

I don’t know if I’m free, but I know I belong to the rebel cult, and I don’t understand this half-rebel-half-contrite, structured existence. I don’t know if they’ll ever be free from this structure and I don’t know if you even need to get rid of this cage in order to lead a completely honest, happy life. Maybe freedom has nothing to do with structure and maybe it all does really come down to your choices. And in that case, what happens to the ones implicated by your choice?

Tell me what you think. Are you a rebel? Or do you believe that structure lets you live a stable, happy life?

The frog’s no Prince, but I’ll marry him

Sometimes a girl may have to kiss a lot of frogs before she finds her prince.

I’m sure the frogs agree. One or two might even be daring enough to use this as a pick-up line.

images (1)
Pucker up, baby!

To my surprise Indian parents also seem to agree. Parents anxious to marry off their well-educated, beautiful, hard-working and independent daughters into good families of their choice, overlook the fact that while they are opposed to the idea of the girl finding her Prince Charming on her own, they are willing to let her mingle with a lot many frogs who are brought up the right way. Continue reading The frog’s no Prince, but I’ll marry him