Life

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love

For the last year or so there seems to be a (inter)national interest in my personal life or the lack thereof. I suppose it has something to do with the big 3-0. It isn’t just curious aunts, but almost everyone I meet. It seems like the firm I work for makes most of its revenue from trading on the events in my love life. It sure as hell seems like it, given the interest my relationship status seems to have garnered. From well-meaning colleagues to random women in the office, I can’t remember a time when I’ve met someone and the “Hello”, hasn’t been followed up with “Are you married?” My polite “not yet” which is really a euphemism for get-out-of-my-business is misconstrued as if-we-ask-she-must-tell. Now I get why my stubbornly single status might make people wonder-the man upstairs has not been stingy in the looks department. I may not look like the Victoria’s Secret models but I get enough male attention to keep the ego happy. I have a decent enough job that buys me some luxuries and then some more and I’d like to think that I am fun when I choose to be. And when the audience is right.

So here’s the deal about the lack of a wedding ring- at this point in my life, I do not see the necessity of a marriage. I was never a romantic. Even as a child, I was painfully pragmatic. Unlike other girls, I never harboured fantasies about the perfect man. Marriage to me always seemed like a lot of work where the return on investment almost never justified the cost. The worst part is, I come from parents who have a brilliant marriage so I can’t even use their problems as an excuse as to why the idea of marriage never appealed to me. So 2 years into a job, I decided the next logical thing to do was get married. Because that’s just what humans’ do- be born, go to school, get a job, get married and die. And that’s when it hit me- I’m so bad at it that a relationship to me is Trump’s presidency to the American people- I couldn’t wait for it to be over and I honestly could not fathom how I got into it in the first place. I do not have the best taste in men. That’s an understatement- it is like saying people who read Chetan Bhagat do not have the best taste in literature. And I am one of those people who cannot fail at anything. So the combination of my uncanny ability to identify the worst possible partners with my inability to fail at anything results in me trying to salvage something that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

And that’s when I realised that marriage is not for me. Not because I’m terrified of commitment or because I can’t settle down with one person, but because I will never walk out of a bad marriage. I will never call it, I will never cut my losses and tell him to hit the road. Marriage is not for the risk averse like me and definitely not for someone who refuses to exercise an exit option even when it is screaming out for her to take it. Most marriages I see just seem to be cycles of mania. For someone who likes calm and peace and who strives to have that kind of balance at all times, I do not see the need to go through the motions of such a relationship. I cannot be the person going into work agitated because of an on-going squabble. Nor have I been equipped to deal with all the drama that comes with sharing one’s life with the wrong person.

But aside from all of this, I do not see the value add marriage can bring me anymore. I am surrounded by people who do not hold back on love, I have a fantastic support system and when I need the bickering of a nicely seasoned, well-matured marriage, there is always AC. We fight like people who have been married for 50 years, he knows exactly which button to push to elicit a tantrum that can make a diva blush. And like people who have been married for 50 years, most things about him get on the one good nerve I have left. Like all time tested marriages, I even get to nag- I crib about his drinking, the smoking, his unhealthy lifestyle and his dreadful taste women. Like all healthy marriages, I don’t care if he sees me on a bad hair day, he burps freely and abundantly, and unlike most men is completely disinterested in anything I have to say and even has the liberty of criticizing my fashion choices. So almost every box for each characteristic of a marriage can be ticked off. Erm almost every box. I’m beginning to see why people think I lead the life of a nun.

I like the idea of marriage. In theory, with the right person I think I’d be fantastic at it. I like the idea of the kind of companionship I’m told only marriage can bring, I say this with none of that growing old together nonsense but to have someone with whom you can share your home with, who respects your space, time and opinions so that even when he does not agree with them, he doesn’t and won’t begrudge you the right to have them.  Someone who encourages your career but doesn’t want to run it for you. Someone who can think beyond his nose and who can actually engage in a conversation without making it about himself. But most of all someone who when he’s right, shuts up about it.

 

India

When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?

Nothing gets my goat more than being stereotyped and/or patronized. I wear my nationality with pride and being from Bangalore is one of the best parts of me. It is a city that I love dearly, despite all its misgivings- crumbling infrastructure, horrible traffic and inefficient systems. I’d like to think that Bangalore is fairly cosmopolitan, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. So it often comes as a surprise when colleagues tell me I seem un-Indian, that I seem removed from the rest of India. The Bangalore I know, is filled with people exactly like me. Sure, Bangalore was always a bit more westernized than the rest of the country. Bangalore always had a more “global” feel. Everyone I know grew up listening to VH1 and watching what we thought were regular TV shows. OK, so I grew up watching the Bold and the Beautiful, nothing like a little pre-Game of Thrones incestuous drama to entertain a 10 year old.

Given this background, I do feel like smacking certain American and one British colleague (you know who you are Mr. Sparkhill) into next week when they tell me that a. I am articulate b. ask about my very Anglicized name c. ask about the cows on the roads. Sure, I can string two words together in English, but so can a million other Indians. Granted, a majority of us massacre the language on a daily basis, some of us up the frequency every time we talk. Some of us aren’t satisfied with just murder but do the Bhangra on every grammar rule there is but give us a break already- most of us grow up learning 4 languages simultaneously and often do this Google translate type function in our head where we translate our “mother tongue” into English, so it is no wonder that we can’t able to speak like the Queen. This may knock every westerner’s socks off, but there are hundreds of thousands of us with names just like theirs. That said, the sole purpose of being given names that are what is loosely referred to as ‘Christian’ is not because our parents had the single minded ambition of our future colleagues getting our names right. The world does not revolve around you and the Paris climate agreement is proof of that. And no, the country will not be receiving awards for cleanliness no matter how much our monogrammed suit wearing, slightly longer than comfortable hug giving PM screams himself hoarse about ‘Swachh Bharat’. But then again try cramming 1.25 billion people anywhere and you will get the mess that we call home. Given our national penchant for spitting and releasing all kinds of bodily fluids in public places, it does not for a sterilized environment make.

Go ahead and take pictures of the cattle on the roads, the open drains, the beggars, and the traffic. But also take pictures of the fancy hotel you stay in, the plush locality that the hotel is located in, the nicely designed offices you have traveled to. Don’t be surprised when some of us are better read than you are or have eclectic tastes in music. By well-read I do not mean our home grown, potential Pulitzer Prize winning Chetan Bhagat with his complete disregard for English and a good story line, nor am I talking about having Justin Bieber on our iPods.

Don’t be surprised when we enjoy something other than a spicy curry and a “Naan bread” or that we are capable of enjoying a movie without ridiculous dance sequences. Not all our weddings involve elaborate costumes, dowry and an ugly groom and evil in-laws. Not all of us work to support our aged parents. Not all of us meet our spouses on the wedding day. Not all Indian women are shy, submissive, face shielding, giggling morons with no brains behind the kohl lined eyes. A lot of women I know could easily add a few more shades to those 50 shades of grey. Not all Indian men are lecherous, uncouth, animals waiting to molest the first thing in a saree. Granted, a good bunch need to be given the Inquisition. And sure, majority of them were not on the receiving end of divine generosity in the looks/personality/IQ department. But still, stop putting us in this mould. Stop with the false sense of entitlement every time you are in the country. You aren’t doing us a favour with your ‘Namaste’. Give the whole Oprah’s “there is order in the chaos” condescension a break.  Stop making the entire country a personal ‘Hymn for the Weekend’ vacation. And finally, stop watching ‘Outsourced’ as your official guide to Indian culture. Call centers may not be the cream of the crop where employment opportunities are concerned but last I checked, they don’t have those in the midst of a bustling slum either.

Life

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual

This past year has made me discover so much about myself that I didn’t know before. I’ve come to the wonderful realization that I do not need material things to make me happy. And I don’t say this in any self-righteous way. The pretty shoes and diamonds are certainly nice to have and I will still continue to buy them but I just seem to have gotten off that wheel of never ending want. Want is a bottomless pit and I know all too well the discontent and misery that greed breeds (that was not meant to rhyme). At some point last year these things just stopped making me happy. If the last year has taught me anything it has been to just stop and enjoy today. Enjoy everything I have especially the people in my life. Again it hasn’t changed me so drastically that I’m now this sandal wearing, will work-for-food living hippie that has thrown up her job to back pack across Europe and Asia (cough cough) but I’ve also realized that despite our best plans and the most well organized strategies one has no control over tomorrow. All we can do is be thankful for today. Last year for those 5 days in September, I never thought of the next promotion or the next hike, I never thought of how I needed to do better than everyone my age, all I wanted was for my family to have Christmas together, to enjoy my mother’s cooking and grumble at my father and his slightly Scrooge-esque ways, to spend Christmas eve with my extended family and to be happy. And together. Nothing else mattered and even though that dreadful experience is just a distant memory, it taught me to put everything in perspective.

My greatest blessings are not the assets I’ve been fortunate enough to have; it is the fantastic circle of unfailing support that I’m surrounded with. I’ve made best friends out of colleagues and cut my losses with others I’ve known for years. I no longer feel the need to have people around me just to validate all my actions even if those actions have been unkind to another. Neither do I feel the need to keep relationships (not the boy girl kind but relationships of all kinds) even when I’ve grown out of them. I no longer feel like I need to keep friends who constantly take it upon themselves to give me reality checks. This past year I’ve met wonderful people, people I don’t always have something in common with but people whom I respect and more importantly people who understand that every relationship no matter how close has boundaries which must never be crossed.

Television

The nation really just doesn’t want to know..

I cannot be the only one feeling agitated with palpitations just watching Arnab Goswami gesticulate and foam at the mouth during his daily scream off with a panel of equally highly strung people.  I wonder what happened to Goswami as a child that damaged him so much that he has to take it out on an entire nation every day. To give Goswami credit, it takes real talent to hand pick the most volatile, mis-informed panel and yell them into submission. I don’t think anybody would notice if there wasn’t anyone else in those small boxes where the panelists disapproving faces should be. Goswami’s banshee like hollering is so captivating that I very rarely even pay attention to the topic or the rest of the people on the show. He always seems like he’s about 2 decibels away from bursting a coronary. It’s a wonder how his brand of journalism hasn’t made its way to journalism schools across the globe-imagine wasting all those hours studying a subject, getting facts correct, being, or at least trying to be objective, traveling to war torn areas when all you need is a pen to wave around frantically, a blank A4 size paper, and a larynx that that can make amplifiers blush.

I wonder how this keeper of India’s conscience unwinds after getting off his moral high horse each day? Surely one’s bp cannot go from 310/200 to 110/80 the minute the cameras are off. If anyone in his place has to work off all that frustration at the gym, they’d look like poster children for the World Bank.

A good business plan would be to set up cochlear implant centers and unleash Goswami onto an unsuspecting public. Ka-ching.

 

Life

Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them

As I grow older I realize how much of who I have become was defined by the home I grew up in. And that is in large part is due to the women in my family.  Growing up I spent enormous amounts of time with my father’s mother. Now anyone who knows my grandmother will agree that she’s a force to reckon with. Thankfully her spirit hasn’t diminished with time. She may sit in her chair rooting for Virat Kohli and team but there’s no pulling the wool over her eyes and if looks could kill, there’d be a few people burnt alive by now. She encouraged all my crushes, even the ones that weren’t exactly realistic; I can only blame her for being crushed when I found out that Prince William wasn’t secretly in love with me. Given that for the most part of her life she stayed home with her kids and is one of the finest cooks I’ve ever met, not once was I given to believe that my role was in the kitchen nor was I encouraged to sew or clean because “that’s what good girls do”. On the contrary, she told me, nay force fed me the notion that I didn’t need marriage to validate my existence nor did I need to humour a man to have a good relationship. I may have heeded her advice a bit too carefully.

Then there is my mother. I maybe a little biased when I say this but my mother truly is one of God’s finest work. The hugs she gives are proof that God exists. Admittedly I used to wonder if I only thought this because my sample size of people was limited. Now I truly believe this to the core of my being. It’s not that she’s without flaws. Curls can be a tad tedious at times-like her mother-in-law and mother, she has this indomitable spirit but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t wish she’d tone down the spirit on some days. That and her ego. It used to be the size of Poland but now it’s slowly expanding into Slovakia and the Czech Republic too. But the size of her ego is eclipsed by the size of her heart. I don’t know why Hallmark hasn’t called on me yet. Anyway I digress- all my life I’ve hero worshiped my mother so greatly that I fought every instinct that wasn’t her. From her I’ve learnt compassion-I do not practice it with the vigor she does because I do not think HDFC will appreciate a 0 balance account for extended periods of time due to my rather naïve generosity. From her I get my convictions-my world is so clearly demarcated into what’s right and wrong I’ve turned into a self righteous cow. Unfortunately she has more talent in her pinky than I do in my entire body and while I resent her for it, I still write this post to prove how magnanimous I am. From her I’ve also learnt to run everything I do by my father. He has unfortunately taken his veto power a tad seriously. Anyone who has seen my father take me shoe shopping will dismiss the Syria war as a distant crisis given that there is nuclear fission unfolding right in front of them. I’ve never understood why she does it given that he doesn’t know his cheque book from his debit card. But apparently there is nothing as fragile as the male ego and my mother has mastered the art of feeding into it.

The aunts-most of the reason why I’m so deluded. There is not an aunt that doesn’t tell me I’m stunning. Even on days when I think I look like the back of a bus. I am desperately fond of my mother’s sister in all of the most selfish ways possible-she cooks like a dream and her house is like a blank cheque. My father’s sisters however are part friends and part aunts. My aunt L (let’s call her Nin for the purpose of this post-not that I’ve ever used silly names in real life) truly doesn’t believe that any man is good enough for me. To give her credit, I don’t always choose the best of the flock. While I may have great taste in clothes and shoes and literature and music and chocolate, when it comes to the opposite gender-not so much. If men were shoes, in theory I would love a Weitzman or Jimmy Choo but in real life I pick up pond scum and hope to God they’re just going through a pre- faux leather phase and will one day emerge as something even Bata will sell. So Nin’s apprehensions are not exactly unwarranted. But it’s nice to know that if I were to bring Prince Harry home, she’ll say I can do better because he’s too ginger. My aunt H, I practically grew up with. It helped that when I was 10 and 4 ft, she wasn’t much taller. She will always remain one of my weaknesses and for someone who isn’t big on hugs and cuddles; all bets are off when she’s around. Mim and Bosh look at me through rose tinted glasses. They are the reason I have a rather healthy sense of my self.

So I’ve decided to blame genetics and the long line of hard headed women (on both sides) for everything that I am.