Friday, November 18, 2011

Mujhse fraandship karoge?

A funny thing happens to your friendship ecosystem when you have a baby. There is a huge chemical shift, almost creating an imbalance of sorts, like electrons running amok in an sp2 orbital (those of you who don’t get science, look it up). Or read this.

 As if marriage wasn’t bad enough for friendship. Various friendship tests had to be passed in ours (with my friends mostly, since I am the one who has more history with friends) and he had to be voted either ‘really nice’ or ‘really fun’. Somehow, the husband managed one or both. As for his, the friends were as old as the last clubbing night, and all you had to do was cheer Man U , hug like you’re long-lost buddies who’ve met after years, think costume parties are cool and you passed muster.

For the first two years in our marriage, we were doing fine, and had a roaring social life, despite the disparity in our friends (mine did books, his did shots).

And then the baby happened. Things changed.

Single women suddenly flew off the radar (there are exceptions and you know who you are). I don’t know if it was because we were no longer set-up potential, i.e. we were more likely to know married people with babies, and not necessarily single men so what was the point? Or whether we were in-your-face reminders of how they would like their life to be extrapolated. Or we drew attention to their tick-tock biological clock? Or that they were so used to not having conversation that it was suddenly too tedious? (when you have a baby, you tend to go to places where you can be heard). Or that no matter how hard you tried, they always slotted you as smug-married?

The married-with-no-kids were too busy trying to get pregnant, or trying not to. Or pretending they had the cooler life and didn’t really care about their clocks.

Single men took a deeper interest in you. (Get it, biaatches? If only you had stuck around!). They wonder if this would be their life if they had met women who were interested in their wombs. Also, a child is good arm candy for a single guy.  Good with kids = good marriage potential, and so his equity in the market soars up. I have had so many single guys taking to my baby that I am seriously considering them for baby-sitting on a rainy day. And unlike single women, single men are not ashamed to acknowledge their clock.

New male friends are not welcome by the husband, unless they are spectacularly ugly, really short, love Man U or are gaming buffs. Gay best friend is no longer an option as the husband is homophobic.

You almost wonder. Where have all our friends gone?

And then you realise, you have a bunch of new ones. The married-with-kids. The We- are-as-fucked-as-you are couples. These sooner or later gravitated towards you, whatever your history with them. 

Now this is where the power struggle among couples begins.

Two men. Two women. Plenty of dynamics.

You like him, she doesn’t like you. Or you like her, he doesn’t like him.  Or he likes him, but he doesn’t like her. Or you both like them equally, but the babies don’t get along. Or you like them both and the babies like each other, but they live in a different city.

There are other types:
  • Friends who are so working so hard on weekdays that they just want to sack on weekends. Or get trashed with other singletons (somehow a baby seems to demand a code of conduct most people are not willing to put work into)
  • Friends who are looking for that job with the perfect work-life balance.  I read somewhere that it means both your work and your life are equally fucked.
  • Friends who are always "wanting to ask you over", but don’t, for some strange reason.
  • Friends who say, drop in anytime, but never say when.
  • Friends who forget to reply to emails or messages or (sic!) wall posts. Or ask for a raincheck!

I don’t want to get into the hothouse for friends, although there was a time when I met random people every Friday and pretended that they were my best friends. I notice what while people are all very effusive when they meet you, how many homes have you been invited to in the last month? Okay, three months? I mean really invited, not told to ‘drop in anytime’?

I don’t much care about birthdays or anniversaries, but if you don’t hear from me in a month, call /email/ do something. That’s what friends are for. Not random bumping and then saying, “Oh, I was just thinking of you!” No, you were so not. I know a bad lie when I hear one.

So I have decided. I need new friends, because I am tired of working on the old ones and their issues. Applications are invited.

Here is the deal: You should be funny. And compassionate. It is a very tough combination, but I am worth it. Also, you should be willing to do the work.  At least some of it. Which means making plans. Calling us over.  Showing up when we invite you. Thinking weekend getaways. Baby-friendly trips. Lunches. Dinners. Drinks. Games. Whatever you can manage. It doesn’t matter if you are single or married. Baby or no baby. Old or young. Proactive is the key word. Creative is even better.

Okay, here’s a sales pitch. I am good with food. The husband is a great bartender. We have a gorgeous baby and two cats. We are both funny (in different ways). But we have finally decided that we will do the work only to those who do unto us. All you have to do is earn it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The unbearable lightness of Karvachauth

I can never be a candidate for Karvachauth (in which the wife fasts for the husband's longevity of life and other such). Now, considering that most men lead such debauched lifestyles that such a fast may be ordained as one of the things that could redeem, if not resurrect them, I may perhaps be disallowing the husband a huge chance at salvation. Ah! Sad, that.

But anything that involves fasting of any kind (even if it means postponing my meal by half hour) sends shivers down my spine. So, fine, I don't have the tenacity of an Anna Hazare or Baba Ramdev or a Medha Patkar, but perhaps they never had such a strong relationship with food anyway. So it must come easy to them.

Plus I am not endowed with huge fat resources, so more is the trouble. Three, I metabolise like a maniac. Just thinking about food is enough to digest it and want more. 

In fact, I didn't even realise it was the aforementioned fasting festival which involves, among other things, a moon, a sieve and a husband, until a friend of mine gloated about his wife fasting on facebook. (Thank god for facebook. The things we would miss otherwise!)

When I married the husband, the thing topmost in my mind was that "How can I act breezy about already having eaten dinner when he came home everyday?". Thing is, I have a 8 pm tummy alarm, and I can wait no later than 10 minutes to attack my meal. The husband thankfully never shows up at that unearthly hour, so I can eat my meal in peace. 

Until the child arrived, but that's a story for the other blog. The most dedication to wifely duty I could manage was to have lunch with him at 3 pm on a wretched Saturday in the early days of our marriage. Needless to say, it created a tsunami in my gastric flora and fauna. So fasting for the husband? Not happening. 

In fact, I thought to myself, why should bother, since he fasts regularly for me anyway. As in, he forgets to eat. In my mother's book, that is enough punya for the both of us.  

So happy Karvachauth darling, and I will never fast for you. It's not that I love you less. I just love food more. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why being married is like owning a cat

Soon after I got home the husband, I got home the cats. Perhaps what helps our marriage survive is that I have a cat barometer for my feelings about marriage, and since it’s his first experience with cats, he is perhaps getting me (or the marriage) through cat. At least that’s what I like to believe. 

While love is about newness, liberating and adventure-seeking, marriage is about sameness, and finding joy in it, much like cats do.  And that’s why marriage is like owning a cat.

So if I were a cat, this is what I would say to the husband:

  • Just because we are in the same room, it doesn’t mean we have to talk. I know all that talk about nurturing, but silence is good enough.
  • Sometimes I might lick you, or give you a pedicure, even if you don’t ask for it. It’s how I show my love, even though I am not expected to. But don’t expect it at the same time, every day. That’s what dogs do.
  • We have just signed up to be together for life. Can we cut through the crap of ‘I love you’ and “You are the most important person in my life’ and ‘I don’t think I can live without you.’ May be you can do it, but I can’t. I am a cat.
  • It’s fine, we are husband-wife, but each one of us is still entitled to the best spot in the bed. The only thing that matters is, who gets there first.
  • We are so over the phase of being polite and entertaining random people and doing things to please others.  Don’t go there.
  • Sometimes, I may want to cuddle with you. At other times, I may not feel like showing up when you walk in that door. It should be cool either way.
  • I may do things that are out of character, like fetch a ball, or serve you your newspaper in bed, but don’t get used to it.
  • When you leave town, I get to be me. I love it. So don’t expect me to say that I miss you. That’s what lovers do. We are married.
  • Two people living together is enough noise. Let’s not over-communicate. 
  • And please, no surprises. I hate it.

This post is a response to a hilarious link on How falling in love is like owning a dog sent to me by my friend Natasha. I had to do a cat on it. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bombay girl's take on the Delhi-Madras express

So there is this post floating around about a Madrasan's ode to a Delhi Boy and his retort thereafter (yes, he writes!). I am prompted to write a fresh post on the Bombay Madrasan taking off on the Delhi boy, but then I remembered I wrote something years ago, and I am shamelessly going to recycle it (which, btw, good madrasis don't do), but what the hell.

 I have always wondered what it is about Delhi girls and Bombay? Why do Delhi girls love Bombay (boys included)? And why do Delhi boys hate Bombay (girls not included)?

Here’s my simplistic understanding of the situation:

Delhi girls love the way Bombay liberates them.

Delhi boys hate the way Bombay restricts them.

Delhi girls finally can be what they want to be in Bombay.

Delhi boys can never be what they want to be in Bombay.

Delhi girls love the Bombay guy’s lack of aggression.

Delhi boys love the Bombay girl’s lack of aggression.

Okay, some more. Delhi boys try to look for Delhi in Bombay and are pissed off—hot phulkas off the tava, gym next door, wide open ring roads, signals that can be broken, half dozen servants to order around, clubs where they know your daddy’s name… The Delhi girls on the other hand look for Bombay in Bombay and are pleasantly surprised. That about sums it up. Now for the gory details…

Feisty, well groomed, spirited and often loud, the quintessential Delhi girl is a treat to the laid back, not obviously ambitious, non-flashy, mostly grunge Bombay boy who is still unused to a package of aggression and beauty in the opposite sex. But when the picture perfect eyeliner and the well-ironed t-shirt coexists with an appetite for whisky with water, and a loud mouth, the result is something else. Delhi girls on their part love the fact that finally, they don’t have to shout to be heard (pun unintended).

As for Delhi boys in Bombay, they already come with such an excess baggage of testosterone, anger and insouciance that the Bombay girl with her nonchalance and cool tends to take the edge off it. Not to mention she is one girl who will never ask what car he drives on the first date and never make a face when he mentions a not-so-cool address. But since he for years has been under the “Beta, sweater pehen lo” cloud, something’s gotta give somewhere. Also, for him, the transition from, “Do you know who my father is?” to sounds of “What goes of your father?” is not a happy one. He feels emalsculated. But kudos to Delhi boys who survive the two-year acid test, because then they go on to adopt the city like no other.

In the meanwhile the lazy Bombay boy is happy to let the Delhi girl do the work. It’s only when it comes to the 1BHK-happily-ever-after situation that Delhi girls fully realise the impact of what has happened. Suddenly, they miss their phulkas and daddy’s big car and driver, their winter wardrobes and entourage too.

Win some, lose some.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

If you truly want to be single, get married

To those of you still in the dating game, in a relationship, or on the verge of a relationship — I feel for you.

Not because I am a smug-married who is trying to show off a picture-perfect life of a husband, a baby and two cats (because if you see how I live, it's far from perfect). But because I have the one thing that you don't have — the freedom to be rude. To be me. To say what I feel and get away with it. Because we have our whole life to make up, and neither of us is going anywhere.

Well, I have been thinking about it, ever since the husband told me that I was much ruder now that before he married me. And I realised—this whole dating/being in a relationship thing is too much about being polite. About letting the other person have their point of view. Their thing on the menu.  Their choice of temperature for the air-conditioning. Their choice of which place to go to, or who to make brunch plans with.

Needless to say, you end up doing a lot of what you don’t really want to do, because there is all this pressure of being good. About being sensitive. Because after all, you are in it for the long haul (or at least, that's a good way to go about it)

It's always about, "Honey, would you like to do (insert activity that gives you a rash here)? And you are like, "Sure, when would you like to go?"

We also had a cute a/c thing going in the first few weeks of dating that ceased being cute when I realised that he slept optimally at 18 degrees. I hated air-conditioning, and could, at a pinch, bear it at 24 degrees. But we played keeping count just to humour the other.

Honey, is 20 ok for you?
Ummm, may be 23?
How about 22?
Ok, done!

But things change after marriage. Now there’s freedom. Freedom to say no. Freedom to veto. Freedom to express your views about their life, their friends, their idea of a good time. Freedom to give a rat’s ass.

Now it’s more like, “I’m sweltering here, I need the a/c tonight!”

“But I am freezing..! And it’s pouring cats and dogs outside.”

“Well you can wear a jacket!”

“So, you can shed some clothes.”

Marriage is no pressure at all, its freedom. It’s how it was designed to be. Eat what the hell you want, be as bad as you want, say what you want and never say what you don’t want, and all will still be well.

 Now it's more like, "Honey, there’s this wild party on Friday..."

"No I am not going to a party where you have to come dressed as a monkey, get your own booze, your own food and your own toilet seat."

"Ummm okay"

The fight lasts forever, so there is enough time to be rude. Now isn't that actually liberating, than dragging yourself to said party, hanging around with bimbettes and himbettes who are too busy getting wasted, and expecting you to drop them to addresses they are not sure of themselves? Or being told that OMG, you are the best married couple ever, because you are so cool, and you party even after you’ve had a baby.. blah blah (fill in the blanks)

A child gives you additional room to be rude. Any obnoxious trait inherited can be attributed to the spouse, and the good stuff can be gloated over as coming from your gene pool. So convenient, no?

I love being married.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"You are not about the looks"

A few days ago, a girlfriend of mine told me the best thing I had heard in a long, long time. We were at this party, sipping some free wine, and figuring out what our threshold for tolerance for flakiness was. We had both had enough of "Awesome!" and "Wassup?" and "That's way too cool." or "This party rocks!". So we were doing what the time and the space and decibels allowed us to do. Having a girlie chat. She said she liked my new haircut and I asked her if I should continue short or go back to long.

And then she told me something that I will remember for the rest of my life.

"You are not about the looks babe."

I wasn't sure I heard right. I know I am not conventionally pretty, but you know, other than the adolescent phase of "Oh my god, when will I ever have boobs?," I have been very confident about my persona, and always managed to pull. But had I actually got to that place where it didn't matter at all?

"You have that aura. You are beyond it. It hardly matters whether your hair is long or short, whether or not you colour your hair or whether your dress is too long or too short or whether your bum is too big or too small. You have a way of making all of these look insignificant.  You are your best accessory. It's only about you, not about how you are packaged!"

Whoa! I felt I had arrived. I felt that finally, I had reached that place where I was liberated from all the trappings of dressing up, looking sexy, wearing the right colour or having the right phone. I have been feeling free for quite a long time, but it took a friend to tell me that.

It felt bloody good!

So now I know why I always act nonplussed when someone asks me what I am wearing. The next time that happens, I am going to say, "I am wearing me!"

Monday, August 8, 2011

Every girl should have a Dabangg friend

Someone who calls her ‘chikni’ or ‘item’ and gets away with it, because for once, she doesn’t feel objectified.
Someone whose idea of button-down dressing is to leave two buttons undone instead of four.

Someone who defines insouciance, but is never sure what it means. And cannot spell it to save his life.

Someone who doesn’t remember your birthday. And makes no bones about it.

Someone who you never have to worry about subtext, because he hasn’t a clue what it means.

Someone who says he will break someone’s arm if they mess with you and mean it.

Someone who says it like it is, because he doesn’t know any other way to do it.

Someone who loves the girl in you and celebrates her.

Someone who makes you feel like a woman, while still counting you as one of the boys.

Someone who never pretends to know what he doesn’t.

Someone who walks in and fills the room, whatever his size.

Someone you walk in with, and think you can fill a room too, whatever your size.

Someone who thinks it’s a waste of time engaging in deep, intellectual discussion.

Someone who will cheer the loudest when you have a victory.  And feel your pain when you are sad.

Someone who thinks ironing your hair doesn’t make you more of a woman;  and using cuss words doesn’t make you less of it.

Someone you can cuss with to your heart’s content and not be judged.

 HK, I salute thee!