Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Yours, peasfully

Recently, I was invited to dinner at someone’s house and when the dinner was finally served, I found it to be all-meat.

“But I am vegetarian..” I mewed.

“Really? You don’t look it….” said the host.

“Meaning? Do I look carnivorous?”

“You don’t have a vegetarian face,” I was told.

Hmmmm…I was intrigued. It was not the first time it was happening to me, although I find people less shocked by my dietary habits now than they used to be ten years ago. It might have to do with the fact that Madonna, Richard Gere, Gwneth Paltrow, Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and more have turned vegetarian, so I am not such an oddball after all.

But there was definitely a subtext there. May be it appears that a woman who can speak her mind and call a spade a spade has to have meat-generated toxins in her body—where else will the aggression come from? Surely capsicum and spinach don’t pack in that punch.

“So, is it by choice or habit? Health or religion?”… is often what follows next.

I know next to nothing about religion. As far as habit goes, well, my dad did try to fortify us puny tots with chicken cube soup once upon a time, so I am sure I have tasted blood. Health sounds fashionable for sure. But, frankly, I just like eating things that look colourful—so I would rather choose a carrot or a beetroot or peas over meat..

So I fox them by saying.. “None of the above. It’s aesthethics..”

No more questions.

A handy retort would also be, “So are you carnivorous by choice? Or is it just that you like padding your body with toxins?”

Then there were the questions about singledom in a galaxy not far far away…

“So, are you seeing anyone?”

“No…”

“So you are single by choice?”

“Well, you could say that..”

“Hmmm interesting. But would you like someone in your life?”

“Ummm…I don’t know.. I am quite happy…”

“Don’t you want to settle down?”

This is the point when the said subject deserves a cup of tea/glass of wine, as the case may be… on his/her head. Or may be a twist in the questioning…

“Are you married by choice or did you sleepwalk into it?

Or better still….

“How come you are married?”

Exit party.



******

Then there are people who puff in your face without even asking whether you mind and raise an eyebrow when you refuse a cigarette. Again, stereotype. (Smoker=Cool)

“Don’t smoke?”

“Well, that would be technically incorrect. You are smoking for the both of us..”

No more questions.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bride interrupted

Okay, the D-day is looming large, and in two months, I will no longer be single…(sigh!). Much as I love the man I am marrying, I am quite irked by the questions surrounding my impending wedding. Here are a pick of the top ten most ridiculous questions:

How does it feel?

Okay, you want the truth? Feels like I am going to be part of a circus or a musical in which I hope to have some fun myself, else, what a waste…!

What kind of rings are you planning to get?

Huh? The fact that we set a date, found a venue, booked it, made lists, sent it to our respective control-freak siblings/parents, is hard work enough. Now if I have to engrave his name on my ring, I will just stutter….

Have you shopped for your jewellery?

What they actually mean is, “Will you end up having better jewellery than me? Then I better start refurbishing...” I find women idiotically competitive about jewellery. Is her diamond bigger than mine is not a concern I am about to have. So ladies, please flash all you have. I am not in the race.

So is it a big wedding?

Define big to me. In my opinion, hanging out with a hundred odd people who I ordinarily will not hang out with is big. Changing costumes at someone else’s whim is big. Sitting in one spot for three to four hours is big. Not laughing my lungs out when my beau repeats the mantra after the pundit (gosh, I hope he does!) is big. Not breaking into dance at any given opportunity is big.

You haven’t started shopping yet?

In my opinion, trosseaus are a waste of time. Technically, if you have the cash, a day or two is enough to shop. Unless you are Pamela Anderson and need to get everything made to cup size FF. One wasn’t exactly living like a Neanderthal before the wedding, was one? I mean, one had good shoes, bags, make-up, clothes, pretty much everything that is ready to go. So why pretend that you are a just-born baby and shop head-to-toe?

Where are you going for your honeymoon?

Now that’s a cool question. Except I still don’t know and will get back to you as soon as I can.

What does the groom do?

This question, although very geriatric was actually asked by an under-30 cousin of mine with a suitable degree, corporate job, the works. I found it strange. This is a generation that should be celebrating love, freedom of choice and all the things their parents didn’t have. Instead they were being less cool than their parents.

I realised I was being marked. What they actually mean to ask is, “After all that wait, I hope you have picked well…”

Where did you two meet?

More marking. Would I say I met him while investigating a story on how singles network in the city? That our first date was a nine-hour chat about single malts? That he proposed to me in the car on the way back from an Indigo brunch? No, the politically right thing to say would be “We met at a party”

Where is he from? What do his parents do? Siblings? Are they married? Where does he live?

More marking.

But I couldn’t be bothered. I have moved from white sheep to brown sheep to black sheep to very black sheep in the last fifteen years in my family and now I am back again to being the white sheep. Simply because in their eyes, I have redeemed myself by choosing to marry a suitable man, who also happens to be cool. And managed to escape getting hitched to a fat, balding divorcee with two kids, a fat alimony and low self esteem, as they would imagine happening to girls ‘my age’

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I don’t need to know this

 “I have 301 Facebook friends”

“I have had 84 girlfriends…”

“I have had nine and a half relationships…”

Men are full of useless information. They will remember the exact configuration of their first laptop/computer/mobile phone or the exact number of games they won at pool five weeks ago, and the exact sequence of moves that led to it.

Or the exact number of CDs or games they had in their collection until MPs made such discussions obsolete. Or how many Raymond Chandlers they have read and how many Wodehouse novels were set in Blandings and what was Harry Potter’s favourite drink (as if I care).

They will also remember how many people they have beaten up and what was the exact anatomical location of the bruise they had so dextereously planted on the concerned bodies and what time of night it was and how many people were on the street.

Or at what age did they lose their you-know-what and what age did they have their first crush and what age did they buy their Nintendo or smoke their first joint.

Or how many pending friend requests they have on Facebook or how many friends do they actually have on Facebook and how many times have they been poked in the last hour or how many applications have they added.

Or what does an Away jersey mean and exactly what day and hour the next Man U match is on.

Or how many strands of white hair inhabit their beard and what was the age when they found their first strand of white hair.

Or how much beer can they drink in one go or how many times have they duped the cops while under the influence or how many exams they never took, but passed anyway. Or how many times they outwitted their parents, teachers, wardens and pretty much anyone that was the voice of authority when they were growing up.

It’s not that you asked for the aforementioned information, or any pointed question thereof that led to its dispensing. It is not that you are even remotely interested in the subject or have proffered an equivalent bit of information from a remotely connected subject or object on your part. But there, it’s yours to have anyway, take it or leave it.

But ask them what was their first memory of anger or jealousy or feeling lost, and they don’t have a clue. Ask them when was the last time they cleaned their ceiling fan or DVD player and they look at you in perplexity. Ask them if they remember their best friends’s birthday, and they stare at you sheepishly.

Beats me…

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Moolah rues

It never ends. Just when you thought that you had your life sorted—got your wardrobe organized, renewed your gym membership, trained the cook how not to cook, spayed and trained the cats to the extent that cats can be trained, learnt to agree to disagree with the beau, figured out that he is indeed the man for you, got your parents to finally understand what you do for a living, eliminated extraneous people from your life— along comes a bummer.

Yes, who else, but from your HR department. The subject on the mail says ‘Important –Income tax declaration by Jan 15’

The point of submitting the declaration being—how not to allow the company or the government to swallow the money you think you are making—in short, how to have your money and eat it too.

Now I am pretty good with money, (at least I thought so) – I have separate files for car, credit card, X bank, Y bank, Form 16, bonds and investments, insurance policies..phew! I pay my bills on time and I have no debts. But even someone like me has kittens when I get a mail like this.

I spent my entire weekly off-day trying to find an insurance policy and a PPF challan that would get me that grand exemption. After I suitably psyched the mother and the CA, and was going through my carton of files (yes, my paperwork currently resides in a carton) I wondered: How much am I really worth? Try as I might, I didn’t arrive at an answer.

Does any one, any one out there know to the nearest thousand how much money you really have? Please send me an email, and I will worship you for the rest of my life.

Okay, there are some units which your mother bought for you when you were 14. There are some FDs somewhere. There are those frightening infrastructure bonds which you bought because someone said “Buy, buy…and keep…” There is an LIC policy you bought 15 years ago because your uncle’s brother-in-law’s niece was an agent. There are the mutual funds you bought just because it was cool at some point. And last, but not the least—there are your assorted salaries.

My point is, do you really know what it all adds up to? Who is computing all those figures? You stare at your crumbling PPF passbook and wonder if they are really compounding your interest. And if not, how will you know? You try to remember when exactly did you buy that National Saving Certificate and when will that exact moment be when your money will double. What if they forget to tell you that? And when you get a dividend cheque of Rs 1796, why do you jump up with joy as if you’ve won a lottery?

Can you ever tell from your bank statement whether your opening and closing balance are indeed correct? I can’t. Do you know how to decode your salary slip? I don’t even know what my actual salary is, as my salary slip, which comes protected with password etal leaves me befuddled every month by its alarming inconsistency.

Needless to say, I went to bed harried and woke up with a start. I am convinced I need a houseboy/girl who will tell me on a monthly basis just how much money I have, so I can plan my retirement.

But I have a pre-condition: he/she should not ask me for a single piece of paper after they have taken over my portfolio and my carton of files. All I will deign to do is sign. Interested candidates may please send me your resumes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Gymbaroos

Ever since my homeopath told me I have a D3 situation and my bones need to work out more, else I will have to eat beef soup, I have been fantasizing about a gym. More so since my yoga class is more closed than open—they are closed for all the Jayantis, and Poornimas and Christmas and New Years’. Looks like they have more of a life than I do…

After a long hunt, I finally found a gym that looked and smelt right and was a run away from the house. At first glance, it looked professional (never mind a name like Fizzique) which means people spent more time working out and less socializing. Also, the music was not Himesh Reshammiya and there were no stinky carpets, no treadmill fights and there was plenty of sunshine. And the gym instructors looked like they worked out. This is it, I thought.

Day one and two went pretty okay. On day three I met girl-who-wants-to-know-too-much as I entered. She asked me six questions in 30 seconds. I replied to two. Now, I am terribly preoccupied with how-to-avoid-her and that is causing much stress.

But slowly I realised that a gym is a gym is a gym. And basically, there are different types of people who comprise its ecosystem:

• There are those who look great in their clothes but want to look good naked.

• There are those who don’t look good in their clothes and want to look good in their clothes (naked is a far dream)

• There are those who spend three hours and do not look left or right or make eye contact. Yes, these are the true body-obsessed. And you know what? They don’t even check their biceps every three minutes. Me thinks these are the types who believe in the means and not the end.

• There are those who check their mobile phones every 20 seconds, just to make sure they haven’t got that ‘missed call’ from someone they always obsessed about.

• There are the girl brigades who descend in threes and spend more time in the locker room discussing men problems and how they don’t give a damn and are going to give it all to their abs.

• There is the solitary female who spends more time checking her highlights and whether her bra strap is coordinated with her singlet. And whether her hair has just the right amount of bounce as she burns calories on the cross bar.

• There is the ipod maniac who will be tricked into doing any number of reps or sets, because he is too zoned out and uses the gym as an excuse to download more music.

• There are those who work out with such manic obsession—teeth clenched, face contorted, eyes shut—that you think they will have a seizure any minute

• There are those who inherited some great gym gear and want to show it off

• There are those who come to scope the scene out and find out which cross bars and treadmills have the best scoring potential.

• There are those who do not have a full-length mirror at home and are over-awed

• And then there are those like me who make the most out of having to gym for a therapeutic reason—they use it as a forum to generate material for their column