Thursday, December 30, 2010

Paradigm shift

I was recently hanging out with one of my favourite twenty-somethings (yes I do have a few friends who were born in the eighties) at a birthday do. She is 24, hot (and mean cool-hot, not hot-hot, which I find uni-dimensional), great at her job, super-popular with the boys and quite an achiever. Unlike other girls her age whose chief preoccupation is what to wear this Friday, or what colour should they get their tints done or lenses changed to (yes, I know I am being mean, but there is a point to make), she gives the impression of not labouring too much about her look, yet rocking it. On most days.

I was more intrigued about her when I found out she was dating a fly on the wall till a friend told me the classic rule. Hot girl never dates hot guys. Anyway, she is not dating him any more, but from what I saw of the new guy from Facebook, he ain’t no Adonis either.

Anyway, this is not about him. Here was her dilemma: most of her peers were getting married or were on the verge and planning babies and all of that. So she wondered: if she didn’t take the whole relationship thing seriously, would she get left behind? Should she really stop serial dating and finding that one guy to marry and have babies with? She did say that she didn’t really need a guy to feel complete at this point, but what if she got left behind? She didn’t want to be single at 30!

This was new. In my days, 30 was when the alarm bells rang, the biological clock went ding dong, the parents went chop chop and the friends started dropping dead (read getting married and leaving you) like flies. So somewhere in the next few years, you eventually wound up getting married.

But 24? Seriously? I feel so out of touch.

Aren’t the young people supposed to raise the bar? Change the rules? Shift the paradigm?

In my time, 24 was about career angst and how to communicate with the parental units and how to find a way to make money doing something you borderline like. These days, young people don’t seem to be wasting time pursuing degrees that are so not them (I mastered in Pharmacy, but wanted to write, at 23). So career paths are clearer, less murky and at least you are not on the wrong road. But marriage? Babies? That was nowhere on the radar at 24 even in my time.

So are we regressing or what? Will the next generation actually have babies at 20 and be grandparents at 50?

That, to me, was the revelation of the decade.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

As Good(man) as it gets

This is an old post. But I am juggling too much this week, and you can never go wrong with Linda Goodman, can you? So this is hoping that Santa brings that special someone to your life, or if there is a special someone, keeps him/her, or if there is an unspecial someone, kicks him/her out of the chimney.

JAN 10, 2009

The husband recently pointed out that according to Linda Goodman, I was the bad guy and he was the good guy in our relationship. Hmmm.. Geminis have always been presented as bright, creative and communicative, but also fickle, breezy, too easily distracted and flighty, in the era when I used to read these books. Intrigued, I googled (yes, officially a verb) the Gemini woman-Cancer man compatibility and this what I found:


A Cancerian man needs lots of love, care and attention, which is definitely not her cup of tea. She has too many interests and distractions to do this.


Gemini will bring light-heartedness and banter in the life of the emotional Cancer. The Crab is much more emotional than the Gemini and tends to be more deeply attached. Gemini, on the other hand, likes to keep everything superficial and on the outer surface.

I was going to give up when I found something positive.

He is the most loving of the sun signs and she, the most driven by her mind. If it works, it’s the ideal heart-mind combination.

It's funny how one goes through an entire phase of dating well researched, well-documented men, and finally, when you meet ‘the one’, all theory goes out of the window. Prior to the husband, most men I dated were Linda Goodman-proofed. So much so, that one dismissed the lack of enterprise of someone by attributing it to ‘being more attuned to things that were spiritual and mind-driven’, another’s phone clinginess was discounted to ‘excellent communicative skills’, a third’s self-obsession was camouflaged as ‘confidence and zest’, someone’s lack of commitment was merely ‘the-boy-who-never-grows-up’, and so on.

Life was all about making boyfriends look good on paper. Interestingly, some of these men were, according to Ms Goodman, perfect soul mates for me. I think she recommended Librans, Sagittarians and Ariens for me and asked me to stay away from Cancerian, Virgo and Scorpio men.

But here I am, with my so-called ‘moody crab’, enjoying every bit of my marriage. Especially the fact that we are as different as chalk and cheese. He likes order, I like flinging stuff around. I look at a cow and think of the mechanics of rumination. He looks at a cow and thinks of dinner. I am spontaneous, he likes planning. I dig paperwork, he runs a mile from it. I am a backpacker, he is an armchair traveller. I like fruit at room temperature, he likes it chilled. I like the corner shop, he likes malls. I am a yes and no person, he finds it hard to say no. I am organic, he is processed.

I guess what works is that we both love what we become when we are with each other. And we both love a good scrabble game. And we are still learning how to be good losers.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Talking that face away

I am still trying to make sense of three random incidents that occurred in the last two weeks


1. Went for a stand-up comedy gig where three men and a woman did their thing. I couldn’t see the woman from where I was. She was as vertically challenged as me, and I still haven’t graduated to comedy on audio mode. So will only talk about the men.

Of the three men, one was cute and the other two were.. well, ugly. If I were to be politically correct I would say their face was not their fortune, but I am not, so there, I have said it. Ugly.

There were all equally competent and funny, although one had a mike control issue, but I will discount that to men and their limited success at multitasking. But while I found myself choking with laughter at the first two, I was harder on the cute guy. It was as though he had to work twice as hard to convince me he was funny. He had to talk his face away. Eventually, I gave in. I laughed just as hard.

2. Sunday. Just back from Goa and wondering what to do with my hair that had turned to this strange thing between straw, rope, and dreadlocks. So I do the old mommy thing and slather it with oil and tie it into a plait. Bell rings. Maid mentions the name of the husband’s BFF and I am like WTF?? How can anyone come unannounced like this? That too, on my bad hair and sloppy skirt day?

Turns out he is a namesake of the said BFF. He starts off in his suave, “Is this a good time to talk to you?” and within ten seconds I know I have to sign a cheque or part with whatever money is left from the vacation (which is not much anyway). I am poised to be my usual rude self and say, “No, it is not!” when I notice he is cute. Aaaarrrgh! This is going to be tough. I find myself awkward and fumbling, and just in time, the boy walks into my arms, and I get my exit route. “I have to give the baby a bath,” I mumble. Cutie is resilient and gets into secondary suave mode, starts pulling out papers, a brochure...and asking me for an appointment.

Thankfully, the husband walks in to my rescue, notices cute boy, says, “We don’t want to be disturbed on a Sunday" and slams the door.

3. Aaron, my hot fix in Masterchef Australia is eliminated. I am devastated. Husband is nonplussed. “Ha, just because he wears a beret!”. I am like, no, he is so flamboyant, really takes chances, has great flair, and hair, a crooked smile and oooh, those glasses are so becoming.

Am I a sucker or what?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Catty with Karan

Okay, quick confession. I am hooked to Koffee with Karan. and I love the way he makes people talk about their exes (when convenient, of course. I did notice he didn’t cross the line with icy Ash)

It’s just that I find it totally reassuring when divas and celebrities display their insecurities about their exes. It makes one feel not-so-sheepish having made references to one’s own. Although it is a tad embarrassing to find that my gender is not too poised about it, whether she is Kareena Kapoor or Aishwarya Rai. Unlike print, where people get away with saying that they have been ‘misquoted,’ it’s hard to camouflage the tightening of the shoulders, the pasty-faced expression (Ash, on mention of Sallu) or the bewilderment on Bebo’s face when not-so-flattering things were aired about her from previous seasons, and the only retort she had was, “Everyone is looking so fat and flabby.”

(I did notice that Ms Size Zero (?) has hugely flabby underarms and was so not toned for her black bustier. But I am no size or fashion expert, so will let that go.)

Coming to Saifeena (yuck!), let’s face it. They are no Brangelina, yet they make each other look good. She has the looks, flamboyance, success, but lacks refinement, cerebral power, sense of humour. He has wit, pedigree, is erudite, but lacks larger than life stardom, masculinity and bravado.

So depending on which way you look at it, they are good for each other. He has given her a vocabulary (by their own admission, Bebo thought quintessential was ‘quintestinal’) she has given him the aplomb of stardom and the equivalent of size zero in a man (if there is something like that).

I guess talking about your ex on national television is one thing. It becomes harder talking about your ex’s current when she is clearly hot (I cannot imagine what Jennifer Aniston must have gone through). So Kareena chose to pick on the banal while talking about her ex and his current (like “Where does Priyanka Chopra get her accent?”). Or Deepika’s curiosity about Kat’s age/place of origin/lineage was more than evident in her desire to see her passport.

(p.s: I don’t know if it’s a conspiracy that all the stars on the show so far have rated PC lowest on sex appeal when it is in fact, the biggest thing in her favour.)

I can’t wait to see what PC’s retort to Bebo’s barbs will be. They will be clever, for sure, and unlike Bebo, PC has wit and vocabulary, even though she may not have the Heroine Number One tag (whatever that means). Her comeback to her accent bit has already been aired on promos. I like!

***

Now that most of this post has been filmi, let me outdo myself by adding my two bits on the whole Sheila vs Munni thing. Now, it might be a good  thing that that Kat is finally out of the (Khan) family bag, else, it might be awkward being pitted with prospective sister-in-law in this manner. But in my mind, the whole debate is like asking what do you prefer, cute or sexy?

Now some girls are cute, and some are just sexy. And moving from one category to another (even if one loses eight kilos, works on one’s hip bone and the toning thereabouts) is a tough one. Malaika is sexy from the word MR Coffee and Kat has always been the Barbie doll – good arm candy, but dubious on sex appeal (I know men like them dumb and preferably fair and lovely, but give them some credit). Of course, a lot has to do with styling and Farah Khan knows her angles as much as she knows her jhatkas. But in my mind, Sheila’s glitziness cannot compete with Munni’s raunchiness, so the whole polling is a non-issue.

I rest my case.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Of suitcases and toothbrushes

I hate the day before you go on a holiday. It's when the impending work looms large, as it seems as though the holiday has to be earned all over again by doing all the menial tasks that precede it. Now, I am a list-maker and am also very diligent about things I tick off the list. Why is that a problem, you might ask? The problem is, when you are efficient, you get a raw deal. You do the work. So whether it is a rice-cooker for the boy (for quick meals at the resort) or his paddle pools and beach toys or his air-pump which inflates the paddle pool or his swimsuit (checking if it still fits) or the camera and charger and roaming activation and resort confirmation and cab-booking, guess who's going to do the work? Bloody efficient me!

I wish vacations are just about showing up some place where everything that you need is already there. I am not talking gourmet meals and wine and stuff, but the mundane stuff that you have to pack and are doomed otherwise. Like toothbrushes. Or swimsuits. Or moisturiser. Or hair product (now don't tell me anything will do, you have to see my hair to believe it).  Since I am not a which-dress-goes-with-which-footwear kind of girl, so it is kind of easier for me on the clothes front. Because by the time you do all that you have to do, you suddenly think life is better where you are, so damn the vacation. But it is kind of reassuring that even Megan Fox has to pack her toothbrush. Or hair product. Or whatever. So it can't be such a bad thing.

Look at the husband. His only contribution to the vacation (apart from the fact that he is paying for it) is the following:
a) getting his leave sanctioned
b) changing his mind about dates, and getting it re-sanctioned
c) reminding me at least three times in the past two weeks that his leave might be in jeopardy
d) reassuring me 24 hours before departure that even if he might have to go for a meeting on the day we have to travel, the vacation is still 'safe'
e) offering to pack the electronics (?)
f) ignoring above offer and only packing his PSP (and charger)
g) asking me (and this takes the cake) if we have the tickets!

To top it all, nowadays there is the additional fear of your-baggage-may-go-to-Nasik-while-you-go-to Goa. Or some honeymooning couple who can't wait to get to their resort might walk off with it (it happened to us last time). So to add to my woes, I have to pack everything in triplicate.

I have started chanting.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Must do lunch

You know a scam when you hear one. In my book, “Must do lunch” makes it quite high on the list. Coming close are “Must meet up”, “Have to catch up”, “We must chat,” or “Let’s have coffee sometime”.

I have a quick detection program for such scammers. I set a date. “How about Tuesday?,” I ask. It is enough to sift the ones who want to do the work from the ones who don’t. For the doers, I’d do anything. Cook up a storm, negotiate downpours, ignore cats, travel great distances, drive on second gear, anything. And they would return the gesture in ample measure.

Which brings me to wonder why people say things they do not mean. I am not talking about the dating game or work politics or filmi interviews. But food? And eating! Why mess around with that?

Unlike, “Must meet for a drink,” “Must do lunch” is three words not to be used shabbily and without sincerity. It is certainly not like clicking “like” on Facebook which essentially comes with no set of deliverables, no call for action, nothing.

To me, food dates are sacrosanct. I find it easier to cancel on someone going clubbing than having lunch with them. And I would never suggest food and not mean it. It’s just not on. It doesn’t take much. Not a great table or silverware or French wine, just a desire to bond over food, which I find a great leveller. Unlike alcohol for instance, which sort of blurs the real issues and makes you micro focus on the idiotic ones.

I know we live in Bombay and there’s all that traffic and work sucks and no one’s getting laid, so more is the misery, but none of this is reason enough to not “do lunch” if you have proposed it. So what if you had a nervous breakdown and are busy recuperating. You still have to eat, right? Or if your dog died. Or your cat gave birth, and you didn’t know she was pregnant. Or if you have graduated from having bad hair days to having a bad hair life. Now, I mean I am not dating you or wishing to date you or anything. Just that you proposed an idea and I am suggesting how we take it further. When I want to do lunch with someone, I do something really simple. I fix a place or invite myself or the other person over for lunch, and it’s done.

So. If you really want to "do lunch" with someone, well, you just have lunch with someone. So whether or not you pray or love, eat!

Now that I’m in possession of a child, it’s graduated to “Must do play-date.” But more about whiny moms later.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kapoor vs Kapoor

So papa Kapoor is really pissed that two exes rated his beta Kapoor very low on sex appeal. What a classic! For those who came in late, Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone had a ball tearing Ranbir Kapoor to shreds on KJo’s Koffee with Karan this past Sunday. They had a BFF camaraderie even though they were alleged to be foes at one time, and spoke reams about Ranbir’s credibility in relationships, his zero style quotient, his uncontrolled libido and his bottom, among other things.

KJo, in true KJo style, lapped it all up and gave us some more. And why wouldn’t he? What’s a show host for if not to make people talk about things no one else can make them? Star World is meanwhile laughing all the way to the TRP bank, but the Kapoors (Sr and Jr) are miffed.

Now, what did he expect the ladies to do? If they rated him 5 on a scale of 1-5, it would mean that they are still not over him. If they played safe and rated him 3, they would be accused of being politically correct. Since they’ve rated them the lowest, they have been asked to concentrate on their careers and accused of not having class.

Had the ladies rated beta Kapoor poorly on fidelity or brattiness or other such attributes, papa Kapoor would have basked in the implied virility and bravado. “After all, he is a Kapoor,” he would have said. But low on sex appeal? Not on.

Even Jennifer Aniston would have rated Brad Pitt pretty dismally on sex appeal. Would that bother Pitt? Would that bother his daddy and mommy? That’s what exes do, they rip you apart when they are given a chance. So take it easy, daddy.

I guess being stuck with the ‘cute, but not sexy’ tag for decades must have taken its toll on Rishi Kapoor who finally redeemed himself with Ranbir-post-Saawariya-Kapoor. Bollywood is replete with sexy daddies and not-so-sexy sonny boys, as with non-sexy daddies and sexy lads. So Rakesh Roshan was redeemed by Hrithik Roshan, and Rishi Kapoor by Ranbir Kapoor. Feroz Sexy Khan was hugely short- changed in Fardeen and Sanjay Khan didn’t have much to redeem, so let’s not go to Zayed. Kabir Bedi was over-optimistic when he named his son Adam. Sexy Shashi Kapoor produced an even sexier Karan who chose to go the non-Bollywood way, so was out of the reckoning. Vinod Sexy Khanna hasn’t done badly with Akshaye and Rahul, who are fairly sexy too. Raj Babbar got really lucky with Prateik. As for Sunil Dutt, Sanju has been a fair hand. Dharmendra wasn’t too badly off with Sunny, until the boy needed a hair transplant, and got one. Amitabh Bachchan has been redeemed after Abhishek lost his bovine fat, got a real haircut, Ash and an Idea! As for Danny, I still have too much of a crush on him to find out what his son (if he has one) looks like.

Moral of the story: If it’s important for a sexy daddy to have a sexy son, it’s imperative for a non-sexy daddy to have a sexy son.

Now which reality show is going to have Ranbir over and charm a certain Veena Mallik to reaffirm his sexiness? Hint: It’s Big and very Bossy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lost and found

Okay, guilty of going under for a few weeks (no, Bitch Central did not get me into any trouble). I just felt like observing life for a while instead of having a point of view on it every week, and realised it is therapeutic not to have an opinion sometimes. But there is still enough bitch left in me, so I am back again.

Meanwhile, stuff happened:

People got engaged on Facebook.

People broke up.

People are trying to get engaged or are breaking up by putting it all ‘out there’

I watched The Social Network. Like!

I realised how much our state-of-mind is reflected in our state-of-walls.

The husband found out his BFF was single again. From me.

My dad won a 14 year-old property case, and is plotting to be a farmer. At the ripe young age of 72.

My FF has a whole set of new weird friends that I can make no sense of, but I am left wondering if I should say anything at all.

My only under-30 buddy was almost run over and is now lying horizontal, with his leg up in the air. The rich boy who ran him over got out on Rs 900 bail.

I got de-friended by fat ex-boyfriend. Fat. Yay!

I ran into thin ex-boyfriend. He needs a hair transplant. Yay!

My 16 month-old son has a girlfriend.

Chickwit lost to ads in HT Cafe and I am left wondering whether to turn this archive into a real blog. Which means I don’t get to disappear on you, and you get to hear all the gory details of my life, like what I had for breakfast. Or who I had for dinner. Not like!



**


Coming back to The Social Network. Okay, men do weird things to get the girls. Some paint. Some write Booker prize winners. Some, like Mark Zuckerberg create Facebook. Others, like Eduardo sue Mark Zuckerberg.

I must say I was a bit let down when I heard that Zuckerberg, who is a friend of a friend of a friend, has actually been dating the same girl since his freshman years. Now I find the whole premise of the movie or his multi-billion dollar idea – that of inadequacy and rejection— to be false. If he was in a long term relationship, where did the angst from not ‘getting girls’ come from? Unless, in Facebook parlance he was looking for ‘anything he could get.’

The husband says it’s cinematic liberty. But David Fincher is no Bhansali.

Talk to me. It’s been a while.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bitch central

Now don’t tell me, “I don’t have to read this because I never bitch.” Really now! As much as we love to deny it, we all do. It’s therapeutic. It’s de-cluttering. It’s detoxifying. It’s introspective. Men love it. Women love it. There is enough statistics out there to support high prevalence of bitching in both sexes, so no gender issues there.

But like a famous dialogue in a Hindi film which translated as, “Even if you do something unscrupulous, do it scrupulously,” I believe there are ethics of bitching. There is an unwritten code of conduct, an underlying morality to the whole thing, and hence, I am taking the trouble to write out the ten commandments of bitching:

1. Thou shall have (at least) a mental list of “People I will bitch about” and “People I will never bitch about”. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the former list, but there have to be at least five in the latter. There have to be bitching exemptions for everyone, no matter how many flakes and twerps you know in real life.

2. People from the former list can migrate to the latter, but the reverse should not be possible, unless you’ve had a major fallout or discovered that you have been bitched out royally by a member of the latter.

3. Be consistent. Pick a few bitching targets and stick to them. If they qualified in the first place, they will make sure you always have enough material. Don’t randomise your bitching, because then, no one will take you seriously.

4. Thou shall not bitch about someone and then shower accolades/superlatives about her/him the next day, even if the audience is different. You are not a credible bitcher anymore if you do that. There has to be a bitch quarantine period for things to simmer and settle down before you apply your antidote.

5. Have some integrity: which means, whatever happens, never bitch to the one you bitched about.

6. Never try and undo a bitching in haste. Which means thou shall not bitch about someone and then ‘like’ everything they say or do on Facebook soon after. Have some credibility for heaven’s sake.

7. Everyone has a bitch fatigue point, which means you have to draw the line at bitching somewhere and move on to other stuff, else you will be classified as "one who always bitches."

8. Never put all your bitches in one basket. Which means you should have different people to bitch about different things. One for work, one for social life, several for husband/boyfriend, one for family, one for miscellaneous..

9. Thou shall not bitch about your BFF, no matter what happens.

10. Though shall never bitch in writing. No text messages, no email, no social networking site; nothing that can be printed or displayed. There is nothing more crude than documented bitching. Leave it to the gossip columnists.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What Balooney!

This weekend, lust got the better of me and I found myself (alas, with the husband) at the local multiplex trying to get my George Clooney fix on a Saturday night at 300 Rupees a pop (weekend rates, but it was Clooney and I couldn’t wait).

To say that I was terribly let down by The American would be an understatement. I was devastated. My mood was ruined. I was angry enough to ‘need’ a drink. Here was the ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ brooding in the midst of obscure, un-photogenic mountains, giving you a crash course in gun-making, drinking brandy with a priest and espresso with a woman as bland as camomile tea, not smiling, not being endearingly mean, or funny or charming or wicked. Nothing that Clooney does best.

It was like watching one of those terribly arty movies where everything happens in real time, except everyone in the hall was still waiting for a twist till the very end. There was none. Nothing happens in the movie, Clooney notwithstanding. There is no semblance of plot, no distracting backdrops (Italy has never looked this boring), no back-story, no clever capers, no skin even. Okay, yes, he did some crunches in muted lighting, and there was a flash of a tattoo around the nape of his neck, but is that all? Where were the lines, the suave demeanour, the let-me-kill-you-with-that-smile attitude? And I don’t care who gave how many stars, the film is a no-brainer.

The last time I was close to this angry, it was during Kidnap, when, soon into the movie, I got sick of Imran Khan’s flaring nostrils and Minissha Lamba’s nose job and the famously overrated white bikini that never appeared. Perhaps it did long after I walked out of the movie but I can’t be sure.

Coming back to The American, I was going to say why would a producer make such an un-Clooney film with Clooney in it, when I realised that he was one of the producers too. What could this be? Celebrity fatigue? Reinvention of self? Spiritual quest? Then why not go and live in the mountains yourself? Why make us spend our hard earned money and not give us our Clooney’s worth? Why make a Clooney film without Clooneyisms?

There is a reason why Clooney exists. For the men, it’s a reality check on what they cannot be. For women, it’s a reminder of what they cannot have. For both of these to occur, Clooney has to do trademark Clooney stuff. Men as good looking as George Clooney have no business to talk their face away. So, if this was an experiment, Mr Clooney, please do not repeat it. At least for the greater good of womankind.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Stick-in-the-mud

I have had it with stick insects always whining about how they are so fat, or not 'thin enough'. Or how they look fat in ‘that’ outfit, or ‘that’ angle or next to ‘that’ person who is allegedly, skinnier than them.

For them, going on a vacation is about losing weight, as they have to look good in all those ‘holiday clothes.’ Coming back from a holiday is also about losing weight as they have to now work out intensely to knock off the 200 grams that they may have gained by eating a cookie too many, or not working out for four-and-a half days.

Now, I have a theory on body image. If you are never happy with your body, the problem is not your body, it’s your mind. Also, if you are not belly-dancing for a living or posing for swimsuit calendars every other day, neither are you a certain actress passing off as size zero, (which no one disputes as no one actually knows what size zero is), there is really no need to be ‘that skinny.’ Or is it just me?

What I don’t get about stick insects is, how come they are always meeting people thinner than them and feeling miserable? Why don’t they ever meet normal people who make them realise how thin they are?

I was a stick insect (blame it on my genes) when it was not fashionable to be one. I spent most of my teen years going to bed dreaming of filling out in all the right places so that I could be a woman instead of a girl. But no such luck for a long time. (Unfortunately, I never had any stick insect friends then, else I wouldn’t have been so miserable). And then one day, I had a decent bra-size and child-bearing hips and life was beautiful.

But what irritates me the most, other than hearing another person’s workout schedule is someone standing next to something edible and saying things like, “I don’t think I should be eating that, it’s too many calories.” Since I eat like a man, and by my homeopath’s diagnosis, have too much testosterone for my own good, my concerns are hardly the same. I just like people who eat well – man, woman, child, and most certainly stick insects.

As for the men, frankly my dear, they don’t give a damn. Dating stick insects would just mean more work for them (like sucking their belly in, or working out as a twosome) which they are happy not doing. Unless, of course they are dreaming of posing with you with a python wrapped around.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Picture-imperfect

I am single-screen and the husband is multiplex. Therein lies the biggest difference in our marriage. I am brazen, say-it-like-it-is, loud, with jagged edges; he is poised, politically correct and the epitome of well-mannered. We still work for each other, and are fairly self-deprecating, so the marriage works. But our differences come to the fore whenever a Dabangg happens.

So while I had to be me and watch Dabangg in a single-screen theatre, because the dabangg in me thinks that’s the only way to do it, the husband chooses to go the multiplex way, because there’s only so much of the real world he can take. Needless to say, I end up watching it twice, once for me and once for him.

I am shocked by the second viewing, to say the least. It is like watching a totally different film. Salman makes an entry. Nothing happens. Salman delivers his first line. No response. Salman takes off his shirt. Nothing. No one gets the brazenness of the writing, forget the nuances. Save one senior citizen who laughed at my favourite line (about the hero punching so many holes in the villain that he wouldn’t be able to tell his orifices apart), it could well be that everyone in the theatre was in a coma. Is this what happens when you pay as much for your popcorn as for your ticket? I wonder.

Coupling of today is a bit like watching a movie in a multiplex. Good on paper, perhaps good for the economy, but lacking in soul. On the other hand, people are coupling all the time, and I have seen several couples in the recent past— some cosmetic, some real, some transient — but rarely have I seen real passion, shared laughs, chemistry, repartee and a I-wish-that-could-be-us feeling. Where are the imperfections, where are the rough edges, where are the real people being their real selves?

Perhaps everything is camouflaged by the muted lighting and disinfectedness of the places people hang out in (have you noticed how few homes you have been into lately?) and no one ever asks anything, so nothing needs to be revealed. May be they are just reading too many self-help books and learning to be guarded, or maybe, like multiplexes, they have all lost their patina of the real stuff, the stuff that tells them apart.

May be I am just meeting the wrong people. Because I don’t get how marriages can be ended by deleting your spouse from your friend list and then announcing in your Facebook status that it is the end of the road? How can one fall out-of-love with someone you clearly married in your senses? How can relationships be terminated by sending a group sms (which also includes your near and dear) that you have, after all, chosen to remain friends?

But then, I am so single-screen, I will never get it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

We are family

Now that I have chosen to live happily ever after with a husband, a boy, two cats, a PS2, a PSP, a PS3 and an XBox 360, I might as well see the poetry in my life. So instead of asking the husband every time he is clutching a controller for dear life — when is he thinking of calling it a night?—I engage him in a way that doesn’t take him away from what he is doing; instead exalts his state of mind even further.

The husband has 127 saved games right now. Compute that as roughly over 2000 odd hours of gaming and you will agree that it’s a lot. Perhaps more than our relationship hours. Right, you can get the PS3 out of his life; you can’t get his life out of the PS3.

I figured early enough that if you can’t beat them, join them. And if you can’t join them, talk gaming with them. And whoever said men don’t talk hasn’t asked them questions about their current-state-of-game: What potions is he buying/creating, what arms has he collected, how many cars has he stolen, how many men did he kill today, how many times did he die today, how many times did he crash today, how many rockets did he launch today, how many aliens did he hunt out today, how many women did he meet today, how many reward points did he win today...the list is endless.

So here’s my two-bit about life, love and relationships after innumerable conversations with the husband about the world of gaming:

• Irrespective of how many games populate your shelf, there are games that get played over and over again, there are games that get played occasionally and then there are games that are bought, but never played. Each one has a reason to exist and each one creates meaning for the others.

• There is always an all-time favourite game that never loses its place to anyone else, no matter how much time passes, what other games come along and what their ratings are. Even if they are rated 10 on 10.

• The difference between an all-time favourite game and any other game is the same as the one between a girl you are really into and girls you date, but are not really into.

• When you are playing your favourite game, you never think of the other games and wonder what it would be like if you were playing them. But when you are playing any other game, you are always thinking of what it would be like to be playing your favourite game right now.

• There can never be two greatest games, no matter what. One has to tip the rest.

• Two questions will help you decide whether he is the man for you: a)What game are you in his world? b) Is that his favourite game?

I am Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Incidentally, it is ranked as the all-time greatest role-playing game in the gaming world. Sorry GTA IV. You came close, but I won.

Need I say more?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mum's not the word

It’s hard to say which one is more endearing—a tech-unsavvy parent or a tech- savvy one. For the longest time, my mother was the techno-virgin of the family, having trouble even with something as innocuous as a remote control. Till she went on her big, fat, American holiday to visit the brother, undisputed tech-whiz, and life wasn’t the same again.

Before I did a little jig in celebration of the new few months of quietude, she was on the phone. I was flabbergasted. Isn’t there something called a time difference across the Pacific? What about jet lag? But there she was, chirpy as ever.

“So, did the maid come today?”

“Mother, you are in California. Is that all you can think about?”

“I just thought I’ll check on you and see how you are doing. Anyway, I have you on speed dial and can call you anytime!”

Well, I never..

I am not a phone person. My attention span is lower than that of my 14 month-old. I can barely conduct a civil conversation beyond two minutes. If it’s official, I make some excuse of having sensitive nerve endings around the ears and hang up.

Which is why, whenever I travelled on work, and the boyfriend/husband said, “Call me”, I used to think it was a great ordeal. Call and say what? That I miss him? What the view is like from my room? What I had for breakfast? Where did we go for dinner last night?

So it turns out that the mother’s calls to me have become daily instead of once in two days when she was here. Added to which are emails which she sends from her newly created gmail account, the size of the emails having progressively grown from two lines to two paragraphs to more or less essays by now. And each email has at least five questions to be answered.

My fear is, will I soon start receiving e-cards and wall messages instead of the cute notes she writes me for every birthday, anniversary and whatnot? And who knows— soon, she may want to start skyping and doing all those weird things people do in long distance relationships.

Finally, I had to tell her that I didn’t have exciting things to report every day, so could she call, say, twice a week?

A weekend went by. Come Monday, and there she was:

“So....? What’s been happening? What news?”

Last week, for once I thought I had some ‘news’ to give her as a cousin’s wife had delivered a baby girl. She turned the tables on me by giving me a gory account of all that happened prior to the birth—complications, course of action and the status as of that hour. Apparently, in the time it took me to reply to the cousin’s message, she had tracked down his wife’s mother’s number, spoken to the new mom, the rest of the family, and generally given her blessings.

I give up. She’s now threatening to arrive with a laptop and accessories and I fear that my life is going to be altered in a strange way. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Till knot do us part

So Shashi Tweet Tharoor has tied the knot for the third time. Good work there. After a weekend spent in post mortems of four marriages (thankfully, no funerals) that have fallen apart and a fifth that has been redefined as an open marriage, this comes as positive news, although Tharoor is no distant relative the last I checked my family tree.

The said marriages analysed have always been a little too dubious for me; one too volatile, one too aseptic, one too convenient and one too strategic, if you know what I mean. They have all called it quits and are in various stages of negotiation or paperwork, but my point is, do they know what it means to start all over again? Do they really think they will get it right the second time around? Do they believe the fault lies with the person and not marriage as a concept?

May be I am a tad old-fashioned, as was the girl-friend I was discussing this with, but we both agreed that at no point does a marriage ‘stop working’, unless you decide to stop working on it.

A bit of wisdom here to people on the verge or if you are courting someone: if it’s somewhat working, tie the knot before you really get to ‘know’ the other person. Because the more you know, the less you will like.

I’m always sceptical of couples who go out for too long, before they (usually one of them) decide to tie the knot. What will you know in four years that you won’t know in four months? (assuming, of course, that you are blessed with reasonable intelligence and an acute sense of extrapolation ). Longer the courtship, more the build-up, greater the expectations, higher the chances of disappointment (two of the four marriages discussed had very long courtships)

So other than a bereavement of the spouse in early years of a marriage, I see no reason why one would want to marry again. Once is gory enough. Imagine dealing with a life-long work in progress, OCDs, bizarre sleep cycles, another wardrobe, books you don’t care about, sharing a pot, your favourite food, quilt, shoe rack, suitcases, computer.. the works. Now imagine reaching an equilibrium (however skewed) with one person and then having to do it all over again with another. Which brings me to: how different can it be the second time around? So, unless the spouse is a psycho, abusive, a terrorist or a threat to society, why do the work again?

In the husband’s simplistic PS3 logic, why would you try to overwrite a perfectly saved game with something that could be er.. slightly dodgy or dubious?

Now, some women might be offended by that analogy, but I think I know the husband enough to know that if he has started equating me with a PS3 game, I must be highly indispensable.

Touché!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

To write or not to write

I realise that being a gender columnist is more a disadvantage than I had imagined. Unlike, say, writing about B or C grade celebrities (who are always eager to tell you what their favourite fashion accessory is or where did they go for free booze on Independence day, or how busy they are not working), in my case, good material is not easy to come by and certainly not consistent.

The following has been happening far too often for me to ignore. It’s one of those weekends. There’s a bunch of friends – men and women –some married, some involved, some single, some of no specific relationship status. The alcohol is flowing, the music, catalytic, the food, capable of opening all your sensory pores and loosening your tongue. And then, something wise/witty/wicked is about to be said. Suddenly, the said person turns to look at me. “Oh, please don’t write about this..”

Woe upon me!

Earlier it was aunts who said, “Aiyyo Ramachandra, we better be careful. She might write about this.” One uncle recently told me, “I don’t understand your column these days. Please write only about your mother or your cats; that I like.” Or it was the mother’s voice, rather ominous, “Why did you have to write THAT? Now all my friends will know...”. Or it was the husband waking up on Tuesday morning with, “Am I going to get busted today?”

The fact that there are enough people out there who don’t know who I am or what I do helps. And thank god for them, else I would have never made it this far (this column will soon hit a double century).

Consider the odds. The husband has been bashed more than he can recover from, the brother is too far away from my radar, the father hasn’t been up to much lately, the son hasn’t really grown into his manhood, and male friends are always measured. Cat (female) is too alpha male and cat (male) is expectedly and consistently, a bumbling idiot. Where does that leave me?

Since we are now married with child, it so turns out that our repertoire of single friends is rapidly diminishing as they have probably found the first exit and run off. So we end up mostly with married (sometimes with child) couples and inevitably, marriage or husbands are always discussed.

But, in total breach of trust, I must share a great line a friend recently spewed at one of those orgasmic lunches (sorry, it was too good not to be reproduced). We were trying to define marriage and I said, “Marriage is about making lists of things that the other person (always the husband) is supposed to do but hasn’t.”

And she said, “Marriage is like joining the Amazing Race with one hand and one leg tied up.”

Now, someone please better that. Or give me a subject.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Productively yours

Dear census authority/formulator/nincompoop,

Eight months ago, I quit my fairly ‘economically productive’ job as deputy editor of a broadsheet to take up an even more productive and challenging assignment as mother and house manager.

The reason I did this was because even though I interviewed several candidates and organisations for the same, was willing to pay them handsome salaries, and offer them various perks and incentives, I figured that no one could do it as well as me. Perhaps they were not as emotionally qualified, masters of multi-tasking, had enough tenacity for the assignment or could withstand the hours and demands.

So I decided to hire me instead.

But maybe I had an ominous feeling that someday, I might be classified as an ‘economically non-productive worker’ by your highness and clubbed along with beggars and prostitutes in the census, whether out of callousness or just sheer ignorance. So I announced I am not doing this for free, and negotiated for a salary with the husband.

Now I had to take into account that the amount could not be more than what my employer (the husband) earned, although technically, when I computed my services, I realised I deserved to be paid more than him. I was managing home, finances, child, recreation and some. Do the math.

But I still figured I should subsidize my services for sake of the balance sheet and we agreed on an amount, which I have been suitably investing and watching grow.

The child is now thirteen months old, happy, and is in great health, physically and emotionally, doing the right things, getting the right nods and glances and generally making the parental units look good. The husband is also looking good fiscally (despite hiring me) and seems to have more mutual funds than friends in his kitty (not that the latter is a benchmark in a Facebook world).

I am now wondering if I should have defined my hours more clearly, as they are spilling out in all directions, sometimes making it difficult for me to even write this column. Should I, after an 8 to 6 shift, start filing my nails unless I am offered suitable overtime? What should be the rate per hour? I know it sounds banal, but how will I increase my economic productivity levels if I don’t factor in everything?

I think it’s time for a raise, because I feel I need to extend my contract, as I still haven’t found someone as good as me for the job. I hope my husband’s employers are listening, because I can’t get a raise unless he gets one.

And should they decide to back-check with you, dear census authority, I have worked out my own appraisal (verified by the husband and the family) and can present my KRAs and other gory details for your perusal. I read somewhere that there is a demand to compute the value of services provided by home-makers and I would be happy to share my numbers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mansel in distress

The husband is very often, a self-appointed knight in shining armour for damsels in distress. He is on a personal mission to set right any man who does not behave with propriety with a woman and always thinks it’s his business to rescue nubile and not-so-nubile nymphets from the clutches of filthy men with dirty minds and long paws. Can’t remember when was the last time someone did that for you? Well, that’s what makes him a somewhat extinct species, and you might think I would be grateful for it.

Not really, because at least in my case, the men have been the ones who needed rescuing, since I look after myself very well, thank you. But the real reason I am not grateful is because most of the time, the said damsel is happy to be in distress and so, the husband’s intervention with a threat or a shove or a “Let’s take it outside” with the said man just spoils things for her. She thinks the pawing and the getting too cosy for comfort is actually working for her, so knights like him are clearly not welcome.

In the past it was his BFF, who often got into trouble with her mixed signals and then screamed for help when the pawing began. The result was many a road block and a few broken bones. In recent times, it has been women going through mid-life crises, after having figured out that they were with the wrong guy after all, so how about a little net practice with Mr Giggolo? (a name I chose thanks to the said person’s over-the-top masculinity and signs thereof)

So while the damsels are doing just fine, the husband seems to be the one in distress, losing sleep and peace of mind trying to rescue them from men they don’t want to be rescued from and then wondering why.

In recent times, his interventions have actually backfired, because the men he took offence to, like Mr Giggolo, seemed to be the flavour of the season among his ‘inner circle’ and so, he came out looking like the enemy for no fault of his.

Ironically, one is also subjected to regular whinings from certified bimbettes about how a certain Mr Spineless did nothing whilst being cushioned in the front seat of a taxi while she was being pawed in the back seat by a certain Mr Creepy. Now why was she in the back seat with Creepy, don’t ask. Why couldn’t she just disfigure his balls, don’t ask. Why was Mr Spineless in the front seat, don’t ask. And how did Creepy get into the taxi, don’t ask.

In the meanwhile, the husband resorts to the controller, killing in virtual life what he cannot in the real one.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No telly no cry

The husband looked gloomy, as if hit by a thundercloud. I asked him if he was unwell and he pointed to the remote. “I can’t believe it. I know I forgot to recharge, but they can’t deprive me of my hard disk. My recorded stuff is mine. How can they deny me that?”

We were having a blank screen situation thanks to our satellite television subscription not being renewed on time. It was one of the few things I always mark as ‘his’ domain, so it’s no wonder it didn’t get done. What really hurt was he didn’t believe that all would be lost, but as it turned out, it was.

Inside, I was screaming with joy. So this is what life would be like if there was no telly. We finally had coffee on the table, breakfast on the table, lunch on the table. We were family! We were having real conversations, and not stolen bits when we paused the TV to warm our plates (me) or refill our beer (he).

In order to make things ‘normal’ for him, I volunteered my Seinfeld DVD collection. It worked, but not for very long. By the end of the evening, I could bear it no more, because his face had shrunk to the size of a pea and signs of self pity were writ large. I turned martyr. I offered to go to the hole in the wall despite the downpour and my nesting instincts to ‘recharge’. Aaaal was well.



***

Cut to Sunday brunch with (largely) singletons, which was a break, plus I got to meet the ex’s current and really liked her. Now, where I come from, this is more the exception than the rule (making the effort, not the liking bit) but it was a good feeling. But one thing I still don’t know how to react to is when someone tells me, “I’ve heard so much about you!”. I am at a loss and almost tempted to ask, “Like, what?”.But then, it’s tricky and one prefers to just bask in the thought that it might be good things and smile beatifically.

I realised singletondom was a bigger giveaway than being married was. Mr Adonis, parading his newly acquired Zara jacket in a near 80 % humidity situation was single. So was Ms Barbie parading her designer gumboots (there are three days in the entire monsoon when you can wear them, but this was not one of them). Or someone telling you when you leave early from a brunch to fetch a help who has been specially imported for you from the wilderness of Jharkhand, “Isn’t that really housewifely?”

If I had said, “Isn’t THAT rather singletonly?”, I would have been labelled a ‘smug married’, so I laughed breezily and mumbled something practical.

I guess the chief difference between being single and being married is that while the latter is not in a hurry to change their status, whether on Facebook or in real life, the former clicks the button the minute they so much as smell a relationship.

Sorry if that was smug, but part a) of this post is enough to burst the bubble.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mommy-go- lightly

Something is expected of women when they become mothers. They are supposed to turn into these calm, benevolent souls, anesthetized at some level to negative emotions like anger, greed, ambition, scorn, spite and other such, and instead acquire calming auras and kind bosoms that will forgive all.

No such luck with me. Although I did have some fleeting out-of-body experiences that belied my true self. So the husband is frequently nonplussed to find that my fangs are still as sharp, the mother continues to pray to her gods and goddesses to keep me calm and help me mind that tongue, the sister continues to soothe me with Reiki, the homeopath wonders why I am still keen to change the world and friends are constantly surprised to find that I haven’t lost my spunk and motherhood hasn’t changed me in a bad way.

Needless to say, I am a total misfit in mother-toddler groups where people ‘bond’ over song, dance and babies, and I always have this what-am-I-doing-with-these-women feeling. I don’t see women or individuals, what I see is a mommy blur, and what I hear is a non-voice. And then I realise how much more of all this there is to do, with playgroups, nurseries, play-dates, schools and whatnot. But the son loves my feistiness and my quirks, and flashes his million dollar smile in approval, so all is well.

I am reminded of a recent incident where my reluctant fangs were forced to be on display again. I receive a ‘to many’ email promoting a website that does reviews of mommy-baby products and is looking for "experienced mommy writers" to do them and purports to “pay handsomely” for your posts apart from showering you with freebies. I do something totally out of character. I hit “yes, I am interested.” Now I am not a freebie girl, but strange things happen when you become a mommy. For instance you buy a packet of chicken nuggets for he-who-loves-his-meat just because there’s a free Toy story toy tucked inside somewhere (which I still haven’t found by the way).

Back to the mass email. I get a reply saying that I have to send a sample review and if they approve it, I will be paid a princely sum of Rs 100 per review. Now, you will well understand why this could have aggravated me, so I will not go into that. What amazes me is the reply to my aggravation, which says that most moms do this not for the money, but for the greater good of the community, and how nice it would be to exchange information like this, and so may I please appreciate the larger purpose of the whole thing? What further amazes me is that not a single mommy on that list speaks up.

I pray for my fangs to retract. They don’t.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dear god and all that

Strange things happen when, after bashing men for four years, you actually give birth to one. For one, it almost feels like the joke is on you. And for another, you wonder if you are contributing to the largesse of convoluted, messed up, “I-have-issues”, “My-mother-did-this-to-me” men who are in queue for being rehabilitated.

So when the boy turned one recently, I found myself saying my “dear gods” with far more passion and fervour than I have ever done. So here are a few that are top of my mind.

Dear God,

1. Let my son not grow up thinking that handling a remote control device will pass for exercise. Even if he has six of them. Even if he is rocking himself in his easy chair and chomping on French fries while doing so.

2. Let him not say yes when he means no.

3. Let him know how to say no.

4. Let him not get any woman pregnant unless she really wants it. And of course, is of appropriate age.

5. Let him be man enough to laugh when it is appropriate and cry when he feels like it.

6. Let him not think that being an alpha male is about being the most obnoxious person in the group. Or the loudest. Or the one with the most trivia rolling off his tongue. Or the one who has the silliest girls eating out of his palm.

7. Let him not grow up to be one of those people who feels totally bereft when football season is over and doesn’t know what to do with himself thereafter, and so cries “Waka waka” in his sleep or worse, sleeps with his Vuvuzela.

8. Let him not think that puffing his lungs away or being the last man standing in a bar is a sign of macho-ness.

9. Let him know, and remember this forever, that he will always be a bad liar, so let him not even start going there.

8. Let him appreciate that grunting and muttering are not accepted vocabularies and that one needs to speak full sentences to convey a message. Even if the sentence is as boring as, “Can I please have some potatoes?”

9. Let him never, ever hurt an animal, because I will hurt him.

10. Let him not sit around waiting for an inheritance, because frankly, there is none.

11. I will come back to you dear God, because I have to take a break now as the son has put something suspicious in his mouth and it better not be the cat’s food.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Your friend, my friend

One of the reasons I envy men is that they have such low expectations — they are almost never disappointed. Like with the girl they thought had eyes only for them and then realised she was making eyes at all and sundry and eventually wound up with Mr Moneybags. Or siblings who don’t call or show up except when it suits them, group text when they are breaking up or making up, but knock violently for help when they are broke. Or when the BFF is going through a separation and they are the last one to know. Or when the colleague in the next cubicle is being treated for alcoholism and they didn’t even know he drinks, forget having an alcohol problem. Or when the driver announces his wife had a baby and they had no clue he was even married.

"What you don’t know cannot hurt you" seems to be the motto, and this minimalistic approach works rather nicely and leaves their head to process other important matters. Like sport. And more sport. And some more sport. And beer. More beer. And some more beer. That’s it. Their inbox is full. No more requests can be processed.

So if your ceiling is caving in or the maid has run away or the building is going in for redevelopment, well, it would be too much information for them to deal with after battling the world and its serpents at work.

If women wanted to be truly happy and blissed out, they need to start thinking like men. Rather ‘not thinking’ like men. I practised it for a while and it really worked. Except I am too curious a mind not to wonder why Mr G and Ms K seem like an item when her boyfriend is away. Or why is Mr D still throwing parties for his ex-wife’s birthday. Or why do Mr and Mrs T always walk in separately to parties and leave separately, even though they are necking each other wildly while in it. The things alcohol can do!

And then the husband claims that I have taken over his friends, that his best friends are not his best friends any more, that he never knows what’s happening because no one tells him anything. Yes, why would they? I talk to them, remember? And when was the last time you called or texted them except to exchange opinions on football?

Which is why, at the end of a hard day, men break down when having to process something as simple as their mother’s pan card while women are going on about dealing with far larger catastrophes with elan.

So maybe I am not meant to reach that Zen state where the husband is at regarding friends and family, but then who can bear the unbearable lightness of Zen?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Short term memory

A funny thing happens to some men when they get out of the game for a while. They forget the moves. They get rusty, clumsy, and sometimes, downright embarrassing. It can be frustrating for them, because the harder they try, the deeper they get slotted into ‘loser’ slots by women.

One such just-divorced friend recently got a bit out of hand in the singletons club. For starters, he hit on every woman that came his way. Then he hit on her BFF. Needless to say he is currently neither here nor there and a hitherto okay-for-now guy is now a certified creep.

I was embarrassed. I know the women were smart enough to fend for themselves, so there was no righteousness about it, neither was I overwhelmed by my current motherhood streak of being nurturing. Nevertheless, he was a friend and he was faltering and I think I owed him something. But how to tell the man that what he was doing would never get him anywhere in the dating game?

Since I am a) married and b) the writer of this column (I think the latter is more intimidating), most men do not make an overt move on me for fear of being lynched in public view. But there is always a hug that lingers longer than it should, an arm over the shoulder that applies a wee bit more pressure than required, a handshake that refuses to let go, an eye-contact that is more penetrative than required. Blame it on the post partum hormones or distilled thinking time, but I have become ultra sensitive to behaviour from the opposite sex. On the other hand, any sign that you can score at any time of your life cannot be a bad thing in itself.

Another friend who had been married even longer recently found himself in the open post divorce, and realised that the dating rules had changed. As in, there were no rules anymore. So ‘catch up with you tomorrow’ or ‘call you tonight’ had now become mere phrases that were dropped too nonchalantly by women to mean anything. It left him adrift and lost. He obviously couldn’t start where he had left off.

Marriage makes men complacent. They can now put their feet up, grow their beer bellies, stop flossing, and generally allow their pathetic lives and bodies to be re-engineered and be given some semblance of order by their women. This can take from two years to about five. By that time, they are so cushioned in their nest — which they had very little to contribute to, except exist — that now, they can’t be bothered.

Which is why men who marry multiple times deserve a round of applause. Bravo! But then, they are the exception rather than the rule. Or maybe they just fall under the tutelage of Neil Strauss and get better at the game.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blast from the past

Spring cleaning always throws up surprises—some good, some not-so-good, and some downright embarrassing. At least so I was when the husband flashed a CD labelled ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’ and asked if it belonged to me in one of his sporadic bouts of spring cleaning a few weeks ago.

Me: Err.. yes, that’s mine.
He: What are you doing with an Encyclopaedia Britannica CD? It’s so not you.
Me: Actually it was a gift from an ex-boyfriend.
He: What kind of guy gifts his girlfriend an Encyclopaedia Britannica on a CD? Sounds like a loser.
Me: As a matter of fact, he wasn’t one. He was very bright and funny and an orthopaedic surgeon.
He: Whatever. He sounds really unimaginative and dull.

I had nothing to say.

The husband has his share of demons too. Like a very gauche shirt-and-pant piece I found one day in his wardrobe, which he sheepishly confessed was a present from a prospective mother-in-law (and is now a favourite dusting cloth, however significant that sounds). I must admit, it made my encyclopaedia boy look good.

I think the reason we all have a past is so that someday, we can look back and laugh at it and feel good about ourselves. So that it will make us feel better about our ‘here’ and ‘now’. So that we feel less wretched about time spent (rather wasted) with the said person and be happy that we moved on (whether by choice or by circumstance). So that, in the larger scheme of things, we look like we got a better deal. After all, whatever anyone might say, it is about winning, eventually.

The only reason we want to ‘bump’ into our exes, if at all, is to see what a mess they are without us, how boring their lives are, and how they have absolutely no sense of style without us, how they are constantly in shallow, meaningless company, how their sense of humour has degenerated, how badly they have aged, and how well you have. And when you have a child, you try and imagine—what if the Y chromosome came from someone else—and it makes you shriek, because you can’t imagine your little one looking like anything else.

All of us, some earlier than others, reach that point where our exes go from tormenting us, to inducing a faint twitch in facial muscle upon mention of said person’s name, to downright cracking us up into peals of laughter. It’s a great feeling.

But, at the end of the day, the only thing we ever want to hear about our exes is that they are fat and bald or are married to fat, boring people who will never know what they once were when they were with us. My encyclopaedia boy scored on both counts and that makes me happy. Okay, that sounded mean, but you get my point.

Now that I have exorcised my demons, over to yours.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Four idiots

Okay, my life is turning out to be a constant source of material for this column, but in case you feel I need to address issues/peeves/idiocies beyond that, just write to me and I will address that. After all, there is only so much husband bashing that might be permissible. Competing with which will soon be boy-bashing, and then you will call me a bad mother, which is why I am offering you an open invitation.

So, there I was, not so long ago, leading a perfectly blissful life as a singleton—a job I loved, friends I absolutely dug, potlucks that were the rage, holidays I maxed out, a pad that was perfect for me— where I could find my oregano and my Season 7, Episode 5 of Seinfeld whenever I was in the mood, where plans were spontaneous and one could take off to Pondicherry on a whim.

That was then. Now, I live in boy-land with four idiots. There is a husband, a boy who thinks he is a cat, a tomcat who thinks he is the boy and a she-cat who thinks she is Don Corleone. Together, they drive me nutsidaisies. I like that word. (Note to self: use it abundantly in future conversation with said parties).

If that was not enough, there is football. Now I am not going to lament about the whole soccer widow thing, because, honestly, anything that keeps the boys to themselves and away from me is welcome. Because the thing I miss the most in my new life is me. So I will not be the one who asks the husband for some soccer compensation like a measly movie or lunch or a dress from Zara (which by the way has come a decade too late). And so, here’s my advice to soccer widows. Use this time to get you back. It’s a great opportunity.

No, my only problem with the football season, (and I fear there are too many to keep track of) is being asked to participate in the proceedings. So I am regularly given updates and statistics I haven’t asked for, asked to join in for beer and some rowdy rooting, staring at our 42 inch monster with surround sound, when I could just curl up with a book or do nothing (again, something that has become increasingly difficult to do). I don’t mind devouring cute butts on screen (or in real life) once in a while, but too much testosterone makes me sick. And then the husband blames me for not being into the game, but into the men. Well, what else will I be into, dude?

The boy, by virtue of majority, wants to be where the action is and the cats are excitedly discovering the Messis in them (give them a piece of rolled-up silver foil, and see what they can get up to) and messing up my house. That’s my life currently.

And lest I forget. Yes, Chetan Bhagat, the title for this column was indeed inspired by the movie that was inspired by your story, and unlike the filmmakers, I hereby give you due credit. Happy?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hey sista!

I feel like doing something I have seldom done before; something I am really bad at. Matchmaking my little sister. And it’s not because I am a romantic at heart or I love fix-ups or know how to go about them, but simply because that will probably be the only way to rescue her from the spate of unsuitable boys my parents and other gerrys (my short form for geriatrics) in the family have been subjecting her to. Okay folks, I am sorry about airing this in my column, but I hope this works.

After years of being the black sheep of the family, I am suddenly the apple of everyone’s eye. It has nothing to do with this column but has to do with the fact that I am now ‘respectably married’ and what’s more, I have also demonstrated that I have a womb. So much for brownie points.

My little sister on the other hand is now fighting battles that I chose not to fight, simply by running away from home and living on my own since age 24.

When I was of ‘marriageable age’ i e way before I actually got married, I was introduced to various computer geeks, financial wizards, research scientists and academic Neanderthals by the usual suspects (not that I have anything against any of the species, but it demonstrates my family’s limited vision as far as mating is concerned). All I could think of was, what would they be like in the sack,and somehow, I found the idea unpalatable each time. But how does one tell parents that? So I would use euphemisms like, “I am too strong/independent for him, he may not be able to deal with my free spirit,” blah, blah. After a point, my parents declared me over the hill and gave up, and then it was over to my sister.

What bothers me is how the benefit of doubt is never in favour of you, but the ‘boy’ or the ‘party’ to put it crudely. How he is well settled, has a good job, has his ‘own flat’ never mind if it’s in Ranchi or Coimbatore, or wherever sad people live. And how we need to make haste and not ‘delay matters any further’ because time is ‘running out’ and age is ‘catching up’ and such a ‘case’ may not come again. I almost have visions of a train leaving the station in classic Bollywood style and Kamalhassan or some such running behind it with a pot in his hand, making monkey faces at Sridevi, ala Sadma.

As for the photographs of concerned ‘parties’, let us not even go into that— it’s a whole minefield, enough to deserve an exhibit. I wonder how in the era of Facebook and candid cameras, men still manage to get shot in low angles, accentuating their gauche bodies and bad clothes, looking like they just stepped out of a kitsch gallery. Who is shooting them? Their gardeners?

So dear parents and fellow gerrys, I implore you. Just clear orf! Or show me a real man.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Before sunrise

I can finally say this. I am so done with clubbing. I have danced up many a storm, club hopped till breakfast, shared chemistry with quite a few on the floor, created a riot in my girl-brigade phase, fudged hostel late-passes, and sometimes made a fool of myself too.

Now, with two men (the husband and the boy), two cats, and six friends from the real world in tow, I feel almost smug. And slightly dismissive about the way people engage in the city, particularly when the sun goes down.

I guess the reason people succumb to the black hole of social grandeur in night clubs is because it insulates them. Even though the amount of clothing worn these days at such night outs is next to nothing, it still makes them feel more protected than say, meeting for breakfast.

It’s a minefield out there and nothing is as it appears. Singletons are busy scoping the scene and marking potential mates on their datometers. Couples with kids are eager to make an appearance again, almost with a vengeance so as to not appear uncool. DINKS are making the most of whatever they can get while they wait for their mutual funds or reproductive organs to surprise them. The married ones are revelling in the fact that they can still score and making a point of their partners noticing. Those married-but-available are actually acting on it and hoping their partners will not notice — a fact that has become increasingly impossible in an over-tagged, over-commented, over-facebooked world. Insomniacs are hoping that night blends into day, so they can begin tagging and posting pictures the minute they reach their dreary homes.

And no one gives a damn about the music or the deejay, although it is cool to appear knowledgeable about one or both. So while people down their shots and max out their credit cards, the clubs always have the last laugh.

And yet, why do people do this? Why are bars and clubs always full, no matter what the price tag? Simple. Because it’s easy. It involves no work. And once you are on a list, it’s just the comfort of numbers. All you have to do is show up. After all, how many house parties does one get invited to anyway? How many of your night-lifers will actually have you in their home for breakfast?

I know quite a few over-zealous party animals who look like complete fish out of water at home parties. Without the strobe lights and the haze of smoke machines and the ear-shattering decibels, they appear almost naked, speechless, move-less.

So , one of the first rules of dating is do not go clubbing. Or, at the very least, to take it somewhere else from there, given that you have, after all, met the object of your affection in a bar. Things look, sound and feel very different with Long Island Iced teas or vodka-Red Bulls in swishy bars.

As for romances that yet happen, well, you are good as long as you are in your bubble.

Happy happy

Birthdays and babies are like visa-not-required ports. Almost anyone has the right to engage with you to wish you on your birthday or likewise, when you are with child, and there’s no need of clever lines to open the conversation.

So it’s a free for all, including mutual fund managers, personal bankers and insurance agents, Facebook friends, cute boy in the yoga class, PR insects, or anyone in your mailing list. And everyone deserves a thank you.

I somehow grew up on minimal birthday fuss in my childhood (being a May baby meant not being able to flaunt the birthday cake the mother baked, as most of the friends and neighbours were off to cooler climes, wearing polo necks and skiing or rolling in snow, ala Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh of yore), but birthdays have been getting more and more populated as I justify my greys. Almost enough to have a ready template for replying to messages/calls/emails.

As for the mother, the husband, the siblings, the BFF, the favourite aunt and cousin, birthday wishes are a given and slighting in any way will be an unpardonable offence, so they stick to what they do best, i.e celebrate you.

But outside of that, almost anyone has a free chance to “like” you on your birthday, or use terms of endearment, everything in the past forgiven. For potential crushes or fans, birthdays are an open window in the era of Facebook. Whether it’s the wall or a message is a choice they have to make, and whether to reply or not is a choice you have to. But how can one ignore a birthday wish? It seems wrong, somehow.

For contentious relationships, birthdays are a way to tell you, “Yes, I am still pissed, so I am not going to wish you on your birthday, see!”

So there were people who were conspicuous by their absence. May be my acerbic tongue might have said something they didn’t want to hear. May be we have outgrown each other and our friendship has reached its expiry date. May be it’s a decadent relationship that has lost its fire and is not worth stoking any more. May be we are just not into each other like we used to be. May be they just don’t have Facebook or birthday calendars or phones with reminders or just a good memory.

And then there are the excuses. “Oh, no, my Facebook page isn’t showing birthdays anymore.” Or, “I forgot to put a reminder on my phone.”

For unresolved romances or relationships that haven’t had closure, it’s a point of re-entry. “Yes, I still have feelings for you. See how I can’t seem to get your birthday out of my system?”

So ex-boyfriends, new flames, admirers and fans (not that I am trying to show off but you know what I mean) can all happily coexist under the birthday radar, say their piece and leave, if only to return after a whole year.

But then, as they say, keep the good energy flowing. It can never hurt, can it?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To many

I thought one of the best things about not being part of an organisation is not having to deal with Lotus Notes on a daily basis. It was as though writing emails was a necessary evil and the most preoccupying thought while writing a mail was who do you mark it to, and in what order. It has always been a tough one for me, so I took the alphabetical way out and pretended it was the norm and nothing untoward happened, so I kept at it.

Sometimes, figuring out who stands where in the order of hierarchy and therefore in your mail is enough to give you ulcers. How do you decide who’s the recipient and who’s the cc when there is a very thin line? Do you have to cc all that cc you? Can anyone butt into a cc chain, even though they haven’t been addressed/spoken to? Does every mail have to be grunted to, even though nothing in it is of any consequence to you? As for the bcc, well, that’s another can of worms. Whoever invented it had a devious little mind and I am sure is having a hearty laugh.

May be all HR departments should conduct an email orientation to new employees explaining the fine nuances of mail protocol, because sooner or later, it will become the bone of contention.

Ironically, I am married into a reply-all family and one of the toughest things about the marriage is keeping people ‘in the loop’. I did it for a while, and even believed in the theory that cyberia is the best thing that happened to the modern family, but after a series of back-patting and wowing at pictures and things, I realised it is not my scene, so I have now left the husband to do the dirty work, which of course he hasn’t done in months.

Having said that, I am still slightly embarrassed about having mailed people to “Become a fan” of this column when a friend set up a Facebook page for me. It seemed vulgar. But as my friends and husband suggested, it’s the age of self promotion, and the whole world is doing it, so what’s wrong with it? I am still ambivalent about it, but the damage is done.

As for forwards, it’s plain lazy. And the closer you are to me, the more I hate a forward from you. That’s about it. There are mails about making the world a better place, but only if you forward it to nine other people, else you will be doomed. Then there are those about life-threatening substances in your blood or deodorant or garbage liners and how, if you don’t do anything about them, you will die in 64 days.

The joke spammers are another lot. I know funny is funny and sharing laughter is such a noble thing and all that. And there are the inspirational messages on how to be happy (while all you are thinking of is how to get rid of this person without hiring a supari killer) and what is life and love and other deep four letter words. But do me a favour. Surprise me. For once.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sheikh-en and stirred

It's funny how moving away from your immediate habitat puts you in a neutral space almost as you enter your port of take off. I have always been an inveterate traveler and to me, it is the best way to declutter your mind. You are suddenly insulated from all the stuff that gets to you, even though you are the same person and capable of feeling essentially the same things, there is a kind of distillation that happens to your thinking.

Traveling sort of neutralizes you. It’s like sometimes life gets to a point where there is too much acid or too much alkali and then you add the opposite of what it is and render it to pH seven. And strangely, all seems well. People who travel a lot will get this, and will also get the fact that it’s not where you go, or who you go with, but whether you really do.

As mother to a ten-month old, I have been strangely dissuaded from my adventurous spirit by “How will you manage? What about food?”, and other such banal preoccupations, so I figured I will start small. So with baby slung on my shoulder and a suitcase full of adventure, off I went.

So here I am, on a holiday in Dubai and for once, I don’t have any male-bashing to do. The Sheikhs with their clichéd harems actually turned out to be the gentlest men, full of charm and niceties, and having an infant in my arms seemed to have more perks than I had imagined as far as breaking lines and being driven in airport carts went.

The husband is away, and hasn’t done anything to annoy me in the last six days, the parents and siblings are also at bay, thanks to a deactivated roaming facility, so life feels quiet, and sort of contemplative.

As for the cats, their absence is not being felt that much, thanks to a resident feline seductress who goes by the name of Misri and who has a not-so-strange duvet-excavating kink that fluctuates between endearing and exasperating, but she doesn’t really give a damn.

The infant is, to my relief, adaptable, and has been so from the word go, even though he has been breathing a fairly sterile air for the last few days. He of course couldn’t differentiate between the well-manicured porcelain-faced airhostess smiling beatifically at him, and the farsan-eating, bush-shirt wearing passenger next door, who was constantly asking the stewardess for “Cock” and whose shiny watch dial the infant took a shine for. To the child, almost anyone is worthy of a grin, the only prerequisite is that they should grin back.

And before I know it, there ends my jaunt in the mecca of shopping, where, ironically, I have done more food and beach than retail therapy, and where, to my relief, no one gives you the look if you stride up and down the beach in your bikini even though you haven’t exactly been on a size zero regimen for the last few weeks. May be it’s my arm candy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oh boy!

It is politically correct and rather fashionable to say that you can’t marry a man and expect to change him. So much so that we have started believing it. But almost every woman I know is subtly and steadfastly working on her man to at least change him enough to be able to live with him. For instance: Change what he eats. How often he sorts his paperwork. What he wears. What he buys. How much he talks. How much he doesn’t talk.

For most men, marriage is the ultimate and possibly, the cheapest rehabilitation program. Let me officially rechristen it to MRP (Man Rehabilitation Program). Coincidentally, MRP in its other avatar is a trivia most men love staring at. For example, the husband examines every bit of packaging, from a tooth brush to a jar of mustard for manufacture and expiry dates. Funnily enough, my father does the same, and so does my brother, and the former even sniffs everything like a dog would.

As if one MRP wasn’t enough, most of us are on multiple ones. I am on four, since I have a father, brother, husband and son.

I know what my friend meant when I told him I was taking a baby sabbatical and he said, “No, you are not. You are making a man.”

Had it been a girl, would he have said, “You are making a lady?” I guess not, because it is assumed that unless something really untoward happens, all girls grow up to be ladies and there’s really no work required. For boys, everything is a work in progress, whether they are seven or seventy.

Most of us have had fathers, brothers or both as projects when we were growing up, and did our best to redeem them. They either ate badly, flung clothes around, smoked too much, played the television too loud, messed up the kitchen, had bad friends or were just being themselves.

Yet, we go and get married. And then wonder, how did the men get by life thus far? And let’s not even get into lousy wardrobes, bad accessories, cholesterol friendly eating habits, electronics overdose or retail junkiness.

And then some of us go and give birth to men. And then actually end up doing more work in not getting him to turn out a certain way.

Curiously, the rehabilitation never ends. And the men aren’t really complaining, although it is considered macho to whine about it in male company. But secretly, they are grateful that someone finally makes them look good.

The husband has one redeeming feature though . The love for order. On a totally superficial level, but there it is. Call it OCD or what you may, but it gives me one less thing to do. Perfect.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Woman, uninterrupted

Something happens when a stunningly attractive woman walks into a group of men and women. The pH of the atmosphere changes. Things go from alkaline to acidic in seconds and the room is not the same again. Women are visibly disconcerted and men are ridden by part-anxiety and part-curiosity.

So she was hot. And chiselled. And funny. And kind. And friendly. And well turned out, despite the bikini-top-under-black-mini, with visibly no intentions of getting into her bikini avatar (good call on her part, considering the gentry floating).

The girls at the brunch wanted to know who she was, her back-story, her status vis-a-vis the guy she was with, so that they could compute how often would they really bump into her and whether they should bother being nice, or just pretend she never happened.

The boys wanted to know if she was really ‘with’ the one she had come with, or did they stand a chance at all, considering he wasn’t exactly a Greek god.

In short, she generated enough ripples to last the afternoon, which was not difficult as the only other ripples were tsunamis in the micro-pool generated by a bunch of somewhat gauche men who had no qualms about jumping into the water in their underwear, boxers or briefs notwithstanding.

It’s a tricky thing, being hot and attractive. While it’s ok to be hotter than the lowest common denominator who could be Ms Thunder-Thighs-still-wearing –her-high-school-clothes or Ms Bad-Make-up-camouflaged-by-uglier-sunglasses, or the I-am-two-sizes-too-small-pink-top, it is technically a crime to:

a) Be a stranger in a party and be the hottest thing around.

b) Be hotter than the girl women are not afraid to call hot, because men don’t find her hot, so they are not in the reckoning anyway.

c) Be hot and nice/clever/funny at the same time.

So then, the men didn’t speak to her—probably thought she is so stunning— what if she rejects us outright? And the women seemed disgruntled as the objects of their affection were somewhat distracted.

It struck me that while people are fairly okay celebrating the average and the mediocre and thumping each other on the back, when it comes to truly superlative beauty or brains, the world prefers to stay quiet, almost aloof. I wondered why. Beauty always comes with the ‘guilty-until-proven-innocent’ baggage, and so it was for the girl in question.

The only one who was truly democratic about it was my ten-month old who approved of her the minute she played his (current) favourite peek-a-boo game and passed his test. She was excited. So was he. They bonded. She stood a chance.

She had him at peek-a-boo.

Thank god for children.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Head over heels

Dear Harsha Bhogle, Virender Sehwag, Jackie Shroff, Akshaye Khanna, Salman Khan and millions of other men who have spent fortunes getting their manes repaired.

Why?

I cannot understand what makes men (and some visibly sensible ones at that) go in for hair transplants (or weaves or whatever they call them these days).

I am sure they feel like a million bucks (especially after spending something that’s close to that), but do their women think they do?

I can understand if they have moved with their new manes to an entirely new habitat where no one knows you and you can start all over again, pretending it was always like this. But what intrigues me is walking into a party where everyone and his dog knows that it is a crop acquired overnight (or however long it takes).

I wonder who their women are, and what they thought of the idea. Did they not feel the slightest trepidation, cupping a manufactured mane in their hands, and fearing that they might damage it? I would be worried silly if I dated such a guy and worry that I might be responsible for diminishing a wee bit of that crop every day even with my gentle ruffling.

Imagine Sehwag going, “Oh, that’s fifty thousand rupees worth hair gone!” every time a girl is sweet on him.

I can still get it if you are devastatingly good-looking, like a Johnny Depp and one fine day woke up to find your locks diminishing, you may have a case for some hair-engineering. But how many men who have had hair tragedies can really call their face their fortune?

A few handy tips for men on the verge (and believe me it’s nature’s way of saying that you may have to reinvent yourself):

· No hair is better than bad hair.

· A comb-over is a sure sign of a loser. Women run away from losers.

· Shaving your pate is one way to ensure you will never have a bad hair day.

· Think of all the money saved buying hair product and going to fancy hairdressers to cut hair that barely exists.

· Think of all the men you know who have gone bald. Now think back and remember them when they had hair. Which one is better?

Over to my men. The husband currently has a decent crop, which I fear is suffering gentle erosion by a certain hat he seems to have developed a fetish for. To the point when aunts have started asking me, “Why does he wear that? Is he balding?” Well, all I can say is that the son can sure learn the letter M from the father’s forehead at this point.

The son, on the other hand seems to have inherited the luscious and curly Iyer mop, so I don’t have to worry about him, at least for now. Unless the Y chromosome takes over as the dominant gene. Or he starts wearing hats too.

But I have an unofficial pre-nup with the husband which states that the day he starts visibly balding, he shaves his crop, because I will have none of the cover-up or hair cultivation business.

Hairrrumph!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cat-a-pulted

When in doubt, bring on the cats. Yes, it’s been a while since I went into feline zone, a subject of great interest to me, more so because it is something that I can never hope to fully unravel, even after spending four years writing this column on gender politics.

And thank god for small mysteries. Lessons from cats far supercede the Mars-Venus anomalies in my world, but I am not the first person to tell you that. I still can’t get over the fact that despite my glorious cat history of two decades and some spent with cats of various temperaments, personalities, quirks and lineages, I have never come across a pair such as my current twosome who are so into each other, and yet have enough left of them for human consumption.

So here’s Learnings from Cats - Part Two:

• Everything around you is not worth comprehending. Why does the fan creak, why does the cook look like she’s had a Happy Meal too many, why do people ring bells even though they can see you sitting right there, why do crows hover around and not have the guts or glory to swoop on you, and why do they find strength only in numbers and why does the neighbour lady talk to me like I am a dog — all a mighty waste of time in the cat world.

• If he’s into me, why is he not calling me, and why is he writing on walls of random sluts, is definitely not a cat preoccupation. When a cat is into you, it makes it amply clear, no mystery there. If a human works any other way, move on.

• Saying it like it is the best policy. No point air-kissing people and then bitching them out behind their backs. On the other hand, if someone’s feet catches your fancy, by all means give them a lick, or a scrub, or a full pedicure, if you please. Rewards will suitably follow.

• Less is not more. I have noticed friends, who in celebration of their newly acquired (read starved) bodies are dropping clothes, showing off cleavage, shoulder, navel, whatever it is they can find more than ever before. It intrigues me, the sudden state of nakedness, not that I am conservative, but the fact that women think that putting their boobs on the table is what is going to get them the guys. It is so not. What’s hidden is always intriguing. And there’s things the degree of buttoning in a shirt or a stray collar bone can do that all the world’s off-shoulder, one-shoulder, microminis, cleavage maximisers cannot. Notice how a cat swathed in your favourite shirt or sheet looks far more intriguing than one flashing its belly in abandon?

• If you are not into someone, make it amply clear. This will just waste less time, yours and his. A bird in hand is only worth two louts in the bush. So what would you rather have?

• If you are gorgeous, do nothing. Or better, just curl up. Let others do the work. If you are not, pretend you are, and things will work just the same.



Miaaaaaoooow!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An inconvenient truth

Friendship is not always convenient. There was a time when you dropped everything that you did for a friend. And friends did the same for you. Now is a time when people ask you to drop by “If you are this side” or “If you are not doing anything” and making plans to “catch up” which they have no intention of keeping.

This is an age of promises, of “must do” and of “like.”

Why doesn’t anyone say, “Come and see me?” or, “Can I come and see you?” Why would I want to do anything else if you want me to do something with you? After all, you are my friend and you happened to me much before the trappings of marriage, motherhood et al.

And yet, friendship, unfortunately does not operate on autopilot and takes work. Sometimes much more than a relationship. Since most of us have more friends than relationships, it takes work on different counts. And some people are more demanding, more complex, less articulate about their feelings than others, so you have to read between the lines.

I thought I was good with the motions. I never wanted to be one of those people who ‘forgets her friends once she is married,’ so I try harder to prove myself. Sometimes it is confusing, as people still look at you suspiciously when you say, “Call any time you want to unload, or you feel like a home-cooked meal” (that much therapy I can do for friends anytime)

But when you move from the world of singles to doubles (in my case, threesome, or fivesome, if you count the cats), there is a kind of reluctance that comes in making a plan with you. It’s like you are being punished for leaving the singletons’ clan, or that you have to try harder to be taken seriously, or that you are guilty until proven innocent. I think it’s unfair.

Yes, it is about maximising, and yes there are friends who would club you with airport rides or visits to Oshiwara furniture market, and it’s not that Bombay is such a large city, but I am willing to let that pass.

It’s almost as though the motions of friendships have changed from calls to text messaging. And that’s another can of worms altogether. The instant reply versus the delayed reply. The instant call-back versus the delayed call-back. It’s like saying, “Yes, I know you called/texted, but I have a life full of things to do, so it took me time to reply.” Do people really think that an instant revert means you are just sitting around with nothing to do?

So then, there are friends I have known for decades, now all measured about putting themselves out, and I am left wondering what did I do. Why so? Why has friendship (aside of a few exceptions, and thank god for that) become political? My theory is: it’s the imbalance of life. There will always be someone who has more money, a better job, a dream house, more sex, more friends, better networking capabilities than you, but in my world, friendship has always transcended such politics. Or has it really?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mixology

Over to something shallow after all that musing over mosaic. Parties and making lists. The husband and I had one recently, and since we have less house and more people, we decided to do it in a staggered way, and round one is finally over.

Since I have lived in Bombay all my life, and the husband has been here five years, our lists are as different as our personalities, but we have some common ground that forms a suitable critical mass, so at least it’s a start. Then there are people you meet in ones or twos because they are good for your cerebrum, people you meet because they are kind and dependable, and people you meet because they know all your secrets. At things like weddings, you have no choice but to mix them all up, and the result was not too bad when we did it at ours.

But eventually, there are people you meet and there are people you party with. If your lists are overlapping all the time, you have issues. But more about that later.

When I was single, I was always struck by the insensitivity of some married couples who threw regular parties, but never bothered to balance the singleton dynamic by throwing in a few more interesting singletons of the opposite sex. There were exceptions, but I would rather not recall them. So I eventually ended up being a court jester for the gathering, until I began to insist that I take my own personal jester along, which ranged from best friend to boys I was dating, and even random acquaintances on occasion.

So now, when I make lists for parties, I make sure I balance the dynamic out. That there are equal number of singletons of either sex, or at the very least, a fair ratio.

Which is why when one of the singletons wanted to bring a date, I yielded, even though I normally don’t entertain randoms at my home. Since the operating word was ‘cute and sweet’, I was thinking of the larger good for womankind, considering there were at least four other single women in the house. And cute never hurt anyone.

But we all know the lack of philanthropy at parties. That no one who knows someone exciting will offer them on a platter to you. That it takes a phenomenally large heart to play Cupid, or open the game to competition. So, the date is actually about making oneself look good. It’s about making good pictures. It’s about making an entry. It’s about having an exit option if you want to go out partying after a conversation-driven home party. But more importantly, arm candy attracts arm candy. For example, the hotter your date, the more attention you get, the more the number of people who dig you, or want to be the date next time. It’s simple physics.

My point to all my gorgeous single friends is: you have arrived at that point where you are your best arm candy. So, way to go!



P.S. “Cute and sweet” never showed up because he was nursing a hangover, but the girls had fun anyway.