Friday, November 18, 2011

Mujhse fraandship karoge?

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

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

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

And then the baby happened. Things changed.

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

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

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

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

You almost wonder. Where have all our friends gone?

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

Now this is where the power struggle among couples begins.

Two men. Two women. Plenty of dynamics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The unbearable lightness of Karvachauth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why being married is like owning a cat

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bombay girl's take on the Delhi-Madras express

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

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

Here’s my simplistic understanding of the situation:

Delhi girls love the way Bombay liberates them.

Delhi boys hate the way Bombay restricts them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Win some, lose some.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

If you truly want to be single, get married

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well you can wear a jacket!”

“So, you can shed some clothes.”

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

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

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

"Ummm okay"

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

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

I love being married.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"You are not about the looks"

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

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

"You are not about the looks babe."

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

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

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

It felt bloody good!

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

Monday, August 8, 2011

Every girl should have a Dabangg friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

Someone who loves the girl in you and celebrates her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 HK, I salute thee!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

About a hat

The husband wears a hat. He is not bald or balding, neither does he have an ugly skull or dandruff or a wig he is trying to hide.  He is not trying to talk his face away (which is also interesting, if I may). He wears the hat because he likes it, and because it makes him who he is. The hat was sheer happenstance – a dancing night at a nightclub a few summers ago when a few chosen heads were rewarded with hats by the hostesses and his happened to be one. But what was a happy one-night stand for most men in the room turned out to be a long-term relationship for the husband. The hat and he were made for each other. The hat was here to stay.

It has its uses. He is of lean frame and looks much younger than his age. The hat offers many things. Age. Attitude. Insouciance. Mystery. Rank. Sometimes, a point of conversation. At other times, sheer prop powers.

Wherein all the trouble begins. I have done enough theatre to know the power of a hat on stage. In his case, the dance floor. The husband is a fabulous dancer, and the hat just takes him to another level. Things happen.  People are mesmerised. They stop and watch. Then the evil one in them thinks, “Why can’t I have what he has?” The problem begins when one of them believes that the hat can actually transform their gauche self into something fluid, fun and fabulous. Men cannot stand the fact that a married guy gives them a run for their money, so they often try to ask him for the hat, hoping it will turn them into less of insects than they actually are. Sometimes, in a suicidal move, they try to take it off his head.  Women do it too, sometimes they want it for themselves, at other times, for their men.

So every time we go out, there is a hat incident. Everyone wants a piece of the hat. Some guy walks up to him and says he wants it. Another takes it off his head in a deft move, placing it on his own. A woman sends her boyfriend to ask for the hat. A man sends his girl-friend (or boyfriend) to ask for the hat. The husband refuses. They make eye contact. Then follows a verbal duel.  The husband promises dire consequences. Some retreat, some try harder. Some get beaten.

I have no problem with the hat. It helps me play out my fantasy of being married to Johnny Depp, and I must say I know few men who can carry off a hat and the husband certainly is one of them. But what I didn’t bargain for, is that sometimes, I live more on the edge than Vanessa Paradis.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You fat? Me happy

So, you have put on, said she of immodest waist and fat arms.

Yes, I  must have. I went on a holiday, ate a lot, slept well, and didn't exercise.

She looked pleased, almost approving. The rest of the misshapen estrogen population in my yoga class also nodded in unison and displayed their collective delight at my newly acquired 'healthy body'. I call it my Rani Mukherji avatar. I am now mostly square, neck downwards. It's somewhat of a relief not to worry about body contours any more. My friends still think I am thin, although I know that I am not. I can't get into my 26 inch jeans anymore and I find myself looking at M rather than S sections during shopping. Not that I shop much. I hate it. But I have become a little conservative in deciding what fits and what doesn't, and no, I don't keep aspirational clothes that I could get into someday. I just give them away. Currently, I have less clothes than the husband, but that makes it easier to decide what to wear.

But I always wonder why women are always so delighted when someone else puts on weight and not them. Is  it because you have just lowered the bar for them? Is it because it gives them someone else to point a finger at, to deem a work in progress? I also find the same delight on women's faces when a hot girl ends up with a not-so-hot boyfriend.  Perhaps it makes them feel better for the apology-of-a-man they are stuck with.

Perhaps for my yoga class women, I was the epitome of thin and it ired them even more that I was so post-baby. I noticed that they also cringed when I got back to my pre-pregnancy size in less than five months, but never bothered to compliment me about it. That's what women do. When they have something nice to say, they never say it. Unless they are friends. Men on the other hand are far more generous in this area.

Take my hair for example. I had luscious long locks for the longest time. Yes, I got tired of it, and yes, I wanted a new look and yes, I needed a spot of adventure in my life. So I went ahead and surrendered myself to Amanda, my hair-goddess. And she gave me a new look, that perhaps is the cause for my added bounce these days. But forget telling me how good it looks, the women are busy expressing shock at how I let my locks go. Or how good my hair 'used to be'. I beg your pardon? You had a decade to tell me that! And you do now, when it's gone. Strange!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Why do men marry?

 So I am back. After a three week hiatus, some of which was technically a vacation, a rather feeble attempt at finding ‘me’ time post marriage. Okay, I am one of those people who loves travelling alone (although now, I am inextricably linked to a blooming toddler whose boarding pass still lists him as an infant, much to our collective annoyance). 

Yes, I did miss the husband when it came to negotiating luggage and trolleys, but that was about it. I guess when you’ve been single for as long as I have been and married for as little as I have been, you value the ‘me’ time even more. The boy is a good traveller, low maintenance, loves airport lounges, the outdoors, markets, parks, new faces, new food and practically everything I love, so was a good travel companion. He is also in that phase where his smile melts hearts and faces, giving me additional me time to wander, ever so slightly out of his radar.

The very next day, the husband called. Now, I have said this before, but I can’t deal with these “miss you” calls, whatever that makes me out to be. “Sorry to bother you darling, but Nadia...”

Nadia is my first born, my feline goddess, the resident slut.

Turns out, Nadia jumped out the window on to the ledge (don’t panic, I live on the second floor, so it wasn’t really danger zone), and decided to go walkabout around the perimeter of the building. The husband had, in the meantime called an animal NGO,  an ambulance and the fire department. Two hours and no interventions later, Nadia walked back into the house.

Phew! And it was only day one, I thought.  

On day two, he called again. No, actually, this time he croaked.

“What happened to your voice?”
“It’s pouring cats and dogs in Bombay. I think I have got the sniffles. Also my throat hurts, and I can’t talk much.”
How wonderful, I thought. Would that mean no more calls?
“Why don’t you talk to me instead? Should I start a course of Amoxycillin? Is it better to start it now, or wait till tomorrow, because I really really want to go to this party tonight and break it down. It will cheer me up.”

I was tempted to start a lecture on the demerits of mixing alcohol with antibiotics and the pharmacist in me (yes, I have one of those degrees tucked away under my clothes in the cupboard) was outraged at the abuse of my favourite, cheap and cheerful drug which helped me wean him off the ten-times-as expensive antibiotic that he was addicted to, prior to meeting me. Not that I am one for drugs anyway, but they help with the whining. 


Turns out he did go to the party and he did break it down with the five-inch heel types and did get his Party Hard Driver (yes!) to drop a certain nubile nymphet home and did go to an after-party too, and did feel twice as miserable for the next two days.

But the calls stopped. And I was able to get back to ‘me’ time.

And then it was time to return.

I came home to a few things, apart from a tender husband:
An Aquaguard that had stopped working.
A broadband datacard (that is what Reliance chooses to call its abyssmal internet connector) that wouldn’t work.
Random lights and bulbs that had gone bust and hadn’t been replaced.
An absconding maid.
Over-fattened cats, thanks to a thriving diet of Whiskas (because the husband couldn’t really follow instructions on how to cook rice for their fish).
A strange red feather stole, a prop from aforementioned theme party that was gifted by nubile nymphet, as a token of appreciation for dropping her home.
Unfolded clothes.
Unchanged sheets.
A leaking bathroom.
Various takeways in the fridge that had begun to provide accommodation for flora and fauna.
Toenails on the verge of curling (his).

Which is when I realised that men are innately irreversible pigs, no matter how old they are, how long they’ve been married. And however hard you may try to work on them, they go back to rolling in their own filth (and are somewhat comforted by it) the minute your back is turned.

So even though marriage is the last chance for a man to redeem himself, it is far from perfect.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Expiry date

My domestic life is falling apart. The fridge is refusing to cool, and so is the air-conditioning. Not that I have much use for either, but when you have to deal with a whiny husband whose sense of calm hugely comes from electronic devices or remotes thereof, it matters. More so when the said husband threatens to buy a new one at the drop of a hat when you are trying so hard to be the domestic financial goddess.

When I summoned the repairman for the fixing up job for the air-conditioner, he told me it was easily fixable. When probed further on whether we should consider buying a new one, since technically, it was the third repair, he told me something interesting. "What you have is an old model. They don't make things like this anymore. The new ones are not built to last more than two years, so never let go of the old one. It's always better to get it fixed."

It made me look at relationships of today and why they are so fragile, so fractured, so volatile. Why it takes so little to call it quits and move on. Why we can never have the marriages our parents had, however imperfect they might have been. And why the over-communication has actually led to a communication breakdown.

Moral of the story: If you have something old, never let it go. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mix and match

 Two nights ago, when I decided to put in an appearance at someone’s bringing-in-a-birthday thing, I saw something that got my relationship goddess antennae pop up.

So. There was this boy and there was this girl. And there was great chemistry. At least it appeared so, when they moved on the dance floor. Their bodies swayed in unison, they looked great together, they were the same body type (trust me, it is a big deal). They were both pleasant, poised and charming, or least that’s what I could gather upon employing full lung power to make conversation amid the din of the night club (or whatever they are called these days).

I nudged the husband. These two should be together. They will be good.

I think these thoughts all the time. About how X would work so well with Y. Or how certain couples would work better if they swapped their partners. Or why A cannot see that B is not the girl for him. And how B would be so much better off with C.

The husband hollered back. But he is dating Ms Jumpsuit. And what chemistry are you talking about? They are only dancing.

Oh nnnnoooooooo, I said, in the manner of my two-year old when he is trying to express disapproval at an object, an action or a sound. Ms Jumpsuit and he looked so wrong. Not that it was about aesthetics or anything—all people that feature in this story were equals in the looks department—but I have a theory about people who work and people who don’t. My relationship barometer is pretty much the same as my food barometer. Anything that looks right is usually right, and anything that does not look right usually is not. I tried explaining this to a roommate more than a decade ago when she was blinded by love to a certain young man. It does not look right, I said. But I am in love. I can feel the ache, she said.

They went ahead and got married. They were divorced before their second anniversary.  I guess sometimes it takes less than a rock or a marriage to figure that out. Others are just unlucky. In any case, there are no wrong guys and wrong girls. Only wrong relationships.

So I started probing about Ms Jumpsuit, and as usual, people were free with their opinions, only the strain of hearing them made me absolutely certain that I needed new ear drums. But I was bent on doing my research and I am very diligent in matters of the heart. Or the libido. So, one birdie told me that yes,  jumpsuit and the bloke were dating, on and off, but that he was really messed up and that jumpsuit only made matters worse.  Jumpsuit also sulked royally throughout the evening, much before her date was moving with the said ‘other girl’ and apparently, doesn’t like to be seen as an item with said bloke, and doesn’t like to be tagged in pictures with him around (people talk a lot more when they think they cannot be heard).

It was a complete no-brainer according to me. I wondered why Mr Floor wasn’t moving on.

But I am still foxed how the husband could not see the chemistry between the aforementioned that I was talking about. Men are usually daft about these things, sometimes more so when they are married.  I wondered, in this age of deafening music and totally non-conducive to conversation hangouts, what else is there to go by?  

Should do a Dr Hitch and tell the bloke that he was wasting his time with jumpsuit and that he should make a play for Ms Moves? I also wanted to tell Ms Moves (although I just met her) that she should do lunch with Mr Floor just to figure out if the chemistry works just as well in daylight, when the bodies are across the table and not in a simulated spooning position. But I didn’t. If I see them again, perhaps I will. If I meet them in a scenario where I could have a conversation that didn’t involve exploding lungs.

I feel like a fixer all over again. May be I should start a relationship portal. I have the initiative for both, but not the continuity of purpose to see it through, the quintessential Gemini that I am. Not that I am using my birthday as an excuse for not posting. It’s just too hot to write.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A few good men/women

A single-again friend of mine recently remarked that it was easier to spot a good tiger than a good man these days. She was just back from her tiger-reserve holiday and basking in its after-glow, having spotted a few tigers.

Never mind the fact that her chances of spotting a tiger were far higher in a tiger reserve than in the city.  Or the fact that she had actually travelled a few thousand miles and spent more than just a  few thousand rupees in order to be able to spot them. (Something you wouldn’t do to spot a good man).  But good for her, I thought. What could be more exhilarating than spotting a tiger on a holiday, never mind that they were just home, and you just happened to pass by?

 When I thought about it, I figured this whole ‘good-man’ vs ‘good tiger’ analogy didn’t really work and is a bit of a no-brainer. Here’s why. Imagine if the contrary had happened. Let’s say she hadn’t spotted any tigers. The argument would have still worked. “It’s as hard to spot a good tiger as it is a good man,” she would have said, and all her girl-friends would have nodded in unison.

Which brings me to the cliched ‘Where are the good men?’ and how sick I was of hearing this phrase when I was single.  Now, I don’t know what a good man is, but for that matter, I don’t know what a good woman is either. And don’t tell me I am a smug- married talking,  because I find that the dating scenario hasn’t really changed much since I was single. The women are still hanging out in their comfort zones, with their single girl-friends, gay best friends (GBFs), asexual work buddies,  married friends and their over-protective  (sometimes philandering) husbands. And then they whine that there are no good men.  How many times have you invited a single girlfriend to a brunch or a random-clubbing night and she has showed up alone?  How many of your single girl-friends have done stuff out of character to spot the ‘good men’ that they never seem to spot in their daily lives? How many of them, for instance have travelled alone, joined a zumba class, a Wodehouse club, a film-appreciation workshop, tai-chi or gone speed dating, just for a lark?

Not that too many men do it, but they don’t whine as much about the lack of women.  Okay, I am not taking sides here, but you know what I mean. Men on the contrary are flabbergasted. They are constantly told that there are more good women than men out there, so the few ‘good ones’ are at least hopeful of finding one, but are usually disappointed. But instead of whining, men do what they know best.  Watch television. Drink. Watch football. Drink. Watch cricket. Drink some more.  Hang out with their buddies in the hope of ‘spotting a few good women’. Drink. Because it’s been ten minutes and no one is making eye contact at them. And when they can’t drink anymore, go home or to the nearest couch and pass out. Sometimes, they don’t even remember that meeting a ‘good woman’ or at the very least, spotting her was on the agenda when they set out for the night.

It’s no wonder that seldom do the twain meet.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Relationships and fiscal bottomlines

My buddy R was over a few days ago, and he has never looked so ‘in the pink of health’, despite the fact that he had broken a leg not so long ago and was still recuperating. I asked him what the secret was, adding the cliched, "Is it love?"

"Mad or what!" he said.  "I haven’t stepped out much in the last few months and I am not dating either. I just realised how much being single helps your bank balance. I have never had so much money in my account!"

He had a point. The thing is, when you are on the pull, you have to be seen at the right places, doing the right thing, hoping the right people from the opposite sex will notice you. Plus, you have to eat the right thing, drink the right thing (eating vada-pav and drinking nariyal paani  and going for a walk on the beach doth not a date make, although it looks good in films like Chhoti si baat). Sometimes you have to offer to buy a round of drinks, (or worse, shots!) to impress a certain someone. Not to mention having spent enough on self-grooming—a good haircut at the very least, some cool, yet not over-the top clothes. Having done all that, you have to be able to spot a suitable someone you might want to chat up, and then that suitable someone will have to want to chat you up too.  By the time you call it a night, you are a few thousand rupees poorer (at the very least) and may or may not have scored. So over to the next outing, and it all starts all over again.

Even something as low-involvement as a movie date sets you back by a couple of  thousands. Think weekend. Think gold class. Think nachos and popcorn that cost as much as a starter in a decent eatery. Think water that could well buy you a pint of beer. Think transport to and from the multiplex and drinks pre and post movie. So much for holding hands or at best, a snog.

Single (though not by intent) women, on the other hand, are constantly shopping. Being seen in the right clothes, bags and shoes takes their mind off their sexual bankruptcy to a large extent. In fact, too much retail therapy is a dead giveaway for dubious-state-in-relationship for a woman. And more often than not, she ends up being disappointed with the men she is on the verge of dating, because they still haven’t recovered from their fiscally viable singledom, in fact have begun to enjoy it.

Marriage on the other hand, is good economics. You save on rent, petrol, random socialising (having to score is no longer a priority) you spend less on takeways, you share domestic helps, drivers, etc, and you start SIPs. Of course, the minute the marriage is on the rocks, your credit card bills shoot up again. A friend of mine who is going through a separation seems to be spending absurdly on makeovers, clothes and shoes while her other half is spending it all on alcohol. Clearly a no-win moneywise.

Dating is an equally unviable stage, and the shorter it is, the better. People in relationships for several years are a perennially broke lot. They shop way too much, drink way too much (how else do you hang out all night long), buy too much stuff, and then borrow to pay their credit card bills, get too many manicures, go on too many getaways. Plus  there is the added pressure of having to buy expensive gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, valentines and whatnots (who was the twerp who came up with expensive gift = true love). If they ever get to the point of getting married, they are in debt again, because by then, their finances have cleaned out doing random shallow things.

Which is why I increasingly notice people of undefinable status hanging out in groups of total randoms, pretending to have a great time. It insulates them from having to flash a date or spend (they could well be nursing a beer all night), it increases the probability of scoring, it gives them an easy exit option, should the night not work out to their favour. Plus, there is no pressure on making serious conversation, and the whole night could go by with just a few words like “No way!” or “What are you saying?” or “How cool is that?” while shaking your head and totally escaping eye contact.

I guess times are a-changing. When you have more Facebook friends than real ones, you also pay a price for it. The price of make-believe. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

And then there were mums

I have never thanked Chickwit enough since I became a mother. It is the one place that still allows me to be me, without fearing a mutiny, a PIL, or worse, voodoo, every time I post something.

In the four-going-on-five years of Chickwit’s existence, I have taken on the beau (with unfailing regularity), the husband (who thought graduating from the beau would grant him immunity, but alas), various friends, randoms, the mother and other family, assorted annoying singletons who still write I miss you on other’s walls,  the Kapoors, the Khans and other Bollywood insects, Tiger Woods, Chetan Bhagat, Raj Thackeray, Shashi Tharoor and some. But all has been well so far. No legal notices. No major hate-mail. No significant outpourings on my wall or comments page. No threat to my life.

But ever since I started my other (mommy) blog exactly five months ago, all hell broke loose. My enemies multiplied. I started receiving hate mail. (One of my fellow bloggers told me that it’s a good sign). The blog was for pure reasons of documentation, but mostly for a good laugh at the way things were.  I didn’t think I could do motherhood without laughing at it. Plus I didn’t want to burden Chickwit readers with mommy stuff (and I know a few of you don’t mind it, but I have to look at the larger good, even though I am, as the mommies believe, a mean person).
I noticed two things:
  • Mommies have zero ability to laugh at themselves or their children. Mostly.
  • Mommies get very very angry if you do. Always.

Interestingly, the same mommies are totally okay making fun of their husbands, neighbours, in-laws, family or other animals. I wonder why.

I am not good at writing commandments of motherhood. Or ten places to take your child this summer. Or ten things to do to make your child stop picking his nose.What I am good at is telling you (if you ask me) that the only way to get ‘organic' cow’s milk is by buying a cow and milking her yourself. I was being funny (you know that!), but mommies take offence to the fact that I proposed such an impractical idea. So every time I make fun of a learning toy, over-obsessive parents, bald babies, bullies or gauche birthday parties, the mommies are thinking (or saying),What if someone did that to you? So do it, bitch!

The only person who has been a Zen factor since I turned mommy is the boy, even though he does have annoying traits of various members of the family as a rule of genetics. But I can deal with that. As long he doesn’t sue me any time soon for defamation or some such.

Sorry to burst the bubble for some of you. All this ethereal motherhood bliss is crap. Mothers are a very militant lot. Most mothers I’ve met are dour, angry, irritated or plain frustrated. If they are not any of this, they are plain boring. With a few exceptions, and you know who you are.

So every time I need a fix for my funny bone, I still count on my singletons. Like my beauteous, supremely intelligent and wickedly funny friend Tasneem who said, Mommies have every right to be militant. Mommies are like Osama Bin Laden with more facial hair.

So I think it is time to announce, like Shobhaa De once did, I am a journalist. Speak to me at your own risk.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

So far and yet so near

You know you are truly married when it’s hard to say ‘I miss you.’  

The husband has been away for three days at a scam fest (sorry, ad fest) and will be back tonight, so I write this in a hurry.  Through what seems to be an act of some divine pact betwen the ‘misser’ and the ‘missee’ in these situations, the misser calls the missee with some regularity (in this case, once or sometimes, twice a day). Not that I am complaining, but it seems somewhat expected of the missee (me) to say the aforementioned three words to the misser (him). Which means the missee also has to pretend to be the misser. O, whatever!

Unlike most people who fake it and say the fateful three words with a great degree of nonchalance (I am sure some of them mean it too) to their significant other, when they are away from them, I don’t. I can’t. Say it. To anyone.  I have explained this to the husband, who is still learning to deal with it, but I am sure it strikes him (and many others) as odd.

I don’t miss people. Or places. I remember all the times I have been away, and there have been plenty of those, and the calls back home (whether to the mother or the husband) have always been more of an obligation than a need. I am in the here and now, so flashbacks seem like a waste of time. May be the homeopath was right. May be I do have too much testosterone.

Marriage is full of motions, and saying that you miss your partner when he/she is away is one of those. Although I have come to terms with many others, I am still grappling with this one. I also think the true test for when you love someone comes when the person is away. It gives you the objectivity, distance and space to examine your love, to nurture it, feel it all over again. If you still have through the ‘I miss you’ motions, you never get the room to do it. Makes sense?

So yes, I had three days (going on four) of life without the husband. It felt strange to have a house to myself again, although said house is populated by a baby, two cats and a maid. But the point about these are that pleasantries are not expected and it’s a ‘to each its own kingdom’. It is liberating. The boy is just happy to have me around and speak without being spoken to, the cats are in their own hidey holes, waiting to be excavated, feeling a sense of calm that the paranoid cutlet who is always worrying about them running away is actually away. As for the maid, she is a girl after my own heart. Efficient, pro-active, and likes her silences.

The one thing that was truly liberating was that I didn’t have to act excited about a 42'' (television, what else?). There was less garbage generated (what’s with men and garbage?), easier to plan menus (the husband likes four vegetables, so I made all the rest in the vegetable kingdom in the last three days), read the paper and grab the pot without having to make a dash for it.

I think marriages should come with a built-in contract of one partner being away at least a few days a month (I would bargain for a week). It feels good. It gives perspective, objective. I have a friend who is constantly whining that her husband is never around (he is a pilot) and I wonder what her problem is.

Tomorrow, it will be back to business and choosing from four vegetables again. I am already plotting my getaway. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Feelings? You must be kidding

These Mars-Venus jokes are really getting to me, or perhaps I am getting old or undergoing a sex change, as my homeopath once insinuated (You have too much testosterone in you!). Okay coming to the point. After a semi-adventurous journey cross-country (actually north to south Bombay) last week, I found myself in a mid-week date with the husband at the Comedy Store. The beer was cold, the blokes were funny, it was 50% off for ladies that night, I could see the performers from where I sat (which is a big deal, especially if you are as small as I am), and for once, the husband didn’t get heckled. So far so good. 

Then the second stand-up comic went ahead and spoilt it all by saying something stupid like ‘Women always like to talk about their feelings’ and that ‘Men actually like it when they have to sleep in the other room’.  He said it like it was some huge gender revelation, and the blokes looked at each other like a big secret was out, and chuckled. 

At the risk of marital harmony, let me just say here that the said bloke is clearly living in another era. Or he is just dating his mommy. Of course we don’t need you to talk about our feelings.  What are our girlfriends for? The maximum we need from you are  ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers. Let me give you an example.  Which of the following is a woman more likely to say to a man:
“Do you feel like going for stand-up comedy tonight”
“What do you feel like doing tonight?”

Go ahead girls, write down twenty others.

Asking a guy an open ended question is a death-trap, because it will just open the door for whining, or listing the nincompoops they have to deal with at work and how they are so dog tired by the end of the day that all they want is a beer and the remote control. How totally unpredictable! I would have never guessed that!And no woman ever asks a man what he thinks of her dress or her haircut or her haiku. Even if they do, dear blokes, it is only out of politeness. 

Coming to sleeping on the couch. Now who wouldn’t like an entire bed to themselves? Of course we are positively delighted that you are sleeping on the couch. We just want to know in advance.

I wish could rewrite the damn Mars-Venus books, because you know what?  It ain’t like that at all. Or maybe all the men have applied for citizenship to Venus.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Zoheb Hassan, where art thou?

I was struck by a bad bout of nostalgia yesterday. I went to this garage sale, where I spent an obscene amount of money on CDs, DVDs, books and some toys for the boy (yes, real toys, for the real boy).  One of the CDs was a Disco Deewane- Star combo. Does Biddu still ring a bell? 

The next few hours were thoroughly entertaining for the boy as his mother transformed into an 80s disco icon, bouncing around, crooning away till he buried his head in shame.
24 hours later, I am like a love-struck puppy, wondering what became of my adolescent crush, Zoheb Hassan, brother of the more famous Nazia Hassan of Aap jaisa koi and Disco Deewane fame, the boy who made me graduate to denim and checks, the boy who made curls look cool, the boy who looked cool grooving with his sister, the boy who knew exactly how to tuck his shirt in, yet make it look like an accident, the boy who should have never turned into a man.  Ideally speaking.

Nazia-Zoheb happened when my brother and I were on the verge of adolescence (at least I was). We were finally bonding, sharing our friends and had just got our first TV, a Keltron black and white.  Both of us, armed with badminton rackets (our pretend guitars), dressed in denims and checked shirts, our sleeves effortlessly rolled up, shirts tucked in or loosely knotted at the ends, would bellow Tere kadmon ko, choomoonga.. or Mujhe chahen na chahen, never realising that they were the most inappropriate lyrics a brother would ever sing to his sister.

Funnily, Nazia was who I wanted to be when I grew up (she made two plaits look cool, which made me feel better about mine) and Zoheb was who I wanted to marry. So what if he was her brother? I could still be her while having a crush on her brother, right? Wonder what Freud would have said to that?

Ironically, Nazia died of cancer around the same time that I was going through a tragedy queen phase of my life, confused about men, career and what to do with myself. It was a sign for me, no less, and I decided to pick myself up and get on with it, be grateful for what I had and find my new life. I was still too depressed to find out what happened to Zoheb, lest it was revealed that he was lolling about in Spain or some such with an exotic beauty, while I was still grappling with a bad-hair life. It was pre-internet times.

Yes, I know that today, the internet can vomit 20,000 or an equally monstrous number or pages on the said person, but I somehow don’t feel right to stalk someone I fancied in a non-internet time through the internet. It feels wrong. 

Do I sound suitably nuts? Well, it is one of my virtues. So I guess, I will keep wondering for a while and wish for my current phase to fade away and for my mind to get over-populated with other inanities that I don’t really care for.  Like Katrina Kaif’s wardrobe malfunction or why can’t the Kapoors get over their Nargis fixation or what happened   at the 19th fashion week of the year (yaaaaawwwn!) 

Because, to me, Zoheb Hassan, like most unadulterated crushes of adolescence is best left unvisited.

But as I was dancing in abandon for my son last night, I missed my brother, and our badminton racket-guitar phase, which continued right through most of Rishi Kapoor’s capers. So this summer, when he is down for his annual visit (the brother, not Rishi Kapoor) from sunny California, I am already plotting to re-enact our simulated guitar performance (perhaps with real guitars this time, not that I can play one, but I can definitely afford it). I am sure my boy will be delighted. Perhaps embarassed. But at least he will have a story to tell that can begin with, “A long, long time ago, when television was black and white....”