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.