The Concept of Love

When you think of two people being in love, it is usually the image of a pretty girl, a cute guy and lots of pretty stuff around. Advertising and stereotyping has entered our sub-conscious.

Somehow, all the love marriages and the people love images were associated with cool couples. The Deepika-Ranbir, Bipasha-John kind of people rather than the more demure… Nandita Das and whoever she is married to. Even Das is easy to imagine as a celebrity but the normal people… your neighbour with the frizzy hair and the bad teeth, the short guy who you see in the elevator everyday, the woman who’s incredibly huge… you never think of those people in “love”.

My mind (yes, i feel really shallow) somehow assumes that they will eventually get married to someone their parents pick and because tradition requires it. I’m sure they have crushes and stuff but I never think of them as being in a “relationship”.

Recently, a friend of mine posted pictures of her honeymoon on Facebook (where else!). They were in rather gorgeous places and most of them with her and her husband hugging each other and looking at the camera. There was a subtle shift in me – one, because I had never known this friend to be physically demonstrative with anyone. Two… it was just bizzare.

You take someone who has been very reserved, not the sort who talks much to guys, the sort of person who wouldn’t even hug a friend goodbye… and you try to picture them cuddling with a guy – the brain sort of fries.

But there they are, in the gorgeous backdrop of Nepal or wherever, hugging each other and smiling blissfully in the camera, happily in love (touch wood!). She isn’t the sort who would wear the sleek and sexy clothes, the perfect hair and the great pair of sunshades… yet, when I see them in the resort with a bunch of other people like that, they fit.

Why do we have such stereotypical ideas of love and couples in our head? A relationship is with anyone that you connect with, which is hard enough.

This brings me to the movie “Honeymoon Travels” which completely ripped apart the concept of a honeymoon, as well as what a couple should be.

You had Ameesha Patel as the typical bubbly, over-dressed, talkative Punjabi, with a similar guy. The sort you don’t particularly associate with a love marriage. You had the posh couple of Sandhya Mridul and the guy – the sort you have the image in your head – but who turn out to be a complete dud. And the KK-Sen couple who fall somewhere in between. And the classic Shabana Azmi-Boman Irani pair – the people who fall in love in their 60s.

And they are all on a “package” as opposed to my classic idea of honeymoon where you are alone with your guy.

There really isn’t a point to this post I guess. I’m just trying to understand why we have these stereotypes in our mind. And it works the other way as well. Sometimes people just assume that the well-heeled girl is on a date or with her boyfriend when she’s with a guy and being friendly. She is supposed to be ‘fast’ and ‘modern’ hence she dates. Nobody thinks she is in love either. She is expected to be at the other end of the spectrum, without a heart, without feelings and just because she is also physically involved with the guy, it is assumed that is all she wants. Of course, this rarely applies to the hunk (hypocrites again!)

But it is still accepted that she is dating as opposed to a girl with bad hair and in a salwar. She is dating too… but the clothes make the perception and the reaction all too different.

Link of the day: Little People: A Tiny Street Art Project

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Friends Forever

Dedicated to Tsu.
Good Luck.

Being citizens of the net world today and software, we are used to separation. A close friend in US, another in France and another in Japan is nothing unusual. There are emails, there is skype and video conf. You don’t even miss the saturday night drinking session, thanks to video chat.

Yes I am used to my best friends living far away.

Yet, in the past couple of years, I carefully steered myself away from relationships which moved. The ones that already had were fine but I wanted friends here, the ones who would come over at 3 AM for something, the ones you could catch up for a movie or a drink or mere silence. Most of us were settled around here and the ones who left didn’t count.

But now, after a long time, when a good friend is leaving for another city – a city which is barely an hour fly time away – I wonder about the impermanence of relationships.

I know we’ll be friends (or maybe not – forever is a long time) because we would want to. I am not much worried about the distances driving a spike in this relationship… but I wonder, in today’s world of change, where are those relationships that stay by you? Or has the definition of such relationships changed as well?

My uncle and aunt have friends that stretch back to 50 years. They still get excited about meeting an old pal from school. Short distances were long then. My uncle’s friend who lives in a town about 100 kms from here – a couple of hours drive at the most – stays over for a couple of days when he ‘comes to town’. They talk about the weather and the news, but when they sit there in silence, you see that friendship born of being together for long. They perhaps have not been there are every crisis the other one did. That is something perhaps of our generation… speed dialing a friend and removing them from the friend’s list when the friend doesn’t reply… but there is a solidarity which completely surprises me.

I perhaps have that… otherwise there would be no way to sit in a cafe, drinking coffee, whiling away time and chatting nonsense. Those hour-long phone calls simply would not have been possible.

And maybe when I’m 70 and in a rocking chair, I’ll realise what set apart these relationships from the other fleeting ones.

But the one truth of my generation – it isn’t the distance that kills a relationship. It the lack of intent. And any place is only a flight away.

Song of the day: Vitamin C – Graduation (Friends Forever)

Marriages

About 10 people I know have gotten married in the past 6 months. I have 5 ‘wedding clothes’ in my wardrobe now. And as more people enter this minefield, I hear  more stories… and more questions…

1. Do you change your surname after your wedding?
I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve heard this question. In the 80s or perhaps earlier, it was accepted that the girl would change her surname. But now, it is a debate… Every time a friend asks what I think about it, I merely shrug. I wouldn’t change my name. But that is what these girls said as well… and now they wonder how it would be considered…

My mother didn’t change her name but years after her marriage, she had to do it because people just assumed that her name was followed by my dad’s name. Rather than deal with the hassle of getting the name on the cheque changed everytime or the legal documents or whatever else, she now goes by both names.

My sister on the other hand, changed her name. I don’t know if she ever did it legally as well but all her email IDs and cards read her name followed by her husband’s name.

Is it really a loss of identity? Or could be considered a changing of identity? In today’s world, should it even be called a changing of identity or merely an addition to the roles you already play?

I hate the thought of changing my name or even my address. I cannot even remember how many places my name and address would have to be changed. Plus, considering my profession, that would be splitting my identity. Oh and not to mention the legal hassles!!!

2. Own place?
I thought this wouldn’t really be an issue anymore… but apparently it still is. Parents are more accepting of this, but only if the house is overcrowded. Indian families hang onto children and everyone else like leeches sometimes. I can see a clear line between those who get their own pad and those who don’t (and are even okay with it).

I just wonder – wouldn’t you want the independence and the fun of having your own place? Yes, it involves cranky maids and waking up at 6 AM to get the milk perhaps but it also involves decorating it in any crazy way you want, having friends over at all crazy hours and without having to explain their craziness to your parents or worse, in-laws;  just that space to breathe…

***

Okay marriage is a minefield and I do not even want to think of all the issues that are involved in it… least till I’m forced to enter that land.

But what about relationships? A new relationship… how much do you let yourself be immersed in it? Can you ignore friends and your life? Would you sit hour after hour with your boyfriend and his friends because you want to spend time with him, when you can’t really follow the conversation and though you love to talk, you can’t talk much because it is stuff you don’t connect with?

How many compromises would you make for a relationship? It is a juggling act, as I’ve been learning… between you, the tug-of-war between what you want, you and him, you and friends and friends and him…

Song of the day: Paint the town red: The Hotcakes

Moral Policing

8 hours of sleep in 48 hours and only now i am feeling the impact.

Well, I did actually feel it at work and for a moment when I was watching The Book of Eli (review coming up soon. What was Denzil Washington thinking?)

I have just begun to realise how crowded Bangalore is. There is no private space unless you have your own apartment. Plus, the people all around are judging or just extremely curious. Or am I just beginning to realise that as well?

It isn’t like other countries have a lot of places for couples – there are the traditional parking spots but the main difference is the easy going attitude. A couple seen holding hands or kissing doesn’t attract attention. A couple merely parked on the side of the road and just talking doesn’t have the cops banging on the windows hard enough to break it. What the hell is this moral policing?

It is the 21st century where women in India wear bikinis and have relationships. You have Emran Hashmi kissing every woman who is halfway willing on the big screen. And everyone else is doing it as well. But is this fiction portrayed by the silver screen or does it filter down into reality as well?

I guess it is does in a watered down form. You can walk around holding hands… nobody notices or comments. You can even probably hug. The rest.. nope.

I was at a restaurant today and it was a chilled evening. A basketful of fish and chips, a drink and a cricket match on and the boy. Midway through the conversation I noticed a guy at the other table staring at us. I wondered why. There were other couples in the place… maybe we stood out because I am still really conscious about the whole couple bit. Or maybe we were the only people in his line of sight. But it was getting annoying, especially when you are chilling out like buddies.

And right then, the boy asked if this staring occurred in other countries as well and that is when I realised why dating in India can get annoying.

Most of them live at home, with parents, where the thought of dating someone is sheer taboo. And even if they do agree to let you date, the physical part of the equation is completely out of the question. Which explains why you see hand holding couples sitting behind bushes in parks and movie theatres.  I always understood why they did it but the absurdity of it all strikes me only now.

I feel irritated if I catch people staring at me. Maybe I am more conscious than other couples. All that stems from a need of my own place I guess. But the rest of India is used to the space problem. You learn to mentally build a block around yourself and your gf/bf. I had stopped noticing these people… unless they were heavily into something, which I would’ve noticed in any country in the world.

But now I wonder if everyone treats it the same way… morality is a strong line here.

A friend told me about the time when she was parked on a roadside with her boyfriend having a serious discussion. The restaurants were too public and there were no parks open at that time of the night. Cops came banging and she had to do a lot of fast talking to explain that they were not doing anything “indecent” nor was she a hooker.

The cops in Bangalore seem to have a superiority complex. They come and shoo my car away on an empty road at 10.30 PM stating I am creating a traffic jam, when I’m just waiting for a friend to come back from a shop. They harass young lovers, the auto people and every one else. Of course, it is a chain and it filters down but right now all I am concerned is – why the hell is there so much moral policing? Why do people stare at young couples and hand holders? why are couples forced to find private niches in public spaces?

should we have a government approved parking zone? Ha right! the cops will be there hourly to make hafta collections. Simply because kissing or holding hands is against the culture of the country which has temples decorated with sexual poses and that came up with the world’s only scholarly essay on sex.

Summer is inching…

It has been hectic. Waking up and working like normal people do leaves time to do nothing else. Plus my body is still catching up (or rebelling against) with the time, so I struggle to wake up, head straight for the bath where I boil myself awake and gulp down whatever mom puts in front of me before I rush out.

When I return, it is all I can do to keep my eyes open till I manage to eat something.

And dating in the middle of all of this. Dating wasn’t meant for people like me… I like having my own time, doing my own thing. It is nice to have someone “there” for you, someone who is obligated to take your calls and all that jazz. But that works two ways and I’m not sure I can be that unselfish. It is all roses when I am with The Boy. It is only when I am alone, the voices creep in. The voices which question my decision, and make me doubt if I can last through this relationship.

Perhaps it would’ve been easier if I had fallen in love first… would the heartache been easier to live through the guilt of being with someone? And I am being shallow. The guy already has a disadvantage because he does not match the image in my head. You know… the smooth, sophisticated, well-traveled, chisled bone face guy. Yep. Shallow. Why did I agree to date him then?

Because I like him. There is something that pulls me. And ofcourse, you got to admire the guts it took to come and tell me what he did tell me. And the fact that he does give me all the space I want… which again makes me hesitate to make a move, because I am not sure what he wants. There is no easy way out of this. Carpe Diem.

On other news, the little break during the day helped things I guess. Put some things into perspective – like how i am absolutely not cut out to wake up early and all that jazz. And that I do  miss work – I always knew that but the past few months had made things a little queasy. Now, I wonder how it will be to work those days again. There is the interest, the excitement and all of that. And that old desire to do bigger and better things.

The photowalk is still pending… that whole day where I do nothing but take photos – of people, of places, of things… whatever catches my eye.

I haven’t got time to do anything else… I wonder how normal people manage these things. My friends – whom I used to bitch never got time to meet. Yes, i do juggle things and still socialize but it is an effort now. And I am tired so I am not all the ‘wooohooo’ sorts. which makes my friends wonder what is wrong.

And I’ve been reading so much that there is an information overload. So now I know something about everything and have no idea where I read anything. But I did rediscover http://www.thevigilidiot.com – which has awesome cartoon strip reviews of mostly Indian movies and a few Hollywood ones. Sarcastic and hilarious.

Does anyone know interesting, funny blogs? Lemme know! The intense reading is frying the brain cells. Or it could be the heat… and it is March yet. Dreading the months to come!

I’ll update all the opinions about the serious stuff soon. There is plenty brewing.

Song of the day: Made in India – Alisha

Life No Longer Makes Sense

I worked during the day for the first time since I began work. More than than perhaps… I woke up at 7.00 AM for the first time since I left college.

The streets were still a little empty and the harsh summer sun hadn’t begun to boil the air. It felt good being back on the bike after such a long time. And it all added to this slight sense of unreality about the entire thing. I’m living in a slight sense of surrealness combined with paranoia. Or valid fear, depending on how you look at it.

By afternoon, there was the euphoria combined with the sense of unreality. Time moved fast and slow. I just do not get a grip on things anymore.

And that is perhaps also how I missed my best friend’s wedding.

I knew I would not be able to make it for her wedding but I knew there was a reception that I could attend but between the various shitty things that i’ve been doing or avoiding, I completely forgot about it. I hadn’t got the invite so I forgot about when it was either, and had no clue about where it was. And this is the sweetest of my friends 😥

And I thought of it today when she called really upset that I did not turn up. And it was only then I realised that i had not got the invite with the address. In this age of e-address, she wanted me to see the pretty invitation card they had designed. And I figured she would be too busy with her wedding preparations to actually check her emails or attend to calls so I never bothered to do anything more than send a message asking when. I figured she’d reply when she’d the time and forgot about it absolutely.

And I feel absolutely miserable to think about it now 😦 The precious day of her life and I was not there because I could not get off work. It would be too fussy to ask for more leaves to go… and I was absorbed in something I cannot even remember about that I forgot to follow it up. How do I ever make up for these moments that will never come back?

It kills me to even think of it!!

And today I receive two more invites in my inbox and I’m wondering about them. I know I shall probably not attend those events… but it just reminds me of the one I missed and I just hate it.

Life is just… gone weird on me.

Song of the day: I don’t want to do this anymore

Married

In the past 15 days, 3 people I know got married. It felt a little surreal and I’ve not gotten used to the idea of all these people being ‘married’.

But I was going through the photos of Facebook and see the broad smiles on their faces. And that makes me forget all the smart comments I had. They are happy. Maybe they are fools or in an illusion but illusions are way better than reality right? They were distinctly different ceremonies… but the charm, the vibrancy of an Indian wedding can never be captured elsewhere.

I guess this is where life begins on a different path. Before the spate of weddings is over you’ll be getting invites for baby showers, naming ceremonies, first birthdays… buying a house… more kids and such things.

Whatever be it, I feel strangely at peace with it all (now how much do you want to bet somebody I least expect will tell me they are getting hitched and the confusion starts again).

Song of the day: Mehendi Hai Rachne Wali – Zubeida (one of my favorite movies that never really ran)