Dating

The dating world out there is a minefield. There are so many possibilities, so many disasters and worse. Even after you think the guy/girl is cute, there is the approaching them, agreeing to go out, compatibility and all that stuff.

So in all this drama, if two friends seem to be hitting it off, or if one friend is coming on a little strong to another friend – do we really have the right to warn them?

Personally, I’d appreciate a well-placed warning about someone whom my friends know is not particularly stable or wouldn’t suit me.

Here are two scenarios:

Friend A is hitting on Friend B. B isn’t particularly interested… because she isn’t on the look out right now. So she politely says no, thanks. But A persists. And persists. Till B starts feeling it is a little creepy.

What do well meaning friends say when she turns to us for advice? Giving advice, I’ve found, often comes to bite us back in the ass. Nobody complains if things go well, but if they don’t… people are looking for someone to beat up. So I try this balancing act… and wonder what I would want to be told in a similar situation.

Some friends say ‘tell him straight up that he’s a loser and you are not interested.’

While some, the romantic ones, say “give him a chance.” And I’ve begun getting irritated with those well-meaning friends recently… because you go by instincts in relationships. Sometimes, you fear getting involved even if you like the guy… and then the push is good. But when you are clearly not interested, is that push good? And how does one politely tell A to buzz off?

Scene 2:

Two friends are hitting off really well…. you introduced them. Both are really good friends of you, though in different ways. But A is more the happy-go-lucky sorts, while B is slightly the traditional sort who is trying out her new shoes. And B is also getting a few ideas. As an adult, I’d say let it run its course. She might get hurt, or they might end up together. Why should we interfere?

And then you remember the trauma she went through the last time something like this happened. You remember the sort of person she is and he is. And you want to smack yourself for introducing them, and break both their necks for behaving like idiots.

***

The point I’m trying to make – in all these confused words – is that there is no sure remedy. The most unlikely people end up together and while the perfect fit sometimes fall apart. So how do you know when to put in your two pence worth, or even if you should?

My readers would perhaps unanimously say ‘stop meddling’. But we are humans… we always meddle. Even the ‘well-meaning’ advice you gave a friend that the guy is a loser is meddling. Or advice that he’s the best guy they’ll ever find. While the final decision rests up to the person, close friends’ words do matter. I’ve often disregarded what my friends told me… or even the voices in my head said. And it is generally been a disaster.

When we are too close to the picture, we cannot see the details that mar the prettyness. We just see a beautiful, blurry tapestry.

Life is an ocean into which we can stream though different avenues. Does it matter what little rivulets we are made up of? Or what paths we flowed through and what dirt we left behind?

We all meet and cross at some point… sometimes together and sometimes apart. Does it really matter where we came from?

Where we came from perhaps forged us. Gave us those very characteristics that made us special… but does the new streams we mingle into need to know our past, our stories. It is a curious thing… because I think not and then someday I catch myself wondering why someone is the way they are. What incident prevailed to create that particular ridge in them… and so we go back, even if we don’t want to.

Should we go back? Doesn’t life really begin at the moment when we meet?

Indian Weddings

There is always some drama involved. The bride has a tantrum. Or the bride’s family has a tantrum. The groom’s family is upset. The latter happens loudly, while the former happens in the confines of a little, overcrowded room. Aunties are jammed into the little room, which generally smells of jasmine, talcum powder and stale sweat.

Perhaps the absence of all that was what made this wedding a pleasant surprise. There were no loud fights or noises. Soothing instrumental music was in the background and the gentle murmur of conversation. The green room had the smell of jasmine but nothing else. And it was also curiously empty of nosy aunts.

I found the nosy aunts elsewhere, but that is a topic for another day.

Every time now I see a traditional Indian bride, a part of me smiles. I am still not sure if that is the way I want to be married… from long experience I have learnt that such a day is everyone else’s but yours. But when I see the bride, dressed in vivid colours, sitting in front of the fire, I discover unknown cords in my heart that tug me towards that canopy.

I do not have a ‘favorite’ moment in an Indian wedding. There is generally too much chaos to ever have paid attention to the entire ceremony. What I generally see is a couple too tired to stand on their feet, just getting through the ceremony. But watching my friend finish the ceremony and walk down, I wonder if there is a curious relief in the heart that says “we are married” or “he is now mine”. Do you get that thought in your head as the sacred thread’s knotted around your neck or is it a feeling of panic?

If I had to pick a particular moment… it would be the Saptapadi. It exists in most Indian weddings, regardless of the caste. The 7 steps where the groom promises to cherish the bride forever.

But the moment I enjoy the most – the happy couple tucking into the meal – the first they share together. And the first moment of commonness they have… they might’ve hated the ceremony or loved it, they might be relieved or panicked earlier. But this one emotion – Food! Finally! – yup. There you have the common ground.

Old Friends, Old photos and Sitcoms

A tummy full of good pasta (finally!). An evening spent browsing photos and paintings. And then whiled away in a coffee shop, just chatting with old friends.

What is it about old friends that is simply so… refreshing. I actually cannot find the exact word for the ease I feel… while talking to them, or even the silence shared. Perhaps I have been around the others too long and had forgotten how it really can be. No efforts at conversation, no need to say anything and yet so much to talk about. And the ease with which you pull each other’s legs.

There have been many that are close to me… some still are and some have just wandered away. But there are only a handful with whom I never have to worry about opinions, judgements, upsetting them, ego clashes and one-upping the other. It could be simply from the fact that these are nice people. And I don’t say that because they are my friends. But they are generally not spiteful, the sort that back stab you.

Of course there are other good friends. But there is a slight disconnect, a slight difference of opinion.

After having lost friends to various things at the age of 25, I have learnt to cherish relationships. I know the effort it goes into maintaining a lot of them… but as they say, the best things do come easy. There aren’t complaints if I do not call them for a week. They call me. That isn’t an ego thing.

Or maybe just the confidence of knowing where you stand with someone. That is what lacks in most of my newer relationships… the fear of crossing a boundary. Of saying something that is probably politically uncorrect about them, even if it is true. Or of calling them too much or too little. Or of them misunderstanding your intentions – particularly in the case of a guy.

That perhaps bleeds over into my other relationships. Appear nonchalant… don’t give them too much importance… don’t call them too often… who makes up these rules? Rather stupid, aren’t they, when we are all looking at the same thing? It happens if it does. If it doesn’t… well…

***

I found a bunch of old albums – from the days before digicams – yesterday. College snaps. Ethnic day… the days when we had some extra exposures to finish… trips… oh how we have changed! Fatter, sleeker (I like to think), shinier, polished… and as… immature as we ever were. Perhaps some of us are slightly wiser but when you meet those old friends sometimes, you revert to the person you were then, along with all the… miseries and inconsistencies.

But those photos made me smile… even as I looked at myself and laughed. Oversized t-shirt on my skinny frame. French beards that were the trend on the guys. Horrible attempts to wear a sari (at least for me. Every other girl friend I had least had bodies made for saris and managed to carry them off with elan. I didn’t even own a blouse… didn’t see a point in getting one stitched for the once-a-year-event, so I wore my mom’s blouses altered. My mother does have an excellent selection of saris. But what looked beautiful and elegant on her, looked like… well, a 12-year old wrapped in a 9-yard cloth on me) My hair was super frizzy because I hadn’t yet discovered products to tame them into shape yet. I looked like a kid and perhaps, despite my know-it-all attitude, I was one.

I feel a lot more sober at 25… and older, wiser… too old sometimes. Perhaps that is why we drink… to experience the madness of youth again.

Oh I’m getting maudlin!

But it was fun going through those photos and trying to put names to some of the people in it. How could I have forgotten people in 5 short years?! *Slap*

Ironically, I ran into someone I had met in college. I had done an article on him for the college newsletter… and though his company was barely getting started then, it is a fairly well-established and known deal now. I didn’t expect him to remember me… I met him maybe a couple of times or  more. But he did. “It is a unique name,” he said when I was surprised.

It is. I am, too. But I still am surprised he would remember.

***

I pulled out my Sex N The City cds today. Remembered I had them when I was hunting for something (now that I think of it… I didn’t even find what I was looking for!). So I grabbed the first cd that came to hand and played it. After watching the movies, I am sort of turned off the whole sitcom. I used to rave about it earlier. Their dating escapades and gyaan seemed so relevant to what happened to me that particular day. But then… I got jaded.

But I played it again today… and it was about Carrie beaking up with someone and dealing with the aftermath. There it was… the rules about breaking up, the way of dealing it with.

“You take exactly half the time you were with someone to get over them. And then you repeat everything you hated about them over and over again in your head,” Charlotte says.

No no… I’m over the boy. But it definitely took longer than half the time. And I tried hard to repeat everything I hated about him but that didn’t really work for me. And the first meeting… awkward? No? I don’t know… I guess I expected to run into him a lot more often given our hanging out places were the same. I was constantly braced those first few days. Weeks. And then… it fades.

I do wish I were in touch. Friends. The whole disconnect is bizzare. But whatever…

The women do look jaded and I haven’t gotten to loving Carrie anymore. But it did make me realise I didn’t do any of the traditional break up things… no tubs of icecream, no rebound guy, no tons of shopping. Funny how things go on.

Photo of the day:

Lab Bokeh, originally uploaded by Jagdey.


Scribbles

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all honest about how we felt? Wouldn’t it be nice if nobody were two-faced, and had those horrible mood swings.

Recently, a friend of mine sent me a message – “When it doubt, toss a coin. The moment when the coin is suspended in the air, you’ll know what your heart is really hoping for.”

Truer words have never been said. Sometimes, when I’ve said I’m going to leave the decision to the world, I’ve tossed coin thrice for the ‘best of three,’ because the result isn’t what I really want.

I am tired of the guessing games, the waiting… the balancing of friends and not and everything else. Why should it be so hard? I guess what my mom says is true – it is easy. When it really is meant to be, perhaps it is easy. And the other thing that she said… if it happens, it should happen fast. You meet, you hook up, you date, you fall in love and whatever else those steps are and you get hitched. If you prolong it, it is just asking for trouble.

I’m 25 and I’m already at the ‘mom was right’ stage.

It has been a weird couple of days. And yes, I’m tired of hot and cold and guessing.

That thing called love that ties us up in knots. That thing called relationships that leaves darts in you long after it ends. That thing called a fling which you throw away so easily.

So  many names for being with a person… and so many more definitions in today’s world. It was perhaps easier in the 70s when you met someone and you were either with them or not. Now, you are friends, then you are something in between, then you are dating, then you are in a relationship, then it gets complicated and then you are just sort of seeing someone and then you move in together and then you think about getting engaged. You get engaged and then you wait again and then maybe you head towards marriage or maybe not.

Who the hell came up with all this stuff?

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

Surreal Sunday

Hey! I like alliterations. Sometimes.

Sunday was action packed. In contrast, sunday was fluid. And extremely surreal. I wanted to relax… lay back and watch a ton of bad tv. But my family had lunch plans, which meant I had to get my act together and go along. I figured I would finish up some work as well after lunch, meet friends and then head off to dinner with more friends.

Of course, by the time I made plans, it was evening and all I could get done was buy new shoes. I did manage to find the perfect “everyday” use shoes, with the right amount of heels, the right kind of heels, the right amount of comfort, in black, without a lot of bling. And dirt cheap too. Yep, it is quite tough to find shoes that I like these days, particularly as I have tiny feet and do not appreciate too much bling on my feet. Or anywhere else for that matter, but that is a different topic. The guy has even agreed to ‘customize’ some of the shoes and boots I want – I’m not sure if he was merely flirting or he meant it – but I do mean to go back and see what I can get.

But in the short half an hour it took to find my shoes, the skies had opened up. I wouldn’t have  minded a walk in the rain, except a) I had my camera in my bag. b) I was wearing a dress. A sheath at that because it was super hot about half an hour before. So I huddled in the doorway of some shop and enjoyed the rain. By the time my friend got there, she was completely soaked.

We waited till it slowed a bit and figured we’d go get some hot chocolate. Except, the cafe we went into did not have hot chocolate. What kind of a cafe does not serve hot chocolate?!? The one that doesn’t have too many customers apparently. So we decided to go to another cafe which I was sure would have hot chocolate. And not much crowd.

There is nothing more comfortable than a cup of hot chocolate in your hands, warming you up while it is raining cats and dogs outside. All we lacked was a little bean bag to curl and sleep on.

But as we sat there and chatted, my mind wandered to the little couple sitting behind us and I realised with a start that The Boy might walk in any minute. Since that minute, a part of me was constantly jittery about it, with an eye on the door.

I cursed myself and tried to pull my mind back to the conversation with my friend, but every few minutes, I would trail off. It was irritating… How exactly would you split a landscape, particularly as they belonged to both even before the relationship? Does the end of a relationship mean one of us keep out of a place that we used to hang out at earlier? The memories are there in any place I go to. Most of the places I hang out at actually. But that is something I’ve gotten used to… something I’ve gotten past.

But this… was plain weird. Did I want to see him? What would I say if I did? Finally, unable to bear this frustration further, we left in the rain.

And I dreamt of him. I guess I should’ve known I would. But it was still a surprise, particularly as I fell asleep quite early in the night as i was reading a book. It was one of those ‘the sky can fall on my head’ times and there he is – in what was a weird dream to start with.

I’ve accepted the end. So now comes dealing with the aftermath and I realise I’m as unsure about that as I was with being in it.

Song of the day: Dr.Jones – Aqua (what the hell it is a monday!)

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

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)