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Archive for October, 2009

There is a first time…..

Posted by Sowmya on October 24, 2009

…for everything. For me, this is the first election that I did not vote. I have been extremely sincere every time –be it the Lok Sabha or Assembly polls –to go and cast my vote. Most times, my family and I were the first people in our polling booth.

But this time, since I am not in Mumbai now, I did not vote in this year’s Assembly polls. Feels horrible! Really! I can hear all you cynics out there saying – what’s the point? What are we going to change? Whoever is voted to power will do the same thing and ruin the nation, etc etc. But as a citizen of a democracy, it is my duty and my right to vote. I should cast a vote and pay my taxes. I know my vote may not make a difference and my taxes probably go into the deep pockets of those who I vote for.

But I perform these duties with the hope that some day, someone will change all this. It may be me or someone else but I know it will happen. Don’t ask me how. I have no clue of that. But some day, during my lifetime, I shall be proud that I unfailingly played my part as a citizen and am seeing it pay-off well.

But if I delve deeper into the issue, it’s kinda confusing. I am patriotic and all that. I love my country and am proud of it. Though I realize that there are almost 30 states and few lakh square meters which we call India, my country is Mumbai. Somehow my patriotism seems to be confined into that tiny little island. I do think of India as my country but what I discover now is that though I have a vague idea and feeling about the rest of the country, India, to me, essentially is Mumbai. Whenever I have lamented in the past week or so about my first no-show at the election booth this time, I am told that I should not be voting for the Maharashtra Assembly any longer but for the TN government formation.

Ideally, I should. But a part of me votes because I care about Mumbai and what happens to it. I believe that ‘Amchi Mumbai’ has a right to decent facilities and proper infrastructure. Sadly, much as I try, I do not have any similar sentiments for Chennai. The patriotic fervor in me does not rise when I speak about Chennai. Delhi may be capital, Chennai may be home town but when I shut my eyes and think India, it is the 8.43 local and BEST buses along with the choking traffic jams and Gateway of India which come to my mind.

On paper I am patriotic. Hugely! I am filled with sarcasm dripping words for my NRI friends and relatives who, according to me, have abandoned their country when it needs them most. I am filled with pride for each and every achievement of my country in any field. I abhor the general jingoism surrounding Indians abroad because I believe they belong to their country of residence and it cannot be classified as out ‘India’s Achievemnt’ in any way. But am I patriotic in the real sense? If I was, then should not Chennai’s water and power problems make my heart bleed as much as Mumbai’s overcrowded trains and potholed filled roads do? How different am I from my NRI cousin who has settled abroad?

Am I guilty? Of what?

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Hitchhiker’s Guide to Arranged Marriages -Part 3

Posted by Sowmya on October 20, 2009

Concluding Part to this series……….

So, like I was saying, after all the screening which would easily put the Indian Idol and Roadies to shame, the parents finally select a guy who is suitable to be presented before their daughter dearest. Then starts your roller coaster ride….It all really depends on how much you like a roller coaster…..fear or fun is yours to choose.

SIXTH STAGE -Meeting the boy
Yes! This is it. Though there is no assurance that the first guy you meet will be ‘The One’ but you do go with the hope that it should be so. Typically, what happened with me was that my parents gave my mobile number to his parents who in turn passed it on to the guy who then called me, usually, at the most inappropriate time and sweetly asked, ” Right time to talk?”. I had half a mind to scream, ” Nooooo. I usually always work at 11 am on a weekday and right now I am sitting with my boss and his boss and this is SO NOT the right time.” Instead I grin sheapishly at my bosses and excuse myself from the conference room and talk to my Mr. Probably Right. Why? Cos I have a mother who can take such stuff very seriously and I was strictly instructed to drop everything and talk to the guy as also agree to meet him wherever and whenever it is convinient for him irrespective of the fact that I may have a movie booked for the same time or that I have to travel half the world to reach where he tells me. So this much I did. Talk, that is, not miss my movie. I maneuvered around that one successfully. Always.

So Scenario 1 -Only boy meets girl

This happened at Barista or CCD mostly. At one point of time in life, the Barista guy near my place was bewildered to see me every sunday with a new guy. But he was nice enough to give cappucino the way I liked it.  So the review starts from the time of arrival. How late / early was duly noted and reported to their respective parents and used against the other party in case such need arose. Actually, my evaluation started from the time I spoke to him over the phone. I had my first impressions ready before meeting the guy and kinda knew how friendly / conservative / funny / chilled out the guy was. On most occassions I was proved right. The guys were just as they seemed over the phone. Moronic mostly. No offence but I was appalled by the frequency of wierdos in my matchmaking scene. Half the reason I agreed to an arranged marriage were my brothers (own and cousins) who are absolutely brilliant with a very good sense of humor and amazing conversation skills. I figured if the rest of our tribe was even half this good I could make do.

But hell no! It seemed like I was brought up with the creme de la creme of the Iyengar clan and most others were nuts. Maybe there were smart guys but I did’nt meet any. So it doe not count.

Most guys I met did not watch movies / surf the net / go out with friends. What is the probability that all the loner Iyengars were queued up for me? Couple of them were even gloating about it -‘I am a loner. *smirk*’ I ran.

Others rated very high on the MCP scale.  ‘You can do whatever you want. As long as you take care of my parents, our home, our cat, neighbour’s dog you can do anything you want.’  I was so elated on having found such libertarians. Grrrrrrrrr

Still others were huge fans of keeping score. ‘So how many guys have you met? Did you not like them all? Did you like anyone? Where did you guys meet?’ I wanted to wack them right there and say ‘ Rememeber to tell the next girl you meet that you were wacked by me.’ Alas! I coul not do that.

One guy I met at around 11 a.m. I had woken up around 10 and had a very heavy breakfast. He was all chivalrous and asked me what I would like to have. Since I was full (extremely) I politely declined. He kept asking and so I was forced to explain my late breakfast, etc etc. He still did not relent. Our conversation went something like this –

He: So what are your hobbies? Eat something…..

Me: No thanks. I love to read, blah blah……

He: Which is your native town? Eat something….

Me: No thanks. I am from bgkfdhgkfngkl

and we went on like this for about an hour. Somewhere in the middle of all this I had a neembu pani since this whole chivalry was getting on to me. But my really heavy breakfast prevented me from indulging him any further. Then he started his next tirade…’Have lunch please.’ I was ready to run.  Then he goes….

He: So what do you think are your negative traits?

I find this question very silly. Everyone loves themselves the most and what appears negative to me may not be the same for you. But questions have to be answered and so I picked the first words which came to me.

Me: Hmmmm I am lazy, an introvert and sometimes stubborn.

He: Oh yes! You are stubborn. Inspite of what I said, you refused to eat today!


Yeah! It takes such kinds too to make the world.

Scenario 2 -The guy’s entire family and its aunt meet the girl’s entire family and her aunt

Such situations generally are hillarious. There is some superstition that ‘an odd number of people should not come for auspicious occasions like ‘girl seeing’. So the visiting party consists of guy, his father and mother and some obscure relative just to make up the numbers. Such relative usually thinks of this to be a great honour / responsibility and takes it very seriously by asking insightful questions to the girl. Sample this -‘So how do you travel?’ ‘How far is your office?’ ‘Which school did you study?’ and suchlike. In case it was tough to procure an obscure relative the accompanying member to the trio is an apology. ‘ You see, there was no one else. What to do?  We tried to get my sister’s husband’s brother-in-law’s second cousin but something urgent came up in the last minute and she could not make it.

We have done this a couple of times too. I was never comfortable with my extended family having detailed information with regard to my guy-evaluation techniques and hence  we took an apology along.

The initial half hour or so is spent in exchanging background information like which village / seer / etc the 2 families belonged to, how many brothers and sisters did the 2 sets of parents have and how many of them were in Chennai, how many retired / retiring this year and how many children each one of them had. I have 6 aunts and 3 uncles with a total of 18 cousins. You can imagine the fun, especially if the other family was equally matched. The basic purpose was of course to find some common friend / relative through whom an independant background check could be done. I let this part of the conversation go over my head and instead watched everyone’s expressions / reactions and smirked to myself.

The guys in such a scenario usually scrutinized the tiles on my floor and I smirked some more. The next stage was the one I found most irritating – ‘Checking out the house’. I had a fight with my parents before every guy and his family visited us. What was the necessity to take them around our home, especially my bedroom. I felt it to be such an invasion of privacy. But my parents never listened. On the very rare occassions that my parents forgot, the visiting people would either hint / ask directly to be shown our home. So it was either –

Mother of Guy: (looking around) So how many rooms do you have?


Father of Guy nudged by Mother of Guy: Is this the way to your kitchen?

Me: (Grrrr! That is the main door through which you entered and shall soon exit)

My Parents: Oh please come and look……….

Procession starts –

Mom: This book shelf was my daughter’s idea.

Mother of Guy: So nice! So nice!

Me: (Grrr! Mom, not again. It does not take much to select one from a pile of books)

Mom: These pots were painted and decorated by my daughter

Father of Guy: So pretty! So creative!

Me: ( I do pity you sir. What my mom did not tell you is that those pots are about the only creative thing I have done in these 20 something years of my life)

Then was the snack time. One sweet stuff and one farsan type with either coffee or juice as preferred.

After which my dad would address the guy -‘Why dont you and my daughter go to her room and talk?’

 And for what happened next, refer to Scenario 1.

But I do remember this particularly funny incident. When Dad, as usual, suggested to the guy that he and me could go to the other room and talk, the guy freaked.

Dad: Why dont you and my daughter go to her room and chat up?

Guy: No, its ok

Me: (Eh???? WTF)

Dad: Errrr. No no. Its fine. Please.

Guy: No. No. I dont want to go

Dad: Its absolutely fine. Please feel free to talk as much as you want.

Guy: No! No! I have nothing to ask her

Me: (*smirk* *smirk* Dad, this one is done for!)

Dad: (desperately) Please go!

Guy’s Mom: Come on! You may have nothing to ask but she would. So go and talk to her

Guy: Ok

I don’t have to tell you where that led to. Absolute rejection. But my bro and me had an amazing time guffawing over him.

Well jokes apart, I hope you enjoyed this and picked up something useful. All I can offer by way of advice is this –

Never commit to anyone on the spot. Even if the guy asks / pesters you for an opinion, tell him its a HUGE decision and you would want to think it over.

Be prepared for your meeting but not overprepared. I mean, don’t go with a checklist and stick to it and fire away questions like a stress interview. Think of what points you would like to cover, your expectations and your non compromisables. Steer the conversation the way you like without being too rigid about it.

Go with an open mind. Chat up with him / her as you would to a new colleague / acquaintance.

Remember everything you spoke and discuss it with your sibling / parent / friend. A different perspective always helps

Try to meet up atleast a couple of times before taking a decision. If that is not possible then remember one thing -When in doubt, say NO.

Hope you had fun reading this. I had an awesome trip down memory lane. I’ll try and add bits as and when I remember it.

Ciao! Have fun 🙂

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