April 2, 2013
“You’re still the same!”
“You haven’t changed one bit.”
“Tu kab sudharegi? Shaadi ho gayi hai. Ab tho sudhar ja!”
I get this a lot lately. A lot of my friends, family and acquaintances are rather surprised by the fact that marriage hasn’t changed me one bit. It’s as though they expected a new person would emerge out of that marriage hall, someone with a halo above her head. As though my personality would undergo a sea-change just because I’m tied to another person for life now. People, that beauty parlour that I went to for all my pre-wedding facial-scrubbing-waxing-what-not-ing was just to beautify my exterior. They were not offering any personality development/change services. Not that I would have taken it, even if they had.
So why is it such a surprise that I’m still the same old person who you’ve all known and loved and accepted for the past so many years? Forget the surprise. What kind of a change were you expecting in the first place? No no, this is not a rant. I’m just confused. I just want to have a better understanding of this. What did think would happen? That I would suddenly stop being loud and garrulous? That I would stop wearing jeans and skirts and would suddenly emerge wrapped in sari only? That I would stop making non-veg jokes? That I would keep a check on my sarcasm? That I will not start dancing in public places when I hear a catchy tune? That I would stop being a drama-queen? Dude, I’m married. I have SO much more scope for drama, now more than ever! And by some quirky twist of fate, I got married to a guy who not only tolerates all this drama, but actually encourages it! So in reality, it’s his fault. Really. He says he doesn’t feel the need for a TV because I provide all the entertainment that he requires- Dance, music, cinema, drama, sex, violence (Err.. I kinda like biting. Let’s just leave it at that, ok?), comedy. And all this in high quality sound and picture! Man, he should be paying me a monthly cable-bill, right?
But really, does marriage necessarily change a person? SHOULD it bring about any change? I don’t know. I honestly don’t. While my core personality hasn’t undergone a change (What? I’ve been like that for 26 years. I can’t just change overnight! Give me some time. Like, my whole lifetime), there have been a few alterations. Enhancements, if I can put it that way. The changes may not be visible to the outer world, but within you, you know some things are different. In some way or the other, marriage does change you. Like-
a) I’m a much calmer person now. I used to short-tempered, losing my calm at the drop of a hat. I’m not so bad now. And it’s not because my husband has had a calming effect on me. It’s because HE tends to lose his calm at the drop of a hat. So I’ve learnt to hold mine. At least one of us needs to be calm, right?
b) I’m better at confrontations now. I’m really trying my best to open up about a problem, instead of just bottling up everything and letting it fester. I’m more willing to talk about an issue and find a solution for it. And you know why? Because men JUST CANNOT TAKE THE HINT. They cannot understand what they’ve done to piss you off (alright, alright. It’s not their fault ALL the time). You HAVE to spell it out for them. They can crack the IIT entrance, they can be IIM graduates, they can go to the moon, they can be leaders of the country, they can be CEO’s, they can write books, they can cook, they can take the trash out-they can do anything and everything. Except understand women and how their mind works. Sad, but true. So it’s up to us women to make them understand. Because let’s face it, how long can you continue to sulk, expecting them to remember what they did to piss you off two days back? A good chunk of your life will go into this. So girls (married or unmarried), remember. You need to tell them what they did wrong. When they ask you “What did I do?”, they’re not being defensive. They genuinely don’t know. They honestly did not think what they did or said was so earth-shattering that you would sulk about it for two days. When you say “Nothing, I’m fine”, they actually believe it. So if you’re not fine, don’t say you are. You’re just going to lose a good few days over it. Trust me. SPELL. IT. OUT. FOR. THEM.
c) You tend to stop thinking in terms of ‘I’, and start thinking in terms of “we”. We need to buy a dining table, we don’t want a TV. I don’t know if this is good or bad. It’s soon for me to tell.
d) You do tend to become a bit more responsible. The decisions that you take, you tend to think it over many times, because it’s not just you alone anymore. Your decisions may affect the other person’s life too.
e) You tend to start worrying if your period is even a day late. Actually, this has got nothing to do with being married. But the difference is that along with you, your husband also starts worrying. And you have someone who is bound by the law to put up with all your PMS-ing. Ha ha. Marriage is so cool, I tell you.
f) You start checking out for furniture and home appliances as opposed to clothes and shoes. Or maybe it’s just us. :/
g) People stop asking you "How're are you doing?", "How's life?" Instead, they completely forget about you and ask "How is your husband?", "How's married life?" Pfft. I don't like it. I don't like it at all.
These are some of the things that I can think of right now. But essentially, as a person, I haven’t changed much. Like I told one of my friends, I never gave anyone any guarantee that I’ll ever change. Na- ah.
I just realised that I didn’t share even a single wedding pic with you guys. So here are some.
And that's Acha, Amma and Chech. My support, my life, my everything.
|And so we were pronounced Husband and Wife.|
|What? It was MY wedding reception. Obviously I take centrestage. We did a li'l flash mob kinda thing. This was part of that. :)|
|Like I said, I haven't changed. At all.|
March 20, 2013
Have you heard of this movement called Nude Cooking? No? It’s ok, don’t beat yourself up over it. I just invented it.
So in my head, Nude Cooking is this movement where women across the world take to cooking in the nude during a few months every year (March to June, to be precise), not as a form of protest or anything, but for the simple reason that it’s too freaking hot to wear clothes in the kitchen. Frustration due to any collateral damage like oil-splattering etc. will be duly taken out on the husbands.
Yes, you guessed it right. The heat in Chennai has finally gone to my head. My love for cooking is slowly going up in fumes, thanks to the heat and humidity. I don’t even have to switch the gas on sometimes. Even if I’m doing baking, I’m sweating buckets. So imagine the condition while making rotis.
I HATE SUMMER! Except for the mangoes. And you know what’s the worst part? It’s still only March. L It’s only going to get worse. I try not to step out of the house much during the day, venturing out only to go to the gym and dance class, and the occasional trips to the supermarket. And I carry my trusty John’s kuda with me everywhere. I still haven’t recovered completely from my Goa tan yet. My skin is not ready for a Chennai tan.
Summer used to be fun at one time, during school days. Because of summer vacations. Damn, I miss school, just for that. For me, summer vacation used to be at my late Acchamma’s (Acha’s mom) house in Thalasherry. Two months of lazing around, devouring mangoes by the dozen (from the lone mango tree in her garden, planted by my dad years ago. Till date, the best mangoes I’ve ever had), eating kallumakai (mussels. Damn, just thinking about it is making my mouth water), among other things. But Acchamma’s signature piece was her homemade grape wine. Sigh... prepared and bottled months in advance, it would be ready for serving by the time we arrived. She would take it out with a flourish that only one who has spent hours toiling in front of an old-fashioned wood-fire can feel. Acchamma lived a simple life all by herself in that old house. She was a fiercely independent woman. She had this tiny little box TV that had only the Doordarshan channels, and she was very protective about her TV. So she used to ration it out to me and Chech. Which was good in a way, because we learnt to spend summers without a television. That’s when we used to read the most. Ah, the endless summers spent in the company of books. Acha would fashion cricket bats and balls out of madal (what’s it called in English? The stem part of the coconut tree) and oala (leaf of the coconut tree). And then in the evenings, we would go to Acha’s school, which was just across the road. His old school, with the HUGE playground and the gulmohar trees.
Acchamma passed away in 2005 March. And along with her, she took our summer vacations. Sadly, I don’t even remember the last summer vacation I spent with her. Once Chechi finished school, it became difficult to match our holiday schedules. And then, as happens with all of us, we grew out of it. We preferred to spend our vacations in the city, with our friends, ‘hanging out’. Trading succulent mangoes for dry popcorn at the movie theatre; grandma-made grape wine for fanta orange at the shopping centre; kallumakai for pizzas and burgers; the rickety old wooden bench in Acchamma’s front verandah for plastic chairs at the shopping complex; bedtime stories for late night television. I wonder if my kids, and kids of the coming generation will have as fond memories of summer vacations as we had... I seriously doubt it. They will have great memories, sure. But not of the same kind. Not of the mangoes-from-the-lone-tree-in-the-garden-homemade-grape-wine-roasted-cashewnuts-fighting-to-watch-TV-stealing-milk-powder-from-her-cupboard-inventing-games-because-there-was-no-TV-plucking-flowers-for-the-puja-room kind...
How is the summer in the rest of the country? Please tell me it’s bad. Please let me get some sadistic pleasure out of it. Please please pretty please.
March 3, 2013
The cupboard was a mess.
“Oh god... I married a slob”, Shalini sighed. She didn’t know where to start. But start somewhere, she had to. She had to make space for her own stuff till they got a new cupboard.
She started pulling out some of Amar’s clothes that were lying in a crumpled mass and put them on the bed. “How hard is it to fold the clothes!”, she muttered. She folded them all and put them back neatly, utilizing the space properly, and making space for her clothes.
“Ok, so that’s done!” An hour and a half later, she had managed to make the cupboard look like a civilized person’s. She then moved on to the smaller wall-cupboard and opened it to see whether there was anything in there to be that could be trashed. One look at the shelves and she knew it was a lost cause. “Forget it. I’ll deal with this another day”, she said, closing the door.
And that’s when she spotted it. In the small shelf where Amar kept his toiletries. A small tin of talcum powder. She looked at it for a few seconds, wondering whether or not to pick it up.
But without even picking it up, she knew what it smelt like. She knew the fragrance. The subtle whiff of sandalwood. He used to use the same powder. For her, the fragrance was synonymous with him.
Him... wow.. she hadn’t thought about him for quite a while. She hadn’t had the time, frankly. It had been a crazy few weeks. But that wasn’t the only reason. She had tried very hard to shut all thoughts of him away. It hadn’t been easy. There were days when the pain and the hurt had got so intense, it hurt her physically- a dull, thumping ache in her heart. She could actually feel it. Wasn’t it better to shut away someone who had caused her that much pain? But if only it was that easy.
She had loved that fragrance on him. She used to find it homely, comforting, erotic- all at the same time. Sandalwood had never really been her favourite scent till then.
For a long time after they split, the smallest of triggers was enough to set her off. A song, a place, a dialogue, a joke. And she would be a pile of mess in an instant. That was all it took. Once, her friend mentioned that she’d spoken to him, and that he’d laughed, and out of nowhere, she could hear his laughter. Just like that. That deep-throated laughter that used to bring butterflies to her stomach. That night, she’d cried for the first time in weeks. And felt guilty for having had no trouble at all in remembering what his laugh sounded like. Guilty because she was to be married in a few months to a wonderful guy. But it’s not like she’d purposely remembered his laughter. It had come to her just like that.
So she’d tried hard to shut him out.
She tentatively reached for the powder tin. “No! Don’t do it!”, her inner demon admonished her. “You know you’ll end up thinking of him and crying. You know it.” She picked up the tin and flipped the lid back, and took in the fragrance.
And she waited. Waited for his face to appear in her mind’s eye. Waited for the tears to come. Waited for the breakdown to happen.
Instead, she found herself smiling; smiling. remembering how she had been so madly, passionately, crazily in love at one time; how alive she had felt at the time; at how wonderful it had felt to love without a care in the world, to love without knowing what the future held, without knowing whether or not there was a future, without analyzing where it was going; how incredible it had felt to make love to someone with so much passion; how special he used to make her feel with the smallest of gestures.
She smiled fondly, remembering how happy she had felt at one time. The hurt, the pain, the anger- all that seemed to have gotten overshadowed. And just then she realised, that she was going to be ok.
The trick was to stop associating memories with people, and start associating them with feelings- of how you felt at a particular time. Maybe, just maybe, that might make everything ok...
January 23, 2013
I just got back to Chennai on Sunday after a short visit home. Some of my stuff was still lying at home, and mom wanted me to de-clutter her house (sigh…). But that was not the only agenda. One of my best friends, Nisha, had a baby recently. I was dying to see (and hold, of course) the little munchkin. Both Mommy and Baby Aryan are doing fine. J Meera flew to the US today, and she’ll be gone for a while. So I had to meet her too. I managed to catch up on two Malayalam movies while there. “Annayum Rasoolum” had great potential to be a good movie, but the dragging narrative and length (three hours) were a major put-off. It was taken in an Adoor style, so most of the movie was silent. The heroine (Andrea Jeremiah’s Malayalam debut) had all of about five dialogues in the entire three-hour movie, Fahad Fasil is just getting better and better with every new film. It’s a clutter-breaking attempt, nevertheless. “Da Thadiya” was a fun watch. Entertaining and paisa-vasool. Oh by the way, Trivandrumites (who are not based in Trivandrum currently), did you know that a ticket at Kalabhavan now is Rs.100?! :O In Trivandrum! A movie-ticket for 100 bucks! Kaalam povunna pokke… But in their defense, the theatre now has a multiplex-ish look.
But the main agenda for the visit was to sort through the gargantuan pile of wedding gifts that had reduced my room to resembling the store-room of a departmental store. Since we left for Goa right after the reception, and from there to Chennai, I didn’t get a chance to look through the gifts and check what I might want to take with me to Chennai. But Amma and Acha had already gone through them and made an inventory of sorts too (super-efficient parents I have, totally).
I thought they were exaggerating when they told me that we had got a HUGE number of gifts. Only when I saw my room did I realize how true they had been. There were boxes behind the bed, under the bed, on the stool, under the stool, under the computer table, inside shelves. Some had even been kept away in the balcony. And to think that Acha and Amma were just about heaving a sigh of relief at having finally cleared away the collection from Chechi’s wedding (which was four years back, by the way!). I went through the entire pile and picked out a few of the items to take back with me to Chennai. Did that clear up the clutter? Turns out, I had packed merely ten percent of the entire collection. :/ The rest of the stuff, I’ll probably have to get it couriered to Chennai, or my folks can give them away as wedding gifts to others.
But going through the gifts was quite a tiresome job, let me tell you. If you’ve been married, you’ll know that. Tiresome not because of the sheer number, but because of the sheer stupidity in front of you, wrapped in colourful wrapping-paper. Why am I being so ungrateful, you ask? Let me explain why, in the form of a “Do’s and Don’t’s” (Also, I haven’t made one of my lists in a long, long time).
a) If it’s not too much trouble, find out where the newly-marrieds are going to be based after the wedding. If they’re going to be anywhere other than the city where the wedding/reception was held, then kindly do not give any huge gifts that will require a mini-lorry to transport it. I mean, why in the world would I want to carry a giant casserole that can fill enough food to feed the half of Chennai?! Forget why. HOW! How in the world am I supposed to transport it?
b) Give a little bit of thought into buying the gift. I’m sure this is probably the fifth wedding that you’ve had to attend this month and you’re just about tired of thinking of what to buy. But here’s the thing. For me, this is my FIRST and only (yes, I’m pretty sure of it.. I think so) wedding. And I’m not going to get another chance to get a haul like this again (Yup, I’m totally aware of how shallow that sounded). So PLEASE, kindly, put some thought into buying the gift. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive. Trust me, even 100 bucks in an envelope is more useful than that eyesore of a lemon set (for the uninitiated, a lemon set consists of six glasses and a matching jug, more often than not in tacky designs and colours).
c) Try to give something different. You really think no one else would have come up with the brainwave of giving a set of casseroles or coffee mugs? It’s not because we want something different. It’s just that we get stuck with multiple sets of the same damn thing, and we don’t know what to do with them! Give a pack of condoms, if you can’t think of anything else! (Nope, no one gave us that. Hmph).
d) For heaven’s sake, please write your name SOMEWHERE while giving the gift. We smile at and accept gifts from roughly 800 guests at the wedding. After a point of time, it’s just faces, one after the other. So among all this, how do you think we’re going to remember what gift you gave, if you don’t write your name on it? If you don’t want us to know, then that’s a different story. But don’t you think we would want to know who the anonymous well-wisher is, who gave us 1000 bucks?
Another reason why writing your name is important: There are 90% chances that your gift might get rewrapped very soon and be given to someone else. Writing your name ensures that you don’t end up getting your same gift back. Also, if you’ve given something really nice, but haven’t written your name, and it’s time for us to return the favour at some occasion, then we might just end up giving you something that’s worth a lot less than what you spent on us. Then you’ll be all “Hmph, what people yaar. We gave them a La Opala coffee set. They only gave us a Yera set. How mean.”You get what I’m trying to say?
e) If you really can’t think of what to give, then don’t give anything at all. Seriously. It’s perfectly fine. The line at the very bottom of the invitation card “Presents in blessings only” was not put there as a formality. It was put there for a reason. But no one takes that seriously. According to my dad, people get offended if we include that line in the card, and don’t turn up for the wedding at all, because they don’t like to come empty-handed. So he decided not to include that in my invitation card.
f) f) If the bride or the groom is someone you’re close to, ask them what they want as a gift. I shamelessly told my friends that I want a hard disk, so they gave me the cash for that. To some others, I asked for bed-sheets, so I got some beautiful bed-sheet sets. To another friend, I told her to get me online shopping vouchers, so that I could get to Chennai and then buy whatever I wanted and it could be shipped there directly.
g) Give gift vouvhers. They’re easy, convenient, and useful.
h) Give cash.
i) Give cash.
j) Give cash.
k) And because I can’t stress enough on it, give cash. Even if it just a 100 bucks.
Änd to all those who’re by now thinking “Why so much tension? We’ll just write off ‘Kindly avoid presents’ in the invitation card. That’ll take care of the problem, no?”- Sure, go ahead. Let me know how that worked out for you, ok? Because we Indians are experts at ignoring instructions. “Kindly avoid gifts” is a popularly ignored request, along with “Please flush the toilet after use”, “Please use the dustbin to throw garbage”, “Do not spit on the walls” etc.
Do you have anything more to add to this list?
P.S:- Aditi and Sid, I do not include your gift among any of the above-mentioned. I absolutely loved it, and look forward to using them ASAP. :)