Thursday, January 30, 2014

Date a girl who is lost

There are so many of these articles that have gone viral about “Date a girl who…”. In the series, there is a girl who writes, a girl who reads, a girl who does not write, a girl who does not read, a girl who travels. . . Today I also read one called “Date a girl who smokes pot”. And although it made for beautiful, heart-warming essays, I could not deeply or amply connect with any of them. I read, write, travel and all of that but somehow that girl isn't me. There is something amiss. 

So I say- Date a girl who is lost.

She is the one who is sitting on a window seat looking outside. Follow her gaze and you will see. . .that there is nothing to see. Or perhaps there is. Look closely. Is that the moon following you in the bus? Do the railway tracks seem to merge into each other? Does that cloud look like an elephant rubbing his tusk on a giant pillow? Date a girl who is lost to find joy in the ordinary. She is ordinary, in her own un-ordinary ways. You won’t live a single moment of a mundane life.

Look at that girl standing at the crossroads holding a map in her hands. She is lost. Not because she doesn't know how to read the map, or which side is North, but because she is trying to figure out which road she must take.

She is the girl who would look you in the eye, pour herself into your eyes and sigh while you are explaining her tax benefits and investment schemes. She is lost in the depth of your eyes and the slant curve of wrinkle when you smile. She is the girl who rushes at the last stretch of the trek to be the first one to stand at the top of the mountain and enjoy the view. She is also the one who will click a lot of pictures, and ask you to click hers because she is lost in the beauty of her surroundings and wants to mark milestones to find her way around.

Date a girl who lets go of herself and wants to get lost in you, inside you, when you make love. She is the one looking at your fingers when you strum the guitar under the starry night sky, lest she miss the way your knuckles swim up and down above the strings. Date a girl who gets lost in colors and knows her peach from orange. You will find her painting or chopping vegetables so intently, without taking her eyes off, not having heard you call her name twice. She is also the one who listens to her current favorite song on loop. Over and over again until every nerve ending beats to the rhythm of the music. Date her if you want to know what being lost feels like, unafraid to enter that fog where the road is not visible. All you see are some blinking lights coming towards you. Sometimes there are trucks and sometimes a stranger’s torch light. Date a girl who is lost because she is trying to find her way. And in that pursuit she is not going to hide away from the roads less travelled. Be with her and you may find a road for yourself.

Her tiny eyes are always wandering, not resting on any object, not satisfied by any sight. She wants to take it all in, in curious sips and bites. She is the one who orders all the books of the writer she has discovered and loved. And with each chapter and each book she gets lost in the world created by the author. 

She is the one who has never played Hide and Seek, because deep within she never wants to be found. She wants to stay immersed, stay lost and find her way only to get lost again in something new. Date a girl who is lost not to help her find herself- she can do that on her own- but to find yourself in getting lost with her, in her.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Window shopping for a groom

CAUTION: Long rambling post ahead. But I don't write long posts that often, no? So go ahead, read! :P

So 2014 is here and it has dawned upon some people that I am of marriageable age now. And I should be shipped off. Shipping address is the question. In India there are two kinds of marriages- ‘Love marriage’, the normal way of doing it, the way entire world does it, and ‘Arranged marriage’, the way India does it, when your family looks for a suitable match. The tradition of arranged marriage has evolved tremendously over the last few decades. I have stories from at least 3 generations- my grandmother, my mother and my sister. . .all of whom got married in the traditional Indian way.

My grandmother’s generation was late 50’s- she was the elder daughter of the family with fifteen kids born after her. Let me not get into my thoughts on family structures of that time, but yes it was amusing to have a young looking grandfather (my dida’s youngest brother was my dad’s age) and a kid uncle (some five odd years younger to me). So when my great grandfather, who by the way was a strict disciplinarian, fondly called Hitler behind the back, was looking for the perfect life partner for his elder daughter, there were a lot of men who came to “see” my dida. Yes, that’s what happened. The tradition is that the potential groom and his family come to the potential bride’s house to take a look at the girl who is decorated to set asail. Unfortunately for my cute, tiny, baby face dida several men came to the exhibition but nobody relished the offer made to them; though they did like the laddoos on the plate which they gobbled with immense satisfaction. Dida was asked to get up and walk in front of the guests, you know just to ensure that she was not handicapped. She was also asked to unbraid her long, beautiful hair, just to check whether it was real. My dida of course had no role to play in deciding whom she should spend the rest of her life with. She “saw” my dadu for the first time during the wedding at this ceremony called Shubho Drishti which literally translates to Auspicious Glance. My dida told me how she had got frightened when she saw my dadu- hatta-katta, a tall dark (I would say handsome too, I love dadu J) man with a moustache. Very auspicious start, I say. So that’s how my grandparents’ marriage got arranged.

Then in mid 80’s, my parents' marriage was also arranged. Things had evolved now. My mom had seen and met my dad before the wedding. In fact that is how it starts- exchange of pictures. If both sides of the families like the picture (and hopefully the credentials), they decide to meet. But there was a funny ritual that came about that time- singing. I am guessing that was their way to break ice. So the bride would be asked to sing a song, in her mishti mellifluous voice. Parents would talk about expectations, especially with the prevalent dowry system that time. Time for negotiations, leaving the kids alone to spend time. Oh no, not leave them alone alone; there will be the young uncles and brothers and sisters around. You know the sweet innocent flirting will be in the air- Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore style- that is if you are lucky and have any strain of romance in you from watching those movies and learning those songs from the radio. Otherwise you just sit there, stare and probably smile.

Then in the next generation in the mid 2000’s, my cousins and my sister also tied their knots in the arranged marriage style. Further evolution had taken place. Internet had not only emerged, but by this time the parents also had evolved enough to find their way in the world wide web. This is when Bharat Matrimony happened. So did and and many similar sounding match making websites that would give you a range of perfect matches to choose from. E-commerce has taken a very long time to bloom and make its mark in India; but online shopping had started with matrimonial websites way before flipkarts and jabongs came into being.

In the process of looking for The One, we actually regressed in our approach with these websites. Imagine my poor dida’s plight when people would come and reject her and leave. She was put on the table just like the laddoos and cups of tea, for people to judge and conclude if it was according to their taste. Likewise, we put ourselves on a display on these websites to be judged by people. Are we satisfying some sadistic pleasure in rejecting and judging people? Or is it this fake sense of control in finding the right match which pulls us into the trap? This is an era of consumerism- a buyer’s market in the matrimonial business. You have the right to choose.

In my sister’s case she had the good fortune to chat with him, get to know each other over the course of time and then decide whether they wanted to get married. It was a courtship of quite a few months before they got married. And they say they fell in love during that time. Quite a protected and stable courtship. No hiding your boyfriend’s picture from your parents, or secretly talking after everyone has fallen asleep. This is a courtship where your family encourages you to talk, spend time with each other and fall in love- how convenient is that?

And now ~tan te da~ it is my turn. I had always been against this system until I saw my sister doing it. And I thought- Not bad, huh? She did find a good life partner like that after all. And the whole process of looking for the groom was quite entertaining- people write hilarious stuff on these websites. I was young and naïve, and found great pleasure in taking the lead to filter people on the websites. I also take all credit in convincing my sister to take a look at him- he is not bad, I remember saying..haha :D

Now I am not young and naïve. So I have little faith in this established system that has been adopted by everyone in my family. Oh in between all these generations, an uncle had a ‘love marriage’ going against the grain, marrying his school time love. But things are not quite splendid in that front, so I cannot use that as a case study in my defense.

I never believed in school love stories anyway. You are too immature and stupid to know what love is and what constitutes a marriage. But last year I attended two weddings- childhood love stories, and I had this constant warm fuzzy glow on my face. It was so good to see people who had fallen in love in their school uniform sitting in the class room to finally sit next to each other in front of that holy fire, with a smile and the look in their eyes that said- see we made it! I was all mushy in those weddings and cried buckets after coming back.

Well coming back to my story. I find it very difficult to believe that I will be able to make such an important decision within a few months of meeting someone. My friends who have done this before, ask me not to worry and take every guy with a shot of tequila. There is nothing to lose, have fun, they say.

But it is no fun. I had never realized I was so commitment phobic until I reached this point in life. I wish I could fast forward a few years, take a look at his face, and come back to make that decision. Will I fall in love before I get married? Or will I just like someone and then get married to fall in love later? And what if I start hating him after marriage? What if he turns out to be a horrible person who was just putting on a show while talking to me? What if his parents are monsters and he loves them blindly?

What a sad boring love story I will have! No fun telling it to my grand kids! No excitement, no thrill. Plain old vanilla marriage. I don’t want vanilla, I demand Scarlett Thunder. But I cannot plan a love story; if it is not there in His script, I can do nothing about it. 

I have a fresh new idea about this whole arranged marriage thing. I think I should shortlist people based on The Criteria and then travel with each of them to some place. You get to know a lot about people by travelling with them. Whether he plans or is spontaneous, reckless or organized, talkative or quiet, how he manages crisis- tyre gets punctured or we are out of fuel, or if I want to pee, how he behaves when he is tired, whether he likes to do touristy stuff or be more local, whether he takes a guide, whether he is curious about new experiences, what he eats, how fussy he is, how he behaves in a new city, whether he has contingency plans or can think on his toes, how he takes care of me on the trip, the conversations. . .you know it will reveal a lot about who he is, which no Costa Coffee meet can do! I think it is a BRILLIANT idea ;) What do you think?

No, I'm not serious!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I realized that I had not done the quintessential year-end post for 2013 which is quite a norm in blog world, and also my world- to look back at the year gone by and think what I was doing the previous year at exactly that moment, was I a different person? I think it is too late to reminisce about the year gone by and I must move on from ghastly 2013 which, let me go on record to say, was the most difficult year of my life till now. There were breathtaking beautiful ups and there were dismal downs, and the remaining moments in between were melancholic- which is what I would say defined my 2013. The year I turned 25. Being happy about little things, but sad in the big picture or being sad about little things but happy in the big picture. What choice would you make?

One of the happy things that happened in 2013 was getting my very first tattoo. I had been contemplating about it for a long time, the biggest challenge being the design. To find a design I could live with for the rest of my life, something meaningful and good looking, reflecting the point of time in my life and who I am. Not an easy task. Lo and behold, I did find the tattoo I was looking for. Dutifully and curiously I showed the design to my friends and family, and everybody loved it as much as I did.

This looks like five birds flying, but I like to believe that it is one bird shown in its flapping motion. The bird here is the symbol of freedom, the feeling of shedding all inhibitions, removing all shackles and flying free. The bird here is a swan, for me a metaphor of what I am, what I am becoming and what I want to be. With odd familiarity of the ugly duckling story, to me a swan stands for personal transformation, about seeing yourself in a new light and accepting yourself. This is not a superficial, cosmetic change but a change in heart, a change of mind, a change in the viewing lens with which I see the world.

Swans stand for fidelity and strong relationships, something I vehemently believe in. It also stands for spiritual awakening and grace.

I am thinking about the next tattoo now, but waiting for the ‘moment’.

P.S: I have not done PS in a long time, so.. hahaha
P.P.S: Please answer the quandary I placed in the beginning- Being happy about little things, but sad in the big picture or being sad about little things but happy in the big picture. What choice would you make? And no, you can’t be JUST happy. It is a choice, and you have to make that choice for me NOW!
*so demanding*
*giggles and vanishes*

P.P.P.S: *appears again* two blog posts one after another! what is up with me! :-o haha *poof*

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book review: And the mountains echoed

This was the first book I read this year, though I had been meaning to get my hands on this for quite some time. I am not an avid reader, something I wish I was. I enjoy reading, but I read very slowly. It takes me days and weeks to finish a book, as I read and mull over lines being said and reread them sometimes. Also, if I leave a book in between and skip a few days, I forget what I had read and end up reading the same things again to refresh my memory- which decelerates the reading regimen. The trick to battle this is to not drop a book in between. And that’s what I have been doing to up my morale- pick short / not-very-thick books, and read through in a breath.

Anyhow, let me not divert the direction of this post. This is going to be about the book- And the mountains echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I have read his Kite Runner which is one of my favourite books. I like the way Hosseini writes- simply. He doesn’t write convoluted, long winding sentences trying to establish something eerie and extraordinary. He writes about simple emotions digging them from the depths of human insights. He celebrates human nature excavating them layer by layer, revealing a nakedness of truth that everyone would recognize.

And the mountains echoed is the story of a family across generations; it starts with a father and his two children, of whom he gives one up for adoption. This results in a tailspin of events that changes a lot of lives. There are a lot of characters in this book, each introduced innocuously in the background only to come in the forefront later and channel the course of everyone’s lives. When I was reading the book, it felt like a series of interconnected short stories; each character has a defined arc within his / her contribution to the whole story. It is like how people walk into your life and create stories- play their part and leave- for you to continue yours.

It is a beautiful book to understand the intrinsic human need of bonding- sometimes you desire to bond in relationships, and sometimes it is relationships that bind you entangled. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Nostalgia is the sweetest kind of pain. Memories come gushing back and stand in front of you, frozen...and you long to touch them and feel the chill in the scorching heat of the present. When you try to reach out, with that deep heavy longing, the frozen moments melt at an instant of slight touch leaving you completely drenched and soaked and cold to your bone.

Pulling your arms close to your chest and curling up your head inside, you run back, get into the taxi, roll down the window and try to dry your the chill stays in your strands of hair, drops of remaining water trickling down, becoming a part of your shivering body.

You go back home with a cold head, damp hair and a soft whimpering chill in your heart, stinging with a sharp sweet prick. The only warmth in that rush of frozen memories is the cozy balm of liquid oozing from the corners of your eyes, standing at the edge...not wanting to jump and fall.

That is Bangalore for me at the moment. 

On a lighter note...