Day 115: And yet we never support our girls

Any trouble in married-land and we are already ready with our guns pointed at the girl. H and her married life has proved to me that marriage is invariably a union of two dysfunctional families, one that makes your own weirdeties seem like the better of the lot. It’s also a union where one party invariably makes more sacrifices than the other and they spend the rest of their lives either making up for it or being morose about it.

What is critical for them to realize is that sacrifices are expected, and are justified as long as they are balanced out. I’d like to see the man live in Bangalore for a month, working from here, while building his social circle here. He would understand exactly what H is going through after moving to KL to start her life with him.

Invariably, the woman is expected to make the grand sacrifices, of her economic, emotional and social stability, and is expected to fit in seamlessly into the newfound circles. Any inability or trouble in doing that is automatically deduced as the girl’s disability and poor upbringing. Any leniency or support from the man’s side is seen as him being a pussy or wife-whipped. He himself walks with the superiority of having done a favor, while a relationship is equal work from both ends.

What got me thinking on these lines today was the conversation with dad, when he almost seemed apologetic for his daughter’s temper and the trouble in the marriage. It’s funny how little they had made an effort to see what might be causing the ill mood, the trigger from the other end. I dared him to tell me one instance where the mother of that son would have accepted his flaws openly. To her, he is the unspoilt unpolished diamond from the lines of South Africa. And on the other side, we let our daughter take the stab for everything, even something like marriage that takes a village to run the show right.

The patriarchy was evident when he justified himself by saying, ‘How can I say that the guy is at fault when I’m sitting in his house and eating his food?’ What happened to the part of the meal that his daughter had paid for? I thought the house automatically became ‘their’ house because what is his is hers. No?

That’s why I say the girls should stay home with their mummies all their lives, S. Then you have the comfort of the same bed all along. Aaah those pleasures.” Scotch

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Day 114: You broke my heart, then I took my revenge 

Dodo’s trip to India happened and like every other instance, I was left with a milieu of conflicts in my mind. What sinister plot was the universe playing on me? Why bring in someone into your life, plan for you to share each other’s lives unlike any before, push you to think of the happily ever afters a little too soon, instill strange fears in the other enough to make him run away, commit you to the deepest and darkest dungeons from whence there was no return, provide you with a support system that left you stronger, point you to a life that would sustain without him, bless you with enough strength to live without him, only to bring him back? Bring him back not once, but twice all over.

The universe didn’t just bring him back, but covered him in so many wounds, blood oozing out of every gash, that it was difficult to not care. It seemed that the universe was now playing a silly joke on me, picking up someone that I cared for deeply, brandishing him in front of my face, before throwing him out to the mad rabid dogs to feed on him. And it taunts me for my inaction. It mocks me for reacting the exact same way that I had years back, many scars and wounds back. As he recounted his worrisome tales, I saw the anguish and pain in his eyes, and my mind immediately started its tally – how many of these were my doing?

I strongly believe that everybody walks into our lives to teach us something; to cater to our role as a lifelong learner. They are invariably the Most Knowledgeable Other from Vygotsky’s Social Interaction Theory. I’ve learnt about relationships, the goods and the bads, from Dodo. As have I about taking life easy and enjoying it. Through his persistence over the years I’ve learnt that some loves never die. He’s taught me to stare misfortune in the eye and attack it head on. He’s also taught me to take a stand in life and own up for every decision that one has taken. All through his inability to do so. He’s made me realize that it’s too easy to find escape routes from our decisions and go pick scapegoats to blame for what should have been our decisions. He did it eight years back, and he’s doing it right now.

I wonder what is the drive for the universe to bring him back. What new learning is in store for me through the this phase 2? So far, it has only brought along the ghosts of the past, has unearthed many skeletons hidden in both our closets and has caused the family to raise their guards all over again. Does it intend to only bring more pain?

Or is this one of those instances, where you’ve been brought into someone’s life simply to teach them something, and settle with the hurt in your heart?

You want my opinion? Take each day as it goes, sister. No point in digging too deep into the mud, when there may or may not be a bone under it. 

Move. On. Time will anyway tell you all it’s plans. Eventually.” Scotch 

Day 110: Surprised by Forum 

A late night, last ditch effort to study. Economics of education. Bus to Uni. Missed a Volvo and found a beautiful blue bus. Peace at college. That morning big, strong coffee. Rants and revisions with A. Annoying male supervisor with his ‘stand up for question papers’. Three hours of hand-breaking pain. Choices, choices, choices.  There should be a better way to test. Walk to the parking lot, but I have no car. Lunch plans for bitching. The hunt for Clinique continues. Forum has a front and a magical back entrance. Love it. Didn’t find Clinique. Ran away from parottas and chole bhatures. Plans for Melt flopped by crazy traffic that won’t let you cross the road. Soup, corn flake chicken and Lassi. True stories of DubaiCassanova. Gossiping is for girls. Reminder about fun conversations in the past. Have I missed these for too long? Blue and green buses are hot ovens. Back home. Scotch needs psychiatric help. Kitchen is in shambles. All dishes for washing on the floor. She tried to help. Bakeware sacrificed. Didn’t scold or hit her. Muzzled for an hour. Hurt me more than her. She’s the boss. Another dog, maybe?

“I told you I loved what you cooked yesterday. And you give me just a slice? So, I tried to help myself to all the goodness still stuck in the pan. In all the excitement, shit got real.” Scotch

Day 108: You should never meet your superheroes

I don’t know whether I should blame the sociology paper or the extended conversations with SilverGhoster, on everything under the roof, but I have a strange cloud hanging over my head today. Some of the points of discussion during the leeching episode stayed with me and that kicked off our next big rant about relationships.

Black or White

Between the SilverGhoster and the DubaiCassanova, I see the two extremes that define the young men of today.

On one end of the spectrum are those that still believe in chivalry, address even women their own age as ‘Madam’ no matter how awkward it sounds to the modern ear, and prefer the clinical perspective on life, where superheroes exist only in fan fiction. They believe that trying to live the fancy life of glitter and glam painted by mass media will only result in heart break, and nothing is worth a lost peace of mind. They will settle with the charming damsel their mother, and the stars, pick for them, and will love that lady to the end of their life.

On the far blue corner, are the partyholics, who define the quality of life based on the glamour shown on their Instagram page. Their badges of accomplishments vary from the number of men/women one has slept with, to their varying sexualities, to the ability to fool the system entirely. They flout rules like their fathers owned the world, and if money was sufficient to build a social repute, ideologies could be dumped into the farthest shelves of living.

Neutral Ground

Does the world stay in stability because of the two extremities that abound in it? Or is the reason for all these doldrums in the world the very fact that such opposites try to co-exist?

As I continued probing and questioning the life choices on one of these extremities, my natural tendency was to advice him to loosen up, and enjoy the world for what it was. My recommendations were for a more loosely bound life-system, where it was acceptable to put oneself out there, to love and to crash and burn. I asked him to look at those on the other side, their learnings, and realize that he was missing out on so many interesting experiences just because of his principles of life.

And then, I stopped myself short. Was this just my human tendency to change anything that exists and to alter its natural state? If I had been talking to the DubaiCassanova, would I have instead advised him to look at the other end and be more sensitive? Now, wouldn’t this whole process, of advising one to become like the other, define my hypocrisy. While I profess hatred towards any form of advice, especially the uncalled ones that are very generously dished out by the society, wasn’t I doing the same thing by asking the SilverGhoster to let his ghosts of the past lay to rest and explore the world’s colors?

I still stand by what I said about my hatred for advice; any man that has a girl child will give you advice on how to raise a girl; anyone that has loved and lost will start dishing out relationship advice; anyone that has written a competitive examination is now your guide on how to crack it; and anyone that has raised a child, albeit a crack addict, will turn parental coach. What qualifies them to wear the superior cape of a guide, shaping your opinions and experiences, based on theirs? For me, someone that truly qualifies to advice another would be one that has seen that person in their entirety – at their massive highs, their utmost vulnerabilities, and knows the truest principles that shape their life. Or, is a qualified, certified psychological practitioner.

Anyone else is just using their number of years on the earth, their supposed experience, to place themselves at a position of power over you; the holy I’ve-been-there-I-know-it position.

The elusive karma

My barrage of counters on why he didn’t do a lot of things a typical 27 year old would do increased, and the sober SilverGhoster brought in the elusive karma. He said his interpretation of karma was that ‘anything that was meant to happen, would happen anyway, without any known push from your end‘. So, in love and life, he let things take their own course and watched how they evolved.

Funny how I think that’s the pop culture interpretation of karma while the true intent behind it is the opposite. From up his holy chariot, Lord Krishna said ‘कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन। मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥ २-४७’, or, ‘Karmanyevadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadacha na. Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani’. With this background, I see karma as the duty that you have to do for any result to come by. And inaction, or letting the universe do its thing, doesn’t count for karma.

So, when we say ‘What will be will be’ and use that as a reason for not doing something about it, we are basically doing anti-karma, and not the reverse.

That’s some deep stuff brewing, S. If you ask me, the man is right. Just relax, smell the rain in the winds, and things will fall into their place. And maybe that idea of relaxing and having fun is the karma we are all chasing. 

What say?” Scotch

Day 107: Explain Unity and Diversity in India

As expected, the Sociology exam was a bummer. 1/5th of the paper was simply about Unity and Diversity in India. Reminded me of writing similar essays in school; Social Studies, we called it back then. And at least then, all this was new knowledge and there was hope.

Now that I’ve spent 33 years in this world, I see how language divides us more than it unites. Ask every child who’s ostracized for not speaking English. I know that there is as much division between the North and the South of India, as there is between India and Pakistan. We are so hung up on our food preferences, that we’ll go hunting for an idli-vada place in New Delhi, and then complain about the poor food taste.

Our culture, our language, our eating choices, our dressing choices, our sexual preferences, our movie picks, our living spaces, the car we drive, the tourist spots we go to and the money we earn or spend; all make us more and more divided from each other than united.

As I wrote about the beauty of a Durga puja pandal in Bangalore and a Muslim community hosting Ganesha celebrations, I felt hypocritical. I felt like I was using stray incidents of color, to obscure how dull and grey this world really is. As I highlighted the cosmopolitan nature of every Indian city, I felt like I was hiding the fact that every city is one Kaveri verdict away from a curfew and localities burning.

Have I just been wearing my dark shades for too long?

I have never

The much-awaited MAED-MBAELM party happened; in the middle of the day, with the lure of free booze. Well, technically it was four out of the 12. But, it was the most likely crowd, I would say. The usual, shots, beer, pizza and I-have-never.

The dark black shades were on through the day, and I wondered if I was just becoming too cynical in life. As A guffawed at every silly joke, and touched and petted DubaiCasanova at every feasible opportunity, I reminded myself what a make-believe world this was. ‘I have made out with more than 50 men’ and ‘I have hooked up with a teacher in the Uni’ were worn like awards of honor. Such is the pitious state of today’s youth.

And through it all, what surprised me was the overly comfortable Gemini twin in me. An outsider would have found me at the center of it all, reeling in the fun, not feeling an inch out of place. I laud and condemn this strange ability that I seem to possess.

You know it’s a myth that dogs see only in black and white, right?  We actually have a reduced color spectrum, but definitely not the Grey scale. Maybe that’s the filter you need to look at the world. 

What do you think?” Scotch

Day 99: Any job that pays me enough to get off the student loans

Newbie at IIMB

Gardenman, his senior and I were off to IIM early up, to present our final proposal for the case study on rural electrification in Arunachal Pradesh. First timer at IIMB; so, I had the newbie looks, and Gardenman was anyway impressed with the greenery on campus. So, we ambled to registration, taking detours through their beautiful gardens, the open air theatre, the tall stonewalled corridors.

Registrations done, and we were the environment-saving rebels that returned our welcome packet – a notepad and a gel pen from Classmate, casually inserted into a paper-cloth envelope, all things that we’d never use again. It was funny and inspiring to listen to Senior talk of how she had never looked at these everyday products from such a long-term perspective. If I had made an influence by making one person think of their impact to the Earth, it was all worth it.

Vidheyak

The event itself was in one of the classrooms, and Mr. Dinesh Arora, the impressive IAS officer that led the Rural Electrification Commission, was a break from the stereotypes that go with Government agencies and officials. He was crisply dressed in his suit, brought two of his associates along, and walked the aisles between the seats as he listened to our presentation.

The competition was all from IIM Delhi, ISB and IIM Bangalore itself. There were two other teams from Christ U as well. So, we were placed in a very weird position. As we waited for our turn to present, we snapped views of charts and graphs with the other teams, and knew that the various teams had approached it from a different angle entirely. The pressure was ON during the presentation, because we were the last team, and so Mr. Dinesh invited all other teams in to listen in and flow into the conclusion section.

Turns out, the solution to the entire case study lay in the politics of the state. Su-kam, the one that we started off with high respect, and dropped through our analysis of the case because of all the text presented, were the pawns in the whole proceedings after all. As was the one Commissioner who kept popping up as the deviant that kept questioning the tendering process.

It was definitely a huge learning experience; made me realize that nothing is evident from the face of it, and those that might come off as the enemy or the traitor might be the victims when looked close enough. The whole process also made me realize the long, corrupt hands of politics into public service and the persistence that one needs to get through to the expected results.

While we didn’t win the 15000 cash prize for winners, we did receive compliments about our presentation itself, and our proposal delivery from the judges as well as other participants. So, with a little content knowledge and expertise, we should be well-equipped for such discussions in the future.

After Party

We were all lost in our own thoughts at the end of the event; I was lost wondering if I really missed this life of business proposals and budgeting that I had left behind. I wondered all the more, if the career that I had picked for myself mid-life was overflowing with the same as well.

We went to Yellow Submarine to hear each others’ thoughts out, and the winners from ISB came along. So, a big after party it was. It was a fun conversation, ranging from climate change, to Antartica’s open waters, to life in the metros. One thing that became evident was that the prized MBA that they were all pursuing was taking them to a similar end as each one of us were at – an insecurity about the future and what lay ahead.

As the 2+1 beers flowed in, they shared their fear of building student loans, and how the MBA, especially at institutes as fancy as the ISBs or the IIMs, was just a glorified placement agency. It was something that Mr. Dinesh Arora recommended for students interested in contributing to public policy as well – get a well-paying job, earn enough to sustain yourself and then come on over!

Life is so hectic at ISB that we barely get to socialize, or research on topics that we care about. And by mid-term, we are already preparing our resumes for placements. Before we know it, we are making career judgments purely based on which company can pay us enough to buy more beer and rid us of the student loans.

Pee OK, Park NO

We came back from the after party, with plans of an after-after-party at my house (not the ISB folks), and found the Red Beast missing. So, earlier in the day, the security at IIMB didn’t let us park on campus, because all their parking spots were full for the event. He assured us that the spot he recommended to us wouldn’t be a problem, and it wouldn’t get towed. It got towed.

We took an auto to the police station, argued a little with the towing fellows, and gave up a full grand to unclamp the car.

That was enough time for our after-after-party to sound like an extremely stupid decision and that plan dropped. I was actually very surprised by how easy the whole process of retrieving my car from the traffic police was. I was anticipating a lot of haggling and arguing, and money-snatching. I hid away a lot of the money that I had in my wallet, just in case it would come to that. But, nope! They took in my details, uploaded a picture of me parked in front of a wall with the “No Parking” dubiously painted, printed out a challan, and off I was on my way.

You seem to have had a busy busy start to the weekend. Meanwhile, in another part of the world, we’ve been relaxing and living our lives.” ~Goose

Day 92: Am I getting all religious now? 

I knew it the minute I got ready for my drive to college that it was going to be a different day. The mind said so. And the difference became evident when I started the car, connected it to YouTube, and started playing Kanda Sashti Kavacham. I mumbled the words, sometimes matching up with Soolamangalam’s pitch, and drove along. I had only one manic outburst, and I don’t even remember who it was right now.

But the rest of the way, there was a certain calmness in my driving today when compared to the usual manic rage. I’ve told a number of people how drivers typically went through the 5 stages of grief when it came to Bangalore traffic and that I was stuck in Anger for almost two years now. I felt that stage wane and I realized that I had directly moved to acceptance. As the black Honda behind me honked his way between lanes and zigzagged around, I knew he wasn’t going far. As I pulled up, calmly, by him at the traffic signal, I gave him the look a mature adult would give a vagrant teenager. Grow up child!

Acceptance

There was a similar acceptance in class towards GDs pettiness as well. As A told me more about her antics, of how she created an attendance sheet just to mark me Absent and how she warned A to grow up or ‘everybody’ would bulldoze her, I smiled internally and reminded myself that I was an adult. And that such pettiness did not affect me.

It had affected me yesterday. Deeply. But today was a brand new Tuesday and I choose to be the adult. Was I becoming religious now? :=)

Richmond

The song reminded me of Sundays in Richmond, VA. I’d visit the shopping mall of a temple, to get some quiet and peace. Well, not really; because the country itself was quiet when compared to India. Maybe I went every week to feel a little hit of home around me. They had printed books with the entire lyrics and they played the exact version of Kanda Sashti Kavacham that I was used to. Strangers, in different corners of the temple, would follow along with the song, and I would join in. I would sit for the 20 odd minutes it ran, and get up almost immediately when it was done and leave. There were very few days when I’d wait for the Aarti afterward.

A weird routine. A regular routine. For two long years. Had I been religious all along?

Religious? You? C’mon, S! I’ve seen you wave at the puja room and run out the door. Amma is religious, what with her flowers and incense and all. You? Ha! 

Anyway, how about some of that omelet for me now? Maybe if I rest my nose on your leg, the force will be strong. ” Scotch