Day 136: Mango mandi

Only 50 kilos a? That’s a little too less, no? How much do you have? Some 80 at least? Yeah! Then 50 is too less. I mean, nothing wrong there. 50 for 5.5 is good. Only from our side, we’re not all that perfect. What to do! At least a 70 would have been manageable.

But how can you decide just by looking at a picture and reading the specs? Don’t you have to see with your eyes and decide based on things that matter?

It’s the same thing as online shopping, no? You buy a product on Amazon. Do you touch and feel? So, you look at the product and that’s how you decide; based on their pictures and yours. And compatibility.

But… Are we buying mangoes here?

Scotch: Relationships are after all like buying mangoes, S. You pick one based on what you think is the best. And then you’re committed to it all the way until it ends up in your stomach. A juicy one, a ripe one, a wormy one – you pay for everything that you picked. No?

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Day 121: Respect Shespect

I see the OldMan going through a major life struggle, something that is affecting him so heavily that it is evident in his every interaction with the family; especially with the OldLady. He is invariably aloof, struggle with his inner demons through the day. He lazes around during the day, making minimum conversations with us. When forced to participate, he generally snaps or spits his answers out. He’s given enough of those that OldLady responds in an equally frustrated manner. For a third person, their conversations qualify for a road-side brawl between sworn enemies.

He diligently dresses up at sundown and steps out for his daily dose of intoxicants. With it in the system, he suddenly gets very verbose, would like to know what my life plans are, would advice H on her marital woes and would push OldLady’s buttons some more. The daily drama is painful, an all too evident sign of a crumbling relationship. And yet, he finds no value in salvaging it.

It would have been much easier if I were able to relate to either sides; I would have easily picked a person to support and fought the other. Unfortunately, I’m unable to see either positions of view. I do not understand why one would resort to escape routes to sort their life struggles. I do not understand how one would blame their family for all their life’s sufferings when they would be nothing without the family in the first place. I, in fact, do not even know if that is the reason for all the melancholy. On the other side, I do not understand how one could be so submissive for these many years, without a voice of their own. I definitely do not understand a woman building her entire life around one man, making him her Achilles’ heel.

I do not understand relationships.

Humans are so complicated, S. All this yelling and screaming and loving and doving. Why! 

Eat, Sleep, Repeat, remember?” Scotch 

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

Day 104: They tend to leech you away from your parentsĀ 

Last working day of the semester and I have more glee than sadness. This semester has taken a huge toll on my emotions and my general sanity of mind, questioning my principles and the will to stick around through every bit of the way.  I’m grateful that with the exams, this will be all done. And that will leave me with just one more semester to go.

SilverGhoster

The last month or so has been a fun learning time, with all due thanks to the SilverGhoster. His 4 wheel drive accords him that name; the alternative that he picked for his ride was ‘Doll’. Haha! Anyway, it’s been chitter-chatter about the education scene in the country, some traditional views that run schools, cars and gals, and general love trouble.

Over lunch and tea, we got talking about his big checklist for the prospectives. Can’t blame the man for having one; I’ve been there, striking items off with each passing year. I’d like to mention a few here, not with the intention of outing the man’s super-secretive list, but to remember the discussion that followed each.

  • The girl has to be from Bangalore.
    • Why so? Well, there’s a friend of a family of a friend of the family, who got married to someone from UP. And when the mother of a friend asked about the friend of a family of the friend’s wife, she made a face when he said UP.
  • The girl has to have a younger brother.
    • Why younger? Older brothers tend to be overprotective, you know. And now you have a father and a mother and a brother to worry every time you make a move. And younger brothers can easily be brought in line, no?
    • Why not a sister? Younger or older? Well, a girl will eventually leave the house and the parents will have noone to take care of them anyway. Which means, the in-laws are around a lot, or the wife is gone a lot.
    • Why the whole hassle or siblings? Why not get a single child? Oh! We’ve seen a few of those and their long tentacles. They are too attached to their parents and are always trying to make the man leave his parents and live separately.
  • The girl had to love dogs.
    • Why? Who am I kidding? This one’s a no-brainer.

What caught me off was not just the patriarchy oozing from those demands, but also the naivete of not seeing through the stereotypes. Every time I prodded the discussion, questioning the idea, it all stopped at the societal norms and expectations, and him just being a regular man trying to meet those demands. While a lot of thought had gone into understanding why he needed a girl remotely interested in cars, the others had just gotten added with each societal eyebrow that raised around him.

Well, has he ever thought of how a girl would feel when she heard that her main intention was to ‘leech’ him away from his parents? Umm no. Does he know that research proves that daughters tend to take full custody of their aging parents while sons prefer to resort to hospicecare facilities? Oh, really? Why is it OK to expect a girl to leave her parents, her social circles, and fit right into the husband’s, while the reverse is unimaginable? Hmm valid thought.

I think we need to have more such over-the-coffee conversations with boys in this country. A number of these smart, intelligent, young men are simply looking for a spark to get them thinking. All they are missing is someone to tell them that the other side has a point of view too.

I’m not going to pat myself in the back and claim to have lit a spark. I would consider my karma done if that man at least started thinking on these lines.

While you’re busy lighting sparks, can you also feed me some mummum, please? I know it’s right here and I just have to lick it. But it feels like a lazy day. 

Pretty please?” Scotch 

Day 102: If she does not want to take class, you accept it and move on

I showed up at Uni today, after sucking it up in traffic for one and a half hour, and I find out that the class teacher, the teacher for hour 1 is absent. I understand everybody has emergencies, and every teacher needs her time off. But I what I do not understand is how your professionalism as a teacher lets you not show up to class, and not make alternate arrangements for your class.

When A spoke to the HOD (wink wink, the model citizen), he bombarded her with comments about how if teachers did not want to come to college, then students just had to suck it out and take a free hour off. Students didn’t have a right to attendance, he made it sound like. He did not let her respond to any of his comments, and just bombarded her with his outdated theories.

We spoke to JK later on, and she reminded us about her M. Ed days in Bangalore University, and how students had no right to question for attendance. Even if the teacher was in the office, but did not feel like taking the class, we could do nothing, she said. She asked us to suck it up, and ask teachers that we knew to see if they could adjust their classes with us. And if they couldn’t, to suck it up and have a break.

Unfortunately, I do not approve of or agree with their logic at all. Every student makes an effort to make it to class every day, mental, physical and emotional effort. I drive 20 kms every day to get to Uni, and another 20 kms to get back home. I take all that pain to learn something new from esteemed professors who have the knowledge and the expertise. If I had to stay at home and learn on my own, I could have taken up a correspondence course and not a full-time one. And if I am not ‘getting taught’ after my 20 kms long struggle, the least that I should get is attendance for the hour that I showed up. That is the least that anyone can do to respect my time, and everybody needs respect.

Don’t get me wrong. If there was a process that I could change, I would start by taking off the one which requires 85% attendance in the first place. But, if that is set in stone, and this very same teacher had the nerve to send me an email that read ‘strict disciplinary action will be taken if you miss classes unnecessarily‘ after I sent an OOO email for being sick, then the teachers should take enough care to make sure they aren’t faulting from their end.

“You spent 1.5 hours in traffic and you didn’t take me along. Saadd!! You know how much I love the driving? But, yeah, standing in traffic is not a lot of fun, and I hate that too.”      ~ Scotch

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Day 44: Religion’s Drama

Buoy, did the Tuesday end with the drama of the century!

We had a group presentation that the three of us split the work into, SrA, A and I, and we were due to submit it today. We reviewed all our work and started consolidating before the class, when we realized that SrA had done a lazy-ass Copy-Paste, and did not pull up screenshots that we really required. So, I explained the simplest Windows function, Print-Screen, to dearest SrA. 15 minutes, and no progress. A went a step ahead, walked up to the board to replicate the keyboard, and drew it out. Of course, SrA had shut down by then.

No amount of our telling anything to her on how to take a simple screenshot of the screen took us any closer to where we had to be. As GD, our teacher, walked in, SrA had gone into a trance, had completely tuned us out, and was staring at the same dot on the screen. GD checked on progress, we updated her about the only missing piece, a 15-minutes’ worth screen print, and how we’d finish it up in a bit. GD acquiesced, smiled, and noticed SrA’s trance. One small probing question, and SrA started the water works.

I haven’t such a dramatic wailing in years; assuming I did something like this when I was 5. For at least three long minutes, she was stuck to the door, crying like her life was at stake. When A brought her back, and GD started asking SrA to settle down, SrA went into this major ramble about not knowing SPSS, or anything technical, and us trying to help her extensively, but she not understanding technology at all, and having spent time till 2 AM the previous day, and not having slept at all for the last few weeks, and us being helpful and her not being able to reciprocate at all. Of course, GD was overflowing with concern for her mentee’s feelings, being a sister of the Christian congregation and all. The height of dramatics in the whole episode was unimaginable; hands flaying up in the air, falling body-front on to the desk, pulling GD towards herself and pushing her away; dramatic to the C.

The charade went on for 20 minutes, a class of 3 and of 45 minutes, completely disrupted by one person’s inability to learn how to take a screenshot on their laptop.

If I had any respect for the clergymen, and women, this drama squashed it entirely. I have seen a 45 year old mother of two come back to college to get their second Masters. I worked with a 65 year old gentleman pursuing his PhD at that post-retirement age. My mom, of 55, learns something new with her computer every day, and never says “I can’t do it!”. Aren’t they all working on the basic educational philosophy that we are all learners for life? Isn’t there a life philosophy that you’ve lost the minute you’ve given up trying?

When did it become OK for one to use their religion as a handicap badge to get a parking spot? Whatever might have been the reason that pushed SrA into entering the church, she chose it for life, spent 20-odd years preparing for her life in the seminary, and had to be vested in it entirely. Did that somehow give her a permission for preferential treatment? I understand she wakes at 4 AM, works towards the convent’s upkeep, attends college from 9 to 4, goes back to complete some more chores in the convent, finishes course work, and hits the bed by 10. I understand she squeezes in a number of rounds of prayer in the middle of all this, because it is after all the life she chose. Do you know how I know this level of detail about SrA’s day? She makes sure that she tells us about it at every possible opportunity.

Well, none of us non-clergical people (is that even a word? What’s the word for ‘us’? Normal people?), have an easy life now. We pay for our own education, we struggle with interviews and rejections, we see a life outside the four walls of religion, that may not be all that pretty as promised. We live with the harsh realities of life every single day. But do we wear it around our necks as a badge? Do we carry it around like the blind man’s stick, expecting the road to pave the way ahead for it?

Nope!

It’s no wonder that I relate to atheists the most. Religion has invariably become a banner for you to hold aloft and claim reservation, preferential treatment, when there are others spending their energy going where they need to. It has become that fast pass that you’ve used one too many times and yet never get pulled up far. Religion? Rubbish!

“You humans are weird. Religion? What does that even mean? 

If it doesn’t help you with ‘eat, sleep, repeat’, then why even bother?  No?” Scotch