While all of this was happening, one of the guests came up to me, and asked me what I was doing at work. When I did tell him what I was doing he smiled sympathetically and told me, very gently, that it wasn’t good for anything, and that I should be considering alternatives if I wanted to make money, and if I really wanted to succeed. Look at me, he said, and went on to list all his dazzling achievements which he dazzlingly achieved during his dazzling days in the practice and even after he left practice, before he asked me if I had an exit plan in mind, and whether it was as dazzling as his own.
I started to make a bad joke about raising cows only to get cut off with a serious response about the potential of organic farming, and how his own organic farm (that will do dazzlingly in the future, I’m sure) is shaping up instead. Thankfully, my exit plan appeared a few minutes later in the form of his kid who wanted ice-cream and I slipped out of sight to another corner in the room with the hope that I wouldn’t have to see him again.
I get really unnerved when people who are senior to me discuss their career accomplishments with me, and more so when it is accompanied by advice (which is usually unsolicited). I think it probably is because of the fact that my personal definition of what constitutes an achievement has always been very fuzzy. I don’t know if that is because of the way I was brought up. My parents were never the ‘punishing’ type – failures, and awful marks would be met with disappointed faces and the statement – “It’s your future. We can only do so much.”. Good performances, and academic success was met with happiness, but they were never really surprised or even labelled such performances as “achievements”, or whatever it is that gives you the ego that comes along with having accomplished something.
My sister and I have never let good performances really get into our heads, but I remember the time when I’d just passed CA – I was extraordinarily smug and possessed the arrogance of someone who had touched the moon by building a ladder made entirely of toothpicks. My mother went on to prick my ego balloon by telling me that passing CA was the least I could’ve done, given my background – My father is a Chartered Accountant, and even if that wasn’t a factor, I attended the best classes one could attend/money could buy, had access to every book I’d ever need and the best environment required to study – The only odds I had to overcome were my own tendencies to sleep on my textbooks and not pay attention to my teachers and the fact that I failed despite everything that was provided to me was more of an achievement than my passing. You milked a cow and got milk, my mother had told me. Tell me about the day you milked a cow and got orange juice, and I’ll let you have an ego then.
Today, I’m still looking to really achieve, do things in ways that only I could’ve done, but it seems stupid to say oh, I want to achieve without even knowing what I want to achieve. I know quite a few people who seem to have it figured out, who seem to know exactly where they will be, ten, fifteen years from now. I don’t. What I do know, though, is that I don’t want to be in my forties giving unsolicited advice to young people about how they should be living their lives.
And that, I suppose, is as good a start as any.
|Say Crack Again.|
The questions are more or less typical depending on the person asking it – unmarried acquaintances and friends want to know everything about my new domestic setup, older couples want to know if I am “having fun” (after which they say “Enjoy this time, you will not get it again” the same way one would to a prisoner on death row), and grandmothers want to know about the goings-on in my bedroom.
A couple of days ago though, I was asked if I’ve learned anything. I have actually: To begin with –
The eight months or so that I was engaged, my father gave me a free hand at office to take time off whenever I wanted to. I suppose it was wise on his part to leave me alone because:
a. I am counter-productive to his practice as is, and
b. having a distracted me around would’ve made his office like one of those sitcoms where there’s this strict boss but everything goes wrong for him and the audience finds it hilarious and keeps laughing except it’s not a sitcom and there’s no audience and he might lose all his clients and we might be too broke to have the wedding and OHMYGOD LET ME OUT OF THIS NIGHTMARE.
So when I wasn’t in the middle of wedding shopping or wedding running-behind-the-tailor or wedding hanging-out-with-fiance, Amma said I should take the time to learn a few things about “running a household” and “taking charge of the kitchen” or she wouldn’t be able to step out in society without being referred to as The Mother Of The Daughter in Law Who Can’t Cook Haha and then be scarred with that reputation forever. I was quite enthusiastic of course – I had been watching a lot of Nigella and surely Domestic Goddess-ness couldn’t be that hard (especially considering the number of cupcake bakers on Facebook); and so I decided to take the time to learn new things. Unfortunately, all I learned was how to mercilessly burn three pans while endeavouring to master a brownie recipe and leaving a permanent stain on my mother’s new frying pan trying to make Aloo Methi. While I’d like to think of these things as tangible memories that I’ve left behind for my mother so that she can recall fond memories of my presence in that kitchen and then cry some happy tears, my sister tells me that the moistness in my mother’s eyes are not from bittersweet happiness, but relief.
A day or two after the husband and I came back from our honeymoon, I decided the time had come for me to exhibit my skill in the kitchen. Unfortunately, before I could as much as light the stove, I tripped over the metal door stopper and scraped a lot of skin on my foot resulting in a fair bit of bleeding (I held on to my trademark ladylike composure though, I doubt anyone could’ve hopped, skipped or squealed with the grace that I did) and I had to be taken to the hospital by my mother-in-law for a proper dressing and a really nasty tetanus shot.
Amma dropped by the next day, and my mother-in-law gently patted my head and told her about how I was a poor thing who had to unnecessarily experience pain and go to the hospital, all because I had wanted to cook something. “Imagine what would’ve happened” said Amma thoughtfully, “if she had actually cooked”
[More lessons on married life shall be posted here as and when they are learned]
I got engaged to be married last November. The engagement was a rather unique event, since it happened without the boy actually being present. This was because of multiple reasons, including the fact that my fiancé was in New York at that time and my parents, understandably, wanted to close the deal before he understood what exactly he was marrying into.
Anyway, once he came back, our parents hosted a party for friends and family to introduce us as a couple. On the day of the party, because of a gaffe on the part of the salon where I got my hair done, my fabulous blow dry looked fabulous for exactly 10 minutes before I ended up looking like Cousin It from the Addams Family. I wasn’t happy, but after the first 10 minutes, I didn’t let it bother me. This evening wasn’t about me, or the fact that I resembled a sari-clad scarecrow. It was about the fact that people wanted to celebrate two individuals who had just decided to spend their lives together! Right?
Throughout the evening and for quite a few weeks after, I got a lot of people coming up to me to laud me on my not breaking down (“I don’t know how you did it!”), to the point where you’d think I’d just single-handedly saved a village from a Tsunami while discovering the cure for cancer and breaking Michael Phelps’ freestyle record simultaneously, as opposed to have just had a bad hair day. Some more optimistic people, in their bid to cheer me up told me, “At least it wasn’t the wedding!”, because God forbid there’s a slip in the way I looked on that day, then you know, my whole life is likely to be in tatters.
A wedding today, has evolved, no, mutated from being a celebration of family and commitment to this major party where the focus is only on one person— the bride. In case you haven’t noticed, there aren’t any wedding magazines around— only bridal, with maybe half a page (if they’re feeling generous) dedicated to the other sundry details, such as the concept of marriage, or the groom. Every single one of those bridal magazines insist that you can never be good enough for ‘your big day’, never mind that your partner liked you the way you had been all this time. You might be skinny, they say, but are you a toned skinny? Your skin might be clear, but is it glowing, sun-kissed and radiant? Your outfit might be pretty, but is it Designer (and roughly the cost of an island in the Maldives)?
Me neither, which apparently makes me a poor naive country boor hick-bumpkin, because clearly I wasn’t aware of the fact that I have only one day to be happy, or that there are going to be photographs (PHOTOGRAPHS!) or that my wedding album is the only legacy I can leave for the next seven generations that are poised to spring out from my uterus and that unless I want to be referred to as “Double Chin Kollu Paati” by my great grandchildren, it becomes my foremost responsibility to do everything I can to resemble Indian Sari Princess Barbie.
Comrades, I confess. I’ve been dreaming about my wedding even before I was engaged, okay, even before I was even legal. Yes, I wanted the pretty clothes, I wanted the big party, but most of all, I wanted to be happy. Today I’m on the other side— I’ve seen enough sarees to go colour blind, looked at enough decor themes to make me wonder if I’m organizing a wedding or a full scale Disneyland musical, listened to enough wedding “advice” to compile an 8 book series and it all makes me want to burst multiple blood vessels, when the truth is that I am over the moon about getting married. You see, Bridezillas aren’t born. They are made.
It’s only when you take a step back do you realize that it’s just one day. One day. All that really matters is what is going to happen in the days, years and months that follow and not whether your earrings are colour coordinated with the stage arrangements. I really don’t want to go into my wedding like I’ve been preparing for some covert siege attack (or a reality television show) where failure will result in dire consequences. I don’t want to remember my wedding as a day where I lost whatever little left of my hair worrying about arm fat or the caterer, but as a day where I had fun, and I was happy. If that means not having my Disneyland perfect wedding, then so be it. I’d rather have a Disneyland perfect marriage.
once in a while, I get all Indiana Jones And The Cave Of Horrors and try to
clean my room up. Now what usually happens in my pursuit of organizational
nirvana (you know, the kind that I can take pictures of and post on instagram
and brag about on twitter) is that I bring everything that’s inside shelves
onto the floor and in the process, discover some boxes of chewing gum that
probably dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization, Salman Rushdie novels
whose pages one to three are very soiled because I kept reading it again and
again trying to understand what he’s saying, but failed miserably and
eventually gave up on reading, lots of notebooks filled with either
miscellaneous calculations for currency swaps or long winding sentences. Then, just
as I’m about to begin the actual cleaning process, my mother calls me to eat
and I end up forgetting all about my mission to make my room fit for human
habitation. Eventually, our Man Friday who comes in the next morning just puts
everything back in its old place, exactly the way it was before – He has a
special talent when it comes to recreating a mess.
yesterday, when I was seriously pursuing my new favourite hobby of time-wasting-on-Pinterest,
I saw a couple of organization blogs which immediately kindled my inner
Organizational Goddess (whose appearance is only more frequent than my inner
Baking Goddess – trust me, you don’t want to ever call her unless you need to
like, burn a kitchen down or something) and keeping in line with protocol, I
started pulling down stuff from shelves when I chanced upon an envelope of
photos that I’d printed and meant to put into an album but like most things I
mean to do, I’d conveniently forgotten about it. So like all people who try to
find excuses to stop cleaning after they make a giant mess, I absolutely had to
go through those pictures and get nostalgic about whatever it was.
turned out they were pictures from our family’s vacation to Hong Kong &
Singapore from a couple of years ago, also known as those 12 days I didn’t have
any internet and it turned out internet is overrated when you actually
have a life. AND THEN I REMEMBERED THAT I NEVER WROTE ANYTHING ABOUT THAT
VACATION ON MY BLOG WHICH IS SO SAD, IN FACT, SADDER THAN THOSE
K.BALACHANDAR MOVIES THEY SHOW ON KTV EVERY WEEKDAY AFTERNOON WHERE EVERYONE
most striking memory from that vacation is when we got to go to one particular
city in China, called Shenzhen, which was apparently the China part of “Made in
China”. It was pretty amazing – apart from all the crazy manufacturing that
they did, it was also the place where they made all the fakes, and not just
designer bags or whatever (That said, the FakeLouisVuitton and FakeGucci bags I
saw were so genuine looking that I’m pretty sure they even made fake FakeLouisVuitton
bags). I mean, they make fake EVERYTHING. They even have this sort of park
where they have fake 7 Wonders of The World. Like Fake Eiffel Tower, Fake
Pyramids, Fake Taj Mahal – it’s faking awesome (See what I did there?).
this story is not about those gorgeous but fake Chanel 2.55 bags I saw there.
This is about how, on our way back to Hong Kong from Shenzhen, we were detained
by passport control at the Train Station, who took us into their office for “questioning”.
My father was very confident that we just happened to be part of their
compulsory random check, and asked us to keep cool, but my mother was totally
freaked out, as if the authorities suspected us to be armed and dangerous
Russian Ninja Assassins who were trying to spark a Nuclear War, which is crazy
because we’re not even Russian. My mother got completely paranoid and suddenly
started chanting Hanuman Chalisa and MantharaRajaPadam Sthothram under her
breath in between high pitched whines in Tamil that involved calling the
Chinese Passport Authorities “Shaniyan”. Very cool.
the middle of all this I was sitting and copying a Chinese character from a
flyer that was next to me, on to the back of my wrist with a black ball point pen.
fifteen minutes later, the Authorities confirmed that we were neither Russian nor
Ninja and let us leave. Just as he let us out, one of the guys at the door,
pointed to my wrist and smiled, which I thought was awesome – maybe my attempts
at copying Chinese characters was what had actually changed their minds and forged
a new bond of trust. I beamed back, fully convinced that I had done my part as
a Future Ambassador to the Country, when I realized his smile was less smile
and more smirk. Two more guys spotted my ballpoint-inked wrist and started giggling. Some Engrish and lots of dubstep dance moves later, I got to know that the flyer that was next to me was about the symptoms of Bird Flu and the character that I had been so intently drawing on my arm was the Chinese symbol for…Diarrhea.
“Hehe.” I offered.
And he laughed for twenty more.
PPS: Pasu is tamil for cow.
1. I just realized all the cool people are doing and saying what all the uncool people were/are doing and saying to be cool. I am sure all of you all have noticed the widespread usage of worst spellings and SunMusic I love you Arthy by G.Siva SMS language floating around in all these social networks and being used by cool people. I had always been one uncool only, but one word which I have major issues against, but everyone (cool people also!) seems to be using is Hai. There is something about that spelling which disturbs me. This is the first time I’m saying it out loud, by the way. Had I said it before, I assume my extremely well educated, late grandfather would have made me sit down for a sermon about how I am being unnecessarily elitist and how the French spell and pronounce Anglaish worse than the Indians do, but they’re proud of the fact that they can speak a language apart from French and never poke fun of their countrymen but we’re the ones who do and also that Hi isn’t even a proper word to have a proper spelling and that I should be proud of the fact that we came up with the phonetically superior spelling, much like the Americans who came up with program and color instead of programme and colour.
I am glad we never had that discussion. Also, Hai (Two Ramya Iyengar Bakery sandwiches says you cringed).
2. I am sure all of you all are aware of the fact that the family put one numbers trip to our Ancestral Village, the village where aforementioned grandfather was born. If you weren’t, it’s ok. My family put one numbers trip to our Ancestral village. I had always been of the opinion that Thamizh Movies exaggerated the whole village scene but I got mild metaphorical current shock when I realized that they don’t. The village I went to looked just like the one in that 1980s movie where Ramaraj has all these unnatural feelings for Cows. And Kanaga. We went to the Banks of one of the tributaries (8th standard geography I remember, see) of Kaveri/Cauvery/Caveri/Kauvery as well. It was very smelly, but it was also very cool. Maybe it was the smell of coolness.
3. Then what. Oh yes. I worked in my father’s office for a couple of weeks on an assignment. I had two other colleagues working with me. One played the mridangam and the other was 7 feet tall. But both of them were petrified of my father so I was very glad to know that we shared common ground.
4. I hope all of you all aren’t of the opinion that I write numbered paragraphs all the time. Because I don’t. Sometimes I put bullets.