Love (Or Something Like It)

Deviance – For Real!

So around November of 2008, I wrote a short story called “Deviance” about a Tamil dude who wanted to marry another man. The story was essentially the result of one of those “what were we even thinking?” conversations with another friend, (the erstwhile) IdlingInTopGear, except I actually wrote what we were thinking/talking into a story.

The story became popular in a very 2008 way – some people made into an e-mail forward with extra punctuation, some others posted it on their own blogs and so on; It also became a short film, starring very talented actors from the Chennai theatre circuit and was featured in an LGBT Film Festival in Chennai, too – it’s currently on a Youtube Channel for Indie short films called Bench Culture which is promoted by Karthik Subburaj, of Jigarthanda/Pizza fame . I’ve written a lot since then, but in all honesty, Deviance remains one of my biggest accomplishments in writing, not because of the popularity it achieved, but because a few people from the Tamil gay community reached out to me to tell me that they found it hilarious, and that for me was the greatest piece of validation.

Anyway, so 8 whole years later after I wrote Deviance, this news item comes up on my feed about an adorable gay couple who had a traditional, South Indian style wedding with pretty much everything that I’d imagined in the story!

Anyway, so I just thought I’d share it here because,
a) It’s too freaking cute
b) More people need to know about my Nostradamus-ness OKAY.

lavanya mohan, chutney case blog, lavanya mohan chutney case, deviance short story, tamil brahmin gay story, indian lgbt fiction

2014 in Review

Another year is upon us! As it is with every new year that sneaks upon us every December, I hate it already. I was very sure that 2014 would be crappy, but looking back, it wasn’t as crappy as I had initially expected it to be. Here is a personal roundup –

1. I used a planner for the whole year – I’ve been buying a planner every year the last five years but 2014 was the first year where I actually used it to plan my day as opposed to my usual ritual of writing one sentence and then using it for bookshelf beautification. I think the key to like, really making the most of your planner is by using it purely on a day to day basis. Don’t waste time on filling out birthdays in the “Months” section because it’s 2014, and we’ve all got facebook for that.

2. I learned to be more ambitious…and more open to failure – Failure and me, we’re like those two people who aren’t really friends, but have like 3571 mutual friends and keep commenting and annoying each other on our common friend’s wall posts. We don’t know each other, but we know each other, you know what I mean – the dude is always lurking. This year, I finally sent out that friend request. I started a lot of projects this year, some were great, some were O-K and some, I don’t even know what I was thinking. But all of them, I started with the knowledge that it was TOTALLY OK if it bombed. That really gave me the freedom to go all out and enjoy myself doing those projects and yes, I didn’t do as well as I would’ve liked, but I had fun, I learned a little more about myself and it’s all so much better when failure is a friend. I do not, however, recommend this “friending failure” approach where academics and exams are concerned.


3. I made an effort – So 2014 wasn’t really the greatest year where my friendships were concerned. I had always been lazy in that department, but this year a few things happened where I really was affected to the point where I had to totally rethink the way I created my friendships, and how I maintained them. I started from scratch again, did some spring cleaning for the old, neglected ones, and went out and actively built new ones. I honestly am happier now for the effort that I made. Looking back, I’d like to think of the stuff that went down the drain as the hair that you lose when you shower – it wasn’t strong enough to begin with, and I know that you’re attached to your hair and all, but it’ll be gross if you go try pick it up and put it back, and it’s just hair anyway, it’ll grow back newer, and maybe even better. Analogy mairaatam irundhaalum feeling-a please purinjukonga*.


4. Marriage can be awesome if you’re lucky – I think this is the year where I really felt like damn, so this is what it feels like to be married. Marriage is awesome though. I mean, we are polar opposites, my husband and I, and yet we are having plenty of fun. What annoys me though, is when people expect me to wax eloquent of Arranged Marriage. Every time I/we maintain that I/we got lucky (which I/we did), people get really disappointed, like those old Chinese Men with the long mustaches in the Martial Arts movies because I/we failed to defend Arranged Marriage’s honour. “But you two had an arranged marriage” they say, “and you two are happy!” We are. We really are. But we also know that Marriage (arranged or otherwise) is kind of like jumping into the sea from the Titanic. Sometimes you get the lifeboat manned by an experienced boatman, sometimes, you’re left in the freezing water with someone who’s on a wooden plank that’s big enough for the both of you and yet won’t let you on it while holding on to your hand and claiming to love you all the same.

I’m full of analogies today.

5. I READ MORE BOOKS – I read 20 books this year out of the 24 I had aimed, and that, for me, was the least crappy thing about 2014.


So that was my year. How was yours? Awesome? Crappy? Non-crappy? Just Ok? Here’s hoping 2015 is better 🙂

HAPPYY NEW YEARRRR 

* – Sorry, but I can’t translate this. 

So, How's Married Life?

If I had a rupee every time I was asked how married life was, I’d have had a dollar in my hand right now. Initially, I tried answering this question with sincerity, but it turns out “Married life a? But it’s only been 3 days” is not an answer that is popular with the masses, so these days when asked the question on text, I offer my standard reply of “Oh it’s great. I’m having a really good time!” followed by numerous smiley faces. Being interrogated about your “married life” during socializing I’ve found, is more of a challenge because unlike text messaging, it is difficult to ignore the assorted follow-up questions that tail my standard smile-and-“it’s good!”-answer (Standard smile because if I were to show exactly how happy I am being married, most people would think I’m on a pretty potent blend of recreational drugs).

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 –

I Am Not A Domestic Goddess (Also the title of my upcoming Romance Novel)

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.

Whatever.

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]

Like A Telephone

In March this year, my parents announced that they were going to start looking for a “suitable boy” for me. I wasn’t particularly surprised, but I did try, initially, to give them the “I’ll find a boy myself” dialogue, which was met with my parents roaring with laughter, after which I stopped trying to give them that, because who was I kidding anyway – I wasn’t capable of finding my own phone most of the time, so suffice to say that finding “suitable” boys wasn’t really a part of my skill set. 
Fast forward many, many tantrums (me) and abnormal blood pressure levels (my parents) to today, I am engaged. I KNOW, RIGHT?! It’s been a little more than a month since I’ve been engaged. I waited this long for it to sink in, but it still hasn’t.  Maybe it was a little too much on my part to assume that there was going to be this great change which involved the skies parting and a holy game show voice from the heavens announcing that my life was to change forever. Life is still the same, but a little different, kind of like consecutive Harris Jayaraj songs.  
A lot of people to whom I broke the news to are really happy that I am getting married at the age of twenty four, which I find pretty interesting because to be honest, I had been secretly preparing myself for the “You’re getting married NOW? But you’re only as old as a baby-foetus!” speeches.  So when people tell me I’ve made the right decision by deciding to wed now, it sounds great, like I’ve put a great deal of thought into it, outlined pros and cons in some important looking notepad (with flowcharts!) and everything, but truth be told the primary reason I decided to get married now is because I wanted to look nice (while I still could) in the wedding photographs. Like, priorities.

Speaking of weddings, I would be lying through my teeth, gums even, if I said I had no idea about how I wanted my wedding to be before all this really happened. I had a vague idea, ok no, I had a good idea, ok fine, I had been planning the entire ceremony in my head the last couple of years, including invites, a wedding food menu, three alternate colour schemes for the decor, what I’d wear, everything. Well, almost everything – I hadn’t thought about this one minor detail concerning who the boy I’d actually marry would be. Insignificant stuff. 
So naturally, at the start, I was pretty protective of my very own fairy tale wedding that I had conjured in my head (and in my Pinterest account), and when people started giving me suggestions about what to do, I’d give them the same reaction that most people would when you ask them to surgically alter their baby’s face. But soon I realized how much WORK all of this was and that if I was to get into everything, I’d be well on my way to getting permanent residence in the asylum at Kilpauk. It was at that moment, that my inner organizational genius awoke and I realized, that the key to planning a successful wedding is efficiency, a resolve of steel and advanced organizational skill. Once I attained this moment of enlightenment, I most efficiently dumped as many responsibilities as I could on my mother before she could realize what was happening.  
Yes, I might not get to choose my invites, I might not get to choose my wedding food menu, I might not get to choose the décor, and I might not get to choose most of what is going to happen around me those two days, but I’m not too worried about it. After all, I got to choose the boy. 

Crush

My sister was watching TV when the channel started playing a song from Alaipayuthey.

It was probably the millionth time I was watching it, as well as the millionth time I had that stupid grin on my face when I saw Madhavan prance about awkwardly. More than Madhavan, I think that grin was for Karthik, his character in the movie. Karthik pretty much epitomized every thing I’ve ever wanted in a guy – charming, intelligent and most importantly, he wasn’t afraid to get what he wanted.
So actuall-a paatha (Simbu in Vinnathaandi Varuvaaya. Yes. Same feel) my first crush wasn’t Madhavan. It was Karthik.
Who was yours?

Love Stories

Fact. Harlequin sells 4 books a second.

That’s 240 romance novels, a minute.

Question. Who’s buying?

Ladies, please. Don’t act all feminist and cringe. The time has come to admit the fact that you’ve not only read a romance novel, but you also, secretly, love them. And for a variety of reasons. There are a few who loved the romance, few others the passion but most of us just love it for the extreme entertainment value.

Allow me to elucidate.

A typical romance novel is written in a tone which would expect me to empathize with the
heroine/protagonist, so that the more I read the book, the more I connect with the character and her trials, and well, feel for her. Incidentally, the typical romance-novel heroine is almost always a 5’9″ blonde with never ending legs, big brown eyes, curves to die for and a highly successful career, but oh my god, she has elbows. I have elbows too! Wow, I really feel like I KNOW this woman, almost as if we’re in a parallel universe. Freaky.

But there is no Love in her life. No Passion. No Romance. No mad monkey sex, even. And just when you think you can actually empathize with her, a sudden twist of fate makes her meet Mr.Man. The books get particularly hilarious at this point with their descriptions of Mr.Man. Here’s an example (Slow Hands – Lisa Kelley) :

She had not imagined anything like those shoulders, which were about the width of a small bus, or the bulked-up chest straining against the fabric of his tux. Nor the thick dark hair, cut short enough to tempt a woman to do some finger tangling while not drawing one bit of attention away from the slashing brows, the prominent cheekbones, the stubborn chin.

I hadn’t imagined anything like that either. But don’t fall off your chair just yet. It gets better.

The chest was, as she already knew, huge and strong. The throat tanned,the neck corded with muscle. His strong jaw jutted in classic male determination. His face was freshly shaved, she’d imagined, for tonight’s event, but already displayed a hint of swarthiness that would provide the tiniest frisson of roughness if their cheeks met.

So you really can’t blame our heroine for falling for him now, can you? The strong male jaw. The bus sized shoulders. BUS SIZED.

And this is just one example. There are a hundred different variants, all unique descriptions of raw male beauty, including phrases like “His crisp white shirt perfectly accentuated his rippling muscles”, “His shorts did less to cover the muscular shafts of his thighs” and “When he ate, food got stuck in his hairy mustache”. Ok, maybe not the last one, but you get my drift. Chuck Norrises, all.

Now is the time we must empathize most with our heroine. What would you do when you met a Man with a strong male jaw and bus sized shoulders? Would you –

a. Sleep with him, or
b. Have monkey sex

Such are the complex choices life throws at you. Sigh. And so, they do it, have heated passionate encounters which are described in great detail. I’d post an example, but please. This is family blog.

The books are just high entertainment from this point, and so completely crackpot, that they’re unputdownable. It makes you accompany the heroine right from her shuddering spasms to the ache in her loins and even the pain in her empty heart which was caused by Mr.Man who wouldn’t make her coffee in the morning because his parents died in a car crash or some sloppy excuse like that (the bastard!) and then finally the merriment and utter happiness that she experiences when she gets back with him.

There are no intellectual values to these books, let’s be honest here. No moral debates or male-female prejudices. It’s trash, and so completely fun, entertaining and ridiculous that we can’t help but read more. But most importantly, inside every one of these trashy, harebrained novels there is something that every woman wants – A happy ending.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Right Round

I spin my head right round, right round when I go down, when I go down, down. Or get up for that matter. Or walk around. Not to mention I seem to permanently afflicted with nausea. I have no idea what is apparent reason, but I think I can say with reasonable conviction that it was the shady Malabar Barotta I had for dinner yesterday.

Thanks to my present condition, I couldn’t go for my 6.00 am tax class because I’m pretty sure the tax prof wouldn’t appreciate puke as a valid input, no matter how enthusiastic it is. Not to mention my mother who thinks that the only trip I’m capable of making today is to the bathroom.

My head spins, my stomach is a butterfly battlefield and I can’t think straight.

I’m never falling in love.

Kalyanam Chronicles

How can you not love Indian Weddings? The smoke, the noise, the Mama (Purohit) shouting at everyone and of course, the hapless bride and groom who have no clue about what’s happening to them amidst the sea of people so fervently trying to shake their hand. I personally love weddings, even though every wedding has at least 5 incidences of complete strangers pinching my cheeks and asking me to recognize them, along with a compulsory comment about my growth rate.
Of all my favourite marriage memories is the one that happened 2, or maybe 3 years ago, takes the cake. I was a lass of 17 then, naïve as ever, with the charm and the grace of an elephant in a tutu. It was yet another one of those weddings, full of pomp and smoke, and midway during the Kasi Yatra ceremony, (yes, that is when the groom supposedly walks out of the wedding with a handy umbrella saying he wants to become a single dude for life and the father of the bride rushes out to convince him to marry his daughter) was when I saw him.
He was tall, maybe 5 feet and 10 inches, give or take, not very fair, not very dark, a killer smile, great hair which flopped over his sricharnam-ed forehead and a lean physique.  Bharathiraja movie soundtracks started playing in my head. And I, of course, in a very ladylike fashion, stared at him through out the whole ceremony with my mouth hanging open.   
I am to believe that till date, thankfully, he didn’t notice the creepy girl, because he smiled at me once the ceremony was over. While people around me will say that it was one of those “ok-weird-woman-now-that-i-smiled-you-can-stop-staring” smiles, I’d like to think it was an “I’m-so-charmed” smile. Well, now you know why they call me the eternal optimist.
An hour or so later, after finishing lunch, I saw him, talking quite animatedly with my mother. What luck! I thought to myself. Now I’ll finally know who he is.  Making sure he was out of earshot, I asked my mother in a very casual tone as to who the young man she was talking to so spiritedly was. My mother raised her eyebrows, which was surprising considering I was being so casual. Maybe the fact that my eyes were popping out of their sockets gave me away.
“Avan a?” 
(him?)
“Aama ma, yaaradhu? Na avana munaadi paathadhe illa” 
(Yea, I’ve never seen him before)
“Avan dhaan X oda peran” (He’s X’s grandson) Offered my mother very helpfully, unaware of the fact that I may not have a sprinkling of an idea as to who X was.
“Adhu yaaru ma X?” 
(who’s X?)
“X di. Y paati is there no, her brother’s grandson.”
“Y paati a?”
“Aiyo, Y paati! Your paati is there no, Y paati is her cousin. You must have seen her in P’s wedding”
My mother, once again was ignorant of the fact that I may not have any living memory of P’s wedding considering I was only 6 then. All I cared about weddings then was whether ice cream would be served at the end of the meal and playing musical chairs with myself. 
“Therila…nyaabagum illa” 
(Dunno…don’t remember)
“Ippo unakku ennadi venum?”
(What do you want now?)
“Illa…andha payyan enaku epdi related?”
(no…how’s that guy related to me?)
“Very simple di. He’s Y paati’s brother X’s grandson.”
“Sollu ma…” I poked, hoping she’d say something like mora-payyan (In my defense, I had been diagnosed with the deadly disease Magnificus Salivatis, commonly known as Jollaria. Also I was but an inexperienced child of 17)
“Unakku avan Anna”
Anna. Brother.
Have you seen those moments in the cartoons where glass breaks, and everything comes to a screeching halt. It was one of those moments. Brother apparently.  I watched my mother talk to yet another aunty I didn’t recognize. But turned out she knew me and had very fond memories of me pissing on her saree when she came to my house 14 years ago. Just as I was about to give her my well rehearsed fake smile, I noticed a very very good looking boy standing behind her.
“This is my son ma, H. Nyaabagum irukka? You’ve played with him and all.”
As he flashed his dimples, I sincerely wished I remembered.
As the middle aged women continued their conversation, H started talking. I don’t remember what he talked about or what we talked considering I was paying more attention to his dimples. But I remembered only one thing. The show must go on. 

My Excuse for a Post

I had a crush on Brett Lee for 4 years. But now I know where his heart really is.
Why, Brett, WHY?

Sigh. This always happens with all the boys I like.

UPDATE: The video is no longer working because BCCI has some copyright issues. 
Anyhow, the above video, a charming display of male affection goes like this: 
Ishant Sharma, the tall, long-haired charmer runs up the pitch, the opposite end 
of which the unbelievably good looking Brett Lee stands. As he looks at the golden
haired, light eyed chunk-a-hunk his heart skips several beats, his hand becomes
unexplainably sweaty which makes him lose his grip on the ball and his delivery ends up as
a short pitched bouncer which hits Brett on his shoulder and makes him fall 

(in slow motion, courtesy action replay). Ishant is horrified, of course. He didn’t 
mean to hurt the man who had just caused butterflies to somersault in his heart. 
He stares, not knowing what to do. Brett looks at him. There is an instant 
connection, for their hearts share the same thoughts. He flashes his disarming 
smile and blows a kiss in Ishant’s direction.
Mmmmmuah!

Ok so I might have exaggerated a little bit.