Monday, 28 December 2009

I have been awarded these tags

Blunt Edges has awarded me with this original ‘Nameless award’ which comes with a tag. I'm supposed to list 7 things about myself that nobody knows.

And Dil se has tagged me with a 'Honest Scrap award' which says I have to write 10 honest things about me.

After 2 years of blogging I’m running out of original things to say but since I was combining 2 tags into one I thought hard and came up with these....

# I can withstand the biggest of shocks without reacting but the smallest of an ant bite can sometimes make me burst into tears.

# No matter how many times I come across ‘Hum Saath Saath hai’[Hindi movie] while channel-surfing I stop right there & watch the rest of the movie. Same goes for Hum Aapke Hai Kaun.

# I take ages to shop. I’m one of those undecided kinds. I frankly envy those people who can walk into a store, pick up something in 10-15 minutes and walk out with complete confidence that they got exactly what they were looking for.

# There is this friend I have with whom I share almost everything. Sometimes when I go thru a bad patch I deliberately don’t call her coz I know if I did I’ll end up telling her everything. The funny thing is that I have many other friends who I am more closer to and can control what I tell them but never with her.

# Very rarely have I cleaned my cupboard with the intention of cleaning my cupboard. Every 3-4 months I manage to misplace money or jewellery. And I ransack my cupboard trying to find it. I find it ofcourse & in the process my cupboard automatically gets cleaned. Nowdays when I have misplaced something I think wryly that the cupboard was looking messy anyways.

# Once I had gone to a book-store in Bangalore & asked for the book “The Achlemist”. The sales guy looked confused for a moment & so I asked once again loudly adding "by Paul Coelho". So many heads turned & looked at me & I wondered why. My friend Sapna who was following behind hissed “Idiot, its The Alchemist”.
People, I haven’t recovered from that gaffe yet.

# I try my best not to lie outright but have no qualms about twisting the truth. The better-half has now become very good at catching me at them.
“Did you take your medicine” he asks.
After a split second hesitation....
“Ofcourse I did” I say indignantly
“Did you take them this morning” he asks again
“Ofcourse I took them in the morning”
“Did you take them this morning”
“Don’t you believe me???” I ask with a wounded look.
“Don’t change the topic, I asked you whether you took them this morning”
“Heeee….. yesterday morning” I will say sheepishly.
Now that he smells them out its no fun anymore;-/

# I once called my uncle a “bloody fool” to his face…he had this habit of making fun of me infront of others. I got beaten up by my mother in front of the whole family for it. I regret it ofcourse but a small part of me still marvels at that timid teenager’s nerve.

# In school and college I was always found with a book in my hand. I was addicted so bad that my studies suffered. Unlike most parents, mine used to shout when they caught me reading. I used to read under the covers in torchlight, on the terrace, stay back at school & even bunk classes to complete a book. Today when I see my kids fascinated with books there is this uneasy feeling within me.

# At the best of times I am a bit dim, what you call a tube-light. Jokes, especially the ones with puns and double meaning just go over my head unless people stress on it. Infact some of the advertisements nowadays are just beyond my understanding…..I may understand the sequence but will not be able to make out how the product relates with the ad.

And it’s done. Phew, I think I’m getting too old to do these tags…saps the energy out of me.

Will be passing on these awards along with the others soon.

Leaving you with a quote……

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~Oprah Winfrey

Monday, 21 December 2009

Guess who is on top of Santa's list this year!!!!


Monday, 14 December 2009

A Love Marriage

Continued from here

The boy’s mother calls after an hour or two and my mum talks with her. After just 2-3 sentences about the previous evening they went on to discuss the weather and the neighbour’s sick dog. I loiter around in the background wondering what the heck was going on. Mum keeps the phone and looks at me sympathetically. It seems like the boy was not saying yes or no. The boy’s mother also was in a quandary here. But I knew what was going on. The boy didn’t want to make a scene by saying a straight No and so was hoping the situation would somehow resolve itself.

Boy’s mother calls the next day. She invites us for dinner the same night. The poor thing was quite keen to see it through and was making every effort towards it. I told my parents I was not interested[huh I too had my pride didn’t I] in going anywhere. Mum asked me to give it another chance. And I relented after making sure they knew I was least interested.

And so the 4 of us trooped into their house with a lovely bunch of flowers. The boy & family ushered us in graciously and we all sat down in the living room. While my father was making his apologies for not being there the previous day I picked up a magazine and was idly flicking through the pages. I was determined not to open my mouth until somebody spoke to me.

And then I hear my father say “Nancy was very disappointed that you didn’t speak to her before leaving yesterday. She is under the impression you are not interested in this proposal”. My father may look like a thin and frail old man but at his original best is like a bull in a china shop.

If the boy had been in the process of drinking something I’m sure he would have choked on it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think my father would embarrass me in this fashion. The magazine which I was holding automatically went up to cover my face and stayed there as I fervently wished for the earth to open up and embrace me into her kind depths. There was an awfully eerie silence which resounded thru the room[it could have been a nano second but it sure felt like eons to me].

When I didn’t hear anything I slowly lowered the magazine to peek over it and find the Boy looking at me with a wry expression. I guess everybody in the room must have been looking at me and laughing but I saw only his eyes. I have no clue what explanation he gave to defend his behaviour the previous evening coz I only heard the part where he asked to speak with me alone.

And so we walk out of the front door into the open parking space beside the house. He leaned casually against the gate and I on a bike and faced each other. I thought the farce went on long enough and was determined to clear the air.

“My parents and yours have the best of intentions but don’t let them force you into any kind of decision. Its ok if you want to back out” I say quietly.

There was a silence before he spoke. He seemed to weigh his words before speaking.

“If I had any kind of reservations I doubt this dinner would have taken place. I apologize for yesterday, it was a very tiring day.”
Then after a pause “I did ask my mother if your voice sounded like that all the time and she told me that you were not feeling well.” He said with a tiny smile playing around his lips. We did speak some more before going back in, some details about where he worked and the kind of role he played in his company.

He was leaving the next day, and I wondered if he’d call before leaving. He didn’t but I perked up when I was asked to drive him to the airport but alas no chance whatsoever to talk freely with the 2 mothers sitting at the back of the car listening avidly to whatever we were saying;-/. And so we exchanged email id’s and did small talk. Oh did I say he was arrogant……..nah….what’s a man without a bit of pride in his bearing:-).

The wedding was arranged for the last week of August and the engagement one week before that. He was busy with a project he had to complete before coming for the wedding and I was busy with my MA exams. He called me once a week and we mailed each other whenever we could. I still remember the 1st mail I got from him. It was a reply to the 1st mail I wrote to him 2-3 days before. At that point in time the internet & email were a big deal, we didn’t have a computer at home & there were no internet caf├ęs at every corner like now. I had an exam the next day & couldn’t get out of the house.
My friend Sharitha was so thrilled about my first mail from would-be husband that she took my password from me and accessed my mail. She carefully took a printout and called me every 2 hours for the rest of the day to read it out to me. The mail itself was nothing special but for a sentence which hoped that the wedding would happen as soon as possible and the ‘love, Biju’ attached at the end[you see my 1st mail to him did not display any such feelings]. Sharitha would read out the last bit dramatically and both of us were so tickled for different reasons. Gosh I’m smiling now thinking about it but my eyes are stinging.

Our conversations through the phone were very casual but our mails were more intimate….not like intimate intimate but still very personal. He wrote 1 paragraph or two with great difficulty and I would send him 2 pages or more. Once I got really mad that he was not writing more & sent him a dry mail with just 1 para. He immediately understood and wrote back saying how much he loved what I wrote to him but unfortunately words didn’t come so easily to him. He called me twice that week to pacify me. I ofcourse melted like chocolate and resumed my lengthy letters.

We met again on the day of the engagement and smiled tentatively at eachother. The engagement which was held on a Sunday went off without incident & the wedding was scheduled for the next Sunday. That one week between the engagement and the wedding are days which I will remember vividly for the rest of my life. Everyday we would get off early in the morning from home on pretext of some work or the other and spend the day together doing all the jobs on our list. Somedays his sister tagged along acting like a kebab mein haddi……..ummm actually we tagged along behind her while she strode ahead and got everything organized. She logically and methodically prearranged everything taking more than half the burden upon herself giving us time to spend with eachother though I doubt she was aware of that. Bins,…..thanks, once again:-))!!!!!

Those 6 days were some of the best days of my life. I had finally fallen in love. An emotion I had seen almost all my friends succumb to, an emotion which I thought was quite over-rated and a feeling I wondered if I would ever experience. We spoke a lot, at times were quiet too, sometimes gently teased each other….he thought I drove too fast, I thought he spoke too less, he ordered apple pie for me I called the waiter back and changed it to chocolate milkshake. My heart stopped whenever his hands brushed against mine, much as I wanted the hand to remain there I would move away after a few seconds not quite sure why I feared the feelings when I was technically not doing anything wrong. I was engaged, right!!!! Anyways he didn’t push me at all, was just content to spend time with me and I loved him all the more for that.

On the last day before the wedding ie Saturday we had to go to church together for a small counseling session and confession before we entered into Holy matrimony. It was a very solemn occasion which brought home to me that my life was going to be changed forever from the next day. A new home, a different life-style, adjustments, and responsibilities were just the beginning to a role which was going to last for a life-time.

It was raining while I was driving back towards his house to drop him off. Very little conversation happened with each of us involved in our own thoughts. Around 1/2 way home we decided it was pouring too heavily and parked on a lonely stretch for the rain to ease off. An uneasy silence followed:

“Will you let me kiss u” asks boy quietly.

I looked at him stunned. Bloody hell, here I was thinking that he too was shaken after the session we had with the priest, about how we were bound to eachother for the rest of our lives, how we were going to responsible for eachother and all this while he was plotting to kiss me.

I looked away and stared straight out of the windshield refusing to look at him. I was so scared that I could hear my heartbeats reverberating inside the car.

“How about on the cheek then” he didn’t give up.

I didn’t give any indication that I heard him at all. In my mind I was contemplating opening the car door and running all the way back home in the rain. Only the fact that my father would not let me into the house without his precious car kept me there.

There was a heavy sigh from beside me “Ok, let’s just hold hands then”. And my lips started quivering.........I suddenly saw the funny side to the whole incident. I looked sideways at him and found his eyes dancing with amusement. And we burst out laughing.

Drawing confidence from the moment I bravely put my hand out palm up. He also puts his hand out palm up and tells me that a woman must first allow the man to hold his hand out and then place her hand palm down and accept it. Feeling like an idiot I withdraw my hand and place it carefully palm down in his large hand. And we sat quietly hand in hand waiting for the rain to stop.

Its been 10 years now and there’s never a day when I don’t thank the good Lord for my companion. We may have our differences and everything may not be hunky-dory all the time but the Love thankfully has deepened and is stronger than ever. Many of you wondered whether my anniversary was coming up as a reason for this unusually soppy post..….nope my anniversary was in August and I remember trying to post something special but the words wouldn’t come.

After 2 years of blogging I’ve realized that I have no real control over what I post..….I could be planning to put up a post about the moon but after 2 pages I delete the whole post retaining only the parts where I mention the sun & end up posting that. Even here I was planning to do a post about arranged marriages in India intending to mention my marriage as an example on Christian marriages and it ended up like this.

Leaving you with a picture which was taken a few days after the wedding. With this I have kept my promise to all of you who wanted a face to associate with Reflections:-).
Though I have to warn you that there is a world of difference between the way I looked then and how I look now. The better-half has managed to age very gracefully whereas I have literally gone to pot. The very reason I took so long is I had this ambitious plan wherein I was hoping to lose around 10kgs of weight and display an attractive picture of a slimmer me……..but now I realise pigs will fly faster.
So if you see a short, fat and unsightly woman waddling upto u at some bloggers meet don’t complain you weren’t adequately warned.

I do hope u realise how much thinking happened before I decided to post this picture but a promise is a promise. Now I will hold you to your word[u know who u r]…..if you are hesitant about putting it up on your blog, send it to me by mail. It will be great to see the face behind the blogs I read:-).

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

An Arranged Marriage

For centuries now, marriages in India have been arranged by families. When the girl or boy is of marriageable age, feelers[along with details] are sent to all the relatives existing in every corner of the country or abroad. Nowadays it is ofcourse also advertised in the newspapers and on the internet.

First, details of the girl usually the horoscope or a cv and photographs are scrutinized by the boy’s people, if found compatible a meeting between the respective families is fixed. If all matters do not get sorted out in the 1st meeting itself a 2nd or 3rd meeting is allowed and most often than not marriages are fixed on the basis of these 2-3 meetings.

When non-Indians and India’s younger generation express shock or disgust the Karnavar[the elders] proudly boast that the statistics are good. While we may not have 100% success rates the divorce rates are wayyyy below every other countrys'.

Even today atleast 70% of India’s marriages are arranged this way. Incase you are wondering why the girl or boy don’t protest against this forceful way of marrying them off the answer is simple. We have been conditioned to accept this kind of arrangement from the time we were in kindergarten…….and the fact that we trust our parents to make the best choice for us.

Ofcourse love marriages are more common in the Cities nowadays but it happens after a lot of drama especially if the boy & girl are from different religions[eg. Hindu & muslim, Hindu and Christian, Muslim and Christian] or communities[both could be hindus but from different states - a Malayalee and a Punjabi].

Sometimes the girl/boy give into parental pressures and give up their desires, other times parents give in and its usually when children threaten to do something extreme. Very rarely do marriages like these happen with complete approval. Sometimes even if the parents themselves have no problems the relatives step in to make their lives miserable.

Actually I’m deviating away from my subject of Arranged Marriages here, so coming back to one particular arranged marriage I want to tell you about……

Round about 11 yrs back, a few weeks before her 25th birthday, while having dinner her father announced his plans to get her married off before the end of the year. When she loudly protested that she had a good 3 yrs left before putting her head through the nooze he waved his left hand like he was swatting off a fly and continued eating. Her mother offered her hope saying that these things take time to click, so she was not to worry unnecessarily and in the meantime go like a good girl to GK vale and click some pretty pictures so that she could send them to our relatives in the country and abroad…..”just preliminaries”, the mother once again reassures her “a good match sometimes takes years to happen.”

On her birthday as she was getting ready to go out with a friend her mom gets a phone call and she hurriedly tells her to wear something nice as a family friend was coming to visit them with ‘her friend’. Just a casual visit, my mother stresses giving me a meaningful look...oh what the heck....yes, this is my story.

A smart-looking lady, accompanied by the family-friend walks in sometime later. She scanned around the house critically, looked me up and down while I fidgeted with my bikes keys, even held my face to the light and commented on the marks I had on my face. I was not sure how to address this rudeness but my mother nervously hovering on the sidelines and also the fact that I did have marks on my face, held me back from…I don’t know what.

After some detailed grilling, she took a picture from her handbag & gave it to my mom just before leaving. As soon as she left the 4 of us huddled around that tiny picture. We were all impressed for different reasons………

My father[satisfied]: “He’s an engineer”
[It had been my fathers life-long ambition to get his daughters married to engineers]
My mother[impressed]: “They are Orthodox just like us”

My sister[approvingly]: “He looks good”

Me[looking for a fault]: But he stays in Dubai…….guys over there wear neon-coloured lungis. I don’t want to leave Bangalore.

It sounds corny now but 1 look was all I needed to decide I wanted to marry the guy. It was not about the looks…infact some of you may exclaim “What were you thinking….for God’s sake he’s got a mush”.

Aaaaah but decent Malayalee girls like me [yup the pansy types who’ve never dated] prefer guys with mush….. atleast on the guys we were going to get married to. And guess what, malayalee boys decent or otherwise often grow a mush precisely for the same reason. Go ahead ask any decent Malayalee girl or boy, you’ll get the same answer.

Coming back to what I saying…..even from the photograph, a sort of integrity radiated or maybe his personality attracted me. Whatever the reason, I was willing to see how it goes.

The Boy’s Mother had taken my pictures along with her to send it to her son. Seems like the son after seeing the pictures questioned whether I was really above 18 coz I looked more like a teenager in the photos.

Off I went to GK Vale, willingly this time to take pictures in a Saree. Again pictures were duly sent for Boy’s approval. I can quite picture the thoughts running thru many of your minds but the plain fact was that I liked the guy in the picture and wanted to give this proposal a decent chance. Oh well even if I had made a fuss my father was quite capable of dragging me to the nearest tacky studio & getting a picture of me taken with those fake sceneries as background… better this than that, right!!! And all this happens in January.

Boy was supposed to come in March, but it kept getting postponed for some reason or the other. My father in the meanwhile had kept a few other proposals on hold coz he was keen this worked……..nobody knew this but I too hoped this one would work out.

I was terribly sick with fever and a sore throat when the boy finally arrived in May. The timing was terrible. He was supposedly in the middle of some important project and came to India via his way somewhere else and so had only 3 days which meant they couldn’t afford to wait for me to recover. I dragged my sickly self up listlessly to dress my best. As the visit was completely unexpected, my father who was out of station was not able to make it on time.

Boy and family arrive, we all congregate to the living-room and general talks happen. Within 15-20 minutes conversation dries up and everybody went quiet, suddenly nobody could think of anything to say..….infact I clearly remember the boy’s mother humming a tune to cover up the awkwardness and his sister was examining the mosaic on the floor in great detail. My mother and sister[the rats] vanished to the kitchen to bring the eats. My father’s absence was never more felt.

From there it went downhill……the boy clammed up AND I WAS TALKING TOO MUCH. Well you have to understand my state of mind here………as I saw it nobody was making an effort and the room was so quiet. As a host I took it upon myself to keep the conversation going & my voice sounded like sandpaper being rubbed on the wall because of the sore-throat I had….you get the picture, right. Even today I cringe when I think about it.

As I saw them walking out of the gate the feeling was not very good. The visit didn’t at all go the way I had imagined. The Boy did not meet my eyes when he was taking leave. It was not a good sign. The Boy, in person was and behaved exactly like the guy I had envisioned in my know, the calm collected types….whereas I, at my best, was a bit of a clown. I was quite sure he’d say no. I told my parents about my doubts and warned them not to habour any hopes.

Oh well, no point brooding about it right!!! The Boy, now that I had time to think about it came across as arrogant and the silent types which was just the opposite to what I was. And I had to leave my beloved Bangalore and my family to live in some desert. No way.

The other proposal my father had put on hold, that of an Army captain who had 3 servants helping around in the house sounded much more prospective suddenly. For a person who didn’t know how to cook and a couch-potato by nature it was looking like a more and more attractive option now. I went about the day normally though at odd times I became very quiet but blamed this on the viral flu which I had not yet recovered from.

This is stretching like a saga…..dont want to bore you out of your skull. So I’ll put the rest of it up in the next post :-D.

Now you tell me, was yours a Love marriage or Arranged?????

Part 2 continued here

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Colours of UAE

UAE celebrated her National Day yesterday ie. on December 2nd . 38 years ago, under the leadership of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, 6 emirates got together to form the UAE. To those who want to argue about the number of emirates, let me tell u Ras Al Khaimah was added only a year later. Hah!!!

So as I saying, a whole lot of activities were held at various places in the country:

# Eight military air force parachuters flew in the sky holding the UAE flag.

# Scintillating firework displays, Car rallies, charity drives and marine parades were organised

# The largest flag in the world[certified by Guiness World Records, mind you] was being carried with great show and pomp from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi[the capital] to be displayed there........last heard it's still on the way;-D

# Most government organisations displayed humongous flags on the sides of their buildings and cut even more humongouser cakes and distributed it freely. Anybody who refused to eat were force-fed in the nicest possible way.

# Most of the parks had circus shows, orchestras, painting competitions and childrens camps organised. By the end of the day parents have a tough time dragging the kids back is much more fun at the childrens camp you see.

# Etisalat[telecommunications] cut call-rates for the WHOLE day[otherwise off-peak hrs on a weekday is from 2-4pm and 9pm-7am]

# The Road Transport Authority not wanting to be left out, announced that carparking will be free till Saturday. Imagine 4 whole days of free parking.....everybody who had a car[that means 99.99% of the population] wept in joy.

Well ok I might have written the above tongue-in-cheek but honestly the city of Dubai wore a festive look yesterday. The colours Red, White, Black and Green shimmered whichever direction we looked.
Most of us expatriates generally use the day[especially if it co-incides with a weekend] to take off for a short break, have barbeque parties at the beach or parks, and ofcourse catch the excitement at the malls[they'll have a few activities up their sleeve]. Nobody, simply nobody sits back at home:-))

Below are a few pictures I took as we enjoyed the day.....

P.s: I planned to put these pictures in my photo-blog initially. And then.......sort of felt sorry for my page here. Seems like ages since I posted last. I really have no idea why. Maybe its because the children have been at home past 10 days, or maybe because I've been feeling a bit under the weather or it could be a curious lack of motivation. Well whatever it is, I sure hope it will end soon;-/.