Happily Unmarried

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Side-effects of getting un-unmarried

Just watched a totally time-pass flick called Pyaar Ke Side Effects. The only reason I picked it up was because I was curious to see how Rahul Bose and Mallika Sherawat would face off. Anyone making a face at Ms Sherawat’s name, believe me, I have never watched that babe either act or talk all this while. I had only caught some trailers of her movies on TV and by all accounts I hadn’t missed much. You know they say, “Expect the worst and you will be pleasantly surprised” and I was. MS is no Susan Sarandon or Hilary Swank, but with the right people behind the camera, she is very un-Mallika-ish, if you know what I mean.

In anycase, this is not a review of the movie or MS. But a takeoff on something that Rahul Bose does through out the movie – listing side effects of pyaar, engagement, break-up etc. I am past the pyaar, engagement, break-up, rebound affairs, rebound on rebound affairs, the big ‘if’ on marriage and the D-day stages. But after the movie I have caught myself listing out side effects of marriage quite a few times and the one way to get it out of my system is to list them out. So here goes:

Side effect 1 – ‘Mummy’ and ‘Papa’
I had my Amma and Daddy at home. And then I got married. Immediately, my in-laws weren’t ‘uncle’ and ‘aunty’ any more like I had always known them. They had to be ‘Mummy’ and ‘Papa’. What’s the funda? That by calling them ‘Mummy’ and ‘Papa’, I would replace my parents with them? Or they would be added to my idea of parents? I never did get it and always think it’s so shallow and artificial to call them that when I don’t know them better than my next-door neighbour.

Side effect 2 – The way to a man’s heart blah blah
Maybe I should give a disclaimer to anyone considering marrying a gujju. Roll up your sleeves and start kneading that dough. Every gujju aunty worth her thepla will tell you or ask you if you know to make phulkas, bakris, khandvis and all other weird types and shapes of roti. Mother-in-laws might be especially concerned that their sons will be made to eat positively un-gujju food like, heaven forbid, sambhar and rice on two consecutive days. If you are really lucky, you will get special cooking classes in gujju food as well! I see that the line of women waiting to marry gujju boys has just doubled!

Side effect 3 – Khem cho, su che and Induben
Yes, I am not Indu Prasad anymore. I am Induben. Sigh. And what travesty! I am a Gujju bahu who doesn’t know the language! I have been given a year to start conversing in Gujju and by my linguistic standards I have, I think the two phrases above are as far as I will get. Looks like I will be limited to finding out how people are and what the matter is all my life.

Side effect 4 – All those little tiny ‘quirks’ become causes of major blow-ups
I have had to make coffee for you for four consecutive days! Why the hell can’t you manage to cook one whole meal on your own without calling ‘KD’! I have become a housewife after marriage, I mean, sure, I live in the mountains, but I am still a housewife! Why do I have to make dry, oil-free, super-healthy phulkas instead of regular chapattis! Why can’t you be more organized and less scared of the dark! And on and on and on and on and on and on…

Side effect 5 – Live-in partners or ‘family’
Both of us have done the live-in scene. We got along well and decided we could live amicably enough. But post-marriage, I am just confused. Are we still friends / lovers who are living in or are we ‘family’, ‘till death do us part’, ‘through thick, thin and everything in between’. Mostly, it just depends on the stage of fight we are in. Like how T used to say that all there is to life is to be PMS (Pre-MS), MS and PMS (Post-MS), the only stages in a marriage are Pre-fight, fight and Post-fight. We are always either preparing for the next big fight or recovering from one. And before you say that’s a lousy life, believe me, there is nothing more cathartic than blaming your marriage for the job you won’t get 15 years from now.

I guess I could go on… but will stop for now and add on more as and when I need to vent.

Lost in Transit

I love airports. And planes. And hotels. I don't know what exactly it is - the act of going away, the feeling of being in transit, the exhilaration of being some place else, the relief of anonymity, the impersonal, sterilized comforts that one finds on flights and in hotels, the practiced warmth and courtesy of airline and hotel staff, the freebies and amenity kits - I love all of that.

So much so, that secretly, I even love the dull and frequently annoying stuff like check-ins and security checks and boarding queues. I love aimlessly flipping through magazines, drinking synthetic coffee and occasionally staring at TV monitors in transit lounges. I love watching people on their way somewhere. I love wondering about their reason for travel. I love striking up (at times inane) conversations with strangers. At times, I even love delays; you probably need to be a very twisted sort of person to love that, but I love losing myself longer than necessary in a sea of faces, tote bags, strolleys and rows of blue chairs while I read or ponder and wait for my boarding call. I love being inaccessible to the world for a few hours, when people back at work or at home are wondering why I havenít reached. Surprisingly, I don't like being on those coaches they use to ferry passengers to the aircraft. I much prefer aerobridges. I love the smell of the air freshener inside aircrafts. I love the routine of settling down in my cramped economy class seat. I love reading glossy travel articles in-flight magazines. And horror of horrors, I love waiting for the crew to start serving the food, no matter how unappetizing. I love the way the drab food is neatly laid out in sterile plastic trays. I love looking out of the window and wondering when Iíll travel next. I love cruising at 30,000 feet above sea level; just a wee bit higher than Mount Everest.

I love the bitter-sweet, near tangible nostalgia that grips me on a flight, reminding me of a time when travelling and being in love felt synonymous. Reminding me of meetings and farewells, hugs and heartbreaks in hotels and airports. Reminding me of times when we traveled together and held hands through turbulence and take offs, but went our separate ways after touch down.

- H