I got the following e mail today. I felt it would provoke some genuine laughter for all married couples. So I am starting my blog with it.
CLASSES FOR WOMEN…. Training courses are now available for women on the following subjects:
Topic 1. Silence, the Final Frontier: Where No Woman Has Gone Before
Topic 2 Communication Skills I: Tears – The Last Resort, not the First
Topic 3. Communication Skills II: Getting what you want without Nagging
Topic 4. Telephone Skills: How to Hang Up
NEW EVENING CLASSES FOR MEN!!! ALL ARE WELCOME! OPEN TO MEN ONLY!
Evening classes for men. Starting this month!
Note: due to the complexity and level of difficulty of their contents, each course will accept a maximum of eight participants each.
Topic 1. Health watch: bringing her flowers is not harmful to your health: Graphics and audio tape.
Topic 2. Learning to live: basic differences between mother and wife: Online class and role playing.
Topic 3. How to be the ideal shopping companion: Relaxation exercises, meditation and breathing techniques.
Topic 4. How to fight cerebral atrophy: Remembering birthdays, anniversaries, other important dates and calling when you’re going to be late.
The above questions and answers illustrate – with great humor- the gap that require to be filled in any marriage or any other form of co-habitation between man and woman. Perhaps, it applies to any two human beings living together. But the intensity of relationship between spouses put it another plane altogether.
What has 2010 brought for me? Well it started with a brief trip to Bangkok and Singapore. While Bangkok reminds one of a city on the make, Singapore gives a finished and polished look. The mandatory visit to Mufstafa Market highlighted the desires of Indian visitors. Most of the items were what an average middle class Indian would long to buy. The dresses were down market items which we would get in Mumbai. Of course, the main attraction in Little India is the Indian restaurants.What would strike any Indian visitor to these places would be the quality of basic infrastructure available. While India is a much larger country and strictly not comparable, still we could at least expect that some of the larger metros had similar infrastructure facilities available long back. Anyway, better late than never.
I renewed my familiarity with train journey due to Johny’s brief leave. So, instead of driving, I felt travelling by train would be faster and less strenuous than driving in dense traffic in the evening. This is true, especially in the evening as the train takes only 55 minutes to reach my destination station and in another seven minutes I am home. There is added pleasure of sitting and reading novel or magazine without sudden jerks and stops. I thought this was the end of my train journey. But nature and others willed otherwise. A few urchins in a spirit of celebrating Holi festival threw a stone (like a fast bowler) which fell on my windshield. By the time I could give it for repairs few sticks from a tall tree also fell on it to increase the earlier cracks.
Now, every morning I look with some degree of trepidation at the mango tree in the neighboring compound, which has willfully tilted to our compound. It has several big mangoes hanging gracefully just above my car, but at a great height. I hope these mangoes fall on the earth rather than my car. Last year a mango fell on my wind shield with the kind of results described earlier.
Slowly India is moving towards a stage where every citizen should compulsorily have a proof of identity and address, without which he or she is a person without identity. I realized this during a property transaction. Whether we pay income tax or not, PAN Card is a must. Ration card surprisingly is a proof of address. I wonder what persons in transferable jobs do? In Mumbai, we need to keep Ration Card not for getting rations (are we in war time that food grains should be rationed out?), but just to prove your identity, address, existence etc. So I have a white ration card (cover is of white color). This card entitles you to nothing except serving as a proof of identity and residence. Government of Maharashtra issued an incomprehensible circular requiring all card holders to fill up some form and submit it. The ration shop employee would give the form only to the first named person in the card and not to anyone else. Some days passed this way. Then a newspaper clarification was issued that only non-white card holders (who are said to be misusing the “privileges” of the card) need to undergo this arduous exercise.
Bride searching is pleasant past time for those who have crossed the half century mark- unless it is for their own children. What do today’s youth aspire for in their spouse? I looked thru some ads when a relative wanted to put one for his child. I found that men need their prospective bride to be tall (unless they themselves are of shorter height), fair, slim, employed, domestically trained (reminds me of puppies), home loving, religious, traditional yet modern, respecting elders, having a sense of humor and finally well employed. What do women want? Well employed, clean habits (meaning no drinks etc and not just washing hands and legs frequently), articulate, understanding, loving, sharing, allowing the bride to work after marriage (supportive of career aspirations), having a sense of humor, professionally qualified (profession is also sometimes specified), would be a son to her parents (hey, what about the original parents?) and so on. The list is only illustrative and in true Indian tradition hides more than it displays.
Sri Narayanamurthy (Infosys fame) has ensured that the only educational course worth studying (especially during 90s and early this century) is IT. So all prospective brides are IT Engineers, a good percentage of them in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York, Netherlands. The rest have made do with Chennai, Hyderabad and of course Bangalore. It seems that the specialty of this profession is that an IT youth is compatible only with another person belonging to this genre and that too in a specified geography. I had seen this requirement for medical doctors, now I am seeing it for this profession too. While this profession has lost its glamour now due to stupidity of some Bankers in USA and others of their ilk, the damage is already done. The babies already born and to be born would have a mental image of their mother in which the laptop (aren’t there better animate and inanimate things to put on your lap) is an integral part. The baby would be wondering why instead of I, the machine is spending so much time in my mother’s lap.
What puzzles me is how a happiness of a human being in an arranged marriage can be tied down to the spouse not only belonging to a specified profession but also a location. (My daughter/son is an engineer based at BLR/CHE/HYD and we are restricting our search to this/these city/cities). So relocation post marriage to Calcutta or Jaipur or Mumbai CANNOT give any happiness, but staying in the same city or another IT Friendly City after marriage to another IT Engineer can give lifelong guaranteed ecstasy.
Is this a correct view of life? I do not know. But the contradictions emerging out of an otherwise traditional society catching up with a westernized economy and its way of life is slowly becoming apparent. We educate our children without any gender difference. We encourage them to compete with the rest of the world. Then comes the age to tie up a person of opposite gender from the same religion, caste, sub-caste, star, matching horoscope, social and income standing, profession and so on.
The western concept of free choice some times (not all the time) smacks of what human beings did at the beginning of civilization and what other mammals still do (as seen in Discovery channel and Animal Planet).Spouse searching (is hunting a better or more correct word?) based on some compatibility norms –mental and material- seems to be a time tested and more intuitive and sophisticated system where there is a veto at every stage for the players concerned. There is an arbitrary elimination process in horoscope, sub caste and such norms so as to reduce the choice to an acceptable level (we need only one spouse and not several). The process of making choices gives awareness of our needs and pitfalls in approaches. Finally, in true Indian spirit, we also give God a chance so that there is somebody we can blame if things do not work out due to our foolishness or lack of intelligence.
I came across some blogs of expatriate women living in India after marrying an Indian. Besides being well written, with good humor woven into it, they are also interesting as they give an outsider’s view of life of an Indian home maker. I am giving the links below.
They are worth reading.
What else has happened in my life in 2010 which is worth recounting? My cable connection got converted into a set top one giving me access to nearly 200 channels. Most importantly, all south Indian channels (madras channel to use the local lingo) are now available.
Shivam- my over two and half year old grandson- has become quite articulate and tires everyone by asking questions. He is able to charm everyone around him who tolerates his antics. He sang two rhymes on radio as a part of the toddler team of his nursery school.
My daughter Gayatri learnt to drive two wheeler. Like me she is expert in not learning mechanical things at first go. Now she can terrorise Coimbatore citizens with a two wheeler. She tells me Shivam looks at her doubtfully when she is in the driver’s seat and expresses hesitation in joining her. Perhaps he is chivalrous and is giving an advance promise of driving her round in a larger vehicle. Or, perhaps he may be the author of the first part of this blog in his previous birth.