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Monday, May 21, 2007

Daydreams ….

Nightmare or remembered past….

They say people dream when they are in the theta level of sleep, that they dream of the things that happened to them, of the things that they wish had happened and of course of the horrors that are feared, will happen to them…..

Daydreams are therefore safer, better and more appreciated……we exercise strict control and censorship……and as with most humans, control is basically happiness.
Which is also another reason we deride daydreams and censor it within the social preview; we say its pointless, useless and of course worthless.

Interesting lot, us humans, hey?

I used to daydream a lot as a kid……especially in algebra class……about almost everything else but algebra. My dad claims that half of his hair turned white due this great ability of mine and its consequences on my report cards. He also claims that the other half of his hair turned white due to the same reason, only caused by my younger sibling.
  • Must have been hard for him, an engineer to have sons with no aptitude for mathematics; the elder needed pen and paper to sum up one and one and the younger needed a calculator!!!

    In any case, daydreaming was coherently and comprehensively thrashed out of me by Noel sir’s cane and later on, with the advent of studies without maths, by the advent of actual interest in what I was studying.

    Life in college was too hectic to be wasted daydreaming, and after college, it was the work to make those daydreams real that consumed the time allotted to such trivial pursuits.

    After a hiatus of decade and more from the fantasy isles of my childhood, I have returned back to it and received a rather warm welcome.

    I today believe that my decision to study further was one of the best I have ever taken. And coming from a rather short list of good decisions, it carries much value. For nothing else, it has given me a chance to go back to the magical isle of daydreams.

    My usual commute to my place work takes about 40 minutes by bus and the same back. Now, for most people, a bus ride that long is perhaps too long and a hassle, but I treasure that time as it allows me to sink beyond the ordinary and into the extra-ordinary.

    Now, daydreams are not possible on buses in India, in fact, I would go further to say that once a person is out of school, daydreams are a thing of the past in India. The pace of life is far too frantic and the sheer crowds of people crowding into your personal space actually renders almost thought impossible, much less daydreams.

    Buses and public transport in the West is usually one of the cheapest and most reliable methods of getting anywhere and the best thing about such transport is the singular fact that westerners prefer not to use it. They prefer the privacy and freedom of cars and personal vehicles. Not that I am complaining.

    I love the sight of a huge bus seating a comfortable 73 being inhabited by a scant 7 and sometimes even 3. I can choose my seat, stretch out my legs and plug in my headphones and loose myself in my own world of possible situations and scenes…..

    List of probable scenarios –
  • My return back home, without informing anyone. First to land up in Delhi and shock the shit out of my brother in Dehradun and then to arrive together back home and listen to Ma’s insane screeches of delight and surprise
  • Possible extenuation of the same in relation to relations…pun intended
  • A day in the future, when I am done with my loans and with a decent job waiting for me back home, packing up the debris of my foreign travels and adventures
  • My possible life, hopefully comfortable, back in India without hassles and with some decent company to share my load of foreign alcohol and stories
  • Possibly the day I meet someone chosen by my folks for marriage and scaring the shit out of her to convince her that I am the worst possible choice for marriage and settling down
  • Maybe finding someone who’ll actually find me interesting enough to spend some time with…….though I doubt that again…..however, it’s a daydream, so what the hell……
  • My own place, paid for and decorated ( I want a bedroom with three white walls and one wall done up in fire engine red with charcoal sketches of calvin and hobbes on the wall – very minimalist, with a simple double bed and a nice copper wet bar somewhere on the side – haven’t yet decided on the den)
  • My own garage where I can keep my old beauty, my lovely thunderbird and hopefully a harley-davidson someday and a decent sedan car

Even more hopefully, a son or daughter to teach how to ride the monsters. Doubt the presence of a mom in such a scenario to be honest since I know that even daydreams have limits.

Ah, the list goes on……

The fact still remains, that even if daydreams don’t come true, they are always there for you, to be called up at a moment’s notice, to re-invigorate you, to keep alive the flame of hope burning in your heart.

Another interesting thing is that daydreams are possible here because no one wants to intrude on your private space. A few blogs ago, I had sneered at such need of space, but now I see the benefits of having space.

Space to breathe in, to dream in, to be yourself in, to recharge yourself within to fight the cold and real world outside….

Everyone here jacks in their headphones and forgets the world around them

(except for the little and big old ladies who seem to have some kind of a massive freemason’s society of their own and chatter in their own incomprehensible lingo and seem to recognise each and every one of their own – I sometimes have the feeling that the whole world might be run by the dotty looking granny with the wispy white hair and massive purse who sits opposite me in the morning bus run and her ilk. She does mutter to herself quite a bit, which increases the suspicion – she might be murmuring instructions on a hidden speaker!!)

My usual, blatant paranoia aside, the whole exercise is indeed a form of yogic healing maybe, because I feel one benefits from having a wild imagination and happy thoughts which leave you feeling at least a wee bit happier and better equipped to handle cantankerous professor’s and demanding bosses and give you a reason to smile.

The transition from daydreams to power naps (love that term) is also a probable consequent which also helps in the long term, though it can cause long walks back home when you miss your stop and land up back in the bus depot, about 3 miles from your destination.

They say, difficulties are grist for a writer’s mill and extra exercise is always good for anyone, so I usually just grin and make my long way back home quite often and see much of the neighbourhood than I would usually see. In fact, its all grist for my ever churning mill, supplying the ever increasing demands for places, locations, situations and characters.

Like the crazy NED (Non Educated Delinquent) with the horses teeth who very kindly woke me up at the bus station and pointed me home and the rather smart and kind looking ladies in nice cars, who refuse to give a lift to an uplifted thumb in the pouring rain.

You do meet all sorts and types and they all give you a reason to say, yeah, this is why I came here and whistle through the rain……daydreaming of the day I hit the hot and dusty airport back home, with enough funds to actually implement a micro-hydel project or maybe three back in the village, stop the bloody floods everywhere and generate enough electricity to bring about sustenance……man, wouldn’t that be something to see, a way of generating self sustaining resources, in fact, creating employment as much as giving the people something to be assured about……we might even be a success to try for more projects…..who knows, we might set up a whole network of micro-hydel projects all over Lower Assam, hell, maybe, all of Assam…..

And the feet pound the wet pavement, the wheels turn and the daydreams go on…..

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The travails of marriage….chauvinistically speaking!!!

Marriage has been termed in so many ways and means that even defining it any further would be an exercise in futility. Allow me to quote that famous phrase which everyone has heard and so often observed in real life;

Marriage is a sweet, eat it and suffer, abstain and hunger…..

My thought is that it is perhaps better to be malnourished than suffer indigestion, if not food poisoning.

Forever have I been called cynical, pessimistic and such similar names for my vehement liking for reality and yet, hatred is often the flip side of love, they say and the grapes are assured to be sour if not cursed. If the accursed things were not sour, what would they be doing, hanging on the branch…….some smart bugger might have just fetched a ladder and done an end to temptation itself.

Marriage for an Indian man is truly a show of horror’s as I have had the opportunity to observe and envisage from all that I have deduced. Considering today’s modern liberalistic and open society, when you do get milk at the supermarket, it just doesn’t make sense to buy the whole bloody cow……..and lucky for us, the milk in the store also comes in different flavours nowadays!!!

They say marriage is the price men pay for sex and sex is the price women pay for marriage. I love aphorism’s like this…..they say such a lot in such brief words and brevity is the soul of wit. But then, the ability to quote also passes for wit today.

For an Indian man to be not married by his late twenties is unpatriotic at best and sacrilegious at worst. In a usual case scenario, by the time, the modern Indian man has hit his job and is finally rid of his studies and subsiding on doleful dole’s from rather tight fatherly purses and if the Gods are with him, he ends up with a hopefully decent packet to take home with.

After years of slogging it out, the poor fellow thinks life might finally be worth living…..or so he thinks…..

Aunts, sister’s, mother’s and in some extreme cases, even grandmother’s descend upon him en masse and demand sacrificial blood and fire. Bedevilled and harassed the poor guy finally accedes to their wishes and enters his second stage of serfdom.

A man has three stages of serfdom – the first under his mother, the second under his wife and the third under his daughter or daughter-in-law and any man who says this is not true, knows where he lies……pun fully intended.

Now, consider the opposite stage of females……..they study and try for jobs and usually husbands. In today’s world of being “politically correct” I refuse to stand corrected. True, there are career women, and the exceptions prove the rule. Any woman who says that she doesn’t wish to get married is already lying……pun again intended.

The hardest part of accepting marriage as a workable solution in today’s world is hard for me, an ex-lawyer, ex-lover, ex-human being perhaps as most of you would say.

A marriage is supposed to be a meeting of minds, divinely ordained and communal bliss in its highest state, which I doubt if ever existed. Our earliest epics show what sorry husbands we males were……I mean, take Ram for an example, dragging his poor wife through enough shit, not to mention the atrocities committed by him, in the name of chastity and reputation. As my granny used to say, to hell with traditions like these which enslave women.

A couple of generations down the line, I am hoping to say, to hell with ideas like marriage which enslave men….

Socially speaking, a wife is nothing but trouble……all the benefits of life are swapped for duties and responsibilities not to mention the insane amount of hassles the whole concept entails in the years ahead.

As I tell my family and friend’s when they talk of marriage to me – I am not going to give you a four day party and wind up paying the bill for the party for the next forty years.

A few years back, when I was still practicing law, I was approached by a client who had a sorry state of affairs. Apparently his mother and wife had a spat and the smart wives shut up her mother-in-law by telling her that if she continued fighting, she, the new wife, would go and file a police complaint for dowry harassment and cruelty and ensure that the rest of the family will be in jail.

Much as I admired the woman’s eminently workable strategy and timing, I wondered what the hell had happened to the entire concept of marriages in itself. As for the client, I told him that if war was joined, the element of surprise counts the most and if she could even say such a thing, the contemplation of such an avenue was evident and the action not very far off. In short, file for divorce and serve notice at the earliest. I must admit that I didn’t hear from the client again but I stand by my advice and statements.

Coming back to today’s world and issues, my friends here have long rambling discussions on this very topic.

How the hell do we choose a wife?

To fall in love is something we have all done and become bitter about and yet still like all male idiots want to be loved and to love back in return. Love marriages and their occurrence in our lives seems a rather distant possibility, however. Living so far away from our homes, in an alien land and working in jobs that pay well but don’t leave you much time for actual socializing. Again, in the event of socializing at all, finding someone who understands you and your background inasmuch as being able to share your life narrows down the field so much that its akin to trying to find a needle in a bloody field of haystacks………and no, you don’t have a magnet to do the job either.

FBCD’s (Foreign Born Confused Desi) are simply out of the question. It is bad enough to have to endure them elsewhere to actually have to live with one. As khan puts it, who wants a bloody coconut, brown on the outside and white inside.

So we come to the issue of arranged marriages. The funniest part of the whole situation is that even considering such a mode of action is nuts enough. I mean, for Christ’s sake, the whole thing stinks of such inequality and is almost an auction of yourself as much as of the opposite party and worse.

I mean, what other choices do we have? Matrimonial websites are just an extension of the same and online dating or chatting is far too risky, if not an absolute disaster.

No, arranged marriages are the best possible outcome. As in, if we are to choose someone and marry them, any problems and the rest of the family is like, YOU chose her, now YOU manage. If the family chooses, at least, somewhere, somehow, I can scream at them, YOU chose so now, YOU manage.

Not a very funny joke or even consideration, however it suffices.

Now the interesting part –

We live abroad and are bound by a very set number of holidays (25 paid leaves to be exact) and within that span of time, it’s next to impossible to envisage a possible manner of knowing someone proposed by our folks.

A very usual scenario is that your folks find a few “possibles” who you hope to meet when you’re on holiday and depending on the meeting or (if you’re lucky) meetings, you make a decision which can change your life.

One meeting or even two or three…….what the bloody FUCK???!!!!

It takes years to even get to know that someone is not the right person for you or better still that you’re not the right person for someone.

So, one or two meetings…….in a span of time that’s hardly enough to see your parents and your friends and family and maybe shake off jet lag and they expect you to know and assess a life-partner???

I mean, even logistically speaking, it’s a nightmare of a proposition, forget about the un-reality of the whole scene.

Again, assuming that even if it was possible, how does one actually know who’s sitting across the table and how they might fit into your life?

You meet someone who’s one of the “possible” person’s and both people are on their best behaviour with much care for appearance as much as behaviour. You meet them once, twice, a few times maybe and neither knows who the actual person really is. All they get to know is perhaps each other’s views and at best, like’s and opinions.

Is that enough to actually make such an important decision which relates to the rest of your life?

Worse, the whole consideration is also based on the proposition that neither has much time to even assess previous baggage that each of us in today’s world manages to accumulate and if it even matches or goes with each other’s.

So, okay, you make a blind choice or as is usual with most males, choose the one who is easiest on the eyes and so on and so forth and things start to get really sticky from then on.

Life is not easy back at home and it’s worse here. I mean, you’re isolated and completely alone usually. You have no family support networks which we took for granted back home and it’s a hard enough life her to manage on the best of terms. You have to do everything yourself and everyone you know here is barely managing their lives to bother with yours.

Into this mad and fast paced life, you’re expected to bring back a bride who’ll take all this into her stride. Not bloody likely, mate.

Then again, consider that the person, who appears shaved, relaxed and with a well filled wallet of conversion rich currency and the person who gets home frazzled and too tired to even try to be charming and chilled out. Consider that the sharp, pressed jeans of the second date at a snazzy restaurant might change for a tattered and torn pair of shorts with curry stains and no desire to be or to do anything on the hard earned weekend. Consider that for most bachelor’s the level’s of neatness or even cleanliness are on bare subsistence level’s with the broom and washing sink playing a bad second lead to a six pack of beer’s and an action movie, preferably Hindi

The bloody female will be home in less than 2 months and file a police complaint for harassment and agony……and probably serve notice of divorce proceedings.

And then comes the final wringer….the laws are biased or even tilted towards women, if you will. It is assumed that the victim is always the poor woman who’s suffered and who has been victimized and what of it that she is educated and qualified and able to work. Cough up the alimony, the maintenance, you rich NRI, and in dollar’s and pounds, not to mention that she keeps all the fancy and expensive stuff that your parents draped her with during the marriage. Yeah, that’s the final icing on the cake, brother, with all the marzipan roses and yellow cream piping.

So, okay, I am assuming a worst case scenario, but what’s the best case scenario anyway?

Our mother’s and aunt’s and even grandmothers were of a different age and had a completely different take on life. Divorce was beyond the pale of contemplation and you made do with whatever was dished out to you. It doesn’t mean that I am saying that our father’s or uncle’s or grandfather’s were absolute devil’s and our maternal folk to be saint’s. But there was a lot of give and take and compromises were struck.

Being married within a society they grew up in meant and stood for something. That something has disappeared today. In today’s world, there are too many option’s and that’s why we all lose our way so easily.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that divorce is a bad thing. In fact, I have seen much within my own family and of friends to think that it’s a definite alternative to the situations people find themselves in. However, I believe that it should be the last resort and not the first choice at the first instance of misunderstanding.

Yeah, I know, that marriages are still happening and there are couples who are making it work and yeah, I have seen how all they are coping and what else.

Some of them make me cringe with embarrassment and shame, some of them make me wish I didn’t know the participants to such a pact or form of social contract. Some, very few, give me hope……..a wee flicker of hope, maybe……..

Yeah, I am being pessimistic, cynical, probably immature, idiotic and wildly neurotic if not outright psychotic.

But then possible starvation is still infinitely preferable to food poisoning and I do like the no fat strawberry flavoured milk I get at Sommerfield’s.