Thursday, December 28, 2006

A step towards a better me...

I don't usually make New Year Resolutions. For one, I believe that if I indeed have resolved that I have to do something, I should start immediately and not wait until the new year. Secondly, usually my New Year Resolutions don't even last through January.

But now it has so happened that I have a new resolution - and since it is almost New Year, I have decided to call it my New Year Resolution. One that I am going to make sure doesn't fizzle out.

I have decided to be more systematic, organized and disciplined.

No, please, I am not that hopelessly untidy or disorganized. But there is a lot of scope for improvement. The problem is that I have never felt the need to be that organized, until now.

And to think the people around me are so magnificently orderly. My grandmother. Her Godrej steel almirah. It is such a pleasure to behold it. Her silk sarees neatly folded and placed in hangers - all of them folded to the same dimensions, no protruding ends anywhere. Her cotton sarees folded crisply, placed one above the other, in perfect towers. No Leaning Towers of Pisa here. Her almirah is a study in perfection. She even adds to the effect by placing a bit of sandalwood shaving, or some other sweet-smelling thing in the corners, and when you open the almirah, you get a whiff of the fragrance – such a treat to the senses. Ok, my almirah need not be that faultless. But at least I could have inherited a fraction of that attention to detail? At least as much as to prevent clothes from falling out when the almirah is opened?

Then my mother. She keeps her home and her kitchen spotlessly clean. The furniture is perfectly placed, pots and plants and flowers and curios positioned in strategic places, the bed beautifully made, the cupboards neat and clean, everything in their proper places. When she cooks, there is no trace of it even when she is in the midst of the cooking. She is that meticulous. As for me, you can see vegetable peels and flour everywhere, until I finish and clean up.

My father. Every document, every passbook, cheque book, every bill in place. In neatly arranged folders, in well-maintained and dated files and books. And it is not that he spends unnecessary hours on it. It is just that he is prompt, and precise. If you ask him for a certain something, he will get it for you in a minute. As for me, the less said the better. Check out this conversation, you will get an idea.

Me(calling him up): Papa, is my IOB chequebook with you?
Papa: Let me check. (Half a minute later), No, it must be with you.
Me: Ok, I will check. (There is no question whatsoever of wondering if my father might be wrong, and maybe he has misplaced it).
(After two hours).
Papa: Did you find it?
Me: No I don't think I have it.
Papa: Check again.
(Two days later)
Papa: Did you find it?
Me: No, I looked everywhere, its not there.
Papa: Check again.
(A week later).
Me: Err... ummm... Papa, I found it.
Papa: Where was it?
Me: With my medical bills.

I haven't inherited these qualities from anybody. I could have got at least a bit of it. But no. I have to rely entirely on my own interest and effort to be as systematic as these people mentioned above.

Or I could have picked it up from association. My mom-in-law runs a well-oiled home. All things in their right places all the time, everything done just so. S is also very organized. He knows where his things are, and he keeps records, and maintains files for documents. He is tidy, and dislikes clutter. He thinks he has room for improvement, and while that might be true, it is also true that compared to me, he is a whole world apart. He is distressed by how unorganized I am. He has been trying to bring some improvement in me ever since we got married - but how can he, alone, succeed in such a short time, where my parents, combined, could not for a quarter of a century?

So, I conclude, it has to come from me. From within me. Not for the first time have I realized the need to be organized. But I have comprehended the fact that it has now turned into a necessity.

So, by putting this on my blog, where the whole world (and more importantly, my parents and S) can read it, I am throwing my hat across the fence, so to say. And so, I enter the new year with hope.

A very happy, healthy and peaceful new year to all of you!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

May The Force not be with you.

I am afflicted with a disease. Or should I call it a bane, an inconvenience? Nothing wrong with my health, thanks for the concern - but there is Something out there that conspires to keep me either too jobless or too busy, with never a balance.

I am not talking about my job. I never talk about it on my blog, not if I can help it. I am referring to my social life. Let me explain.

There are periods in my life when absolutely nothing happens. I go on with my usual activities, my weekends are as usual, and everything is just normal, just short of being boring. Then all of a sudden, on one particular weekend, people decide to have get-togethers and celebrations and parties, and everybody invites me to their event. And that leaves me juggling lunches and brunches and teas and dinners and apologizing to some of them and attending the others, and running around the city and making a mess of the whole thing. Now, why couldn't these people have spread out their events so that they could cover my non-eventful weekends, so that I could attend all the events in peace?

But no. It is almost as if some Unseen Force urges everybody I know to make sure that they arrange events such that Shruthi is caught in a dilemma.

Now, when two events clash, I have 4 options.
1) Attend event A.
2) Attend event B.
3) Attend both events one after another.
4) Attend neither event.

Options 1 and 2 are the most difficult, when it comes to decision-making. All other things being convenient, there are two aspects which aid (or hinder) the decision-making process when it comes to attending an event - Interest and Obligation. Now if an event is both interesting and obligatory for me to attend, there isn't anything much to decide. Just a carefully crafted apology to the other party will do the trick. But the difficulty arises when one is interesting and the other is obligatory. I usually weigh the pros and cons of each and end up going to the - obligatory one. Just once, I went with my heart and went to the interesting event and chucked the obligatory one. I regretted my decision immediately. I found that the interesting event wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be, and I was under a much greater obligation to attend the other event, than I thought I was. If both events are both Interesting and Obligatory, then Importance is the deciding factor. And I won't go into what I do if both are equally important. This could go on and on.

Option 3 is not too difficult if both events are taking place close to each other - I can pop in at both places for a while and get away with it. But if the events are at different corners of the city, I consider my sanity more important, Bangalore traffic being what it is. So this option is out.

Option 4 is silly - but I admit I have taken refuge in it more than once - if not anything else, it gave me a respite from putting my sparse brains to too much work.

Even an event that I arrange is not spared by this Supernatural Force. I happen to call a friend and suggest that we meet up as we haven't done so for a long time, and she agrees and everything is set for Friday at 7 PM. Then on Thursday, you can be sure that another friend will call me and say that she is leaving the city on Saturday and won't be back for two years, and the only time she has is Friday night and can I please meet her then. It pains me to cancel the first date, but it is pretty obvious which one is the more pressing engagement!

My personal plans are also routinely spoiled by this Unknown Agent. For example, when I get over my laziness and schedule a long-overdue visit to the beauty parlour, I can almost look at my phone and predict that someone will call me and say that s/he is in the vicinity and is dropping by to see me, if I am free. It is not like I am going to the doctor or anything - the beauty parlour can wait. So I agree, and convince myself that it is okay to look like Mowgli for one more week.

And reasons. I am a very bad liar, people say, so when I have to tell somebody that I cannot make it to their do, I usually tell the truth - that my presence is required elsewhere. And how do I do it without hurting them? I don't know. I sometimes even add, "Why couldn't you have arranged it last week when I was rotting at home with boredom and yawning till the edges of my mouth needed stitches?"

Oh please please don't stop calling me or inviting me or visiting me, assuming that you are putting me under unnecessary duress. I love meeting you and talking to you and spending time with you. Only please make sure that you are not influenced by The Force when you schedule your events!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's all in the name.

It seems to be the season for weddings - and as usual, discussions drifted towards how the marriages happened, and as usual, it took me back to my childhood to that very eventful life of the township I grew up in.

When we were kids, we knew about two kinds of marriages. "Arranged" marriages and "Ooooh" marriages. "Ooooh" meant "Love". Because, back then, "Love" was a taboo word. None of us children even spoke that word out. If anyone did, it was met by a series of "Oooooh"s. I still can't get over the fact that we were such little prudes just a couple of decades ago... and the children of today are familiar with such words, that if I have to use them in my blog, I will have to take the help of special characters.

Anyway, we kids were fascinated with the concept of "Ooooh" marriages, and somehow, peer pressure had convinced us that it was a "Cheee" thing. My mother once scolded my friends and me for such utter silliness, so we stopped saying "Ooooh" for "Love" - when my mom was around.

Well, so, when somebody pointed out that so-and-so had gone through an "Ooooh" marriage, we would look up at the offender with a look that was a mixture of fascination and contempt. This phase lasted just a couple of years, thankfully.

But what were these marriages, anyway? The definition was simple. Arranged marriage was when the parents and relatives scoured the land for a suitable "match" and compared horoscopes and "fixed" the wedding, and the couple dutifully got married.[In later years, the couple had an increasing veto power over thier parents' choice]. Love marriage was when the couple met, liked each other, decided to get married and then told their parents.

But soon I discovered that sub-categories had come up when I was not looking. Like once, when I told Y that X's was a "Love" marriage, and she now lives with her parents-in-law. X looked at me like I had horns growing out of my head.
She said, "How is that possible? It must have been an Arranged marriage."
"Oh no it wasn't. They met at their workplace".
"Then it must be a Love+Arranged marriage".
"And what is that?"
"When the couple falls in love, decide to marry, and tell their parents, and the parents accept and get them married."
"Oh really, and then what happened to the simple Love marriage?"
"That is when a couple fall in love, but the parents are against it, so they get married without the parents' wishes, and it usually involves a break with one or both the set of parents."
"And what if one set of parents is fine with the marriage, and the other set isn't? What is that called?"
"That is still a Love+Arranged marriage, but some explanation has to follow".

Then I met a friend who had got engaged a while ago. I asked him how his fiancee was doing, and he gushed and blushed.
"You know, mine has turned out to be a love marriage".
I was horrified. I had visions of his poor fiancee crying her eyes out when this guy was running off with his "love".
"And how's that?" I asked.
"You know my fiancee, don't you? Our marriage was decided by our elders, but after our engagement, we met very often, and guess what, we have fallen in love! It has turned out to be an Arranged+Love marriage!"
"Hurrah for you! But just out of curiosity, what do you call a marriage which is Arranged, but the couple fall in love after the wedding?"
His face made it clear that he wanted no difficult questions to come in the way of his celebration, so I quickly moved away.

Then there is this other kind of marriage, where a friend of mine and her colleague decided that they enjoyed each other's company, and that since they belonged to the same community, and they had no other love interests, why not raise the issue of a wedding with the elders? So they got their horoscopes matched, and they, well, matched, and they were married. So, I asked no one in particular, what is this marriage called? Technically, it was arranged not by the parents, and technically it wasn't a love marriage. Also, what would have happened if their horoscopes hadn't matched? I received no answer.

Ok here is one more kind for of marriage for you to think about. I know a girl who worked in the city. Her parents, looking out for a "match" for her, asked her to meet a certain someone in the same city, and let them know whether she liked him. But within a couple of days, her parents got some information about the guy's family, which convinced them that it wouldn't be a suitable alliance, so they quickly called her to tell her not to bother about meeting that guy. But this girl had already met him, and hit it off beautifully with him, and she stood her ground that if she would marry, she would marry only him. After a long and painful struggle, she had her way and they got married. So what is this called? "Started-out-arranged-turned-into-love-marriage"?

Other sub-categories are welcome - that is what the comments section is for. This could be a good PhD topic in Sociology, you know....

Update: Viky seems to have already conducted research on this topic, and has left a comment with very detailed classification - you just have to take a look at this!
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