Dear Old man who sat next to me on the bus

Dear Old man who sat next to me on the bus,
Of course I don’t know if you actually read my blog, because I never mentioned my blog in our conversation in the bus. If by some means you did stumble upon my blog, neither of us do know for sure that it is the other person on the other side of the screen. Maybe this letter is something that might hit a familiar chord with you.

You and I met on a bus ride from Ahmedabad to Baroda one evening years ago. The bus was incredibly slow and took almost twice the time it normally takes. Both of us could have still not had had this conversation, had my mobile not been on low battery. I generally keep my earphones on, or use some app if I am not sleeping on the bus. On account of not having a good charge, I pulled out a book from my bag. I still remember that it was ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by ‘Ayn Rand’.

You could have kept to yourself but luckily for us, your curiosity got the better of you. You asked me with wonder how people of my age were reading the book. I confess that my initial feeling was that of contempt, primarily at the idea of being disturbed by a stranger while I was reading. However, better sense prevailed, and I told you that this book had been a recommendation from my mentor. He had in fact repeatedly insisted that I do read it.

While we did discuss the book, as to why I liked it and why you didn’t, you began to ask me about my job. It was a different manner in which you asked questions. We discussed processes, systems and control mechanisms. How the cost spent quality control ends up more than paying for itself in the long run, and what your personal experiences had been about it from your time at your own work place.

To this day, it remains one of the freest flowing discussion I have ever had with a stranger. Thank you, for the conversation that day. Thank you for the time that felt that it passed faster than it did, and for the re-assurance that not all old people who chat with you have marriage or settling down to discuss.

 

 

I wrote this for the 30 days 30 letters prompt: A letter to a stranger. Other bloggers can add the links to their posts in the linky below:

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Will you marry me?

Dearest,

When one thinks of marriage and all the ceremonies that are associated with it, one can traditionally come up with images of gatherings of friends and family. The ceremonies beforehand, new clothes, festivities, the 7 rounds about the fire as the priest chants or the bride in a bright white gown with the groom in a black suit as the minister declares them man and wife and so on. The reception after that with the wedded couple on the stage as people take turns to wish them and pose for a photograph with the gifts they carry, and everyone smiling all around. It is indeed a wonderful sight to imagine with you in a sari and me in a sherwani.

 

Except, that it is not why and how I would want to marry you. I want you for how you are in your everyday. Yes, we will look better in our wedding dresses, having selected what to wear after careful choosing and scrutiny, with many man hours of effort in making us look better than we normally do. But, people don’t appreciate the effort in the everyday as much as I do. How you effortlessly carry off your daily sense of wearing. You don’t wear a sari in your everyday, but have you looked at yourself when you wear your daily clothes? Of course you have, but you haven’t looked at yourself from my eyes. There is a sense of awe I feel when I look at you in your everyday because in it your apparent effortlessness tries to hide the effort of the day to day. I find a trace of accomplishment in you that comes with being comfortable in one’s skin. When I say I want to marry you, it is this you that I want to marry. It is not the marriage of the sari clad and the sherwani clad that interests me, but that of you in your jeans and tee and me in my capris and shirt.

 

I understand wanting to celebrate it with our friends and family as one does at all occasions. I however, at times feel that marriage ceremonies are mostly like societal approval. I don’t want their consent to marry you, I want yours. I want to celebrate being together with you first, and friends and family later. I don’t think that my vows to you will be any more sacred with the holy fire as witness will be any more sacred than the ones I make to you when we’re alone in person. I never have believed, that having a fire or holy chants while we take our vows make our relation any stronger. It is the efforts that we put in the everyday that will make or break it, not the seven rounds we take around the holy fire as people shower us with flower petals and our parents get teary eyed. I definitely want to get a legal marriage certificate, as that would enable me to extend benefits like insurance and other things to you as it serves an advantage in my eyes.

So yes, if you want to celebrate with a large wedding then we will have that done. But marry me before you do in front of the rest of world. Let what it means to be ours, before it is so theirs.

 

My dearest, will you marry me?

We respect husbands more than wives

The term ‘you’ is a universal term in the English language in the sense that you can use it independently of the person’s sex, age, position, etc. You may be calling out a boy or a girl, your boss or your subordinate; it is still ‘you’. This however, is not the case when it comes to Hindi. In Hindi there are two different terms, namely ‘Tu’ and ‘Aap’. ‘Tu’ is used when addressing some one of the same age/position as yourself or lower while ‘Aap’ is used for someone who is older and/or commands respect.

Long time ago I was watching a movie with mom when the lead character while talking to his mother, addressed her as ‘Tu’. I began to take notice of this and observed that in many cases the father would be addressed as ‘Aap’ while the mother was addressed as ‘Tu’. This had me totally miffed, and I asked mom why it was acceptable to address the father with more respect than the mother as both are equally parents to a child and cheekily asked if I should be calling her ‘Tu’ now. She thought over it a bit and said that because kids bond over more with their mom while they are bring brought up instead of dad, they think of mom as a friend and confidante and hence address her as ‘Tu’.

 

I raised a brow in apprehension and asked her what about the families where kids bond with their dads too, and consider him as friends. To that we don’t have an answer. In fact kids don’t bond with dad so much (because the dad is away due to work or other reasons such as resting after  being back from Over time , social activities, etc.) he is more of a distant character. As one never gets to have as free a hand with him as mom, and must behave in his presence to not disturb him, he commands more respect and gets addressed as ‘Aap’. Which is also why you will have many people who refer to their moms as Ma, mom, etc, but refer to their dad as Pitaji, Babuji, and so on with the ji being added to convey respect.

 

This however is not just the matter of kids addressing their parents but a matter of the dynamics of a man and woman in a relationship. I have seen couples call each other ‘Tu’ before marriage and have the girl shift to calling the guy ‘Aap’ post marriage. Many a times he doesn’t have to ask to be called so, but the wife calls him so by default. In the event that she calls him ‘Tu’ as an equal (because horror of horrors, a wife and husband are to be equal in their relationship), someone from the family or friends will take her aside and go “HAAAWWW!! You should call your husband Aap, show some respect.”

 

You get many people who tell the wife to show the husband respect. Show some respect, yes, but why should she not be respected as well? 

 

For those of you who are wondering, I still call address mom with an ‘Aap’

Why I don’t want to get married

For now.
I was rummaging through some of my old files and stumbled upon a questionnaire a friend had sent to me about marriage and my preferences. The idea of marriage is that when two people get along well/love each other or are deemed to be good matches for each other (by families of said people) and decide to make it public that they intend to live the rest of their lives together. (Of course is it a public notification or approval may lead to another blog sometime in the future.) All this is fine as long as you consider some of the aspects involved in it.
A couple of my friends have gotten married by now, and some people look upon realizing that I am of all 25 years of age (Silver Jubilee for the win) tell me that I should get married as well. The thing about some of these friends is that they had started dating / seeing each other sometime in college. So take 1-4 years of the college time and add four more years since to get about 5-9 years of being in a relationship during or after which they took a joint decision to get married. I can live with marriages that lead from that. I mean you have spent time close to a person to have known that person well enough to make and estimate of how they will turn out to be and take a call on that. When they felt the time was right they decided to marry each other.
When they felt the time was right and not age. Who came up with the idea anyway? You’re of the right age, you should get married now. Seriously, dude? Yes I am at an age where I have a job  and have my wisdom (limited as it may be) can be counted on to make some life decisions, does not mean that I get married now. It is the time that is important and not age (Of course you’re old enough to be an adult that is). It is different time durations for everyone. Some think a few months of being in a relation is fine, while others think years. It’s totally based on the said two people involved.
Doing household chores makes me think about it. A few days ago I had posted this as a status update on facebook: 
Tonight I thought if it would be different to have been married. I came back just before 1(noon shift) and too tired to cook but hungry. It would seem so easy to wake her up and ask her to make something (even if it is instant noodles for me)
Comment by me: Of course like Dumbledore said, we must choose between what is easy and what is right
Now I had come back from a shift work at 1 in the night (or morning) and was hungry. Unfortunately there were no cookies or fruits in the house that day (as I had eaten them all up and not restocked). Since I was tired I wondered if I had been married, wouldn’t it seem easy to wake her up and have her cook something for me. Easy doesn’t always mean right. Imagine being waken up in the middle of a sound sleep to cook something for someone (Of course she could be doing other things as well like a friend pointed out. She could be at a friend’s, or reading, or watching a movie, etc… But let us for now get with the idea of her being asleep when I come home). Imagine being woken up from a sound sleep just to cook something for someone.  Some people would like to tell me that this is not any someone, and since she is my wife she is supposed to do it for me. I don’t want her to do things for me just because she is my wife, I want her to be my wife because of the things she does for me.  Similarly I don’t want to do things for someone just because I am married to her, I want to be married because of the things I do for her or am willing to do for her.
Similarly, this has to do with things like my bed as well. I am in general not much bothered about my bed. I can sleep on beds and floors with equal comfort. As long I change my sheets regularly, I don’t bother much. Which is why before they get ironed, my washed clothes get dumped on my bed along with a book that is half way of being read,  along with what is today an empty bottle of water(I should pick that up once this is posted). The idea is that I don’t want my preferences to add work for her or make her cringe. It would make sense to have such clothes in a neat pile in the bag in the corner of the room or that empty section in the cupboard. Since it doesn’t matter to me that much I dump them on the bed, however it would matter to her (it being her bed as well).

When I think of kids, I end up at times freaking out about whether they will eat non-veg or pray or not. I like to eat, veg and non-veg inclusive. If my wife eats non-veg as well then things are all great. And I have no problem being with someone who is a vegetarian. I mean it’s a matter of not putting non-veg in her plate or gargling real good with mouth wash after dinner or just plain old eating away from her eyes when I do.  Things will be fine based on the understanding me and my wife of not forcing things on each other. Bring kids into the equation and you have an unstable reaction. What if she brings up kids with the idea that eating meat is not good because we are killing innocent animals for it, which is a bad thing to do. And then they see daddy dearest eating a chicken burger and enjoying it closed eyes and lost thoughts. I don’t know how the conversation will go from there.

I am also not a religious person (anymore) and don’t pray or observe fasts or days. The two of these things have absolutely nothing to do with each other. However which religion (and how much of it) you follow can be an important part of your identity. When kids see their mom praying and visiting temples (or any other religious place) and dad not giving a hoot about it and question me why I don’t pray, what do I tell them? That I don’t pray because don’t believe, or bother more about humans than gods. Will they imagine me a ring of fire behind me every time they see me eat meat? Of course none of this may come in to picture, or before it does me and my wife would have some sort of understanding on how to get the kids through this and leave it totally up to their choice. But I tend to freak out about it at times.
That being said, I don’t want to get married for now because I don’t have anyone to whom I can relate enough to get married to. When the time is right and we both think, it will be marriage time.