I will spend my whole life with you
I am sure you all must have heard about the first human to venture into outer space - Yuri Gagarin from Russia, first human to land on the moon – Neil Armstrong from The US of A, first human to climb Mount Everest – Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand. All perpetual iconic names that celebrate the true human spirit of adventuring into the unknown. Adventurers, who scratched the depths of mystery without caring for their lives.
But have you ever heard of an Indian Male and Female who adventure into a deadly game called arranged marriage? No Yuri or Neil of Edmund can even come close to them for their bravery and willingness to venture in to the unknown.
I am one of those fearless brave-heart adventurers and Param Vir Chakra warriors.
1998 January or something, I was sitting on the edge of my king-sized bed in my boyishly decorated bedroom. Trophies and Certificates displayed, birthday cards and friendship cards pasted on one wall; posters of Sylvester Stallone, Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Pink Floyd, Boney M, Richard Marx, NKOTB, Amitabh Bachchan, Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna and many more on the other; while the third wall represented my favourite section – Posters of Samantha Fox, Pamela Anderson, Gwen Stefani, Courtney Love, Padma Lakshmi, Madhu Sapre, Zeenat Aman, Shyla Lopez... This third wall became a permanent ground for a cold war between my Mum and me. Maa ka ladla jabarjast bigad gaya.
Sitting on the edge (Or was it living on the edge?), abhorring the round of questions that might come my way very soon. Dress rehearsal didn’t help and I was as nervous as if I am appearing for the US Visa Interview (Passing that test was even tougher than clearing an IAS Examination those days). There she was, my would-be wife -Pinky, sitting on the bamboo chair of my study table, opposite to me, even more petrified than me.
Aa... You ask. Please you ask whatever you want to. Hmm...No, you ask. Please, you ask. No, no I cannot ask, you only ask.
This frightening monologue went on for almost a lifetime, interspersed with momentary periods of void or lapse of reason one can say; while I am sheepishly trying to figure out how beautiful she is and she from the corner of her eyes trying to check if I am the most eligible bachelor.
Mum, please help. Yelp.
I finally attempted to shatter the heavy air and asked, "Will you have some water?"
Me –Shit, what a dumb question to ask?
She, "No I just had it."
She – Idiot, complete idiot.
Mustering enough courage I inquired, "Is Pinky your real name or pet name?"’
She, "Yes, my real name."
Me – Was his Father drunk while naming her? Isn’t that supposed to be a pet name like sweetoo or jaanu or hon(ey)?
Getting frustrated with the snail pace of our personal interview, I announced,""Listen you need to know this before you take any decision. I smoke, I drink, I work long hours and I had a girlfriend before. And I will not stop drinking, smoking, working crazy hours for anyone in this world." All in the same breathe. Phew! I am done with my syllabus. Awaiting the results.
Me – WTF. What is that supposed to mean?Jhatka nahi laga? No reaction. I mean seriously?
She – WTF. Kaunsa Hindi picture dekh ke aaya hai yeh street side Romeo?
Once again a long period of uneasy eerie silence.
Somebody please help. Dad, Mum...
She, "Do you like a modern girl or a simple traditional girl?"
Me – Clean Bowled. Any of the four probable answers can land me into trouble.
I opted for the fifth possibility, "I have never given a thought about it."
Me – WTF. What is that supposed to mean?
This monosyllabic awkward discussion went on for another 10-15 minutes, where we explored each other’s bio-data and extracurricular activities.
Somehow we managed to finish the interrogation and went downstairs to the drawing hall where our parents were impatiently focused on us for an answer.
OK, OK mein Zindagi ka agreement sign kar liya. Hai taakat Yuri Bhaiya ya Neil Uncle ya Hillary Sir mein ki aaisa adventure karke bataye?
But then not all such interviews end up with an AYE.
I have known people, especially girls refusing the would-be marriage for following dim-witted reasons:
• He did not pull chair for me, he sat first
• He ordered Noodles Soup and then struggled to eat it with Fork, Spoon, Knife and all paraphernalia combined
• He could not pronounce ‘Rendezvous’ properly
• He does not listen to DJ Tiesto yaar
• Can you imagine, he had put oil in his hair? Yuck
• Yaar, she came in a Saree. WTF
• Dost, yeh to non-vegeterian hai!
• He likes Govinda
I am sure ’Arranged Marriage’ still has not lost its mojo in the Indian context even today.
But now in this new-age where Queen is the new King, rules of engagement must have changed, questions must have changed, ways of screening the other person must have changed, expectations must have changed...
Just a few days before, I was honoured for being selected to the group of colleagues who will be treated for a free coffee at Mocha Restaurant, opposite our office, by an outgoing colleague. I am a Chai person; however the ‘free’ factor unconditionally convinced me to go. While everyone was busy ordering, came in two Moms, one with her marriageable-age son and other with her marriageable-age daughter;on the table at the farthest end opposite to where I was sitting. And in the manner they were exchanging pleasantries; one could guess that these guys are meeting for the first time. Almost immediately the girl and the boy separated from their Moms and came to the table exactly opposite ours; while the Mommies continued with their fake smiles and greetings at the farthest end.
Since there was a lot of din in the restaurant, especially our own group of privileged beings trying to frantically order the most expensive coffee on the menu, I could not hear their conversation. But that 1998 January interview (interrogation) was happening right here in front of me. So basis their postures, eye-contact, facial expressions and hand movements, I represent what could have been conversed between the two.
She, "Yo dude,wassup?"
He stammers, "Good, very good. How are you?"
She, "Awesome man, couldn’t have been better."
After a brief silence
She, "Do you have Wi-Fi at home?"
He, "Eh?...Yeah, but why ask?"
She,"Why not? How can you ever imagine living without a Wi-Fi? See I use Wi-Fi for almost 12 hours a day and that streaming network better be good dude. I mean one can live without water for a few hours, but Wi-Fi? No chance."
She – Idiot, dumb idiot.
She, "Which Credit Cards do you have? What’s their limit?"
He, "I just have one from Standard Chartered with a limit of 54, 000."
She – Just one and that too Stan C and such small credit limit? God, what about my online orders, my shopping, my pedicure, my manicure, my nishi nails, youth restoring serum capsules, hair colour, spa, aerial yoga classes, coffee…?
Then once again some moment of silence, while both of them were glancing through the menu. The boy orders 60 rupees Masala Tea, Girl asks for pricey Caramel Macchiato. While the girl was confidently looking in to the eyes of the guy, the guy was changing his position more so frequently and nervously.
Once again the alpha female starts the conversation, "Where do you stay?"
He, "Kadampalli Apartments, Ghatlodia."
She – What an uncivilised name and a completely down market area.
She, "So they are like 4 BHK?"
He, "Nope,...2 BHK."
She, "Oh well we stay at Seventy, 4 BHK on Bopal–Ambli Road? You must have heard about it."
She – WTF, he does not know Seventy? The most expensive apartments in Ahmedabad!
She, "Did you have an affair before?"
She – ROTFLMAO, what a jerk ass is he
She, "Are you a virgin?"
She – Ommaagwwaad, what kind of creature is he?Hope everything is alright with him.
She, "Which social media platforms are you on?"
He, "Just Facebook."
She, "You are not on Twitter and Insta?"
She, "I mean... you are seriously not on Twitter and Insta?"
He, "No I am not that social media types."
She – What a gavaar aadmi he is.Gwaaad, give me a hammer and I will break this guy’s skull.
And then she started hurling cannonballs after cannonballs.
She, "What if my salary is higher than yours?"
She, "Look I do not know how to cook. Do you?
She, "What do you think about the idea of a guy being a homemaker?"
She, "Do you believe in adopting a child?"
She, "What are your views on women empowerment?"
She, "What do you think of male chauvinism?"
She, "What are your views on same-sex marriages?"
The guy is soaked in perspiration, awkwardness and in aneternal state of mental shock. And exactly like me,he was searching for his Mom. He was ducking the cannon balls without much accomplishment.
She, "Seems you are a lil uncomfortable. You smoke? Let’s go out for smoke."
And that’s when the ordeal for the guy ended.
He unceremoniously departed Mocha with his mother, while the Girl continued explaining her Mother to never ever, never ever make a mistake of making her meet a moron like this guy.
I finished my Masala Chai and wondered what if it was Pinky and I on that table today.