I’m working on it

The rumbling sound of the bus was comforting and soothing in a way. With thirty hours to kill, a thousand kilometres to tread, time facilitated a wonderful opportunity for two people to catch up on a life that they had shared together for decades. He was dressed in brown and black, pretty oldmanish by the current fashion trends. His shoes were neatly polished. He was a creature of habit. She was dressed the way most grandmothers were dressed. Thick woollen sweater , a shade of pink to it.

The bus powered on. The milestones kept passing by. The enthusiasm that had once gripped the bus , gradually fizzed away. The toll of the long strenuous journey ahead was already visible. The sound of the bus, the rhythmic sweep of distinct snores and a few hushed conversations added to the silence of the moment.

'So what's it going to be now?' he whispered softly to her ear.

His voice was drowned by the ambience. He tried again, only a little more louder this time. She hadn't replied but the subtle change in her hue from her warm blush conveyed a different story. It was not the first time she had faced that question. It was not the first time that he had asked her that question. It was definitely not the last time that the question would be asked.

There was a time when they were both young. New to the world of being an adult. New to the ways of shared responsibilities. Novice to a life , planning to be lived as one. Their conversations were new. Curious questions were exchanged that spanned across colors of choices and preferences galore. It wasn't the age where lifestyle , outlook to life and life's billion choices were exhaustively discussed. Theirs was a simple conversation of discovering each other. The run up to the big event was short. Shorter timeline did catalyse quicker decisions.

'So, what's it going to be now?' he popped his question with a blush.

She looked deep into his eyes and smiled. 'I don't know. I'm working on it' she said.

The date set, the festive in progress , amidst the chaos there was a moment that was theirs alone. The opportune young lad ,with a heart brimming with excitement and dreams of a new beginning, sneaked in his question in a whisper. Hers was a reply reciprocated in whispered secrecy. I'm working on it, she hushed softly.

The tide of time came rushing in. The young ones were not so young any more. The pressures of life had started to sink in. There were smiles. There were fights and verbal duels. Tempers flared from time to time. Love's warmth managed to keep them cosy despite the challenges. From time to time the question would be asked. Time and again, her consistent reply never shook away from it's resolve. They were two , aligned to each other, accommodating each other, enduring each other when the days were hard.

Life bloomed and with it another life bloomed too. The daily challenges of soiled diapers and screams from a little soul kept the two occupied. Time , for once, had refused to slow down. It sped up instead. The twenty five years that followed , passed them by like a blur. The youngling had grown into a dashing handsome man. It was the time for him to kick start a story of his own. The tide of time appeared to remain constant through the iterations witnessed by different eyes. He was a reflection of his parents. He brought the foundations of a happy home to the table. He went on to live a happily ever after tale of sorts. Unperturbed by the oddities of luck and challenges. He endured where he ought to, he enjoyed where he could.

The wheels turned ahead and life bloomed once again. Grey hairs greeted fresh black patch of hair. They shared a satisfied smile when they met their granddaughter. Paradise had found itself on earth.

Life almost lived in full, well almost, the old in body, young at heart couple decided to pursue the dreams that had dared having when they started their life together , all those many years ago. They booked their bus to Leh. A thirty three hour ride on the road. A journey of thousand kilometres was in front of them. The two sat in their designated seat. She rested her head on his shoulder, like the way she had always rested. He pat gently on her head, like the way he had always patted. He'd gently stroke her greyed hair. The color had changed over the years. The gesture had remained the same.

The bus slowly clocked the miles. With nothing else to do, the opportune lad, who was young at heart, decided to give his question another shot. Quite a few years had passed and he had almost forgotten that question of his. That day seemed to be a day like any other. It felt like a good day to pop the question again. He knew that answer that would come. It made no difference to him any more. It was a question, a question meant to be asked. The question had lost it's relevance decades ago.

'So..' he asked

'Ah haan' she acknowledged.

'So.. What's it going to be now? Do you love me?. For all the years we've been together, of all the things we've survived, of all the time that gone past us, not once have you told me that you loved me'.

She sat in comforted silence. She had seen her fair share of ugly challenges over the years. This question, that statement , by no means was a challenge that would break a sweat in her. Nonetheless, it was just about the right time to respond to that, she thought.

'The thing is…' she started slowly. ' Till the point we met, everyone that I had loved dearly, had either died or left. I didn't know why. Deep down , I felt I was cursed. There wasn't much that I could do about it. And then my grandparents introduced us. I had a jinx to battle. I lacked both the strength and courage to test that theory. A while later, I knew I couldn't bear losing you. I still can't. You are the best thing that's ever happened to me. So… ' she paused.

'So…', he curiously asked.

'Does it matter now. For what it's worth, I don't know. I'm working on it'.

Karthik

PS: Reading does wonders to the writing process. I'm so glad that I'm back to good old reading 🙂

All about the one 


The one. The quest for 'The One' is as elusive as it can be. There is a keen sense of contradiction to that quest. Set the aspirational bar way too high and that quest never ends and set the bar too low and find yourself in compromiseville. I'm not sure if a compromise is a bad thing anymore. The one, also happens to be the title of the book that I'm currently reading. Far away from supernatural, cosmic or otherwise, this seems to be a book draped in Hollywood-Science and runs wild with the premise that it offers. The One , by John Marrs

For a moment, if one were to skip the parts that concern the logistics and rational behind soul mates and assume that science did have the key to solve that puzzle, what would one do? I've not finished reading the book yet so I really don't know how that story unfolds. The premise did inspire a few thoughts along the lines of soul mates and the world's seamless fixation towards 'The One'. 

Given the context of the book, all it took was a swab sample of the DNA to find the perfect match, soul mate ie, using the unlocked secrets revealed by the DNA. There is a firm that offers this premium service. It would probably be a tinder of sorts which is backed by data mining algorithms that are driven by the DNA of the participants. Interesting enough. To draw parallels between real life and fiction, there are a few influencing factors that one must consider.

The social mix : 

Without science, without a space for a personal life, the whole bandwagon of finding 'The One' is pretty much a derivative of chance and luck. Think about it, the lesser folks one knows, that data set of people one can associate to being 'The One' also runs a little dry. Fewer people in the social circle results in limitation of choices and hence the imbalance in supply and demand leads to viable compromise and done deal. Most of the romance in real life is a lift and shift of this model. We have high school sweethearts, and then college sweethearts and finally romance at workplace. Skip all these convergent points of melting hearts and boom, we are no longer spoilt for choices. 

Ask and thou shalt receive : 
One of the pivotal factor called out in the book was the validation and affirmation that science could provide in zooming in on 'The One'. Ask, wait and thou shalt receive happens to be the working model described. With the science of DNA playing the match maker, this leaves the participants with fewer doubts to question or reason with the final conclusion. Odd enough, real life is not very different from the idiosyncrasy noted in the book. The foundation block of many a relationships are forged by reasons that defy logic and rational thinking. We like and hence we like. We don't and therefore we don't. During the formative phase of a relationship, should we subject it to a barrage of doubts and twenty questions; it would be a miracle if the said relationship survives! The underlying simplicity comes to the rescue. Forging relationships is a tedious task , considering the odds usually stacked high up against it. 

What's in a phrase anyway :
'The One', a soul mate, a perfect match, while the plot of the book exploits the emotional draught that is experienced by the characters, real life , at times, is also not very different. There are good marriages and there are just marriages. There are compromises that nurture the relationship and there are deceits that keep whatever is left of a relationship alive. There is warmth and there are those stoic cold numbness to it. Bottom line, most of us are insecure of a life lived in solitude. Most of us are subjected to social pressures to 'settle down'. There is a profound fear of dying alone. We fear that loneliness that prevails. 
Given the time, given the context, 'The One' is a phrase that stands to get diluted. We downgrade it from the holy pedestal it occupies. We subject the phrase to realities and practicalities of life. 

The book plays to the vast expectation that it's characters carry for the spot of 'The One'. Time is all I need to see how that story goes. Is there 'The one' for the characters? Is there a price to pay? Does the one live up to expectations? or will it all be the case of too good to be true and a fool's errand for a false gold. 
Life has been a different beast altogether. Iterations and lessons after, I'm still at the right enough mix of clueless and ignorance to make a sensible judgement. 
So what's your take on the notion of 'The One'. Is it just about a person or is it a framework that defines the character and traits that one expects from a person? 
Once I'm done with the book, I shall follow this blog with a review of the book and tell you how that story went 😉
Karthik

A for arranged marriage!

huh-what

 

So I walk into a coffee shop and I know what I want. Cappuccino, no sugar on that. Somedays it’s topped with a shot of hazelnut and some days it’s hot chocolate with no cream on that. Everyday it’s a solid yes to a helping of chocolate icing. The biggest challenge to that endeavor is passing my name for the drink to be served. Most days, people don’t bother asking for the name. Easy peasy and done deal.

 

The thing about arranged marriage is that , unlike most people who are so sure that they know they are ready for a marriage and have undergone a PHD certification on What it all means to get married, I for one am pretty oblivious and clueless to the ways of knowing what it means to get ready for marriage. Most people I know have been married just once and oddly that makes them qualified subject matter experts on the topic. If it was recruitment for the works in my pipeline, that experience would not have got them an audition with me in the meeting room!

 

So mom has updated her runbook of questions she has for me everyday. Apart from the usual, did you eat, are you ok and are you sure that you are not falling sick, she’s added a few more questions to that list. Did you speak???? I still don’t have an appeasing answer to that question.

When it comes to an arranged marriage, there is a definite advantage in terms of the initial questions and conversations that would unravel in sweet time. For instance, Love marriage would have had it’s initial batch of questions around ‘Whats your favorite color pa’, ‘Pav baji ah, bhel puri ah? ‘. Lets not forget the past. Anyone and everyone who has had a crush, a fling, a stint at being a lover, would have endured and survived that question.

Advantage arranged marriage: Here , since the prospect is kinda pre approved, pre vetted, skimmed scanned and requisites assessed even before the first word of a ‘Hi’ exchanged, it also means that Pav baji ah bhel puri ah is no longer the determining factor of where that relationship is going to head. That being said, that question is definitely waiting in the pipeline to be asked. With arranged marriage, the sequencing order changes.

 

Come to think of it, I think there has to be a published list of questions that have to be asked, and expected. It might come in handy as a framework to kick start and sustain conversations and more importantly, it might help with the decision making process.

 

I mean questions like

 

  1. Do you snore ? how loud is your snoring? Have you ever had it checked? Can it be cured? Do I have to wear ear plugs to get a proper night’s sleep?  This makes sense in an arranged marriage. With loveu, trips tours or even office meetings presents the valuable opportunity to assess the decibel levels of snoring from a safe distance.
  2. How prone are you to embarrassing yourself in public? It’s a very relevant question. No married couple is going to stay indoors forever. People make funny noises (if you know what I mean), people spill things all the time, people have baritone voices which refuse to stay in the whisper zone , people pick noses, and i’ll leave that list to your imagination. I’m pretty sure that these annoying peeves are not going to get featured in the resume under the section ‘About myself’ in the matrimony portals. Tough luck gathering intel on these. The only way you’d find out is when you bare witness or put on a grand show!!!!!
  3. Are you a sadist, masochist, sociopath, psychopath and feel free to pull in any and all worst case hollywood thriller villain’s mental ailment here. Unless you ask, you wont know. All honesty aside, it takes a really SPECIAL special kinda person to go public and proud about it. Who knows, that question might prove to be a game changer!
  4. What are your dining habits ? Do you slurp, do you nakkify all your fingers in public after a meal? Do you use towels to dry your hands or is it always the jeans? Come to think of it, eating is going last a lifetime. One not only marries a partner, one also ends up marrying their habits. Habits tend to last a lifetime. No wonder people go on dates!!!!!

 

There are a million questions that are either waiting to be asked or stuck somewhere in the thought process. I had a little time to ponder today and quite honestly, I’m glad that I don’t have any serious questions running numbers in my head. I do feel that having questions is an indication of a preconceived plan of how that life after marriage is going to be. Those questions are probably our own way of confirming our bias or expressing our expectations and hence setting a bench mark for the other person to fit into. Not that it’s wrong, not that it’s any more pressure, I think it’s kinda pointless. Read all you want, once married, that is a goldmine of gyan only married folks experience and keep mum about it. Rest of us solo flying blokes can’t , very fortunately, quite experience yet.

 

For what it’s worth, I think questions on life choices, life styles and outlook are worth the ask. It would probably be a steeper and a dreadful co-learning curve if there are stark differences to life choices. Anways, what the bleep do I know. I’m winging it all one day at a time. I’m still short by one marriage to be a SME on marriage 😛

 

 

Karthik