Sunday, March 8, 2009

That innocuous green thing

Evolution is inevitable.. You grow old - you can't do anything about it.. your circumstances change - you can't do anything about it..

Most notable recent changes in my life

1) I actually have a live-in wife
2) Lying on the couch and watching the entire series "Lord of the rings' extended DVDs back to back is a comfort that I will never possibly experience ever again
3) Chick flicks are no longer only for chicks, infact it is the most undeniable form of family entertainment
4) Train your ears to be volunatrily numb if she loves a song, cauz that's all that will be playing for the next several several days over and over.. (yeah! she's still hearing a song she picked up 2 weeks back.... stupid stupid Ingrid Michaelson).
5) Vampires are gross, tropical fishes are adorable
6) Doing laundry is not an option, but a certain reality that stares at my face twice or thrice a week
7) Slipping into that lousy pair of "close to the end of its lifecycle" jeans and Tshirt (even if you are running to the nearby store for a carton of milk) is disastrous and can lead to a lot of mental torture
8) Don't complain, just eat. After all you did the cutting and the baking
9) Never eat anything and everything
10) Being a gentleman has lots to do with a clean apartment i.e. if you do the cleaning
11) Shop not for your need, but for the excitement of it.. Even grocery shopping could give you one heck of an adrenaline pump..
12) When she says "I don't know", it actually means "DON'T DO IT"
13) When she says "Nothing happened", it actually means "You just did something horrible and next 24-48 hours of your life is going to be a sleep deprived, food deprived silent and continuous torture"

Little did I know that innocuous looking green dressed "thing" I met a year back in one of the most populated cities of India would change my life so much.

But then, that "thing" is one of the best things that ever happened to me

Evolution is inevitable.. Trust me.. you don't want to do anything about it..

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

a husband's diary

Someone asked me the other day "How did you feel on your wedding day?; cauz I remember mine as a mix of exhilaration and slight anxiety". I thought for a while and struggled for a reply. Frankly, I can't remember what I felt like during the wedding day; I don't think I was in a condition to feel anything.

Digest this - I had precisely 20 days to wrap up all wedding related shopping, get engaged, do the mandatory religious/cultural rituals, get married in the church, get married in court, do another reception in a city almost half the country away, enjoy my honeymoon, swallow the seemingly never ending love from everyone manifested in the form of "food", pack my bags and catch a flight back to Canada.. phew!! I did do quite well.

2 days to the engagement day - I was climbing down the stairs from my room; still in a jet lagged zombified state. My mom looked at me and shouted "WHAT HAVE YOU DONNNNEEE?".. I looked at her rather puzzled "What?".. My aunt came out and asked "What?".. and then she looked at me and went "WHHAATTTT?" My dad came out, then my uncle, and my brother and there was a series of "WHAT?"s, panic and pandemonium particularly among the female gender.. and I was still clueless until someone showed me a mirror.. and all that "WHAT"s started making sense. For some unknown and alien reason I had decided to try out my new electric shaver and had developed an allergy on my face... 2 days prior to my

Engagement saw me slipping into a long thick traditional Indian silk dress called "Sherwani" and.. the temperature was around 35 degree celsius. In other words, I was cooked until my bones were tender; hardly 5 days since I left Calgary where I was deep frozen in -30 degree celsius; and I hadn't gotten a good chance to defrost.

My dad asked me "When they talk about paying for all your sins and starting a new life, did you seriously think they were kidding?".. oh yeah! what was I thinking?

Some more shopping, getting prepped up for the wedding day which included confession infront of a priest who was adamant about getting into the intricate details of my past, smiling continuously infront of the camera lights and everyone who had gathered at my home the previous night of the wedding, pretending the innocent to comments like "Oh! its little Swaroop's wedding" and my mind going "Seriously! where have you been all these years? Didn't u notice how much I have grown, the occassional grey hair, and wasn't you who told my mom a few months back : time is running out, get him marriiieed.."

Wedding day started with the photographer and the videographer barging into my room and I wasn't even dressed.. "Err.. Can I get dressed?".. "No you are not supposed to dress by yourself, your brothers will have to dress you up and we will have to capture it.." My brother and my cousin brothers were summoned.. after a long gap, I was getting help to dress up (the last time I think was when I was 5).. that too 3 people devoted to the task.. it felt nice, particularly infront of a camera, I mean I obviously had my shirt and pants on before they switched the camera on..

Rest of the day as I remember was obeying to a series of commands like "Sit down", "stand up", "come here", "go there", "pray", "get into the car", get out of the car", "walk in", "stand", "pray", "move", "hold", "tie", "put", "smile", "don't close your eyes", "smile", "hug", "smile", "get into the car", "sit in the car", "get out", "go to the stage", "smile", "cut the cake", "smile", "eat", "get in", "get out", "drink", "eat", "go in", "smile", ......

The wedding day was followed by a number of eating days, pretty straightforward
a) visit people
b) eat everything being served to you
c) take a break from eating
d) eat again
e) visit the next place
f) eat
g) take a break
h) eat again

Then was the trip to Mumbai, the reception, and then the honeymoon...

And then packed my bags and off to Canada.. back to my lonely apartment.. married but single..

On that note, let me also give you my definition of love. My wife asked me this question and I had to come up with something completely mindblowing and impressive. So here it is; from my own mouth, fully copyrighted

"Love is that state of mind which gives you an undoubted sense of belongigness, an intense sense of destiny and an unprecedented sense of pride and accomplishment. There are no dreams for 'me', but only for 'us' and no feeling of completeness being alone. It is what makes you want to sacrifice your most cherished pleasure for something as simple as a smile on your lover's face. It is what makes you feel truly privileged"

I know what you are thinking; I am undoubtedly intolerably good at this.. So for those of you who are interested you can avail an earlybird special on my upcoming book "Winning conversations: a step by step success guide for husbands and boyfriends"

Well it's not over..

Book it now and you will receive a free copy of
a) Discover the romantic in you
b) Maintaining healthy long distance relationships
c) 50 healthy food recipes for lonely husbands

and finally

d) How to talk crap for 15 minutes or more

That's over a 500 dollar value for just 50 dollars. Hurry while this offer lasts!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

shedded and renewed

… Not I in my entirety, but my nose has been going thru a lot of shedding and renewing. And the brave soul in me learnt a very brave lesson - never challenge mother nature.

I was out apartment hunting a couple of weeks back. And as usual, I ventured out without checking the weather forecast. It was about -45 degree celsius combined with the wind chill. So what! I am close to a polar bear, at least that's what I thought. So I reach the area, see a couple of apartments, and then decided to walk down a couple of blocks to see the next one. Wonderful description - spacious wooden floored apartment right by the elbow river.. As I was walking down, I did feel the cold in my bones, but hey, I am the Indian superman. How bad it can be!

Reached there and the apartment owner is not around, I can't get in to the damn building.. and that’s when I felt for the first time "Dude, you were being stupid".. My desperateness led me to knocking and trying to break open several doors.. Aren't there people in there; are they hibernating? I saw a big van parked on the street and walked up to it. An elderly gentleman was sitting in the van with a strange look on his face.. He was starting the vehicle and resembled one of those worn out grandpas who gets abused by his wife everyday.. I asked "Are you leaving?" He looked at me like I am an alien from a planet named GT216450110 or something like that and said "Yeah! I am".. Dude, can't you see that I am dying here..

To my relief, as soon as the van moved away, I saw the apartment owner pulling her car in.. She looked at me and said "Your nose is all white".. I looked at my nose. Yup, it was beyond doubt extremely white.. Infact if I had that color on my entire body they would have given me an Icelandic passport.. may be even an Arctic passport if polar bears were allowed to issue one.

Anyways my nose changed to bright red as soon as I entered the building.. The image in the mirror reminded me of a joker I'd seen in a circus long time back..

Next day I get to the office, and a client stares at my face and goes "Oh! you got a frost burn..wait.. it will change from red to blue, then to black and ur nose will fall off in a week or so.." like it was the most wonderful thing to happen to anyone.. Was he helping me or the project in anyway? You tell me..

The next few days passed with me measuring the length of my nose with my fingers every 10 mins, touching to see whether I have the measurements intact.. seriously, I can't afford to be nose less, trust me.. My nose went thru various stages of shedding and renewal.. Initially the upper skin which was all black started shedding, then it became red, then the lower skin started shedding.. I guess I have at least 5-6 layers of skin (that could explain my unusual shamelessness).. the final update - I have a renewed nose thru naturopathic nose renovation therapy.. but I think I will stop with my nose.. it's indeed a scary treatment..

As you read this, I am setting up an entire home for the first time in my life, definitely with lots of remote help.. and DD and Yogesh has been doing a lot of manual labor..

And I am back with my creative guns firing again..

Sunday, December 2, 2007

I am not for sale

Two days back, I received a call from the father of a prospective bride. Seems to be a gentleman, settled in one of the west coast cities of the US. The conversation went pretty decent until he started giving me accounts of his richness. He said " I own multiple liquor stores, gas stations, I don't really work but just go to the shops, collect money and deposit it in the bank". He was also President of some kind of North American East Indian association.
I was thinking "Good for you, but why are you telling me all this, tell me about your daughter".
He said somethings about his daughter, how she has done her University, but still want to start her own business and his promise that he will invest in whatever she wants to open up.
Then he asked me "You can relocate to the US, right?"
"Excuse me, but isn't it too early for that discussion. And even if things were to proceed, isn't this something your daughter and I should talk about and decide - who wants to move? where?"
The rest of the conversation didn't go that well. End of it I told him "I don't think this is really going to work out". I think he got something close to a cardiac arrest, he was only used to people admiring his riches and wanting to associate with him.

I felt good after the conversation ended :D

I called my mom and told her what happened. I thought she was going to talk about "how I am not being open about possibilities etc". Instead she said "My son is not for sale". She rocks!!

It was her birthday on Wednesday and my grandparents were home. My grandpa was upset. And I asked "what now? - somebody didn't wish him, invite him for a function or something?". People sometimes hunt for ways to get disappointed. My grandpa's only brother's son; happens to be my uncle (but he's more like my friend), had a kid recently. For the major part of his life, he has lived in London, and a few years back he got married to his Scottish girlfriend.

Now, that is not the reason for his recent mood fluctuation. They all like her very much, I remember my mom and grandma talking about how nice she is etc, the last time they visited us.

Apparently, they didn't give the kid the same name(his church name so to say) as his grandpa; which is sort of a tradition.

Big deal!! what's in a name?
He was ok by the end of the day. I think he realizes times have changed!

So, thought for the day - "Don't hunt for ways to get disappointed. Cherish what you have. Shoot for bigger dreams, but don't get yourself wrapped up in things that you can't change. Some things are really simple, they are better left as is, not worth the effort of trying and changing them"

I am going to Kerala for Christmas and I can almost sense the arrangements being made for my visit home. Sometimes I think I should get into a contract with NBC, take a camera crew home and shoot the Indian version of "The Bachelor".
I could be a millionaire!! hmm..

Monday, November 26, 2007

The voice from above

Lightening.. thunder.. an angel.. and then a voice "Son.............."

What I heard was nothing close to thunder, at the best it sounded like an old coffee machine.. for a second I thought my overworked laptop was uttering its final words of pain before an inevitable death.. it has been giving out noices like an old Diesel engine boat since the past few weeks.. Panick attack..wait.. no, it's not my laptop..

The sound is coming from above.. and then a voice spoke "Attention".. There comes my gaurdian angel.. may be the Archangel himself.. I glanced across the room.. there's this figure standing with a white robe on.. angel in a white robe.. no wings.. no.. no.. it's not an angel.. it's DD..and she is wearing a white jacket.. then there's Chris standing, but he doesn't look like an Angel..

Confused; I looked at DD.. She said "Fire Alarm".. The voice from above said "We have detected an issue on the 16th floor. Please stand by for further instructions"..

I sensed the opportunity, looked at DD, pointed to the client who was running out with a red base ball hat on his head, and said "we should get ready for evacuation.. take only your most precious belongings.."
DD took it very seriously, almost swallowed her burger, removed her shoes, put on her sneakers and I think even did some warm up; some basic pushups and situps; for running down 30 floors..

Manish put on his jacket, got dressed up and looked very happy for an early smoke break.. Before we could rejoice much the voice said again "The problem has been investigated.. You can now return to your seats.."

There goes my unanticipated break.. and I have a client meeting in an hour, havent finished even half of my prep..

I deserve this, I did play the role of a devil this weekend; except that I didnt have horns and a three pronged tail..

Somebody asked me today "How can I avoid disappointment?". I told him "Dream, but don't base your dreams on what others will do". I sounded like a Mahatma, dude, I am good!!
But I also said "Sometimes disappointment is a good price to pay for the thrill a dream can give you"

I have a feeling that I am going to get some threatening messages for some of my comments above.. :D

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fast and feast

One of the things I love about this country is the All day breakfast joints. Remain hungry till afternoon and headout to one of those places to feast on eggs, bacon, sausages, pan cakes, waffles etc.. Its sort of become my routine since the past 2.5 years or so I have been here - I call it the fast and feast routine..

Today I went out for brunch with a friend who is basically from Palestine. He recently got engaged to his Canadian girlfriend and has been apparently getting some fire from his parents for getting engaged to a non Muslim. The guy is pretty confident of getting through this phase, and I am pretty sure he will get through it. After all they look so perfect together, nobody can deny that for a long time.

I have had multiple friends who faced similar situations. The latest was a friend from Kerala. He had met this girl from North India, and had decided to spend his life with her. Sounds simple - guy meets girl, gets convinced she's the one, gets married, lives happily ever after.. But not so simple when you bring community and tradition into the picture. He is from the South, speaks Malayalam, eats Southern cousine, born into a Brahmin family (Brahmins are supposedly the uppermost caste in Hinduism, traditionally the ones who are authorized to become priests). The girl is from the North, speaks Hindi, digs Northern food and born into a different caste which is supposedly lower than Brahmins; not that it mattered to him or any of his friends. His parents although were willing to accept, were worried that he might become a loner in their community, it took a lot of persuasion to make up their mind. They got married about 5 months back and the last I heard everyone is happy. Afterall, Hinduism does say that life originated from the sound "Om" and Brahma is the creator of all things.. So why should caste really matter?

I can't help but to remember my most controversial involvement in a similar situation. Back at the University, I had a lot of friends, but I was in particular close to 4 of my friends, just because we stayed pretty close to each other. A guy from my course, and 2 guys and a girl doing their MBA. We used to hangout all the time, it was quite a contradicting group when it came to personal beliefs - 2 of the guys including the guy from my course were Pentecostal christians (if you haven't seen a Pentecostal Christian try talking to one of them, they almost had a fire in their belly when it comes to their beliefs, another guy a strong Catholic, the girl born to Christian-Hindu parents had been raised a Hindu and me the ex-communist turned practicalist, still confused about spiritual beliefs.. Though I did not agree to a lot of things they did or said, I was quite impressed with their passion; this ultimately led me to studying the bible and participating in a lot of those all congregation discussions.. That was also the beginning of my general interest in studying about religion - I ended up reading a lot on other religions like Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism etc.. etc..

K. enough.. I am starting to sound like a theologist.. let me get back to what I was talking about.. Towards the end of the first year, she accepted Christianity and started going to the Pentecostal church and started hanging out a lot more with the guy from my course. We all knew something was happening, but didn't know for sure. A lot of things happened which I don't want to share, but they had this strong feelings for each other and felt what they thought as a soul level connection. Thinking back I'd have to agree, they looked so wonderful together and by that I just don't mean physically, they were emotionally compatible, shared similar interests, shared the same passion. Its a weird situation sometimes when friends fall in love, to add to that she was actually about a year elder than him. I guess that was pretty tough on them. Having such a feeling for one of your best friends, knowing the family differences - his father being a pastor and her father being a business man - diverse backgrounds and the perceived restriction that a man has to be elder than his woman. They went through a lot of pain before admitting their feelings to each other. I was probably the first one they broke this news to. The months followed were very dramatic, but somehow I had this conviction that they were meant to be together.. I was the Best Man at their wedding. They have a 3 year old son today. They still have their parents, their siblings and all their loved ones - very much a family..

Since my brunch meeting, I have been thinking about them; haven't really seen them in the past 4.5 years. May be, it is time to catch up, it is time to meet their son; after all, I did/still do care for them and they did care for me. And I have always been proud of them for following their convictions..

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My barber says I will have a good life

Friday morning - As I was getting ready for work, I realized I had to apply a li'l extra gel on my hair - just a li'l bit extra to make sure that nobody calls me a "Big Head". Ernie (yup, Ernest Cheng) used to do that when I was in Toronto, "How's it going big head?".. On the positive side, I thought thats another way of saying "You are intelligent". But he actually thought my head was larger in proportion than the rest of body.. whatever..
So after lunch, I decided to go to the Asian lady who runs a hair salon ground floor. Think she is basically from Vietnam or something.. Anyways a very talkative woman, in the 15+ minutes I was there, I got a snapshot of her entire life, the men who courted her, her ex-husband, her daughter, the men who still tries to hit at her etc.. etc.. She washed my hair and had hardly patted my hair dry when she decided to show me some pics.. She ran to the drawer, and I am sitting there with water drops streaming down my face.. For some reason, I didn't want to interrupt her. She was having her own happy moment showing me all those pics, why would I want to disrupt that..
She then looked at my hands and said "You have very nice hands". "Thanks" I said still wondering whatever that comment meant.. She went on and on "You have very nice teeth, white and shining". Oh yeah!! I have been using Aquafresh white and shine.. "You are nice.. You are a gentleman".. She went to talk about her loneliness and how she appreciates nice friends etc.. etc.. Dude, I think she is hitting on me :D.. I have to find another salon.. She ended our conversation by saying "Those with nice hands and nice teeth will have a very prosperous and good life".. Ooh.. I am so happening.. Few years ago a friend of mine created a computer jaathagam for me.. A jaathagam is based on traditional Indian astrology and sort of gives a snapshot of your entire life, I mean the key trends.. Not that I am into it, but didn't want to disappoint him.. It said something about me having a "Gajakesari yoga".. In short it means that I will own an elephant, well not literally, but in the past rich families always had an elephant. Money baby, money, I am all for it, bring it on..

Evening I ended up in a pub close to my place, I have been visiting that place almost every Friday, pretty old place, gives me the feeling of a country bar.. I was sitting there and having my beer, when an elderly gentleman called Woody came to me and introduced himself. Then I got introduced to his entire circle of friends - Byron, Alex, Lloyd.. Most of them have been here since the 1950s..So, there I was hanging out with them hearing all their adventure stories with the untamed wild and the rapids.. I didnt want to drink too much, but then gave in to the temptation of getting another one. As I was ordering Woody says to the waitress "Thats damn right.. He is having another one and I am paying for it". I told him "You really don/t have to do that".. and he threatens me "I am the Sheriff of this bar. Don't argue with me".. Ok Sheriff, as you command.. Later the pub owner, Gordon came to us, my next drink was on him.. I am still so moving here..
As I walked back home I felt guilty about the 4 pints that I had. When I was in Halifax, Nick challenged me to a get fit routine; I have been religiously working out since then and is definitely seeing good results.. I promised myself "I am going to run an extra 30 mins tomorrow".. Though not quite upto my promise, almost managed to run about 45 mins, brutal, I hate that sort of hardwork..
Today evening I went for African drumming lessons, I think the drum is called "Jambe".. Contrary to Indian drums which is played mostly using fingers, this one was like "Bam.. Bam".. It was so much fun..I think I am going to continue doing this.. Did I ever tell you my failed attempt with the Tabla? That was probably about 15 years ago.. Learning Tabla needs a lot of discipline and patience, teen me didn't have much patience, I dropped out after about 6 months or so.. After that my drumming encounters were mostly on the college desks and plastic buckets back at the hostel.. Oh that was so much fun.. Imagine 10-15 guys jamming with almost anything they could treat as an instrument.. Those nice college days..