Friday, March 4, 2016

You might very well think that....

After a long wait, D-Day has arrived. HoC Season 4 is on!! (Unfortunately, this isn't a review. A related topic, rather.... )

You see, I am not much of a TV watcher. I can watch mindless comedies while doing chores, but I am sort of a TV commitmentphobe- cannot be loyal to any series, watch it everyday, etc. However, occasionally, circumstances collude and I end up watching one. Two years ago, I started watching House of Cards.

At first, I was thoroughly impressed by Spacey and his lines. Spacey is, no doubt, brilliant. Robin is great too. She is sexy and power-hungry and magnetic all at once. I was not a big fan of Kate Mara or Russo or the Dunbar lady, but then Jackie and the Russian President guy were spot-on. I liked the Season 2 Mrs.President too, too lazy to look up her name now.
Of course, the focus is not the characters. It is the lines. When Spacey delivers his words, even in an act of unpardonable evil, you agree with him "Yes, yes, a matador. Never a doormat!". 

Yes, yes, the Netflix House of Cards is awesome. But..

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wedding Diaries- Part 4

You know how some wise person said all that people care about a wedding are the pictures.. (And the getting married. But that comes second really!)
The hassle about picking the right location, theme or not theme, if theme then choose decoration.. (oh wait, my writing sounds like code now. That is definitely not a good sign. Should. write. more. often), from picking the right saree/outfit to choosing the matching mojari (aka sherwani sandals) - every step of the process is simply a coin dropped into the bucket of "the pictures should be good" and what will my Instagram 
followers think".

Knowing this on some level, I figured that what really mattered in the long run was finding the right photographer and finding the right clothes.

First the clothes.
I had about 2 weeks to shop. I wanted to be there for the shopping, and one might say I brought it upon myself.... but the two sarees I let someone else pick were such utter disasters that if I didn't want to look like a cross between Godzilla and Christmas lights, I better pick my clothes myself! The downside to that was walking up and down the streets of T.Nagar trying to find good sarees.

Apparently, the minute you breathe the words "wedding" or "bride" people see you  like this:

Plus, saree shopping required a bunch of tricky constraints to be met. You want a good silk material and potentially some sequin work or whatever, but not so much that it would be unwearable in the Tamil Nadu heat. But then again, it should meet the grandeur scale expectations, which in many people's minds translates to social status - so if you wore something a tad simpler they would think you were begging in the streets of Dharavi or something. With my natural instincts primed to pick sarees that would go well in board rooms of conservative East Coast banks, it was more than an ordeal for me narrowing the right one. And what with inadvertently mentioning the word "wedding" in the stores, the store guy would insist I try on each saree I even vaguely considered. But that's not it.

I don't know which bride had the brilliant idea of color-coordinating clothes with the groom. (Of course, it was the bride's idea, however much the nerd-looking-sarcasm-spewing-feminist-inside-me complains!) But that has spawned off a whole other set of shopping difficulties. Love a purple saree? No, can't do- a purple sherwani would look like the groom came straight from Bombay circus. Found a beautiful bottle green? But that doesn't go with the rest of the theme. And then there were the traditional no-nos of white or black, apparently Indians like the gray areas a lot more (trying so hard not to make an India-bashing joke here).
So finally after spending endless hours in endless stores and clogging practically all of the T-mobile international data bandwidth with saree pictures, I had a good mind to call it all off and walk in with a T-shirt and good ole denims. Ha, I wish...

With all that effort going in, one would think I would have escaped the Bridezilla fate and come out stunning on D-Day. I say it again "Ha, I wish".

(To be contd.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

From a crow's egg to inside a kid's head

I watched two incredible movies the last weekend. So I am going to break the wedding diary series and put this piece in. Both movies were amazing- both were about children and both were funny and intelligent and wonderfully entertaining. In fact, it is only as I type that I realize they are in completely different languages, with drastically different budgets, and depicting almost different ends of the economic spectrum. The first movie was "Kaaka muttai" (Crow egg) and the second was "Inside out". (Interesting/funny-moments non-plot spoilers ahead!)

"Kaaka muttai" is a movie about two kids living in a Chennai slum. When a new pizza store opens in the neighborhood, they want one and decide to save up  (300Rs=~6$) for it. The story revolves around the little schemes they do to get the pizza and whether money was all they needed to get it.
"Inside out" is a Pixar creation and about what goes on in a girl's head when she moves to SF from Minnesota- the typical struggles of a regular kid who moves to a new place and faces change. of course, the main brainwave (no pun intended) was in showing her emotions as quirky characters in her brain who are trying to control her actions- and how they interplay as she eases in.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Wedding Diaries- Part 3

Ya I know  it's been a millenium since my last post. You see, right now I am part of a scientific experiment at my job where they keep loading me with more work and every two hours they check if they have managed to kill me yet. And every time, I go "Surpriiiise, I am still alive!!"
So in order to keep my sanity, I thought I should go back to blogging. So, here goes....

(Continued from Part 1 and Part 2.)
Long story short, at some point everyone involved agreed that the wedding was going to happen. (I will get to the whole reason-arrange-marriage thing at the end.) By this time, I thought the "difficult" part was mostly over. Everyone was on board, after all. If this were a cartoon , this is the point where the devil would be lurking in the corner saying "You wish" and grinning evilly.

Yes. Wedding prep.

I knew that entire wars have been fought over wedding details and the carcasses were enough to send Asoka to Buddhism, so I thought I shouldn't be too involved. In fact, I started out with the naive idea that I didn't care too much about this stuff and I would not worry about making the choices. (After all, I got to make the biggest choice aka the groom) And things would have gone on fine......

But once I saw a sample invitation that came in dirty violet with golden tassles and yellow-green text, I realized I did care about this stuff on some level. I did want the pretty invitations and beautiful text- an invitation that was elegant, minimalistic and somehow had a tinge of wedding-grandness at the same time. To quote Meryl Streep....

Turned out I was.

After a few whatsapp and gmail threads with loads of pictures, I realized one thing- the perfect ones were either too expensive or just too high maintenance. The ones that appeared to be in my league were either "good-but-not-my-type", "meh" or "really terrible, I cannot believe I am even considering this. I must be getting desperate". In the end, I just realized you have gotta pick one anyway and hope that it would work out in the long run.
Yes, yes. I am still talking about the invitations. Not. The. Groom.

Anyway, after that fire was put out came the invitation text. I am sure I drove the printing guy crazy with my grammar nazi-ness by having 4 reprints of the prototype. In my defense, I could obviously not have my name spelled "suchira"  (with the 's' in lowercase') or Irvine spelled "Inwine". Seriously!

Then came the menus. As a food lover, I thought I should have a say in this even though everyone insisted I wouldn't be getting to eat much of it.
So I was trying really hard to include items that different sections of guests would appreciate (or at least to serve the principle that nobody should go home hungry!) But then our original caterer bailed out because our mandap wala said "No buffet" (I know, what is up with THAT!?! That too in a place with a characteristically Western name - Salem.) So we had to settle for a South Indian caterer who promised to make Naans and some paneer thing (I forget what), but from the minute I saw his menu written in Tamil, I knew he was one of the types to spell Gobhi as Gopi and my expectations spiralled down. 
I still had to ensure there was at least a mix of dishes in the menu and that the chef  didn't put anything that was technically correct but practically incriminating like fake meat. Not that that helped. On D-Day most of his dishes reminded me of hostel food anyway. 
Of course I had to repeat the charade again for 2 more receptions- and also ensure that they didn't all look the same. If someone is thinking I should have written a script for generating menus - I agree. I don't know why it didn't occur to me then.

You know just writing this out is tiring. And that's not even midway. We still had the theme and decorations, clothes and all that other stuff to go..

(To be contd.)


Oh, the reason for not liking arranged marriage. I am thinking I will make it one of those things like the face of this lady:

We'll keep mentioning it, but probably never reveal it.. :D
So, for now, That's all folks!

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Wedding Diaries- Part 2

Whew. Part 2 is finally here...

I have a confession to make. I have never been a fan of marriage. Sometime when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I decided never to get married. The idea of spending one's entire life with a stranger simply freaked me out. This was perhaps because of the kind of marriages I saw then. (They were all "arranged marriages". Dating was a word unheard of in our circles, and "love marriage" was a term used with tones worse than "murder" and "embezzlement".) Most marriages involved two people meeting once (ONCE!) and talking for about half an hour before deciding to get engaged. At the time, this sounded too scary- with half an hour of conversation, I wouldn't even be able to say if someone would make a good friend or not, how was I to decide whether I could live with them? What if the person I met didn't like Enid Blyton? Or didn't know what treacle tart was? (By the way, I have never actually tasted treacle tart in my life. It just sounded delicious when Blyton wrote about it. So did apple pie and fresh strawberries and cream. In fact, I think Enid Blyton is partly to blame for my sweet tooth and general love of food. The rest is probably genetics. Oh wait, I digress.) I think my worst fear then was that I would get married to someone who liked DragonBallZ. (Little did I know my worst fear would come true!!)

Anyway, my biggest qualm with marriages (or "arranged marriages") was that I couldn't commit to marrying someone I didn't know well enough. I knew most people around me were OK with doing that, but I wasn't. And the Sujatha short stories of women who got married to intellectually incompatible men didn't help. (Mom, I hate to admit it, but you were partly right all along. The books WERE to blame!) Nor did the K.Balachander notions of "love"- by which he often meant "connecting with" a person, not stalking them after seeing them once in a city bus. (Aside, I am sorry that no other Tamil director ever picked that idea up. Tamil heroes still think stalking a woman till she relents is ok, and Tamil movie love is still mostly about "eye candy", not compatibility.) Anyway, I didn't think I could live very happily if my husband didn't "get me" and the chances of finding someone who did, didn't seem very high.

Of course, as I grew up, I expanded my definitions of the marriage process. More people talked about having things in common and talking/meeting multiple times before getting engaged, so it wasn't half as bleak. But during that time, my expectations grew as well. By the time I was 20, while I no longer cared about having the same favorite authors, I did care about sharing common goals (do we really want to buy a house before 30?)  and values (are we put on Earth with a higher purpose?), conflict resolution (can we find a good method to decide who does the dishes?) and most of all, about understanding the way each other thinks. Which, to me, meant an even lower probability of finding Mr.Right over a few conversations.

This is also the time I realized that if I was skeptical about marriage in general, I was 100 times more skeptical about arranged marriages. I barely made friends with people, how was I going to find someone who could be much more than a friend to me? Plus, finding someone who I liked, who understood me, and who fell into the same stratum of society that I did, while coming from a family that my family would get along with and happen to run into during the process of "searching" was like trying to find prime numbers larger than a googol. And unlike mathematics, I didn't have infinite time on my hands nor did I care enough to spend that much time on a search process. But more than anything else, I didn't see this kind of search as practical in my family. I could picture exactly what would happen after I said "No" for more than 3-4 horoscope matches:
(The following conversation is imaginary and a tad hyperbolic. No offense to my mom.)

Mom: Now what was wrong with THIS boy? Why did you have to reject him? (Sounding a lot like Ambi saying "Enaku oru concrete reason venum, Nandhini").
Me: This is not going to work out ma. We are just not compatible.
Mom: What compatible? IITB and Harvard MBA. He is earning so well. You can live like a princess. And he looks so good also, ajanubahu-va, fair-a Hindi actor maadhiri dhaane irukkan.  
Me: It's not about being fair ma. He doesn't like reading and his idea of trying new cuisines is molagootal. I don't even know what to talk to him about. We just won't gel. 
Mom: What gel, paste and all..  Last time the boy's profile said he likes reading and you still rejected him.
Me: Amma, that guy was too mature. We had similar interests, but there was no chemistry. We would make good friends, but that's about it.
Mom: What chemistry, physics and all, talking like Vijay TV anchors! Are you going to participate in Maanada Mayilaada after marriage? Why do you need chemistry?
Me: I don't know how to explain it, amma. The spark wasn't there. We had a lot in common. Maybe too much in common.
Mom: Now you are talking like KamalaHassan only. It feels like you are saying something, but nobody can understand what you mean. See our pakkathu flat Ananya. She married the first boy her parents found and now her son is going to preschool in Boston. I think all your reading is spoiling you.

Which brings me to a different point altogether. "Chemistry". Also called the "seeing someone that way". I cannot imagine ever explaining that to anyone, definitely not my family. I have interacted with many men with whom I have a lot in common, yet I couldn't possibly consider getting married to any of them. However, in the arranged marriage process, I was bound to run into a few "perfectly fine" people whom I would have to refuse , and provide explanations to my family about; all the while feeling a little guilty and wondering if I was letting good opportunities slip through my fingers. It sounded too stressful to me.

But beyond all of this, I had one big reason why an "arranged marriage" would never work for me. It was the same reason I didn't think "dating" would work for me either...

(To be continued..) 

P.S: The title has been changed from "The Marriage Diaries" to "The Wedding Diaries" after someone pointed it out. I started out the series hoping to write about the "marriage" but it's only been a few months and the series is mostly in the wedding territory, so changed.