Sunday, 10 May 2015

To share or not to share, is not a question!

“I am coming home with RM and other officers.  They may want to look around.  We may be there in 15-20 minutes.” Ma told me over the phone.
I planned my mission at hand as I looked around.  Magazines and newspapers were strewn across the tea-poi.  I gathered them setting them to a side.  Puffed up the cushions and bolsters and arranged them in an orderly manner.  Then I wiped off the dust coated on the TV and other major surfaces.  This done, I moved to my room doing the same at my table.  I was surprised how fast my hands moved.  We were living in the office quarters then.  The Regional Manager was visiting for the first time, so he wanted to have a look at the apartment.  The object of my mother’s call was to give me a heads up to make the house look “presentable”.

I sighed as I looked at the clothes lying on the bed.  With all the feminine pleasures of shopping, along came the pain of maintaining them.  I folded them up roughly and dumped the entire pile inside the cupboard, out of sight!  No time for arranging them there, who is going to check the cupboards anyway!  I smoothed the creases on bed sheets and pillows with a finishing touch and stepped back beaming at my accomplished mission.

I had barely sat down with a book (pretending to have been in that position all this time) while the anticipated visitors arrived.  They looked around the house impressed, and so did my mother.  All was well.  

After they left I got some sound advice (There was relatively more sound) on how good it would be if I could spend some 20 minutes every day on cleaning.  There would be no need for panic at the news of any guests arriving or worse if visitors turned up without notice.

I recall reading about a similar instance in the Reader’s Digest wherein there is a lot of cleaning going on around the house as some guests are expected.  The little girl asks her mom, “Are we doing this so that they believe our house always looks like this?” Well, there is some truth in that innocent question.

When we moved to our new apartment, our new neighbours offered to help us find a maid for us to which we politely refused.  Assuming we were being shy, they asked repeatedly and we said we really did not need one.  They were visibly surprised.  Clearly because, both my parents have full time jobs and I go to college, we would do good with some help.  But we explained that we share the house hold work and have been managing that way.

What with being out at work all day, you need to cook, do the dishes, do your laundry and clean the house.  The clothes and the dishes are somehow managed.  But cleaning is a pain.  Hence the extra things tend to lie untended.  We get used to living in the mess. We cannot all be cleanliness freaks like Monika from FRIENDS.

However, the arrival of guests makes us conscious and queasy.  Everything looks glaringly shabby and you start noticing stray cobwebs or some loose papers under the sofa.  We apologetically say, “Please don’t mind the mess” and they are kind and they empathise, “Oh never mind! Our house is messier.”

On stressful days when you have reached a can’t-do-it-nor-can-you-leave-it juncture you regret your greed for things and all the unnecessary shopping you did.  You feel a desperate need to renunciate the material world.  You question, “Do we really need all these things we possess?  How many sets of clothes do we really need? Why do we accumulate things?”  But end of the day, you will continue to hoard things and they need to be attended to.

House hold chores are the least favourite affair to most people.  To this day, it is considered as the woman’s job.  People somehow don’t seem to be able to digest the idea of a man mopping his house or doing his laundry, unless it is his job or he is living on his own and cannot afford help.  Albeit the woman may be working, it is still expected that she manage both house hold work and her job. 
You often hear the words, “I am a guy! Why should I do it?” The mother would stop her son from doing any work while pushing her daughter to learn everything.  Some wives take pride in their men not helping them.  And when some men do lend a hand, they are jeered at.  Sometimes tagged “Jhoru ka ghulam”(slave of one’s wife).  Nonetheless, the trend is changing.  It is quintessential for men lend a hand with chores.  My grandma made it the rule of the house that everyone does his own work irrespective of gender.  Everyone washes his or her own clothes.  To this day both my grandparents, both in their eighties, do their own work and share house work.

More often than not it leads to strife in marital lives when the workload is on one person.  Where one person slogs and the other chills out, the one who slogs is bound to lose it one day.  What if you perhaps get together play some music and share the work and make it fun.  That way you could spend some more time together while the burden is lessened.

It is said that men are very cooperative with the household work, say, by moving their feet out of the way when someone is mopping or taking pains to carry the coffee mug till the wash-basin.  But maybe it is about time he did some more than that!  

I am writing for the #ShareTheLoad activity at in association with Ariel.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Tick Tock‼‼ Time for Wedlock

Disclaimer:  The characters mentioned in this post are very real.  They exist all around you.  Probably you are one of them too.  All the events mentioned are true to the letter.  Do not complain I didn’t warn you.

“Is that yours?”, my grandpa asked me.  I looked at him surprised.  I was ironing a saree. I had to attend a relative’s wedding in Bangalore and was packing my bags for the same.

 “I will be wearing the saree for the wedding!”, I said, spraying water and smoothing a crease. 

“Oh good!  Very good! Good that you are wearing saree.”, he looked pleased.  I wondered about my grandpa’s sudden interest in me wearing a saree. 

“Don’t forget to wear a bindi.  Everyone should notice you.”, He added.

“Why???”, I asked though I knew.  He just smiled, “You just do it. Have a good time.”

Weddings are occasions where a lot of other marriages originate.  Marriage halls are where silent recruitment take place for brides and grooms. If any aunty is getting unexpectedly nice to you and you are not intending to marry yet, then run, RUN‼ And don’t look back.  She probably has sons or knows other sons.  

In one of the weddings I attended a couple of years back, a lady approached my mom.  We had no idea who she was nor did she about us.
“There is a guy eligible for marriage, running a family business. Need a girl who will stay at home and help him.  Do you have any suitable girl mind?” The woman meant business and came right to the point wasting no time.
“I can’t think of anyone, except my daughter here.” My mother offered and I snickered.
“Are you interested?”, she asked turning to me.
“Naah.” I said trying to keep a straight face, and she walked off looking offended.
See? That is what I was talking about recruitments.

On another occasion, my dad introduced me to one of his old buddies.  After the little introductory talk about what I am doing now and getting an idea of my approximate age, he said, “Adashtu bega Jana gana mana madisbidi, retire aago modalu.  Free agbidtira amele.” (Get her married as soon as possible, before you get retired.  You can be free after that).
“Is there any retirement benefit for doing that?” asked another friend coming to my rescue.

And they complain that youngsters these days don’t attend functions and family gatherings.  Not one function have I attended without people suggesting me to get married, or advising my parents to start searching for a groom.

I had the opportunity to be the bridesmaid during my first cousin’s wedding.  I got to sit with the bride and be a part of the ceremony.  The purpose of keeping a bridesmaid is to display the upcoming product available in the market, or like you see trailers to the next movie while watching movies in the theatre.  Most people would be more interested in who the bridesmaid is than the bride and the wedding ceremony.  The couple marrying is officially “taken”, move on!!

“Oh‼ We have taught her everything!”, you can hear my grandma say to anyone who listens.  It is then followed by how I cook, how my nature is how good I am with everyone and what a gem of a girl I have always been.  Of course all grandmothers praise their favourite grand children.  On a general note I have nothing to complain about these wonderful praises, but as an advertisement for the upcoming wedding food, it’s an absolute NO NO!

 “Your friends are all getting married?  You want to live like this all your life? Tell me what you have in mind!  At your age, girls are married and having kids to take care of.  Don’t you ever want to take responsibilities?”, my mother complains.

If there is a family pandit, you won’t hear the end of it.  He is always fishing for potential suitors for you.  And the suitors and their families come with demands.  And why not?! 2 GB RAM, 20 MP camera, 5 MP secondary camera.  Oops! My bad. We were talking about the girl you wanted to marry your son to, weren’t we?  Well then, I am a girl, not a new phone in the market that you ask for special features.  It is fair enough if you expect a person of good-nature who will get along with your family.  But then things like she must know to cook fish, she has to go to work and earn so much or not work after marriage are encroaching your personal space.

A knowledgeable pandit explained why I should get married early.  It is like the shandy market.  If you go early in the morning you get plenty of fresh vegetables.   You have plenty of options to choose from and you can take your pick. As the day wears on, your choices diminish in number and quality.  By evening you have very few left over and will have to go with what you get.  Same is the case with marriage.  

You can observe a lot of intricacies of the situation of marriage in various ads.  Then there is the Facebook making you miserable in more than a way.  On one hand you see friends posting updates of their life events of getting married, going places with their better halfs, dedicating posts to spouses, and on the other hand there are posts suggesting what you could be doing with life besides getting married early.

There is also this unceasing debate of love marriage and arranged marriage, albeit my family not so stringent regarding it.  They only wish I get married, whether I find one or they do.  They worry my time is ticking.

It is a common scene in most homes of girls who have “come of age”.  Some girls are ready and willing. Bless them.  But then there are some like me who are not.  We have a lot of things in the bucket list, but getting married is not one of them.  Parents are pressurizing us every other opportunity as it is an understandable major concern to them what with random people questioning them why they aren’t marrying their daughters away.

When are you planning to get married? They ask you directly without any qualm.  Or they talk about everyone who is getting married and look at you with a big “?” wondering when you are going to.  They start suggesting alliances in free will.  And parents get charged up and in turn poke you.  Little do they realize that all these people care about is free food and whether you are getting married or not.  No one seems to think of it is up to her and she will when she wills or not.