Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lets hear it for single women

Most of last week I have repeatedly explained to insistent parties why "I'm sure you are very nice person but I'm not ready for marriage. thankyouverymuch."
I have to give it to the matrimonial websites for enthusiasm at least. These days I get more calls from them than my own parents.

Apparently, its web etiquette to personally write out polite acceptance or refusals to guys who have sent you 'express interest requests' on the websites. On an average its 17 daily so I can rattle off from memory the "thank you for your interest in my profile, but since...." messages.

I suspect I have spent at least 6 months of my average life time discussing personal details with strangers on matrimonial sites. A guy based in Singapore wanted a "neat and clean girl with no major history of illness." Not understanding if its a pet dog he wants rather than a wife, I naturally turned him down. I can imagine he thought the reason for me doing so is basically because I don't fit either of his criteria.

There are many who turned me down, sometimes ruthlessly. "You are very nice and bubbly. But my family needs a quiet, homely sort who would be willing to encourage me in all of life's endeavours and not work herself."

My grinning friend of many years asks often if I've started yet on a paste of besan and milk to whiten my heathen skin. I started that two years ago at a time when a family wrote back "thanks you for your reply. But we are looking for a very fair girl because our son is white skinned." Ouch.

In vengeance I had written back "are you sure you are not neglecting your son? He might have albinism, a fairly common skin problem in India and can be treated with proper medical attention." My dad of course dressed me down for that childish insult.

But over time I have realised that its next to impossible in India to get a match if you are a fiercely independent woman. Three things work against me. A) I'm independent B) I'm not much to look at C) I'm a journalist. Even if I trap a software engineer or a "gorment servant" who can overlook A and B, C is a bummer.

Female journalists are creatures from hell.
They smoke, drink, curse unashamedly, wear "indecent" clothes, rub shoulders with men and unfortunately get paid as much as them. My septuagenarian uncle put his finger on the problem. "When females draw over five figure salaries, naturally their humility disappears. They are proud of themselves as hell and thereby difficult to live with. Probably why you are not married yet."

Then last week a guy called up after seeing my profile at one of the matrimonial websites. "Why is it that you are rejecting me? No I want an answer. Am I not good enough for you?"

I told Mr Whatshisname that I'm not answerable to him. You cant directly tell a guy that you didn't like his profile. He might not ever recover from the shock. But I told him I didn't like his belligerence. "Are YOU calling ME belligerent?? ARE YOU? You know how many times Ive sent you 'express interests' and you have declined?" I know exactly because I had in the end begun to simply copy paste the response in his message box.

Why is it so difficult for people to understand that you might actually LIKE living single. Enjoying your solitude and nursing your depressions at a time and place convenient to you.

What is so scary about 28 that makes parents panic, I mean lets see the bigger picture here. If I live till 80, whats 28?

I'm still a little rattled at the telephonic yelling match with this guy. (The reason I rejected him seems flimsy to my parents but is life and death to me. He had 39 spelling mistakes and grammatical errors on his profile text.) I mean, when you are trying to sell your merchandise, at least make sure the window dressing is perfect.

I have been told on several face-to-face first coffee dates with prospective grooms that I talk too much, am too 'in-your-face' for comfort, fighting a weight problem and in general am not wife material. I can proudly say that I enthusiastically agreed with everything as is my custom, ate the food of three men (come on, I'm fighting a weight problem) and let him pick up the bill.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Wish I were a child again, or at least as crazy

I went to my ophthalmologist yesterday. No its not about my double vision, just a boring corneal infection. As I was standing in the line to get my invoice done, I saw out of the corner of my eye a flash of red skirt and a curly lock whizz past my knee.

As I looked down, a pair of huge impish brown eyes was peeping into my side bag with frank curiosity. It was a girl no older than five years of age. I asked in my scariest voice "do you know what I keep inside my purse?"

"A giraffe?"

Well, that sort of stumped me. I was thinking more in the lines of a red eyed monster. But I admit, giraffe is a fair guess. This was an extrovert kid, not one to hide behind her mother's Saree when a stranger smiles at her. Better and better.

"I am going to be five years in August. Grandpa says I can have a bike then but only if I ride it inside my building." She declared. "Really? What colour bike?"

"Red." Her pride showed in her voice.

Suddenly changing the subject she drew closer conspiratorially. "Can you move this thing? I can."

The thing is a divider with an elastic band separating the queues in front of the help desk like the ones they have at airport checking in counters. "Yeah. With one hand. With three fingers actually." Well, I know I'm not allowed to touch the divider, but come on I can boast that I can, right? I mean its just a kid, and she started the boasting match first.

The girl was overcome by a fit of giggles, I'm guessing at the very idea of me trying to budge the divider (fixed to the ground), with three fingers. A competition soon ensued. The moment she realized that the thing is nailed to the ground, a sly look came in her eyes. "I'm bored with this game. Can you go round and round like this?"

To demonstrate, she moved out of the line into a relatively open space and started going round in circles and dropped on all fours to the ground, obviously giddy, but giggling nevertheless.

See, now that's not fair. I mean of course I can go "round and round" but it kind of sucks that I'm 28 and I cant do it without an excuse in the middle of a hospital lounge. Unless of course I pass it off as an attack of anxiety at having to wait in the serpentine queue for over 30 minutes. But I doubt if I'd have takers.

So this brat scored one on me there. Smug as hell, she stuck out her tongue at me and decided "you don't know anything." What choice do I have here? I could blow my neighborhood's biggest spit bubble and I can climb a six foot wall in a skirt, I could also take on boys twice my size and beat them to a pulp before I was even 10 years old. Sadly, achievements I can't demonstrate at the hospital. Not if I want a prolonged stay at their mental ward, anyway.

So then this thought hit me. I do miss my wild weird days of childhood. Of climbing on to a low hanging branch over the local pond and jumping with a mighty splash during summer days. Stealing from jars of pickle set out to ripen in the sun on an elderly neighbour's terrace, writing secret letters to the "bikram" (of bikram and betal fables) who incidentally lived under my bed and raided our fridge during the night (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).
Or just meaningless "going round and round" with neighbourhood kids when I was old enough to be let out of sight for hours on end.
As I waved goodbye to the kid in the red skirt, I yelled "so whats your name?"
"Tina Ravina Singh. whats yours?" "giraffe-girl" I said. She knew it was a joke but asked me seriously, "Giraffe-girl what?" "Giraffe-girl Bhowmik". "Oh! but that doesn't go well with giraffe-girl. you should be Singh."
"But then I'll have to sing all the time. All Singhs can sing."
How long this senseless conversation would have gone on I don't know. But her mother emerged with the requisite paperwork from the front end of the queue and asked her to say "bye-bye to her new friend" so they can get her dental check-up done.
She was still holding two tiny forefingers on the side of her heard (imitating a giraffe, I'm guessing) and sticking out her tongue at me when she was dragged away.
"I don't have ALL day you know," the annoyed receptionist barked at me. Back to business.


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