Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tribulation Of An Arranged Marriage - The Men - 1

Consider this. For the last three years, my mother would finish all her work by the break of dawn. She would then perch her glasses on her eyes, set a glass of lemonade at the desk and start the grueling task of locating random potential husbands for her first-born daughter. In spite of all the experience and the prep, there is no guarantee to the results. Far from it. Maybe it’s the severe lack of sleep that’s impairing her vision or her intuition but my mother who’s superb with most things in life would manage to locate the worst of men.

Of course, I can’t blame her. Look at what the market has to offer in the first place. And what with all the bloody filters (religion, community, profession, age, occupation), the pickings are quite slim. Of course thanks to the great genius of my daddy, I didn’t need to meet most of them. When they did turn up and weren’t exactly marryable, my dad would veto it immediately. Thank god for fathers.

This post and a few other posts are going to be dedicated to those men who made sure my life was just a bit worse. Mind you, all of them are super qualified degree-wise. But after meeting several of these types, I’ve come to one conclusion. B-schools and medical schools need to introduce mandatory courses in Manners, Gender sensitivity and PE. I don’t think school was enough.



Bachelor No 1 aka The Miser-y of Glutton

This one was a hidden one. He’s a double I type from another city. Seemed erudite and well read and all the bells and whistles. After random chatting and emails, he decided to come to Bombay for a weekend to actually meet each other. That’s when the trouble began.

Once the flight had landed, the dude calls me up to ask me directions to the hotel. At 2am. That’s when I should have figured it out

Me: What’s the name of the hotel.
PH1: Hotel something-or-the-other.
Me: Where’s the area?
PH1: (Impatiently) I don’t know.
Me: Do you have a number?
PH1: Should I?
Me: Do you remember anything of the address?
PH1: (beginning to snap) Why would I? Don’t you know your own city?

At this point, I’m starting to feel more than a bit miffed. Since I don’t fit the primary requisite of carrying Google Maps in my head, maybe this is a sad deal. Then a bulb lights my sleep-fogged brain and I suddenly ask him if there is a guy with a placard with his name on it standing around. There was. Thankfully the hotel had the foresight to send a valet I go back to bed thanking all the valets in the world for being the beacon of direction for the morons in the world.

After a decent nights sleep, I was more than willing to get over the attitude and incompetence of previous night. Just as I was beatifically beaming about my good intentions, I get a call. The man is up and has demanded I go pick him up. Fine, he’s new to the city. I drive over and pick him up and I bring him back to my house. Did I mention he burped three times in 25 minutes? He comes home, burped some more, looked sullenly at the newspaper, finished EVERYTHING that my mom made (making her beam like the setting sun), barked in gruff monosyllables to everything asked. The eating didn’t put me off, like it should have. My mom’s fantastic in the kitchen and I’m a BIG eater myself. But this constant gruff tone and burping was worrying. But then we shouldn’t judge at first sight, should we?

So we set off to watch a movie. A Hindi shitty horrible movie. I got the tickets as I had the exact change. Okay, fine. Come interval, he disappears. Comes back with a bucket of popcorn, 3 Mars bars, samosas, nachos, and a Coke. And proceeds to eat the whole production by himself. After finishing EVERYTHING, he shoves the empty wrappers to the floor, looks at my expression, starts and says, “Shit, Was I supposed to offer you some?” I shake my head no; he looks relieved and continues watching the movie, burping loudly till the end.

After the movie, I was more than willing to go back home. When I said as much to the dude, he looks amazed and asks about lunch. Okay. Seemed fair. It was lunchtime anyway. So we go to Trishna, one of my favourite seafood places. Our man took the menu, ordered from the left side of three pages, orders three vodka tonics, and then looks at me expectantly for my order. The waiter took my Khichdi order and all of our man’s and went away. Three hours and several empty dishes later, I was disgusted, nauseated and dying to get home. As if the day wasn’t bad enough, our man leans back in his chair, burps loud enough for all of Trishna to hear and tosses the bill back at me saying, “Its your city, you’re getting this right?” For a lunch, where I ate half a plate of rice, I paid INR 4363.

After paying the bill, I put the man in a cab and send him to his house. He protested and grumbled. Accused me of being a mood kill and bad host (this AFTER I paid 4363 plus tickets). I stood my ground feigning a headache; afraid I might stick a pair of scissors into his head.

After meeting a few of my friends en route, I got home just as dusk had fallen. Life was gloomy out there too. There was a power outage and there were flickering candles everywhere. The minute I get home, my mom’s clamouring to know what happened. I show the bill to my mother, tell her the whole story and demand the money back from her. My mom paled visibly (she usually does at the mere mention of any money spent) and then looks at me sadly.

Mom: I’m sorry
Me: For what? He’s a jerk.
Mom: I didn’t realize this was the protocol now. I should have given the money before.
Me: Ma, you don’t understand. In one day I spent nearly 5000 rupees on a guy I don’t even like. He’s rude and crude, more importantly, I can’t afford him.

She shook her head. In the flickering candlelight, I saw something I didn’t expect. I saw real sorrow etched on my mom’s face. She was actually apologizing for some shit’s immature manners. Worried about the behaviour of a man that might be a future husband to her daughter, despising him and yet not willing to let him go as he is a potential son-in-law and might one day take care of her daughter. That’s when I realized that she probably had got it just as bad as well. She was willing to let a disgusting slob into the family and treat him well as long as he took care of me. Whether or not I realized it, that was a sacrifice too.

Thank god for fathers. I told my dad about him. The next day, I pretended to be sick but our man insisted that I go the airport with him. Not to be outdone, my dad insisted on coming along. At the airport, I said bye. My dad gave the standard HR answer, “We’ll be in touch”

Monday morning, my mom ends things with his mom.

Of course, over the next few day, the only topic of discussion was how I let a prize catch go. Relatives and neighbours came over to try and “set” me right. They spoke to me privately, they spoke to me in public. Some even thought I had a kind of a problem and thought I should see a psychologist. All of this continued until my mom zeroed in on the next one I was to meet. But that is an another post.