Monthly Archives: September 2010

It All Started With A Big Bang!

It’s hard being a woman. The whole multi-tasking thing is starting to fire on us in a beeg way and I have a sneaky suspicion that men are sniggering at us from behind their hands (or err, gadgets).

For starters there is the image of the modern, intelligent woman. Some slogging, plodding and hard work bring us the degrees and promotions. That ought to be enough to cement the image, right? Wrong! One must be a good conversationalist as well.

Now this being a good conversationalist business is tricky. What does it mean anyway? Be an entertainer? A good listener? A confident talker? A jocular being dropping witticisms with every eyelash flutter? And all of this while ensuring said eyelashes don’t drop into the food, lipstick doesn’t get onto teeth during self-induced laughing bouts and ‘statement jewellery’ doesn’t get entangled in the tablecloth, the waiter’s tie or the door. Flashes of skin must be accidental and with a large majority of us regular women are; only with us they take the form of embarassing wardrobe malfunctions and not the fantastical literary ‘accidental flash of skin’. Difficult indeed, being a woman.

Then there is pressure to be a good date. Yes, make no mistakes, women suffer performance anxiety too. Yes, I know there are enough of men who will turn somersaults on the tops of the incomplete Mumbai metroworks if they think they can ‘win’ the attention of a girl they find hot. But what after that? Even the most aesthetically sensitive man will tire of looking at a showpiece. Therein begins the pressure to be good-looking, well-groomed and smart.

This is particularly difficult for women like me who very reluctantly don the garb of chickdom. Dressing up nicely is about as far as we’re able to go. But after that, the same forceful opinions and loud declarations backfire. Well, they never really get us brownie points and in this case we go from being branded ‘rabid feminists’ to ‘arrogant bitches’. Whatever.

Okay, okay, time out. So how does one set aside all the high drama and clashes and conflicts? Dating must be fun too, right? Let’s see, what are the common points of interest?

Books are out for a large number of people, at least in this city. The ones who do claim to read are mostly doing it for the impression, but that’s for another rant. I set my cynicism aside and dived into a genre I thought sounded promising. Graphic Novels!

“Comics.” I am told curtly, a steely look coming into the hitherto worshipful eyes. From there it only goes downhill as I blab on a bit about Fables and Sandman before being run over by a barrage of Superman, Batman and other superhero trivia. I’m relieved I didn’t mention Spiderman (actually Spiderman Loves Mary Jane); he might have thrown something at me!

How about movies? We already know how that turns out. Television seems to offer a safer ground. Reality TV is what everyone claims to hate but secretly watches, one finger always on the remote, when they’re alone. Chicks lurrve Sex & The City, guys are maniacal about Star Wars (and sometimes FTV, or if they’ll admit it, regional channels after midnight). I am about to throw up my hands on yet another possibility when I quite inadvertently hit upon an answer.

“Sheldon Cooper. Amazing. Hmm.” I say, a dreamy look coming into my eyes. Of course that’s my weakness for condescending geekboys (cue Jupiter Jones).

“Sheldon Cooper. Indeed.” He agrees.

We look at each other over the glasses of rum (another thing we have in common..but more on that another time) and grin. And suddenly I know I’ve accidentally stumbled onto the common ground.

Why is this show so popular? Let’s see. It’s four superbrainy (and nerdy) geekboys who live next door to a dumb blonde. Well, not exactly. Only two of them actually live there, the others just keep lounging around. They sit around tossing phrases like ‘Doppler Effect’ and ‘Vector co-ordinates’ to each other, playing one-upmanship games of job importance and prowess with the ladies and slobber over the girl next door in her tiny shorts, who does *wonder of wonders* smile at them and even joins them for dinner sometimes. I can see why this appeals to the boys.

On the other hand, I don’t think Penny is actually dumb. She isn’t a brainiac like any of the boys but she’s sensible, funny, friendly and nice. Yes, she’s easy on the eyes (tele-symbolised by tiny clothes). But she doesn’t carry a diva attitude even with the salivating boys next door. What’s more, their boasting and intellectual showing-off rarely bothers her and more often than not, she’s the one who really gets what’s going on. A la ‘Boys. Will So Be Boys. Hmph‘. Heh, she’s already got our sympathies. But hang on, she doesn’t need that. That’s one girl surrounded by four guys, all smart, interested in her and willing to do everything from fix up her creaky door hinges to be guinea pigs for her cocktail waitressing. They hit on her (gently, geekboys are nice that way) but they’re nice to her. They even let themselves get roughoused by the bulldog boyfriend who hurt her. Okay, who’s the smart one now? That’s the girl we all want to be!

For all that it could seem to be about a semi sci-fi, fantasy geekboy story, The Big Bang Theory is the battle of the sexes at its finest. Four men and one woman and guess who is winning? That’s enough of ego massage for even the most rabid feminist side of me.

On that note, I’d like to thank the makers for bringing out a spectacular show and also facilitating enough of gender-common conversation for dates and more. It certainly started with a big bang!

Caveat Temptor: Boyfriend Beware!

If true love is finding that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life, Mr.Everyday is doing a damn fine job of it! Now that we’ve wiped the stardust out of our eyes and reality is setting in, the hitherto charming differences are starting to wear thin.

I knew I was a sociable person but the reality of just what a big, crowded, noisy, busy life I have is becoming clear to me only now. He has what might be described as a regular Joe lifestyle and what in comparison to mine, seems like citizenry to Coventry. He goes to work, he pays his bills, he occasionally catches up with an old friend for a movie or ‘the boys’ (exactly one-two-three of them) for a night of inebriation. Never forgetting the boy’s toy, his XBox that fulfils the function of his absorbing, fulfiling hobby. I on the other hand, have a running tally of multiple books being read, a constant tickertape-like stream of output and input to the social media, people I ‘do coffee with’, ‘grab lunch with’, ‘catch a brunch with’, ‘take tea with’, ‘have dinner with’, party with, hang out with, chat up and cosy up with.

I have a busy life, he has a quiet one. But that’s not even the start of the problem. I (rather successfully, if I say so myself) juggle these sometimes conflicting priorities and engagements in my life by careful planning and balancing. I love Outlook (ask anyone who’s worked with me), keep my phone calendar synched to the various plays, movies, meets, luncheons, dinners, calls, gatherings, concerts and events that compete for my time. I figure out places to meet that will suit the parties and purpose involved and also be convenient and accessible. I may be organized but I’m not boring. I milk the 60 seconds worth of my distance run to full capacity. Above all, this is my life and I love it.

He, on the other hand, ‘likes to take it as it comes’. Oh, how I hate that phrase! It scores right up there on the hatelist with ‘going with the flow’, ‘keeping it flexible’ and ‘not over-thinking things‘. It makes me grrrrrrrrrritttt my teeth and growl like an angered wild cat.  Tiny wisps of smoke start to curl out of my nostrils and flames leap out of my ears. It goes against everything I believe in, everything I stand for, everything I am.

I gave it a shot, I genuinely did. As with everything else I do, I conscientiously strove to live outside plans and schedules and organization. The result of that was that this is the sixth weekend that a much-awaited Pune trip has failed to happen. Calls have not been returned. Movieclub screenings have been missed. People have been kept waiting or hanging for days on end and proposed lunches & dinners have still not happened. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the time but it makes me shudder to think of how much more could have been done. Just think of how it could have been better (and I know it could have been done)! More comfortably, less stressfully, at lower costs, for longer time, better seats, more movies, tastier food.

Finally, I threw a volcanic fit. Yes, I’m not one of those genteel ladies who can ‘air their grievances’ and the man was made aware of it.

The thing is, I realized that most people tend to live in a certain way, driven by their own temperament and the demands of their lives. There may be some merit to being spontaneous. But I think many times that is just used to excuse laziness and an unwillingness to take responsibility for some admittedly boring activities.

Being organized is not a hobby. I don’t go into raptures over the perfectly sorted out filing system. Lists don’t give me orgasms. Bullet points are not my favorite accessories. But these things make my life easier; they really do. There is no way on earth I would have managed to sustain an active writing output, a very demanding career, a large social life and a family life without being organized about these things. And these habits stay. It deeply troubles me when things are not clear. And I am not compulsive about it. I know life is unpredictable and there is much that we don’t have control over. But the purpose of an organizing system is to make chaos more manageable. I’m not as bothered by a plan that didn’t work as I am by the thought that a plan wasn’t even made.

The trouble is, this works just fine for oneself. I have managed to be an organized person even while living with one rather messy person and working with several chaotic wrecks. In some cases, I have been able to influence (or indeed, bully) them into following my systems. In other cases, I’ve taken care of what I could and ignored the occasional stray sock that lands on my chair or looseleaf papers scattered close to my table.

But how do you interweave your life with someone whose fabric is a different consistency and indeed, not even woven? There are common friends, social occasions to be attended together and ‘together time’ which has to be planned factoring in two different schedules and now, different ways of being. The last time I spoke to Adi, we estimated the most convenient times for our phone conversations, based on his schedule and mine but also his girlfriend’s and my boyfriend’s. On the other hand, Mr.Everyday’s modus operandi goes along the lines of,

“Yeah, we could catch that movie. X was saying he wanted to see that movie too. Don’t worry….I’ll go again with him.”

I feel not just murderous but like Velma Kelly in Chicago, singing,

It was a murder but not a crime
I didn’t do it
But if I done it,
how could you tell me that I was wrong!!??

Can chaos and order make peace?

I have a new relationship adage to add to the thousands of platitudes we’ve been fed over the years (and none of which are working right now, dammit!).

Few people die of a volcanic eruption or a plane crash. In most cases, it’s the tiny damn things that are going to kill us. So fug the differences in age, background, upbringing and language. I think we’re going to spend a long time fighting over the damn calendar.

And then he looks at me with that shy smile and says,

People like you make the world run. People like me make it interesting to run. Besides, there’s no one else I’d rather be miserable with.

…and even my diatribe, my rant, my tall declarations are silenced. For the time being. ;-)

The Male Patient: MachoMan/BigBaby

Francois Sagan did say,

“I like men to behave like men. I like them strong and childish.”

The proverbial honeymoon comes to an end (proverbial, I said. That means its metaphorical, people. I retain my ‘unmarried girl’ status). Life with Mr.Everyday means some rainy days among the sunshine. The wonderfuller-than-life boyfriend proves himself to be a typical guy.

It started a couple of weeks back when I came down with the monsoonitis, that kuff-kuff-sniff-sniff-i’m-burning-up vestige of Mumbai rains. Plans were accordingly changed (at which point I digress to say I’m the one who makes the plans while the man likes to ‘go with the flow’, read ignore anything less interesting than Predators, XBox, beefsteaks and me). I warned him that Mumbai rains were viral and not romantic, that God made umbrellas for a reason, that dampness was catching. *Sigh*

On Sunday, after many reminders and patient chipping away (mine) on stubborn resistance (his), boyfriend was induced to wake up early to catch a morning movie. To his credit he did manage to make it on time….to the wrong theater. It took him another 25 minutes to get to the right place, by which time the movie had begun and we missed getting good seats. Well, what do you do with a man who listens to every thing you say (no kidding, even my obsessing over long-lost friends, whining about public transport and PMSey complaints) except directions? Shrug and accept that he still is a man after all.

Mid-week the realisation came fully to fore when those tricky monsoonitis germs finally shifted their focus from my lungs to his. Mr.’Arre-don’t-worry-nothing-happens-to-me’ sniffed and sneezed his way into fludom. And voila, transformation! My otherwise placid, stoic, independent, sensible boyfriend was transformed into a classic literary character. The Dr.Jekyll self was MachoMale with manly shrug of shoulders, albeit a refusal to acknowledge that I really did tell him to stay out of the rain, not fall asleep in wet clothes and avoid suspect food. I did tell him so, I did, I did! (Okay, I am after all human female too).

I had to drag him to the doctor, I kid you not. Once there, we went over the vaguely familiar “Can we leave now? Now? Now? Can we go? Please? Please?” And then Mr.Hyde truly showed up in the form of BigBabyness. First the irritability. Then the refusal to eat sensible sick food. Cold pepsi for dinner, pizza for breakfast and tomato soup for lunch all with medication!!! Then aggravated sickness leading to further irritability. Finally culminate in guilty feeling semi-compliments alternated by irritable ‘I can take care of myself!’ type remarks (yeah, right). *End of mommy-like rant*

Which brings me to the firm realisation that men are genetically incapable of being their normal selves while unwell. I don’t mind mood swings; I mean, I’m a woman, after all! But men uniformly turn into that MachoMan/BigBaby combination. I’m not exaggerating. Even dad, the manliest man of them all is prone to this when his acidity attacks strike. Why do men roar and growl exactly when their throats (and tummies and heads and various other bits and pieces) need rest?

One of my friends did warn me to not mother the boyfriend but really, what is a woman to do with this? Boyfriend has duly been rechristened Babyfriend and I don’t care what he says but he has to clean his plate and take his medicine before I’ll return his XBox controller to him.

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