Monthly Archives: October 2007

Sambar masala

My dear friends, my poor dear friends that suffer the agony of matrimonial match-making! Aside from the usual agonizing boy-meet-girl-over-tea/coffee ritual, there’s the incessent pressure pressure PRESSURE from the rest of the world.

The prospect’s education (pedigree), employment, family background, hobbies and friends are examined in great detail. And if 3 of these fit then voila!! We have a match!!!!

Attraction has no place in this discussion. Like the father of one of my friends once said,

Arre beta, yeh sab kuch nahin hota! When I was your age, I wanted to marry Hema Malini but see, I married your mother instead!

Ah well, and how does one argue with logic of that sort?

My most recent friend-victim sniffs,

Attraction??!! Try telling that to them. A good family and education is more than 90% of it and then even if there is even 5% attraction…WHAM! Close the deal!

Awww…in consolation I replied,

Like the perfect receipe for onion sambar? Ah, but sambar isn’t sambar without the sambar masala powder!

I think I’ll use that in one of my own arguments next time. Sounds a helluva lot better than…

I won’t marry someone I can’t imagine sleeping next to (and with) every night (and some days)!

…and it might actually work the next time mum tries to shove a mustachioed Mani Idli-Iyer at me.

The Dangers Of Being A Man

DNA carried a news article titled ‘Adolescent boys, not girls, are bigger victims of forced sex ‘ which said,

“According to a study conducted by researchers at JohnsΒ HopkinsΒ University of the US, 15% of boys and 3% of girls reported that someone forcibly tried to have a physical relationship with them.”

The numbers look suspect to me which may be because female respondents have been more reluctant to talk than males, thus skewing the statistics the other way. However, it raises an important point.

Men are the victims of sexual crimes as well. That’s obvious at an intellectual level. But take a minute to think of the gamut of horrors that are encompassed in this: child abuse, date rape, harassment at work, non-consensual marital sex. I’ve been very vocal about the tragedies of being a woman and vulnerable to all sorts of dangers. On the other hand, men aren’t completely insured to these same dangers, are they?

What’s most chilling is the thought that these dangers exist without a comparable level of support. If a guy broke up with his girlfriend, citing ‘too much of pressure for sex’ as a reason, how many of us would take him seriously? If a husband were to report trauma caused by marital abuse and non-consensual sex, who would believe him?

Let’s get closer home. Say you know a couple. And let’s say one of them meets a third person of the opposite sex who starts paying them a lot of attention. These affections may not be reciprocated and there is bound to be some strain in the couple’s relations as a result of the third person. Now if it is the girl who is party to unwelcome affection, a brisk, “No thanks. I’m not interested” usually sorts the problem out, failing which there’s always, “Get lost, creep! I have a boyfriend”. However, if it is a guy who is the object of a new girl’s attention…..ah, didn’t you just stop and think, “Lucky dog!”? Hmm, I did too. And that is exactly the point. Since we assume that any kind of female attention is an enjoyable experience for a man, we can’t conceive the idea that it could be unwelcome and even traumatizing.

Don’t get me wrong, attention is la-di-da for all of us, but most of us are practical enough to realize that it could jeopardize other aspects of our lives. So a girl can easily shrug off the attention…it is the ‘right’ thing for her to do after all. But what does a guy do? Being rude to a woman makes him look caddish, spurning affection makes him seem cold. And heaven help him if girlfriend is the jealous, non-understanding type.

Now the above has actually happened to a couple I know. As it turned out the woman in the couple ended up taking matters into her hands and going out to war with the other woman. The man breathed a sigh of relief. But the couple has also started avoiding certain places and occasions where they are sure to meet the other woman. The other woman hasn’t been deterred in her activities however, and proceeds on smoothly with her life like nothing happened. This is one time I do not sympathize with my sex.

This has still been a fairly safe situation, with one woman playing the perpetrator and another woman riding to the rescue, in the proverbial knight-in-shining-armour manner. However, what of situations where this isn’t possible?

At schools and hostels, who is taking care of little boys from the ‘inappropriate’ advances of adults and….would you believe…their own peers?

Within marriages, is there a way for the husband to seek help in case he needs it? I’m hardly surprised now that men seemed to more and more petrified of commitment than ever.

At adolescence, boys are learning to drive, to drink, to try and get girls into bed. Someone may also be teaching them safety regulations, how to deal with hangovers and seduction techniques. How about self-defense?

Women are no less corruptible than their male counterparts. In the cubicle space of shattered glass ceilings, who is ensuring a safe, harassment-free workplace for male newcomers?

While these times may be long in coming, they’re headed our way, for sure. If women aren’t sex-objects, playthings, showpieces, trophies and dumb bimbettes, we aren’t all paragons of virtue either. The very same temptations to evil lie before us as well and who is to tell…when faced with an opportunity and virtually no chance of being caught, if we wouldn’t take it up ourselves? The average woman is no more an angel than a man. All we all are, is human.

Of note, I’m not minimizing the risks faced by women, indeed not. All I’m doing is pointing out that men are vulnerable to some of these too and in some ways the risks are higher since they have even less of our sympathy than the female victims. While we raise our voices to protest the crimes against women, we speak for empowerment and independence, are we doing so at the cost of making men ‘the weaker sex’? I don’t like the thought of that either. And worst of all, I realize that this is little more than idle intellectualizing since womenpower is the way the tide is turning, even if drowns out some basic rights for men in the process.

If any of my readers are surprised by this post, well, don’t be. There are men I love and care for, after all. And I fear for their safety and peace of mind, just as I do for my own. I’ve often thought that it would be more practical to have a son since being a girl is fraught with so much of agony. But then…I think….I can teach my daughter to take care of herself, and where I don’t, the world will provide ways to support her. If nothing else, I can bring her into a world where she will be heard. I am not sure I can say the same for a son.

The Wedding Night And Other Friendly Stories

Heeheehee….got this picture off The Lady‘s post.

what_men_love.jpg

It reminded me of the time my friend got married. The pre-wedding days were a time of much mirth for the cronies of the bride and groom. But of course. We were such a bunch of wits.

For the wedding night, we decided ‘as good friends’, we’d make things as comfortable and easy as we could for the two newly-weds. Aside from the usual decoration of the ‘love-boudouir’ and planned pranks (alarm clocks hidden around the room set for a different hour), one guy came up with the novel idea of directions. So we decided, we’d plant directions all over the couple to make it easier for them.

For her, there’s be arrows pointing to all the erogenous zones…ears, waist, breasts, neck, back of the knees etc. For him, we concluded all arrows would point to right below his belt!

Errrm. Am afraid to say that we reduced the bride-to-be to tears. Which, hopefully her husband did not on the wedding night. With our without our directions. πŸ˜‰

β€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”β€”β€Šβ€”β€Šβ€”

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Aspirational manhood

When a good friend recently told me that he was gay, it did not come as a surprise. Indeed I concluded that my prayers had been answered in the form of someone who was already quite close to me. But even more, it was a moving moment since he chose to face the truth for the first time and it was in my presence…it takes courage to do that and I guess you’d think of a dear friend to hold your hand at that moment. I applaud my buddy and celebrate the fact that he finally breathes easy.

J.K.Rowling now reveals that one of the best-loved characters of the cult she created for this generation, is gay. Hmm. Now that’s fiction and the former, reality.

I also watched American Beauty last week…a movie that like a good book allows you to reflect on each character, situation and conversation ad infinitum and draw your own pearls of wisdom differently each time. And I wondered…why is it such an earth-shattering crime to be gay?

I get some clues in the book I’m reading that reminds me that,

Women come from a woman and carry on as an extension of the same person. No one tells a little girl to “Be a woman”. Men, on the other hand, have to learn to be men.

(not quoted verbatim but as I remember it)

We on the other hand, are just are born into femalehood automatically. The book is sub-titled ‘The triumph of love over rage”. I sympathise..much.

The most common argument I’ve heard against masculine homosexuality is that it is ‘disgusting’. Dig a little deeper and I get an explanation of how same sex unions can never result in progeny and hence are useless to evolution. My strongly masculine friends elaborate on how wonderful the female body is and express their utter revulsion of anyone who can enjoy the male body.

Of note, I don’t hear similarly vehement declarations from women about female homosexuality. And well, I’ve yet to come across a man with a bone to pick about lesbianism.

So, in the minds of most men, to not like a woman is the ultimate fall from masculinity. What an odd thought. The stronger sex defines itself by its relationship to the weaker sex…and not the other way round.

And finally, another male friend once told me that

Being a man is a highly over-rated job.

I conclude that…perhaps…he was right. Except I’d not call it a job as much as a sentence to a lifetime of judgement by others and yourself.

Fairytale

The reason men shouldn’t be permitted to think…

(Click to see full comic on a new page)

fairytale.JPG

Sensual

There is nothing quite like…

….getting out of bed too early in the morning, stretching and finding that (joy!) you’re alive despite the ungodly hour…

….catching sight of the day before it looks like morning (just like new born babies, really really new ones don’t look like anyone at all)…

….and then snuggling back into the warm space left behind on the bed.

Unless…it is snuggling into the warm space left behind by someone else on the bed. Actually that’s distinctly different. Like the difference between a soothing, hot shower and the feel of someone’s arms around you in a tight hug. Mmmmm.

The past and his present

A friend asked me,

Have you ever felt bad on coming across photos of an ex (who you’re supposed to have wiped out from your memory etc and moved on) romancing another person? I know I don’t want him anymore, but it just sucks all the same.

In response I mailed her this. And this post is for her…and the women who’ve felt this (and umm..some men too).

There are many reasons to want a clean break from the past and I’ve enumerated them before. But the real reason I don’t recycle boyfriends as boyfriends again or even friends is because – plain and simple – they make me feel bad about myself. This is probably a feature unique to my sex but like a lot of women I know, ending a relationship makes me feel like I failed in something. Failed to be a good girlfriend, failed in making him love me, failed to make the right decision. Failed, failed, FAILED. Meeting the person again is like being reminded, that no matter how successful you might become otherwise, there is always that time that you failed. And badly, always.

I hate women who tell me what great pals they are with their ex-es and the whole ‘no hard feelings’ bit. (And the cat in me purrs…that’s because they weren’t hard in the first place, dahling. Miaow!). On the surface that occurs to me as being…just wrong. And deep down, I’m also envious, wondering just how they manage it. If you don’t feel bad about not having the person in your life in that way anymore, if you don’t miss the way things were…were they really that good? Odd it strikes me now, that I judge the depth of my love for a man on how much I can hate him later. How bad he makes me feel now is a direct indicator to how good he made me feel back then. How can you not miss the great times that once were and feel a very, very aching emptiness in knowing they never will be the same again?

What’s worse is the fact that the men never seem to have that issue. It makes me feel worse than ever, knowing that I just want to run and hide when I see them, I’m dying a thousand deaths with blood zinging into my brain suddenly instead of coursing down my veins normally, I’m worrying myself silly that I’ll say the wrong thing…..and he’s sitting just cool as ever in front of me, talking about the woman (or women) he’s had around lately.

And what of the person they’re with now? That’s a double-edged sword. True to my obsessive self, I once transitioned my deep resentment of an ex- to the other woman in his life. I never met her but I’d heard so much about her that in my mind she became this paragon of perfection – beautiful, intelligent, successful, dignified, popular. While inside my head I just shrunk furthur and furthur like Alice eating the wrong bit of the mushroom. It was crazy.

A woman has the capacity to make another woman feel much worse than any man ever can. On the other hand, by then it isn’t about the man anymore. Use the sword to get the thorn out. Years later, I know there’s very little chance I’ll ever bump into her. Higher the probability is though, that I’ll meet him and I’m prepared. The thorn is out of my system even if the sword-gashes remain. And if she and I have to cross paths, well, that’s another war altogether.

The real bitch is if they come together (as it happened in my Encounter). Just saw an episode of SATC….quite appropriately the one where Carrie Bradshaw is faced with the marriage announcement of Big to Natasha. She’s quiet, then she calls for fries and she tells her friends that she’s okay. Back home, she faces it and finally she puts her head down and cries. I know, I know. A lot of us do, dear friend of mine. Breathe, like I said…just remember to breathe.

History and chemistry

Rambler asks what we think of this crazy little thing called love…though he calls it attraction. Ah…a rose by any other name would have the same thorns..

Attraction, a thought which keeps baffling me day in and day out. what it about attraction which makes it hard to define?, why is it that we get attracted to few people and not to others, what makes them stand out in crowd to us. Something which might be as subjective as it can get.

I say it isn’t all that baffling after all. Or perhaps I’ve just traded in curiosity for resignation.

Do you ever notice how repetitive we are in our so-called free choices? Like we are creatures of instinct and habit rather than of balanced, objective desicions. Yes, it is true and never more so than in the mating/ dating/ love/ sex game. Those are after all called our basic instincts.

I believe in the interaction of chemicals…hormones, pheromones et al. Chemistry really does make this world go round. Chemistry has bizzarre results but it is perfectly logical.

I also believe in Oedipus and Electra. The world is spinning at far too quick a pace, sensation-a-second for us to be able to make split-second objective desicions every time. More often than not, we’re relying on past data, ancient wisdom, recycled ways of thinking.

I’m not opposing what Rambler says about attraction being in the mind. Indeed it is….even for the most hormonal, unemotional creature. If it weren’t so, then as Rambler rightly points out, we may as well go around grabbing any body that fits the requisite mold. But, I doubt whether it really is a matter of free choice either.

Yes, it is about more than just the body. I sometimes think, that I’m more attracted to a person’s body language than their body appearance. That’s just the same thing, isn’t it? Body language after all contains subtle complicated cues about a person. There are the obvious pointers to energy levels, restlessness, activity/passivity but also confidence, grace, tenderness, firmness etc. And….when you think about it…..really hard…..don’t they also gently remind you of something else, someone else long ago? Memory is too deeply rooted in us to not make its presence felt in something as basic as attraction.

After much pondering and agonizing and cribbing, after endless cyclic conversations, after all this reading and talking, I’m no closer to the answer to the question of

Why do we like the people we do?

Or rather….sometimes I know. But you know something? Just knowing why something happens is not enough to control it happening. And hence we go on being attracted to ‘the wrong kind of people’, stay in bad relationships, drift from one unhealthy obsession to another toxic addiction.

Interestingly enough, someone once told me that I was obsessed with intellectual masturbation. Well, what do I say to that? All these years later, I’m still drumming out the very same words, this time on an open forum and getting an unseen kick out of it.

The bitch about intelligence is that it gives you an illusory sense of power…that you can control your own destiny. I don’t think you can. Don’t hang me for being fatalistic, I did try going the scientific route in this inquiry too and it brought me to the same place. Ah well, all roads lead to the same exquisite hell.

What use is a question without an answer? Well, what use is an answer that doesn’t stop the question from being asked over and over again?

I say, no great mystery, it’s all just history and chemistry.

Justice is served

There will always be someone who recognizes you
even if they don’t really know you.

And then there are those who know you but don’t recognize you anymore.

I’ve met so friends in crowds of strangers
that it never occured to me that
a friend I didn’t recognize, could turn stranger.

Mea culpa. Tu quoque.

So yes, he does feel?

I underestimate the depth of men’s emotions.

Spoke to someone I’ve known for a long time, recently…after awhile. Our last interaction was interesting but in line with my most recent defense mechanism I decided to do as I thought he would and filed it away as ‘nothing of consequence’. Now, years later he remembers and seems appalled that I haven’t given it more importance.

Ugh. I may be more intense one but there’s something to be depth of emotion. Very different things. So the old adage is true after all. Women are more expressive and hence able to ‘get it out of their systems’ faster than men. Read an article somewhere that implied that this was healthy as well since women who repressed their expression were prone to high-level health disorders, while men weren’t.

So IΒ reserve the right to my tantrums and mood swings.Β Β But I stand corrected as regards the authenticity of male emotions.

Oh deyaam…what happens to my male-bashing then, and what of this blog? πŸ˜‰

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