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The Romance Gardener

I found my kinship with green things when I was 8, watching fascinated as baby shoots poked out of the mud laid on a try, where I’d sprinkled mustard seeds a few days earlier.

About 10 years ago, a doctor having his yard renovated, handed me a sprig of ajwain, saying it would aid the cold I was having if I put it in my drinking water. Instead I stuck in a pot, layering mud I scratched off the ground. That herb parented the many plants that have kept my company & given babies that I gave to select people to start little green paradises of their own.

You might think a love of green things would include flowers but oddly, it didn’t. Flowers were things I saw enchained in garlands at weddings & political functions, strangled into wreaths or bouquets for sombre occasions, reminders of rules that were oppressive.

At 28, a boyfriend told me white lilies were his favourite flower. I was charmed by this glimpse of tenderness in an otherwise brutish masculinity (boys’ school, engineering college, investment banking). I sent a modest bouquet of 3 white lilies to wait for him at his office desk on Monday. I received an angry call from him calling it inappropriate & me, desperate.

Years later, I shared this story with a healing group. They awwed. 3 men of different ages approached me later to tell me not to be stopped by this. Men like nice things too, they said, it’s a lovely gesture. I began tentatively taking flowers to some people I trusted. A single gladiola with lunch, a pair of yellow gerberas while dropping off a book.

5 years ago, as I began processing old hurts, I realised my garden had never had flowers. It was now a thriving Eden of sturdy herbs, proud vegetables & an occasional succculent. Like me, it was strong, resilient, protective. But it wasn’t gentle, cheery or inviting. That’s the domain of the flower, the plant kingdom’s personal mating call.

And so, tentatively, I welcomed romance, the very idea of it into my garden & my heart.

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This is part of a series called #ARomanticLife exploring our ideas of romance, its media depictions and how they impact our lives. There are also posts over at my other blog The Idea-smithy and two Live conversations (Rajni Arunkumar, TJ Coulagi)

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

All Kinds Of Funny Notions…

I read an article in the Mumbai Mirror today titled “Find the missing comic”. It listed all the finalists of ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’ and surprise, surprise…they were all male! The article went on to ask people whether women had a sense of humour or not.

Of course we have a sense of humour. It’s a human trait…I do believe the ability to laugh and see the funny side must be located somewhere between one’s ears, not in the plumbing region of the body…which rules out the idea of humour being a gender-driven trait.

I, for one, am one of those who loves laughing and making people laugh. My sense of humour swings between ridiculous slapstick and sophisticated satire and quite often tiptoes into the raunchy. One of my favorite declarations goes thus:

The trouble with men is that they always think with the wrong head

HAHAHAHA! Very few people seem to find that statement funny. The men are too busy snarling and mumbling about feminists while the women are busy being ladylike and turning up their noses at such ‘offensive behavior’ or playing sweet-n-dumb.

My best friend is a cool, dignified lady who rarely smiles. Of course in all these years of friendship, I’ve discovered what tickles her funny bone but I also know that the poker-face mask hardly ever goes down in public. She’s the kind who can freeze you with a glance, with the atmospheric temperature dipping to record lows with the degree of raunchiness. I envy her. In all the good advice that she’s given me, the one thing I just can’t seem to take is this lesson of ‘not being funny’. Her belief is that jokes apart, men really don’t respect a girl who kids around a lot.

I hate to admit it but I think she’s right. I’ve been ‘the buddy’ for so long, I almost forgot I was female. My male friends, those amazingly wonderful specimens of humanity….while they’ve taught me so much about life, the universe and everything, conveniently forgot to mention that…oh, laughter increases your fun quotient and dips your general sex appeal. I think laughter is a great ice-breaker and I’ve used it freely in all these years as a conversation starter. Is it a coincidence then, that people like conversations with me, but not dates?

Then again, the men I am usually drawn to are humourous, whacky, intelligent and aggressive. They’re loads of fun to be with (like me!), full of energy and ideas (ditto here) and they hate to share the spotlight (*sighh*….yeah that too). A sense of humour is a great people-magnet and its possible that they don’t like being upstaged or even competing with me. Does that sound arrogant?

When I was in college, I participated in a JAM session. It was the first (and only) time I’ve ever been in a talk-a-thon. The predominantly male panel (and audience) looked at me curiously as I signed up. Rather indulgently they explained the rules of the game to me and told me not to worry, just relax and enjoy the game. I did. As I picked up the prize at the end of the game, my jam-master said “Pretty good…for a girl”. I said, “Really? I wouldn’t have stood a chance if this panel was all female.” I wonder if he did get the point. When I got home and proudly showed off the prize, my dad didn’t bat an eyelid, when he said, “Why is it so great? You’ve been practicing ever since you started to talk.” Leave it to a man to have the last word on the funnies….

I am full of awe for people who are funny. Okay, okay Mr.Nandy…coming from me, read that as a compliment! I totally admire people who write witty posts. I have tried but somehow I can’t quite match the standards set by Sagnik, Apoorva , Rumpelstilskin, Bird (and several others!) Notice please, there aren’t any women on this list. This post is so much me, me, me….I honestly couldn’t find another woman to write about (blogger or otherwise) Sighh…..alright, alright, I concede. Humour is gender-specific. I still won’t buy the notion that we’re born with a lesser sense of humour than men but it is the conditioning that makes us less able to express the funny side.

In the meantime I’ll continue my solitary crusade for the Female Funnies.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

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