Sunday, May 11, 2014

an aftermath of 2 states

I admit it upfront, I like Chetan Bhagat, there is something simple about it that appeals, a common sense that is direct and lucid. 10 years ago it wasn't that common to leave the path of money and venture into being a writer. It takes guts to trod the untrod path, and belief.

Ok I saw 2 states today and was reminded of the time when I read the book and could picture the events in my mind. Walking out of the hall, someone said this is all the stuff of movies, not much of this happens in real life.

Of course it does. From the stereo types, to the loud music, the furniture less houses in one extreme part of South India to the stuffed paratha breakfasts of the north, there is a grain of truth to the cliched that get aired.

Growing up in Delhi, the land below the Deccan remained alien and unknown. South Indian food as far as I knew was vegetarian, consisted of Idli, Dosa and Vada and was best made by Sagar in Defence Colony. The days specials that were listed on the menu consisting of things like Neer Dosa, Bisse Belli Bhaat, or Puligogere were left unexplored. An assorted collection of namkeen that were sold outside the restaurant weren't bought as they just looked like coiled snakes in a bag. In short, my ignorance of the differences between each state, the food, and the intricate web of culture meeting life was zilch

Today, with seven years spent in Bangalore, there is a hidden Southie in me that has found roots. My taste buds and my mind have opened up to the world of Kerala Cusine. A coconut curry done just right, the stew with the appals, the stir fries of beef and fish, the vadas and the spice, the chats that combine the hot and the cold, the Mangaloreans buns, the Andhra chillis, the chutneys of combinations that I can't comprehend, the home made snacks that i secretly crave, tapioca chips and juice shops. A world of possibilities exists that I had not known

Watching the resilience of 2 states, my thoughts wandered back to my wedding, where 'food' the veg and the non-veg battle was a core issue. It was a marriage between 2 nations and not 2 states. A German man sought to win over a Jain family. A Jain girl, gulped as she was sausages floating in Dal.

Drinking to celebrate a wedding was a norm for the Germans
Serving drinks at a wedding taboo for the Jains
Calling less than 400 plus people was considered being miserly by the Jains
Calling more than 40 people was loud for the Germans
The total boys side fit into a mini bus, the total girls side needed more than 3 busses

In the end the wedding was a blast. The cultural issues didn't play a spoiler, and both sides played along.

Wish it was always that easy. As I type this, a dear friend is sitting going to spend over 12 hrs to drive home and meet a man she isn't interested in. Parents pressure. Parents who have spend the larger part of her 27+ years in raising her as an independent, strong willed, go getter person and are now trying hard to make the same person demure, soft and mouldable.

The pressure to make sure she is married is getting to them. If she refuses too many men, she is being choosy, if she asks too many questions she is being nosy. The arranged marriage as a system isn't flawed, its the pressure to make a choice that is.

Horoscopes, caste, clan, strange are the boundary conditions that decide who cuts it and who doesn't. Stranger still is how often somehow the pushing two people together and making them work it out seems to do the trick.

What remains unchanged in all of this - the absolute importance of being married. Its the one thing that is constant. Everyone must marry. Who, when, where, how is all secondary, marry you must.

A change is taking place though, slowly but surely. A right to say no. A right to wait for the right person. A choice is being exercised in letting go of that which does not work. The number of friends who are in their second marriages equals those who are happy in their first. Thats quite a statement

To a change, in small pockets, in small ways

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Corporate tales

I am back, exiting a lovely cocoon of motherhood and being at home, I find myself sitting at a green faced cubicle, typing on a Window (yikes) laptop and thinking of a powerful reason why I should feel guilty about writing a blog post on a Friday afternoon. Clearly I didn’t think hard enough!
There are some absolutely delightful things that comes with working in a large place. For starters it’s the power of having a routine. The having somewhere to go to, showering and dressing up and chugging along traffic – bitching about it as you go along, gives me a high.  Yea, okok, its still week 1 the novelty shall wear off soon.
However, the power of a routine makes me way more productive than before. There is structure to the day, making me do more things in the same time than previously. The routine makes me eat less, talk more and sit on my ass a lot.
Big offices come with the other hidden perks. Coffee machines, printers that are free to use, food lying to be eaten, valet services, conceiarge, insurance, pf, perks that the young 22 year old me tossed with a aaarrgghh –boring! And the 32 year old in me post working with small to mid companies cherishes. Its almost like a ticket to Disneyland. The nameless facelessness of access cards, white coffee cups, green cubicles and flavourless interactions in the bathroom leave me unfazed.
I am me.  In the jungle.  The jungle does not define me. I don’t seek to define the jungle.
Yet something’s happen to me from inside the moment I get all the goodies mentioned above. The moment I am in, there is a desire to do more. To not be a designation or a job, to also be passionate about something, join yoga, express myself, write the blog. The faceless, namelessness of work drives me to be expressive, represent, do, create, be, not just lie around.
Its interesting to observe.
Sitting in on lunch conversations with colleagues- my brain cringes at lines like – ‘as I was burning the campfire’ or chicken and darru kabhi nahi waste karte’’ – I panic.  Food, drinks and hanging around fills weekends and weekday evenings. Time flies. Years pass.  With the hecticness of work leaving you with that, full inboxes and bank accounts
I know. My 20’s are a testimony of deferred choices. In my head while in my 20’s I have backpacked, ran marathons, worked with the underprivileged, applied for UN peace corps, learnt to paint, definitely knew how to play the guitar, completed the Vipassana,  swam underwater across the pool, got the figure to die for and read every single book on the BBC best books ever list.
Reality is a tad different
Sitting here, plum in my 30’s my expectations are softer. I am less harsh on myself.  Seeking balance is enough. Being happy crucial. Chasing my own goals the target.
Where is this coming from???
Lunch conversations were with young MBA’s ready to unleash themselves on the world. Defining themselves with the roles they handled. Chasing the brand, the work, the teams, the opportunities. Hearing them talk, I wondered what was my hunger? My drivers?
For the now I sound old when I say my drivers are Balance.
Space to grow me.  Time to spend with the family.  Recognition and appreciation from work. Money.

Learning to be a cat in the rat race