Let’s Talk Marriage

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Yep. It’s that time of my life. Not the time when I’m getting married. But the time when everyone around me starts piling on the pressure about it.

I’ll start our conversation with this – I’m ready. I’m ready to go learn to live with someone. I’m ready to share my life with someone. I’m ready to have good and bad days and work our way through this insane universe while standing by each other even on the days we don’t want to.  I’m ready to start planning a wedding that will happen at least one year away. I’m ready for it all.

But I’m not ready to choose the person that I will get married to.

I know, I know. That’s the most important part of it. It’s all about the person. But here’s my problem – If I make this choice, I can’t change it. Ever. And the truth about life is, every choice we’ve made is somehow permanent, in reality or in our memory. But my choices in the past have never tied me to a person for eternity.

If I choose one person, even someone I love, I can’t take it back. And everyone rushing with their advice about how it doesn’t matter in life how carefully you pick because you can’t predict the future and how human beings change with every tide – Yeah,I’ve heard it. I understand it. And I’d totally take that gamble if I’m only looking for a husband.

But I’m not.

Because this person I marry is not just a husband. He’s not just going to be “the man I’m married to.” He’s more. SO much more. He’s my family. He’s my hug on a bad day. He’s my best friend when I’m fighting with my real one. He’s my coffee buddy every morning. He’s my companion when I’m sick and old and fragile. He’s the father to my children. He’s their “good cop” because I’m a control freak with a combination of anxiety and OCD. He’s the calm to my never-ending storm. He’s their shoulder and mine when our hearts break. He’s my person.

And I get one shot to choose him. One shot. To choose the person that will influence every decision there is to make about my future.  And I’m not ready for it.

“But you’re 25! You’re an adult!” Says who?!

If my maturity is defined by a number, we don’t need life experiences and life lessons, do we now?! “Just wait till you get older! It’ll come to you.” Seriously? I feel like the adult in this conversation right now.

But honestly, how do you choose?

“Oh, you just know,” is not an acceptable answer. I don’t know. I’ve never known. I’m terrified. I have anxiety. Even if I know, I’m afraid I don’t know well enough. I’m afraid it’s wrong. I’ve known things before, gone with my instincts and messed up terribly. How can I be sure this isn’t one of those times again?

So I did what I do best. I asked someone, “What did you ask her? What made you think she’s the one?”

He gave me a list:

  • Career
  • Expectations in her marriage
  • Likes
  • Dislikes

And.. I just sat there, staring at that answer for a while. I didn’t know what to  say because it seemed so… less.

Here’s what I thought I should start with – What do you do from the moment you wake up until you fall asleep – On a working day? On a weekend? On vacation? What’s your lifestyle like? What do you want our lifestyle to be? Do we watch movies every weekend? Do we stay in on Sundays? What are your questions for me? If I need you, would you drop what you’re doing and come to my rescue? If I need a day off, will you take care of the children and work from home? Can we split the house expenses? Can you deal with my need to plan every last detail about everything? Will you fuel my wildest ideas and craziest dreams? Will you understand my love for surprises but my inability to deal with them? Will you put up with my need to know the ending before watching thriller movies? Can you promise me “us” time everyday? Will you cook on alternative days? Will you go grocery shopping with me? Can we have a snack drawer? Will you take me out for midnight food cravings? On a weekday night? Can our children be vegetarians even if you’re not? Can I take over the closet in our room because I have too many clothes and nothing to wear?  Can I choose our home decor if I promise not to let our room turn pink? Can I cry my mascara into your new white shirt? Will you hug me even when we’re fighting? Will you find me beautiful even when I’m sitting with messy hair in the middle of chaos after yelling at you for no reason other than the fact that I’m PMSing? Oh! And we’re going to adopt pets. LOTS OF THEM! That’s cool, right?!

And after he answers all this, I still have that burning question running in my head – “What if he changes his mind about it?”

Because arranged marriages or love, they’re still human beings. And there’s almost 7 billion of them on this planet. You need to choose one. This person, his past, his present and his future will help determine whether your kids are going to Harvard Law or sitting behind bars. How do you choose him?

What do you look for? What lifestyle is acceptable? And what if mine changes? What if I grow up and become a different person who wants different things? I used to love H&M and Forever21. I’ve wasted so much money there. But I don’t shop there anymore. Three hours, a documentary and some Google research later, I couldn’t bring myself to buy fast fashion anymore. Three hours to change something I’d done for a lifetime.

What if everything I love changes someday? Will he still be the right person or me?

“That’s the main question to be answered. That’s when the soul searches as to whether this is an age phenomenon or is this my phenomenon. Answer that.”

– Sai Krishna

But how do I know? And the unknown is the scariest of them all.

It’s funny when everyone around you wants to talk about getting you married. They talk about how you’re old enough to find a groom. If you can’t find one, they’ll find one for you. But the thing about all that is – they’re not really talking bout marriage. They’re talking about a wedding. They’re talking about finding a man and tying the knot. And they’re right. I am ready to have a wedding.

But the problem is what comes after. And in their need to see me as a bride, they forget –  After that one day of dressing up and celebrating, there is still the rest of my life.

And I’m not ready for that. I’m not ready for a marriage.

Why isn’t that okay?

Someday

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We’re at that point now. I don’t know where my life’s headed. You don’t know where yours seems to be going either. It’s not a cross road. It’s fuzzy vision. What’s two steps in front of me cannot be seen. It’s scary. I feel my heart begin to race. I turn to my right. Guess what I see?

Someday.

It’s not a place. It’s not a moment. It’s a face. It’s a person.

Someday.

In a little world of our own, you’ll come home to me. There’d be no goodbyes. No airport kisses. Just you and I.

Someday.

A bowl of soup and a lot of Netflix. Dala curled up around my feet. His head resting on my ankle. Yours on my shoulder. Our hands intertwined. I’ll squeeze tight every time the wall moves and the mother screams, “Will!” But I won’t be afraid. If the walls were to ever come alive, I know I’ll have you by my side.

Someday.

After dinner that should have been lunch, we’ll go on that walk I was never allowed to. The clock past midnight. Your arms around me, tight. As the curfews of the past seem to float away, the breeze I’d longed for becomes the cherry on my cake.

Someday.

Your work will get to you like never before. My ability to understand walking out the door. That screaming match I’d always feared. You’ll give me hugs instead of papers. That tear rolling down will tell tales of insecurities. Ones I’d never had to speak.

Someday.

We’ll fight over where the tv goes. Why you’re not allowed to keep those ugly clothes. How much space you need and how little you clean. You’ll end them with your crappy jokes. That laughter reaching my eyes like it always does. Remind me again, what were we fighting about?!

Someday.

That house will slowly become a home. Something I’d spent all my life longing for. The future no more a far away dream. It’ll be now. It’ll be here.

Someday.

This fuzz will fade. Our paths so clear, but never meet. Unless you hold my hand and walk into mine. Or I… into yours. Giving up dreams. Shedding family.

Someday.

Our hearts will race. That choice we make, changing everything in its wake.

Someday.

I’ll sit on that patio, overlooking the beach. A glass of chilled wine and Dala at my feet. My children running around with sand in their hair, happy.  The door behind me opens with a little creak.

He’ll walk through the door to put his arms around me.

Someday.

In a faraway land. In a home that we built. We’ll smile at the little ones. The hands holding me, putting my heart finally at ease.

I’ll turn to my right. Guess what I’ll see?

Someday.

Life goes on..

Today, May 4, is the birthday of someone very very close to me. “Happy Birthday bro..” It’s been a while since I met him and when he saw me he said, “You look bright. Full of hope. It’s nice to see you like this again.”

Last year I had to give up almost everything I had. My plans changed, my life changed. I spent the entire year in depression. Everything made me cry. There was a point when I believed things will never change. That my life was over and all I have to do is sit and just let the end come when it may. Now when I say it, I realize how over-dramatic that sounds. But at that point in my life it seemed like the most logical thought process one can ever have at a time like that.

It’s funny how when something bad happens, we believe that it’s the end. I’m not talking about a fatal sickness or an accident but rather just incidents. When you quit / get expelled from university, when you get fired, when you break up with your loved one, when someone close to you passes away or even when you fail an exam or miss your dream university by 2 points. It seems like a life or death situation. I mean, I get that it possibly is very life altering but it’s never the end.

It took me one and half years of moping around before I decided that I have to change things. ONE AND HALF YEARS ! You know how much I could’ve done in one day? Let alone 500 days ! 500 days before I realized it’s not the end because it’s not happy. That in fact, all I had to do was accept that things have changed. Because the only thing constant in our lives is change and the best I can do is to make use of all that I’ve got. I mean, I’m sure I could’ve sat around another year and half dreaming of what could’ve been but that’s just another 500 days that I won’t get back.

In my life, I’ve learnt that there’s nothing better than dreaming big. Dream what nobody dares to dream of. Dream to fly. Like Peter Pan. To just take off to Neverland. But that’s impossible if you never put your feet on the ground. Even a flight has to hit the runway, move forward and only then can it fly. Sitting idle and wondering about would-be’s and could-have-been’s will never get you anywhere. You have to put one foot in front of the other and walk forward.

I’m not a settler. I’ve missed what many would call “incredible opportunities.” When my previous dream crashed, I had to get a new one. I wasn’t, and I’m still not, mentally prepared to create a big dream again. I’m afraid that it’ll crash too. So I set my goals a little lower. Instead of a big future plan, I set my eyes on simpler things. Things that are more NOW than five to ten years from now – A company that’s not really easy to get into. A publisher that probably won’t even take a second look at my manuscript. I told myself that I won’t take anything besides this. I will get into that company if it’s the last thing I did. I will send the publisher every story I will ever write and at some point, I’m going to write something they will publish.

Think back the years you’ve lived through. How many moments have you had where you thought it’s the end of the world and it wasn’t? No, I’m not talking about December 22, 2012. I mean, you’ve lived through tough times. You’ve moved forward when you thought you wouldn’t. You’re alive and present. When you think about it you’ll realize that all those bad experiences have only made you stronger. Brave. Never weak.

Two years ago, I had it all. I didn’t work as hard as I could have. I didn’t make use of the opportunities. Now I can’t go back. I have to look ahead and I feel stronger than I ever did. Positive that if I could live through that, then I’m sure I can live through the next disaster and the next and the next. Because.. Have you ever sat in front of the ocean and stared at it? You know how beautiful and mentally soothing a view like that is? The way the waves move and hit the shore. The salty smell that comes from it.. Now, imagine sitting in front of the same ocean but this time, it’s still. No waves, no sea salt smell. Just still water. It’s not as beautiful, is it?! That’s life too. It has to have its ups and downs. I promise every wave has something incredible to give to you. A life lesson, a person, a memory.. And when you look at it as a whole, it’s beautiful.

No matter sunny or rainy, draught or storms, the waves in the ocean never stops.. The way, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how many times you tell yourself it’s over, life goes on..

Life Choices : Choose Happiness

My friend and I were just having a very heated argument about life choices. The guy I have the world’s biggest crush on works at a giant corporate and gets paid a pretty decent amount. He can ask the company to send him a cab every morning to take him to work and back, he gets a bonus for every holiday, health insurance – pretty much the whole package. Here’s the catch : He hates his job ! He always talks about how every minute he spends there he feels like he’s going insane. So why on Earth can he not quit his job and do something he loves? “The money it pays.”

I’m an intern at an advertising agency. I don’t get paid at all. But I find a reason to wake up every morning and show up here because I love what I do. Isn’t that what life is supposed to be like? Doesn’t every person deserve the right to happiness? Should money really dictate his life? That was my side of the argument when my friend fired back at me, “What about his family crisis? What if they need the money he makes?” I did not have an answer to that. So I paused as I ran that idea through my mind. My parents don’t expect my money. So I can make a choice that makes me happy. But can everyone afford to do that? Can everyone choose to be selfish when in fact, maybe his parents have been waiting for him to graduate so he can contribute to the income in his household? How can I suggest that he stop doing that?

Here’s how. Sure, they need the money. But parents who have waited for four years for him to complete his university, can wait a few more for him to make this kind of money again. Except, this time around, he’ll make that money happily. My friend got a job that he loves. But he can’t take it. I asked him why and he told me that his dad had made a comment : “When you’re getting your sister married, you expect the guy to have triple degrees. What’s to say that the girl who marries you won’t expect the same of you? You have to study more.” (This is in accordance to the Indian arranged marriage system) But shouldn’t the girl he’s with care that her husband is someone that is mentally happy and peaceful? Should she just look at his bank account? Should he marry someone like that?

My crush isn’t the only person I’ve known to complain of these things. My friends who work in similar companies pretty much all hate their jobs. “I have to work weekends.” “I have to work night shifts.” “I don’t get a holiday for New Year.” But why? If majority of the employees feel this way, why can’t the companies make a difference? What are the organizations doing that keeps their employees so mentally depressed and stressed? Why aren’t the employees (who are in majority) taking a stand against it and saying “I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY !” ?

My dad’s friend was talking about how his son had quit Harvard Law to pursue music, about how much he hated his son for giving up what so many other kids in this world would kill for. But in the end, he understood that his son is now happy. He smiled at his happiness. He said “Isn’t that what we parents want in the end? A happy child?!” I assure you three quarters of the parents in this world are no different to this one. They might be furious in the beginning, but in the end, they’ll be happy that you’re happy. So why is it so difficult for us to make this choice?

Why do we fail to see thirty years into the future? You need the money now. Sure. You’re unhappy now, but you earn enough to save for the future. What future? You’re not going to quit when you’re forty and take a trip around the world. You’re stuck in a job you hate already and thirty years from now, you’re still going to be stuck in a job you hate. Only then, you’ll be taking your stress and depression home and instead of depressing only yourself, you’re going to be depressing your entire family.

So think wisely now. Make life choices not based on financials or current situation, but plan them for what your life would be like ten or fifteen years from now. Choose to be happy rather than rich. When you’re working out of your mind with no time for anyone, you’re not living. But even if you don’t make enough money and don’t live in a fancy beach side duplex, when you’re happy, you’ll attract people and those people will always be there for you. You’ll have all the love in the world. Isn’t that what life’s all about anyway?!

Way Too Much Sex, Everywhere !

Is it just me or is there suddenly way too much sex in everything? Movies, music, books even. It’s everywhere you look. There was a time when a kiss scene in a regional movie would be cut out by the Censor Board. But now, I rarely see a movie without it. I saw a movie recently. A movie that would have been just fine without a half naked girl sexually teasing a married man in a five minute song. As I walked out I saw this really old woman walking out with her entire family and I wondered, I felt awkward watching that song in the movie with my grown sibling. I can’t imagine someone from a much more conservative background / generation sitting there with their entire family – aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews – watching all those scenes. What do they do when a woman in lingerie is unnecessarily dancing around a man  for five whole minutes? Do they close the 5-year-old kid’s eyes? Doesn’t that just induce curiosity?

Everything that was taboo a few generations back is a social culture today. How did this happen? Is it the media spoiling the kids? With sex appeal becoming their best seller, TV ads now need a Parental Guidance (PG) warning. Perfume, deodorant and soap ads now have one thing in common : Dear men, use this and every woman you see on the street will come running to your bed tonight. Really?! One song has the ability to teach a kid more than what the kid will learn from an entire year of sex-ed classes in school. I get how certain movies have the need for certain scenes to make the story plausible. But when you don’t need such an explicit scene, why bother going through all that trouble to add one? Creating sets, paying the artists, shooting all day – for what? Sex sells? Wouldn’t you rather the person watching your movie or listening to your song, do so for the story, the meaning or the pure talent it took to create something like that?

My mother used to tell me, when we watched really old movies together – one dance with a woman half naked and the movie would be given an R (Indian Censor Board – A) certificate. But today, the woman dresses half-naked in a normal scene in a normal movie and the movie is given G (Indian Censor Board – U.) But why? Why has the censor board eased up on these things? Why does the media have such an undying need to portray even the most ridiculous of things in such a sexy way?

Or rather, is the media simply just catching up to the perverseness that is the current generation? Have we, in our need to protect our little ones from the big bad world, fed them more information than we’re supposed to? Have we slowly and steadily, in the name of warning and advise, injected their brains with more information than needed? Did we kick-start a curiosity in them and leave it unnoticed for so long that it is now irreversible?

In my family, you do not mention the word “sex.” Just no. When I moved away, I learned that it’s not as bad as they made it seem. It’s ok to say those words. It’s something that happens. But it’s a private part of your life. Something to be shared between you and the person(s) you’re with. It’s not something you advertise for the world to see.

I remember a time when my parents used to tell me, “Don’t turn into one of them! Your innocence is everything.” Today, I laugh at my one friend that has managed to stay innocent. But I never stop wondering, is she lucky to keep her mind clear of all this for so long? Is she talented to know to take the good from the world and not the bad? Or, is she dumb for not catching on, even though it’s all around us? She does know everything about the birds and the bees. But she doesn’t talk about it, think about it or even care. She holds on to what she believes is the right thing for her to think about. Does that mean she’s being left behind? Will she be the kind of person my child will some day criticize saying “Ohmygod ! She’s so ancient. Like, catch on!” ??

Relationships today are more sex than love. Why? Sure, there are really good guys out there. Guys who love a girl for her heart and not for what’s outside of that heart. But it’s a diminishing kind. Pretty soon, it’ll be extinct. And then what?

I don’t intend to say, we need to go back to the stone age. No, we don’t. But we need to find a balance. We need to make movies and music that a parent can enjoy with their child without it having to be animation or rhymes. You need to sell your product using the product’s worth. Not by advertising it with half naked girls and guys. We can deny it all we want, but we are the ones who decide what the future generation will be like. What we do will influence their lives in the future. Set a good example. Remember , your kid will be one of them someday..

Dreamers : The Chasers and The Catchers

Are you a dreamer? Neverland? Wall Street? Unrealistic? Realistic? Do you lose yourself in those dreams and curse anything and anyone that wakes you up from them? You’re not alone. Peter Pan and Neverland have been my biggest dreams. Unrealistic and stupid for a grown up, some would say. But what do they know?

My inspirations, my role models and the people I look up to have always had one thing in common – they dreamt a dream and they chased it. It doesn’t matter if they caught it or not. It matters that they tried. If you know me, if you’ve trusted me with your dream, you know at some point in your life, I’ve pushed you to go after it.  I’ve told you I’ll stand by you no matter what, as long as you’re trying to do something you love.

I was having a conversation with a man who looked to be in his 60’s, on an MRT, about dreams and he told me how his dream was to be an artist. He never pursued it. What kind of a career choice would that be? How would he provide for his wife and kids? “Don’t be an idiot that goes after silly things. Be smart. Have a secure future. Money in the bank, food on the plate. Nothing else matters,” he told me. Is that true? I think there’s more to life than money in the bank. What about waking up every morning and not wanting to whine about your shitty life? Imagine a life where you jump out of bed because you cannot wait to go live your life.. The racing heartbeat, the wide grin.. that feeling where you lose yourself while doing something you love that you forget the rest of the world? Imagine doing that everyday until you’ve had enough..

It’s never too early, it’s never too late. Dreams don’t care how old you are. Like I told him, “You don’t have to be 20 to chase your dreams. You can be 60 and still go join art school and pursue what you love.” And if for some reason your dream doesn’t work out, you can always go back to that secure future. In today’s world, age doesn’t matter. . You can be 49 and still start a secure life. But at least this time, you wont live your life wondering “What if..” You’ll know what happens. You’ll live with the satisfaction that you chased it, even if you didn’t catch it. And for all those who say “I can’t do what I want. It’s not what my parents/ spouse/ partner wants,” I’ve got ten words for you – People who love you will be happy that you’re happy.

So stop finding reasons. Stop finding excuses. Go dream a dream.. and chase it with all you’ve got. If you catch it, good for you.. If you don’t, it’s ok, there’s always the next one.. Just remember, you’ll never get there if you never try..