Thursday, 31 March, 2011

Marriage: An Over-rated Institution?

A friend of mine shared an article called 'Marriage: An over-rated institution?' which was published on women's web. You can find the link here. The author Rs Mom basically wrote about an office washroom conversation of three married women. What I find interesting is the comments which were posted in response to this article. Some women were pro-marriage while others insisted that it is a highly over-rated institution and marriage and motherhood does not suit or fulfill every woman. Also some of my husband's school friends are having a discussion on romance in married life and most seem to think  that after 5 years or more of marriage you should be given a Nobel prize if you do not strangle your husband!

Not that I am an expert of any sort on this, being married a measly one and a half years. But so much discussion on marriage got my idle brain thinking and I realize that just by observing married people around me since childhood I have picked up a lot about human beings and this institution. Without going into the complicated observations, some of the lighter ones:

Each marriage is as unique as our finger prints--Hold on, I am not asking you to appear for a biometric test for a perfect marriage (urghhh my brain is running wild). All I am saying is not only are no two marriages same, even an individual has varying perceptions of marriage depending upon the partner and the circumstances. So if a marriage ends in heartbreaks or tears, does not in any way mean that person cannot have a happy and fulfilling marriage with another partner in another time. Generalizations do not really work in case of marriages. Each one of us approaches it differently and behaves in it differently. So if your marriage is not going the way you feel it should and your smugly married friends or busybody female relatives tell you how perfect their marriages are, do not be disheartened. Work at it the way you feel best. They do not live with your husband, you do dahling.

Marriages are not made in heaven-- Come on whom are we kidding or passing the praise buck too? Why bring in heaven in this very earthly endevour?  Max I can do is thank my guardian angels for introducing me to my husband err through a mutual friend, so she should also be thanked, right? And all the work, effort, adjustments, compromises that go into making a marriage work is ours, just ours-- ours and our partners. So pat each other backs. That might bring in some romance in life as well.

Marriage is unfortunately a 24/7/30/365/all your life thing-y--wish it was like our jobs, wish we could switch off after 8 hours. But the sad news is once we marry it permeates our whole life, a bit like the sand particles creeping into all those tiny, almost nonexistent nooks and crannies of your self and filling up them tightly. The freaking truth is that marriage is a combination of rocks, pebbles and sand. So if you are not careful, marriage will creep into your being and totally take over your identity and before you realize you have no other identity except for your married self. This is how most women approached marriage for centuries. Sadly some girls still do it like that. Be careful, do not let this happen, stop the sand particles from seeping into those nooks. Whoa those  are yours and yours only, guard them zealously.

Marriage is about the good and the bad-- okay first the good bits
*You have a permanent date for life-- for all the weekends, movie nights, Val Day etc-- gone are the days when you had to frantically search for someone to go watch a movie with you
* You do not have to do dutch every time you go out (complicated calculations of dividing 77 rupees among three people and some such-- all those laborious ticking on the mobile calculator)
*You can force your husband to listen to your girl-y woes, involve him in the excitement of reading a chick lit or watch a rom com and/or bitch about people (though be careful he will give you solutions to your problems much to your frustration, will get bored with the chick lit and point out the illogical bits in the movie just when it got really mushy or ask for the thousand-th time why girls think/behave like that and discourage bitching or worse still ask you to go and clear the air with person about whom you were bitching  or more horrible call you an emotional fool...okay we were discussing the positives, lets be + guys)
*Sometimes he will be the perfect sweetheart and pay you compliments, get you gifts or flowers or both (happy days), give you surprises, take you out to dinner, organize superb holidays or basically do something really nice and kind and sweet [before you get too excited-- like all married women know these are really occasional (read far apart) incidents *sigh*]
* Hopefully you have found a best friend for life...but hey you still need your girl friends same as ever
Now for the negative ones--
* The snores (they can turn you deaf or mad or both), taking up way too much space in the bed [forget all those romantic cuddles, at that point all you want to do is push him off the bed]
* The mess in the house--however much you clean up the house, he goes around messing it right back...I know, I know some men are not like this, but sadly ladies most men are...continuing in the same vein every time he cooks, the mess he makes in the kitchen is simply unimaginable and the funniest thing is he thinks he is really neat...poor dear
*The tendency to skip baths, wearing the same tee shirt for seven days in a row[God has deprived them of half a sense-- smell of their own sweat], same jeans for a year[Conversation: Wife: You know you need to wash your jeans, you have been wearing them non stop for months without even washing  once! Husband: Really? But I just bought it last year. I wore my last jeans for three years and then it got really tattered (with a surprise in his voice) I had to throw it out and buy this one. So do not worry this will last me for two more years. We men do not need to shop like you women do (with a snigger). Also you know what washing is not good for jeans. Ha Ha Ha! Okay have your laugh. Just for records we women smell much better than you men, thank God and yes jeans can be washed too]
*We all know the manly characteristic of being glued to the television set for matches, news and other boring stuff and addiction to most juvenile video games (yawn) won't do an in-depth on those...

Some marriages come with expiry tags-- Yes sad but true...some partners choose to finish it formally/legally and some emotionally while continuing to coexist.  I know this goes against all the Yash Raj/Meg Ryan/ Julia Roberts movies you saw or the M&Bs you read. What makes it harder to accept this is that marriages come with 'in life and death, in sickness and health' tag and not 'going to expire by so and so year' tag. And looking at the smiles on the faces of brides and grooms in their wedding photos you would not guess that they want to end it in sometime, maybe except for Rani Mukherjee's teary expression in that extra-marital movie of Karan Johar's. Best thing to do is enter a marriage with an open mind and give it your best shot without tearing your heart into bits and pieces and get out in case it is not working.

Marriages is one big package of romance +friendship+ companionship-- Okay, okay do not throw stones at me. It is merely an idea worth thinking about. I know you all married men and women do not agree. Do not take me wrong ladies, but 'some' of you almost take a perverse kind of pride in telling the world how inane your marriage has become. To be fair to the men, they actually do not publicly bad mouth their wives. Come on lets lavish compliments where it is due. Tell you what ladies this view of marriage as some kind of boxing match is rather passe. Lets move from this clich├ęd perception and create this evergreen image of marriage where you enjoy spending time with your partner, even if not so much as your dating days, there is still some romance in your lives and you are happy being with him. And before you start thinking that 'let this novice spend 5 more years with her husband and then we shall hear her talk'...I am talking on the basis of some couples who have been together for more than thirty years. There something to ruminate over.

The list can go on and on, but time I stopped.

P.S. All the images are taken from the ever ready supply of google image search.
Disclaimer: Husband dear I love you very much, really I do!

Monday, 28 March, 2011

House Cleaning...

I know it is spring time and all, but no I am not talking about spring cleaning. As far as I am concerned, that is an added chore that I am not interested indulging in at all.  I am talking about normal day to day cleaning of one's house.

We live in this small  ground floor flat which has an abnormal knack of attracting dirt and rubbish. |I wonder how all that dirt comes into the house? The windows are all double glazed and sealed up cos of the cold, the back door leading to the garden is kept open for an hour at the maximum every day and the front door for as long as it takes for us to pass through it, either way. It is almost like there are secret doors and windows which magically open up to let all the dirt and rubbish come in from outside while we are sleeping. I abhor to think of the dirt drifting in during the summer months when we will have to keep the windows open!

Phew. I never knew what a mammoth task it is to keep a house clean. To add to the agony, my husband is happily oblivious of it all, while I am ultra sensitive, so it has become my pet domestic chore( read pet peeve in life). Another part of growing up which I never bargained for and truly am not ready for. I love shiny and squeaky clean houses but I hate cleaning up the house--why cannot the rooms  just behave themselves and remain clean or better still clean up their own mess? But apparently not, like the rest of the world, they also like to be waited on hand and foot. So it has become part of my daily routine to clean some part of the house or the other.

To add a little routine to the madness I have decided to be organised and systematic about it. So for each room of the house, I have designated a cleaning day of the week. Like on Mondays I do the sitting room, on Tuesday the kitchen, so on and so forth. I must confess in this process the bedroom almost always misses out on a clean -up. By the time the turn for the bedroom comes I am tired and bored with all the cleaning up. And since guests rarely venture into the bedroom (they cannot with the bedroom door firmly closed, though I am sure it would not deter our relatives in India, definitely one of the perks of living abroad!) I keep deferring the bedroom cleaning. Poor room.

So thinks my husband!
My husband is no help. Whenever I grumble about the cleaning, he says he is fine living in a 'slightly' (please insert a man's definition of slightly here) messy house and so should I be, it would definitely make my life easier. And when I demand that he should clean up for a change he gives the example of 'that one day when he did clean up'. So done his duty and for the next six months no cleaning is needed in his opinion and no nagging or complaining will be tolerated. It was how he lived when he was single and mingling with me and he sees no need to change the routine. Irritated though I am, I cannot fault his logic. It is a life style choice, I choose to live stressing about cleanliness while he thinks it is a waste of time. For marital shanti, I have to respect his choice. So it is back to me with the cleaning duster. Honestly I would not mind it so much, if  after cleaning up a room, it remained so for at least a day or two. Much to my frustration, after I have laboured to put the house right, once we start living in it, it starts getting messed up right then and there. I know this may sound verging on the obsessive, if I had my way, after a through cleaning, I would quietly stand on one corner of the house, so as not to disturb the cleanliness. Another idea my husband dismisses so firmly that I have to but helplessly watch him mess up the very kitchen which I have slaved to put right.

Another thing which irritates me is after returning from office, when he fails to notice how clean a certain room is looking. I mean come on when he left in the morning, it was not that clean but now it is almost sparkling. So any sensible human being would stop right there, take in all the cleanliness and shower the cleaner with compliments, right? Whenever I go to a clean house I always compliment it. In fact my estimation for the people living in the house positively goes up. But no, this man is oblivious, he just marches in, fails to notice the subtle changes, and continues to be so till I point it out to him! Okay truth to be told compliments about a clean house is as vital to me as compliments on good looks are to some women. There, I have confessed it!

Had I not inherited my cleaning obsession genes from my father I could have at least blamed it on gender. But alas cannot even do that. But I firmly continue to believe that with a little bit of practice each of us can fit in cleanliness into our regular routine.

Disclaimer: All the images are taken from Google's image search.

Friday, 11 March, 2011

Telephones and me..

What is it with telephones and me? No seriously, why I am so very uncomfortable speaking over the phone? I am abrupt and too to the point, I rush in and say my piece and dread the pauses, hence before a significant pause can arise I keep hurriedly down the phone. This, despite being trained all as a telephone helpline worker! It is simply shameful! More so cos in real life I am a pretty vocal and communicative person.

The other day a friend with whom I am not used to speaking on the phone, called up. Generally I am pretty chatty, so I could feel her surprise at my abruptness! But then the deed was done.

Years of training while I was growing up that the telephone was a means of quick and urgent communication and not a device for a long and slow chat has been drilled into me. 

While I was growing up, I saw my father use the telephone much like a telegraph machine, you know short precise communication like 'Tell your Ma I will be an hour late coming home today. Bye, see you later.' Even my mother, if not this bad, was not too far behind. I remember her being irritated if someone on the other side lingered for too long over the phone. She claimed it made her head buzz. My aunt had similar opinion and till this day she hates speaking over the phone. As a family we are generally so uncomfortable speaking over the phone that it becomes pretty plain to the person on the other side. If they know us, I am sure they think 'Oh there goes that mad family again. Seriously they should learn the art of slow telephone conversations'. If they do not know us, I am sure they would think ' my, what rude people!'. We are genuinely not rude, just have not got into the skin of telephones!

I remember early days of telephone conversations with my oldest friend in this world. It would go something like this...
I missed school today.
Ye,s why didn't you come?
I had tummy ache.
Oh ok.
What did you do in school today?
We did sums from chapter four, English passage chapter two and history Alexander the Great, in rest we did revision.
Ok, any homework?
Yes sums at the end of chapter four, Bengali spelling and dictation test tomorrow on chapter three and geography questions and answers on volcanoes. 
Anything else?
Ok bye
Bye bye.

That was it. We were friends, we really were and still are. It is just that both were told by parents not to waste time chatting on the phone. So by mutual consent we kept the personal chit chats for later when we met.

Even with cousins, we would call each other up, get carried away laughing about something or bitching about someone and then we both would remember that we are on phone and abruptly say bye to each other. But then we are cousins and have known/suffered each other since birth, so we knew that the other person is not being rude, rather just a slave to their habits.

I remember in my late teens a boy used to call me up. He was persistent and I was nervous and that love story was domed even before it began. To give him credit the poor boy tried his best, but  I was too tongue tied, nervous and jumpy that those conversations were tortures as far as I was concerned. I dreaded his calls , agonizing over what should I say. Finally after going through this ordeal for a month or so, I asked him not to call me again. My cousin was really sad on my behalf and the love story that was never meant to be. But I was plain relieved.

Years have gone by, telecommunication has been revolutionized and mobiles have come. Yet old habits drilled from a really early age die hard. Even now living in two separate continents my conversations with my father occurs in military fashion, so much so I sometimes tell him I want to chat with him and no he cannot hang up the phone. My father sounds really surprised and tries his best to relax and forget for a minute or two that he is on the phone and chat with me.

Yet I cannot blame him, I am just like him on the phones. **Sigh**

The brighter side is that I am an ideal mobile phone customer. Month after month not even one tenth of my minutes are used up. I think I deserve a medal from them, at least!

N.B. This image is taken from Google's telephone image search.

Wednesday, 9 March, 2011

Tulip Time...

It is the tulip time of the year again. Spring is in the air, the sun is shinning continuously for three long glorious days (touch wood, keep shinning dear sun), days are becoming longer, there is a certain warmth in the air, the south wind is blowing, trees are going green (what a beautiful sight that is) and flowers are blooming. All the flower shops are filled with tulips, daffodils are blooming in our garden and just opposite our window a cherry tree is in blossoms.

Around this time of the year tulips are incredibly cheap. Our kitchen is filled with tulips. Check out some of the photos.

Tuesday, 8 March, 2011

We just got back from a fantastic holiday in Northern Ireland to find a lovely surprise waiting for me in my inbox.

Check it out....

To read other selected entries click here.
My entry is here.