AR speaketh...

The questions, the answers, the thoughts, the ideas and the other crap that make me, well, me.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Singled Out!

Foreword: There comes a time in a man’s life when he has to slow down and take stock of his life. That time hasn’t really come in mine, I just thought it would be a neat way of beginning a post. Anyway, I recently realized that in my circle of friends, bachelors are a fast depleting lot. In fact, I am one of the last few on the list. I would have counted myself as being part of the endangered species, but I got this unbridled laughter from my no-longer-bachelor friends when I proposed it. They are of the opinion that all bachelors, save me, are endangered. I must admit, this appeared very unreasonable to me but they gave me some argument about not meeting the minimum standards to be endangered.

Ordinarily, the attitude of us singles is one of sour grapes. We repeat tasteless jokes about 101 reasons why beer is better than a girlfriend or 101 reasons why a dog is better than a boyfriend. I find those demeaning; to both beer and dogs, that is. That doesn’t mean I’m a maladjusted, misogynistic pig that borders on delinquent behaviour. Hell no! I get along famously with women, almost like a house on fire (note to self: find that dick who coined THAT expression and do extremely unpleasant things to him, like feeding him low-cal cheesecake). As I look back, I realize everybody, but I, knew I was going to remain single. They just kind of assumed that I knew about it. It was like sporting a curry stain on the seat of your trousers- everybody can see it, but you remain blissfully unaware. I distinctly remember that fateful night when I was at home during my college vacations and a female friend called. My dad picked it up and said in an incredulous voice, “its for you. It’s a girl!” He didn’t really say it, but had I been attentive, I would have interpreted his tone to mean, “What female in her right mind would want to call you?” or, maybe, “doesn’t she know the script, she’s not supposed to call him”. But drunk on my youth, I refused to heed those signs and proudly sported signs that said, “Single, ready to mingle” on my chest. Of course, over a period of time, those got kind of re-worded to “single, desperate to mingle”, but we are not discussing that now.

While friends plan honeymoons, I remain lost in the hope that someday my time will come and I will be able to successfully own a pair of matching socks, or some such astronomical expectation. Like it is for most of men’s fortunes and misfortunes, I myself am responsible for my current bachelorhood. At least in part.

In college, when most normal people were in various stages of forging, in all senses of the term, a relationship, somehow my group of friends saw things differently. I now believe, that our subconscious went through the following rather lengthy and possibly specious reasoning (although if you have had any experience at growing up, you will realize that young men in the age group 19-22 do NOT possess a subconscious.): We belong to families that have ingrained certain social mores very deeply in our psyche. Like it or not, we are doomed into being the nice guys in life. We will always stand up for women, literally and metaphorically, not scratch our noses and/or crotches in their presence, open doors for them, and in general be extremely un-cool for the rest of our lives. So we will do the cool stuff now. This necessarily entails being extremely crude of speech, lecherous of conduct and extremely generous with our laboriously accumulated insights about the female anatomy.

When you have, or think you have, a subconscious that can reason like that, you pretty much do what it says. Hence we did just that. We rarely left a female bereft of the benefit of our esteemed opinion of her accent, body, clothes, … I distinctly remember being able to completely evacuate the canteen in a matter of minutes. A few of us like minded souls would saunter in and observe, aloud, the goings on. Of course, we would sprinkle a good deal of honest observation, poetic exaggeration and caustic wit to make our observations easy to remember and repeat and lo! The canteen would be absolutely desolate. The ‘couples’, which so far had been giving meaning to Bryan Adams’ “shadows on the wall and hands everywhere”, would sit rigidly upright and then disappear. Basically, within a few weeks, there was not a female in sight that would walk on the same road as us. And, can you believe it, we LOVED it. It felt so good to be on the wrong side of the established social norms.

It is only now that I realize that my current bachelorhood might be a consequence of the karma in the previous years. When I think about what really made us do all that, two of the most influential guys in the group come to mind. Incidentally, both of them were in relationships outside the college! Villains! While they had the best of both worlds, the lesser mortals, like yours truly, were cursed into a life of singlehood.

But wait, don’t interpret this as a lament about my early life. Hell, if I could re-live my college days, I would do exactly the same thing! We had such a lot of fun, it makes the couples look like dorks!

That being said, if I die a bachelor, I want these guys to be held responsible.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Deranged Marriage

What Men (should) Want

Foreword: I have always considered myself an expert in most matters. My natural genius lends itself to the cause magnificently. Recently, I was forced to direct my formidable mental faculties to a rather widespread phenomenon popularly known as arranged marriage. It so happened that a colleague, while on vacation, was surprised into “seeing” a girl for the purposes of matrimony. He had been conveniently single all his life and had looked upon marriage and relationships as what the venerable Douglas N. Adams referred to as SEP (Someone Else’s Problem). Hence he was unsure of what he wanted in a first mate in the place, or a mate in the first place, as the case may be. Now, someone once said, “Experience is the name we give to our mistakes”, somebody else said, “We only learn from experience” and yet some other guy said, “Life is too short.” From (1), (2) and (3) we have, “Life is too short to commit all the mistakes oneself, so we must learn from the experiences of others.” To cut a long story short, I took heed from his experience and decided to seriously examine my preferences in a mate. This is an account of my mental meandering.

Lets get the facts right. It is not possible to “know” a person in the time allotted by the Institution of Arranged Marriages. Hell, no amount of time is enough to know another person. How else would you explain the failure of 30-year old marriages? So, in marriage, what you are really subjecting yourself to is the gamble of your life. This is not only about arranged marriages, it is about all kinds! Yes, I’ve known of 8-year old relationships ending with one half catching the other half in bed with the third half (one of the halves once described his life as “my cup runneth over.” I couldn’t agree more) resulting in a few shortened half-lives. I also know of people marrying and staying married for over 40 years after 6 weeks of whirlwind romance. The point is there is no point. In doing too much of research into your partner’s personality, that is. How, then, would I approach the problem? What would I look for (and by extension, what you should look for) in a life partner?

Age: That is the number one factor. Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi’s marriage does not prove that tits can save a marriage. All it does is say that famous men like trophy wives, almost literally, since there aren’t many wild oats left by the time they become famous. Take the thumb rule: 3 years is a generation gap. You cannot connect with a person who is more than 3 years your junior or senior at the same level. Unless you are looking for your marriage to fulfill your needs of a rebellious teenage daughter immediately on solemnization or your wife is looking for a father cum husband rolled into one, I would suggest stay bloody away from the kid, you freaking paedophile!

Interests: Do you know why Einstein did not marry Bachhendri Pal? Because they lived (and Ms Pal still lives) in different times (for all that relativity crap, even Einstein couldn’t travel in time). But even if they were contemporaries and were adventurous enough to marry each other, I doubt if one would have known them as the ideal couple. To break the idea down so that it can be digested by the moronic intellects of my intended audience, make sure you and your partner have similar tastes. Notice, I say similar and not identical. You don’t want to live with a carbon copy of yourself (for the simple reason that there is room for only one asshole in your life), at the same time you do not want to live with your antimatter, either. Leave all that crap about “opposites attract” where it belongs- in the Electromagnetics lab. Opposites attract, and then there’s a lot of fizz and then they go there separate ways with hardly any of the original attraction left. Of course, the entertainment they provide to their fellowmen is superb, so I wouldn’t recommend it, except for purely altruistic artistic reasons. That means that if you are brooding, intellectual type (I know you wouldn’t be reading this if you were, but lets take an example) you don’t want to marry a tennis champ. If you are the tennis champ (then I doubt if much of this would make it past your thick skull, but what the hell), don’t go near the lab. Extrapolate as needed. Note to the champ: call a friend, NOW!

Socio-economic status: I know this isn’t the most politically correct thing to say, but I’ve never been accused of being politically correct, consider the social and economic background of your spouse. By that, I don’t mean start tracing her caste to 1500 B.C. What I do mean is, look at her house, if it has twice the number of rooms in yours, you may have a problem there. Look at her family friends. If her Dad gets invited to Rashtrapati Bhavan on state dinners and yours cant make it to the guest list of the local residential colony’s annual event, you have a problem. Look at her friends. If she is on first names basis with Tom Cruise, stay away. When you’re hungry, love may keep you alive but you need some stuff to keep the love alive. I reiterate, this has nothing to do with her caste or religion. Like someone once said (if they didn’t, they better consider it said now), money is religion enough.

Physical Compatibility: Ahem! Again, this is rather thin ice, morally, but when have I given up in the face of adversity? You and your wife need to be physically compatible. If you are five feet tall and she is six, she wont look up to you for long. If she is shaped like French curves were created using her body as the benchmark, and you like a beanbag full of beer, you have a problem of geometric proportions here. If she looks like she would inspire inferiority complex in Cindy Crawford, and you could cause panic attacks in kindergarten only by smiling, you may not have a very charming ever after. Despite all the modern disregard for physical appearance, at least in public, it remains a prominent criterion and don’t you forget that, shit-face.

Intelligence and Common Sense: This is my favourite! Intelligence goes beyond the apparent in that a tennis champ might, after all, turn out to possess more sense than a college professor in practical matters. It’s a tricky thing, made even more complex by our rather inflated pictures of our cerebral abilities. It can be simple, if she appears in the acknowledgements in an acceptance speech at the Nobel and the closest you have ever been to college is when you took a wrong turn in a locality you’ve been living in for twenty years. It may not be so simple when both are software engineers. If you are gifted with my incisive ability to spot retards, this presents no problem; otherwise you want to watch out! This becomes even more important since ultimately marriage increases the number or parameters (people) in the equation (family) and the idea is to balance it and keep it that way. One false step and your paradise is as good as lost. If the person you are dealing with thinks “Coz I said so” is a perfectly reasonable explanation for you to shoot your mom, marry her and take her out of circulation before she spoils someone’s life. On the other hand, if she thinks “Coz your mom said so” is good enough for her to stand in a tub of boiling oil, marry her before you wake up.

Sense of Humour: A sense of humour saves lives, families and face. If that is the one quality that your wife to be has and fails on all other counts mentioned above, marry her and you’ll at least laugh for the time that it lasts. If she can manage to show you the funny part in your getting kicked out from your job, your dog or your in-laws dying or her walking out on you, note down her number and send it to me once she’s dumped you. Again, you have to be in the upper echelons of the intelligentsia to really judge a sense of humour, so keep a few things in mind:
Her laughing her guts out when you spill ketchup on yourself does not constitute a sense of humour. Her laughing when you spill ketchup on the seven-footer on the next table does.
If she finds a Mr. Bean episode funny, stay away from her. If she watches “Snatch” through tears in her eyes, she gets extra points.
If she finds your boss’s accent funny, she IS the one, period.

Those are the qualities one should look for in a “marriage material”. But while we are on the subject of what men want, I might as well tell you a story.

There was this rather rich and lonely man who was sick of women scheming to marry him for the money. So he places an ad in a local newspaper inviting women to participate in a competition to win him (Sick, but bear with me here). Three women make it past the screening. He gives each of them a certain amount of money and asks them to see him after a week. When he meets the first one, she’s got a nose job, a boob job and a botox job done and is looking smashing. She tells him that she got more beautiful for him. The guy is impressed. Then he meets the second one and finds that she’s bought him a load of stuff- a lifetime subscription to Playboy, a Sony VAIO laptop (powered by Intel Duo) and a Harley Davidson Fatboy. She tells him that she did all that to make him happy and nothing makes her happier than his being happy. The guy is speechless. Then he meets the third female, who hands him an envelope of hand made paper. He opens it to find a statement of accounts of how she’s invested the sum that he had given her. It has grown ten times in a week and is extremely liquid. The guy is completely blown away.

Then he goes home and announces his marriage to one of the women in the same newspaper the next day. The question is, which of the three did he marry?

The answer, if you’ve been paying any attention to what I’ve been yapping about so far, should be obvious. He married the one with the biggest breasts.

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