Crises of our times:Part 1 – The 25-odd single Indian male

At this point,some of my friends are going to point out to me that I’m not 25-odd and that I’m, in fact, 26 years and 5 months, 6 days old and ticking. May god strike down upon them with thunder and lightning. Seems like quarter life crisis is a real thing. These days, I find myself exclaiming, “WTF? That Miss World chick can’t be 17! Look at how ‘healthy’ she looks” I guess I’m just in a state of denial. 2-3 years ago seemed much….better. I hope to grow out of this very soon and comfortably fantasize about gals much younger than me. And while we are on the topic,I shall no longer be jealous of Katrina Kaif. 3 years ago, I expressed my shock like this – this woman, this huge,big bosom-ed woman is MY age? While I look like a bachcha?!¬† 3 years later, circa 2010, she did a Sheila Ki Jawani and I have no choice but to accept her wholeheartedly.Now lets look at the some of the practical aspects of the issue at hand. Being 25 and single, you are subjected to every kind of slander – from uncles you have never known “do you have a clear path for your career and life?” to the aunties “Beta,why you no marry? long term good. If no marry now, you retire and your son still no job” to your 15-year old niece “25 and single? Disgraceful” to your mom “Ayyo,why have you become dark? Have you tired applying honey mixed with lime?”. As for me,I have no worries. The family elders have assured me of total freedom – “we have no problem with you finding a gal by yourself.But she should be a Brahmin…and a kannadiga…and of course she should not be of the same gotra….and the 28 qualities in your horoscope should match. But you are free to select any gal you want”.This gotra thing is a huge issue.Until now,I had no opinion of sage Vishwamitra(my gotra) except for a mild amusement,courtesy his fiery affair with a high-profile celestial maiden, but now I positively annoyed at the guy.Actually, that kind of proves that I’m his descendant, because being annoyed was said to be his favorite kind of emotion.(which n turn implies I’ll have a fiery,passionate affair with some celestial babe..hee hee hee) Anyways,going by this, if I fancy a gal, I’m going to start the conversation with “So, what’s your gotra?”.And if she is the same gotra,”Blimey! We are brother and sister! I’m so glad I met you and asked you this question before I asked you out”.

Not that its easy to find a gal you fancy at this juncture.Forget college years, you have even past the age where you could just send fraandship request you any random gal on orkut,”like” every gal’s status message and comment on every photo in FB or log in to yahoo chat rooms and ping a “cutegal008” with “asl (age sex location)?”. By now, you would have seen lot of gals come, pass by, get married and settle down; you would have analyzed and ruthlessly judged your female friends for all their good and bad points (sorry? :D) and then painstaking built a mental image of your perfect girl,carried it around everywhere mentally doing a “scan” on every gal you meet and always ending up with a “Pattern match failed”.Slowly,wisdom dawns upon you. The other day when I told my “criteria” to Rashmi, she was surprised “This is all? You are not able to find a gal with such simple criteria?” I said “Oh,these are my arranged marriage criteria. My love marriage criteria are different”.Go ahead and judge me all you want, I only speak the truth.

And all your married (ex-)friends are no inspiration either.Right after marriage, they suddenly disappear from the face of the earth and are zapped into a parallel universe where no single is allowed access.You can only access them through windows between the two universes,like facebook photo albums, gtalk and such. As much as you want to believe from their cute,smiling faces in the pics, you can’t help but think that is an elaborate racket going on here. Everyone including your parents,close friends,relatives,the TV,the government,Suresh Kalmadi(why not?) is involved in this racket and are trying their level best to push you into the proverbial well.You never know what goes on in the other universe.You finally ignore all the ominous signs,all the warnings and finally take the bait and then the truth dawns upon you.Then it will be your turn to pose and smile back from the windows and attract more hapless victims to the other side. Muhahaha, I’ve figured it all out now! But alas,I only very well know that at the moment of judgment, I am surely going to falter and take the same steps like so many have before me and fallen to ruin. And that is how the cookie crumbles ;).

CALVIN! Where’s the TYRE!!!?

As much as I have a permanent inertia against leaving home (unless its for r a movie or hanging out with friends), I do have a couple of relatives who I visit sometimes just not to alienate myself( and of course, for the food ;) ). Ah,such adorable kids they have.Who wouldn’t wanna spend time with their nieces or kid-cousins, who entertain you with their sweet-talk, hug you and generally make you feel happy? Hehe, you guys already know I’m kidding(or “kid”ding,if you please),right? They are nothing less than devil- incarnate,believe me!. The “Enfant terrible”s have put me in such screwy situations they made me wish that I could disapparate (to disappear magically,HP) to the top of a lava-spurting Eyjafjallaj√∂kull. I think most people will relate to the below scenarios : 

Scene 1
I enter the house. The kids look at me and go “Yaayyyyy! Pavananna has come! Yaayy”! I reply cheerfully “Hiii Ankita!How did your exams go?” My mistake. Her mom,who was happily welcoming me till now,turns grim within a split-second and goes spiraling in a non-stop tirade on how the girl has left one “fill-in-the-blanks” blank (The heading says Fill-in-the-blank.How can she leave it blank? :D) and  done a multiple choice question wrong and so she’ll end up getting only 96.5% , and not 99.4% (as the next door aunty’s son haughtily claimed of getting). All this while Ms.Ankita looks daggers at me,muttering under her breath, “You $@#@#,I’ll have my revenge”. But soon everything is forgotten and we start playing and talking.

Scene 2
Everyone is watching TV. Suddenly the little devil yells “PAVANANNA, I WANNA PLAY WITH YOUR MOBILE.GIMME YOUR MOBILE!”. I oblige immediately, foolishly assuming that its better than the cacophony blasting my eardrums now. She occupies herself with the mobile for sometime while peace prevails (Noises from the TV are not even comparable). And suddenly, “PAVANANNA,YOU GOT A MSG FROM SO-N-SO GAL.IT SAYS ‘WASSUP?WHAT U DOIN”” I instinctively take furtive glances at the elders in the room,who, I am pretty certain, even with their heads firmly turned towards the TV, have all their ears on my side of the room now. They need not have struggled so much.My ever-inquisitive niece is not one to be silenced so soon. As I give a nervous fake smile and reach for my mobile,she starts off, “WHO IS THIS SO-N-SO GAL???IS SHE YOUR GIRLFRIENDDDD? HEE HEE, ARE YOU GONNA MARRRRY HER?HEE HEE” (Wait! WHAA….?) Now everyone else has no excuse to even look at the TV and have completely focussed their attention on me. I meekly & defensively say “Noooo” with a stupid guffaw (I dunno why I felt compulsive to answer a 9-year old) Then I begin my Rescue-thy-pride mission : keep staring down at the mobile with such ferocious single-mindedness & concentration that any outsider would believe I’m writing down the proof for a complex quantum theory equation which will disprove The Theory of Relativity and turn science,as we know it,upside down (Einstein would gape in horror and awe from his grave). And I stick to that stance until a messiah on the reality show TV yells something and everyone turns back to him

Scene 3
Me & my niece are sitting watching “Spongebob Squarepants” on Nick. After 20 minutes of marvellingon how these over-smart kids still enjoy something so dumb(and thanking god for that), I ask “Naina,can I have the remote? I’m bored”. “Nooooo,only 10 minutes more and the episode will get over. Then I’ve give you the remote.OK?” she says blinking her eyes ever innocently. I smile and say “OK”. Just then,the TV blares “….and stay tuned for the 2-hour weekend special of SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!!!”
She goes “Yaaay!”
“Hey come on, you said you’ll give me the remote”
“Baaaaaahhhh!Waaaaaaaahhhh!”
“Ok ok. You keep the remote.I’ll just go home…and never vist you again” (hee hee hee)
She contemplates once this for a while. “Okay fine. I will give you the remote.You can watch whattttever you want……till I come back from the bathroom!” and runs off leaving me open-mouthed.
I relax for a while and keep surfing channels wondering if anything good ever comes on this idiot box. A particularly riveting sequence in one of the English movie channels holds my attention for more than usual and I linger on for a little while more. (I’ll remind you here,Murphy’s law are not some random bullshit.Never ignore them) Right at that moment,the little devil comes running back to claim her remote. She turns to the TV and is horrified by what she is seeing. “CHEEEE! MUMMIE!!! PAVANANNA IS WATCHING GIRL AND BOY KISSING!!!” I can’t help shouting out inadvertently “Heyyy! Shhhh. They are just kissing”. As they say,the damage is done. What I would not give to just evaporate from the face of the earth in a puff of smoke that very instant. I fumble with the remote while that abominable thing is playing on TV,*click* (Priyanka Chopra in a luscious bikini in Dostana) *click* random woman dancing in rain in a South Indian movie *more frantic click* “This is Atul Mehta,Mumbai correspondent,Aaj Tak” Sigh.Safe.All this happens in a time frame of 15 seconds.My cousin laughs a bit and just stays in the kitchen,thankfully. I do not touch the remote the whole of my stay there and settle down to watch back-back episodes of Spongebob squarepants.

Scene 4
Little devil’s teen-aged elder sis comes in.They start arguing over something and start fighting and the elder one goes “Get the f*uck off me,moron”. The smaller one claps her hand to her mouth,
“Akka! You just said the F-U-C-K word! Wait I’ll tell mommy”
“Shudd-up!I didn’t, Reee-tard” (My uncle is US returned. So my cousins still retain a distinct accent.Cool stuff)
“Yes you did!Pavananna she said the F-U-C-K word, didn’t she?”
I was already grinning.”Yeah,she did”.
“Reee-tard,get lost” and she storms out of the room.
The younger one starts giving me gyan “Dad told me F-U-C-K & S-U-C-K are bad words. But I think “shit” & “crap” are OK.They didn’t scold me when I used them.And speaking of scolding, B-I-T-C-H is a bad word too.”(ponders a bit)”But I wanna know what F-U-C-K means? Do you know what that means?”
“Ah,I don’t know” trying to sound as ignorant as possible, to which I get a “Man,You are a dumbo.All elders know that.How old are you anyway?”

Scene 5
We are sitting around for dinner. Ms.Smartypants is at it again. Giggling she says, “Amma,Pavananna is hesitating to serve the rice for himself. I think he is feeling shy. Pavananna,go ahead. There is lot of rice for all of us” As much as this is most embarassing,more annoying and scary is the fact that those were the exact thoughts going on in my head.Phew,kids these days! Anyways, I get over the hiccup and continue eating with a lot of rice in my plate now. Her mom comes,serves her a gulab jamun and goes inside to get more. Little devil turns sweet “Amma,bari nange hakidiyalla.Paapa ivninge haakalva Jamun-u? (You served the jamun only to me.Why didnt you serve the jamun to him, Poor guy)”.Her mom says mockingly “No I wont give him. He’s nobody to me”. “Ayyo Paapa,aa thara ella madbaardu.Kodamma (Ayyo Poor thing,we should not act like this.Lets give him too)”. We couldn’t stop laughing. Its amazing how kids balance their minds with the inherent innocence which is part of growing-up and the pseudo-maturity they acquire from their surroundings.

P.S : I love my nieces,nephews and kid-cousins. They are better than the elders,anyday ;)
P.P.S : This is my tribute to Calvin & Hobbes,the greatest comic ever