Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Taking off from one of my favourite Nelly songs...

Originally composed as an email, this was destined for sneaky BCC (so no one would know who else it was sent to) distribution amongst only very close friends Until I thought it'd be a better idea to post the text here.

Two aunts dropped by, home, and later, into my room, recently. (Why do I get the feeling that this sounds like the beginnings of a horror story?) One's staying over the weekend, de-acclimatizing after a trip to Mansarovar. The other, a doctor, seemed to have cut work, and come over for lunch, a long chat, and a relaxed nap with her sistahs. Since my computer was running, a disk full of Mansarovar pics was popped into the drive. Whatever.

Seeing them I wished the focus had remained on the incredible scenery - the mountains, valleys, rivers, and forests - instead of being obscured by one person who I knew, and the dorky smiles of her trip-friends.

Then someone's email account was logged in to, another bunch of pictures downloaded, and a/my distant cousin's engagement rewitnessed.

(me) "How did they meet?"
[I.e. did they huff or did someone else puff?]

"His mother searched on the Internet"

"Which site?"
[Went unanswered :-]

"What does the girl do or plan to do?"
[Actually, I should've asked what cousinji does. Patriarchal attitudes... recur so easily, bypassing all thinking and understanding :-( ]

"She's just finished mba from Symbiosis. He's in Bangalore. She would probably work there, afterwards."
[The fact that it's arranged, and it's happening to her immediately after 'her studies are over' already sounds like bad news.]

(me) "Aap aise tedhi ho ke mat baithiye. Galay mein dard honay lagega, maasi."

(maasi) "Hai re. Beta, how come you have so much white hair?"

(me) "Kuch nahi maasi, look at my parents. I think i'll go all silvery within ten years. Is your son greying a lot too?"
[Desperate attempt at trying to shift the target before changing the topic.]

(maasi) "Not as much as you. And, he's not doing a Ph.d."
[Well, technically, neither am I.]

(me) "Yes, but he (my cousin) is a father now, and has a 2 year daughter. In ten years, his greying will accelarate. I know it."
[Shameless attempt at trying to obscure the fact of having forgotten my niece's name.]

(maasi) "Arrey beta, now we are all old. Getting youngsters married is what we look forward to. Tum Ph.d jaldi se karo, aur uske baad....."

It was at this moment i think (or would like to think) that the slideshow ended. By reflex and one key combination, I minimized all windows. What stared back at us was my current wallpaper. I normally prefer a black background (old habits die hard), but the image was irresistible. And its alternatives, unthinkable.

My mother looked, and, as if speaking for the three of them, said, "arrey, yeh kaun hai bhaiya?" Said with that measured expectancy, the whatever-this-leads-to-can-be-handled tone that I've often heard from my parents.

It was a probe... a feignt... an opening gambit. Especially the casual-noncommittal-interrogative in 'bhaiya?' ;-)

I wish I could've given my trademark Tamil movie star smile - bad imitations, severe neck muscle strain, and glint-in-the-eye included...

(me) "Pataa nahin." (And since now was not the time to lie) "Internet pe ek photographer ke portfolio se. Wahaan se photo hai, aur photos ki series ka theme football tha. Dekho, left side pe jo hai uski aankh se aansu nikal raha hai. Wah, shot ka kya composition hai."
[I don't think I said that last sentence during the exchange. Am adding it here, though...]

They were all standing behind me. Not wanting to ruin things, I resisted the urge of hinging around to gauge their reaction(s.)

Well, better a tear drop, than a football balanced magically on an incredibly hot Chinese fashion model's funky little sweet ass. There, I said it, and didn't censor it. Now you know I'm on my way to becoming a dirty old man :-( But follow this link, and you'll know what I'm referring to... (Oh, and this too.)

To rework what I told a friend, internet hyperlinks like these almost stand atomistically. Alone, independent, unchained, atleast to my memory. No trace remains of how they were chanced upon...

(me) (quickly shuffling through and evaluating the engagement's photos) "Arrey. Kaisi ajeeb baat hai ki bus ek photo, jisme ring pehnaayi jaa rahi hai, mein dono thoda thoda smile kar rahay hain. Baaki sab mein daant padne ke baad wala mooh hai banaaya hua hai."
[A sad attempt at injecting some (misplaced?) humour.]

(maasi) "Beta, jab arranged marriage hoti hai na, buri haalat mein hotay hain log. Bahut darr lagta hai."
[Translation: "Young one, you have a lot to learn."]

The tangent might not be evident (to you), but her maneuvre reminded me of a now-classic dialogue from a genre-inventing film, Master Killer. a.k.a. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin Temple. In one part, the disciple San Te is unable to cross a water filled ditch designed to teach students the basics of weight, balance, and pressure. He keeps getting dunked and drenched, missing meals because his fellows are able to clear this test, which stands between them and the mess hall.

Before yet another attempt (soon to end in humiliating failure), he notices junior monks shuffling along a parallel path, devoid of obstacles, going wherever they need to go. Feeling sneaky, he decides to cheat... push(ing) his luck. As he leaps the wall, the monk in-charge of this, the lowest Chamber, appears out of nowehere, kicks him off the boundary, and headlong into the ditch.

The monk then gazes, and says (this is from a bad English dub), "the wall is low, but Buddhism is high."



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