Tuesday, March 16, 2010

'Vacations' or Trips of Peril [Since You're Now Over 25]

Assuming I have things in place -- documents, tax returns filed on time, and the small matter of a passport -- I should be boarding a flight to India this Saturday.

Vacation. A vacation it is, but that term applies a bit loosely here. I am assuming the most comfortable part of the trip will be the 20 odd hours spent few miles above ground. After that it's most likely going to be lost in a blur of visa interviews, meeting and greeting relatives, and staying at each city for a couple of days at most. Mental preparation has begun in earnest. I've decided to sleep by standing up straight. The problem is I've got the standing up part right, but not the sleep. Maybe I should try it at night.

But I think I can master even that over the next three days. Even if it's a tad idealistic, let us assume for argument's sake. What worries me is the teeming mass that is bound to greet me. You see, I am going to be attending a cousin's wedding, and I am approaching the wrong side of twenty.

This all started about three years ago when, during a Skype conversation, my parents first mentioned marriage in a sentence addressed to me. It was a little unusual; awkward even. But I was in the middle of a sentence, rattling on about how amazing this high-speed internet connection was in the US. I paused for a second, thought I heard the word kalyanam, but was determined to finish explaining how I didn't have to wait to let YouTube buffer before playing the video in whole. As it turned out, my father all of a sudden exclaimed, thanks to a spike in a stock he'd purchased the previous week, and my mother had to attend to a phone call. [Two months ago was when my mother actually discovered YouTube because it had 'good recipe shows'] So much for my hyperventilation over high-speed internet. But I digress.

Last year was when they got a little earnest about this 'get-married' thing. But it was by way of showing understanding, in keeping with the 'modern outlook of this current generation.'

"Son, it's alright. We understand. You need to get settled career-wise. Then only we can talk about marriage and all."

"Yes, ma. Fair enough."

A few months later, after having shared an apartment for a major part of my relatively short life in the States, I moved to an apartment to live all by myself last August. That was when this gentle strategy of understanding segued smoothly into a quest for concrete answers.

"So, now that you are settled, and on your own, when do you want to get married?"

"You see, ma, it's only now that I've finally moved to live on my own. I want to get to spend some, erm, alone-time. I think it's been quite peaceful till now. Why the hurry?"

"Fair enough. But give us a time frame."

This was a little hard. On the one hand you look forward to a period of living alone, in peace. On the other you're given a stern reminder (expressed in very kind terms, nonetheless) that this can't last. A time frame! What is this? Afghanistan?

"Erm, maybe a year and a half should be okay. I'm not prepared for a married life right now."

"But what if we start looking now so that you will be all set in a year or so?"

"Hmm, that sounds nice in theory, but what if you find someone in a couple of months -- by some freaky coincidence? I'll be forced to marry."

"Yes that's a possibility. But we shouldn't wait. You know you're also losing hair--"

I nodded. I was indeed losing hair.

"So when should we get the horoscopes and talk to the astrologer?" They quickly added.

"Erm, end of next year I blurted."

It was agreed that on one auspicious day, towards the end of 2010, my parents will go, life full of hope, to an astrologer and place it in front of him for his verdict.

But they went anyway... in January.

Astrologer told them -- and this is perhaps the rare occasion when I've raised my glass of orange juice to an astrologer -- that they can start 'looking' only after September 2010.

Of course, this didn't stop them from occasionally debating the institution of marriage and such-like.

"Why don't you get married?" They'd ask, possibly by force of habit now.

"Sigh. Okay, but I don't want to have any kids."

"*gasp* Wait, what? Why? What's the point then?"


Or the other occasion when they used subtler methods, like the time when my grandmother was handed the phone.

"Hello, grandson, how are you doing?"

"Hello grandma, namaskarams How are--"

"When are you going to get married?"

"Uh, I don't think I will for another year at least."

"No no. How can you say that? I don't even know if I'll be alive then. It's my wish that you should get married now that your cousin A is getting married. You're next in line. Can't you grant me this one wish? No?" She inhales deeply.

"Er, good point you make. Er-- what's that? Wha--? I can't hear you in this line. I'll call you in five minutes." I exhale, with all my might.


Part of this post is fact, and part fiction. Just like in the works of legendary author, Dan Brown, it's cleverly juxtaposed so you couldn't tell.

Wish me luck as I wade my way and hope to come back in one piece and unhitched.
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