Thursday, September 16, 2010

I do?

And when the clock is ticking and society looks at you and shakes their collective heads in a combination of sadness and sympathy. When that piece of paper by the court - called a marriage certificate becomes all important, do you then say I do?

How important is it really to get married? I am not talking about being single or not, I am talking pure facts - marriage - the whole hog of the Indian style one or the paper version in court, either way - is it important being married?

If your significant other is not married to you, does this mean that they are not as committed to you as they would be if you were married? Does being married really provide any guarantees about the longevity of a relationship? Surely rising divorce rates answer that last question. Does it contribute to the happiness of a relationship at any point?

But does being married really give your relationship a dignity it can only get through societal approval of living together not-in-sin status? How important is it really for any children you might want to have to be married to their parent? Yet again, that all important society and how it would accept/ or not a child born out of wedlock..matters, or does it? Does this really mean that you marry only to procreate? What if you wanted no children at all, and yes that is an option, would you then find marriage all that necessary?

What about parental approval - is that a good enough reason to marry, so your folks can feel that you are now 'settled'? I still do not quite know what that term encompasses.

Is not the institution over subscribed and over rated?

Could you not just live in peace together, without the pressure of society..which always disapproves anyway?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Space, and getting used to it

Its been a LONG, long, long time since I shared space with more than one adult at a time. I did not realize how much I valued it and in a very cliched way, yes, how much I miss it when its taken away.

Over a period of time, we, who have lived or spent some part of our lives away from the parental home, get used to being alone. Not alone in the lonely way, but alone in the i-can-spend-all-day-in-silence way. The I dont mind making tea for one and sitting quietly and drinking it. I am used to doing laundry once a week and I only talk on the phone when I want to. I am also used to opening the door of my house to find it empty and silent - in the peaceful, ahhhhh-i-am-home way. I am used to shutting the lights and making sure the door is locked when I leave. I am used to thinking about food and making it to my requirements...

It is a long list when you think about it.

Over a period of time you get used to engaging in conversation when you feel like it. You also know that any physical company you have comes with a time limit and eventually you shall be back in your own space and place with your mind for company. In my case it is books for company. I have always loved lying down with a book and spending hours in silence, deeply engrossed in a book. I also like listening to loud music and secretly dancing with great abandon to it when the feeling takes over.
So, though the word is often used and abused, space, as a concept, should have made its presence known and felt to most people who have spent some time alone. Once you recognize it, you also instantly learn to realize when it is missing.

Recently with family over at my house, guests, visitors and the baby - space seems to come at a premium. Instead of being sunk in seemingly endless space, it now comes with time - defining and limiting it. I only get little windows or pockets of space in a day to match my previous existence. Makes it all the more precious, worth recognizing and protecting.

However it is amazing how well this little pocket or 'timeout' works. A few hours of silence, physical emptiness and peace makes a huge difference to overall day quality. A small amount of 'space' and silence with time limits makes you welcome noise, company and distraction.

Monday, September 06, 2010


I remember a certain non Indian relation of mine, telling me a long time ago, that Indians can never travel light. At that time I had never flown outside India, so I put on my indignant hat and argued with him for a few minutes.

A few years down the line, I flew to England to study, of course I had the biggest suitcase money could buy and needless to say I took with me essentials like a pressure cooker and many boxes of spices (did not know at this time that there everything I desire that is Indian is available readily in UK as well). My suitcase weighted close to 65 kilos, but the logic given for this excsssive baggage was the year long stay and the fact that BA was doing a student deal (did not know at this time that there would not be a return deal like this from BA and would cost me over 350 pounds for this).

Over the past decade of so, I have flown many time to many places and each time I have indeed noticed that most people of Indian (South Asian lets say) do not travel light. They will have the biggest bags, with the 'HEAVY' tags on them, and they will need to spend a long time arguing at the check-in desk over excess baggage.

Yesterday I was at Heathrow again, at a terminal which has many flights to India. The check-in process was never ending and the shop selling bags to repack excess baggage was doing good business. There was a proper 'REPACK' area and new trolleys were seen. A couple traveling back to India were with 4 large bags (this is not the norm for EU/UK - Asia flights, as opposed to the US). The man at the check-in desk sighed and hummed and hawed and pointed the brown folks to the excess baggage shop and counter.

Do we carry in the kitchen sink with us? Or are our bags full of presents for the people we so care about? Or are we the 'what-if' category of packers? What is it that makes us pack and pack and pack and weigh everything 5 times before we leave for the airport, all set to argue with the check-in desk guy. Is it financial/ economy reasons?

Going back to my non Indian relation and other non Indian friends who have traveled the planet with nothing much. How do they do this? Simple, they say, you take nothing. You reach India, you buy stuff, you use the stuff, you throw the stuff and you come back! Shaking my head I thought - they clearly dont buy handmade throws and pottery to carry back with them. They obviously dont haunt Cottage Emporium before departure and are not fans of Indian publications!

I know I dont travel light - my excuse is my obsession with all things handmade which keep traveling from UK to India and back. I fit the stereotype. Yes I know. But is the stereotype just my imagination or do we really not know how to travel light?