8/13: Dabba

Back when I was single and looking, one of the criteria I had with respect to the potential partner was that she should be willing to indulge in what I would call as “arbit conversations”. Arbit conversations can be about any subject, and the only rule is that it need not make sense.

So you can reply to anything with anything. Digress like crazy. Crack stupid, and potentially offensive jokes. Talk nonsense. Complete nonsense all the time doesn’t add value, of course, but some amount of nonsense can make the parties laugh, and keep things happy.

My love for arbit conversations started with my favourite hobby from the time I started working. It initially began on Orkut where I’d occasionally leave nonsense scraps on friends’ walls, and they’d reply with more nonsense. Prior to that, of course there was the “.:Arbit:.” discussion group in IIMB, which was created with the explicit purpose of talking nonsense.

And then sometime in 2006-7, Google decided to add all Orkut friends to your GTalk list, and soon Orkut started getting spammed by “franship seekers”, and my favourite hobby became opening a number of conversation windows on GTalk and simply talk to people, irrespective of whether the conversations made sense.

When I told some friends that I was looking for someone “who can make arbit conversation”, I’d already started talking to Priyanka, and she was of course one of the people with whom I’d indulge in such conversations. So when I declared her as a “super common minimum program“, I already knew that she was capable of arbit conversations (in hindsight, I realise why she was a “super CMP”. I used to talk to her so much that I’d anchored my expectations of a potential wife based on what she was like. In that context, it’s obvious that she’d ace it).

What I didn’t know, and was delighted to find out later on that she can also be “Dabba”. Now, this doesn’t have a good synonym in English, so I continue to use the Kannada word. It’s hard to even describe what being Dabba entails, but both of us are Dabba and we love each other for it.

Being Dabba means you don’t take everything too seriously, and are willing to see the lighter side of things. Being Dabba means finding some random stuff funny, and laughing endlessly about it. Dabbaness can sometimes mean talking in a strange accent, or pronouncing words wrongly, on puropse.

Being Dabba also means that you are willing to tolerate some amount of shit, and not get disgusted by it (if we don’t train her properly, Berry might grow up being disgusted with our Dabbaness). Being Dabba also means occasionally acting far less polished than we’re capable of, just for a few laughts. And so forth – hope you’re getting the drift.

If you’re a Dabba person yourself, it’s hard to reconcile with someone who’s not as Dabba, since you might get disgusted and feel let down at times. In that sense, I feel incredibly lucky to be married to someone who I think is at least as Dabba as I am. There are random things that Pinky finds funny. We have many inside jokes, especially related to 1990s Kannada popular culture, that makes us burst out laughing at times. There are words we pronounce in a particular way, to the extent that we pronounce them that way even when we don’t intend to.

Both of us being Dabba allows Pinky and me to connect better to each other. There are so many subliminal things we “get” about each other that we wonder if we’ll be able to get along at all with someone else. And of course, another thing that we should keep in mind is that we’ve been training each other for the last 7-8 years, effectively merging our respective brands of Dabbaness!

That’s possibly a great way to describe a relationship – where you train each other on your respective Dabbaness, and over time become so similarly Dabba that you’d find it hard pressed to be Dabba-compatible with others!

1/13: Leaving home

2/13: Motherhood statements

3/13: Stockings

4/13: HM

5/13: Cookers

6/13: Fashion

7/13: Dashing

7/13: Dashing

I’ve mentioned in an earlier post about my biggest concern about hitting on Pinky – I always thought she was “too young”. Coming to think of it now, what I didn’t realise back then was that marrying someone much younger can actually help give you a “second youth”. In other words, Pinky makes me feel much younger!

It’s possibly because of the way it started. Pinky pinged me on Orkut with a link to her blog. She was barely nineteen then, and her posts back then looked like what a teenager would write. Bad spellings. Horrible capitalisation. Trying to sound cutesy. She even spelled her name as “Preanca”!

It was over a year later that we started talking regularly, but the image had been fixed – this was one cute kid who liked to chat to me, and I treated her thus. We used to speak about just about anything, from hugging techniques to bra fits (that one slightly creeped her out, I think).

When I entered the arranged marriage market, she became my go to person for discussing what was happening in the market. She loved it as well (showing early signs of becoming a Marriage Broker Auntie), and told me I was giving her the kind of insight her older cousins who had gone through the market had denied her.

At one point of time, she asked me if she could think of me as a “brother who is getting married” which kinda creeped me out, and I’d blown my top. Soon after she gave me my first cutesy nickname (and she continues to come up with new names every one month or so).

The net result of all this was that while she was 22, and employed, when I first met her, I still thought of her as a “cute kid”. I’d assigned to her the voice of a little girl, which is why I got positively surprised when I first spoke to her on the phone. And when I met her, I realised she was mature beyond her years, and it was an easy decision then to start hitting on her.

Soon after, though, I realised the joys of being with someone so young, one who hadn’t yet been through a quarter life crisis (though I had to live through yet another quarter life crisis when she inevitably went through one). Her thoughts were fresh, and unharmed by the harsh experiences of life. That made her positive, and fun-loving, and hanging out with her became a lot of fun.

She had habits and hobbies one would expect of someone in their early twenties, and I quite enjoyed partaking in them and feeling young again (though one activity she’s consistently refused to share with me is partying!). And of course, I also later realised that marrying a young woman meant that I could put off making babies to a bit later, and we had Berry when we thought we should have a kid, rather than getting spooked by a biological clock.

I still find Pinky cute. There are times when she makes that cute face that reminds me of the cute kid who I didn’t want to hit on! And she finds random things funny and laughs in a girlish manner, and reminds me once again of that “kid” I met in Gandhi Bazaar back in 2009!

I’m suddenly reminded of the day in March 2015 when we were walking down the middle of Avinguda Josep Taradellas in Barcelona, and we suddenly held hands and spontaneously start running. That’s the kind of stuff that keeps me young, though my hair and waistline sometimes try to tell me otherwise!

PS: when I met her, I was 26 and she was 22. So we’ve never come close to violating the “N/2 + 7 rule“.

1/13: Leaving home

2/13: Motherhood statements

3/13: Stockings

4/13: HM

5/13: Cookers

6/13: Fashion

6/13: Fashion

I still remember this childhood friend’s wedding in November 2009. Now, that particular wedding is memorable for several reasons, but I especially remember the reaction of some of my other school friends. “You surely have a girlfriend now”, was their refrain, for apparently they had never seen me so well dressed.

Pinky still makes fun of the way I looked on the day I met her. I was wearing a blue polo T-shirt over khaki cargoes. On one occasion when I bent down to tie my shoelaces, she saw my blue socks and couldn’t stop laughing that I had such poor fashion sense to wear them with my khaki pants and white sneakers. I’d told her that I’d worn those socks to match my T-shirt, to which she continued laughing further. A couple of months later, she’d started her efforts to “improve” the way I look.

Since early 2010, she’s been conducting regular “clothes audits” for me, where clothes that don’t look good on me are discarded or put away. She keeps track of the trends for me, so that I don’t end up looking like an old fogey. She’s occasionally critical, but largely encouraging, and never fails to tell me that I look good (when I look that way).

Back in the late 2000s, I had a penchant for wearing loose clothes, which made my then heavy frame look even heavier. I liked wearing colourful shirts (I once turned up at a friend’s wedding in a bright purple shirt), and loose fitting jeans (Lee Chicago being my favourite fit). I would seldom be seen with my shirt untucked (speaking of which, have you heard about this company that’s now supposed to be the hot thing in the startup world?).

Pinky changed all that. She taught me how a white shirt can be so versatile that I shouldn’t reserve it for official use. She made me understand how better fitting clothes can make me look so much better. She made me realise how I look so much younger without my spectacles (which I wore daily since I was 7 until 2010 when I started wearing contact lenses). She carefully selected perfumes and aftershaves for me. I stopped wearing sneakers wherever I went (like I used to). Perhaps the only thing in which she’s not been able to make an impact on is my receding hairline!

It’s over seven years since Pinky started her “project” to make me look good, and I continue to look up to her when it comes to fashion. I continually pester her to accompany me on my clothes shopping trips, often driving her insane. Recently she cried how she’s herself been unable to shop because all our such trips end up being hijacked by me, asking for her opinion on one thing or the other. I admit my fashion sense has improved, and I decide better on what clothes I want to wear. Yet, I constantly seek her approval!

PS: I’m writing this wearing a floral print shirt

1/13: Leaving home

2/13: Motherhood statements

3/13: Stockings

4/13: HM

5/13: Cookers

5/13: Cookers

I still remember this huLi Pinky had made sometime in the early days of marriage. Having never lived by herself until then, she hadn’t bothered to learn to cook, and all that she knew about cooking came from watching her mother.

When we got married, given that her job demanded she leave home early, and mine demanded that I stay late into the evening, we formed an arrangement where I’d make breakfast and she made dinner.

I occasionally missed my part of the deal – waking up so late that food wouldn’t be ready by the time she had to leave. Sometimes, I’d make breakfast just in time for me to run to her bus stop and hand over her box, but there were times when I let her go to work hungry.

She never let me down, though. Even though she hadn’t had much experience cooking (though she had a medal for winning a university-wide cooking competition), she would make sure every evening that there was food by the time I came home. And on most days I would be extremely well fed, though occasionally, like that day when she made huLi with Mangalore Cucumber, I don’t have particularly great memories of 😛

She learnt quickly, though, and over time, has turned out to be a great cook (I like to argue that the time she spent living alone helped!). Now her repertoire is far more diverse (in the initial days she’d exclusively make South Indian food), and she continues to delight me with her cooking.

I especially remember this period in time when I had just started off as an independent consultant, and was mostly working from home. We had recently fired our cook, and she was so concerned that I was eating “random things” for lunch that she took it upon herself to make my lunch before she left for work.

She had to be at the bus stop at 7:15 in the morning, which meant waking up at 5:30 or so, just so that she could make lunch for me. And since I wasn’t eating much rice in those days (for health reasons), she had to make chapatis which would take extra time. I frequently told her that I’d whip up something for myself but she was insistent on feeding me. It was a “wifely duly”, she’d sometimes tell me.

Thinking about it, I should have never doubted that she’d always keep me well fed. Right from the early days, whenever we spoke or texted immediately after what might be considered as a “normal meal time”, her first question was if I’d eaten, and what I’d eaten. And after we got married, she’s taken it upon herself to make the best effort possible to ensure that I eat well.

And that continues to this day, even though it sometimes means cooking while simultaneously taking care of Berry. Like last evening I was meeting someone and got home fairly late. And despite Berry having been a bit cranky, Pinky had managed to make a wonderful, and innovative huLi! She later told me that she had to make the huLi with one hand, while holding Berry in the other!

I look forward to many more years of being fed thus!

1/13: Leaving home

2/13: Motherhood statements

3/13: Stockings

4/13: HM

4/13: HM

I’m married to an absolute crackpot. Pinky can go so mental at times that it’s not even funny. She takes the concept of absurdity to a whole new level at times. She sometimes behaves so weird that I start wondering what I’ve married. And then she asks, “did you imagine I’d turn out like this when you married me?”. And I always reply “well, you’ve always been this mental”.

Let me do this in bullet points – she’s so mental that it’s difficult to structure this post in any other way.

  • She’s not normally that religious (maybe she was, but I’ve kinda drawn her away from it), but on some days she puts up a serious face and says, “Karu, don’t you think we should pray to God? Why have we become like this?”
  • There are things that get “stuck” in her head that she keeps repeating. Some times it’s the names of people which are unusual (oh, have I told you that she and her sister maintain a database of funny names?). Other times, it’s random words or phrases. Her latest obsession is with “responsible PIC” (I have no clue what that means)
  • Normally she’s an incredibly levelheaded and logical person, but at times she loses all signs of logic, and makes absurd connections. Like she thinks I have a loud voice because I was born in December! Go figure.
  • It’s incredibly hard to predict what might upset her (going by the above point, she sometimes rationalises this by saying all women are like this). Things that should normally upset her she doesn’t get upset by (that’s actually deeply upsetting for me), and she gets upset with things you’d have no clue has the potential to upset someone. Then again, I guess this bit of madness doesn’t make her stand apart so much.
  • She has a habit of saying something random completely disconnected to the ongoing conversation. OK I must mention here that this is not something that I’m particularly worried about, since I love “arbit conversations”. More on that in another post.
  • She displays a wide range of ages in terms of the way she acts. Within a particular domain, she can talk like she belongs to different age groups. Sometimes she sounds like she’s a middle aged lady. Other times her reasoning and advice makes her sound like a teenager. In that sense, age is just a number for that (so I don’t know why I’m writing this post series for her birthday!)
  • For a while she wouldn’t open the door when I rang the doorbell – I had to speak a passphrase she had come up with, and until I said that she wouldn’t oblige me

And the list goes on and continues to grow by the day – I won’t give away too much more about her, but all I’ll say is that these quirks make her a massively fun person, and I love her for all this!

Uncle’s son’s shorts are stuck!

1/13: Leaving home

2/13: Motherhood statements

3/13: Stockings

3/13: Stockings

It is rare that someone completely blows you away on the first date. To be fair, the first time I met Pinky wasn’t the first time I’d interacted with her. She and I had been “chat friends” for nearly two years then, periodically pinging each other on Google Talk, and making arbit conversations. Yet, the first time I met her, things changed so much for the better that I was overwhelmed.

She hadn’t wanted to meet me. The evening before we finally met, we had spoken on the phone for the first time, where she had tried to reason out to me as to why she didn’t want to meet me. She had been afraid that she might lose “a good chat friend” after the meeting, since our opinions of each other would inevitably change after meeting (there was a recent cartoon on Twitter I saw to this effect, but I don’t recall it enough now to link).

I wasn’t going to let go of her so easily – given that I was in the market then, and on the verge of giving up, and that I’d always found her cute, I HAD to meet her (incidentally, while I always found her cute, I’d never thought of her as a potential “bladee” because I thought she was too young. Her voice convinced me otherwise). So I made up some reason as to why it was important for us to meet the following day, and even convinced her to come to my part of town.

Thinking back, while I did grab my opportunities and “go for it”, most of the credit for Pinky and I getting married should go to her. It was she who first reached out to me, and contacted me again when I had reacted indifferently and arrogantly at first. It was she who made me talk to her, and made me fall in love with her over time.

And every time I’ve fucked up (and that’s been a lot of times, and fairly often at that), it’s she who’s compromised and made up, and made adjustments so that our relationship goes on. She’s given me multiple let-offs and chances, while I continue to occasionally fuck up.

I’m not of the religious sort, so let me just say that I consider myself extremely lucky to have met her, to be married to her and to make babies with her. The credit is all hers.

Anyway, let me take this opportunity to re-share this video I had made about our first date.

 

1/13: Leaving home

2/13: Motherhood statements

 

2/13: Motherhood statements

It was a casual chat we had sometime during Pinky’s first year of MBA. We were talking about making babies, and started wondering how it would be to make one right around the time she graduated. “Imagine going up to receive my degree with a big belly”, she’d laughed.

Incredibly, it happened. When she came to Bangalore for an extended break after her exchange term at U. Michigan, we gave it a little go. And on New Year’s Eve 2015-16, if my calculations are correct, the artist first known as Larvesh came to be conceived.

Larvesh became Pupesh a month later when the pregnancy app told us that the embryo had got attached to the walls of the uterus. Three months later, when we found out it was a girl, Pupesh became Pupeshwari. And she came out as Berry in September.

IESE is situated in the hilly Barcelona suburb of Pedralbes, and unless you have your own vehicle, you need to climb a steep slope to get there. Pregnancy during the last term of school was hard for Pinky since it meant climbing the hill from the bus stop each day. Having to frequently use the restroom didn’t make matters any easier. Yet Pinky didn’t give up.

She actually took extra credits during that term of MBA, since there was a course she really wanted to do. She remained active as ever in extra curricular activities, organising two mini conferences. Given that Pupu was a tiny baby, nobody at IESE had an idea of her existence!

Pinky got her post-MBA job offer deferred so that she could have the baby (effectively getting unpaid maternity leave), but was determined to work in the gap between her MBA and job start. And so Marriage Broker Auntie happened.

The day before Berry was born, Pinky was taking calls on her hospital bed, advising clients on blading strategies. After Berry was born, Pinky refused to go to her parents’ (the standard practice in Karnataka), arguing she wouldn’t be able to work from there. Indiscretion on my part meant Pinky had to take care of Berry alone for long periods, and she did that without complaining, while running Marriage Broker Auntie on the side (it was only recently when I started looking after Berry by myself that I realised how exhausting taking care of a baby can be – my respect for Pinky shot up on that first day of house-husbanding).

A lot of people wonder how we’ve managed to move continents when Berry is so small, especially when Pinky has started such a demanding job. However, Pinky has managed the whole process so well that I scarcely imagine that we’ve done something people find so challenging – it all seems so normal to me (my part in the move and settling here has been minor – I continue to be a lazy bum and put NED)!

Back at the IIMB reunion in December, which Pinky and Berry attended for one evening, one of my friends commented how she found Pinky to be “so sorted” (in terms of motherhood). Coming to think of it, that’s an excellent summary of how Pinky has handled motherhood.

1/13: Leaving home