When Kara met Pinky

Readers of this blog might have noticed that I have an above-average long-term memory, and frequently indulge in “this day that year” exercises. While I have blogged about it a couple of times in the past, I do this practically every day – wonder what happened on that day in a previous year.

There are some anniversaries that are special, though. And there is no particular number – the special anniversaries are those where both date and day of week coincide. This usually happens at a frequency of five or six years (depending on the leap cycle), though it can be longer at times. For example, I vividly remember all years when my birthday was on a Sunday (1987, 1992, 1998 and 2009), and they were all spectacular (so I’m hoping for a spectacular birthday this year, too).

Anyway, today is the 28th of September, and it is a Monday. The last time 28th September was a Monday was back in 2009, and in hindsight it turned out to be a rather special day. The previous evening my “chat friend” had called me, trying to explain why she didn’t want to meet me. I convinced her to meet me the following day. And we agreed to meet in Basavanagudi (basically I was playing on “home ground”).

We spent some three hours together that day, and for virtual strangers who had only bantered on Orkut and LiveJournal and GTalk earlier, the breadth and depth and ease of conversation was rather spectacular. I remember this rather “special” feeling as I walked back home that day.

I promptly freaked out, and wrote this blog post:

Yesterday I met a friend, an extremely awesome woman. Once I was back home, I sent a mail to my relationship advisor, detailing my meeting with this friend. And I described her (the awesome friend) as being “super CMP”. I wrote in the mail “I find her really awesome. In each and every component she clears the CMP cutoff by a long way”. That’s how I’ve become. I’ve lost it. I’ve lost my heart. And I need to find it back. And I don’t know if I should continue in the arranged scissors market.

She seemed more positive than that. This is what she wrote:

First step is to keep your eyes open to delicious and nutritious tharkaris(potential marriage material girls/boys). Then, somehow thru some network, make someone set you two up. Third, interact. with tact. Fourth, put meet. or beat. Fifth, this can go in two ways now. Or more. First, is a no. Definite no. Second, yes. Full yes. Okay, there’s a third possibility too. Third, Yes, but not yet. This is a lucrative possibility which gives super scope to put more meets, learn about each others funny faces, food tastes, sense of humour, patience, sense of dressing, chappliying, smells, etc. Finally, it’ll end up in louuvu..maybe not the gut churning romantic feeling for the other party like a unit function, out of nowhere. This is more sustainable like a step function built on affection, tolerance, enjoying each others company, comfort, care, etc and if it were to ever fall apart then it would be one step at a time and less painful.

Things moved reasonably fast after that. Exactly fourteen months after we first met, we got married. We had fun. We occasionally fought. We bought a house. And we went long distance. Yet, in the last six years, I’ve never done anything for any of our anniversaries (date or marriage). There have been some customary dinners but nothing spectacular.

So I thought I should make a video this time. I decided to retrace the path of our first date, recalling some memorable bits of the conversation, All photos and videos were shot with a hand-held Nikon D90. I got creepy looks from people around. Lots of people asked me what I was doing. But the photowalk experience helped.

Normally, it’s the wife who stitches up the NED Talks videos, and this was my first experience with iMovies. Both my inexperience and my general lack of attention to detail clearly shows. Commentary was recorded in “synch sound” (along with the video). And I hope youtube doesn’t take down this video citing copyright issues.

Anniversaries past and present

I realise that whenever there is an occasion where I want to write something and I don’t know what to write, I can simply rely on my superior long-term memory, and do a this-day-that-year kind of thing. So here goes, recounting past anniversaries.

-1 (2009): The day began with some errands. I even remember what those errands were but it doesn’t matter here. I finished up with those errands and drove up to Rajajinagar and picked up the now wife and her sister (who I was meeting for the first time) from in front of the Nirmala toilet in Rajajinagar, in front of the Capuchin monastery. We drove up to the 100 ft restaurant in Indiranagar and had lunch.

Then we went shopping. Of course those were still early days for me to buy stuff for her, but she bought lots of things anyway. And that was the day I realised what it’s like to take out a woman shopping – hanging out in the area just outside the dressing rooms while she tried stuff, without trying to look awkward. And then Baada, who had brought his then-newlywed-wife shopping to the same place “caught” me there.

Later in the evening I visited her place for the first time, and had both “tiffin” and dinner there. And made small talk with the in-laws, whom I’d met for the first time less than a week earlier.

1 (2011): It was quite unremarkable, frankly. She went to work. I bummed around all morning and went for a lecture in the afternoon (all the way across town) and walked out of it in half an hour since it was so uninteresting. We went to RimNaam at the Oberoi on MG Road for dinner. Apart from the complimentary cake they gave us (since we told them it was our anniversary), it was quite unspectacular.

2 (2012): We were doing a week-long holiday in Goa, along with the in-laws. The day began with the mother-in-law picking flowers from all over the resort and making a small bouquet and handing it over to us. Presently we went to the flea market in Anjuna (it was a Wednesday) and got bored, since we hate bargaining. We then decamped to Calangute, and discovered Infantaria where we had an awesome lunch.

In the evening we went to Thalassa in Vagator where we emptied a bottle of Chilean wine and ate awesome Greek food. We hadn’t booked early enough to catch a cliff-side seat, though, but it didn’t matter since the sun set behind clouds that day.

3 (2013): The day itself was unremarkable. The previous day I was returning from a work trip to Bombay, and I hunted around the airport for a gift, not able to decide until they called for boarding when I picked up what was frankly an unremarkable pair of artificial earrings. She had put in more thought into my gift, though. I got a nice large notebook (which I’ve never used much) and a nice Parker ballpen (which I’ve used so much  that I’ve had to change the refill already).

The next day (technically speaking, since the flight was at 1 am or something) we went off to Singpur, where we enjoyed Sushobhan and Sudha’s hospitality, visited museums, got stuck in rain, waited for taxis and were again taken for a wonderful dinner by Sushobhan and Sudha.

4 (2014): Still early in the day yet, early for me and very very early for her. I’m in Bangalore, she’s in Barcelona. Our first long-distance anniversary. I might update this post tomorrow.

And finally, 0 (2010): It was a long day. I actually woke up late. Was paranoid while shaving since I didn’t want to cut myself on the day of my wedding. The late start meant I had the opportunity to eat good breakfast, a luxury she didn’t have since she was involved in some pre-ceremony poojes. The ceremony started at 11, and we went for a ceremonial lunch at 5 (yeah, South Indian brahmin weddings take so long). And then we had to get ready for the reception. Both of us started laughing at each other since we were both so badly made up! And then two hours of standing and shaking people’s hands and posing for photographs. And then some more ceremonies.

And then we went home, where I had some Absolut Orange stashed away. We hadn’t bothered getting the ceremonial glass of milk, so we just took a shot each of the Absolut. And we couldn’t even sleep in peace since there were remnants of the wedding ceremony the following day!

 

I’ve done it yet again

I quit my job earlier this week. I did so on Wednesday, the fourteenth. In hindsight, I should have waited another day and quit on the fifteenth, to coincide with the anniversary of the demise of Lehman Brothers. So for the fourth time in five years of career, I’ve quit a job without knowing where I’ll go next. The plan for the first month is to just chill and detox, and get back my sanity. Once that’s achieved, I’ll start thinking about where my next paycheque is going to come from (my employer promptly put me on Garden Leave, thus effectively giving me a month of  “free salary”).

You know what I miss the most about student life? The annual vacation! That once a year, you are entitled to spend two months or more doing absolutely nothing. I remember that friends chose to do academic projects during that time. Others got internships in companies. A few others chose to travel then. I used to do none of the above. I’d just sit at home in Bangalore and fatten myself (to compensate for the weight loss during the semester), and that ensured I started each semester in fairly high spirits (no I didn’t indulge in those spirits back then). The only time I did something “productive” during vacations was when it was an academic requirement to do a project.

I seriously miss having that annual two-month detox period. Yes, I know that my last employer gave me over twenty days of paid leave per year, but it wasn’t the same. You knew that it was a rationed resource, and you’d try to use it effectively. You’d go on vacation and immediately get on to a flight. You would land in Bangalore and head back to office within the next twenty four hours. You would sometimes need a break, take a day off from work, and then feel supremely guilty. It was on one such day sometime in the recent past that I realized that I miss vacations.

There exists a reasonable chance that I might choose to be self-employed (if things work out the way I intend, that is) but otherwise I need to find myself a job that gives me substantial vacation days a year, which I can take without any guilt. I realize that is absolutely necessary for me to keep myself charged up, and that if I had access to vacations the way I did during school/college I wouldn’t have taken a career break so many times after I started working.

My other objectives for this vacation are to travel (but it’s a bit tough given that the wife works and is subject to the twenty-days-of-paid-leave rules) and more importantly figure out for myself what my tradeoffs in life are. During my last job, I realized that I’d grossly misunderstood between my tradeoff between time and money. The other tradeoff I need to understand is the one between money and perks. And I want to write more.

The Benjarong Conference

According to the Hindu calendar, today is the first anniversary of the Benjarong Conference. The said conference took place at Benjarong, an awesome Thai place on Ulsoor Road in Bangalore on the second day (dwitiya) of shukla paksha of Chaitra maasa of whatever samvatsara finished two days ago. The main topic discussed at the conference was arranged scissors and considering how things are now, I must say that the conference was indeed a success.

The occasion was a long weekend that also included Ugadi. Monkee and I (I lived in Gurgaon then) were both down in Bangalore for a weekend of bridehunting, and both of us hadn’t been having much luck in the market. Giving us gyaan on how to go about the arranged scissors process was K, who had just gotten arranged married, and Mukka who had just gotten love married. Also present with (as usual) lots of general fundaes in life were Kodhi and Harithekid.

Back during the conference, I had been entrusted with the job of noting down minutes of the meeting and blogging them; however I didn’t have net access back then in Bangalore and by the time I got back to the Gaon I got busy in other things and so here I am a full year late trying to share with the world things discussed at this great conference.

So here we were, two twenty six year old (maybe Monkee was still twenty five then) guys who had never had girlfriends wondering where and how people would fall in love, and where we could find interesting and single girls (yeah we did talk about the Goalkeeper Theory also). We chatted about various kinds of girls, where each type would find boys, the odds of each type being currently available for marriage, what parameters for search to put in matrimonial websites to maximize our odds of finding good girls, and the like.

One specific kind of girl that we spent a lot of time discussing was what K called as “township girl” – girls who grow up in PSU townships. He proposed that girls who grow up in PSU townships are more likely to be smart and liberal compared to girls of comparable family background and intelligence who don’t grow up in townships. This theory was largely seconded by a lot of others at the conference and I passed on it since I didn’t have a clue.

As alternatives to this, I had proposed the non-home-state theory claiming that girls who grow up otuside their home states are smarter and more liberal. The others supported this claiming that girls who have less contact with relatives and family-social engagements are likely to be more “outgoing”.

Then there was this puzzle about boys-majority colleges which a number of us had independently wondered about. If you notice, a large number of the more preferred colleges in India have an overwhelming boys majority (yeah this applies especially to engineering but considering that engineering is one of the most preferred undergraduate disciplines I suppose this assumption isn’t too wrong) and so any girl who goes to any of these colleges is extremely unlikely to land up in the arranged scissors market.

And then, if you would notice, in high school (10th board exams), distribution of marks of boys and girls is roughly equal. So the question is about where the smart girls go! Especially in cities like Bangalore and Madras which lack quality arts (a course which is usually dominated by girls) colleges. We had probably closed the conference promising to investigate this mystery – of where all the smart girls go.

I don’t remember too much about the food at Benjarong that day but I remember we had an extremely overbearing captain who kept coming to us every minute asking us how the food was. We followed our dinner at Benjarong with ice-cream at Corner house – excellent as usual. That is probably the last time I ate a full cake fudge.

A lot of questions raised at that conference are now probably moot, considering that both Monkee and I are on the roads to our respective marriages (he in May, me in November). However, I do need to apologize for taking one whole year to make and publicize these notes. My apologies to the general public for holding back such awesome thoughts from them for one whole year. And my thanks to Harithekid, Kodhi, Mukka, K and Monkee for making the Benjarong Conference possible.

Update

Another issue that was raised at the conference was about the fate of this blog after I find a long-term gene-propagating partner. The other attendees were all of the opinion that I will need to stop blogging after I find someone, or at least not blog on relationship-related topics.

A couple of weeks back,  Pinky shouted at me for NOT blogging enough about her.