Shared passions

It is said that couples who share a number of passions are closer. The corollary is that one way of getting closer as a couple is to develop shared passions. However, things aren’t so easy.

Sometimes it can so happen that one partner is a “leader” when it comes to the hobby while the other is a “follower”, and that can ruin some dynamics. Let me explain. Among other things, I’m passionate about spaghetti westerns and Liverpool FC. Pinky is passionate about chick flicks, theatre, ¬†“Full House” and “How I met your mother”. We’ve both independently tried getting the other interested in our respective passions. I’ve watched a number of chick flicks, liked a few of them, but not so much to develop a passion for the genre. Pinky has watched some Liverpool games, but her fundamental dislike for sport-watching makes it hard for her to develop it as a passion.

We’ve tried hard, both to convince the spouse to take up our respective passions, and to get ourselves to get interested in the spouse’s passion. Sadly, things haven’t worked out as well as we’d thought. It’s been hard on both of us. Like today I fidgeted through an hour of a 90s Kannada comedy before declaring (rather rudely) that I was getting bored. Watching me fidget, I’m sure, would have made Pinky uncomfortable, and feel a sense of responsibility.

Such asymmetric passions can cause grief for both the “leader” and the “follower”. The follower tries hard to “fit in”, while the leader tries hard to make sure the follower is fitting in. The dynamics thus created can ruin whatever positive energy a shared passion can create.

All is not lost, though. I only talked about asymmetric passions here. The key is in finding activities which both parties are independently passionate about. My all-time favourite movie is this Kannada movie called Ganeshana Maduve, which I’ve watched at least 20 times. At least 15 of these were before 2009, when I first met Pinky. By then, she too had watched the movie at least 15 times. Both of us are independently passionate about it and we never seem to tire of it. We use dialogues from the movie in everyday conversation, and watch it every time it comes on TV (the other day, it was playing on ETV Kannada early in the morning. As soon as my mother-in-law saw that it was playing she rang me up. I DVRd it, so now we can watch it every day if we want).

Pinky and I are both passionate about Ganeshana Madhuve. We are passionate about long intellectual conversations (which is what made us talk as much as it did back when we were just “blog friends”). We love experimenting with food, both in terms of cooking and eating. Unfortunately the list isn’t as long as we might have liked it, so sometimes we need to invent shared passions. So far we’ve tried imposing our respective individual passions on one another, and that hasn’t worked out too well. Is there a way out?

I can think of one way out. Jointly trying to develop interests in activities neither of us knows much of currently. The odds there are lower that we will both end up liking it, but then again, we are both at the same level. There is no leader and follower, and the disruptive dynamics that ruin passions we try to foist upon one another could be avoided. What do you think we should do?

Shoe Shopping

I went with the significant other last weekend while she bought shoes. And realized that the way girls buy shoes is completely different from boys’ decision process. Yeah, I know you’ll be thinking I’m just stating the obvious, and I might be doing that. And again, this post is based on two data points – myself and the significant other. I conveniently extrapolate.

Fundamental theorem of shoes: The number of pairs of shoes a boy owns is small compared to the number of pairs of shoes a girl of the similar age/socio-economic stratum owns.

I don’t think I need to give any explanation for that. The rest of this post is a corollary.

Corollary 1: The amount of time a boy spends in buying one pair of shoes is significantly larger than the corresponding amount of time a girl spends.

Yeah, this might sound counterintuitive, which is why I’m writing this post. So I think there are several reasons for this, but they all follow from the fundamental theorem of shoes
1. If you have one pair of shoes of a certain kind, you can’t afford to make a mistake buying them. You need to go through a careful decision process, evaluating various pros and cons, before deciding on your perfect shoe.
2. Boys’ shoes need to multitask. For example, you will wear the same pair of black leather shoes to office, and to that random wedding reception. The same sneakers you wear to play football might be worn for a casual evening out. So each pair of shoes needs to serve several different purposes, so the search space comes down accordingly
3. The cost of going wrong is too high – if you have a policy to own a limited number of shoes, and you buy an ill-fitting shoe, you have to live with that (or throw with extreme guilt) for a very long time. ¬†This happened with my earlier pair of sneakers, with the unintended consequence that I went to the gym much less often than I’d planned to
4. The amount of time a boy spends in a particular shoe is much more than the amount of time a girl spends in a particular shoe. So it is important for boys that each and every shoe is absolutely comfortable and fits perfectly. Again increases search time.

Recently when I had to buy a pair of formal shoes for my engagement I drove Priyanka mad with the amount of time I took to decide. I visited several shops, tried out lots of shoes, walked around, walked out, visited more shops and so forth. And all this after I had decided I wanted a pair of brown shoes without laces.

Corollary 2: The average cost of a boy’s shoe “wardrobe” is comparable to the average cost of a girl’s shoe “wardrobe”

Yeah, unintuitive again I guess. But backed up by data. My shoes, on average, cost well over a thousand rupees. Priyanka’s shoes, on average, cost well under that. It’s a vicious cycle, and I don’t know where it starts. I want my shoes to last longer, so I want to buy shoes of better quality, so I end up spending more on them. Or it could be like I wanted my shoes to last longer precisely because they are expensive. But I’ll stick my neck out and say that all this stems from the fundamental decision of not wanting to wear too many pairs of shoes.

For a girl, the cost of going wrong with a shoe purchase is low, given the frequency with which she wears a particular shoe. Also her shoes don’t multitask, so she can afford to have a few pairs which are not exactly perfect fits, as long as they serve the purpose. She has this urge to shop for shoes, and with her monthly budget in mind she is naturally conditioned to not splurge on them.

So I was kinda horrified (not exactly, since this had happened a couple of times before) last weekend when Priyanka walked into a shop, picked up a pair of chappals from the shelf, dropped them to the floor, stepped into them for a few seconds and decided to buy them. They didn’t cost too much, so I guess the cost of going wrong was small, but I would’ve never done something like that.

Arranged Scissors 12 – Rejection Sharing Agreements

This is similar to the Klose-Podolski corollary to the Goalkeeper Theory. To refresh your memory, or to fresh it in case I haven’t mentioned this earlier, the Klose-Podolski corollary refers to a case of two close friends who decide to hit on the same person. The implicit understanding is that they don’t regard each other as rivals but blade together, and first get rid of all the other suitors before they engage in one last showdown so that the bladee picks one of them.

We came up with this corollary to the Goalkeeper Theory shortly after the 2006 Football World Cup, during which Klose and Podolki formed a cracking strike partnership for Germany. Later on, they were to play together for Bayerrn Munchen, but like most Klose-Podolski arrangements, they too ended up in bitterness with Poodolski (who scored the lesser number of goals among the two) publicly voicing his bitterness and finally transferring to his “native” Koln.

Now that the crazy digression is out of the way, let me get to the point. Today is the first day of Navaratri, and with the inauspicious “Mahalaya Paksha” having gotten out of the way, arranged scissors is back in full earnest. This also means that I re-enter the market, though I’m still yet to list myself (don’t plan to for a while at least. OTC is said to give superior valuations). And some casual conversation and some not-so-casual phone calls this morning, I have been thinking of the arranged marriage equivalent of the Klose-Podolski arrangement.

So basically, as part of this arrangements, two parties who are looking to hit the same side of the deal strike a deal to share “rejection information” with each other. “Rejection information” can be of the following two types:

  • Today I found out about this girl. She seems to be really good in most respects – good looking, rich, good family background, virgin and all that. But for some (usually random) reason, my son doesn’t want to marry her. Why don’t you try her for your son?
  • Today I found out about this girl. Talked to her, her parents, etc. Doesn’t seem like a good prospect at all. She is either ugly or too “forward” or her family background is bad. I think the chances of her getting along with your son is quite low. Don’t waste your time with her.

Note that both of this is extremely useful information, especially in an illiquid market. What is important here is the nature of people with whom you strike such agreements. The basic thing is that your correlation with them should neither be too low nor too high. Ideally, they should belong to the same/similar caste, should have a fairly similar family background, etc. but the boys shouldn’t be too similar. Yeah, I think that is a fair criterion – they should be as similar as possible in terms of “arranged criteria” but as different as possible in terms of “louvvu criteria”.

Basically if the correlation is too low, then you can’t really trust their judgment on counterparties. On the other hand, if the correlation is too high, then it is extremely likely that they turn out to be “rivals” and that if one party rejects a girl, it’s unlikely that the other party will like the girl. I supppose you get what I’m talking about.

One downside to such agreements that I can think of – it might cause bitterness later on in life, long after the goal has been scored. The feeling that “this guy married a girl that I rejected” or the other way round might come back to haunt you later on in life.