Monday, June 28, 2010

An Arranged Marriage- A story!

She sat watching herself in the mirror- expressionless!
kajal lining her beautiful eyes, a little glitter on her lips, a bindi on her forehead, long straight hair, arched eyebrows and a straight nose, a healthy skin and a healthy body, she matched every and any marriage proposal's claim!

The 10th or so boy and his family were seated in the hall. The snacks and the tea had been served.

She wasn't nervous anymore, she had no hopes, no enthusiasm.....she almost knew what she was meeting.

She wished she could skip the family meeting sessions and directly could meet the guy and talk to on one!

Her mother came to her, sat down in front of her, she held her hand, almost pleading, begging, " Barkha, beta , the guy is a MBA from a US university, his family is well educated, they are very nice people. He's very handsome.....they...."

" I know all that mamma!"

" Beta please.........please this time, have some patience beta!"

She stood up without a word and went out like she was some sacrificial goat! Her mother looked after her, and silently prayed!

She gave a faint smile to everyone watching her with admiration.....she kept her gaze low for a while and then looked up straight at the guy.....he was looking at her first, but when she looked at him so suddenly and unexpectedly, he looked down, almost shyly. She kept her gaze still on him, after a while he looked up again , in expectation that she was looking somewhere else, but when he found her still looking at him, he started looking around at other people and where they were looking. Barkha's mother nudged her, and she lowered her sight again!

They were both seated in their garden.

She was looking down, the boy was glad about that- her gaze had been scary!

"So.... ..well! Let me start the conversation.... I am Nikhil and I just came down 15 days back from the US because my mother said, it was time for me to you know, settle down.....and then they showed me your photograph and..........( he smiled to himself) look even more beautiful in person Barkha......"

Her expression did not change........he thought for a while that she was dumb and deaf!"

" Barkha.......are you listening?"

She was still looking down. "Yes!"

" Then....why are you looking down?"

She looked up, again that same sharp look and Nikhil almost regretted his last sentence.
" Because you cannot handle me looking straight in your eyes, what will you do with me in your bed?"

"Excuse me?"

" Nikhil......I really don't care about your MBA from US or anywhere, i don't care how handsome you are and how good your family is......all I care about is.....let's see, to start with- Whether you are man enough for me to be a woman to? Or else, what's the whole point?"

" And you don't think I am man enough? Why? You want some dara singh, some warrior? Which century are you in?"

"That's exactly what I want to ask you. What century are you in? Just getting big degrees don't make you any modern if what you expect out of a woman is the same old shit that our society has been expecting from us all this while."

" Girls like you should go for a love marriage!"

" I know....unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a man smart, intelligent and self confidant enough to have me as his wife. You all like the way I look, you see in me a good wife who can cook, bear your children and look after them, but when I open my mouth to speak my mind, you don't like it because it is not my job.......isn't it?"

Now, he kept looking at her, not angry, not shy, not scared but as if he was remembering something, as if some lost pieces were falling back in place.

" You all are so scared, so tied by tradition and culture, you have forgotten to be spontaneous and instinctive and likeable! You now, I can't tell you apart from the other boys I've met. Because you don't speak your say the things you are expected to say, the same old sentences, same reactions, same look......oh my god! Were you all made in some sort of a factory? Same model , just different look, different professions and families and pay checks, but so god damn slavish!"

He was thoughtful!

She stopped, she had done the same thing ones again.......she could not understand why she tried to give this knowledge to these fools....they would never get it! What a waste of energy, she thought.

" Are you finished talking?"

" Yes....Now you just do what you have to do, reject me. i don't care! I rather stay single then spend a lifetime with a factory product. i want a man- with a soul, not a mechanic!"

He smiled and this time she was shocked and surprised.

" What are you smiling at?"

" Barkha.....I totally agree with you......... "

She threw back her hands in desperation.

" Yes.....I really do.... maybe we are not meant for each other , but I do know someone who is. Because even he has been searching for someone just like you."

He opened his wallet and took out his card, jotted down a number and an e-mail id and handed it over to her.

" Joe Torres, he's my boss. The owner of the company I work for. He was also my classmate for the MBA . I know him very well, he's a very nice person , single and still waiting for that one girl who's out of this world. I don't think a girl like you would believe in religions or in nationalities. For a girl like you, probably a non Indian is the best choice!"

She looked at the card in her hands for a while, thinking, quiet!

"For a girl like you, a non Indian is the best choice!"- his words rang in her ears for a while....

" Thank you Nikhil, thanks a lot for guiding me in your own way. But I don't think you know me fully to say a thing like that to me. Yes I've different ideas, that normally an Indian boy would find difficult to digest but I think, if god has created a girl like me in India, there must be a boy to suit me somewhere in India. Not that I am strong on nationalities or's just that......I don't know Nikhil...."

She got up and turned to go back to her room......


She turned.

He went to her and held her hands,
" Confused aren't you?"
She did not answer.
" Do you know what you are doing? You are finding a fault in everything that is offered to you. Even if you do find a guy who comes the closest to your specifications, you will still reject him on some silly grounds. Open up Barkha.......the world is not black and white the way they tell us......there is no perfect man........this world is full of gray have your weaknesses and so do i have mine........But what is important is understanding, some maturity........Don't just use your brain anyway you can because god gave you that much sense, why don't you use it for better purposes. Come with me to the US, its a sea of opportunity. You are not the first girl I am meeting, I have been in a live in relationship with an American woman before. Take this chance with me Barkha, I know for sure, you aren't as difficult as you show yourself to be!"

She looked in his eyes, and he looked straight in hers- it was a match point!

" And of course even I don't want a boring something in my bed!"

They both smiled, for the first time, Barkha smiled shyly.....this man had made her feel shy!!

1 year later , they were married. The 1st time they had met, was the only time Barkha was most difficult...yes, she was highly carrier oriented and smart and vocal about her feelings, but so are many woman now a days. She just hadn't met a man who would accept her ideas, she wasn't a rebel, she simply thought so being in the company of wrong people.

When they went to the US, Barkha asked Nikhil one day, " You know Nikhil, I really want to meet this Joe Torres guy of yours and see how much similar to me he is!"

He laughed, " There is no Joe Torres."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One Night @ Chorla Ghat

Komal: A CA student, wildlife enthusiast, my classmate since 8th std, we've been together for many treks- in Goa and in the Himalayas. Quiet, generally non fussy, average in stamina, a team player! 

Sharvani: My best friend, non fussy, high stamina, high enthusiasm, when excited- talks a bit too much! a Bored CA final student  .
Janaki: Low stamina, high enthusiasm, when excited talks non stop whether anybody understands or not, suddenly turns extremely fussy when tired, a confused law graduate.

Sangam: Our wildlife expert that night. Supposedly knows the ghats inside out. A fellow Geminian, calm and composed, the only guy amongst us with a SLR that me and Sharvani eye all the time, I call him "Pappa."

 From Left: Sharvani, Komal, Gauri, Janaki and Sangam.

19th June: We spent the saturday night at Khokral, Maharashtra at Manerikar's Residence.

20th June: On sunday morning we visited a waterfall that was close by. We weren't tired since we hadn't walked too much and as I was to leave for Bangalore in 2 days, I wanted to do more than just 1 trek. So I , coaxed Sangam ( pappa) to coax the other 2- Komal and sharvani to come to Chorla Ghaat.

And so the adventure began....

Pappa had told all of us that it would be only a drive on the ghats since we reached late at around 6.15 pm when the sun was almost about to set in a few minutes time. The ghats in monsoons are foggy, wet, green and dark.

We crossed the Swapnagandha Resorts and the Wildernest Resorts in the Goan side of the ghat and crossed over to Karnatak side. The roads were bad, full of pot holes and at around 6.40pm, one of Estillo's tires gave up!

Apart from trucks and state transport buses, there were very few private vehicles passing by, mostly on their way back home on sunday night after a well spent day in the Chorla Ghats.

As the other 3 got down to changing the punctured tire, I spotted a beautiful and cute waterfall some distance away. It looked close enough to reach in around 15-20 minutes by foot. Pappa, knowing the area very well opposed the idea since the area is infested with leeches and other big and small known and unknown creatures, but poor thing couldn't do much  in front of the excitement of 3 girls who wanted to "Complete" their experience of a weekend with a bath in the spotted natural Jacuzzi!

And so we left the car near the main road, and trekked down to the waterfall. All we had were 4 mobiles which were all out of range, 1 umbrella with torch and a  jacket.

In the forests, as opposed to a rear view mirror of a car, images that appear close by are actually further away.

It took us 40 minutes to reach the base of the fall, the sunlight was almost fading, the fog was rising and Pappa was tensed about the safety of 3 girls.

When we finally reached the Jacuzzi, we couldn't dare to enter the water which in the dark looked scary, dark, mysterious and so was the rest of the forest....suddenly the horror of the situation seeped our brains about what Pappa had been telling all along.

"Pappa, we'll reach up to the road in time no?" I asked cautiously.
Pappa exploded!
"Don't you dare ask me this question girls have no idea how dangerous this area is at night.....!"
Janaki: "It's not night yet...we still have plenty of time to get back!"
Pappa: In the forest, when the sun sets, it is night! Understood?

We quickly took a U-Turn and decided to head back to the car. By now, there was no sunlight, thankfully it wasn't raining though it was foggy and there was sufficient moonlight that at least let us spot each other.

It had been almost an hour we were walking back and we hadn't reached the road. We could hear the vehicles pass by on the main road but could not find our way up. It was around 8.15pm when Pappa hopelessly declared: We are lost! 

This was followed by a long tense silence. Such statements have different effects on different people- Komal went into a shock, Sharvani started the blame game and I was over excited about the prospects of getting a new adventure experience.

Sim: Sangam you said you know this area well!
Sangam: Yes! That's why I begged you all not to get down the main road, but you wouldn't listen.
Janaki: Wow! We are actually lost! I remember that song , Is kaal kaal main hum kare dhamaal!
All: SHUT the F*** UP!

Another half an hour and we still couldn't track back our way up. And then it started raining heavily. We took some shelter under a huge tree. We were by then completely wet, my cell battery as always was out, I always forget to charge it. And it's my Sony Erickson that has the most powerful light facility, others all had their fading screen lights now to guide us.

While we waited for the rains to slow down, I thought it would be a good idea to entertain the others to distract them a bit. So I chose some special stories my grandma told us which I always found creepy.

Janaki: You know my Grandma once told me a story about this one girl who went out into the forest at night and the leeches sort of all attacked her and got on to her , you know in all creepy places in her body!

Komal suddenly started scratching her body all over...
" I don't think it's a good idea to stand in one spot for such a long time. We are inviting trouble with those leeches!"

Sangam: And while walking if you step on to a snake , then? At least the leeches are not poisonous!

Janaki: And do you know, how those leeches finally had to be removed?

Sim: Shut just shut up! Is this a kind of thing to tell at this time? You are scarring the hell out of us Janaki.

Janaki: Bravery lies in one's heart Sim, you either have it or you don't!
Sim: Yes I can see that! You are the one most protected with a full pant and a jacket. We are in 3/4th's here!

The fog was making it increasingly difficult to step anywhere and so we decided to spend the night under the  tree till favorable circumstances allow us to find our way. We all wouldn't dare sit down after the leeches story, so we stood in silence, watching the night eat up the forest , and the rain drops shunning all other sounds around us.

Suddenly in the dark, we could hear some sounds, the breaking of some branches, soft rustling of leaves.....My imagination started running wild, the party and the adventure excitement was now heart was beating so fast, I could hardly breathe. Sangam stood in front of us shielding us,  I was really scared so I chose to stay right besides Pappa, Komal followed me  , Sharvani remained at the back. While Sangam was trying to see into the dark with the little light that he had, Sharvani was subconsciously stepping behind in fear of what lay ahead!

Suddenly Sharvani screamed so loudly, we felt our ears go numb for a while. She ran in the opposite direction, Komal followed her saying "avois , avois" and other exclamations in konkani . There were sounds from all directions, and I did not know where to run but I knew I had to make a move, so I ran.

The figure that Sharvani  had spotted was a herd of Bisons and they were 10 times more scared than her with her screaming, they ran into the forest.

I kept running. Behind me, I could hear Sangam asking me to stop ,saying that it was just a herd of Bisons.  In a few tense moments I'd actually climbed a difficult terrain leading to the road.

I brushed through some bushes and branches and could see a house-like with lights in front of me. Others followed behind me.

Later we found out that it was some Gopi's Dhaba.

The dhaba was closed. We walked to our car, finished the job of changing the tire and the 4 of us cramped up inside the car to take a nap till dawn.

We woke up to the sweet whistling of the Malabar Whistling Thrush at around 5am, and started our journey back home.

I've been lost in jungles before, but there were more people and we were well equipped so the situation wasn't as bad as this one. Now that I am back on safe ground, I can look back at this experience and add it in my "Most exciting days of my life" List!

Some more clicks of our trekking days:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ami Gemini!

From the moment I've grown up enough to try and understand the world....I've always wondered why I am the way I am and have never come up with the right answer or explanation except one- I am a Gemini!

I have been amongst those who don't really believe in zodiac signs and astronomy, predictions and at times even the existence of God. But whenever life was turning upside down and there was no way to understand what was happening with me, I found solace in reading the behavioral traits of my zodiac sign!

Gemini- The 3rd astrological sign of the zodiac is shown by a symbol of twins!
June is the Geminian month , also happens to be my favorite month!

When I read Linda Goodman's book, I found Gemini's to be the most interesting of all the zodiac's.

For one, I have a dual personality, sometimes even more than 2. I can very well "act" to be 2 totally different types of people in the same day, back to back
- 1- a very shy, quiet, sari clad Indian woman and
2- a very extrovert, giggling , outgoing modern girl!

I'll go out for a function at 7 pm in a sari and at 10pm I'll be in some club dancing away the night!
In real I may not have been any one, at times I am true to both these characters- it all depends on the mood and the situation I suppose.

The worst outcome of being a Gemini is the fact that people find it difficult to understand and comprehend a Geminian. Especially the opposite sex. If you have a Geminian girl friend, that too one brought up with a free soul ( combined with the fact that Gemini is an air sign) you are doomed! One day she will be happy beyond measure , and there might not be even a reason for her happiness. The next day her mood is completely off, that too might be for no apparent reason!

The best thing about having a Geminian Girlfriend, they say, is that you get many for 1! You might not have an idea about how versatile a Geminian woman can be- Flirtatious, shy, traditional, modern, intellectual- she's all in one!

In my personal experience, I go along well with fellow Geminians. In general, Most Scorpions are my trusted friends- there are other zodiac signs but I don't have too much experience beyond just 1 person in each of those zodiac's who happen to be my close pals!

It takes me great difficulty to get along with Capricorn's and Libran's! ( My sister happens to be a Capricorn and it's tough on both of us to come to an agreeable platform!)

In short here's how I get along with different zodiacs:

Capricorn: Diagonally opposite to my sign. Opposites attract but this is a lethal combination! Stay out! :-)

Aquarius: Most astrology books say gemini's are perfect for Aquarius and vice-versa and I've seen this combination work for a friend of mine.... personally I've got along well with a few of them.

Pisces: We are cool!

Aries: We are cool but might need a mediator!

Taurus: The bull is fine with me as long as I don't mess with it, if I do, it sure kicks! ;-)

Gemini: My species! I understand them well, they understand me well! But when we both have the same things on our minds- disaster spells!

Cancer: Ummm.......We both want different things out of life, so it's best to keep safe distance!

Leo: I get along well with them as long as I let the lion walk the way he likes, and I've never crossed them so they are quite protective and nice to me!

Virgo: I don't understand them quite well to get too close!

Libra: They always like to keep the balance and I'm always out of balance, we can't stand on the same plane unless one of us is okay  falling off!

Scorpio: My buddies! They are quiet, listening types, understanding, good friends, very trustable! Supposed to be a very flirtatious sign but with me they are always friendly!

Sagittarius: Blunt and frank! I like these people cause they speak their minds and they never show you what they are not.

If your life is dull, boring and monotonous, go find a Gemini!
They always have something or the other on their minds!

If you want to learn more about human psychology and the working of a human brain, then I think a Geminian can just show you how difficult the task is!

I remember 1 song that can describe me best being a Gemini: And I'll end this post with it, It's a song by Nelly Furtado and it's called " I am like a bird".

You're beautiful...
That's for sure
You'll never ever fade...
You're lovely...
But it's not for sure
That I won't ever change
And though my love is rare...
Though my love is true...
I'm like a bird
I'll only fly away
I don't know where my soul is
I don't know where my home is

Your faith in me brings me to tears
Even after all these years...
And it pains me so much to tell
That you don't know me that well...

It's not that I wanna say goodbye...
It's just that every time you try...
To tell me that you love me...
Each and every single day I know...
I'm going to have to eventually give you away...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

On my Birthday...

Isn't it boring to simply do the same things on your every Birthday?
The same friends and family- a few new one's here and there but overall it's the same gathering!
The same menu- chicken, pulao,fruit salad- somethings change, but overall it remains the same!
The same cake cutting ceremony, and as you grow up you don't even play simply sit around and chat.....

As families grow and new members are added, every month you have a birthday to attend and it's all done in the same manner every year!
Birthday's are the most boring occasions to attend on my list now!

And I didn't want mine to be the same.

A few years back I decided I would make sure I travel on my birthday since I love travelling! And this year I decided I will spend my time the way I love it most- amidst nature!

I've often spoken about Netravali. This is some place I've been visiting for the past couple of years- whether it is for camps or just a quick get away. Being only an hours drive from Margao, Netravali is the closest destination I've found for relaxation and rejuvenation!

With a few close friends who love to trek and a few family members, we started early morning for Netravali on the 13th. Monsoons make Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary even a more beautiful place. And from the moment we started our drive, it had started raining!

Monsoon treks have an excitement of their own! Since we were trekking towards the Mainapi waterfall, the entire way is full of rocks , slippery , curvy, and full of dangerous rocks! Of course, I did not want to break a bone on my birthday but I did fall, as everyone else did!

I wished I could put up some snaps here, but my friend in the north has them all captured on his SLR and as and when I get them I'll surely put them up.

There was no lunch on this birthday, since the 6 hour trek that started at 10 am in the morning took all our time. Lunch consisted of some biscuits, chocolates, banana chips etc. The greatest form of joy came through the magnificent waterfall, the fact that we got all our privacy and we could practice diving and swimming in the deep green waters!

When I was back to the base camp- The Tanshikar house was ready with simple home made food and an Alphonso mango and loads of Ice cream!

The peace and the joy I experienced on this birthday was like none other I've ever experienced!

My apologies to all my friends and family who called on my birthday but either couldn't get through the call or I could not speak to them. Thank you for all your wishes and blessings!

But now on it's going to be a bit different... For the past several years I've had parties, lots of eating,playing, dancing and drinking and good clothes and make up! Now on it's going to be about dirtied and soiled clothes, no make up , no good food but lots and lots and lots of joy and inner peace and tranquility!

Try it....I am sure you'll like it too!

This year I turned 25!
A bit more mature, more understanding, more serious???


This 25th Birthday I make a promise to myself, as I get older, I'll get wackier, Crazier , gutsier and braver. I will do more, live more, laugh more and feel more!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reading "The Fountainhead!" ( Part 1)

I have been thinking of writing a post about something all these days but I haven't been able to concentrate on anything because I am reading "The Fountainhead!"

It's a big book and I've just started, but every page, every dialogue brings a storm in my thinking head!

After reading the first 100 pages I was simply awed, and asked myself, Why didn't I read this book all these years?  It looks like "The Book" I had been searching for, waiting for! 

I am still just reading it, so it will be better to say anything about it only when I finish!

But I couldn't keep away from blogging, Gosh I've missed this space and I don't like the heading " Why I killed Gandhi" all over my blog for such a long's time to move on to the next topic.....Gandhi is dead and so is let's talk about happier times...or anything else...

Before I sign off, the dialogues that touched my soul:

"Don't you know that most people take most things because that's what's given to them, and they have no opinion whatever? Do you wish to be guided by what they expect you to think they think ,or by your own judgment?"

" What do you want? Perfection?"
" - or nothing. So , you see, I take the nothing!"
" That doesn't make sense."
"I take the only desire one can really permit oneself. Freedom, Alvah freedom!"
" You call that Freedom?"
" To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing!"

Hats off to Ayn Rand!
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