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Friday, March 31, 2006

Color of Music

Of all the art forms, music is one which leaves the most to imagination. If you are reading a poem, you pretty much end up thinking what the poet wants you to think. If you see a painting, you might interpret it slightly differently from the artist but I don't think there is too much room for imagination. Music on the other hand is a whole different ball game. Two people might be listening to the same score and yet they will conjure up completely different sets of images. This is what happened last night.

C bought a CD of a rendition of Holst's Planets. We sat in the car listening to it. She told me that the music made her think of colors. A crazy splash of colors and hues in a rapidly changing progression following the sleigh of the conductor's hand. I, on the other hand, had different thoughts. She lay in my arms, listening to the music as well as the beating of my heart. After a few minutes, she drifted into sleep. I looked around. It was a clear sky and yet there were no stars in the sky. There was not another soul around. Nature stood still for a few minutes as my heart tried to beat in unison with the staccato and self-echoing theme of Jupitor. I closed my eyes and saw C's face when I had seen her for the first time. I opened my eyes and saw her in my lap, sipping the honey-heavy dew of slumber. I doodled my name on her arm with he childish hope that that simple act would make her mine. Emotions raged inside me only to fizzle out once the theme changed. She woke up and we parted with heavy hearts. Blissful eternity.

Anyways, back to other issues. Some of the people have commented that I lack confidence and that would explain my previous fiasco with women. They have tried to tell me that turbans and beards are no issues. I can only thank Amrit for illustrating the point that I have been trying to make. He is a quintessential example of young Sikh men who try to twist religion to suit their theories. But that is fine. All of us do that to some degree. The only thing that worries me is the amount of spite laden in his words. People who have chosen to wear a turban certainly don't deserve ridicule and least of all, be labelled "cultish"

Is White right?

Disclaimer: The following should not let anybody to believe that C and I have anything else besides dating going on between us. For the lack of a better word, we are in the "trial phase" with long ways to go before anything else. The following is just the flight of an imaginative mind which cannot help thinking aloud.

C is neither Sikh nor Indian. . In her own words, she is as white as they come. She also thinks she is a prude. However, she seems all right. A lot of people seem to think that we are the wrongest (if that is a word) people to be together. We come from completely different worlds. I was raised in a traditional Indian household where religion and family values were the predominant theme. She was raised in a conservative American Catholic household where I think religion and family values were celebrated with equal fervor. There are commonalities and yet there are differences.

Indian culture has traditionally delegated the role of home-maker to women. Indian men take great pride when their wives cook for them, take care of the house and raise the kids. This is irrespective of whether the wives work as hard as their hubbies to put bread on the table or not. I admit it. Indian men are lazy, chauvinistic pigs. We may pretend to be ok with our wives working or whatever. But we still like them to pamper us as spoilt kids. Many of my friends have warned me that an American woman would never be able to do that. They paint grim scenarios of me slugging in the dungeons of my kitchen with sweat oozing out of every pore of my body. They pick up the crystal ball and show me, lost in the meandering alleys of a grocery store trying to figure out which dressing to choose for the salad. And then they advise me to give up on my porcine love for Indian food coz she will never cook and all we will ever eat is salads and wine.

Implied in all these words of wisdom, is the supposition that I am trying to find a slave rather than a wife. Sure, I don't like to cook and sure I want to make more out of my life than figuring out which salad dressing to choose. I have big dreams and I will be damned if I am going to give up on those because I have to do grocery shopping. But little things in life are important and over time, they make the difference between a happy marriage and divorce. My problem is that I seek someone who will love me and for whom I can open up the reservoirs of love in my heart.If two people love each other and there is free and open communications, I think they can surpass any hurdle. I don't know. I am a hopeless romantic. Pragmatism is not one of my forte as yet. But for the love of God, I can't imagine not being with somebody because I will not get chicken tikka masala twice a week. And who knows. Maybe she will learn how to make chicken tikka masala and maybe I will learn how to make chicken Parmesan. Who knows?

The other big thing. Will our families accept us? When we make a decision to be somebody, it just doesn't affect us because there are so may other lives intertwined with our own. I can't speak for her parents but I know my parents will have a tough time in the beginning. There are going to be huge communication issues springing mostly from the diveristy of language and culture. But I know my parents. I can never see their hearts broken and I know they can't see mine either. If we work hard and try to love our elders, I think ,since they are much more wiser than we are, they usually give in to love and sincerity. Anyways, this is much further down the road.

C and I have been making a checklist of these commonalities and differences. Of course, this is being done without letting the other person know about it. Maybe I am just imagining things. Maybe I am an idiot and this is just another dream. But I sure don't want it to end.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Scalded from within

First of all, I am very happy to report that I have officially completed my first cooking exercise successfully. One of my friends (thanks L) had suggested that it would be a great idea if I were to bake a cake for C. You know it has that touch of personal effort that would hopefully make her feel special. And she assured me that it was not that hard a thing. So, I took her advice and went to the grocery story and brought generous supplies. I also enlisted the help of two of my other friends who were kind enough to render it. We drew up a few diagrams( from the best shape of the cake to the coordinates of the letters of her name), brain-stormed the whole idea and we argued passionately about the color of frosting and the font of the letters. We then came up with a plan.The plan was to bake two cakes sequentially-one as the primary weapon and the other as the backup. So there we were. Three clueless guys (some more than others) tryong to raise the dough so that one of us would fall in love. Brothers in aprons. With remarkable stealth, I was able to sneak in a few drops of love potion extracted straight from the oil fields of moi heart. Suffice it to say, everything went perfectly (to our surprise). C says she loved it and I blushed when she said it. Of course, she would not share her cake and so I had to go back and split the backup cake with my buddies. No complaints. It is all good.

Now, to other issues. Last time I mentioned one of my friends who had a bad experience in his love life. The poor guy had been married for a year and a half. An arranged marriage. Just what the book says. Two Sikh youth tied in Holy matrimony. Except that it was not a happy marriage. For whatever reasons, it did not work out. And during one of the arguments, she told him that she had actually never wanted to marry him because she never wanted to be with somebody with a turban and a beard and the only reason she did so was because her parents forced her to do it. My friend had a knife slice through his heart and his soul. He did not say another word and left the house. They have now been seperated for a year with a divorce in the works.

My friend is a strong guy and he has endured everything well. That is such a crappy way to end a marriage. I know when people fight, they say nasty things to each other to hurt the other even though they may not mean to do it. But then again, it was something that had been brewing inside of her for a long time and then when it came out, it did so with an explosion.

His story has only increased my disenchantment with arranged marriages. How can I be sure that the sweet looking girl that I will be marrying after knowing her for 30 seconds is not going to tell me two years into a marriage that she married me under pressure? There is no way to know that and that send shivers down my spine.

Marriage and religion, for Sikhs are intertwined in a complex nexus. More and more of us are rejecting others because of turbans and pagris blah blah blah with utter disregard to the real person within us. We are too caught up in issues that should not be given too much importance.
The whole thing makes me want to puke but I know that is not going to help anybody.

When I was baking the cake, we kept poking a knife through the cake to see if it was baked or not. I wish we could do the same thing with our religion coz although the cake was not scalded from within but I am afraid that we, are getting charred from inside out.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Kissed by a Rose

Years ago I had heard a song sung by Seal in a Batman movie. It goes something like:" Kissed by a Rose on the grey". Every now and then, the song would haunt me and I would hum it. It sounded nice but I never actually knew what it really felt like. Until now. Suddenly the words have acquired a larger than life form. They have floated out from the screen and seem to be flying out in 3 dimensions ever changing their colors. That is all I am going to say. The other thing I thought I would mention is the Spanish dictum:" A kiss without a moustache is like eating an egg without salt." And you know I have a really generous supply of sodium chloride. Enough said. But there is hope for us, Brothers. I also did some research on the art of kissing when you have a rather bushy moustache. There is not much stuff out there. My training in Science forces me to treat this as any other skill. I hope to master it soon and propose new techniques. "What a nerd!", she keeps telling me. Yup, that is right.

Anyways, I took C for a lunch with a few friends. There were friends, there were wives and there were kids. Overall, it was a good experience and I thought she liked it too. I am suprised that she thinks that the kids didn't like her too much. To my amazement, she thinks they like me a lot. Well, the reason is simple. To kids, I look like the Santa (Singh) in his teens. Kids are smart. They have
a better sense about people than adults.

For the past few posts, I have been focusing on my amorous affections. It is a fun thing and I am enjoying it. However, my religion and its issues are never far from my heart. The truth is that even though I am dating somebody now, I still have remnants of bitterness about the rejection of the turbaned Sikhs by majority of Sikh women. One of my very close friend related a personal poignant story which, I am afraid, I cannot tell until I have his permission. My own story is not that different. I will elaborate on this in the next post.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Love, Actually

People have written tomes about what Love and such related feelings are. As naive as I am in these matters, I thought it might be a good idea to document my current feelings now and maybe revisit these a few months later. Frankly, I do not fully understand the artificial compartmentalization of these feelings. Sure, I have had infinite "crushes" in my lifetime and most of those are ephemeral feelings based on isolated attributes of a person like attractiveness or personality but that dissipate in due time without getting the fodder of effort and thought. Then, there have been times when I thought I am in Love without really understanding what that meant. Most of those cases were really "unrequited Love" which also faded away after being diluted with the tincture of time. I have never really ventured beyond those and hence I think I am on uncharted territory now.

People have put the fear of God in me regarding uttering the L word. God forbid that this word should come out of my mouth till about 6 months have elapsed into a relationship. But what really is this L word? What is so forbidden about this apple that I can't have it now?. Surely, it is not defined by the degree of hurt that one feels after being forsaken coz surely enough I was hurt like crazy even though it was too soon for me to be in "Love".

This is what I feel these days. When I am with C, I feel good about myself. She makes me feel special. I don't think she makes any extra effort to do that but for some reason it works for me. I understand that this is a very selfish reason to be with somebody. I mean, does it always have to be about me?. The other day she asked me if that was because this is my first time being close to somebody. I think that has a lot to do with it. And that actually reminds me of Shiv Batalwi, a renowned Punjabi poet, who wrote:"Mein kandayli thor ve sajna, oogi vich ujara"( I am but a thorny cactus in the desert of Agony). Maybe I was like that cactus who suddenly got a few drops of Ambrosia and is now trying to bloom flowers of myriad colors. That is indeed a very reasonable explanation. When I am with her, I feel "accepted" and "cared for". And hence I wish to do things that would make her feel special too. I already think that she is special. I only have to show her that.

Overall, this is actually also a scary notion. Because what that means is that with time this initial euphoria will settle down. I started out having a crush on her and then someway down the road, this transitioned into a mix of ecstasy and gratitude because I never thought that this crush, unlike many others, would ever see the light of the day. Now, lies ahead the daunting task of falling in Love. Actually, I hope that I rise in Love rather than fall. But truly, I don't know how that will feel. People tell me that with time both of us will start to see each other's flaws. With time, the fine print will become magnified and we would know the knitty-gritty and the quirks of each other's personalities. She will find out if I snore at night or not and if so, how loudly.(BTW,for the record, I don't) and I will find out if she can take care of me or not. And then one fine day, if we decide that we are ready to accept each other's flaws, we would have fallen in love. And of course, after that we will have to deal with the "M" word. However, if for some reason, it is not working out we would know that too and we would say that it was never meant to be. I don't know how that will all go but I hope to experience a whole panorama of feelings and emotions.

I do not know what her reasons were when she decided to go out with me. She wouldn't tell me but that is ok. I do not know how she feels about the whole thing either but that is the enigma that I have to break. Either way, it has been a good ride so far and that is what matters.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Box of choclates

A few days ago, somebody commented that break-ups teach people more about themselves than anything else. I think that is really the case. The past few days I have been reflecting on my life (if you don't know it by now,that happens to be my favorite hobby) and I have discovered so many new things about myself. Growing up on James Bonds movies, I, like many other young guys, dreamt of being a smooth player with the ladies. I too hoped that one day I will just walk into a room and then whisper something in a pretty girl's ears and the next moment,we will be smooching and making out. It is another story that my life went in a different direction and I did become a sleuth but of a different kind.

I had heard too much about this dating game but never had actually played it until now. And I found out that I was no player. More than that, I found out, some might say to my chagrin, that I no longer want to be a player. I found out that I am a regular Joe who just wants to share his life and his dreams with a special lady. I had the honor and pleasure of spending a magical week with somebody I consider special. But when she told me that she was going to leave me, I really did not know what I was going to do. I was at my wit's end and thank God, I have good friends who helped me recover. Anyways, it dawned upon me,that after spending just ten days with a person if I can get so hurt, what were to happen if this would have been a year or a two year affair? I am really surprised now when I hear about people who break-up after four or five years of marriage. I admire their fortitude and their courage. I understand that after a while, people do get bored of each other but still I can't imagine the pain and agony. I have made up my mind that this dating game is certainly not my cup of chai. If I am going to make the effort and expend the energy of making a relationship work then it rather be my marriage than a relationship that is so frail as to break apart by the faintest gust of wind. I just don't have the emotional strength to withstand these emotional tornadoes. I just can't put together a nest for myself and then see it plundered. Nope, that is just not me.

Anyways, it was a unique experience and taught me a lot about myself.Somewhere in my heart I knew I would get over "it" even though I would never be able to get over her.

Also, some people advised me that sometimes one need not volunteer too much information about oneself, which in turn means that it is ok to lie. I was kind of mad at myself because telling the truth had made me lose her. But when sanity came back, I realized that I could not build the castle of my relationship with the mortar of falsehood. I was honest to her and if I had to pay for that such a hefty price then so be it.

As I write this post, I remember the words of Forrest Gump:"Life is a box of choclates. You never know what you will get." . The good thing is that I apologised to C and I explained my position to her and like the special lady that she is, she actually forgave me. So, we are friends again and hopefully we will know each other better to know if this could turn into something magical. I know this sounds like dating and this kind of appears contradictory to what I said above but for C, I am willing to give it a try. I hope in the next few weeks we will both know which way we are heading. If this works out (and I pray to God that it does), great. If not, then I am going to wait a month and purge myself of all emotional baggage and start my life afresh.

See, Harry is growing up. I am kind of sounding mature to myself. I know my friends would be proud of me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Lessons Learnt

Getting dumped is not a good thing. If not anything else, it is certainly not good for your heart. I wish they had come up with a good painkiller to take the pain of a broken heart away. Till they do that, I will have to keep enduring it. Anyways, it is not that bad. I think C has been right all along. I was seeing smoke where there was no fire. In a rush to discover "chemistry", I was pouring forth chemicals left, right and center. It was only a matter of time that I had to be burnt. The other mistake was the "honesty" angle. It seems like I never learnt from Jerry McGuire. Like him, I think I ate a bad sandwich and voila, I developed scruples. When she told me that she hated liars, that statement stuck in my heart like a flag-pole. Everybody has a few skeletons in their closet. When girls ask you about those, it is never a good idea to open the closet door. They will never like it. I am not proud of everything I have done. But certainly, I do not deserve to become an "untouchable" for it. Anyways, it is a lost cause now. When two people are struggling to have a conversation, the writing on the wall is loud and clear:" It ain't gonna work out". At the end, I would still like to thank her for giving me so many happy memories. I extend warm wishes to her and hopefully when our paths cross next, both of us are with our partners. Now the lessons:

1. Companionship and affection are worth the pain they engender. The last few days had turned my life upside down. An eternal bachelor that I am, I actually started thinking about responsibilities and working to make somebody else happy. I am not a morning person. But it made me happy to wake up an hour earlier so that I could give her a ride to work. She never asked me for it. I just felt like doing it and I enjoyed doing it. There were other small things here and there which I thought would probably make her happy. It is as if we have it hardwired into our psyche. When you care about somebody, you start thinking about that person more than you think about yourself. This is not peculiar to C but I know I will have probably done the same for anybody else too. It was indeed a satisfying experience. So, I know that I probably should not be afraid to give up my freedom. The shackles of marriage are cast in velvet and not in steel.

2. Dating is a tough cookie. I was fed up with the whole arranged marriage fiasco and thought it was probably a better idea to fall in love with somebody before actually marrying her. Well, I don't know if that is kosher either. Dating does involve a fair degree of emotional investment and when somebody is reckless like me, that investment is actually substantial. No doubt one could recover from it. But I don't know if I have the stomach for this ride. One day you are at the top of the world and the next moment you can taste the sand in your mouth. It would be nice if people could express their feelings upfront. But usually they save all the bile for the last minute and then it is not as much fun. So, I am reconsidering my decisions. My friends tell me that this is the least conducive moment to decide that but I think maybe it is the most propitious. Maybe now I can make a decision that otherwise would take me for ever. I am thinking strongly about going back home and marrying the next girl my parents want me to marry. We will see how that goes.

3. Honesty is not the best policy.

4. It hurts too much. I hope the balm of time starts working quickly. I wish I could take a strong laxative and purge myself of all the crap I had loaded unto myself. Sometimes I think I should call her. But I know that it is a lost cause. I think it is best to do what I have always done. Study, work and pray. I know I will climb out of the hole. Hopefully, it is sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

And then there was the Titanic

For the last few days, I was actually surprised. It had seemed like my luck was actually changing. But hey, I know me better than anybody else. A few minutes after writing my last post, it all fell apart. God finally pulled a Titanic on me. It was not totally unexpected (or that is what I am going to tell myself). I was trying too hard anyways. Sweet are the fruits of labor. Well, not always. The lady expressed her inability to continue to have anything to do with me. And when I asked,"Why?", she responded by saying,"Why do guys always want to know that?". Well, it is kinda important. We take "no" personally and would like to know the reasoning behind that. Nobody in this world is perfect. We all have flaws. Some are ashamed of those. I wear mine proudly like a badge of honor. And by the way, when girls tell you they want you to tell the truth, they are lying. Trust me on that.

Right now, I am kind of adjusting to the whole thing. I think I will be in a shell for the next few days. Hopefully, when the weekend arrives, I will be in better shape to go out and party. "Take it like a man, boy", I hear my brain telling me. Somewhere on my heart, however, there will be a crater called "The C depression". A crater that I will cherish for ever.

Sleepless in Houston

I have not been able to get any good sleep for the past one week. Ok,this is not a whine. This past week was one of the best times in my life. Of this time, I have spent a small fraction with C. The rest is spent in waiting for the next moment that I will see her. Each second of this wait feels like the fangs of a monster immersed deeply into my heart and I can feel them sinking deeper and deeper with each tic of the clock. A few weeks ago, I had never dreamt anything like this would ever happen to me.

I am a grown-up man (or so they say). I am supposed to exercise sufficient restraint over my emotions so that I could appear to be in control. But somehow, I find that a harder and harder proposition. I just can't stop her images from invading every crevice of my cerebral repository. Her smile, the sight of her bouncing hair as she walks on those flighty steps, her whispers and the feel of her hand in mine. Good God!. Have mercy on thy servant.

I know,I know. I have heard of infatuation and passing fantasies. But clearly, my illiterate heart has not heard of these scholarly terms. That poor thing can't tell the difference between what is transient and what is supposed to last longer. Ordinarily, affection and love derive their strength from long term familiarity between people. Over time, people become acquainted with each other's innards ( or so they think) and then one fine day, they fall in love. The initial physical attraction withers away and out emerges from the cocoon, the monarch butterfly people call "love". I am all too familiar with those concepts and I do believe that they must be true. However, my parched mind does not respect those delineations. Maybe it will cool down after a while. Maybe I will become saner and grow out of it and then will have the smoother more pacified color of "love" over my heart instead of the cacophony of colors that it currently has. Maybe so but right now I am loving the chaos.

But truly, I have never felt this way about anybody else. I don't know what norms or what protocols of behavior I am supposed to follow. Even if I knew them, I would have turned a blind eye to them.

I am sleepless in Houston and I am loving it.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Analyze this

Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there lived a boy called Harry. Harry was a dreamer, lost in reverie about one thing or the other. With God in his heart, Harry embarked upon a journey to find the philosopher's stone that will turn his dreams into reality. On the way, he saw a few sirens. He walked upto them and carved his heart out of his bosom and presented it to them. But to no avail. He was snobbed away and Harry became bitter and bitter. In his anguish, he let out a howl steeped in yearning and pining. And then something happened. The desert suddenly changed into a land of purple flowers. Harry looked around and from yonder, he saw an angel walking towards him. Harry was surprised. He wondered if this was another siren. She came close and Harry was mesmerized. Harry could not believe what was happening to him. Unknown to him, years of struggle and solitude had erected walls around his soul. The endothelium of his heart had undergone metaplasia to a thick layer of squamous cells, all in an effort to lessen the hurt that he had become so used to. And now, when she was right there, he was bemused.

He saw her dance under flickering lights. Sheer magic, he quipped to himself. Her sinewy movements were like the motion of a poet's pen on paper composing poetry.

He held her hand. He whispered words into her ears. She squeezed his hand in silent acknowledgement but never said anything back. Trivial gestures that would probably escape the eye but which were drilling holes into the cuticle around his heart. Wild emotions raged through his heart much like the charioteers of Rome. His heart was under assault from both within and outside. He struggled to keep it all hidden away lest he should appear too vulnerable. All futile attempts because he is such a miserable actor.

She quizzed him:"Why are you so quiet today?". To which he had no good answer for he had the vaguest idea himself. But his situation was kind of like the mountain climber who had scaled a 14,000 feet peak. He wants to scream in joy yet the low oxygen concentration in the thin mountain air prevents him from expanding his lungs. Turmoil within but no way to vent it out. He tries to let it all out but he just can't. Helplessness at its glorious best.

Harry worries about his future. He had been a perfect loner. Will he be a perfect partner as well?. Carpe diem, he tells himself. "Live in the present, boy" and "For God's sake, stop thinking", he keeps telling himself. He promises to try to do it. All he knows is that God is with him and there is nothing else he shall want.

For a man with 27 years under his belt, I am afraid I just have too much growing up to do. I wish Life were simpler.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

An evening to remember

There are times in one's life when one feels the need to close one's eyes and thank God. Yesterday was one of those days. Inspired by all the comments and by other people, I had finally mustered up enough courage to ask a very special lady out. It was an awkward question and I found myself fumbling for words (I was surprised too. Usually, I don't have to look for words), but I took the plunge. I could almost hear her say "nah" but she didn't. She , very graciously, accepted the invitation.

So, yesterday was my date with her. Yup, you read that right. It was a date with a capital D. For reasons of confidentiality and because I am kind of superstitious, I cannot divulge any more details. Suffice it to say, it was real life better than fiction. But the best part is the after-thoughts. Hours later, when I opened my car door, her fragrance was still lingering inside. The fragrance that split the atoms of my soul into a million rainbows. My heart went into fibrillation briefly but luckily it came back. A slide show of the images, from earlier that day, began in rapid progression in my mind. Random snap shots that had engraved themselves on my heart forever. The image of her walking towards my car from an acute angle. Kind of like a lethal projectile homing in on its target. Except that its payload was what Wordsworth could not possibly crytallize in words. Then an image of her looking out the window into a dark street and of I trying to drive and struggling to steal a few glances. No wonder I lost my way a couple of times. And then the image of her smile as she left.

I had read about "depersonalization". It is a phenomenon when one feels like one is floating outside of one's body and observing one's own self from the outside. Never before yesterday, had I ever thought that it really existed.

I was going to tell her all these things in person. I still am going to tell her a lot more. But of course, there is that initial hesitation. The fear of uncertainity and of the unknown. I am sure it will all melt away. Anyways, I know she is going to read all this. I hope she doesn't chide me but even if she does, I won't mind.

But any way, it was an evening to remember for ever. Thank you, C.