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Monday, August 13, 2007

One of our own

What motivated me to write again on this blog was a recent experience of a my close friend. My friend is a bachelor, like I was and has been looking for a wife. Recently, he went to California to meet a girl, that his parents had found for him. The girl in question is a highly educated individual who recently migrated from India. My friend had been talking with this lass over the past few weeks in order to get to know her better.

Now comes the interesting parts. My friend recounted to me that invariably all their conversations ended up revolving around the issue of hair. The lady obviously cuts her hair and she wanted to make certain that her freedom to do so would never be curbed. All fine and dandy. Well, kind of. But no, she wanted more. She wanted her hubby to trim his beard and better still, cut his hair, if he could. "Tussi dekhoge, tussi change disso ge" (You will see, you will look better). My buddy humored and decided to play along just to see where this discussion would go. And sure enough, the gentle diva did not want her kids to have long hair either. My friend felt disgusted and I felt bile rising in my throat as well when I heard this. All of this was completely unprovoked. Her marriage was conditional on the above mentioned terms. My friend was obligated to visit her in California because of his parents commitment but of course, the short lasting affair ended with a curt No.

Another beautiful instance of the state of affairs in our society. I have friends hailing from many different cultures. Nowhere do I see that people are so willing to disown their own culture and religion. This makes me really insecure about the future of my religion. If you look at it carefully, this young lady was keen to not only influence her husband's choices but also her kids. The way I look at it, there is an internal genocide going right inside our own homes. I hate to be the alarmist but I see only red flags.

I have had bad experiences finding women who will appreciate me for who I am. Luckily, I was able to find women who did just that. C belonged to a different culture completely and yet she accepted me for who I am. It is another matter that we did not end up together but like I said, I would always be grateful for her to accept me for who I was. WTB (wife to be) is again very receptive of my viewpoints and sees me for who I am and not everybody else wants me to be. But I am afraid, that overall, the pressure building up will erode away the dam and then there will be a point of no return. For some time, I had put these issues to the back-burner but listening to my friend's experience has brought back all the memories and anguish that I have felt for these issues.

It hurts....hurts like a SOB.

"I believe I can fly"....... and I did

First of all, I must thank those of you who have expressed interest in my other blog "Arranged Marriage". While I thought that I will like to share my experiences of this ride, lately I have started to believe that I would like to keep it a little more private for now. Everybody in this world commits mistakes. Our mistakes remind us of our frail humanity. There are some mistakes that one can rectify while there are other instances when one cannot go back and fix things despite how much one wants to. I am no different. However, for now, I believe that for the sake of other people's well-being, my experiences are better restricted to a few I trust. However, I will try to write every now and then on this blog. I know I have been going back and forth between commiting this blog to the ashes and reviving it, but some recent events have rekindled my interest in the matter and here I am.

Last month, I had an opportunity to visit the great country of Kanaieda (Canada). For the ignorant, a few facts about this country. Canada is home to a large population of Sikhs. Some sources have stated that Canada hosts perhaps the greatest population of Sikhs as a percentage of its population than any other country including Bharat (India). So, naturally, I was all excited to check out the veracity of these facts.

I landed at Vancouver airport one sunny Saturday morning and lo and behold, I was greeted by welcome signs in Punjabi. A wave of excitement rushed through my veins and I felt proud. After usual formalities, I met up with my friend and off we went to his beautiful house. I have not travelled much in my life but I could easily appreciate the fact that Vancouver was one of the prettiest cities in North America. Beautiful meandering roads, snow covered mountains in the distance and beautiful people on the street. I took a deep breath and let out all the stale pollution laden air of Houston that had filled my lungs for so long.

Over the next two days, another of my friends joined us and we roamed about in Vancouver like wilder beasts in the Serengeti. For some reason, I decided to do something adventurous in life. So, we hiked up Grouse Moutain, the tallest peak in Vancouver. Once up there, we were lured by the sight of a paraglider in flight over the lush green vales. This was too much to miss. So, casting away all fears, I decided to take the plunge.

At a height of about 1100 feet, I stood at the edge of the precipice, waiting for my turn. The air was clear and there was a weird tranquility around me. My pilot asked me to take my turban off so that I could put the helmet on. I felt embarrased for a minute as there were other people around. But there was no escaping the rationale of the move and so I bit the bullet. "Don't worry, it will travel with us." said the Pilot, matter-of-factly, as he stuffed it in his backpack.

A few feet in front of me was a hollow ready to swallow me. My pilot stood behind me, waiting for the wind to pick up. A few months ago, I would have never imagined myself doing what I was about to do. Jumping off a cliff with a piece of cloth to save my life would have appeared insane. Yet, today, I knew no fear. As I was lost in my reverie, my pilot shouted from behind me, "Run". And without a second thought, exhorted by his shrill voice, my legs started wheeling. I ran and dragged the pilot and the chute behind me. Suddenly, I was not looking down below but I was just fixated at the azure horizon. It was as surreal as it could be. And the next instant, my legs were moving in mid-air. I looked below and saw the majestic pine trees waving hello. I greeted them with a silent smile. "You are flying", yelled the pilot as the howling wind tried to strip the skin off my face.

I guess I should have felt fear. But I did not. What I did in the aloofness of the stratosphere was ponder. Yea, I am messed up. Images from the past few months flashed before my eyes. My confused mind was struggling to clear away the cobwebs of convoluted thoughts. Higher up in the sky, I hoped that celestial wisdom would be more likely to descend upon me. But as I was lost in my thoughts while absorbing the sheer beauty around me, the pilot screamed," Do you like roller-costers?". As I began to wonder the sheer timing of his question, I reflexively said,"Yes". And suddenly, we were circling around in a steep spiral, descending eerily into the valley. I realized what he had meant and I shouted,"I was joking."Too late", he replied but then quickly arrested our descent. "Good man", I complimented him and thereafter, it was smooth sailing to the football filed below. Throughout the flight, the pilot had managed to take pictures which in retrospect revealed some facial expressions I never thought my facial muscles were capable of producing. To sum up, it was fun ride.

The symbolicsm of the whole situation, however, did not escape me. I am about to get married shortly. An arranged marriage, whereby I will be commiting to spend my life with someone I have not known long enough. Don't get me wrong. She is fabulous but still, it is a leap in blind faith. Kind of like, jumping off a mountain, hoping that a piece of synthetic cloth and a few thin strings will keep you afloat. But hey, it works. I did not die. On the contrary, I had a ride of a lifetime. May be that was the celestial wisdom that descended upon me.

I believed I could fly......and I did.