Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oh Yes Abhi!

While the latest Pepsi campaign resonated the restlessness of emotions among the youth today, I think it can be equally extended to elders in matters of  pushing young men and women in their twenties into a marital commitment. And their impatience existed a long before Gen Y came to be known for it.

Till around six months ago, my parents and I were hounded by restless relatives to become active participants in the extremely competitive bride hunt that was on in the community for the few marriageable young women left. "Dus crore ki party hai, haath se mat jaane dena", said one aunty. Another tried to sow seeds of suspicion in their head "Kahin uska affair toh nahin? You know XYZ ke saath kya hua tha na?" And an uncle interrogated my parents trying to uncover why they wouldn't look for a prospect for me for an whole hour. I stopped attending any function that would get me in the audible range of one of these matchmakers. So then they had more advice when I accidentally ended up meeting them - "You should attend these functions. You cannot lay low and expect to meet prospective brides. You will fall back."

I am 26 and eligible. I would like to think I am suitably qualified and have an exciting career in front of me. I  also consider myself wise enough to choose my own partner. All the bare necessities kept aside, I am a romantic. I believe it is never too late to fall in love. I also think it is important to be committed to be in a relationship, but one need not be in a relationship to be committed. And the fact that I am not the only young man who thinks so should make parents and extended families  happy that there are 'kids' who don't just 'fool around' in matters of love. My parents know that.

My parents also knew I had chosen my partner  but they were not able to handle the constant nagging. Thus for their sake, I sealed my relationship with an official stamp of an engagement in October. We also called many of these aunties and uncles to showcase my 'find' and announce within my community that I was booked and no longer looking.

I thought that would be the end of their interference in what I consider an extremely personal part of my life. How wrong I was! The nagging continues to this day. Only the questions have changed -"When do you plan to get married?", "Why do you want to push it to three years later?", "What if she falls in love with someone else?". I strongly think some of these questions don't deserve an answer but I try not to reveal these feelings. I have thus far tried to politely answer to each of their queries, keeping my sarcasm in check.

And I also know when I do finally agree to get married, they would each have opinions on how I should get married, who I should call, where I should get married, what I should wear....some people are so jobless that they don't know how to mind their own business.

When I do finally get married, I will, like the last time, host a reception for each of the relatives to announce that I have crossed the bridge of nuptials. I will also treat them to an elaborate buffet, receive their gifts and put up fake smiles for the photograph. But all this will be strictly after the marriage is over.

 I don't want the glitter and glamour to affect the sanctity of the occasion. There should be no make up. There should be no dressing up. There should be no gifts or dowry. There should be no burden of expenditure. I don't want my fiancee or myself to put up a face. I don't want our parents to manage the 'show'. I don't want the materialism to corrupt the marriage.

Instead, the marriage should be in the presence of the basic elements - fire, earth, water and air. There should be blessings. There should be prayer. There should be emotions, real emotions. And most importantly, we don't need an audience for something as personal as a marriage for the two of us - only the closest family and friends, not by blood but by the strength of association.

It is only then I will say "Oh Yes Abhi" to the question of marriage. Is it too much to ask?

Song on my relatives' mind:

What it means to be free

I am standing at the edge of a cliff. I feel the wind blowing on my face.  I take a deep breath. I smell the saltiness of the ocean whose fragrance the wind carries with it. I decide to execute the plan that I have been coaxing myself into for over a year. I jump of the cliff, diving in the direction of the sea.

The few moments of the free fall overwhelm me with emotions. The thrill of adventure. The excitement of speed. The pressure of performing when the stakes are high. The fear of injuring myself.

 I am 20 feet above the surface of the water. This is the decisive moment. I pull open my wings. My speed is broken by their span. I change my course gliding over the surface of the water at cruising speed. I reduce my altitude so as to scratch the surface of the sea. The splashes of water on my face are refreshing. I am moving fast. I am moving in the direction of the light.  I am on my own. I am giving a dream its wings. I am free.

Song in my head:

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A life that will never be...

It is just another morning. I wake up. I have my routine egg, fruit and cereal breakfast with no sense of urgency or eagerness. I get the first call from my boss while getting ready for work, asking for a piece of data that he should be knowing but probably didn't need to know till his boss asked him. Unlike my initial days in the role, I tell him I will give it to him once I reach office. In the middle of the call, I remember there was an urgent closure that I had been chasing him for for the past few days. I remind him again. He tells me he will discuss it face to face in office. He says he will be there by 10.15AM.

As usual, I reach office by 10.00AM. I switch on my computer. While it boots, I update my white board with the tasks I need to finish today, three-fifths of them requiring closure from my boss. I finish checking the plethora of mails that come from two dozen people, deleting probably 30% of them which are inconsequential to my work, flagging the important ones that I will reply to during the day and feeling amused by the ones asking for the same set of data in different formats sent by at least six different people for the second time this week.

My direct reportees ( henceforth referred to as colleagues) come to work - weary at the start of the day. I cheer them up by showing them a photograph I clicked another day or sharing a piece of writing that inspired me. I chat up with them about their evening with their families, sometimes even offering them a morning snack. In the meanwhile, they give me a verbal update on the jobs at hand and highlight barriers that they are facing, if any. I address the concerns within my purview. I also share with them the  priorities for the day and answer any queries they have about the same. We start working.

It is 11.00AM. I receive a call from my boss asking me to come to his cabin. I find my colleague standing in his cabin. He is being scolded relentlessly for something without being given a chance to explain. Once I figure out what the discussion is about, I interrupt and ask him to step out of the room. Coolly and confidently, I repeat the same point that he was trying to make to my boss. My boss listens and clears the confusion he had. He reminds me to share the data he had asked for in the morning. I tell him it is ready and I will send it to him right away. I ask him for the urgent closure that I wanted, which he promises to resolve post lunch.

I continue working, talking to my colleagues in the field locations, chasing them for certain closures - some of them respond proactively, others need to be pushed and some simply don't care - too many people are driving too many agendas, they say. I receive my boss's call while speaking to one of them and as a rule, our team makes his call the top priority to avoid facing tantrums. I put my colleague on hold and respond to my boss. He asks me that he has just received a mail from XYZ (obviously his senior) on the status of an activity ABC. I tell him that was what I was seeking closure on from him for the last few days. He asks me to come to his cabin right away. I explain the situation to him. While doing so, he is interrupted by a call from his wife. I wait till he completes the conversation explaining his 9 year old son why he must 'punctually' do his homework . He then closes the matter with me and pushes the rest of my agenda for a later point in time.

We break for lunch. During lunch,  I receive a call from a member of another team in the head office asking me for the status of a certain activity whose details they think they had communicated to me. I tell them I was not aware that this was planned. They start giving me a piece of their mind on how I could not know what was happening with the apparently 'most important agenda' of the company. I calmly respond by saying we will discuss after lunch. The first thing I see in my inbox when I get back to my desk is a flurry of mails marked to my boss, his boss, the sender's boss, the sender's boss's boss and a host of other people whose existence I discover through the mail. My boss forwards one of the mails asking if the said accusation is true. I tell him it is, if he is assuming I have read one tiny line on the fifth slide of the seventh presentation in a 105 MB download. To resolve the matter, we plan a concall on the following morning involving all parties, which will probably have no conclusion yet again except a revised deadline.

I go back to my white board where I see I have struck of only two of the five agendas on my list today. I start working with a vengeance until I get a call from another team that reports into my boss, informing me of a development that falls under my scope of work. I discover my instructions have been overridden and certain spends approved in my budget without my knowledge by none other than you-know-who. I smile knowing it isn't as bad - at least this time I am aware the spends are going to happen before they actually happen, unlike the whole of last year. I just make note of the same and continue working.

I again receive a call from my boss. I am supposed to write a speech for him as he takes on his new role (in which he will again remain my boss) summarizing the achievements of the year that has gone by. As usual, he wants it immediately. I go back to my desk, pull out one of the gazillion sugar coated decks filled with convenient truths, write up a shoddy ten-liner and hand it over to him - wondering how a man at that position in the company can't come up with a short informal five minute introduction to his territory and team. While reading the speech, he nonchalantly curses one of my now former team members (who had won the president's honour in the company) who, as per him, was responsible for a costly oversight that, according to me, was as much a case of negligence on his own part.

I remain neutral while he continues his rant post which I tell him my closures are still pending. He tells me he has to leave at 4PM as he has important personal work (yet again). He asks me to travel with him on his way home so that we can close the pending tasks in his car. Left with the alternate option of wasting the rest of the day, I travel with him. I discuss everything on my list with him, knowing that he would probably not remember most of what I told him. I would have to repeat the whole explanation and sometimes even rework on the piece when he discovers the outcome of the points I acted upon.

I plug in my headphones, listening to my current favourite song on loop and head back home. I don't switch on my laptop again in the day.

Song on my Mind: