21 July 2010

Romance in High Gear- Epilogue and A Week of Extravagant Valentine Offerings

Dear All,

Where shall I start? Well the visit to the numerologist and a tarot reading remained pending... But I was still licking my wounds in the aftermath of the meeting with PLINBH and couldn't quite muster the enthusiasm for either. Although my anger had subsided by the time I was released from the purgatory that was that meeting, and I was almost hysterical with laughter- most probably from the sheer relief- as I had walked to the car, it had made me rethink why I had even agreed to meet the man and made me reflect that the tables always ended up being turned on me! As some people did not fail to remind me I had been expecting too much, which was something I couldn't quite wrap my head around- was it too much to expect someone to be truthful on their profile? Am I the only person to describe myself as being fat on my matrimonial profile?- I sure as hell haven't come across anyone else to do so although the photos tend to betray frames better described as being 'on the healthy side' (!).

I had in the meanwhile declined an interest sent me by 111 (I had started assigning them numbers according to the sequence in which I had declined their interest) but ended up meeting him anyway- such is my luck! 111 sent me an interest on the Valentine's Day weekend. "Matrimonial website" in their wisdom and efforts to market true love and romance, all of which are clearly passing me by (sigh), had introduced the innovative (ahem) idea of allowing all members to send off free 'e-gifts' with their messages. Thus, I was the lucky recipient of a couple of gift boxes (empty, most probably), four (yes, I kid you not) roses, an e-teddy bear and a song ('jaane kyun' from 'Dil Chahta Hai'- a touch cynical if you're looking for love?!). One of said gift boxes had been sent by 111, with a note saying 'Liked your profile. Would be a pleasure to know more abt you. Plz be in touch to proceed. tc 111'- as an aside, I really go for the authoritative tone they all adopt when instructing 'to be in touch'...not! 111 seemed familiar and I almost instantly recalled meeting someone of the same name in connection with the work that I was doing then, but I dismissed the idea it might be the same person since it just seemed like too much of a coincidence. I went on to read his profile where he proclaimed that he was on his way to setting up a globally recognised billion- dollar organisation and was a serial entrepreneur (which of course I read as killer because really, what else could he possibly be?). He said he'd published a book, was into theater and wrote poetry...I couldn't put this together with the man I'd met, but since there wasn't a photo I couldn't be sure (and I had now learnt my lesson about 'profiles with no photos'). So I sent off a photo request- to which I received no response. Anyway, in keeping with my new, generous, matrimonially-inclined persona I decided to give him some time... to no effect. 

A couple of weeks later I happened to be scanning job postings on a website and the first one was for a position at a certain organisation, which I decided to check out of curiosity. No prizes for guessing- it turned out to be 111's organisation and a sister concern of an organisation that was also involved in a project I was working on. I went all investigative and found the link that said 'TEAM' and sure enough 111's bio was posted there with remarkable similarity in the style of writing and some content and indeed, he had published a book. At this point given that on the one occasion I had met him, I had not been remotely interested in this person (someone I know described him as very un-yummy!), I thought it only fair to put him out of his misery and respond to his interest in some way- so I promptly declined him. This seemed very wise up until the point that I got a call from a third person requesting me to attend a meeting with them and 111! At this point I was somewhat frantic- there was no way I could not attend the meeting but I had no desire to come face-to-face with a man I had so unceremoniously declined just the week previously (and surely he would know me since I had boldly posted a photo on my profile!). Anyway the meeting went as planned and since it turned out that 111's team would be working with me briefly I went to his office as well to meet them. On the way over, he wanted to know where I was from and other such trivial details- but given my somewhat (!) suspicious nature I was convinced he was attempting to make subtle enquiries and I was giving nothing away! BTW in the interest of full disclosure- 111 said he was 5'7" whereas he's 5'5" with the headgear and hairstyle so lets subtract 3" to get the real height! Of course, I was faced with the fact that if anything were to go wrong in the project I was working on I would have had to shamefacedly confess all to my supervisor- aaaargh! The work went ahead with no further inauspicious meetings and I was all done and dusted.

Although I thought this was the end of the matter I turned out to be wrong. It seems that men on matrimonial sites, and I am not sure whether they are the same or a different species from other men, do not seem to follow the adage of 'once rejected, twice shy'. I had, in the hope of increasing my chances of meeting someone appropriate, posted my profile on a couple of websites but all this really resulted in was I tended to run into the same undesirable characters on both sites! 111 was one of the many- and he either did not recognise me from one site to another or was living in the fervent hope that I wouldn't recollect that I had declined him a month previously on another site (the mind boggles). So there sitting in my 'requests' was still another identical missive from 111. I pressed the 'reject' button as hard as I possibly could hoping to convey (unsuccessfully, most probably) exactly how un-anxious I was to pair up with him!

Yours, swimming in Valentine riches!-

08 July 2010

Romance in High Gear- Pt II or PLINBH!

Dear All,

So I left you all at the point where I had agreed to meet PLINBH. Before I get to the actual meeting let me tell you bit about matrimonial profiles on these (hideous facilitative) websites. There is a section where the lamb to the slaughter person writes about themselves, in which they describe their physical appearance, cultural background and family according to a template; then there is the empty field in which they can say whatever drivel they like about themselves; finally there is a section about what they would like in their desired victim partner; oh and of course, how could I forget?- the photograph album! The problem with all of this, of course, is that everyone would like to put their best foot forward and I, being the critical (you would never guess, would you?!) person that I am, tend to read all these profiles with a generous fistful of salt, always attempting to decode and deconstruct the language of these matrimonials, breaking them down to their true meanings- if indeed there is such a thing. I am always amazed by the monotonous same-ness that they tend to display; but that shall be material for another rant post.

You might recall my saying that there was no photograph on PLINBH's profile. I was never quite sure how to read this. I mean how can you possibly have any chemistry with someone if you don't find the person attractive and to that end the photograph is quite crucial; and of course, I am convinced that anyone without a photograph is definitely hiding something! So, no photograph; he said about himself that he was five feet-ten inches and his build was average- as I said nothing objectionable there. At some point I requested a photograph, pointing out that as he had already seen mine it seemed only fair that he share one too. The response that I got went something along these lines 'Let me surprise you!' Oh dear, in my experience surprises usually did not work out well for me. I asked him, only half-jokingly, whether he was hiding something to which he asked, somewhat defensively I thought, if I was worried that he was ugly! I wanted to say 'YES!' but being the nice, and not always critical, person that I am, I refrained from being so honest; honesty in any case being a highly over-rated virtue in my most humble opinion. I did try once more on the photo front asking how I would recognise him when we would meet to which the predictable response I got was 'Oh, don't worry because I'll recognise you.' Don't worry? Don't worry?!

I was now beginning to have a really bad sense about this upcoming meeting I had committed myself to. What's that saying about acting in haste...? Friends whom I had informed about this meeting-  you know, just so they would know to inform my parents and the cops in case he turned out to be an axe-murderer and I didn't resurface in a couple of hours- tried to reassure me that it would turn out fine. One kept insisting with a completely misplaced sense of optimism that he would turn out to be- and I quote- 'drop-dead gorgeous' (wasn't sure if that meant that I would drop dead); another friend asked why I was worried that he might not be attractive when I had clearly not chosen to accept his interest on the basis of his looks; and still another said I should look at the bright side since he was at least good at communicating. And these were my friends! By now, however, in good Indian tradition I had resigned myself to my fate.

And so on a lovely sunny late winter's afternoon at the end of February- the kind of somewhat cool afternoon you can still enjoy before the dusty winds of March engulf Delhi- I set forth to meet this man who seemed by now convinced that he would make me his wife. Since we lived at opposite ends of Greater Delhi (and anyone who knows Delhi knows that I actually mean opposite ends of the world) we agreed to meet halfway at a popular marketplace. He said that he would be waiting close to the cinema in said marketplace, keeping an eye out for me and I was to give him a call once I was there. I got there and as I entered the marketplace, where half of Delhi had descended to enjoy the last of the good weather but really also to witness my ordeal (which by now I was convinced was what it would be), I gulped one last time, still wondering whether I should make a run for it.

As I started getting closer to the cinema I kept my eyes peeled for a single man who looked like he could be waiting for me- optimistic I know, but I was pretty certain that I would know, just don't ask how. I remember this very vividly so indulge me while I go into graphic detail. Since he had said he'd be near the cinema I dialed him as I got closer and just as I did that I saw this one man- paunch hanging over his jeans, balding, about an inch shorter than me and very grim looking with his eyebrows meeting across the bridge of his nose. What gave him away was the oh-so-sinking sensation in my stomach... and I knew, I just knew that it was not to be my lucky day. The only coherent (!) thought in my head was 's**t! s**t! s**t! Please let it not be HIM!' And at that very moment three things happened; he saw me (why? why?); he made eye contact with me (why, oh why?); and he looked down at his phone to see that I was calling him. He looked back up and said 'S'; it wasn't a question- he knew, and I felt rather like a deer caught in the headlights. I tried to smile- I could feel my face breaking with the effort because all I felt right at that moment was anger- and said 'Hi, yes. You must be PLINBH.' And all the while my only thought was 'You liar, you bl**dy liar.'

I felt like I was walking in a daze as we decided to go to a cafe and chat, all the while thinking that this was my nightmare come true; I felt as though the entire crowd was watching me (and him) and the thought made me cringe. It was all downhill from there. The conversation was sparse, he barely laughed and when he did he still looked grim, and he talked again about family values! I, on the other hand, felt as though I was going to howl at any moment. At one point when he excused himself to go to the men's I frantically tried to send an SOS to a friend but he was too quick. I endured this mind-numbingly boring conversation for over an hour, telling myself that I had to be sure I was going to turn him down for the right reasons, because the turning-him-down part was no longer in doubt!

He did say at one point that we would have a lot to talk about on the phone that evening to which I could only bring out some strangling noise. He got the hint though and said we could talk the next day when I said that it would be good for both of us to think about things properly. He called the next day to ask whether I saw 'a road ahead together' but I was happily preoccupied with work (probably the only time that has happened) and I said I would call him back; as I was staring at his number, thinking of how I could phrase what I had to say without causing offence, my phone beeped with a message- 'You have not called. I take it that is no!' Ouch. Since this message immediately put my back up I refrained from replying that very minute but I also felt it unfair to not reply at all- everyone deserves to have some sense of closure because every encounter does raise your hopes. Although my mean side wanted to say in response to his 'road ahead'- 'no we have reached a T- junction and we should go in opposite directions!', I knew that was uncalled for. I finally replied saying I was sorry that I saw no future with him and wished him the very best. 

...And that was that.

Yours, in very low gear indeed!

27 June 2010

Romance in High Gear- Pt I

... Or so my horoscope (horrorscope?!) would have me believe, Dear All. 

Since romance didn't meet me halfway in spite of the high hopes fostered by said horoscope, a friend decided to take me in hand and drive me to her numerologist. But the thought of surrendering my name to molestation by numerology in the hope of 'snagging' a man seemed a step too far- I mean really, there was no way I would ever remember to add the two more S's and the five A's to my name! Or maybe I'm being too skeptical, after all it was again a week of many 'interests'. As an aside, do note how well I've been submerged in the jargon of matrimonial websites; 'interest'; 'accept/decline'; 'favourites'; and my all-time favourite- 'your e-matchmaker matches'!

To return to the question of interests they were mostly the usual mix of men seeking 'adjustable wives'- which always brings to mind, I don't know, adjustable bookends or something- and women who are the 'perfect blend of east and west', which always recalls the blend that's in the teapot! All to be rejected. At some point while rejecting these I did question my instinct and ask myself whether I ought to let a few through because maybe, just maybe, some people might not be great at expressing themselves in writing a good profile and I should cut them some slack. So, somewhat at random (I know, I know, what was I thinking!), I let a couple of them through my very strict 'accept' guidelines, and herein lies a story.

So there was this very short profile with no photograph, which in itself should have set off the alarm bells. The profile which did not say very much about the person was written without any glaring errors (okay, I admit I'm one of those nit-pickers who can't help noticing when people do not know the difference between 'then' and 'than'- I was born that way, with dysfunctional genes!) and otherwise seemed harmless. I couldn't come up with a reason to reject it so I accepted. I wrote back, as I always do, saying I would be happy to hear from him and here was my number. I got a text within half-an-hour, with his name- let's just call him 'Please Let It Not Be Him!' (PLINBH for short) and you will discover why soon enough, and requesting me to call whenever it was convenient for me. This was definitely an improvement from Mr.Fudge and I called him shortly thereafter when I felt the need for a post-prandial break from work. He was pleasant but right from the start it was obvious that he was quite seasoned at this.

So after the initial, oh-so-awkward pleasantries and long pauses with lots of 'umms' and 'hmms', exchanging names etc. he got right down to business; what did you like about my profile so that you accepted it? Since I could hardly say that I only accepted because there was no reason to reject I umm'd and well'd and just let it pass. The next question- how serious are you about getting married?- I answered this one best as I could given that this was starting to feel a bit like the Spanish Inquisition (was this a portent of life with an accountant?). But to my credit (!) he seemed pleased with my answers and went on to his tale of woe which went something like this: too many women tended to notice straight off that he was an accountant earning very well indeed (in their defense he had reeled off numbers on his profile) and he got the feeling that they were all after his money, which is as good a reason as any to marry I suppose?; some women were also apparently only after his body and not necessarily within the confines of marriage, which seemed an even better reason not to marry if you ask me! He seemed to have hit his stride by then and talked about (aaargh!) family values and how these women didn't understand what they were; I kept silent and omitted to mention that I too didn't quite know what they were. 

But he seemed to have taken to me for some reason- I know, completely inexplicable isn't it?- and called me later that night. As I had anticipated even when I'd accepted his request it was difficult to find a mutually interesting topic of conversation and I was eager to steer the talk away from uncomfortable things like 'family values' which nonetheless seemed to crop up with alarming frequency. He didn't seem to realise that he could laugh at what I was saying and herein lay the first of my problems- a man who didn't know when (and how?) to laugh. I told myself to have patience and tried not to roll my eyes heavenward. The next evening he called again and in the course of conversation asked me whether I could cook and if I enjoyed it ('good wife' material?); when I replied that indeed I did enjoy cooking, he managed to drop, in response, somewhere in that conversation the words (here they come- drum roll) 'when we are married'. My heart stopped- surely I couldn't have heard right, was this normal second conversation stuff? I couldn't recall sending out any signals that said 'I-am-dying-to-marry-you'. I decided I'd ignore it and maybe he would too. I laughed uncomfortably but the rest of the conversation was short and slightly wobbly (from my end) and we agreed to talk again the next day. We eventually didn't talk but I did get a text saying 'I am thinking of you' and to which I replied in my usual dry manner 'umm, I see'- I mean really, what did he expect me to say? When we next spoke, which was soon thereafter, the conversation seemed to pick up from the previous one, which only means that it was, ahem, sparse and we graduated- or at least he did- from 'when we are married' to (yes, you guessed right) 'when we have children'! Yikes! Was this the point where I should tell him I'm infertile or that I had had a sex-change operation last year? Because I was pretty sure this was not third conversation stuff! 

I had by now, in fact in our second conversation, agreed that it made sense to meet in order to see whether we had anything here worth pursuing and although I was beginning to have a strange (!) sense about this entire thing I didn't quite see how to get out of it. So meet we did- but that is a story for another day and another post.

Yours, in horror-scopy!

18 May 2010

The Lost Art of Conversation

Dear All,

The week began well. A man expressed interest- well, actually many did but I just rejected most of them- and I thought there was some potential here even if he did name himself after a popular chocolate dessert, about which I had my reservations- let's just call him Mr.Fudge shall we. I mean, doesn't it make you wonder? I was feeling generous and considerate, however, and sweeping my reservations aside I accepted. I wrote back enthusiastically, sharing my number and saying how happy I would be to talk with him and he was therefore welcome to call at a convenient moment. I had decided that I had been much too picky in rejecting, or rather accepting, interests and I should give some of these men a chance.

All to no avail! I didn't hear from Mr. Fudge and couldn't help but wonder why this was so. Maybe it's me, but wouldn't you expect that if you've sent someone a message and they've replied the natural thing would then be to respond to that reply- that is how conversation works to the best of my knowledge. Clearly I was missing something- there was nothing but a deafening silence from the other end. Just when I'd written off Mr. Fudge, the man decided to surprise me and sent me a message with words to this effect 'I sent you an interest some time back and you accepted but have not got in touch. If you are not serious then do not waste my time.' Oh dear, oh dear- this person was serious, seriously angry. I stared at this message (you will notice from earlier posts that this is a bit of a theme with me, the staring that is), sort of spluttering indignantly; but good sense prevailed and giving him the benefit of doubt I decided, rather considerately in my opinion, to reply to his missive yet again. In what I thought to be rather a sweet tone I wrote,"We seem to have our wires crossed. I do recall replying, sharing my number and requesting you to call although you may have missed that message. No matter, here is my number again and I look forward to hearing from you." (Could I have been nicer?!)

This time I was in luck- I had a text message on my phone within half-an-hour although I did have some trouble figuring quite what to do about it. It started with "Hi S"... and ended with that as well. I stared (yes, yes, again!) and then rudely, as I tend to do, replied with "Who is this?" This was followed by the enlightening reply- "Mr.Fudge"- yes, just that. What on earth was I supposed to do with these with these virtually monosyllabic messages?! I tried again, sending a message with not one, but two whole sentences, asking about him etc.etc.- and what I got by return post was this, "I am busy now we will talk later"- how endearingly authoritative! Alright, I thought, we'll play by your rules Mr.Fudge.

Given that this brief exchange was followed by a continuation of the earlier silence I wondered how many interests Mr. Fudge had sent and whether the sheer volume meant that he could only get around to all of them in rotation. When there was no further word for a few days I decided to give it one last try and sent him a message asking whether he was at all interested in talking, to which he replied saying that he would be in touch later that day and had been busy with work and a family wedding- fair enough but I was losing patience, however sweet fudge might actually be! Later that night, close to 11 pm, when my aging eyes (and the rest of me) were shutting down for the day and wandering into oblivion, I got a message saying "Hi S'" (yes again, I think he saved this for special occasions just changing the name as required). I replied suggesting that we talk- now that I had been jolted awake by this unexpected message. But no such luck (and I use the word advisedly!)- Mr. Fudge was too busy to talk but did think he should 'touch base' with me, at which point the only thing that came to my mind was, "yea right, you ain't touching anything mistah!" Belying my growing impatience I did respond to the questions he put to me and asked some of my own; where did he work; where did he live; what did he do? You get the drift- this was exciting stuff made all the more so by his insistence on referring to me as, get this, 'Baby', 'Darling' and other such endearments. I did point out that I was not his- or anyone's for that matter- baby but it seemed to be lost on him. I, and my sore thumbs, were soon worn out by this and I'm don't know how we endured it for all of 15 minutes. At this point I suggested that we have a 'live conversation'  where we could actually speak words to one another when he had the time, as opposed to this ridiculously meaningless texting and said I would wait to hear from him. 

It's just as well I didn't wait with bated breath as I would have been asphyxiated in the process; the next I heard from him was about five months later when he sent me a message saying I had accepted his interest but had not bothered to be in touch or share my contact details. The sheer gall of the man! I can tell you I saw red and I dashed of a message, dripping with venom (although I wonder whether he realised that), saying that we had in fact texted, the ball had been in his court and he had quite clearly... lost it! This conversation was officially at an end.

Yours, speechless!!!

25 April 2010

Kewl is spelt cool, with a C!

Although I have said earlier that I eventually decided to give this 'thing' a go I was never quite sure that it was going to work (prescient words?!) for me. My fears were borne out by the very first message that I got and it came in quite soon. The parents once they knew that I'd actually put up a profile were impatient to hear how it was going and when I said that there were a number of responses I could almost see their smug, triumphant 'I-told-you-so' over the phone. 

Before they got too carried away, however, I thought that I would read the message that I had received, which, as you will see, was quite a task. So quelling their excitement I quoted 'Hi, u sm rly kewl, dat mak 2 of us... if u fl da sm den gt in tch'. There was a name signed at the end of this cryptic message though that is neither here nor there.  Although I had resisted this process, now that I had started it I was keen to see how things would pan out. Imagine my utter joy when I saw this, the very first of my interests! I stared at the screen for couple of minutes in a complete daze because I really couldn't understand the message at all. No matter, I thought, let me have a look at the profile.

Mr. Kewl (as I had by then named him) turned out to be a 24-year old, whose parents had posted this profile for him. His age, of course, explains why he didn't know the real spellings of any of the words and my age, I suppose, explains why I couldn't understand any of them! Clearly, we belonged to different worlds. His parents belonged to a still more different world since they wanted a 'pious (aaargh!) daughter-in-law who would give respect to elders and love and affection to youngsters' (like whom, their son?!). Clearly, parents and son had set out on different paths and I couldn't help but wonder where, and when, they would collide. I thought I would put Mr. Kewl out of his misery soon and taking advantage of his paid subscription and the fact that he'd sent me a personal message I replied in kind, if not in kindness- 'Kewl is spelt cool, with a C that is!' 

No, there was no way I could marry someone who didn't know how to spell cool!

22 April 2010

The Parade of Donkeys

I am watching a parade of donkeys, which is to say I am in the unenviable position of looking for a husband at this somewhat late stage in life. What got me started on this on task you ask? Well at some point, two odd years ago I though it might be nice (I hate that word- it manages to be rather insipid!) to emulate the marital bliss (!) that some of my friends seem to have achieved and if I could find a like-minded soul who would not tire of me I thought, 'why not?' Which is not to say, mind you, that this was a 'let's-get-this-out-of-the-way' kind of a notion; on the contrary it was, and is, very much about companionship and that at once oh-so dreaded and mythical idea of romantic love. I have unfortunately, or otherwise, much as I may pretend not to have, been brought up on the myth of love.

This is not completely unnatural considering that our public imagination is submerged in it. In my case this myth was even closer home, and therefore far less of myth and much more real, since my parents had a (yes, here it comes) love marriage way back in those days when these only happened in Bollywood movies. In fact, well into my teens when people heard of my hybrid origins (think strange mixture of North and South India) they were often both shocked and fascinated. This awe was then followed by a question that usually had me cringing and I quote- 'Hawww, your parents had a luuuve marriage?' Since I usually did not think of my parents in terms of Bollywood heartthrobs melodramatically defying their families, this question embarrassed me no end and my standard response to this was, 'Well as far as I know they didn't have a hate marriage!' My then nascent sense of irony was usually lost on them and I would be faced by confused looks of 'your parents hate each other?' followed by the shortest possible explanation of my hybrid origins. So there in a nutshell is why it is so difficult to get away from the myth of romantic love.

My parents of course have always assumed the sibling and myself would follow in their footsteps so that they would be saved the trouble of doing any spouse searching on our behalf. Since the sibling dutifully obliged, everyone- myself included- naturally concluded that I too would one day walk gob-smack into love and sort my life out. This, as you might guess, has not happened! So at some stage my parents had the 'talk' with me and suggested that they could look (unsuccessfully as it turned out, since they didn't know what they were supposed to do!) and then followed this up with the internet matrimonial idea (and I'm not going to name sites here so that you can go look me up!).

My initial reaction was a blunt refusal. After all, surely I would walk into someone one day and see stars! But upon a more rational revaluation I reluctantly conceded that the idea had some merit. After all I had managed not to meet anybody through college and while there had been the odd fanciful idea of marrying someone in the now distant past, that too had fallen by the wayside, and in hindsight thankfully so. Moreover, I work and will continue to do, in a sector that is dominated by women; in my last two jobs I have been part of 10-member teams with a single male each, which does tend to rather stack the odds against me! At this stage I was completing a master's degree, which too I had embarked upon after much delay and contemplation and it seemed as good a time as any to renew my (thus far unrequited) search for love. In any case, my father left me with the ultimate threat- 'if you don't post a profile, I will and you know you don't want that!' Eventually the idea grew on me and taking a deep breath I took the plunge into the unknown and dare I say, what an unknown it has been!