02 July 2011

I am the respite for your sad life (!)

Dear All, 

I am back after a bit of an enforced hiatus as work had become much too consuming and prevented me from my matrimonial pursuits much less writing about them. What have I done in the interim that was noteworthy? Not much, except shake off a stalker in the early days of this hiatus. You would think that when you tell someone that you don't have much in common with them and then proceed to not call them back, they might take the hint. But no, some of these people are mighty persistent! I had to finally say 'I-do-not-want-to-meet-you-can-you-not-get-that-through-your-head-for-heaven'ssake?' (yes, in as many words!) before I was finally able to shake them off.

But I digress from today's main theme, which is 'my sad life' or more appropriately 'your sad life' since it was someone pointing (and what a pointing it was!) out to me how sad my (your) life is. I know, I know- I can see some of your indignant faces but I promise you, you cannot possibly match my indignation! But again, what is a story without a beginning- let me start there.

As I said, I have been on a hiatus- happily so I might add, from all things matrimonial and felt, upon my return from hiatus, that I might be able to pursue this project (unfortunate comparison, that) with a fresh mind. I may also have wistfully imagined that my fresh mind would also conjure some fresh (no, not that kind of fresh) men or at least allow me to see them with a less jaundiced eye. And so I resumed my search, un-hiding  my profile from its dust-covers so to speak. No sooner had I done so, I was inundated with interests- gosh! it almost felt like the good old days when I first entered the big bad wonderful world of internet matrimonials, so unlike the drought of recent months. I was enthused and had almost started to believe that I would hit pay-dirt soon. So, my less jaundiced eye directed me once more (ahem) to relax my somewhat (!) stringent standards and accept that when people don't know the difference between 'then' and 'than', it doesn't automatically follow that they are bad characters who ought to be charged under the IPC (even though I am sure there's a relevant section in there somewhere, maybe in the parts relating to 'offences against public tranquility').

I soon happened to be the lucky recipient (target?) of an interest from- let's call him- my saviour; you will discover shortly why I chose to name him thus. Although there wasn't anything in his profile that grabbed me there was no discernible spelling or grammatical mistake on which I could call him out (or throw him out as is my preferred style). Moreover, he had sent a missive saying that I wrote well. That might not be saying very much given the drivel that people are allowed to put on their profiles (there ought, for instance, to be some law that restricts the number of 'simple-living and high-thinking' men to somewhat less than the entire population of India); but there was surely some redeeming quality about a man who could recognise good writing and I felt it only fair to give him a chance. He did sign off with his website code rather than a real name- but I forgave him that in my mellow mood. What should have tipped me off, of course, was that it took me some days to arrive at all these conclusions rather than going by instinct. In fact, my instinct seemed almost to have deserted me, as if it had gone all rusty and forgotten how to function in these environs during the course of my hiatus.

So I wrote back a couple of days later, thanking him for his compliments; introducing myself (with a name); and asking, without any hint of sarcasm whatsoever, if he had one too. Luckily it turned out that he did, which was a good start. I suggested we either email or chat first rather than plunge straight into- what in my experience would be- an awkward conversation peppered largely by umms and hmms. He didn't understand my 'suggestion', responding by saying that he hated typing and he would like to call me. I gave  in and shared my number and promptly received a call on my mobile that evening. Although the number was unfamiliar I remembered that the saviour's number started with an eight as did this and I guessed it could be him.

Now, in my book- but that is clearly a little read book- when you call somebody for the first time the thing to do would be to introduce yourself once you have asked if you have got the right person on the other end of the line. He asked if I was S to which I said yes and followed this up with a 'guess-who-this-is!' Although I was pretty sure it was him there was something a bit pushy about his tone- my instincts were back with a bang!- so I insisted that I didn't know him and would he like to introduce himself. I again came up against a 'take-a-wild-guess!' and this time relented, more so this conversation would get a move on, and guessed it was the saviour. He almost whooped as if this was a major victory. I will not bore you with all the gory details of this conversation (it was our third conversation that was the real scene-stealer) but a few things stood out.

He immediately started in Spanish Inquisition mode with, "why a divorcee?" I should mention here that he was divorced (or separated as it later turned out). I was a bit stupefied since I hadn't expected the assault quite so soon- he certainly had the element of surprise on his side! I did say then that I didn't think he was defined by the fact that he was divorced although it may well have been a difficult event in his life. At this point he was almost in tears- of gratitude- following it up with "S, you are sweetest person. Nobody has ever said that to me before, everyone just notices that I am divorced." I was then treated to the story of his marriage and subsequent separation, the highlight of which was that his wife had committed a sin and was a genuinely 'bad character' who had wronged him and his family. Now my instincts (doubly back with bang) were making me seriously queasy. I won't even bother telling you how irritated I was by being called sweet or addressed as 'tum' (the informal you in Hindi).

He called the next day by which time I knew I wasn't going to waste time meeting this one as I had some others- he had suggested we meet and get married soon (yes, I kid you not!).  So our next conversation consisted of me avoiding setting up a date to meet and trying to bring home the fact that marriage was not going to make me give up my career- one that often involves travelling and living away for some weeks at a time since he had already expressed a distinct aversion to this; and him trying to convince me that the most fundamental difference between us was that I was a non-vegetarian while he was vegetarian ("Really? Is that all you could get off my profile?!"). He still called me the next day, clearly I would have to employ more aggresive methods to shrug him off.

As it was he had turned out to be from the same state one half of me is from- my mother's as it happens and he was clearly excited about this. My profile does not state a caste (his did), as I choose not to share this information in the first instance and to me it is  a bad sign if that is one of the first things I am asked. Unfortunately for him he did ask- the conversation went something like this...

Him: So what is your caste?
I: Is it important?
Him: No, but I am curious.
I: Curiousity killed the cat. Anyway I don't talk about my caste.
Him: But you can tell me.
I: (Why the hell should I tell you?): True, but how would it change anything?
Him: Okay, are you a 'caste-name'?
I: I have no clue.
Him:Really?! (I: Yes, really!) Okay, what was your mother's maiden name?
I: (Hahaha, do you really think you'll get me with that?!) Actually, my mother had already switched to her married name by the time I came along so I don't know what her maiden name was. (You i***t!, I wanted to add)
Him: Ohhh, okay, I see. Okay do you know your grandfather's name?
I: Unfortunately I never met my grandfather so I don't know his name. (This is true- I came along too late to meet him although I do know his name!)
Him: (almost losing hope here till he was struck by another bright idea) Is your grandmother alive- what is her name?
I: No she isn't unfortunately and I do know her name (I conceded) but she never wrote a caste surname so I still can't say what she was.
Him: (almost, but not quite, giving up in frustration) Okay is your mother's family 'caste-name'?
I: (in my last diabolical stand) Maybe they are... but then again, maybe not.
Him: (finally giving up in frustration) I have never heard such an answer before. (I bet you haven't mistah!)

Although he had given up on this he hadn't given up on marrying me as yet and what he delivered next has to top everything I have ever heard in the course of these conversations...

Him: Look I have a sad life (Yes, I started to get a sense of that with your constant whining) and (here it comes) you have a sad life too... (Oh man, now you've really done it!) ... so you just marry me and then we can both be happy! You can finish this project and then you just settle down and you don't have to travel- I will take care of you.

I: (now I wasn't just amused or irritated) You know something, you might have a sad life (definitely) but you don't know me and you have no clue what my life is like so in future please refrain from commenting on what my life is like. Oh and by the way, marriage is no cure for a sad life! (In fact, it could make it much sadder, as you amply prove!)

At this point he still had the nerve to suggest that we should meet, get married and that I would definitely fall in love with him after we were married! No, please, don't even ask me...

And one more bites the dust.

Yours, saved from a sad life!