IVANUKKU ENNA KORACHAL?

If you are a woman who’s single and about 25 years old in India and you haven’t yet managed to find yourself a boyfriend or an aaifriend (gives royalty to Vivek for aptly using the term in Anniyan) , then you are perhaps losing your mind right now over this never-ending maze of a process called arranged marriage.

From well-meaning Maamis at weddings to those nosy Gurukkals at local temples, suddenly everyone knows that you are officially in the “market”. As per the plan in your dreams, you were supposed to exchange phone numbers with your crush- but no. Reality has your folks exchanging Bharat Matrimonial Profile numbers with fellow Maamis/Maamaas.

Your horoscope is printed and distributed like Airtel Broadband Plan brochures. Once a week, you may also wake up to phone calls that go like “You remember X’s brother’s wife’s brother-in-law? He has a friend who has a brother and he is looking for…”

Congratulations. You have officially progressed from random goals of “Aayul aarogyam aishwaryam undaagattum” to the sole, specific mission called “Vivaaha praapthirasthu”.

The first thing you need to do when you have entered this arranged marriage process (whether it’s out of your own choice or otherwise)- is to shed any emotional baggage.

Simply put, have no regrets about the past or high expectations from the future. I am not emo-tweeting there. Really.

Many of us, especially in this generation, come with emotional baggage of sorts – some of us perhaps messed up in past relationships, some of us never had the chance to be in one despite trying our best, and there are some that never tried. Whatever the case, the end result is now you are a “girl” looking for a suitable “boy” or vice-versa. (In this Matrimony lingo, it doesn’t matter if you are over 20. You are still a “girl” that a 30-year-old “boy” may be looking for.)

So, needless to say, it’s better to be sorted in the head before you enter this process and go in with no regrets. At the same time, you are better off NOT having any expectations of falling in love any time soon – for you hardly find love when you “want to”.

All the dreams that random novels put in your head come to an abrupt halt- you don’t “accidentally fall in love with someone” – instead, you end up playing a never-ending, harsh game of selection and rejection- and mind you, it works both ways. All you can do is hope that you end up with someone you respect and get along with decently. And pray that love and all that jazz follows.

Because of all these reasons, it is important to take this whole thing with a pinch of salt (or preferably a truck-load of it) and a sense of humour.

On that note, let me give you a heads up about 5 frequently encountered atrocities in the process leading up to an “arranged marriage”.

  1. On these matrimonial sites, almost every man is looking for a woman with “traditional values but modern outlook”. I don’t even know what the hell that means. Whether it is Madisaar saying Hi to Microsoft Outlook?
  2. I could write a separate blog post on photographs uploaded on Matrimonial sites.
    I am not even talking about judging a book by its cover and all that. Not even getting that far. My problem is, I am not even able to see that cover clearly. All I can say is,

    – Kindly avoid ultra close-up selfies. It’s kind of scary. Once I could once see the micro-hairs inside someone’s nose.

    – No mug shots please. If you are turning your head to the right, your face cannot be seen.

    – If you are wearing a pair of huge shades on ALL your photos, your face cannot be seen.

    – If you are wearing a cap AND a pair of shades AND you have a beard and you are turning to the right… well, you get the idea.

    – And for Heaven’s sake, please don’t upload only group photos. I can’t single you out from a group of people, when I have never seen you in my life before.

    – When you upload photos in which there are mighty mountains, tall trees and you are just a small spec, I can appreciate the scenery and the travel enthusiast in you, but I can’t see you.

    Please go stand at a place where there’s good light, hand over your phone to a friend and ask him/her to click a picture of you. Upload that photo. It’s very easy.

    Disclaimer: I am a woman so I have written this from my POV. This is not intended to be a gender thing. Applicable for women wanting “modern outlook” and putting up unclear images also.

  3. Selection and rejection are part of this process, whatever the reasons may be. You may reject people because it doesn’t “feel right” and you may get rejected because you listen to Kannadasan and not Coldplay.

    To each his own. What sounds reasonable to someone else may sound silly to you and vice versa. One cannot be faulted for wanting someone with similar tastes and preferences. But what one CAN do is ensure clarity in communication.

    It’s hard to take a No, but to say No is harder. But that’s no reason to delay it. If it’s a No, don’t wait for the right time, just say it. May be politely and tactfully – but get it across to the other person. At least you are not wasting their time. Also, if you are unclear about something, ask. Be on the same page.

  4. “Ivanukku enna korachal?”
    A few months into the groom-hunt, when you have still not made much progress, people around you start losing it. Your folks would suggest someone and if you say No – their instant reaction is “Ivanukku enna korachal?”

    You don’t want to marry someone just because there’s nothing wrong with him. You want to marry someone because you have reasons to like him and respect him.

    I don’t buy the “Ivanukku enna korachal” argument one bit. Any decision that you make must be justified. Whether it is to decide to just talk to someone or go all in and end up marrying them – let it be because you have your reasons to do so – not just because “there’s nothing wrong with him”.

  5. How long is “too long”?
    At long last, after ages, you may find someone you may want to talk to (who also wants to talk to you. But the moment you get off the first phone call, you have people waiting for your verdict. Convicted or Acquitted? Yes or No?

    Till today, I don’t know how long I can take to make up my mind. A week? Three days? One phone call? How long is too long? What happens if I find things okay in the first 3 days but know better only later on? Won’t I be confronted with the nightmarish question – “Why couldn’t you have said No in the beginning?”

    The only solution to this again is probably to talk about this to the person concerned early on and arrive at some consensus. The time a couple needs to figure things out is subjective and cannot be generalized but the point is that this factor needs to be considered and sorted right at the beginning.

#VaazhnthaalumYesumThaazhndhaalumYesum
Getting into arranged marriage is perhaps a disappointment for a lot of us in today’s time and age. 50 years ago “love marriage” was taboo. Now if you admit you are a part of the arranged marriage process, people look at you as though you are not fit for life (Ivan ithukku seri pattu varamaataan moment).

It’s great if things have worked out for you the first time around but not everyone is that fortunate. Like I mentioned earlier, if you are convinced that you have done all that’s in your power but destiny has other plans, there’s nothing one can do other than accept things and move on.

It’s true that the arranged marriage process can be made fun of – it is true that it has its pros and cons – it can drain you and tire you emotionally. But I don’t mean to disrespect the system in its essence. These sites and your family referral network are just a means to find you someone. What happens after that is entirely up to the individuals and their maturity level regardless of whether it is “love marriage” or “arranged marriage”. You do see success stories around you and I guess all you can do is be optimistic and wait for your turn.

Lastly, remember that your folks want the best for you. I have been impatient with my Mom several times since all of this started but I realize it is very wrong to channel your life-disappointments-based anger towards people who wish the best for you. A non-existent love story is definitely not more important than your harmony with your own family. Get your act together.

My best wishes to everyone on the same boat. Let me plug my “arranged marriage” goal here before leaving. 😛 >>

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A few thoughts on “Marubadiyum”

I happened to watch this movie called “Marubadiyum” – a film directed by Balumahendra starring Revathi, Arvindswamy and Nizhalgal Ravi. Now this film came out in 1993 and I watched it just a few hours back- and I can’t get over how well the film portrays the reality of life and how it holds good till today.

*Spoiler alert* (if you really care, that is. This movie is 23 years old).

Rather than saying I loved the movie, I would say it was very relatable. This post is not a rant or an outlet for locked up emotions, nor is it a movie review- it’s rather a record of my realizations that have been made stronger by a movie directed more than 20 years ago.

What I refer to as relatable is certainly not the life of any of the characters – rather, what the lead character realizes towards the end of the film.

Here is a quick outline. After a very rough divorce, Thulasi (Revathi) is confused as to what is left for her in life anymore. She is depressed and devastated. After 5 years of marriage, her husband Murali (Nizhalgal Ravi) leaves her for another woman. You know how ugly that can get. It’s not just a relationship that it affects – it affects your self respect and self worth, apart from the devastation and sleepless nights and meaningless days it brings on. It makes you bitter. They separate, and she struggles but goes about her life, when she meets Gowrishankar (Arvind Swamy), the cute guitarist who falls in love with her – perhaps the kind of love born out of sympathy for her. This is all very cinema-like. While we’d expect her to get together with Arvind Swamy, that’s not reality. Things don’t happen for as per your convenience in real life- that is not life. Plus when she is really confused, taking a someone, especially a good person for granted is not correct.

While she is grateful that he entered her life, she says she would be incapable of doing this all over again after having had a devastating experience earlier. To quote her “Inime kanna mooditu kanavu kaana ennaala mudiyadhu”. She also says she’d become a coward if she agreed to his proposal because then she would depend on him emotionally all over again and that would make her weak again. It’s an attractive prospect to think that after a failed relationship, you will probably meet someone else and things will be alright again. In reality that is very very difficult and it is the truth with many people. It’s just not the same again.

The film ends with her adopting a child and making the child’s life her reason to live on. That may be seen as dramatic but the point is, we all look for happiness and security – in other people. We depend on someone’s love for our own happiness. If things go well, great. But the moment something goes wrong, it’s not easy to walk that path again. Things are not the same again, they are not rosy again. She stays alone, despite the fact that she deserves someone who treats her right. 

Beyond a point, you realize that completely depending on another person or your relationship with them for your own happiness is only going to constantly keep you insecure. It’s perhaps not a very pleasant realization, but it’s true. Your happiness or security should depend rather on yourself. It should come from within oneself. The sooner one accepts it, the better. Find things that make you happy- something to keep yourself motivated. That cannot be called selfish – as long as you are not hurting anyone else in the process, it’s okay. Not that I have completely lost hope in relationships- let’s say my perspective of the concept has changed. I have learnt that, and this film just made that realization stronger.

Just ending this post with the link to a very nice song from the film, Nalam Vaazha. Raja, kaekkave venaam. Very soulful.

Do listen>>https://youtu.be/JjRs0KjYzbo

 

Monsters of the night

When you live on autopilot, it’s rather easy to get through the day. Because, you really don’t have to think about yourself, your emotions, your life. You are surrounded by people and your mind is on work most of the time. Basically you are safe as long as you don’t let your mind wander off to the thoughts that concern “you”. The thoughts that constantly bother you- the thoughts about the very instances that have led you to lead the autopilot life you’ve created for yourself in the first place.

In short, it’s easy to kill your heart during the day.

But it’s not the case with nights. As darkness approaches, and as everything else fades away, you are trapped in your own thoughts- the miserable prison that you have so carefully built for yourself. The prison you are unable to get out of, or let anyone in. It’s those few moments of the night when your insecurities and sadness come alive and loom large before you. You have gone past the stages when shedding tears gave you a bit of a relief. Now, you have exhausted tears. You are just waiting for the merciless night to pass. There’s no sleep, no peace – just you and bitterness.

In short, it’s harder to kill your heart at night, for its laments are loud and clear, thanks to the silence around you.

I wonder if this autopilot life will ever end. In a way it doesn’t matter, as it’s now only too familiar. Hope and happiness are too far away, they seem almost alien. 

When you have learned to cope with the monsters of the night- the thought of  embracing hope and happiness brings fear and apprehension, lest they are taken away from you, again.

Incidentally, I am reminded of a beautiful Kurunthokai poem I came across on Twitter. I cannot appreciate this poem enough. It’s amazing someone hundreds of years back went through the same things some of us are destined to go through.

நள்ளென்றன்றே யாமம் சொல் அவிந்(து)
இனிது அடங்கினரே மாக்கள் முனிவு இன்று
நனந்தலை உலகமும் துஞ்சும்
ஓர் யான் மன்ற துஞ்சாதேனே

எழுதியவர் – பதுமனார்
திணை – நெய்தல் திணை

Living on autopilot

In this age of artificial intelligence, when they are making robots as intelligent as a human being, there are some human beings training themselves to be as emotionless as a robot. For their own “good”. As a means to protect themselves from, let’s say, emotional hazards. You are reading one of them. Yours truly has been eating, sleeping and working on autopilot for quite a while now. And the autopilot life, is here to stay.

It doesn’t really suck to live on autopilot if you accept that this is your destiny. It comes from the thought that, Chalo, everything is over, you have to “exist”, so you find a way to fulfill obligations to work and family even though your heart may no longer be into anything you do. You kind of stop caring for yourself. That’s the autopilot way of life.

Say you are at work. You stare at a blank Word doc on your computer’s screen, but you are not really looking at the blinking cursor. You are looking at the past. All the mistakes – mistakes that a backspace cannot erase.

You curse yourself for how easily you let things mess with your head. The challenge is to fight these thoughts and the temptation to let your bitterness devour you. It’s tough to fight the urge to let yourself waste away. You hear inspiration speeches left, right and center. But some struggles are hard to explain, they can only be felt. So those peace less nights before falling asleep is a challenge, continue to this day. 

When you are on autopilot, you cannot afford to sit idle. It is important to keep yourself occupied – my work has been a blessing in disguise. It’s also good to surround yourself with people, but don’t depend on them. Dependence leads to attachment which in turn leads to expectations and finally disappointment. So quit depending on someone for your happiness.

You wonder if it’s possible for a person’s life to end before it began. Can life end before you turn 24? Sounds absurd, dramatic. But possible. Like you grow old, lead a life filled with no peace, living in the past and finally die unhappy. This is one of those nights when I think a similar fate probably awaits. You never know. Or maybe not. There may be a slight chance that things may be okay again miraculously, but you dare not hope. Yeah, that’s the rule. No hoping.

But this is a constant debate for which there’s no answer.

And then you wake up to another day of autopilot – and the realization that you have lost yourself and may never be found again.

On considering something a “bad dream”

“Nadanthathellaam oru ketta kanavaa nenachu marandhudu” is a convenient piece of advice you are often given when something goes unexpectedly wrong for you or against your wishes. Well yes, shit happens, but to ask someone to consider it all a bad dream?

Well, what do I say? I am only reminded of a TV clip that I watched long ago.

There are two women on-screen; woman #1 is crying her eyes out. Woman #2 is trying to console her saying “Nadanthadhellam oru ketta kanavaa nenachu marandhudu”. 

The woman in tears pauses for a moment and slaps the other woman hard. When a shocked woman #2 looks on, woman #1 says, “Ippo nadandhadha oru ketta kanavaa nenachu marandhudu.”

It’s better to consciously refrain from using this line to comfort someone  – not just to avoid receiving a slap, but because it’s simply not comforting. I have been at the receiving end of this piece of advice and I know how it only adds to your pain. Very counterproductive, never say it.

When someone is clearly affected by something, asking them to consider it all a dream is like shrugging off their suffering as something light. Or if you yourself were a reason for their suffering, you are trying to minimize your contribution to it by trying to convert reality into a dream just because it works well for you. It only induces anger and further pain for the other person and makes them feel like they have been taken for a ride.

The fact that you are able offer this advice also shows that you have followed it. It’s not a very nice thing to be informed that your existence as a person with emotions and your actions have been dismissed by someone as a “bad dream” to suit their convenience. It only gives the impression that you were never taken seriously.

You may not realize it, but don’t tell someone in pain to dismiss it as a dream. Reality ≠ Dream. For them, their suffering is so real that it shakes their very core. 

A starting point to remove a problem would be to acknowledge its presence. Not deny its existence hoping that it would go away.

With that, I rest my case.

 

 

Cursed

It’s one of those endless nights

When the world around you disappears

Leaving you all alone

In a cruel desert

With Misery, for company.

 

The Devil beckons to you

Waving The Past as a clever bait

And you,

Being the fool that you are

Cheered by good old Misery

Run to get The Past

To hold it, to save it,

To treasure it,

Not knowing that it’s nothing

But Poison, in disguise.

 

The kind of poison

That doesn’t kill instantly

But sucks the soul out of you

Slowly, but surely.

 

What was once sweet

Now tastes bitter

What once felt safe

Is now scary

What was once beautiful

Is just unrecognizable

 

You crave life,

Peace and sleep.

 

But Oh dear heart

Did you forget

That you live in a desert

Which can only be wet

By the tears you shed?

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Not (meant) to be

I went back to wipe a little child’s tears
Tears that I thought I had caused
But in his place was a familiar stranger
Who gave me the tears instead.

Tears that lasted a year
And shook my very core
Blinding me more and more
That I shut Life’s doors

So dizzy was I in a maze
That I fell hard and broke
Not just a leg and head
But every corner of my heart and soul

Now became the child that wept
While the familiar stranger, my savior,
Who helped me out of my maze
And up my weary feet

Oh yet, the tears don’t stop
For they know only too well
That the hand that helped in pain
Will certainly let go again

Dear God, if that Donut, after all
Was not meant to be
What made you wait in glee
Till I let it consume me?

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Have Mercy

Dear Night
I’ve heard that you bring darkness
But for me, you bring daggers
Would you have mercy?

Dear Time
I’ve heard that you cure
But to me, you seem to kill
Would you have mercy?

Dear Life
I’ve heard that you go on
But for me, you have stood still
Would you have mercy

Dear Love
I thought you made hearts stay
But you’ve taken my soul away
Will you not show mercy?

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NaLLendRandRe Yaamam (நள்ளென்றன்றே யாமம்) – A Translation

Inspired by a post by @kurunthokai on Twitter, I have translated a poem that I really liked when I read it. Part of the reason I did it is that I identify with that poem. A lot of us will, I guess.

It’s amazing how the emotions of people are the same regardless of the time in which they live in – love, anger, envy, anxiety, happiness. Someone, hundreds of years ago, felt the same things you and I feel today – it’s quite overwhelming. It’s also quite interesting to note that, when each of us goes through an emotional struggle, we feel that we are the only ones to suffer such a pain- the fact of the matter is, we are not alone. To each of us, our struggles seem so huge to us, that we assume that everyone else is doing just fine and they have no idea.

In short, to say it in Twitter lingo, #ThatThatManThatThatTrouble.:D

But that is what this poem brings out. It beautifully brings out the emotional struggle that a woman goes through when she is away from her beloved in a simple yet honest manner.

Needlesss to say, it’s even more beautiful and convincing when read in iniya thamizh.

Here is the poem:

நள்ளென்றன்றே யாமம் சொல் அவிந்(து)
இனிது அடங்கினரே மாக்கள் முனிவு இன்று
நனந்தலை உலகமும் துஞ்சும்
ஓர் யான் மன்ற துஞ்சாதேனே

எழுதியவர் – பதுமனார்
திணை – நெய்தல் திணை

Here is Kurunthogai’s excellent illustration on it:

Inspired from this, I have attempted to translate it too. Though it’s not an exact language translation and it’s near impossible to do justice to the original, I have tried. Do feel free to read and share your thoughts.

Translation:

Oh, the dark, dense night is here!
And with it comes a quiet,
That envelopes the air
As daylight clears

The day is at its close
With its every sound dead,
For every living soul
Has retired peacefully to bed

The whole wide world
Is blissfully asleep
Free from the wretched claws
Of bitterness and envy

Alas, but here I am
The only Cursed One, I think –
For I am just unable
To even sleep a wink.

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A Fresh Start

I had always wanted to write.

Somewhere along the way God dropped a slate into my hands. I was not supposed to sketch. Yet I did. I scribbled. The ugly scribble affected the slate as well. What mistake did the slate do? The slate deserved a painting and not meaningless scribbles. I was guilty of starting to scribble but in life you cannot erase what you started out to scribble and so I tried to make a decent painting out of my scribbles. It only became uglier. I paused. Took a second chance at painting. It only became worse.

Reached a point where it became clear that the slate had to go. And it went. I cried for the slate. I couldn’t sketch anyway, so it shouldn’t make a difference that the slate went, right? But it did. I cried for a year over the lost slate. Still sometimes do.

Did I “discard” the slate? Or did the slate just slide away from me? I don’t know. But the slate is no longer with me anymore. I don’t sketch anymore.

Then I remembered, I had always wanted to write. When I first chanced upon the slate, I ignored the fact that I liked to write. Big mistake. “Let me write at least now”, I thought. So I went out to buy a pen and paper. Thought I’ll write a story about my slate. As Fate would have it, the shop I went to did not have pens and papers right then. They would take some time. A year or two, he said. He asked me to get them somewhere else. But I loved the stationary in the shop. Was always my favorite.

The shopkeeper did not seem to want to help me. He did not seem to understand that they stocked some of my favorite pens. Should I tell him I’ll wait till they restocked? Would he think I was crazy to wait a year for a few pens? Or should I just leave the shop?

Or should I JUST give up writing and sketching and maybe…sing instead? My family always wanted me to sing.

Something new? A fresh start?

But if I did that, I will have forever lost the slate. I will have forever lost the chance to write. But I may, just may, sing well. Should I cry forever over the lost slate? Should I wait for a pen and a paper?

Or should I start afresh with a song, maybe?

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