Next stop, insanity

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Please pray for this poor man

Take a man (or a woman). Tie him to a chair. Then, for 36 hours do the following:
  • Shout in his ear
  • Stand up on him and jump
  • Pull his hair
  • Cry sitting in his lap
  • Spill food on him
  • Keep calling his name relentlessly for hours at a stretch

Do you think he will survive this? I am embarking on an adventure to find out. I mean to say, we are traveling to India with our 21-month old son.

You might ask for what masochistic reason I am putting myself through it. Let me explain.

One of the unforeseen side-effects of marriage is that you will inherit a brother-in-law. These brothers-in-law don't just sit there and mind their business, they get married. And you will have to haul yourself, your wife, a hyper-active toddler and 400 pounds of baggage across the Pacific to attend the wedding.

That's not all. One fine morning my wife casually asked me, "You are going to wear a Sherwani for the wedding, right?" I had two options. I could say "No" and hear how geeky, old, crumpled, faded, distasteful, atrocious, did I mention geeky, my normal formal attire is. Or I could say "Yes" and look like the official clown at the wedding. I chose to tell her a toned down version of "You will have to hold me at gun point." She looked like she intended to do precisely that.

So please pray for me people. Wish me luck to preserve my sanity on the flight and dignity at the wedding.

I survived! Both wife and kid have been extraordinarily well-behaved. Thank you for the outporing sympathy, empathy and prayers.

Shwerwani Update:
The groom himself decided not to wear a Sherwani and I got nothing to do with it ;). So I am off the hook for the sherwani. yay.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pyramid of friendship

For engineers like me who live in North California, Fry’s Electronics store is equivalent of a place of worship. We go there every week, pay our respects and part with some money. One weekend at Fry’s I was examining some ultra powerful headphones that are sure to make you deaf in minutes. I noticed a pretty Indian woman walking into the same aisle. I stared at her for appropriate amount of time and went right back to figuring out the fastest way to become deaf.

After a minute, she walked right up to me with a box of “Noise canceling Headphones” and asked me, “Do you know what these headphones do?”

I was surprised. It was clearly written on the box what they do, complete with the picture of a goofy looking guy on an airplane sporting the said headphones, in a desperate attempt to hint at where that gadget can be used. But no, she had to come and ask me. Is she flirting with me? Ooh, la la.

I pretty much read off of the box what the purpose of the headphones was. As she was thanking me, an Indian guy joined us and was introduced as her husband. After she passed on the knowledge I imparted to her, he asked me a couple of more questions and drowned me in praise, “Wow! You know so much about headphones! Are you into professional audio?” Is he trying to flirt with me? I am all confused now.

They introduced themselves enthusiastically, told me they were new in the area and asked everything about me. She even asked, “Where is your wife?” Hmm. What is going on here? Do they belong to the rumored Indian wife swapping club?

But we must give people the benefit of doubt. They could just be extremely nice people looking for friends in a new area. In a way I was happy that there are still outgoing and friendly people out there. That happiness lasted only until I asked him what he did for a living. Like a bucket of cold water, he told me, “I work for so and so company. And I also have my own e-commerce business.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a clear sign of an Amway guy. At least one mystery solved. Nobody was trying to flirt.

In case you don’t know what Amway is, it is a pyramid scheme, followers of which believe that it will make them rich and help them attain nirvana. They live the rest of their lives like leeches pestering people to sign up for their cult. (I don’t mean to say leeches pester people to sign up for cults. Leeches have a little more dignity than that.)

Rest of the story was simple and pretty much a routine for me. I gave him my phone number. He called me in two days. I gave him an hour long lecture.

Because of the way they operate, I now look askance at every unknown Indian who talks to me. There is always this nagging suspicion that this guy could turn out to be Amway.

On a side note, a fellow blogger recently moved into this area. We never met but he and I chatted on G-Talk. One day we decided to meet for coffee. Before we closed the chat, he cautiously asked me, “You are not Amway or anything, are you?”

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My friend and his opinion of a wife

A few things are learned the hard way. I have circumstantial evidence that one of my friends did just that. I was tempted to say “I told you so” to him, but being a gentleman, I didn’t. I will just write a blog post about it.

Couple of years ago, this friend of mine (henceforth known as X), embarked on a voyage countless Indian-Americans embarked on before. A month long expedition in India to find a bride and marital bliss. Before he set sail, he called me one day. Anybody who grew up in India, or watched B-grade Bollywood movies, knows about the much hyped “First Night.” (If you don’t know what it is, it is the night a married couple, even they know each other only for a few days, consummate their day old marriage) Like many a young man, he too was nervous about it.

X: What do I do on that day?

Me: Dude, you hold the record for watching every porn movie ever made. Things should be clear to you by now?

X: No, my question is do people go all the way on the first night itself?

Me: I could check the census records but I don’t think they collect that data. But what does it matter to you what people do. Do what you feel is right.

X: Do you think she would be comfortable with it?

Me: That is an excellent question to ask her.

X: What if she is too shy to say?

Me: If she is too shy to talk about it, you should probably stop at the question.

X: But what if she doesn’t want me to ask questions and look like I don’t know what I am doing? I think women like their men to be manly. Take charge. Decide things for them.

Should I let him live in this happy bubble for some more time or burst it now?

Me: I believe most women like to be treated with respect. They would like their opinion to matter. They may want you to take charge and lead the way in matters such as taking the car out for servicing, but in just about everything else, they want to be a part of the decision making process.

X: You are Americanized. Indian women are not like that. They respect the husband. They want the man to be in control. They don’t like sissies who can’t make up their minds. Take my word for it, I am going all the way that night.

He is convinced that husband should rule with an iron fist. In his mind the picture is probably somewhat like:

Wife: Why should we always go to your favorite restaurant, can’t we eat Italian today?

Husband: We are going to Hooters, bitch. Now get in the car.

It’s difficult to argue if both of us are going by their opinions, not facts or statistics. I didn’t let the argument continue. X went to India. Got married. Got back with his lovely wife on the scheduled date, like clock work. I didn’t ask him what happened on the first night.

Recently, another friend of mine, Y, was getting married. X and I called Y together to congratulate him. I gave my usual marriage advice to Y, such as “Don’t get married.” etc. X was silent until Y asked him if X had any advice for him. X said flatly, “Don’t expect much action on the first night.”