Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rebel without a Cause

Last night, Kosta and I got into one of those unnecessary shouting matches. It all started with him talking about an argument he had with his girlfriend when he said, "Marriage is a dead institution". I'm personally sick and tired of hearing this - it's like beating a dead horse, over and over again, daring it to raise it's head and make us care. The fact is, i agree that the traditional definitions and role-play within a marriage, and even a relationship, has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, leaving a lot of confusion in its wake. But what really annoys me is this - Kosta ALWAYS brings it up.

He's seeing a girl who has been brought up in the world where marriage is taken for granted. She sees herself getting married. She (i assume) wants to marry Kosta because they have been seeing each other for soooo long (1 whole year... see what i mean about changing definitions?). Kosta knew this when he started seeing her, and yet, he keeps railing against lack of autonomy that exists in a 'relationship'.

"There are times when you need space, and i don't get it."
"I want to see my other friends, but she doesn't understand that it's not about her"
"I can't just be."

These have been common refrains i've heard over the last one year and frankly i'm bored. Either get happy about spending time with your loved one, or tell her she's driving you crazy.

It all started when he said that there are only three kinds of relationships possible - sexual attraction, romantic love and companionship. While it is possible that the relationship with one person can touch on all these aspects over its duration, at no point can a relationship have all of them. Which is why, it's abnormal to limit our expectations of all these aspects from one person. Ergo, 'marriage', with it's traditional insistence on deriving all three aspects from one person, is defunct.

One would think that if he's managed to logically deduce this, then it should be easy for him to tell the girlfriend, "babe, i love you, but i want to have sex with someone else and i'd rather just hang with someone else entirely. What say?" Maybe sugarcoat that a bit.

"We have talked about it... it's an ongoing dialogue." Yeah, right. (Remember i said that Kosta is the super-intellectualiser, for whom everything is a mental process? He manages to obfuscate even the simplest desire into a deep analysis of hormone levels and psychosis).

For the girlfriend, it's all an academic discussion because, well... they WILL be getting married. It's understood. And marriage means 'emotional and physical fidelity.' Poor Kosta somehow knows that the wedding will take place, and somewhere in there, he knows that it'll be a marriage which is fairly traditional in its role play. He wishes he could come clean...but he can't. Because he loves her and can't hurt her feelings. And, more importantly, wants her to agree with his perspective. That way, they will be 'together' but also separate. The perfect mix of permanence and no strings. She won't see that as a viable, workable scenario. So instead, he finds me to argue his point with, all the time hoping that some miraculous third-way will become visible to him.

What he doesn't realise is that a third way does exist, has existed for centuries. The only problem is that its followers have invariably been shunned by society or died horrible deaths. The third way is this - to work on the premise that ALL relationships have simultaneous aspects of the three elements - attraction, love and companionship. We are primarily attracted to a person, we love them and care about them and we derive companionship from them. That means, in each of our relationships (and i genuinely mean all - girlfriends, boyfriends, siblings, parents, etc), there exists the possibility of that special connection... that spark (i don't need to cite examples of the elektra, oedipal attractions, gay, lesbian lovers, incest, older woman-younger man, uncle-niece, etc - societal mores dictate how we feel about them, but the fact remains, 'abnormal' rewarding relationships are formed everyday.) It requires that genuine openness to accepting and demonstrating the honest extent of the spark that you feel. And only when there is an equal intensity of the feelings returned by a person, does the relationship take a leap into the sexual and romantic. The down side? It may not always be with an 'appropriate' person.

In short, love the people in your life, express it, welcome it when it's expressed right back at you and always know that all relationships are temporary. Kipling had it right when he said, "Let all men (women too) count with you, but none too much." And don't expect to be the centre of someone else's Universe either.

Freedom comes at a price.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Conversations II

You're back

Yes... there have been developments

Oooh... please elaborate

Well, somehow it seems that wherever i turn, there is someone from my past, who wants to get back with me

You mean wants to get into your pants

Most likely, yes. But not just that.


Remember what i was telling you about Alex and Kosta and Sam... how there had been a chance of building something lasting with them?

Uh huh

Well.. it looks like they're all revisiting that place too. Sam had been hinting for a while that something was afoot. He was attempting to flirt with me (i know this because he told me so. As far as i was concerned, he was just making mildly lewd suggestions because he was bored) and finally just came out and asked me if i was willing to give "us" another chance - to see where it goes.

wow. Sam? The same guy who always went with the flow? Same guy who asked you to make it official - and you agreed - to take it back 5 mins later? same guy with whom you had unending arguments with about nothing? The same guy who...

yep. same guy.

And you're conflicted because?

I'm not conflicted at all. Told him "Thanks but no thanks, life's too short."

It's a pretty big deal for Sam to come around like that...

I don't really care. He's been someone who has barely been around, has treated me like a random acquaintance over the last many months and now seems to be expecting me to swoon at the thought that he wants me now. Why would anyone put up with that?

Ok ok... calm down. If it's bothering you so much, then there's gotta be something there, right?

Not really... i'm just irritated with the whole idea that now that it seems to be the right time for all these guys to want me, i'm supposed to agree or lose a friend. It's fucking annoying.

Who else apart from Sam?


Ah ha.

he said he loves me. He was drunk... which is when he's the most affectionate with me. But lately, he had been dropping bricks around like "You spend the most time with me, don't you think you should care what i want?" and "you belong to me", etc

You love him?

Yes I do. He's just a really cool guy. But again - we had a shot together. He ran. Things went up shit-creek. It took me a really long while to get back to even keel with him. And now he "loves me" and i'm supposed to... what? Roll over and play coochie-coo?

What about Kosta?

Well.. nothing about Kosta. in his case, i ran (big surprise!) And then he says that it's 'amusing' to see me scram for cover whenever someone professes to liking or loving me....

Ah ha

Don't 'ah ha' me. I'm pissed off... because maybe he's right. And now there's London Guy.

London Guy LOVES you?

No! He's met me once. But he has said things like 'i don't want to just be friends with you anymore', and 'there's a connection that we have missed with others over the last 15 years...". It all smacks of over-commitment.

Maybe over-commitment is what you're reading into what for him is a genuine emotion... and maybe it suits you to not trust his feelings because that will mean that you have to seriously consider him.

Do i want to? Because serious consideration will just open a gigantic can of worms - the two-country long-distance thing, unless one of us decides to shift base which would mean (for me) turning my whole life topsy-turvy for something that may just fall flat... and then what?

Gosh! I wasn't suggesting marriage and kids already, you know. I just said that maybe long-distance isn't that bad..

Isn't that BAD?? Do you not remember Mocha? Fantastic as long as we were spending 10 days in 2 months but the minute we started living together, it became unbearable - for both of us. And we were in love!

And you aren't in love with London Guy?

No... but i could be.. i mean, given the right circumstances...

Which would be?

I don't know... that maybe he's nice to me.. you know, attentive, loving, funny..

And you don't think he is all of those things yet?

Well... we've met once. And now he wants to come to Bombay to see me. And he's insisting that i come and see him in London, for longer than just a day (i told you that already, right?). But i'm hesitant.

Why? It would be the perfect opportunity to get to know each other, make him understand you, for you to show him your world, your friends..

My friends? I'm not going to introduce him to my friends... I mean, isn't it too early to be introducing friends to each other? There will just be assumptions made, one more person that will be open to discussion and nit-picking if things fall apart...

So you're more confident of things falling apart than staying together?

No, i'm just aware that the nature of the Universe is "from Order to disorder". I mean the multiple variables that need to be just so for two essentially stable individual elements to fuse together to form another stable compound makes it almost a miracle when these things do happen. Right now, we're just in the process of seeing if those variables exist. Introducing a third element in the form of friends may just create a false or unstable environment for that...

So... this is your shot at stability?

I was using a chemistry metaphor.... But think about it... I'm going to be 32 and, as my mom said, this is the time to decide if i want to be in a couple, or be single. The single scene is tired and boring, and it's making me cynical because i'm beginning to believe i can see through people - the cheesy opening lines, the 'witty repartee', the high energy flirting, and the constant struggle for control... all for.. what? a no-strings attached encounter of 21st century love? I think i really want the strings now..even though i may have forgotten what to do with them.... i really want to be out of control, and not fighting for it either. And he seems to want the same things with ME... so maybe i should trust that?

So you ARE planning to trust him, and give him serious consideration despite your reservations about turning your world topsy-turvy...? Because he wants you to?

... Sounds like that, doesn't it? Well.. i'm going on holiday... what else is there to do, huh?

Hmmm... so... you want London Guy? Like.... really WANT him? You feel it?

I don't know... It's been so long since i felt or allowed myself to feel anything romantic... I mean, i don't know if what i'm feeling is passion for the person or pure, unadulterated panic at the thought of getting into something stupid again...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Things I Don't want to Forget..

I went on a long vacation recently, and took a lot of photographs - approximately 400 or so. These photographs were not so great in terms of composition or even clarity, but they captured the essence of the time.

A couple of days ago, on my way back from my extremely long holiday, I lost my camera.

This is my attempt to recapture those moments which were, for me, the highlights of my trip.

1) "Wow... what was that?"
The Artist known as James. Using spare parts of automobiles, James has made a profession out of creating massive pieces of pop culture in all their detail. On Venice beach, he had exhibited pieces of the Predator, Terminator, Alien as well as Wall.E...

In fact, Venice beach will have to be a highlight in itself. The street art, the medical store that prescribes and supplies medical marijuana, the young boy in front of the clinic with a sign that says, "The doctor is in", massive flaggons of sangria, the cold soft sand, the lifeguard's outpost whose metal parts are picked out by the fading sunlight and then the bright moonlight... and through it all, discovering a new friendship.

And then later, when Meg, despite the ravages that chemotherapy has inflicted on her body, completely lost her temper, i was thrilled to hear in her furious voice that the spirit of the girl i loved was intact. She was on her way back, and i was there to see it.

2) "That looks like a UFO.. right?"
The day after i reached, jetlagged and exhausted and completely disoriented, i helped my friends move home. It was surreal in a very fun kind of way. That night, completely shattered and wired, having been refused a drink at the local tavern (because i wasn't carrying ID!), but starting the evening with stolen sips of a leftover stash of tequila, my friends and i made the night a memorable one. Helped along by copious amounts of wine, tequila, weed, etc, the three of us decided to explore the new place. Somehow this involved racing each other in torn footwear, staring at a mist-covered building (the UFO), and laughing... Oh, how much we laughed! Enough to get two warnings from the community security to "keep it down.. or else.." :)

3) "Meet the Folks"
My family, who decided to show me a bit of LA, were wonderful. They're kind, and funny (anyone with tax problems? My aunt's in the IRS! Talk about useful connections!) and young at heart. This very nature allowed them to give me a trip to Universal Studios - the theme park for the movie lovers. Getting up close and personal with the Jaws, the Mummy, the Terminator, Shrek (4D!!! Who needs good seats when the movie is happening around you, huh?), the Jurassic era, the War of the Worlds, the Psycho... absolutely fantastic!

4) "Oh look, naked lady!"
Entry into a strip club - $20
A pint of beer while some pretty semi-naked woman chats you up - $5
A private lap dance - $20
The expression on the faces of my two male friends who look as if they've been allowed into heaven's candy store - priceless
And the life lesson that maybe i really am not into women. Sigh.

5) Welcome to Hollywood!

A movie premier. the walk of fame. Strolling along santa monica blvd. People dressed as Superman, batman, Captain Jack Sparrow, Napoleon Dynamite. All good. But my favorite part will have to be being introduced to sake at a small japanese dive. Yumm! Oh, and bumping into some celebrity,that no one could really place, but whom my friend almost had an orgasm while trying to point out (Ben Stein, the sleepy professor in the Wonder Years). That was funny.

6) "So long and thanks for all the fish."

A day spent by myself, exploring the further ends of London. Late October. Bright sunny day. And i walked through Hampstead Gardens, upto HighGate Cemetary, to sit beside a simple stone plaque. This stone plaque had a small golden dolphin, a robot and a few other curios. On the plaque was written "Douglas Adams". I sat beside it, ate a sandwich and somehow felt good after a really long time.

7) "Oh! Hello Stranger!"

There are people i met at almost every step of the way with whom i shared a few moments. The watercolor artist, who wasn't certain her art would be seen by anyone other than herself and maybe a few passersby within Hampstead Gardens, the ex-military octogenarian who loved Bombay almost as much as i did and thought that i was "like sunlight" (*blush*), the bartender at Venice Beach who fixed ginormous drinks and is one of the chief reasons i got completely plastered on one of my most fun evenings... oh! and the very cute guy who stepped off the subway just as i was getting on... I'm going to tell myself there was a moment there... so cute!

8) History Lessons

Speed walking through Washington DC, past the monuments to achievement, great loss and political and financial power, thinking of petitioning the US Government to allow for auto-rickshaw ferries in between the tourist hot-spots, I remember the awkward way my father held me when i burst into tears in front of him for the first time in 20 years. I remember missing my mom. I missed having my family.

9) "Home sweet home"

Landing in Bombay, walking into my silent home, falling down on my perfect bed, finally feeling comfortable about who i was. Through my journey, i'd felt censored - i couldn't talk to my friends about my family (because they didn't really know much), couldn't speak to my father about mom, couldn't speak to my aunt about my father, couldn't speak to my cousins about London Boy, couldn't speak to London Boy about anything... and that was just the tip of the iceberg. And then, i was home. And around 3 am in the morning, two of my friends dropped in on me. And i couldn't talk to them about any of it - because... well, they're not those kind of friends.

I remember thinking that i'd travelled the world, met my entire family, and friends - and i still felt so very alone.