Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Simplicity is a virtue

We are about to enter 2008. The eight year of the 21st century. Of what use is it to talk about the advancements we have made when we still have advertisements that talk about saving for your son's education and your daughter's wedding. Fortunately, we are beginning to see advertisements that talk about saving for your daughter's education as well. A step in the right direction.

But let's get back to the weddings. It is an unwritten rule that dictates that the girl's family will spend on the wedding. I don't know who started this trend. I'd like to give him or her a piece of my mind. (I can write pages about dowry, but it is a topic that has been beaten to death and then some more.) These days, when someone doesn't want to "ask" for dowry, they ask for a "grand wedding". Of course, the girl's family is expected to bear every expense. And then on the other hand we talk about why female foeticide or infanticide is high in India.

I have been reading about the Big Fat Indian Wedding. Any magazine I pick up has some article or the other about how this industry is growing and how wedding planners have taken weddings to the next level. Excuse me? Industry? As far as I know and remember, a wedding ceremony is meant to celebrate the union of two individuals. When did it become a money spinner? Why did it become a money spinner? And why are parents' of the girl expected to fuel this "industry"?

I've been to 7 weddings in the last month and am shocked to see kind of money that has gone into each of them. I am not going to suggest that one use this money for charity or something like that, but could this not be put away as a nest egg for the couple? From being a celebration with family and friends, the wedding today has become an avenue for vulgar display of wealth. Conversations are not as much around how nice a person the groom or bride is as they are about how much was spent on their trousseaux.

I am appalled at the state of affairs. Shocked that this goes on. Sorry that while some of us take a step forward, many continue to take many steps backwards. Simplicity is a virtue. It may not be long before we say it was one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Every time I am inside an aeroplane and it is about to land, there is an announcement that asks people to remain seated until the seat belt sign is switched off. Yet, people start moving when the plane is still taxiing. The announcement also asks people to keep their mobile phones switched off until they leave the aircraft. Yet, people start talking on their phones even before the seat belt sign is turned off. Why?

I fail to understand why we are unable to follow commands. Is it that we don't like to be ruled? That we don't like to be told what to do?

On the streets of Delhi, when the signal turns red, unless a policeman actually stands in front of the traffic, it continues to move ahead. At times I feel we truly behave like we don't deserve the freedom we are blessed with. At others, I feel we may be well on our way to having someone else take advantage of the entire situation and come rule over us again.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

There is such a thing as a free lunch

One of the many standard interview questions that's almost always asked is, "How would you deal with a free loader?". I have never asked that question nor have I been asked that. But, every so often, life presents me with a situation that forces me to think about this.

I love cooking. My foodblog stands testimony to this. But I didn't undertake to do it all the time and for just about anybody. When I first moved here, we had guests very often. There were a couple of bachelor friends of my husband's and a couple of my friends from my childhood. Every once in a while, we also had some colleagues come over. We enjoyed entertaining and continue to do so.

But there was this one friend of S's and he would land up almost every Saturday. Worse still, he'd end up staying until the wee hours of the morning. He'd pick any time to land up at our place. I began to resent it. It became the norm. If we were in town during the weekend, he'd arrive. He'd gladly empty our booze stock. I'd be dying to spend some time with S after a hectic week or even just wrap up things and sleep, but he'd be there. He'd even specify the stuff he'd want to eat and I obliged quite often. I must admit, I never once got a compliment. Did it irk me? I'd be lying if I said it didn't. At some point, I lost interest. I offered him leftovers. If we could eat the stuff, so could he.

What irked me more was the fact that none of this was ever reciprocated. We didn't get invited for lunch or dinner. One day, I told him to take us out as I didn't want to cook. And he did. But a couple of weeks later, he told us we owed him for that dinner.

Excuse me, please! Owe? What about the countless dinners, lunches and breakfasts? What about my time and effort that went into making them? What about my stock of booze that was depleted? Just because things are inside a house, are they free? Since then, I have not been able to bring myself to entertain him at home or outside. Why should I? He's not a child. In fact, now that he's married, I'd like to intrude on his personal time on Saturdays with his new bride. But then, that would equate the two of us and I can't allow that.

All those meals for him were free. So, there is such a thing as a free lunch. Literally. Maybe someone will become a free loader and he'll have to bear the brunt. Maybe I was a free loader at some point. But I am sure I wasn't.
Am I wrong to keep score of such stuff?

This article tells me that I'm not alone. We subscribe to the Reader's Digest and I read this article. It struck a chord, rang a bell and did many other such things. Everybody keeps score and what goes around will come around. No one's getting away without clearing dinner debts.