Monday, November 28, 2011

How I Met My Husband......A Strange thing happened... the story continues.... Part 5

After formally fixing up the engagement date to 24 of August 1980, everybody seemed to be happy. The Army boy and his parents left. I could see, how relieved my parents were, happy at the thought that their youngest daughter was finally getting married. However, I was feeling the opposite, I felt burdened, and totally depressed by the turn of events. I would have to tell them what the boy shared with me, I was sure once they knew, they would definitely not like to take it further, and would cancel the engagement.
But, before I could tell them anything, my uncle, who was in the movie business (part time cinematographer), came with some free tickets for a movie called "Shankarabaranam", which was all the rage at that time. Since, I was in no mood to go anywhere, I stayed back at home. I was alone in the house and my parents were expected to come back only by 11pm after the movie.
Around 10 pm, the phone rang and it was the Army fellow on the line. He said he was glad he got me on the line, as he had something important to tell me. He told me not to misunderstand him or get annoyed with him, as he was calling off the engagement. I just couldn't believe what I was hearing, was it real or was I dreaming....

Then he went on to explain, how while he was lighting a cigarette, he recollected the conversation we had, earlier that day, and how although I had not commented very strongly about my reservations about the things shared by him, he could not forget the look of dismay in my eyes.
It led him to think  that, although,  he had very gallantly promised that, he would give up these habits picked up by him, it suddenly struck him, as to what might happen if he failed to keep his promise. 
Since he was not sure he would be able to get over his weaknesses so easily, he felt it would not be right on his part to make me suffer. And therefore, he had conveyed to his parents, that he was not yet ready for marriage at the present time.

He went on to add that his mother was well and truly upset with him for having led everyone down the garden path : I believe she was so angry and livid with him that he had to leave his parent's home and seek temporary shelter at his brother's place from where he had made the call. He said he was very sorry for changing his mind, but hoped I would understand his decision which involved both of us.

Well you know I could not have been happier, for once again some supreme power had come to my rescue and saved me in the last minute. I really admired him for being so thoughtful and sensitive for we get to meet such people very rarely. I admired his strength in looking within himself and thinking deeply about the situation and coming to a mature decision. I am sure he is a happy man wherever he is.

My parents,  when told the news were quite devastated to see such things happening again and again,
however, life has to go on. Now there was not a single horoscope to pursue, and it looked like things had come to a stand still all of a sudden.We were all suddenly enveloped in that 'calm' that one feels before a tsunami.... a deadly calmness that could throw us off balance any moment. Although I was relieved, still I could not bear to see them so dejected in life.

It was at this time I let my imagination run loose. I imagined, that it would be so good if by some miracle, somebody just called up, saying they had come across my horoscope and it was matching, and could they come and meet us. I let my imagination run a little further, (no need to be stingy in this area) by imagining the boy to be a doctorate in engineering (that too from a well known university of America,  the craze for America must have caught on to me too, now don't ask me could have been the effect of some mob mentality ....I really don't know)

I thought it would be so good, if we could just like each other without any reservations. Well as the saying goes, "Be careful what you ask for ... for you might just get it".
Well did  I get it?
Could such crazy imaginations ever be actualized?

We would have to wait and watch....
The blog is becoming too long and I need some time to put everything together, so I have to stop.
to be continued......

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cooking Up A Simple And Healthy Lunch

Today, the weather being cloudy and nice, I felt like making, some wholesome Biriyani with some Egg plant gravy dish which goes well with the Biriyani, and some Raita which is made with raw Cucumber, Tomatoes and Onion in yogurt.
This Biriyani  is made out of Brown rice with some Carrots, Peas, Cauliflower and some Onions and I topped it with some lightly fried Potatoes.
I sprinkled it with some Mint leaves and browned Onions: it really tastes good. Brown rice has a nice nutty flavor, and is also very good for health.

                                                    Try using brown rice it is really good.

The Egg plant dish has lightly fried  whole Egg plant, the small variety, in Tomato gravy, which  is a  perfect  accompaniment to Pulav, Biriyani, or just plain Rice. The Yogurt, with raw vegetables is another healthy addition to any  Indian meal.

Happy Healthy Eating!!!

Health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other. ~Joseph Addison

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How I Met My Husband......."being on the horns of a dilemma" part 4

My parents were relieved, that at last their youngest daughter was finally getting married. I reluctantly said yes to this boy. The Army boy had left,  for he had just come on some official work, but his parents kept in touch with us through phone calls,  discussing the date for our engagement ceremony etc. etc. It was decided that it would take place on the 24th of August 1980. As the day kept coming closer and closer, I  got really worried and restless, I felt the classic shiver down my spine every time I thought about the boy and my marriage to him. I could not understand this fear building up inside me for no apparent reason. The boy was decent, his parents loved me, they were all well educated and cultured, yet why did I harbor such negative vibes, and felt something was not right, but I could not put my finger on it.
In the meantime, my parents went to Kanchivaram (a town famous for silk sarees), and bought all the wedding sarees for me as well as for others, they  were busy buying all the necessary things required for the wedding,  and people were informed about my engagement--- a big relief for them too as they were witness to almost all the alliances that had come my way, news has a way of spreading real fast.
I think one month must have passed, Oh! how quickly the month passed by, bringing me very close to my engagement day, making me dread every second of it.
At that point, I had lost all faith in life, I had no one who would understand what I felt, in fact even if I were to tell someone, they would just brush it off as pre-wedding  jitters. There seemed to be no escape, I was fully trapped. How could I tell my parents that, I just didn’t feel right about this man?
The bell was not ringing for this man in my heart.
They would want to know the reason, and I really didn’t know why I should not marry him.

The Army gang, along with the boy, came again to our house to discuss the various details regarding the engagement etc. At that time the boy’s mother suggested maybe the two of us should be left alone, so that we could get to know each other better. (bless her). So we just started sharing a few things about each other,  which was rather pleasant and nice, making me feel more confident about this man, and I chided myself for imagining the worst scenario for myself. He was really very good, with no airs, a really down to earth man. The more we talked, the more, I liked him, and all of a sudden, all my unfounded fears seemed to have vanished into thin air …. until,  he suddenly said he had certain unhealthy habits and that,  may be marriage would be just the thing  to give him the incentive to get rid of them. He started telling me about his addiction to cigarettes, and also his the habit of drinking, albeit only in parties (which I was sure were pretty frequent).  He attributed all these habits to being in the Army.  Life could be quite tough sometimes, filled with boredom and lonliness,  that’s what he said. I asked him whether he was a vegetarian, to which his answer was in the negative: he said he couldn’t do without eating non- veg, and then he described to me in detail how his father (who was a forest officer), his elder brother ( who was also in the Army ) and of course himself, would go hunting in the forest in a jeep at night times and kill some wild animal, make a fire right there and cook and eat  the poor creature.  He was so excited and seemed to be very proud of such adventures and accomplishments.

    To me all these things sounded very barbaric and inhuman.  I was shocked that I had said "yes" to such a person, for we were so very different from each other in every way.  The prospect of leading an unsettled and nomadic life in the Army, facing frequent separation, relocation, leading a nomadic life, having children whose education and schooling would perforce be disrupted frequently, and all the other accompanying problems, was daunting. (I had somehow brainwashed myself that they were nothing).  And to think, I would also have to live with his various vices (at least to my eyes), I somehow felt that things would not work out between the two of us.  He would be better off with somebody who was used to the kind of life he had just portrayed to me, for I know some people may find it fascinating, thrilling and challenging.  They might also like to accompany him on his trips to the jungle for hunting.  As the saying goes: "One man’s food is another’s poison."  Who was I to pass judgement? 
All I could only say that this man was not for me and could have no place in my life. I somehow felt, that I didn’t want to be involved with a man with so many issues to be resolved, and marriage would not be a solution to his problems. For him to change, the change would have to come  from within himself and not with the help of another person, and I did not want to make it my business to change him.
However, would I have the courage to speak about all this to my parents?
Why did I turn totally against him, for he was just being honest, nothing wrong in being honest, he was only confiding in me as a friend, and soon to become my companion? 
All these thoughts were haunting me, as I kept smiling and listening to him, with no expression on my face. I vaguely remember, his mom showing me a beautiful long antique necklace (the type that Bharatnatyam dancers wear), studded with rare and precious stones, saying she would present it to me during the wedding….. that it would go beautifully with the saree we had chosen for the main wedding…. how she was waiting for the day when they would have me as their daughter in law,  as she hugged me tightly.... and at that moment again my mind started sending me conflicting signals, for,  I felt how could I refuse to be a part of such a loving family….
I still had time to think it over, for the engagement was still about 15 days away.  Maybe I was being too negative about this whole issue, maybe after thinking over it calmly I might change my mind about this man, maybe he was not as bad as he portrayed himself to be.
What do you think, you would have done if you were in such a situation?
 Please think about it and give your honest opinion:  
Army Officer:
to marry or not to marry?

To be continued…………..

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How I Met My Husband.......A long flash back (Part 3)

Another day and another prospective alliance came my way : the boy was the son of an Acharyan (A theological/ spiritual preceptor – A guru ) in our ancestral hometown of  Srirangam near Trichy.  He was an engineer and was very fair and good looking ( that’s the way my dad would describe him in any case). He literally fell headlong for me the moment he set eyes on me. He made it very clear to my father also how he felt about me. He succeeded  in convincing his orthodox parents also and things were moving forward too quickly for my liking.  But I did not like him, and I was worried that somehow I would be forced to say "yes".  The very thought of going to live with his ultra orthodox family even for one single day was horrifying for me.  I would be compelled to wear a 9 yard saree in the orthodox madisar  fashion and follow all the "aachaarams"  (Rituals) and various other arcane rules of behaviour and conduct set by their highly conservative society, befitting his exalted position as the Acharyan (Guru) .   

In the meantime the boy started communicating with my father through letters and phone calls, how he was looking forward to becoming  a part of our family, that we need not worry about his orthodox family,as he planned to set up a separate establishment once married, and visit them only occasionally, that he would take good care of me and blah blah………..

His letters kept coming and I was really irritated by his persistence, and because of him my father started telling my mother how she was not training me also in our orthodox Iyengar way of life, for unless I was properly tutored in these matters, I would always shun  such practices which our forebears in their infinite wisdom had designed scientifically for our benefit only.  My mother and I therefore  got into a secret pact  never to let my father see, any more of the letters that the boy from Srirangam was shooting off.  Fortunately also, the boy’s father had lots of demands up his sleeves which my father did not like and so there I was once again saved from the fire,  but not before a little bit of frying in the pan.  You  simply cannot imagine how horrifying each experience was when you don’t know with whom you might end up for the rest of your life.
After several more prospective alliances,  and every alliance going nowhere, it was the turn of an Army officer to come my way.  You will not believe it  if I told you that by now I had seen and been seen by about 300 boys in just 4 years time. It sounds  implausible, but not so if you were resident in Madras in those days.

Let me clear the air here a little bit to say that my father was not such a hateful person as portrayed by me.  It was  just that the circumstances were different, and it was quite the norm to have dominating fathers in most households  those days.  I must do justice to him for the various other aspects of him as a good father, a good husband and a good man in another blog on an other day.
This Army boy ( officer actually) was also very good looking : he had to be, for my parents would not approve of somebody who was not - the basics were never compromised.  “Goodlooking, educated,  well employed and of good family background" were the minimum specifications.  Now you see, there was a time when my father would not even care for alliances that were advertised in the news-papers nor would he even consider boys from the Army, Navy and Air Force. But times had changed and beggars could not be choosers, and we could not afford to ignore alliances coming from whichever corner of the ring.  Since my father had himself been in the Army and later on shifted to work as a civilian in the Army, he was well aware of the shortcomings and disadvantages of an Army life.  He would say very few people in the Army had good habits and one couldn’t blame them : their life was very tough and there would be several instances when one just had to take what was coming,  and to simply grin and bear.  My father never smoked nor did he drink.  He was a Food Technologist for the Army and it was his job to test and taste everything, and approve these commodities for bulk supplies to the army personnel.  His brother’s sons were all in the Army and Navy and surprisingly none of them succumbed to these vices as well.   But could I expect the same from the boy who came to see me?
The Army boy and his parents did come on the appointed day, saw me and liked me very much.  I also did not really dislike him.   These Army folks exude a certain charm that is difficult to resist.  Other men can learn a few things from them, like how to treat a Lady, and to be polite and dignified with elders etc. Of course everything is fine with them as long as they don’t get drunk and misbehave in public, or even in private.

Well, getting back to my story, my father had convinced me that all Army people need not be tarred with the same brush.  He then brainwashed me to think of a wonderful life filled with parties and various activities that would interest me, and all the wonderful and exotic places in the far corners of India I would get to see and so on.  Of course, deep in his heart he knew that only part of it was true, and so did I:not everything  would be as rosy and cosy as portrayed by him.  My poor father, he was so sincere in his efforts, sometimes I was really moved by his sincerity and his determination to get things done, come what may. This waiting for the so called 'Mr. Right' can't go on and on, somewhere, someone has to put a stop. Accepting things the way they were, and looking  realistically at the world around me was the best option. The boy was good, in every sense, except for being in the Army, which was minor issue, one should always look for the positives  in life and move forward.
 Somehow I sensed a change coming over me:  rather reluctantly, I braced myself to look forward to a so called funfilled life in the army. 

I know you people would want to know everything right now, but it would be too long for a blog, so I have to try and keep it short and crisp, and share my experiences in parts without boring all of you too.
Does my story so far sound weird, well watch out for more weirdness to come......
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