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Not exactly a honeymoon, eh?

All my life, I have heard that the first trip a married couple takes together is called a honeymoon where two adults, who have recently vowed to be with each other, do all the merry things together, for the first time. For couples who have had an arranged marriage (a typical custom followed in India where the bride and groom are selected and finalized by their families after a lot of horoscope-matching, personal and official scrutiny of the individual, especially the bride), they get to know the other person to whom the martial promise was made. For couples who have had a love marriage, they wear their hearts on sleeves and flaunt their new status as ‘newly-weds’. In either cases, the bride’s hand, full of red-white bangles that are popularly called ‘suhaag choora’, and are an imminent part of the marital fashion trend, exhibits the happiness of being a new bride. Likewise, I and my beloved husband went on our first trip together post marriage, but we both, in equal voices, abstain to call it honeymoon. Rather, we unanimously agreed to name it as ‘The first trek of Sharmas’ instead of ‘Honeymoon’.

Me and my husband – we have known each other since quite a few years before we agreed to tie the nuptial knot. So there wasn’t much of knowing-each-other remaining as is prevalent with the couples of arranged marriages. We knew the pros and cons of being with each other. One common thing between us is that we get easily tired (Now that we are talking about married couples, I must mention that we get tired ‘On certain occasions only’), and love to travel to shake off the lethargy.

After we have finished all the rituals of an Indian Hindu wedding ceremony that is incomplete without the great pomp and show, loud music and ‘thumkas’, over-excessive eating and drinking, prolonged broad smiles in front of multiple cameras that keep flashing in our eyes, incessant holding hands and posing, and being surrounded by so many people (let me get this clear – we haven’t done all this while were dating; we are a very straightforward couple), our hearts longed for a break, a proper vacation where we would give some rest to all the weary muscles in our bodies. Hence, we decided to visit Mussourie, a wonderful hill station in Uttarakhand, and a perfect place for honeymooners.

We have been blessed by our beloved relatives who gifted us, the newlyweds, a handsome amount of money. All thanks to them, and also to our most-beloved salaries, we booked one of the best rooms in one of the finest hotels, Country inn & Suites by Carlson, in Mussoorie. The room was clean, had optimum temperature, elegant lighting, glass bathroom, an exquisite view of the mountains and the city from the balcony. The service was top-notch. As soon as we checked-in the room, our eyes gleamed with joy when we saw the crease-less, king-size doubled bed with a spotless white bed-sheet inviting us. It was the best, silent invitation offered to two tired adults by any hotel bed so far!

As far as my memory goes, we both were engrossed in slumber for the entire day. The next afternoon, we made plans of touring the city, as it was the first visit to Mussourie for both of us. I still don’t know which God sarcastically blessed us in our slumber that we decided to tour the city of Mussourie on feet! We were there for a short period of time and decided to keep aside few places for the next visit (Talking of this, I have to start buzzing in his ears to plan the next trip soon!) Thus, sacrificing the leisure of vehicles, we braved ourselves to start the infamous, not-very-honeymoon-like tour by foot.

Disclaimer: Do not try this if either of you have breathing problems. It can land you in serious trouble.

We trekked up and down to the following places:
• Gun Hill
• Lal Tibba
• Camel’s Back Road
• Company Garden
• Christ Church
• Kellog Memorial Church
• Happy Valley

Refer this link to know the places of visit in Mussourie.

Each day, after we reached the hotel room, sarcasm had the last laugh, because we had come to give ourselves good food and proper rest. But now, we were horrified to recognize ourselves in tanned skin and we couldn’t even feel our legs owing to the tremendous amount of walk. The hot shower and the relaxing bath tub were the ultimate rescuers that saved us from getting a sprained muscle. I would like to emphasize that amidst all this reckless trek, we took some really candid pictures and captured pretty awesome moments together. We also ate like a horse, and slept like a log.

On our way back, the new Mr. and Mrs. Sharma joked about how to describe this trip, as we both knew the curious relatives would have all their ears up to listen to some spicy, tittle-tattle about our ‘honeymoon’.

We chuckled at each other and remarked, “It’s true that we both went with our ‘honey’, but thanks to our adventurous spirits, we definitely saw some ‘stars’ above our heads instead of the ‘moon’.”

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I got a wrong advice from my mother and I will not teach this to my kids.

We all look up to our mothers for comfort and advice. It is a good thing to consult them during need and respect their advice. I, too, love my mother very much and discuss almost everything with her to get the right suggestion. But, recently, I have received a piece of advice from her that I am finding very, very difficult to accept. I told her, very unapologetically, that I disagree with her on that particular piece of advice, and I would never suggest or teach that to my kids. Well, before I proceed further, I would like to emphasize that this post is not to disrespect or humiliate her at all; I love and respect my mother a lot. She has simply suggested what has been passed on to her. The disagreement in our opinion is purely because of the huge generation gap.

I am an Indian woman, and so is my mother. I have always seen and visualized her as the iron-lady of the family. She is a working woman and is active from dusk to dawn. Everything, including my father, is dysfunctional if she is not around. Our daily routine starts and ends with her. Thus, I never believed that any advice coming from my mother would be incorrect. I trusted and followed her blindly. Kids learn what they see. I was no exception. I learnt to do all my chores, ALONE, just like my mother. As I grew older and moved out, I saw the world differently, and there started the series of disagreements between us. Why was she alone when my father was there? Where was my father when she was alone?

I have joined the institution of marriage very recently, and like all other newly-weds, I, too, needed some important advice from her for obvious reasons. But, in Indian Society, the advices change for a married woman, even if you are a daughter. Marriage takes an entirely new dimension when you live in a patriarchal society like India. The woman is expected to bind the home, play all her roles: daughter-in-law, wife, mother, sister-in-law, daughter, etc. diligently. It is also expected out of the woman to look after the needs of the family members. (What about her basic needs?) Any woman would love to make her marriage successful by doing all this, unless these are imposed on her as regular duties to be performed. In this context of the ‘duties’ to be performed, my mother told me that ‘It is the woman of the house who has to do most of the work’.

I disagree. Marriage to me is a beautiful bond shared between a man and wife. But, in societies like India, the meaning of marriage is rooted deeply in patriarchy and gender inequality. While the woman, irrespective of the fact that she is a home-maker or a working woman, shares the major portion of work, the duties of men are limited. My great-grandmother taught this to my grandmother, and she to my mother, who has now mastered the art of finding an exhausting and tiring balance between her professional and personal life. As the legacy goes, I was also taught the same, directly and indirectly. I have learnt to cook alone; that’s why the lack/absence of any assistance in the kitchen does not bother me. I have learnt to eat alone; that’s why when somebody at the table finishes the food before I could, and leaves me and the table, it does not bother me. I have learnt to do my work alone; that’s why, when nobody assists in doing the household chores, it does not bother me. I have learnt to balance my schedule; that’s why when I finish all the morning chores, pack everyone’s lunches, make sure that everyone finishes breakfast before leaving the house, and I still manage to reach office on time, it does not bother me. Just like my mother, I am also gradually mastering the art of finding the right balance. Although, I disagree to share the majority of work, I silently end up doing it all.

In a discussion between to married women: a mother and a daughter, I have told my mother that I am determined to break the legacy-chain and I will never teach my daughter to have the life we share. I will teach her what I once thought of teaching myself – to find a partner who understands the need of sharing the work, who understands the true meaning of ‘Sharing’. I will never advise her to do perform all the chores while her man sits, eats, sleeps and ignores. If this means going against our society, our very own patriarchal society, and breaking some man-made laws, so be it.

Being a woman is always a sign of being strong. But, being a strong woman all the time, can also be a sign of weakness.

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I shouldn’t have

I shouldn’t have
Let your hands feel
The sensations under my skin
And your ears listen to my throbbing heart
When your fingers ran through me like paint brushes
As if, to you, I were a form of art.
I shouldn’t have let your tongue
Roll inside my mouth
It was a magic that worked
And got me fiercely aroused.
I shouldn’t have let my mind flow
Without resistance
And savour
The taste of your warm lips
Every time you pulled me close under the blanket
Caressed and planted the erratic kiss.
I shouldn’t have laughed and listened
To the imaginary stories of castles
That we built on floating clouds, and,
Secretly wished them to come true
I shouldn’t have looked at you in the eye
And confess that I’d fallen for you.
Rather, I should’ve crawled under my skin
Retrieved
And pulled myself back
For I am betrothed to the one
Whom I promised and I once loved.
I can see in people’s eye
All that we have seems very, very wrong
And now it doesn’t matter anymore
To whom my heart belongs
As my parting is certain and
There’s no looking back
I am sorry for falling weak
Cause, I really shouldn’t have.

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Secret List of Grooms

While the shopkeepers are busy raising the commodity prices and aunties engaged in fierce verbal combats to cut the prices down, the young ladies imagining themselves, probably trillion times, in the outfit and matching jewellery they want to wear on the special day, the men of the family are silently looking, with a mixed expression, as they see their savings gradually disappearing in the dazzle of wedding clothes and arrangements. The wedding season is near and it is time for many men and women to tie the nuptial knot and bond in a forever union.

When it comes to wedding, our otherwise lazy minds become extra imaginative and starts picturising, an outcome of too many romantic and happy-ending movies, of how the whole occasion is supposed to be and by the time the actual discussion starts within the families, we already have our shopping list ready. Now, shopping for a wedding is for both parties so obviously there are two types of list – a list for the bride and a list for the bridegroom. Here we will definitely talk not about these lists, but the other secret list that the grooms have in the back of their minds, strictly to be disclosed and discussed with close friends only.

As I have been honoured to be a part of many discussions regarding the secret list, here I present some of the important items from the so called ‘Secret Groom’s List’.

Alcohol – Although the trend is changing in modern Indian weddings, some families still have raising eyebrows and immediate opposition to alcohol in a wedding. Thanks to some of the instant messaging facilities, the groom will definitely have a group discussion regarding the most objected thing. ‘Kaunsa Chahiye? (which one do you want?), Kitni Bottle (how many bottles?), Desi ya Videshi? (local or imported) are the obvious questions asked by the groom and to the groom before the wedding. Not to forget about those friends doing emotional blackmail and making alcohol a compulsory item to be served secretly in the wedding ‘Daru nahi rahegi to main nahi aaunga’(If there is no liquor, I will not attend your wedding).

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Girls and women – Even before the wedding date has been fixed, the groom is bombarded with questions regarding how many pretty faces the groom’s friend can see at the wedding. Trust my words, the friends have nothing to do with the wedding but to eat, drink and flirt! ‘Usko bulaya?’(did you invite her), ‘wo aayegi?(is she coming) are some mandatory questions the groom has to answer and before he can even finish answering, his friends have already selected the girl they are going to be busy with. Mind it, there is a gentleman’s agreement that no two men will flirt with the same woman, ’Bhai wo meri wali hai’(Brother, I have selected her).

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Honeymoon – The marriage is yet to happen and the groom will already have a secret list for his honeymoon, and yes, friends are a major contributor to the list. Suggestions like ‘Bhai, bhabi ko leke yaha jana, mast jagah hai’ (Brother, take your wife to this place, it is nice place) have to be welcomed, willingly or unwillingly. Not to forget, suggestions of ‘mast jagah’s will come from every friend irrespective of whether they have visited the place themselves or not. Talking of honeymoon, there are other stuffs associated with it as well and the groom, without any doubt, will have a list for those stuffs as well.

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Shoes – While the groom’s family members decide on the dress, the friends become experts in suggesting the matching footwear.’Chappal pehenke shadi karne jayega kya?’(are you going to your wedding in slippers?)is a common example of groom-shaming question. Believe it or not, the groom includes shoes in their list to save himself from sheer embarrassment.

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All other items can be managed by family but somethings need special attention, so it is always fair to have multiple secret list on these occasions. And by the way, the groom should also have his say; after all, it is his wedding too!

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Letting go is a good thing

We all, at some point in time, sit and think, think very deeply, about the decisions taken in life. Sometimes we end up in self-appreciation and others teach us a lesson. But there are some decisions that we can neither appreciate not accept; the decision confines in our memory.

So here she was, again, in the same bit of time, contemplating her own decisions and sipping on a cup of hot coffee, to keep her soul awake. It was raining and a mesmerizing petrichor was emanating from the dry and broken soil, from the grass that had waited long enough to kiss the first raindrop. The sky was putting up a wonderful show of colors and the breeze was brushing against her face and hair, apparently to whisper a beautiful message from someone. Gazing outside her window, she failed to appreciate the beauty and to feel the association with anything around her; she was cold and blank. The only thing going through her mind, repeatedly, was whether she loved him anymore or not.

It was three years back when they met. She, then, happened to be a beautiful, young and independent women and he was a tall, handsome and active young man. Destiny had planned their roads to cross and it did not take much time before they were captivated by each other. The cupid had his arrows well planted in them and they both were in love. They were inseparable in thoughts as well as action, except that she was more focused on her career than marriage. On the other hand, he was determined that she was her soul-mate and he would soon marry and have a better future with her; he did not risk any chance of losing her, such strong was their love. Families agreed and they tied the nuptial knot. Little did she know that destiny had frowned upon her when she decided to alter her priority list.

She is a married woman now. Unlike before, the ‘married’ tag had a strong influence on all her decisions, big and small. She was born and brought up in a family that taught to take all decisions by oneself and this shaped her to be the woman she was. But all of a sudden, her upbringing and married life contradicted. An independent lady would not entertain much interference in her life and decisions; she did not like it either. The couple, so madly in love once upon a time, hardly spoke. The talks, the touches, the kisses – all seemed to diminish in thin air. There was a distance between him and her. She found peace and satisfaction in solitude. She silently waited for him and he waited for her, to return from the distant land of quiet separation, but none expressed. The wait finally turned into habit and then slowly died. She had invested a lot of time into something that was destined to fade away. She changed from a lively person to a quieter one, seeking space away from everything. A woman known for her rapid success turned forgetful and careless, such was the devastation within her. No matter what destruction she faced within, she did not quit her job and enjoyed going to office as that was the only place where she had a recognition. The work kept her strong and going.

She would recall the old days and  often ask herself if it was the right decision to alter the priority list and say yes, too early before achieving anything. She would try to feel the same for him, like she felt during her previous times, but in vain. Gradually, in the course of time, she came to the realization she was too weak to put up her armor anymore and wanted to call it off. Without any resistance from the other side, the couple called it quits.

She is independent, once again, and is gaining herself slowly and steadily. Healing is a time-taking process. Had she not called it off, she would have found herself ageing in the jungle of her own thoughts.

Through all these years, she realized that letting go is always a good thing. Everything will abandon you except the impact of the life you decide to live, as an inflicted wound or a wonderful gift. One has to release the clutches to breathe and good things can also occlude the path if allowed at wrong times.

 

 

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