9

When the confetti settles…

We are stuck at home, and there is no denying that. A bit of grocery and ramen here and there, helps us cut through the monotony and the constant supply of banana bread is doing more than it’s fair share of placation. In the hustle-bustle of our daily routine, all in PJs, all day and everyday, we have been married for almost 5 months.

There is a whole lot of love in the air, with a generous sprinkling of hugs and kisses. We laugh a lot, lounge about with intertwined fingers and just enjoy the bliss of warm hugs. The world is still rosy and we don’t want to kill each other yet.

Its not all pretty though, everyone knows that. We are seeing issues that are not even directly related to us, and that is quite unfortunate. People are sweet, they are nice, but not everyone necessarily induces the feeling of ‘family’, right? There are expectations that look like normal in a certain cultural setting, but feel like burden to me. These expectation have somehow turned into a ‘need’ that I am unable to wrap my head around. I end up feeling quite overwhelmed. Perhaps, because I am a single child, or perhaps because of certain incidents in the past, or more because I am quite strongly and selfishly individualistic.

I have been wondering how are people suddenly supposed to develop love and affection for another family and feel like they have belonged together for decades? How can you just start thinking of another set of parents, like your own? Why is it such a huge deal to call in-laws like your own parents, even if you feel nothing of that sort? Most of all, there is a need to actually show that the love does exist, by calling or texting with the right frequency and the correct gestures, and what is that right frequency? Why is there even a comparison between how you treat your parents and your partner’s parents? Why can’t you just be friendly and carry on with it?

Expectations breed problems. Would you rather have genuine emotions and friendliness that gets built up over years or the fake show of affection?

To all the married women here, and specially who have married into a different culture, how have you dealt with this? If you have had issues in the past, how have you moved on? What do you call them? Do you ever feel overwhelmed and burdened by the expectations? I would appreciate any insight and advice on this.

This is a whole new ball game for me, and hopefully I don’t end up retired hurt.

10

Through his eyes…

Tonight, two years ago, we met on our first date. Many words, and a lot of laughter later, we fell in love. In December 2019, Miss PB turned into a Mrs. Mr. PB wanted to mark his debut in this space, and we thought, why not today. I have spoken about how we met, and he wanted to tell you all about how he asked me to marry him. So, without further ado, raise your glasses to the man of my dreams, and the best company during this weird quarantine time...

It was probably early in the winter of 2018, just before my trip to India and about eight months since our first date, that I’d made up my mind – I was going to propose to Princess Butter, the cutest, quirkiest, most knowledgeable girl I’d ever met. In my quasi-planned ways, I came up with a three-step procedure. 

Step 1 was to get the daddy’s permission, as is fairly common on our side of the world. Supported by the best brother one could have ever asked for, SB, I decided to spend a day in Pune during my 2018 India trip and take the challenge head-on. “The” conversation went quite well, I thought, and it was definitely eased by the fact that her dad and I shared several interests, most notably watching cricket. After several hours (and countless cups of tea!) of discussing how Virat Kohli had changed the face of Indian cricket, I declared to him that PB and I were very serious about our relationship, and wanted to go all the way to marriage, but that we would do so at our pace. I explained to him that both of us had lived in the States for over a decade, and the idea of a surprise proposal was really attractive to me. He graciously agreed, and at the same time, breathed a sigh of relief that her daughter had finally found someone to spend the rest of her life with ☺ 

Step 2 was deciding when, how and where to do the deed. I took suggestions from several friends, both mine and hers, and woke up one morning with a clear thought that the proposal venue had to be where it all started – Kindred, San Diego. Both of us had had a great time (and one drink too many ☺) at that bar on our (extended) first date, and every time we’d been back there since, it was memorable. March 21th ended up being the date as soon as my brother finalized his travel dates (I wanted him and a good photographer around ☺), and all our friends confirmed their availability for the after-party. The ‘how’ was done based on a suggestion by two of her close friends, K5 and AG. I’d “trick” PB into date-night at Kindred to check out the release of their special Spring menu. 

Step 3 was easily the hardest and the most fun – buying the ring! Thanks again to the girls, who guided me throughout the process, I spent late nights at work for a couple of weeks and researched the hell out of the subject. Every time I’d learn something new, I’d try and test my learning at a jewelry store. I was cutting my research really close to D-Day, but with the backing of several friends and family members (thank you SB, RB and AB!), I had a very clear idea of what I wanted (and what I hoped PB would like) – a solitaire with a specific ‘rope’ design to depict how our lives would be intertwined going forward. I found the perfect team and the perfect store in David & Sons, ended up spending slightly more than I’d budgeted for (isn’t that every guy ;)), but was very happy with the final product. 

D-Day arrived before I knew, and I had little-to-no anxiety, to be honest. We’d allowed our relationship to grow slowly and organically to get to this point, and this felt like the obvious next step. SB and I had met with the staff at Kindred the week before, and the day before, and they were totally on board for the occasion. As the weather gods would have it, though, it started to rain that morning, and the forecast had rain until the late evening. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was told to “wrap things up” by 6 to avoid being crushed by the crowd who’d come to check out the new Spring menu. SB and I got to the venue around 4pm and requested PB to be there around 5. An hour of eating and drinking before I “pop the question”. Sounded like a good plan…

As it got closer to 5pm, the rain Gods showed no signs of relenting, so the patio was closed and the area inside was already close to capacity. I kept looking for corner spots inside where we’d find some privacy but didn’t find any good ones. I considered moving the proposal to another date, but it’d taken me a while to find an evening that worked for everyone, and SB was flying back the following Sunday. PB decided to stop by the house and was running late by 45 minutes, so we decided to stick around a little bit longer. Around 5.20pm, as if to bless the occasion, the rain suddenly stopped, the clouds cleared, and weather.com showed 10% chance of rain in the subsequent hours. I asked our server to help clean the picnic table outside for the two of us, and she gladly agreed. 

PB arrived just before 6pm, and I had been given until around sunset at 6.45pm to pop the Q. We ordered drinks and food as we normally did at Kindred, but since the place was packed that day, it took the server 20 minutes for the server to bring the food to us. Around 6.30pm then, we were eating, drinking and chatting our evening away, when SB texted to remind me that we had only 15ish minutes left. I texted him back – “I got this!” Except PB couldn’t stop eating…and she ate slower than usual that evening, or so it felt! Around 6.40pm, SB texted me again, “Light’s fading…You have to do it NOW”! PB was still going hard at the tofu skewers, and SB kept popping up from behind different cars to capture the moment! I couldn’t stop bursting into laughter, so I had to take matters (literally!) into my own hands. I grabbed the food away from her saying that I also wanted to eat some of it, later. She looked at me curiously, wondering why we couldn’t order more later. Within a five-minute window, I started to remind her of all the good times we had had that led us there, and then around 6.45pm, went in for the kill with my prepared speech of sorts. I remember little of the speech (check out my Facebook post for deets), but I ended up on my knees with…”this may come as a shock, Princess Butter…will you marry me?!” 

She rose, turned sideways to shed a tear, and then said yes, and picked me up. We kissed and hugged for what seemed like eternity, until I realized that I had to slide the ring through her little fingers. AG and I had guessed her finger size perfectly, and she could not stop saying “I love it” while looking at the ring. Our wonderful server got us a fine champagne to celebrate the moment, and we had a few minutes with each other before SB popped up to congratulate us followed by Kittu, who’d done a great job of capturing the final moments on video. More friends and family members followed, we cut a delicious tres-leches cake and we drank the night away. 

As I relive these moments by writing them down, I cannot believe that it’s been four months since I called Princess Butter my wife! We’ve had our ups and downs, as most relationships do, but we’ve taken a pledge to celebrate the future ups and learn from the downs. 

13

New things

My days feel different,
There is a newness in the air,
Not just about my friends,
I have more stories to share.

The more I want to tell,
The more I want to hide,
Keep it under wraps,
Or show off with pride.

Goin’ about town together,
Meeting new friends,
Exploring each other’s lives,
And the promise of new lands.

We can be stupid together,
Take a break from all that wise,
Evenings full of laughter,
Stolen kisses and all things nice.

‘Hello, I am PB’
That’s all I used to say,
Hoping for a change of story,
And some more new things today.

2

Look how far we’ve come…

I met up with my friends from my Lonavala days over the weekend in San Jose. We used to be a trio when we started college. All three of us from different backgrounds, found some common ground amidst the chaos of 20 girls sharing a large hall in the first 6 months. We were roommates as well for almost 2 years after that. It will be a mighty understatement if I say that ‘yep, we have had our ups and downs.’ What we had was a family drama that will last longer than your bag of popcorn. But, we grew up(almost!)

It was a very fun weekend with a lot of happiness sprinkled around generously. Looking back, I realized one thing. We all have come such a far way from what we were. It is quite astounding because if you stand from the outside and look at us three, you will be hard-pressed to find a common trait that binds us. Our similarities are indiscernible. We are 3 girls with a very strong sense of individuality, with 3 absolutely different personality traits and 3 ways of thought processes. We think on completely different levels from each other, yet mostly, the end is similar. It’s almost like we are trying to reach the same point, but we take different routes. 

Back in college, when we first met, we did realize that our backgrounds were so different from what we were used to. Yet, we had a common plane. Specially in the first year, having common subjects and living in the common hall and eating in the cafeteria bound us somewhat. Going forward, two of us were in Mechanical Eng department and one was in Computer Eng, but things were still similar to a level. Yet we had our very strong differences. Only commenting about myself, boy, was I rigid! A lot of changes came into my personality and behavior over the years as I got influenced by situations and people. S and A have had a more lasting and a very deep relationship with each other over the years and they both are much easier to understand than all three of us together. I did drift apart, but it was mostly okay for all of us.

Not that I have lost my sleep over it, but last weekend found me questioning the existence of common plane and if it indeed is important. Moo, Ani and I bond over a myriad range of topics. We love similar things and hate similar things. Our families have very similar traits. Well mostly the way we bond is Ani yelling at Moo and I. We do have our differences but that also just blends with the way we are. Maybe that is a result of us molding together as friends over the last decade. But with S and A, I am finding it very hard to point at what is making us tick now.  One has a Roomba and wears flipflops on carpets, one had no idea about Legos till a week back and doesn’t like mushrooms, and one obsessively drinks smoothies for lunch and hates Beiber and loves T. Swift. Interestingly, I have noticed that with almost every topic, among the three of us, two will have the same view about it and one will have an opposite outlook.

But I suppose, it doesn’t really matter. As long as we continue to laugh over the ridiculousness of PG certified but actually X-rated Bollywood, we should be good.

22

Pseudo-memories

Let me start by saying that I have a great memory where I can embarrass an elephant into invisibleness. I can remember small things and details and bring up age-old incidents during fights and arguments. I remember important incidents of my life vividly, and my many firsts!

I was reading some stories on Reddit, and lately I have been obsessed with those. Some comments made me very nostalgic. I could feel the rush of my childhood in my mind and heart. But some part of it was what I call pseudo-nostalgia. I could feel that warmth and the feeling that ‘that’ has happened, but I, for the life of it, could not remember that incident or the moment when that haze of a memory was created.

I have an amazing father. I have written so many times about him and that I am very close to him. We have an odd thing going on with us right now and some distances from my side, which will hopefully go away soon. He has done a lot for me since childhood and has been a wonderful daddy. One thing that comes to my mind is how he has picked me up while walking when I was tired. But I can’t remember when he carried the asleep me to bed from the living room. I am sure he has done that. I wish I remembered that.

But what I remember is the absolutely goofy look and glinting eyes and the lopsided tongue that a very young puppy, our Moony, used to have when any of the three of us would carry him like a baby around the house and talking/singing ‘Majhi rani beti, majha raja bachcha’(My little prince/princess). Then he grew super heavy. 🙂

My mom told me this super cute story the other day when we were driving to San Diego. I used to love going to the zoo. Mind you, the zoo in Indore was rather crappy, and after a few years I lost total interest in them and in circuses and I grew more aware and repulsed by them. Eventually, now I am one of the many signatures demanding releasing animals from circuses and better habitat in zoos. So, we used to go to the zoo on my dad’s Bajaj scooter standing in the front. I would be dressed in my best summer frock and I would insist on a small picnic. Many times it would just be me and my dad. I would insist on carrying this small rectangular picnic basket and I always had a water bottle and hat in it as well. Because I would want to eat something rather than actually getting hungry, my mum would pack exactly 4 homemade chaklis, which are these fried spirally snacks. Yet, I would ask for something or the other at the zoo cafeteria. Every single time. And my dad had to buy some sort of soda or snack to shut me up. In fact, this habit is legendary where however well fed and watered I was, if we went out, I had to buy something and so it was nightmarish for my dad to take me out. Now I remember the zoo time, but I don’t remember these details that I really want to!

The other memory I want to have is how I felt after I wore my first pair of glasses. I had really, really screwed up vision. I used to do quite bad academically because I could not read the writing on the black board and had nothing to copy down. I would have incomplete writings or nothing to write down for tests. When we moved to Delhi, my class teacher in Grade 1 noticed my constant walking to the blackboard and notified my parents. They took me to the doctor and I can remember having an ice-cream after and my parents being very upset. They did not have glasses until the regular age related reading issues. And when my bad vision was detected, I was already at -3 or -3.5, which is quite a bit for most myopics. I shouldn’t even mention my prescription now, when I am almost blind without glasses or contacts. I have heard of stories about people saying “Oh, the trees have individual leaves!” or “Wow, the clouds have shapes!” and even “The stores have names on them!” after wearing their first glasses. These are not exaggerations. If you don’t wear glasses, you have no idea how fukin’ minblowing things can be when you can see sharply again. I just wish I could remember my moment of clarity!

Guys reading this, you may feel a li’l awkward although you shouldn’t and if you really don’t, I am happy to see some normalcy. I can’t remember the time I actually, for reals, got my first period! I remember the second day because we had a school picnic to a water park and I resisted for a long time and then just said fuk it, I am getting into the water. I am sure I wasn’t too shocked because I was in 8th grade and I had had plenty of sex-ed and menstruation lectures by then. It was just like Uh-oh, so finally it has happened to me. But it became way worse after the first cycle because then I started getting horrible cramps that feel like death. Something more embarrassing about getting my menses was my mom telling my dad ‘PB badi ho gayi’(PB has grown up) and him laughing. I wish I could have disappeared.

I don’t care about the rest of the boyfriends to worry about their memories. But I can’t pinpoint the exact time when the xBF and I actually mutually knew we had fallen for each other! It is such a big timeline between September 2010 and January 2011 when things took flight between us. I remember sharing moments, that turned into ‘Shit, I am falling for this guy!’ to spending time with him and stolen hugs and kisses. While leaving for India in Dec 2010, he gave me a quick and secretive peck on the cheek and I don’t know if our friends saw that. That was also the time I was mentally and emotionally very unbalanced and immature because of losing a friend, which in retrospect was a really good thing that happened to me, and I should have handled it better, but I gained the xBF after that upheaval. So good riddance to bad rubbish! But oh dear Lord, I wish I could remember the precise moment when both of us thought that yep, screw friendship, we are more than that!

So many such incidents, that I know have happened and I have a foggy idea. But how I wish I could see them clearly.

Memories are like clouds,
Shape shifting treasures.
Some very clear and some blurred,
With bitter-sweet pleasures.

30

Hello, 15 year old me

Dear 15 year old PB,

Hullo there! How are you doing? I hope this letter finds you in the pink of health. Just like how you open the letter in every letter-writing assignment/exam. Yup, I remember. I remember how horrible your Marathi was when you just started school in Pune. Thanks to mum, you learnt so much! Good job! Don’t be embarrassed when people wonder why your Marathi is so bad even if it is your mother tongue. They should be equally embarrassed about their Hindi, living in India. So gah to them.

PB, I know you are going through really hard times. Your 10th is on. People are piling on great stress on your small skinny shoulders. But don’t worry. You will pull through. Eventually you will learn how grades are not the biggest deal in the world. But you will also learn that in competitive exams, grades will pull you ahead and make things easier for you. It is true that nobody will ask your marks later on. But it is also true that during landmarks, those very marks will take away a lot of stress from your head. So buck up, and pay attention to mum when she is teaching you Trigonometry. You are going to love it, I promise, and she is going to do a great job building up your math capabilities. I wish you keep listening to her and studying with her, cuz, ah well, you will eventually realize how important she was to your studies and building the basics and how you should have stuck with her rather than being stubborn. Thank your mom. And your dad(even if he starts yawning at the mere mention of taking English lessons). It is courtesy them, that you have a career with such hi-fi  technical terms in the name.

PB, I also know why your fragile mind is so nervous. There are things inside. Things that only you know how you are going through. I want you to talk to mum and dad about it sooner rather than a nervous breakdown happening. Talk to them about how you are facing extreme bullying. Tell them that you are being insulted in every step of the way. Speak and discuss about how you can face this with strength of character and come out unscathed. Also, direct your anger positively. It is coming out on the wrong people. Your meekness in the outside world doesn’t have to make you yell at your loved ones.

 PB, the people you are with, they are not going to shape your life. Heck, they won’t even exist a few years down the line. You don’t have to put up with this struggle to please people just so that you can sit with someone to have your lunch. It will not matter eventually. All your childhood, you have gone through this struggle to make people accept you. You have been like that monkey who does tricks on orders. Don’t be. You get laughed at because you say weird things, look weird, behave weirdly. It’s OK. There will be people who accept this very weirdness of yours eventually. It is worth waiting for them rather than being what you are not.

 Don’t be ashamed of your soda glasses. At least you have a smile that reaches your eyes. You know your eyes cannot hide the truth. Likes or dislikes are a major giveaway with your eyes. Be happy that you can’t fake it. Unlike those people you call friends who look at you coldly with a smile on their lips. This inability to fake what you feel, will help you weed out people who can’t stand how you are. You will not understand it now, but give it some time.

 Having a boyfriend is NOT a big deal in school. You don’t need to have one to be cool. You will have enough boy trouble down the line. You will have tons of dates, boyfriends, crushes, guy friends falling for your quirks, ruined friendships thanks to them. Don’t feel embarrassed when classmates link each other up. Enjoy it to the hilt. Even if the other guys feel insulted on being linked to you, learn to ignore. Trust me, there is a ton of drama in store for you. They can make a movie out of you later on. Start thinking who you want to play you.(Pssst… Deepika Padukone, that cutie from the close-up ad is going to be really hot eventually). Enjoy your crushes. God knows you have way too many. Your future BFF will count 14 at a given time in 3rd year of BE. 😀 But please for God’s sake, stay away from that loser you will meet when you will be 18. RUN far away!

 On that point, that guy who is supposedly your friend? He said something like when you see PB from behind, she’s so HOT, But when you see her face, she’s a nightmare. Please ignore it! You are quite alright, girl! Keep wearing your skirts for those legs you love to flaunt. What your mausi(aunt) had called ‘Barbie legs’. 🙂

Some fashion advice. Don’t wear those purple pants with the side slits till mid calves. Please. 

 Your family is going to compare you and your perfect 4.0 cousin a lot. Please do not take it to heart. Your life is perfectly alright with a 3.0 but a gift of gab that you have. Keep dancing, keep singing, keep painting, and keep up your love of books and trivia. It is okay if you are a jack of all trades and master of none. Let others have that pleasure. You will learn to love your average-ness. Someone will post a lovely video on your blog about it  and it will make you even happier!

Your Moony is going to be the love of your life. He is 2 now, right? He is going to chew up your shoes for the 8th time if you don’t watch out! Enjoy the time with him. In a couple of years, you will leave home for hostel and eventually abroad, and you will miss your baby boy constantly. That bundle of energy is going to turn into a lump of sleep later on. So continue bugging him. 😉 Take care of his legs. They are genetically fragile. Stop feeding him nonsense. But I guess its fine. He is a happy creature and he loves you too much. Even if he keeps biting you and gets mad at you with jealousy for going out with the alpha-dog(that is your father. Ahem.) You will doubt his memory and love, but you will be amazed when he remembers you after a loooooong gap and comes jumping at you even if his legs can’t support him. Just hug him. Keep hugging him. Always.

 Now don’t listen to me too much. I barely still know anything.

 Take care, you.

 Love,

 27 year ‘OLD’ PB.