Tuesday, December 18, 2018


The Wedding-Nama!!!
I know what you will read below will ruffle a few feathers – and I do not apologize for that! This post is a work of fiction.

I respect the institution of marriage, but not many people realize that planning a wedding is quite a stressful event. Because of one stupid choice that couples make at the beginning – “I want both families to feel happy and comfortable” And that’s where the problems start.

Welcome to the life of Ms. Ananya Patil and Mr. Nithin Shetty

February 14, 2018, 8 months before the wedding:
Nithin: I am getting apprehensive about meeting your parents, Anu. What if they don’t like me?
Ananya: That’s obvious that they won’t like you. You are lazy, you can’t drive. You just sleep on weekends like a Panda. I am surprised I like you!
Nithin: Thanks, that helps. My confidence just plummeted to the bottom of the Pacific just like the Titanic
Ananya: At least get your facts right when you want to make a dramatic reference, dumbo! It’s the Atlantic, not the Pacific.
Nithin: Ha-ha, very funny. Even my parents won’t like you, by that logic. You don’t know cooking
Ananya: Oh please! I can cook Egg Bhurji. Don’t you remember our fifth date?

Ananya’s house, February 24, 2018: Meeting of the parents!
The Patils on the outskirts of Mumbai – aka, Thane! It was a plush apartment in a high-rise building. And the Shettys who have lived all their life in SoBo couldn’t stop wondering, “I didn’t know there were skyscrapers in Thane!”
The first meeting of the parents is always awkward. Appearing for a job interview is easier than conversing with your future in-laws. Because there’s always the risk of hearing “Ye shaadi nahi ho sakti!” (This wedding stands cancelled – a dramatic Hindi line which should be read with the same amount of exaggerated expression as they show in the movies)
The Shettys: Ananya is such a pretty name, beta. What do you do?
Ananya: I have done my engineering from Somaiya college of engineering, Vidyavihar. Post that, I worked with Accenture for two years. I did my MBA from IIM Indore and am now working in Deloitte as a Senior Consultant
Nithin (in his head): Fuck, this seems more rehearsed than a job interview answer
After what seemed like a drab one hour:
The Patils: So Nithin, what are your hobbies?
Nithin: I like traveling. Recently I went on a Chardham yatra – Vegas, Amsterdam, Goa, and then Thailand
Ananya (in her head): Oh God, this guy has no filter. Just because his family is so chilled out doesn’t mean he can assume he can say all this to my parents.
Thankfully for him, the Patils were in a good mood and they were quite pleased with the humor. As they say, all’s well that ends well. But hey, this day was far from over. Since I wasn’t present at the meeting, I don’t know exactly what transpired or who said what. But some of the statements were as follows:
“Let’s get the kids engaged asap in April and the wedding can be later in the year”. “We agree”
“Let’s do a destination wedding in Goa instead of a typical wedding in Mumbai”. “We agree”
“We are a modern family. We will share half the expenses. “We agree”
“Let’s keep the budget to less than 25 lacs. We don’t want to spend a lot.” “We agree”

The conversation went on and on, and as you may have guessed, WITHOUT CONSULTING THE KIDS!

That same night: in respective homes
Kids: Why didn’t you feel like consulting me while making these decisions about when, where, and what kind of wedding it will be!
Parents: Because we know you, and we know what you want deep down. We just expressed your wishes to them
Moments like these often leave the kids speechless. They are furious but when their parents utter an emotional line like this, they often go “Awww” in the head, and “Goodnight / slam the door” kind of action in real.

March 2, 2018: A tense date!
Ananya: I have a confession to make. When your parents proposed a destination wedding, my parents didn’t quite approve of the idea. They wanted a simple Maharashtrian wedding in Mumbai
Nithin: But aren’t you half-Goan? I thought you would have jumped on to the idea of having a wedding in Goa. We can have a nice sunset wedding by the beach with soft music and I hold your hands and dance
Ananya: Ya right, says the person who hardly holds my hands on dates too! Anyway, the point is, I am scared we are rushing into things. My parents have already gone shopping and they are expecting us to finalize our rings by this weekend and clothes by next weekend. They have gone ahead and booked the hall for the engagement too for April 17.
Nithin: Calm down, Anu. Don’t be a Parmanu. What the fuck, don’t punch me. Ok, I know it was a shitty line. Anyway, the point is: we love each other. We want to spend our lives together. Why should it matter then when or where we get married? Let our parents handle the wedding preparations and do whatever crap they want, and why can’t we enjoy our courtship period.
Ananya: Is this your Vipassana course outcomes? Giving me impractical, idealistic gyan as always. I want to ensure both parents are happy. And I feel that your parents have steamrolled mine into agreeing to a destination wedding
Nithin: Woah, that’s a huge allegation. If they had an issue, why couldn’t they be candid to my parents and proposed what they wanted instead?
Ananya: Because, however modern we may be, it’s tough being a bride’s parents. My parents are fucking conditioned to agree to whatever demands the groom’s parents make. I expected you to pitch in and take my side
Nithin: What the fuck, how can I take your side when I don’t fucking know what your side was? This is insane. We are fighting a lot these days. And it’s because of a wedding? It’s just an event. The most over-hyped event of the life there can be. What matters to me is “Marriage” – the life after the wedding.
Ananya didn’t respond. Seeing her puppy-face (which girls are so adept at making), Nithin tried pacifying her: Ok, you tell me. What kind of a wedding you want? I’ll make it happen.
Ananya: I don’t want to get married yet. When I thought about telling our parents about our relationship, it was only to stop them from giving me random matrimonial proposals. I don’t think I am ready to be married
Nithin: Okay, I hear you. I will repeat a line which a friend of mine said to me when she got married, “You can never be fully ready. There will be jitters even on the wedding day. But it will be worth it” You know, Anu, when I look at you, I know it will be worth it for me. And despite all my flaws, I know it will be worth it for you too. I know you didn’t mean the “I don’t want to get married yet” line
Ananya: Yes, I am sorry. It just came off in stress. The thing is, I don’t want the wedding preparations to ruin our dates. What venue, what ring, what clothes, what food. DJ or not, Sangeet or not, etc. etc. It’s so irritating dealing with parents. I only wanted both sets of parents to be happy but it’s increasingly becoming difficult to get them to reach a consensus.
Nithin: Agree, should we run away and get married?
Ananya: Yes, my filmy boyfriend. I am always ready for that. But you can’t drive, so we will actually have to “run”

Fast forward: October 14, 2018
Nithin and Ananya got married. And no, in the end, not a destination wedding in Goa. But a registered marriage in a Mumbai Court. What should have been the best few months of their lives leading up to the wedding turned out to be a power-struggle of sorts between both the groups of parents. In the end, Nithin and Ananya were so fed up with the back-and-forth and the planning, that they decided to chuck the whole idea about a grand wedding and instead chose the easier path out.

As of today, the relationships with their parents is sour but there’s hope of a reconciliation. In retrospect, I wonder, Nithin and Ananya should have not wanted to please all 4 parents in the first place and should have just informed their parents on how they wanted their wedding to be. And made sure, their parents agree!

I have a simple take on weddings – eventually it should be as the couple wants. A wedding is not an event to showcase wealth. It’s not an event of grand gestures, but really to celebrate true love. It is an event to celebrate a new phase for the couple, and celebrate with family, friends, and colleagues. It’s an event to be celebrated, not an event to be stressed about. And, in the end, it’s just an EVENT – and should not be given more attention than it deserves! I mean, who cares if the caterer or the decorator screws up – the only thing that really matters is that it’s the beginning of “Forever”!

P.S., I am getting married in 4 days and I am often asked, “why don’t you seem stressed at all about the wedding?” And my answer is simple, “Unlike Nithin and Ananya, I have got the kind of wedding I wanted, with the person I want for life!”

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tiny Tales (No. 101 - 200)

Tiny Tales (No. 101 - 200)

·  Another weekend goes by. He is bonding with friends and immersing in hobbies more than ever before. But, countless voids engulf him and his pain remains unabated, as frantic calls just to see her once again go in vain. Often God's choices can only be borne, not understood...

·  Rangoli and other decorations in place. Wide varieties of sweets and savories prepared too. And then began the long, anxious wait. After all, her son was returning home. Skype had ensured they remained in touch, but Diwali bonded them together 
· The clock shows 4 am. Some may say, it's late into the night. For some, it's the beginning of a new day already. For the hardcore party goers, it may be an end to a wonderful evening. And for those who hooked up, they may just be in the middle of a great adventure. The clock shows 4 am, but each individual's story and current state will be different. Life throws similar situations at all. But our response depends on what we want; and on our response, depends our destination 
·  Once upon a time, hated being her dance partner at the school annual function. She was obnoxious and snobbish, he thought back then. Years later, destiny chose her as his life partner
· His debut novel on love, loss, and life soon topped the bestseller charts. 'It's a work of fiction,' he said when asked about the inspiration for such a moving story. Only he knew it wasn't
·  'Bonds that don't have a name (relationship or marriage) will eventually wither away.' 'I do not quite agree. True love goes beyond the superficial realm. We do not need to be in a relationship to experience it. The best love stories are often unfinished on paper, but complete in our hearts'
·  As she drafted her resignation, she couldn't stop wondering, will the team miss me when I am gone, will they speak fondly about my best works and working style as an inspiration to new recruits, or will I be just another name lost somewhere in the employee records
·  'Beautiful weather today for a nice walk around the park, a bit of reading and relaxation, and Chai-Pakodas!' he thought, only to be distracted by an email that read, "Urgent help needed"
· Dear Life, Thank you for all the pain and failures at regular intervals. It helped me appreciate what I have and value who I have...
· Stoic demeanor, calm countenance, but his eyes conveyed a different story. Grief affects even the most powerful
· She was lovely not because she was fair; she was lovely because she was fair
· "You are all that I have. I am going to love you forever," she said touching her belly, and walked out permanently from her husband's regressive home...
·  "People tend to form negative first impressions about me. I am clumsy and socially awkward." "Don't worry at all. I believe in follow-up conversations" 
·  She didn't like the routine of waking up next to him. But she let it go. Why she didn't let go of him, no one knows
·  She sobs; she wails; she tries hard to communicate her feelings. But nobody cares, and they instead abandon the 'haunted' place
·   Stop the noise, the teacher said. Creativity shed a silent tear.
·   Too frail to walk, too drained to live. Bereft of love, abandoned by all. 'We are open', the shelter home said. 
·   Dimly lit night, cold winds, and lonely walk. A shivering body turned into a shivering soul
·   Two open minds; two loving hearts. Different religions; different nationalities. In him, he found his soulmate 
·   Six months of pent-up frustration. Not anymore. Words overflowed like Vodka, That night, candor was born .
·   Many conflicting opinions. Perpetually cluttered mind. One warm heart. One caring soul. One solution. Mother. 
·   At the park: "Sales is the toughest job," cribbed management grads in unison. Few meters away: "Finally enough to buy two samosas for family," beamed the balloon-seller. Each had targets; only one, job satisfaction 
·   Who's behind the veil is mystery. What's behing the veil is misery 
·    He burnt cities and destroyed homes. She prayed fervently for his safety. Catalyst to both, was a flame
·     A recreational outing for him. A way of life for her. Clear skies and starry night played cupid
·    Full custody, the verdict said. Four years later, he remembers only her smile
·    She dreamed of dancing at his wedding. He was friend-zoned for life
·    'With you, small moments become magical memories,' he confessed as she snuggled in his arms. The couple was onboard a hijacked plane
·    'Forever is a lie,' she knew. Yet in that one serendipitous night of togetherness, in his tender hugs, in his passionate kisses, she found her forever
·    Once again a long, crazy fight... " You've changed. I don't love you anymore" he retorts. She smiles, the plan has worked. Endless love was their unsaid truth 
·       That morning, a man died and a man was born
·       Years later, he would be an expert in psychology and depression, and she would smile from her grave. She was his best anti-depressant
·       'Let's Netflix and chill,' she said. The guy was innocent no more'
·       Time and again, unwillingly, the coolest dad played bad cop so that his children could turn out good...
·       What I am experiencing is so much similar to something I have read,' said a man. Years ago: 'I should write a book based on this experience,' said an author. Life imitates art; or maybe art imitates life...
·       'He is so tiny,' he said, as he held the baby in his arms. The 80 year old Grandpa had just found a reason to live
·       Hearing her voice brought peace to his mind, joy to the heart, and satisfaction to life. An old voice note was his most treasured possession
·       'You spied...' 'You cheated...' Second chance?
·       Once celebrated as the best cop in 'Prevention of crime against women'. Now a drunkard who beats his wife daily
·       Once the ring was off, her glow was back...
·       In the little girl's eyes, she saw hope. She saw enthusiasm. She saw pride. And, India smiled...
·       'Yes' was the answer she was eagerly waiting to give. He just asked the wrong question
·       Once upon a time, the sky loved the sea a lot. The horizon played cupid. Well, almost...
·       “This may be our last time together..." The condom tore, uniting them forever...
·       "Strategy, growth, differentiation, profits..." Three months later: No change. The visionary sighed, yet again
·       "We are just friends..." They were clear about it, until they reached the marriageable age...
·       Daughter in ICU... For the first time, the doctor wished his diagnosis was incorrect.  The mind knew; the heart still hoped
·       Her exuberance and panache attracted him. His introversion and simplicity, she found endearing. Poles apart, yet their worlds converged, just like the Maximum City...
·       'She is always so polite, calm, and warm...' Only the people close to her knew her truest, flawed self. They surprisingly stayed nevertheless
·       Once during ‘Truth and Dare’, his friends asked, 'Have you ever loved two people at the same time?' 'Yes, the guy I love and the girl I am marrying'
·       'I have never met anyone famous...' The crib transformed into a dream, and shaped her destiny. Ten years later, she is country's biggest teen sensation
·       Cab drivers' strike, pilots' strike, employees' strike... so frequent, so disruptive. Would life come to a standstill, he wonders, if Mom goes on a strike someday?
·       Once upon a time, two broken hearts went in. Out, came two best friends
·       He gave her 'his time', yet he couldn't love her... She gave him 'time', for he was worth the wait... For every 'forever', there's an 'almost'
·       Once again, he tried kissing her; once again, she recoiled. Ah, Alzheimer's
·       The couple's eyes epitomized expression, their hands grace, their souls movement, and their dance romance, that too from a wheelchair
·       Amidst the cacophony at the airport, sat a quiet little girl, sullen, pensive, still wishing there was someone on the ground to catch her father when he had fallen from the skies a month ago
·       'Mountains or beaches?' 'Anywhere, as long as it is with you. Even home’
·       Once he went shopping for his fiancĂ©. Bumped into his ex. And inadvertently, forgot the present
·       Once upon a time, they married her off at 17. She had given birth six times already.  Today on her 27th birthday, she gave birth to her DREAMS
·       Once again the smartphone suggested a romantic nickname to complete ‘good morning’ message. The person had changed, the nickname stayed
·       She was looking drop-dead gorgeous and her friends flowered her with praises...But only he could sense the sad, worried look in her eyes, the nervous twitching of her fingers, and the fakeness in her smile. 'What's wrong?' he asked. Finally someone who knows the real me,' she replied
·       'Travel business class, stay in 5 star hotels, buy a house in Mumbai, be rich...' 'Find the love of my life and lead a simple life in the mountains...' Two best friends; starkly different aspirations
·       'Will you marry my daughter?' 'No, I don't love her' he said, feeling crushed inside. The daughter smiled. 'Such a selfless man,' she thought
·       Last seen on WhatsApp at 12.33 am. Last seen alive at 12.35 am... Who knew that behind the now successful 'don't text and drive' campaigns was the pioneer's personal tragedy
·       Life had become a checklist for her. Between managing a home, raising three kids, and bearing her in-laws' tantrums, her identity had become a blur. In her little daughter's dream, she was happy...
·       Leisurely stroll in the park, listening to the birds' chirping. Casual reading, sitting in the quiet shade by the tree. An hour without electricity and Wi-Fi added a quaint, blissful charm to the teenager's life
·       'Love or money?' 'Peace of mind
·       Once again his phone beeped. Twelve hours after she was gone, Wi-Fi delivered her last words
·       Once she asked him for an interesting story... 'Okay, it was from my trip to Ireland' 'Oh wait, you haven't been there' ‘exactly. I may not have many to share, but I want to experience them with you...' In his pocket, were two flight tickets
·       Once he was around, she didn't need anybody else. With him gone, she didn't have anyone. Grief tore her apart; writing kept her alive
·       She faked terminal illness with the hope that her estranged son will come visit her. It was her second lie ever. Her life has been a prolonged first
·       Once again they offered; he vehemently opposed. They tried forcing; he wouldn't budge. Stubbornness. Impasse. Yet another dramatic meal for Papa, Mama, and their two year old Baby
·       'You should be your number one priority...' The non-confrontational teenager had finally found a voice. Three days later, the wedding was called off
·       The clock struck six. Two males, separated by 27 years, smiled. It was the only time in the day when they crossed paths. One back from night school; the other getting ready for yet another day as a bonded labourer
·       They sat for hours by the sea, admiring the sunset, then counting stars, or watching ships far away. Not a lot of words were exchanged; yet much was expressed through their coy smiles, as she gently rested her head on his shoulder, and he caressed her hands tenderly. 'Perfect date. Even after fifty years,' the grandmother of two said
·       Callous words. Mercurial rage. Perennial insecurity... Family distanced. Friends abandoned. Lover betrayed... And, yet another addict was born
·       Once an idealist dreamer. Then a selective optimist. Now a permanent cynic. Life flashed a sadistic smile. "Who's next?" it wondered
·       Thunderous applause as he rushed to collect the award. From the corner of his eye, he saw her. Joy in her eyes, pride in her claps, yet restraint in her expressions.  If only he wasn't married
·       Wipes out all data. Their images. Their chats. Her contact.  So close to achieving a clean slate. And that's when, a Facebook memory pops up
·       Such an architectural marvel, thousands of onlookers exclaimed. Yet only one acknowledged the hundreds of workers that built it brick-by-brick, toiling in scorching summers, torrential rains, and freezing winters
·       Poisoned words. Mudslinging. Violent slaps. Shattered glass. All this, while their baby slept peacefully, perhaps dreaming of Mommy's hugs and kisses, and Daddy's funny faces from earlier that afternoon
·       Lived her entire life in darkness. Constantly dreamed of a prince to rescue her. And one fine day, he did arrive. The eye donor; her savior
·       As the geeky girl frantically solved the Physics problems, two rows behind, the chubby boy counted time for the exam to end. Today he would offer her the window seat and a chocolate, he decided. Chemistry superseded Physics
·       'Wake me at 3 am. Flight at 6.'  His mother held back her tears. It was time to become active on Skype & Facebook
·       'I won!!!' screamed the politician in elation. 'We lost...yet again!!!' cried the motherland in dejection
·       Having waited so long to see her again, to kiss her, the tiny droplet commenced his descent. Soon the air will carry the fragrance of the orgasmic union of the rain and the earth
·       Looks at a shooting star. Wishes for her unparalled happiness. A few months later, finds her happy with someone else. Captures her dimpled smile in his memory and walks away
·       Masters degree, check. Six figure salary, check. Right age to get married, they said. Perfect time for solo travel around the world, he beamed
·       Once again, he mustered courage. Best companion for decades. Countless memories. Choked up yet couldn't deny he was smitten by a foreigner. And sold the Ambassador
·       Once again, regret flooded his mind. He couldn't protect her. His negligence led to burglary of more than five million. 'It's okay. Such things happen,' she said, hugging him tight. 'Sorry!' he WOOFED...
·       Purposely lost the game of chess. The joy on his son's face was his biggest win that day 
·       Candle-lit dinner amidst clear skies...A romantic fad for the wealthy. A way of life for the poor living in small tents without electricity 
·       'I was lost until I found you,' said the engineer to the pen. He finally made his career choice 
·   ·      Every Friday, she dresses up, wears high heels, and parties at the most happening clubs.Yet feels the most comfortable dancing on Bollywood numbers, in her pajamas, hair untied and messy, and without her shoes on

·    ·     Rich man in BMW
Honks frantically, hoping to take his dying wife to hospital in time...
Poor man along the pavement
Pushes his dying wife on a vegetable cart hoping to do the same...
Mumbai traffic, truly a leveler…

·    ·   Spots a shooting star. Doesn't wish for anything...
The seven year old orphan knew that what he really desired could never come true

·    ·     She sees him staring at her...
'Do you love him?' his father asks
'Not yet; but with time, I will...'
And, she holds her husband's illegitimate newly born son close