Anita had met more than a handful of prospective grooms by now, with each meeting becoming progressively depressing (for her). And you would think, what with her father begging her to date someone of her own accord, she would have followed his advice seriously. Nope, our girl was brave and foolish, but mostly sluggish & socially awkward.
I hope you are comfortable. Sorry, the room’s a mess, we just came in last night, apologised Anita.
Oh it’s okay.
So you’re a Scientist, huh?
The boy looked like he’d never heard the word before.
Yea, stressed Anita, S-C-I-E-N-T-I-S-T trying to cut down on her accent that came very naturally to her.
He still looked surprised. Now Anita was feeling unsure! What if she had said the wrong thing to the wrong guy? Yes, she was a reputed scatter brain, & she knew she was capable of such faux pas… but,
Shit! Feeling very uncertain she mumbled,
Umm…you work with Ranbaxy right?
Correct, but I work with the back end team.
But… but, your profile mentioned that you’re a Scientist. So what do you do? she mumbled, looking disappointed.
I coordinate between the sales team & the researchers.
What a liar, she thought! Enraged, she wanted to walk out of the room. But alas, couldn’t. They were after all sitting in HER bedroom. Where could she possibly storm off to? & right outside were a gang of relatives from both sides, trying hard to make sense of the nonsensical chatter originating from inside her room. She was feeling outnumbered.
So she tried to make polite conversation with him until the requisite time period (until coffee was served, & she could already smell it brewing in the kitchen).
Do you like to read? she asked.
Yes, absolutely, he said, perking up a bit.
She found it extremely sexy, when men read, her parents thought it was some kind of a literary hangover she was suffering from,
Oh wow. That’s nice. What genre do you prefer?
With a lot of pride, he answered, I love Ketan Jagat & I only read his books. What about you?
Okay, Anita didn’t have time to school or entertain noobs like him. She had just received a most distressing call from her driver who said he couldn’t come to pick her up, because, “Mera chacha off ho gaya madam”, so she had to make alternate arrangements, & quick. Trying to bring a halt to the conversation, she said,
Nothing of your calibre, I’m sure.
Coffee was served, and no promises were made.
She had begun to deal with these interactions with a generous helping of salt now. Her mother accredited her constant failure to being too educated & exposed to the world. Note, the hypocrisy here though. If you have had friends from the south, they’ll all tell you that premier education & hobbies (yes, in the plural) are strictly cultivated in young South Indian kids, & anything lesser, is simply not acceptable. So, when her mother said, she was too qualified, Anita couldn’t fathom what she was trying to imply. Hello? Wasn’t she harping on her education until yesterday?
Here is another case of cultural prejudice she faced, and boy did she face that a lot. The below specimen was another of her father’s “No beta, but this time I promise, the guy is really good, trust me” kinda guy.
I’ve heard everyone in the media, especially in Bombay is always drinking tea & smoking on the streets, he remarked.
Where did you hear that? she asked, pushing her mobile higher up, the heat & the sweat not helping either.
My friend visited Bombay once, she told me.
Right, replied Anita, trying to bite back the sarcasm. And was your friend standing on the streets all day long, to make this observation? Also how did she identify who was media & who was non-media?
Taken aback by her cold effusion, he tried to reason,
I mean, that’s what they show in movies also na?
She was tired of defending “Journalists & the Media folk” to people. I mean come on, if all that was said about them was to be taken seriously, how did news channels even function? They would all be in a constant raver, all year long.
Oh God! Of course! The movies have shown it, then it must be satya vachan! She fumed.
Now, tell me, what do you do, when you feel anger build up in the other person, because you’ve said something stupid? Obviously. You say the next stupid thing that comes to your mind. So, naturally this is what the boy said,
So if I come to your office now, I won’t find you smoking?
And you must the khaap! she said, and hung up.
Feeling irritated, she made her way across the street, making a mental note to talk to her father about these “good guys”, he sent her way. She needed something to elevate her mood. She ordered herself a cutting at the tapri outside office, she loved the essence of lemongrass in her tea here. Picking up her glass, she made her way to a bunch of newsroom producers she recognised.
PC: Bharath Shetty, a most prolific photographer of his generation.