Desi mid-life crisis

“Sir, you look pretty young, must be in twenties!” The callous bubbly girl remarked.

I never realised how swiftly I entered into 30s and close to heading what they say ‘midlife crisis’ or ‘frustrated forties’.  Could have been a genius-in-day-hoodlum-in-night kind during my college days, and then the pursuit of Dilli-waali girlfriend (read my old blog). Unbound uninhibited. For most of the born middle-class, this fool’s paradise gets over with a simple-yet-effective word called ‘marriage’. Its a symbolic end to any imprudent or luscious desire.

For many mischievous incorrigible young goons, marriage would be ultimate weapon to bring them on track. “Beta! Abb to shaadi ho gayee. Abb to sudhar jaao.”  (Now you’re married. better fall in line!). Even people like Ajay Devgn began doing movies like ‘Bhagat Singh‘ and ‘Singham‘ after marriage, while skimpily clad gyrating Kajol decimated her career to kid movies and Alpenliebe chocolate ads.

So, it wasn’t inapt for me to ignore the lively charming girl. Given a choice between Katrina Kaif or Konkana Sen, I prefer to go for Konkana’s movie which carries some substance-as they say. Wonder why these calculative producers pay so much to Katrina, a woman without substance? These ‘hot’ and ‘oomph’ don’t quite register in mind……anymore. The definition of ‘substance’ for me has flipped for good, like ‘Congress-to-BJP’, a character reversal, moderates to hard-core rightists. No other women. No indulgence. No freedom. No wits. Restrict to roman code of ethics and the supreme boss- your spouse. Konkana couldn’t hold me for long, and gradually the interest for movies died. TV soaps or those millions of singing idol shows were equally brutal.

Aren’t men cheering up Sachin and Yuvraj while gobbling on chips and drinks becoming rarer? I don’t remember when I last watched a test match. What would men do if they are stripped of historical ‘couch potatoes‘  status? With women conquering the couches watching all TV shows, should we begin calling rather ‘couch tomatoes‘?

To make it worse, era of ‘bigbasket’ and online shopping confiscated the lone birthright of indian husbands- shopping vegetables. I remember men enjoying evening walks to shopping ‘haats’ and fish-markets, a healthy respite from family woes. They would drift around, have long chat with buddies, have a ‘bhang-sip’ or a small ‘drink’ based on local preferences, discuss women may be or an unchaste joke. And there was no mobile to track you down either. Deprived of this casual pleasure, I have slowly forgotten the contours of gourds, and colour of flours. Big Bazaar revolution eliminated the pleasure to explore.

While driving back home, I was crooning an oldie, “O bade miyan diwaane, aise na bano” (an old song based on a moonstruck middle aged fellow). The girl who complimented in morning suddenly flashed in the rear-brain. She must be in her twenties or could be even younger. Huh! a kid. Yet, she brought in me a conceited grin, a quick look on car mirror and a stroke through own beard. May be I am still so young and charming! Day-dreaming I reached home. My spouse was surprised to see an exuberant beaming face instead of routine insipid fatigued profile. Mirror was even more surprised to find me staring at it for long. Everything seemed in tone, except the bulging tummy. I began coming home early and rushing to the gym. After lifting plenty of married life burdens, those weights and dumb-bells looked so wispy and light. Soon, my gait transformed from kyphotic bent Neanderthal to a Modi-style bold bloated stance.

Funky T-shirts, kamaal-khan sunglasses, a goan rejuvenation escapade and counting female stranger ‘likes’ on facebook. The new life had begun. Essentially, a suave doc was turning into a silly lampoon.

The tummy kept its contour intact not even budging for an inch. I sweated, panted, pushed up, tread-milled. Futile attempts of revival. God pushes you into such a karma-cycle that the only girl who would ever genuinely appreciate you, is your wife, sometimes more imposingly termed ‘life-partner’. A sacred elaborate marriage ritual and those seven-pheras glue you forever to somebody. Bond becomes even stronger with kids stepping in. The concept of ‘yours’ , ‘mine’ and ‘ours’ kids never crept much in Indian familes except a few like famous Mukherjeas where family lived like a riddle never knowing which son or daughter have come from which womb.

Coming back to the bubbly girl. She deserves some credit for bringing a sense of revival in me. A life lost in undesired burdens and imposed routine. A much early mid-life crisis which engulfs most of the married, divorced, or never-married people, is simply unwarranted. A ball-room dance with spouse may be extreme for many, but may be a bunch-of-roses would do.

What nonsense is buzzing in background when you write such a serious blog? ……Daddy mummy nahin hain ghar pe…….uncouth lyrics, oafish gestures.

Note: All characters (including me) are fictional and any resemblance is mere coincidence.

Continue reading “Desi mid-life crisis”

Born immigrants of India

Years back, when I was studying in Pune, I had a friend who never travelled beyond Bombay, forget out of state. A proud marathi fellow, who loved his state and his culture, and never dreamt of foraying anywhere beyond Maharashtra. Its altogether a different story, today I see him hopping from one continent to another. He wasn’t a born immigrant and neither are a lot of Maharashtrian, who are proud to be grounded to their origin and their culture. But, country do have set of born immigrants, who are born to wander, some erasing their footprints and some carrying their old soil wherever they go.

#5 The wealth creators: Gujratis and Marwaris

A herbivore species, with an accented speech and a basic degree in commerce or sometimes just a matriculation, knows to mint money out of scraps. Birlas or Ambanis, or owners of any small Baskin Robbins outlet in US, they are everywhere. Given a choice, all gold and diamond of world would love to be kept in their custody. They know their value, every bit of them. The sweetness haunts you when they try to sell, or when you are employed by them. Most difficult employer to quit in my life, was one of them, as I could never have enough arguments with him in spite of disagreements. No wonder, we have a prime-minister with wide acceptance in spite of plenty of dissents.

#4 The intellects: Bengalis and Tamils

Exactly opposite of Gujratis, Bengalis are fish-gobbling, sophisticated (oily-haired bhadramanush is past!), and highly educated individuals who barely care for money. May be ten years from now, only people you would find doing a PhD would be Bengalis. The protectors of Classical music, Rabindra Sangeet, and wearied old literature from Shakespeare to Sharatchandra, all would have a thick spectacle if they get their eyes checked properly. Similar description goes for Tamils, who too would reach the heights in science, have penchant for music, and yes, spectacles are equally universal. Yet, both of the groups would have their own coterie who would chit-chat in their language, bengalis with their rolling tongues and rounding lips, and tamils with their vibrating vocal cords and cluttering teeths. When I spent some unsuccessful years in PhD course in US, university was studded with Bengali research grads, and sight of some eminent Tamil faculties.

#3 The paramedics and gulf stormers: Malayalis

Not a corner this country would have a hospital without a Malayali nurse. How this crept in the culture is not well understood by me, but they are the best in healthcare industry, be it my field of radiology or any discipline. An incomprehensible one of the most complex south indian language, an even more complex cast and religion mix-up, and most butchery culinary habits from minced beef to chips-and-pickle made out of fish, yet they have wide presence in nation. Well, sea route could serve an access to gulf, but India has a huge coastline, yet migrations happen most from the ‘god’s own land’. If you throw a stone in Arab lands, chances are more of hitting a malayali than an Arab.

#2 The honest hippies: North-easterns

Inherting a covert culture hidden in ‘chicken-leg’ of Indian map, they are true outsiders with different physique, face contours and a non-native accent. They could never hide their identity, never could gel completely within the mainland. Delicious chinese cuisine cooks, a trusted security person, or a smiling masseur, they choose such professions where nobody could ever contend them. Vogue hairstyles and dresses, some junkies, some musicians, some boxers, some just plain dumb humans, they are the inherent nomadic hippies of India.

#1 The ambitious commoners: Biharis and Punjabis

This may sound weird to club two contrasting cultures, but in essence, their reasons to immigrate are similar, and have similar earthly roots. Years back, when we had some squabble in college days, one of our seniors pointed, “Both of you are equally rustic (“ganwaar” was the actual word). One says ‘ishkool’ and other ‘askool’, none of you can pronounce ‘school’ correctly.” While Punjabis began moving from the days of partition, or when became terror-capital state, or after ’84 riots, Biharis ran out of suffocation in undeveloped corrupt state. In punjab, many people still carry two dreams- one, to go to Canada, and another, to release their music CD. Biharis who could dream became IAS, one who couldn’t dream, opened a Paan-shop. When I moved from one city to another, I changed my accent or learn the local language, trying to gel myself with the culture. I got dissolved in local culture like a ‘dispirin’ tablet. Punjabis love to keep their accent, sing bhangra, and drive the cab with pride.

One erases the footprints left behind, and other carries the soil with them.

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Courtesy: illerah.com