Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Episode 3: In which I said "What's up, Yo?" and immediately felt old

At what point do you realise that you are not eighteen anymore? For most people it is their nineteenth birthday, I suppose. I of course, do not fall in that bracket. Which is why, when at 28, I say those hitherto innocuous words as a response to a friend's  unsuspecting "Hi!" and those words turn back and smack me on the back of my head with a "Who do you think you are, eighteen-year-old Crumbs?" I can only offer a mouth gaping like a goldfish in response. How do words do that? Where did they even get those tiny vicious hands to smack you?

That starts a depressing spiral of thought-processes, which goes from, "My god, I am too old to say 'What's up, yo?'" to "Why the hell did I start saying 'What's up, yo?' in the first place? What is wrong with 18-year-old me?" Which, of course, my now 28-year-old self immediately sees as an opportunity to be snarky and mean. "Lack of a mouth-to-brain filter, terrible over-estimation of capabilities, SO MUCH ANGST, to name a few," she smirks. "If you want a complete list, we'd both be 30 before we finish."

Sigh. Some days you function like a well-adjusted adult person, on the other days, your present self and your past self decide to have a conversation and give your future self a headache.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Episode 2: One with all the characterless single people

Ask anyone who has to had to hunt for a house in India, and they will most likely have at least one story where they were denied boarding on the basis of their marital status. Until a few years ago, the story used to be that all the single peoples were what the landlords used to be indignant about. Even as there is some semblance of equal discrimination now (mostly because the landlords have wisened up to the fact that the single peoples usually have more money to spare than the married and/or child-ed peoples, and they are less likely to leave any signs of having lived in the house when they rent, spare a carton of empty beer bottles), the whole notion that a single renter is the harbringer of the plague (or whatever is the modern equivalent of the plague. What would that be? Swine flu? Ebola? Honey Singh?) lingers on.

Back in the days when one was young and full of unrealised potential and other illusions, one has, with a bunch of friends, knocked on every door in a small locality outside of one's college campus. Twice. And it is not a pleasant experience. But one learns, and ergo, this time one was armed. As one called the potential landlords, the first question one asked was not, "What is the rent?" but, "I'm single, will you rent your house to a single woman?" One felt very proud of having thought of this and saved much of one's time. One, of course, overestimated one's enterprising. 

Having the single-phobia tackled, one was immediately confronted with, "Are you vegetarian?" One would comment, but then this discussion would quickly disintegrate into a vicious bloodbath, and much feelings would be injured? In a land where KFC, KFC, boasts of separate vegetarian kitchens (because mattar and murgi cannot mingle, of course), a solid number of India's vegetarians spend their entire lives convinced that non-vegetarians have but one agenda in their minds--surreptitiously feed them chicken and ruin their chances of at heavenly vegetarian afterlife. Ayio, karmam, karmam only. I do know that a lot of non-vegetarians DO make this their life's mission (mostly because they are bad people, NOT because they eat meat), but most of us are just happy that we don't have to share our chicken. Why would we want to work hard to spread our food resource pool thinner?

Having learnt this lesson also, and because one is nothing if not altruistic with one's store of knowledge, here is a quick, handy (and updated) check list to measure your renter-worthiness:
1. Are you single?
2. Are you a girl?
3. Are you a girl who is single?
4. Will you come back home late? (Up to two hours after sun-down can be considered the extent to which respectable stay-out time can be stretched. If you have to be told this, then give yourself a minus point.)
5. Are you a girl who is single and may come back home late?
6. Are you non-vegetarian?
7. Will you cook in the house you aspire to rent?
8. Will you cook non-veg in the house you aspire to rent?
9. Are you a single, non-vegetarian girl who plans to cook non-veg in the house you aspire to rent?
10. Do you have friends?
11. Do you have friends who will visit you in the house you aspire to rent?
12. Do you have friends of the opposite sex?
13. Do you have friends of the opposite sex who will visit you in the house you aspire to rent?
14. Do you have friends of the opposite sex who may spend a night in the house you aspire to rent?
15. Are you a single, non-vegetarian girl who may come back home late with friends of the opposite sex who then may stay over in the house you aspire to rent?

Give yourself a score of -1 for every yes, and -15 if the answer to the last question is yes. Also, consider acquiring some virtue and shame and give up your life of sin. THEN may be you will get a house to live in. May be.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Where I begin documenting my life again.

"It paid, she said; it was camouflage. If you kept the small rules, you could break big ones."

So, I moved (again). Living the life of a single woman in an Indian city is not nearly as glamourous as Konkona Sen would have you believe. There are no dusty, cute apartments with beach-view terraces. Neither are there random guys you meet in randomer parties that you gate crash into who then get their friends to haul all your furniture for you. There is however, a lot of paperwork. SO, here is where I attempt to create a realistic guide for wannabe grownups on filing the paperwork required for living, tentatively (and unreasonably ambitiously) called
Growing up for Dummies.

Episode 1: Through the Loophole (since rabbit-hole was getting old)

After years of living with roommates, and not-really-mates, Providence decided to cut me some slack. Which in the present situation is code for momentary-lowering-of-parents'-protect-single-daughter-from-the-world-and-herself-but-mostly-herself-shield. Which goes on to prove my theory that with parents (or at least parents like mine) the best approach is really slow exposure. Have a difficult decision you need them to sign off? Don't spring on them in the last minute and expect them to jump on recklessly speeding bandwagon (in the interest of near-complete honestly though, more often that not it is jumping off the wagon, not on, that you need them to do). Mention it casually in a phone call months before the actual event ("So, I might get this new job. So I might have to move. Since I might have to move, I am thinking, I will just get a place of my own.") Show your willingness to fight for it ("I'm 28 years old, and I am NOT sleeping in a bunk bed in a room with 4 other look-like-adults. WHADDAYA mean it may not be safe for a single girl to live alone?"). Then drop the topic and pretend you've forgotten about it for months. ("So, my boss did the damnest thing today. How are the neighbours?") Collect data to support your cause and casually drop it in daily conversation ("Remember that friend of mine from college you approve of? She moved into the city, and she is looking for an apartment. No she does not want a roommate.") And then months later, just as casually, in your best (non-confrontational and seemingly well-adjusted) adult voice, announce that you would, if they so agree, like to go ahead with the plan, probably. "So, I saw this ad online about this place that looks very neat. I was considering checking it out this weekend.) Pretend they are, and always have been, on with the plan, and ask for suggestions. ("I was thinking, I will look such and such areas and such and such rent. What do you think I should look out for?")

By that time, they would also have thought about it ("Why can't we have a nice, normal girl for a daughter?") and decided that they have bigger battles to fight ("Listen, we need to tell her that she needs to wake up at 4 am to sit for a puja to bribe gods to please find her a boy.") See, emotional blackmail and barter work is a two-way street after all.

In that moment of confusion and vulnerability, when they haltingly concede that may be your decision is not so gasp-inducing and the society may just live through the shock, you swoop in and quickly move into your cozy little studio apartment, above the homemade pastry shop and across the street from the neighbourhood library. Ha ha, I kid of course. This is the point when your chick-flick and Bollywood influenced naive brain meets the minions of Satans of the modern world, aka, the prospective landlords. But that is a story for a different day. (One must at least attempt at cliffhangers, no?)