Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trials and Tribulations of being DINK

Been feeling weird since I got back from vacation. Work has been crazy and despite the long, busy hours and a recent holiday, I feel the need for a change. It could be the travel bug as I am extremely restless and want to travel, meet new people and hear their stories. Or could be coz Joy is not around for entertainment during the holiday season. Maybe, I have been taking too many things for granted.

There is something about the little things that you do as a couple - Joy lending me a patient ear to all my problems, be it work related or domestic issues such as when the cook or the maid do not turn up and it drives me insane. Or the late night excursions to appease my sudden craving for ice cream or even simple things as the weekend shopping trips.

Been reading a friend's blog on unmarried women over 30 and a link she posted on how they can be more resourceful and self sufficient than their married counterparts. Gets me thinking. The world can be so judgemental about a lot of things from single women, divorces, extra-marital affairs (despite Tiger Woods remaining the world's greatest golfer) and so on. So many issues, society likes to talk about and pass judgement on. That's the way of this world. :)

In India, parents worry about getting their daughters married before they are 30. It does not matter that their daughters have flourishing careers and have done so well professionally but if you are not married, you are "not settled" however great your accomplishments. I personally feel, it is better to be single and happy than be in a bad marriage.

Well, single women are not the only one with their woes. Joy and I decided long ago even before we got married that we want to be DINKs. But who is to listen and respect your decision. Nosey relatives, interfering neighbors all land up and try to give us advice on the pitfalls of not having kids. Some of them are downright nasty and act as if they are superior simply because they have a brood of mannerless brats that is no neighbor's envy, others pass comments saying "you will repent in your old age and you won't realize it now but later" and others assume "that well you will change your mind later on". An ex-colleague was really nasty and told me with scorn that I am not a woman since I am not having kids. And that same colleague went on to a marriage where she was a virtual prisoner and had to cut off ties with all her friends and family.

People dont understand that if we have lessons to learn, it is for us to learn. Even if we do regret our decision so be it. But I don't think it is upto any person to tell us what is right or wrong and impose their ideas on us. Aah, the expectations from others. Joy and I have learnt to take such comments in our stride. We keep trying to come up with innovative reasons as to why we are not having kids. From population control to being impotent to bad genes, we say anything that catches our fancy at that point of time.

If people have no respect for a mutual decision made by two adults, then so be it. We can be difficult too. ;-) And the strangest thing is that it's usually the women who interfere and give us unwarranted advice. Me thinks a part of them are jealous coz they envy our independence. We love the emotional, mental and financial freedom that comes with it so each to his own.

Please note that this article is not for my lovely friends, family and wellwishers who have been so supportive of our decision. I still love your kids. It is only for those who have been nasty, interfering and judgemental about our so called barren state. ;-) Whew! I feel so much better already as if I've got a load off my back. Now am off to work. Part II of this article may be published based on more comments. ;-)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pondicherry-The French Connection


Chennai: What a pleasant surprise! Perceptions can be so wrong. Based on my experience during my last business trip to Chennai I had the impression that Chennai wasn’t really a happening place. And then we met Madhu, the Pharaoh of T-Nagar.

Joy and I have been planning to visit TJ at Chennai on our way to Pondy for quite a while now. It had been around 3 years since we met TJ, so this was one hell of a reunion. Boy, did we have a blast. Madhu and TJ’s hospitality simply floored us.

The partying at Chennai started with us attending a music release of a period Tamil film courtesy Madhu who organized the event. We met some Tamil stars and even got ourselves featured on Page 3 of DC Chennai. Andrea Jeremiah and AR Rahman’s nephew were some interesting people present that evening to promote the movie. Although, Joy was falling all over himself to meet Andrea, one look from me prevented that. Men will be men.

Later in the evening, we went to the Leather Bar at the Park, one of the most popular watering holes in the city and ended it off with a sumptuous midnight buffet in the wee hours of the morning. The next day we shopped at Spencers Plaza and Globus and generally hung around the city. In the evening, we went pub hopping again. Our nocturnal activities began at TDS, continued to the Leather Bar and Pasha and ended with a nice midnight feast at the Residency.

Finally, on Saturday morning we began our trip to Pondy. Enroute, we stopped at this Arts Village called Dakshin Chitra. The drive down the East Coast Road is one of the best and the view is absolutely scenic. There are a lot of resorts that you may want to stop at if you have some time to spare.

Anyways, after Dakshin Chitra we headed straight to Pondy. If you ever plan a trip to Pondy, always, book a room at either the Ashram Guest Houses or Hotels at the French Quarters. The Ashram Guest House rooms are simple (No phones, no television), clean and reasonable. The room rates vary from 600 for Non AC to 1500 for AC Sea facing rooms. Sea-side and Park Guest House are two places where you can find rooms overlooking the sea. If budget is not a constraint, you can always stay at Ajantha Hotel or the Promenade, which are also strategically located on the Promenade overlooking the sea. The rest of Pondy is one big, bustling Indian bazaar so if you want to experience the serene atmosphere of the ashram and walk down the cobbled streets and the Promenade ensure you book a place at the French Quarters.

Do note that the Ashram guest houses have strict timings so gates close at 10:30 pm. If you stay at the guest house, you also get a pass to visit the Ashram and dine (breakfast, lunch and dinner) at the Ashram Dining Hall for a measly sum of Rs. 20 per day (per person). However, they have godforsaken timings so if that doesn’t suit you; you have the option of dining at some of the finest French restaurants in town.

It is truly a gastronomical delight. Joy and I gorged on lobsters, crabs, other varieties of fish and meat. One of the best places to dine in Pondy is Rendezvous. This place has an impressive menu and the food is awesome. The pork ribs and lobsters served here are simply delicious.

Other places worth mention are La Maree, a restaurant at Hotel Du Parc where they serve some amazing crab and Madame Shanthe which serves Poisson Grille (Grilled Fish) and Boeuf en daube (French meat stew). Joy and I had to pay another visit for more of the stew. It was simply divine! Other nice places to dine are Satsang and the Lighthouse, which is a rooftop restaurant at the Promenade Hotel. The food at the Lighthouse is delicious and the view is worth a visit as you get to dine overlooking the Promenade and the Bay of Bengal.

In case you are worried about prices, let me tell you that Pondy is relatively inexpensive in comparison to the places we’ve frequented in Goa. A meal for two inclusive of drinks costs anywhere between Rs. 500-1200 depending on the place you are dining at. And the sheer variety of options on the menu is mindboggling.

To get around Pondy, you can always hire cycles at Rs.35 or bikes at Rs. 150-170 per day. Apart from the Promenade and French restaurants, the most renowned tourist spot is Auroville, which is a Universal town located 15 kms from Pondy. The Matri Mandir (meditation hall with the world’s biggest man-made crystal ball) is the attraction here. You can also pick up souvenirs at the Visitor’s centre and feast on a variety of delicious cakes and other homemade produce at their bakery. The travel guides say that Auroville offers less to see and lots to experience. Honestly, I feel this place is over hyped and my advice to all travelers to Pondy would be to book a place near the Ashram at Pondy and enjoy the Promenade and the French Quarters. There is nothing much to see or do at Auroville.

Another highlight of the trip was a visit to Mahabs. Mahabs or Mahabalipuram is on the ECR enroute from Chennai to Pondy but we decided to visit after making Pondy as our base. You can hire cabs to take you there. A Non AC Indica costs around 1500 and an AC Cab is around 1800. You can contact Tirumala at CNP Travels (9443216997) for cabs in and around Pondy. The hotel travel desks usually have a Travel agency and cab service but their rates are sometimes astronomical so it is advisable to check around the local places for the best deals.

If you ever plan a trip to Mahabs, GRT Temple Bay Resorts is worth a visit. The Resort is strategically located next to the Shore Temple and they have a restaurant called The Wharf overlooking the sea. Thanks much to Srini and Deb for recommending this place. We had an absolutely fantastic experience here. The view, the food, and the service was beyond compare. A meal for two costs around Rs.1500 to Rs.2000 and be warned that their portions are enormous.

Well, it’s the end of another great vacation. Back to the grind on Monday after 10 days of sheer bliss and so not looking forward to it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's Polling day!

Being Indian has a new meaning! Joy and I were determined to exercise our voting rights this year so we got ourselves registered two years ago. Since we've been living in this city for over 6 years, it was a simple affair getting ourselves registered in the AP electoral process. This is the city where we live and work, so the development of this city is close to our heart.

Usually, we are lazy beings and nothing in wild horses can wake us up early (atleast not before 10:30 for Joy). However, polling day we wake up at 6 am and with all our mixed emotions of excitement, anger against the corrupt politicians, frustration at their inefficiency we set off. Luckily, it's just a 5 minute walk from our apartment. Once we reach the polling centre, we first go off to get the slips to find our serial number.

Once we get the slips, we stand in a queue to enter the ballot area. The person at the entrance calls out our serial number. There is a desk which has five people shuffling through papers. As our serial numbers are called, you see five hands shuffling in unison.

Once they find our numbers, we go forward to sign and get our finger stamped. We are handed across 2 slips. One for the Parliament and the other for Assembly. Finally the moment we have been waiting for. We enter the booth and cast our votes. The whole exercise takes around half an hour. Guess that's coz we went early.

While walking back home, we spot this restaurant selling North and South Indian breakfast. It's 8 am so we decide to have some breakfast. Joy orders Aloo Poori while I order some dahi vada and buttermilk. The food finally arrives. Joy seems pretty disappointed as he gets 3 pooris with one tiny bowl of subji that has one aloo in it and a bowl of coconut chutney. I guess they have demand for pooris and chutney here but that's not for Joy. He keeps ordering more sabji till he finishes all 3 pooris. So breakfast done and all happy with ourselves we head back home.

We have no idea if things will change, whether our roads or the city's infrastructure will improve or will there be all round development ... But we live in hope...that maybe, maybe someone might come along and think about the nation rather than filling their own coffers.

Let's hope so. After all hope is what makes the world go round.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Men Can Bitch

Well! Another one of those days, Friday the 13th...I am neck deep in work trying to finish off a zillion things before I can rush off to shop for our weekend party with Joy. The phone rings persistently and I see that it's a call from Joy. I pick it up and I hear voices at the other end. Keep saying hello and realize he must have dialled my number by accident. Seems like he is in a deep conversation with a few folks (men at work).

I am about to hang up when I hear some words. That sparks my interest and suddenly I am all ears. The guys go on and on about their MIL, their wives, their lives and things they wish I would never hear. Well, I almost heard it all...till I suddenly get disconnected. And to think that there are folks who think that only women bitch. You should have heard those guys. Real entertainment listening to them talk!

My colleagues and I have a good laugh about it. Ash informs me that Indian men generally bitch about their FIL and European men bitch about their MIL. So we figure out that Joy might be partly European...

Well, another year of married life passing by and me wonders what the Pink Sena folks will do if they know we got married on V-Day. Will they ban us as marrying on that day is against Indian culture or will they ban my old folks who came up with that date after religiously consulting the astrologers and pundits for the most auspicious date? Me thinks they should have no issues. After all they are planning to marry off any couples they see that day. Me wonders whether that includes gay couples too.

Me reads that the Pink Diktat has come as a godsend for couples whose parents are opposing the match. My good friend in another continent wishes that the Pink Sena had been active two years ago. It would have saved them so much of effort to convince the in-laws.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One of those days

It's been one of those days trying to strike a balance while juggling multiple activities. And then the phone rings, distracting me while I am trying to complete random tasks. I say Hello and a voice at the other end squeaks, "Hello, Sir! I am calling from B***** Insurance. Do you have a minute?" Of course I don't have a minute and have never possessed time.

I am ready to explode, but politely inform the squeaky lady that I am not a man and my voice definitely doesn't sound like a Sir. She then unceremoniously proceeds to ask me my "good name". That's it. I can't handle this anymore. I inform her that I don't possess a good name or a bad name and hang up.