The musings of a (not-so) single chick in the city. (Don't think that the term chick is derogoratory. We refer to boys by a number of terms). The travails in the life of an ex-miss-goody-two-shoes, ex-journalist, ex-small time model, ex-television actress, of being female in Chennai/ Pune/Bangalore, of ideas old and ideas new....

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Attention Uncles : Simple girls don't exist!

I am an expert on matrimonial ads. Seen a plenty of them to satisfy my folks into quietude. That I found fault with most of them is not the issue. The point is that I have scanned a lot, and I mean, a LOT of them. And I see in the space for 'partner preferences' or whatever there is always this phrase - 'simple girl' and this is an oxymoron. (Unless the girl is mentally challenged from birth, there is no way she is a simpleton.)

And I just don't understand this insistence on wanting a simple girl. Because no girl is simple. The wanna-be mother-in-law knows that. She wasn't simple. How does she expect her daughter-in-law to be? Maybe the idea is to let the impression stay with her husband, even after thirty years of marriage. I don't know.

We are born devious. If not, we learn to be devious. Every girl becomes a manipulator at some point. Do not let looks fool you. The cute ones, the ugly ones, ones that look like innocence personified, even the stupidest ones of my sex is wily in a way that men cannot imagine. (Well, a few, who have been blessed, learn to see through this. Even fewer are wily enough to predict and block these kind of manoeuvrings.) See, we are not physically strong and cannot get things done through force in a world where half the population is biologically designed to be stronger than us. We can deal straight with the men that can be dealt with straight. (By which I mean intelligent men.) This is plan B. This is our way of getting things done. Do not blame us. It is our solution to the blow that biology dealt us. If a woman chooses not be wily and manipulative, then there is usually a compelling reason. (Usually ideals like love and respect are tossed around. Or that they are investing in a long term relationship, and manipulating is something that always comes back to bite us later, and we know it.)

So, by the term "simple girl" people in my community mean a girl who does not do underhand things like sub-textual nudging, diverting thought flow in the other party, out and out manipulation etc etc. I asked a few people (extended aunties and uncles). Also uncles were more vociferous in defending their demanding a 'simple girl'. Probably they understand on some level that they are the puppets and their wives are the masters. One uncle actually said, "We don't want troubles that smart girls give. Making our sons get radical ideas, and sowing dissension in the larger family". I was laughing in my head.

I give you an example to show that 'Simple girls' do not exist. This incident happened a while ago. There is a twenty year old in my group, we shall call her KS. Fair, thin, demure, girly-pretty in a way that make guys drool and think of introducing the girl to their mommies. She has the requisite IQ points. Not book wise, but sharp enough in the general sense of the word. She looks like the epitome of a simpleton.

I like her well enough. But see, even within girls, seeing through the outer manifestation is a little hard. A bunch of us went to see a movie. Let me explain the existing scenario. There is a guy who fancied me (JS). And KS fancied him, which I did not know was specific fancy-ing. Sure, there had been discussions on who was good looking and all. Cannot avoid this. It is inevitable in any newly formed group.

So, we file into the theatre, it is dark already, and previews are running. Two guys were in front of me, and they entered the row first. KS was next and then me and JS had manoeuvred himself to enter the row of seats behind me, which had registered with both of us. So while I am thinking, 'Do I want to sit next to the dude and give him ideas?" KS has gone and seated herself leaving a seat between the first two fellows and herself, and tells me in a hyper voice, "Hey, I saved you a seat!" making it a logical for me to sit on one side of her, while JS sits on the other. Three more of our group filed in after him.

I, usually aware of what is going on , sub text and context wise- was taken aback. It was a simple enough move of making me sit away from the chap and letting her sit next to him in one shot. The fact was, it was so skillfully done. By KS, who looks like ice -cream wouldn't melt in her mouth, and glows with a kind of childish- naivety and joy, it is hard to credit her with underhand tactics.

I was pissed. Because I do not like having decisions taken out of my hand, even if I would have decided the same thing. She was and still is welcome to him. But, the incident only served to reinforce the idea. NO such thing as a simple girl. Women are not simpletons. While they might let people think so, because it suits their purposes, they know it under all those layers of self-delusion.

The dubitable joys of alcohol - A presentation

'The Joys of alcohol' is the tentative title that my group members have come up with, for a presentation in a communication process class. ( I am only concerned because there is chunk of marks alloted for this in our term final. This is the kind of thing ones does for twelfth class General studies paper. While my classmates are only 3 years past this kind of thing, imagine my weariness. It has been ten years since I have had to do such pointless exercises. I am not questioning the use of standing in front of a bunch of unwilling listeners and trying to get over your stage fear. But I've done it enough. The majority of the class can talk/communicate failry well in a public speaking/corporate presentation scenario. It is the slow ones that have still not managed to learn the skill and they are the lowest denominator and for whom this class is designed. But we know who sets the speed in the army right? It is not the cavalry. It is the infantry.)

 Forget the rise in onion price, the sad state of gender inequality, the naxal issue in the central and eastern states, oh no, we are doing a presentation on the questionable joys of alcohol. And I'm swamped with the intended editing/writing/readin and studying that I have to do, that I do not have the time to research any topic worth presenting to the class. The fact that practically no one wants to spend ATP in their grey cells to even consider a new subject that might be interesting could also be a reason.

Meanwhile, I have a maid who comes home and insists on conducting long conversations with me in Marathi and Hindi, while I nod diligently with differeing levels of incomprehension. She insists on bathing even vegetable dishes in fat, that everytime I see the food I imagine a blocked cardiac vessel in my future. Back to her chattering, each day she talks about what is bothering her the most. Sometimes it is her husband's cardiac troubles (Duh! Its the oil you are so liberal with. Didn't anyone tell you that cholesterol comes from that? I tried telling her to practise stinginess with oil at her place like we instruct her to cook here. She says the food tastes good only with lots of oil!), sometimes about how the kids in her area once past the age of fifteen, sixteen become loafers, imitating the youth in the neighbourhood, and stop going to school and roam aorund drinking, smoking -  both weed and tobacco, sniffing - whitener, turpentine, etc etc. At times it is about how her two co-sisters (women who had married brothers) talk about the other behind their backs to out maid and how it annoys her. There is a lot of gesturing and acting to get her meaning across, with me mumbling the few phrases I know in Hindi. So yes, I have become a quasi therapist listening to her woes. If only there was some money in it for me! 'sigh'.

One week Later : Since the group decided they did not want to look like they were promoting the drinking of alcohol, the topic was changed to "Alcohol - Not just a Drink", but it was preceisely the drinking the presentation mostly talked about. :D

 Of all the lame presentations that were done for the comm. process class, I am glad to report that ours wasn't the worst. Topics ranged from mundane ones like Financial Planning (which was very informative I should add, even if most students snoozed durign this one, because of the pedantic style it was presented in ), Cyber crime, Tata Steel Company (I mean what were they thinking? Take the ppt. straight out of the company's website? It was like a propaganda/cavassing talk to potential investors. Not that anyone bought it), Homosexuality and stigma( This wasnt actually bad, content wise. Except for a lot of twittering from the immature male section of the class, where the homophobes are the maximum, percentage-wise, and whom the presentaion was aimed at, in the first place and obviously didn't get through), addiction ( This was focussed on letting go of tobacco, because three members from that group are smokers. Did the research for the presentation actually help them? Or was the sincere asking of all addicts to seek help, a way of ridding themselves of guilt about their addiction? No one knows) The best was a presentation on Black holes and time travel. That was actually fun as it left the realm of boring facts and explored the imaginary in a fun way with videos and animation. Or maybe I'm just a geek.