Great Indian Bride Hunt - The Parallel Process

Even when talks with Anusuya were still in progress, my parents brought in a new girl into the equation. As I mentioned in my last post, I was becoming adept at parallel processing of multiple prospective brides. Given the title of the post is parallel process, you can expect me to rant on about parallel processing and multi-threading before I move on to the actual story. But I guess that will make my typical reader feel the geeks are having their revenge. What with so many geeky blogs burgeoning all over the internet. Maybe I can instead talk about parallel lines and geometry and Euclid. But that would make it school boyish. What do school boys have to do with marriage, unless we are talking about 'Balika Vadu' here? And I definitely do not want to talk about the Hindi soaps. For this is no damn 'Lux Perfect Bride' program. This is my own personal blog.

Lets get on to Girl 5. Here we did not start with g-talk as usual. Instead I was asked to call her up and talk right away. She started off much more enthusiastically than the others “I just have three requirements from my prospective husband. He should not smoke. He should not drink. He should not eat non vegetarian food.

Fair enough. I told her honestly that I had indulged in tobacco for a brief period but five whole earth years had elapsed since I last experienced the ethereal sensation caused by the passage of smoke from burning tobacco leaves through my lungs. I had enjoyed the pleasure of dissolving my ego in solvents made from fermented grapes, barley, wheat, rice and other substances for a more extended period of time. But I had put that also behind me and had taken a firm resolution six months back that my ego needed no further dissolving and had so far stuck to the resolution. And yes, though I had not consumed any items derived from killed animals for the past six months, I was still open to the possibility whenever I happened to be a stranger in a strange land. But I was willing to forego the option for her sake. She told me she does not care about the past and was concerned only about the future which I took to mean I had come clean. She then told me she could not focus her mind on the trivial issue of marriage when there were more important things at stake such as Sachin Tendulkar’s performance in the ongoing one day match, Federer’s quest for a sixth Wimbledon later in the evening and the F1 grand Prix race still later on. So I was advised to present my case through electronic mail and she promised to dispose of it at leisure.

I complied with her majesty’s wishes and faithfully wrote out my plea to her the next morning. One day passed. No response. Another day passed. Still no response. Yet another day passed. Situation still remained the same. So I decided to act and sent a gentle reminder. Immediately I got a response
Good morning. Extremely sorry for not responding earlier. I was held up with some work. Your conversation and the email communicated to me clearly about yourself and what is your expectation. Even if I appreciate your values of life and profession, I feel that my dreams and goals in life are quite different and are not in sync with yours. Sorry that we are not in position to proceed further with this alliance. Kindly convey the same to your parents. I wish you good luck for your future endeavors.

This was fine but what surprised me was the way in which the girl’s parents conveyed the same fact that the girl had conveyed to me to my parents. “We do not want our daughter to having anything to do with shady characters like your son, who indulges in immoral acts such as smoking. So please don’t bother us again.

 I was thinking of suggesting to John Gray to write a sequel to his book ‘Men are from Mars, Women from Venus' titled 'Women are from Venus, Women’s parents are from Jupiter'

As I began to see more and more girls, my efficiency had begun to go up and lead time was coming down drastically. For the uninitiated, lead time is an operations management concept closely related to the philosophical concepts “Everything that goes up has to come down” and “Everything that goes in has to come out”. The lead time is a quantity that measures the amount of sand that falls into Father Time’s hour glass while what has gone in is trying desperately to come out. In this case it is the distance between the point a contact is initiated with the girl and the point the communication comes to an end, on the time axis.

I spoke with the sixth girl for an entire hour on a Sunday morning. She conveyed to me that she would let me know when we can talk next by Sunday evening. Her parents conveyed the same fact to my parents by Monday evening “Our daughter informed us that your son’s interests are not compatible with hers. It was pleasant interacting with you folks. We wish your son best of luck in finding a bride”.

A similar conversation ensued the following Sunday with a different girl. My opinion of the girl was neutral and I could not come to any kind of conclusion either way. We parted ways promising to get back to each other for another round of discussion soon. Meanwhile my parents contacted me and got my feedback. They were not too impressed with the girl and her family and wanted to call off the match unless the girl had managed to form a strong positive impression in the first meeting. But they did not want to hurt the girl’s parents. So they decided to convey it in the ‘Women’s parents’ language also known as Jupiter language. My mom called up the girl’s parent and told them “Our son informed us that your daughter’s interests are not compatible with his. It was pleasant interacting with you folks. We wish your daughter best of luck in finding a bridegroom”.

But there are occasions where the best of punch lines fail when used inappropriately as one Bishop in a British church had discovered. This bishop was traveling in the United States where he heard that ministers regularly used humor in the pulpit. He decided he would try to learn from the example of his American colleagues. One Sunday he found himself in a large Methodist Church. Suddenly the minister said, "The best years of my life were spent in the arms of another man's wife." The congregation was in shock until he drew himself up and said, "My mother." The congregation then laughed and the English bishop thought, "Jolly good! I must remember that!" On his return to England he entered the pulpit and decided to repeat the story told by the American. "The best years of my life, were spent in the arms of another man's wife." At this point he drew a complete blank. The congregation began to whisper and murmur. His wife folded her arms and became cherry red. His mother-in-law, who had come to church that Sunday was gritting her teeth. So he repeated himself (hoping to remember the punch line): "The best years of my life, were spent in the arms of another man's wife... ." Alas, to no avail. So he said "For the life of me I cannot remember who she was!"

My mom found herself in a similar situation when the girl’s mom replied “Your son only spoke to my daughter about his interests. My daughter never told him anything about her interests

But my ever resourceful mom was not the one to be put down for long by a minor gaffe. She responded nonchalantly “We do not want our son to having anything to do with shady characters like your daughter, who indulges in immoral acts such as smoking. So please don’t bother us again.

The girl’s parents were too shocked to even think of a reply. My mom used the temporary reprieve to make a quick exit. While the punch line from the parents of girl no. 6 had backfired, the one from the parents of girl no.5 had saved the day. Luckily for my mom, the parents of girl no. 7 never called us back.

So there ends my bride hunt chronicles. Though by and large I have reported the actual facts, at many places I have used my prosaic license (what’s the equivalent of poetic license?) to give a slight strategic twist to the facts to spice up the narrative and give the reader a more enjoyable experience. I bear no malice toward the girls mentioned in the story and mean no disrespect to them. I hope none of them ever read my blog. But just in case let me put a disclaimer.

Disclaimer: The story narrated here does not claim historic authenticity. The events mentioned in the story and all the characters are a product of my fertile imagination. Any resemblance to real life events or real life people is purely coincidental. After all isn't life itself a series of fortunate and not so fortunate coincidences?

However things did not really end there for as you see I am have still not married and begun to live happily ever after, right? So obviously there has to be more, right?

Next Post        :  Great Indian Bride Hunt : The Final Problem
Previous Post  :   Great Indian Bride Hunt : Rotation
Series Start     :   The Great Indian Bride Hunt

Great Indian Bride Hunt Rotations

I would like to say I am naming the concluding episode of my bride hunt story ‘The great Indian bride Hunt Rotations’ as by now I had acquired sufficient skill in bride management to see more than one girl at a time and smoothly rotate from one bride to the next and then back. But in the name of truthfulness and honesty I refrain from making such a claim. For most who have read the second part it would have been a foregone conclusion that the concluding part would be named ‘The great Indian bride Hunt Revolutions’. But that seemed cliched and I wanted something more original. So I named it ‘The great Indian bride Hunt Rotations’. Isn't that what originality is all about? What with Rumi Jaffrey the director of ‘God Tusi Great Ho’ claiming in an interview that his movie was a completely ’original’ concept having nothing to do with  'Bruce Almighty'. I also remember the 'completely original' questions in CBSE mathematics paper as compared to the Tamil Nadu state board exam paper. Whereas Tamil Nadu State board had problems directly from the text book in the board exam, CBSE introduced ‘originality’ in the paper by changing the numbers. Most writings are usually a healthy mixture of ‘good’ and ‘original’ stuff, though it often turns out that the parts that are good are not original and those that are original are not good as the great playwright G B Shaw once remarked to an aspiring writer who showed him his work. Having devoted adequate space to the usual male bovine’s excreta, let me now move on the actual story of the fabulous four, the last four girls I encountered.

After having seen a journalist, a chartered accountant and a HR executive, my parents decided to stop looking for fancy profiles and go for plain vanilla software engineers. In my dad’s generation bank clerks made excellent wives. They had so little responsibility in office that they could do full justice to their homes and families while at the same time making a significant contribution to the family fortune. In fact my dad’s three brothers had married bank clerks and even my mom had an appointment order for the post of a bank clerk at the time of marriage. The software engineering profession seems to hold similar esteem in the current times as the clerical jobs in a bank used to hold in my dad’s times. So my parents found a software engineer who was currently on an onsite assignment in the United States of America. Her dad as such was not too well off but who can say no to a ‘dollar Bahu’?

So I began my interactions with Anusuya Nagarajan (name changed to protect identity). The name seemed ominous with the word ‘nag’ in it. But fears were unfounded and she seemed like a breath of fresh air with the typical simplicity of a software engineer. She told me that she liked to read books on philosophy. She also told me that she was very fond of physical activity and enjoyed long walks in the open country side. My hopes began to soar and I began to dream of long walks in the country side discussing the nuances of philosophy with her. Philosophical walks have been popular from times memorial. In fact there is a path in Heidelberg in Germany called the ‘Philosopher’s walk’. But unfortunately my companions on the trip had neither the energy to complete the long walk not the fascination for philosophy. But unlike my companions then, this girl seemed to have both.

However there was a small hitch in our communications. My mobile phone did not have ISD call facility. So I had to wait for her to call me. One of the conversations got cut abruptly and the next day I was waiting for her to call back. She did not and the next morning I tried to call from telephone booth and I reached voice mail where I left a message. No response from her till that evening. That evening as I was boarding the local train I got a call from an unknown local number. A woman with a very feeble withered voice introduced herself, “I am Anusuya’s aunt. Anusuya gave me your number and asked me to speak to you. Is this a good time to speak to you? I hope you don’t mind me calling you.”

Now this was a new twist in the tale. I had not encountered this situation before. But I had read lot of books by PG Wodehouse where aunts played a pivotal role in marriages. Probably this aunt was also trying to assert her rightful place as the pivot in our marriage. Anyway I had nothing to do during the train journey. So I agreed to speak with her. She babbled incoherently for 10 minutes and then wanted me to speak to her husband. He wasn't much better either. I found myself not too much wiser at the end of 20 minutes. But anyway it was not going to be on my telephone bill. However I was curious what they wanted and asked my parents to find out. They had a similar experience and this time the telephone bill had been on our side. I presumed this was probably a test devised by the girl to see my ability to handle uncertainties in life. I developed a new respect for the girl for devising this kind of an innovative test. I wanted to come out of this test in flying colors. So next time she called up I told her “Your uncle and aunt spoke to me. Very nice people. I fully understand their concerns. Let them know they can put the concerns to rest. However there are some things I can’t compromise upon. We need to work them out. But there is nothing that can’t be worked out. I really appreciate their frankness in speaking out openly.

If she seemed surprised at my response, she did not show it. But luckily for me, she did not press on further about the ‘concerns’ or ‘things I can’t compromise’. So I guess I passed her test.

We moved on to other topics and came to philosophy. She told me that she subscribed to the 'Robin Sharma School 'of philosophy but then believed that philosophy is mainly for ‘recreational’ purpose and should not be applied to practical life After all who would be stupid enough to give off his Ferrari in real life? Yes. She was not really too materialistic. She did not dream of having a Ferrari but she dreamed of having a BMW. And she began to go on on similar lines about what all she wanted to have. I began to reflect upon the ‘nag’ in her name again. And once she was done with her wish list for Santa Claus, she started talking about her cousin and what a good married life she was having. Once again a cousin! I began to fully appreciate the one child norm being advocated by the government. Other than population control, it had an additional advantage of eliminating these troublesome cousins over the next two generations. I could visualize what a wonderful world our grand children will inherit without any nosy aunts and cousins popping up at all the wrong places. Slowly the conversation winded down inconclusively. There was no contact after that day. I had lost interest. It seemed like she had also lost interest. No rejection mails like the previous occasions. After all, when minds think alike, where is the need for words?

And seems like the words do seem to have run out. There don't seem any left for the other three. The next three girls would be needing another post I guess.

Next Post:       :  Great Indian Bride Hunt: Parallel Process
Previous Post  :   Great Indian Bride Hunt: Reloaded
Series Start     :   The Great Indian Bride Hunt

Great Indian Bride Hunt Reloaded

Whenever a Hollywood movie becomes a hit, you can always expect a sequel. If that become a hit too, make one more. Keep at it till people are sick of the concept. In terms of economics, keep making the movies till the marginal utility of a sequel tends towards zero. For the uninitiated let me give an example to illustrate the marginal utility concept. Give a hungry man a piece of bread. It has high marginal utility. Give him one more piece of bread. The marginal utility is slightly lesser. Keep on giving him more and more. The marginal utility starts dropping rapidly. At some point the man would yell if he sees another piece of bread. At this point one can say margin utility is tending towards zero. Hit him on the head at this point and block his nose to get him to open his mouth and stuff the bread inside. Once we are done with the experiment, he will never eat bread all his life. Probably it is not a very kind thing to do. But who said economists are the kindest people on earth? Before feminists begin to protest that my example is male chauvinistic, I would like to clarify that the experiment can be done using a woman too. Just ensure that there is a woman economist in the room when forcibly stuffing the last piece of bread inside her mouth. Getting back to movies, Bollywood is also beginning to adopt the trend as seen in the case of Munnai Bhai MBBS and Dhoom. Keeping with this trend, having seen the popularity of my earlier post about my bride hunt, I could not resist posting a sequel. So here I continue the story of my misadventures.

It was not long ago before my mom came up with the third girl. This time it was a HR executive, again the daughter of a rich dad. But I was wiser from my last experience. I started with few mails and fixed up the coming Saturday for a Gmail chat. The first chat went very smoothly. She was very quiet for a girl and what more - a good listener! And I went on lecturing away to glory. Every now and then she would stop me and ask an intelligent question. Note I have not put the intelligent within quotes. It seemed as if I had at last found my ideal match. Nothing puffs up the male ego especially one with pretensions of intellect like a woman attentively catching on to every word he says. So I was quite Ok with the girl. But she wanted to chat with me one more time probably the next weekend. On reporting the conversation to my mom, she told me to leave no stone unturned in trying to impress the girl and closing the deal.

The next week again the chat started well. But it was not long before we were approaching dangerous territory. “
So what are your expectations?” she asked.

Had I heard this question before? I said “I am looking to find my soul mate

I remembered a book by Richard Bach called ‘Bridge across forever’, where he talks about his attempts to find a soul mate. I had not read that book as I am not into that kind of mushy stuff. But someone had mentioned about the book to me and it seemed like a ‘cool’ thing to say. At least better than frugality and stuff, eh?  “So are you a spiritual person?

Now this was a trick question. I decided to think carefully before answering this one. I remembered my friend who had recently attended a preparatory course on marriage conducted by his church telling me that women are likely to be more spiritual. So I decided to use my ‘phone a friend’ life line on this and told her “Yes. I am very spiritual person”.

 She responded “Well I am not”.

This was unexpected. I seemed to have miscalculated. Maybe only Christian women are spiritual or only the Christian women belonging to the same denomination that my friend belonged. “But I have a cousin who is very spiritual and I am very fond of him” she continued.

Finally some spark of hope. Then we had a long discussion about what spirituality meant to me and my philosophy in life. Rather than discussion, we can call it a monologue as she had nothing much to contribute by the way of information or views but kept asking questions to keep me aware that she was still there on the other end. Gradually we moved on to more earthly topics. I remembered my mother’s words and decided to try for a deal closure. I had often heard most women like chocolate, flowers and Harry Potter. I had no clue about flowers and chocolates but I had read all the Harry Potter books, the last one, one day before the official release. “So how did you like the latest Harry Potter book?”.

She replied “I do not read that kind of kid stuff”.

Again a bouncer. It seemed like I was getting back my natural ‘charm’. But I was a fighter and continued to toil on and managed to secure a telephonic interview the next day.

On Sunday afternoon a squeaky voice greeted me “Hi. How was the day?

Like all other days. Sunny in the morning and in all probability dark in the night”, I replied. I am not too good at answering these trick questions.

 “So what are you doing today?” she went on enthusiastically.

Talking to you, of course. What else did you think I was doing?” I replied.

 After we had spoken for 5 minutes, she mentioned that I sounded very much like her boss, who was also from a premier management institute. This sounded ominous. But I decided to find out more.
So what kind of a person is your boss?

She burst out “He is so weird. He is a total nut. Probably because he is from such a well known institute of management. I really hate him” “But that does not prejudice me against you” she added as an afterthought.

I had already begun to get a déjà vu feeling regarding how this was going to end. So I decided to limit my losses. So I said “Hello. Hello. I can’t hear you. Hello. Hello. Can you hear me?” and cut the phone.

I thought I would at least save on the mobile bill. Within a minute she called me up and we resumed our conversation. The boss and the philosophical cousin who had made a brief appearance earlier began to appear with increasing regularity in the conversation. I began to suspect what this was all about. Typically most humans like to think in dualities. For Christian, it is ‘God’ and ‘Devil’. For Hindus, it is ‘Ultimate Reality’ and ‘Illusion’. For the scientist, it is rationality and irrationality. For the cold war American, it is democracy and communism. This girl was not a spiritual person as she had mentioned earlier. So she had no use for God, devil, reality and illusion. Nor was she a scientist or an American. So for her the duality was cousin and boss. She had probably simplified the marriage issue to a simple question of whether I was a Type B (Boss) or a Type C (Cousin). It is amazing how human mind simplifies complex issues. Thankfully however there was no type A as the only word I can think of starting with A is not very nice. (Though probably Type B in all probability would have been a Type A as well) I refrain from mentioning the A word however as I do not want my blog to get a R-rating for profanity.

The following Wednesday turned out to be my day of judgment. And the final verdict
I have been giving a considerable amount of thought to our interaction in the past 2 weeks and I am sorry to convey that I will not be able to take this forward. I feel our preferences on varied issues are quite different and did not find many similarities during our interaction. Wish you all the very best in your future endeavors. It was nice taking to you and knowing you.

So it turned out I was a Type B specimen. But I liked the nice way she had put it. In the words of my grandmother “It was like inserting a needle through a banana

You can never beat these HR executives at this. For instance, I really loved the rejection letter XLRI sent me after my interview for their PM&IR program. I wonder how many termination letters she has sent so far. I am sure she has a wonderful career before her and I wish her all the best.

So that brings an end to my third story. Based on the response and my continued interest in this topic I will see if I need to move on to my fourth tale of woe. If before that either I or the readers find bread being forced down the throat, I would call it a day and move on to other topics.

It so happened that readers did find the story interesting and here we move to the next part of the story.

Next Post:       :  Great Indian Bride Hunt: Rotations
Previous Post  :  The Great Indian Bride Hunt

Great Indian Bride Hunt

In the late 80s, before the advent of cable TV, when the 9.00 o’clock serials on Doordarshan used to capture the attention of the Indian middle class, there was one of these serials called Mr. Yogi. It was a comic-tragic series where Yogesh Ishwarlal Patel, an NRI (Non Resident Indian) returns to Bombay looking for a bride. As a school boy, having a good laugh at the expense of Mr. Yogi, being in a similar situation 20 years down the line was the last thing on my mind. But then isn't that what life is all about? A series of unfortunate events occurring when you least expect them to. I actually fail to remember if Mr. Yogi ultimately found a suitable bride. I wonder whatever happened to Mr.Yogi, if the same fate awaits me. But then who cares? Isn't the journey more important than the destination? Without much more ado let me get into the story of 'Travails of the great Indian Bride search’ or ‘The Seven damsel damnation’.

In our families, typically, 25-27 is considered an ideal age for marriage. A strategic onsite trip to Germany for a year, a year of preparation for MBA entrance and 2 years of MBA helped me postpone the inevitable. But at 29, parents had reached the limits of patience and the bride hunt begins. As soon as I returned home from my convocation, the first girl was already ready. The girl’s mom had already sent the photos and her e-mail id and the stage was set for me. I mailed her and started chatting with her on G-Talk. The talk was going on and on. ‘How are you?’, ‘How was the weekend?’, ‘Did you watch IPL?’ and then more challenging questions ‘Do you like your mom or dad?’, ‘Tell me 3 things your friends dislike about you’, ‘What is the weirdest thing you have done?’ I thought probably the girl was also following adaptive testing methodologies like GRE where questions kept getting tougher as you keep answering them right. So I was sure I was proceeding along the right track.

I have always been a believer in continuous feedback mechanism, So I thought mid way I would summarize our discussion and give her my assessment of her behavioral competencies based on the discussion so far and also get her feedback about my progress so far. I tried my best to employ motivation theories in appraising her. But somehow the whole idea of appraisal seemed to upset her. So we dropped the idea and chatted for a couple of times and then for 10 days I don’t hear from her. Then this mail
How are you? I hope everything is fine. I wanted to let you know that I am not very comfortable taking this forward. I know we haven’t spoken much. But I feel we do not have similar ways of thinking or doing stuff. I think we also communicate differently. By this time, I must have felt a bonding of friendship at least. I am still not getting that. I do not think it is worth spending time on this when one of us do not feel comfortable. Anyways. all the best!! I am sure you will find someone who is more compatible to you. Cheers!! Have fun!!

So I decided to take her advice and have fun that day by planning a trip to a nearby Jungle Lodge with a couple of classmates. It s not everyone who gets to interact with girls who talks through her nose and picks up things with her feet and walks using her hands. Isn't that what she meant by doing things differently and communicating differently?

Let s move on to episode 2. This girl had written lot of interesting stuff in her profile something about woods and trees and something like that which I found quite interesting. She was a journalist and done lot of other courses as well including a foreign MBA. Her father also seemed to be quite wealthy and well educated. Seemed like the family would provide the ideal life for me. After all who has not dreamed of a wealthy and well connected father in law at least some point in life?

There was a rapid exchange of mails one after the other almost on a daily basis for a month. Then came phone calls. And then the fateful day where a meeting was scheduled. Things had progressed too fast. I was wondering whether I had hit my head against something or what. She was coming down to my city and we had scheduled a meeting that evening at the lounge of a 5-star hotel she was staying at with her dad. I left office early, went home, took a bath and put on freshly ironed clothes and even combed my hair, which speaks volumes of the regard I had for this girl (and of course her family fortune!). I caught an auto and reached there taking a brief detour to get some biscuits for her. By the way I forgot to mention. She was supposedly a self proclaimed half-wit. I hope that’s the right term for people who make lot of witty comments? I used to laugh a lot at her ‘witty’ comments as it is quite easy to laugh in mail. How difficult is it to type ‘Ha ha ha. That was funny’? But it was going to be a different ball game when in person. I wondered whether I should take a flask of nitrous oxide with me to enable the laughing process. But with all the recent bombings, police seemed to be on an alert. So decided not to risk it .

There was this girl in some kind of fancy clothing (I can’t recollect exactly what it was except that it was something fancy as she mentioned about it) with her dear old daddy waiting there at the lounge. He spoke with me briefly and left, leaving me alone with the young lady at the snack lounge. I gave her the biscuits and then rolled up sleeve and geared myself for a good tuck in. But unfortunately the girl had other plans. She just ordered some soup and Russian salad and in order to maintain my dignity I also had to make do with the same. So it was going to be all talk and no food. Maybe more food would have relaxed the atmosphere and lead to a more positive outcome.

So we began talking. I started off about books and places I have visited. An interesting conversation seemed to be evolving despite the lack of food. But she soon cut it short and said “let’s get to business”. “As you wish, milady”. She said she wanted to finish her studies which might involve a bit of travel every month. Fair enough. Wanted to visit her parents now and then. Again fair enough. Have her friends for an evening over now and then. That was also fine as long as I was not the curio on display for the evening. Then she asked me what my expectation was. I told her about my views regarding the need for thrift. She said she also fully agreed and hardly spent anything except for those ‘small’ monthly expenses on those 3-4 little gold trinkets, fancy shoes and few of those designer wear. Other than it was just the regular expenses such as the car, the chauffer and the daily meal at the nearby 5 star restaurant. I asked her if she could give me an estimate of her total month expenses. She said “Well it must be around some 5000 Rs.” I did not tell her the chauffer alone would draw a salary of not less than Rs. 6000. Probably daddy darling was paying all the bills and dear husband would pay up after marriage so that our little Miss Mary Antoinette could continue to live in the world where 5000 Rs can buy you heaven on earth.

Then she moved on to other things. As we were talking she asked suddenly “So how would you express romance? Would you kiss my hand or something” I thought “Tell you what. Get a dog. He will not only kiss your hand, but lick it as well

But said nothing. She also kept asking me what I thought about her looks and clothing. I said her eyes, ears, nose and mouth were in their proper places and as far as her clothing was concerned, it covered most of what needed to be covered. She did not look too satisfied. Then she pressed me to tell her what kind of girls I found attractive. I said physical beauty did not matter much with me but if I were asked what kind of feminine features I found aesthetically appealing, I would go for sharp features. Incidentally her features were rounded. So she started off “So you don’t find me beautiful

I tried to tell her looks did not matter. I was not buying a art piece for my showcase. But she would not listen. Then she began to go on and on about how she is not getting the romantic feeling with me and stuff like that. I could see where she was coming from. Earlier during our conversation, when I was mentioning about my alignment with Mahatma Gandhi on carnality in marital relations, I had noticed her mouth had begun to blob in and out like a gold fish. There itself I had begun to sense it was not going to work. It was confirmed when she responded to my remark “True love has its basis in sacrifice” with “But that’s platonic love”.

So I just held fort till her dad came and made a quick exit promising to meet her again to explore how I could ‘express romance’. Next day morning, I wrote to her saying the best way for her to find romance is to find another man. I am finally inclined to agree with the anonymous wise man from the past who had said “Don’t marry for money. You can borrow it cheaper

No communication from her after that though I offered to maintain friendship with her even if I did not marry her. Wonder why she even disconnects my phone calls .It’s difficult to understand these women.

That covers 2 episodes of my search for a bride. I think I am mentally exhausted after writing such a long piece. No energy to proceed with the other 5. But I guess these 2 give a flavor. Maybe sometime later I may venture to write about those as well, Or maybe not. Even Mr. Yogi has begun to get boring after a while. So I guess same for my blog as well. And I am sure the number if going to be much more than 7. Probably after a while it would become more like a déjà vu. Even now I am getting the feeling at times. I wonder how things shape up. If anyone has seen Mr. Yogi and remember how it ended, you can put it on the comments in my blog.

Next Post  :  The Great Indian Bride Hunt: Reloaded

From Dog Bite to Sanyas to Cigarettes - Story of the Evolution of my Relegion

My first serious tryst with religion began at the age of 10, when I was bitten by a dog or thought I was bitten (dog's jaws brushed close to my ankle and later I discovered a scar on that spot, which may or may not be attributed to dog bite). I somehow managed to hide the fact from my parents. But within a month I began to get scared and started fearing I may get rabies and started researching the library about this disease. The research only served to worry me more. In order to save myself, I bargained with God that “Please save my life and I shall never hide anything from my parents”. But I did not keep up the promise and then fearing God would punish me began to inflict voluntary punishments upon myself such as denying myself the pleasure of playing football and other such self denials and also sometime inflicting injuries upon myself. Thus my initial conception of God was that of a heartless dispenser of justice, who does not spare the wrong doer. But I viewed him as someone with whom you can bargain and trade God's justice for self inflicted punishments. Thus I began to deny myself various things, denials which at times I would violate to atone for which I had to take on even more self denials.

Thus by the time I was 13, I had denied myself almost everything. I could not play football, I could not collect stamps, I could not talk to or even accidentally touch girls, I could not swear – the list can go on and on. These denials made me look eccentric and began to isolate me from my peers and the attitude towards girls not only made me a kind of laughing stock but for many years to follow stood as a barrier to healthy interactions with members of the opposite gender.

But as I was heading to 15, I began to feel the insufficiency of my current concept of religion. Also important questions such as what happens after death and the purpose of human existence had began to appear in the periphery of my mind. At that age of 15, I temporarily sorted the issue by deciding to drop all my self-imposed punishments and submitting to the mercy of a much more benevolent God, described in the New Testament and accepting Christ as my savior and living by the Christian moral code set in the bible and my parent’s basic moral code. So for outside appearances I was a Hindu, but at heart I had converted to Christianity. I used to read the New Testament regularly. Incidentally my new school was also a Christian school. I was highly influenced by the saintly character of the school principle who was a Catholic monk. So I was at peace with myself for the next 2 years.

As I neared the completion of my 17th year, an obsession to get into IIT had gripped my mind. As the exam drew near, the obsession crowded everything else out. At last the D-Day arrived. Much to my chagrin I performed so poorly that I was sure I could not make it to this elite institute of my dreams. I was a living copse for the next 2 days. On the third day, flipping through the pages of the newspaper, I suddenly came across a headline 'IIT JEE canceled’. I could not believe my eyes. Now my belief in God was vindicated. I believed the exam had been canceled for my sake and next time I was going to make it and so it happened and thus I landed up at IIT at the age of 18. The first term at IIT was fully occupied in settling down. There were so many new things. It was also the first time I was staying away from home. I was still on the top of a cloud, hardly believing I had made it into IIT, one of the only 2 to have done it from my school, where I was not even in the top 10 ranks in my class.

By the time second term came, the charm had faded. I realized IIT, in spite of having some of the best professors and students, was not what I had dreamed it to be. Also with the obsession to get into IIT fulfilled and no alternate obsession to fill my mind, I experienced a void. At this juncture once again thoughts about life after death and purpose of life surfaced. The simplistic philosophy of the New Testament no longer sufficed to satisfy me. I needed something richer. That’s when Swami Vivekananda came into my life. Just the year I joined some of the senior students had formed a group to study his philosophy. Slowly I began to be drawn to the group. I got acquainted with lot of senior students with state of mind similar to mine in search of answers to the big questions in life. They started taking me regularly to the Ramakrishna Mutt nearby. I was also introduced to the rich literature of Hindu philosophy - Bhagwat Gita, Yoga Vasishta, the complete works of Swami Vivekananda, Life of Swami Vivekananda, The Great Master (life of Sri Ramakrishna), and the gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. I took initiation at the Ramakrishna Mutt (In principle it is similar to the Upanayanam done in Brahmin families with the differences being it is given to both men and women, irrespective of caste, creed and color, a different mantra, no external trappings such as threads and most importantly it is administered by the highly spiritual president of R K Mutt and not by some local priest who does not even know to say his mantras properly). With that I started meditation. I also used to interact often with spiritual people at the Mutt and in my college, and used to listen often to the Ramkrishna Aratrikam composed by Swami Vivekananda. It seemed as if I had attained ultimate peace of mind.

But the story did not end there. This new found religious zeal began to affect my day to day life. I had stopped paying attention to my studies and my grades had started heading downhill. In an effort to keep only holy company, I began to categorize more and more people as unholy and avoid their company. People who smoked, those who drunk, those who swore, those who watched porn and talked about sex - all were evil people and had to be avoided. As in any other group of young adults, 80-90% fell in one or the other of these categories. This meant I could interact with only 10% of the people. I probably knew only 10% of the students, which left something like 1% of the students – my 4 friends. Thus with no interest in academics and nil social life, any further continuation of the current life was impossible. So I decided to join the Ramakrishna Mutt as a monk. I wrote to the president of the order and got the permission when I was in my third year of engineering. But the monks told me that they want people who can keep up their commitments. So I had to keep up my commitment of finishing my degree. Moreover the order did service work and so they needed qualified people to serve the community better. So I had 1 year to go and a vacation in between. I tried to avoid going home that vacation by getting an internship. But those days, internships were rare at IITs and so I did not get one. So I had to go home. However when I saw my parents, my heart melted and I did not want to leave them and go. Moreover further thought showed me that I was not becoming a monk for the right reasons. It seemed more like escapism than true renunciation. So I decided to continue a regular life
By then it was too late to write GRE and go abroad. So I took the first job that came to campus – one of India’s leading IT companies. This was time for another shift. Through my association with Vivekananda literature I had become an Advaitist. I had begun to believe that God is nothing but the universal soul that exists in each one of us and every other living being. So by meditating I had tried to remain connected to the soul of the universe.  But I realized in spite of all external trappings of a spiritual person, I was not able to maintain concentration for meditation for more than 6-7 minutes. So pure Raja Yoga was not my method. Also I felt if whole world was God, then why would certain words and certain actions alone be spiritual. Every action we do can be spiritual. Also I realized I had become proud and was considering myself superior while considering all the other people who smoked, drank etc. inferior. So I had become proud and judgmental, which are worse faults than smoking and drinking. So at the time of leaving college in 2001, I wanted to give up the holier than thou attitude and live like all other people and learn to relate to them. As part of learning to relate to people, I developed the habit of smoking and drinking. I found that brought me closer to people. Unless I indulged in those so called vices, I would not let go of the prejudices against people indulging in them.

So that began a new journey in my life. It's been over a decade. I have had lot of interesting experiences over this time. But I will leave that story to another time.

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces