Tag Archives: marriage

A slice of family history

Thanks to messaging apps and social networks, families and friends have come closer. There is a joy in reconnecting with cousins, aunts and uncles, and knowing that you are family.

This afternoon, on my husband’s maternal cousins’ group, I saw a few photographs. Some of the cousins had visited the family’s ancestral home, and the village temple nearby.

The house, though occupied by other people, has stood the test of time – teakwood staircases and doorways, and lots of memories.

As I saw the photographs, my husband casually mentioned that he was born there, in that house. While I knew that he was born in that small village, I had not made the connection to the house.

That transformed the way I looked at the pictures. This was a part of our family history. My imagination soared.

Then I imagined how my husband would have walked up and down these wooden stairs on chubby legs, being chased by an aunt or his mom; how he would have played with cousins and watched the hens clucking in the yard. The home had a barn, where there was a beautiful cow named Radhamani, who was loved and cherished by all the family members. After my husband’s parents moved to the city, most school holidays were spent in this house.

Four other cousins were also born in the same house. Lots of stories and memories there.

I only know the husband I met nearly two decades ago, but starting from the ancestral home he was born in, and the lovely family who surrounded him, there were so many factors that have made him the person he is today.

It was nice listening to interesting family anecdotes, and to realize that there was a time, when my husband and I led independent lives, unbeknownst to each other.

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The ‘Rasam’ Debate

‘Rasam’ is a South Indian dish. It is a watery soup that is eaten with rice. Rasam is a combination of many tastes – it is spicy, tangy, aromatic, and full of flavour. More than anything, Rasam soothes, comforts and invigorates. It can be eaten when you have stomach upsets, when you are down with a cold or fever or pretty much all the time.  It is also the dish you want to come home to after a long holiday,  and restaurant food.

Rasam is usually served as the second gravy (that’s mixed with rice) in a typical South Indian meal. The Rasam, as a dish, is so versatile that it can be made with different bases like tamarind, lemon, orange, pineapple, lemon grass and many more.  It can contain one or many of the following – tomatoes, garlic, ginger, drumstick etc.

It is a staple dish in most homes. A good South Indian cook is expected to make a mean cup of Rasam. 

Image courtesy – http://www.Dreamstime.com

Where I grew up, Rasam was a must-have with our afternoon meal. Piping hot rasam, with rice and papadams, eaten with spicy potato curry.

My mom is a Rasam connoisseur and I have inherited my intense love for Rasam from her. My mom’s Rasam is to die for, and I have many wonderful memories of tucking into wonderful meals with her aromatic rasam, with the monsoon winds sweeping outside.

Cut to many years later. I was a newly married woman, trying to impress my husband with my cooking skills. One of the first meals that I prepared was a Rasam-Rice combo with some vegetable.

When we sat down to dinner, my husband looked at the Rasam and said, “I don’t like Rasam at all.”

I was shocked. How could someone not like Rasam? I did a hardsell of my Rasam but to no avail. My husband’s family only had Rasam when they were down with fever.

So, for them, Rasam = Fever Comfort Food

For me, Rasam = The greatest dish ever…

How were we going to reconcile this? It was an even bigger debate than Coffee vs. Tea (Coffee for me, of course).

It’s been a long journey. The only consolation is that when my husband is down with a bad cold or fever, he asks for ‘my delicious rasam’. I keep telling him that my rasam is delicious even otherwise…but!

When I think about it, this Rasam debate in our home epitomises marriage. Two different people, with different tastes, who learn to live together and compromise on many things, but don’t on a few things…and can laugh over all this over a cup of rasam.

Marriage in a Coffee Mug

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In the early days of our marriage, my husband and I went out one evening to a home exhibition and sale, as we were setting up our new home, and wanted to buy stuff for the house.

There was a sale on,  for porcelain kitchenware. I was drawn like a magnet to a set of coffee mugs, that looked like pieces of tree trunks, with gnarled knobs and ring patterns. They looked unique, and so inviting.

My husband did not like these mugs at all. He wanted something simple. We argued (must have been one of the first arguments, me thinks).  Finally, we agreed to disagree; and the coffee mugs came home. All six mugs are still intact and have lasted us many, many years. My husband has grown to like them over the years.

While the lasting love, commitment and promises are the foundation of a marriage, it is these simple things and moments that form the bricks of any marriage.

Be it about making up after an agreement, or letting go ‘for’ your spouse without allowing ego to walk-in to a situation.

It is about his choice versus yours many a time, and having the wisdom to disagree without malice. It is about the small joys of reading a book together or shopping for grocery. It is about egging each others’ fitness goals, and then also indulging in a huge dollop of icecream together.

It is about seeing yourselves in your children, and also realizing that your children are not you. It is about being able to laugh at yourselves and being able to cry together. It is about doing everything together, and then doing nothing together.

It is about watching movies and munching popcorn together, as much as it is about who will clear up afterwards.

It is this and that. It is black and white and all colours. It is about being a team, as much as it is about being two individuals.

It is also definitely about having strong filter coffee from coffee mugs that have witnessed all these moments in your marriage.

The Search – A Short Story

It was raining heavily, as she opened the door to the flat. The rain had started without notice, and she was thoroughly drenched. Rivulets of water poured down her body, as she struggled with the many plastic bags, containing grocery and other mundanities that their home seemed to need every week.

As she entered, she heard the landline ringing. She clucked in exasperation, as she realized that the clothes that she had hung out to dry in the morning, were all swaying merrily in the rain. She ran to pick up the landline.

It was her husband, Jay.

“Hi!” she said.

“Hi! I need you to do something. I’ve forgotten an important paper that I worked on over the weekend. It should be in my chest of drawers, in one of the racks. It is a handwritten design drawing, A4 size. Take a photo of the paper on your phone and send it to me. It is quite urgent”, he said.

She said ok and hung up.

She changed into dry clothes quickly and went to the study. The table was in absolute chaos, but she had strict instructions not to clean it.

She sighed at the mess and got started. All kinds of papers were strewn around.

She started sorting through them. Lots of server designs, hardware architecture, proposals to customers; but no sign of the ‘paper’.

She moved from the table to the first of  three drawers. More papers, more chaos.

She continued to search. Second drawer, same story. She only had one more drawer, hopefully it had to be there. The third drawer seemed to be better organized than the others. Sheafs of paper had been bundled with rubber bands.

As she processed the second bundle, a smile lit her face, as she saw the bill for the gift Jay had given her for their wedding anniversary earlier that year. She had asked him many times, how much it had cost, but he had refused to reveal the amount. Now she knew. Her eyes widened in shock as she saw the amount, $10000! But wait, the quantity was for 2 bangles. Jay had given her just one of them.

She felt a violent shiver ripple through her body as she tried to understand what that meant. Had Jay not realized that the shop had billed him for 2 bangles and given him only one? But he was very very careful about anything to do with money.

Ice cold fingers clutched at her heart as she felt a deep pain, when realization dawned – maybe he was cheating on her.

Her senses were on high alert as she sent off a text to Jay that she could not find the paper. Then with a sense of purpose, she sorted through the documents again, looking for something, anything. Actually, she was not even sure what she was looking for.
There were only more papers of technical drawings.

When Jay called to say he would be working late and not to stay up for him, her heart thudded with cold fear, as she hugged herself.

She decided to call his landline number after an hour or so, just a wifely call to check and reassure herself.

When she called, he picked up on the second ring. She felt a wave of relief.

But the niggling worry started all over again. Should she confront him, or let it go. Why had he not giving her the other bangle. Whom had ge given it to?

She paced up and down. She waited up for him. She couldn’t survive the night without knowing about the mysterious second bangle.

He looked tired as he sat down to have his dinner.

She was too upset to talk and he was too tired to notice that she was not herself.

When the pressure inside her head reached bursting point, it rushed out as a powerful torrent of words.

“While I looked for that paper you wanted this morning, I found this”, she said, thrusting the bill under his nose.

He laughed and said, “So, now you know its value eh?”

She said, “But you gave me just one, but the bill amount is for two bangles, where is the second bangle?”

“Oh! that. You know, Mihir, my roommate from University? We bumped into each other at the jewelry shop. He was looking at buying something for his wife, just like I was. He liked the design too…so both of us bought it, he paid me in cash, as I was a member and would get more points added if we billed it together”, he said.

“So, why didn’t you tell me?” she asked.

“Hmmm, must have slipped my mind. Can you pass some of that yummy chutney here, please?” he said as he continued to eat.

Totally unaware that a typhoon had just tried to uproot what they had built over the last few years.

She sighed with relief.

The Ring – A Short Story

It was an emergency. She was going crazy with worry. She had only two more days. 48 hours. A lot was at stake here.

She had this annoying habit of removing all accessories and jewelry that adorned her ears, neck and arms, the moment she walked into her apartment from work – sometimes dropping them on the shoe cupboard, sometimes on the kitchen counter, pretty much anywhere and everywhere. The same habit had brought this emergency upon her.

She had lost her engagement ring.

On a glorious afternoon, a fortnight ago, her boyfriend of many years had finally popped the question. She still remembered the golden and rust coloured leaves of Autumn raining down on them, as she accepted his proposal. He had then slipped the most exquisite emerald ring on her finger; a
ring that had been passed down in his family, over many generations. He had told her about its significance and history, and about how he had asked his mother to take it from the bank locker, for this momentous occasion.

And, in 48 hours, she would have to meet his mother. She had met her before, but this was different. She had been invited to meet her future family.

She had not told her fiance about the missing ring, very confident that she would find it soon. But after nearly 36 hours of turning the entire house upside down, hope was draining – slowly and steadily. On this predatory hunt for her ring, she had come to know every nook and cranny in her house.

She dialled her fiance’s number. Hearing the love in his voice, courage nearly deserted her.

But she couldn’t take the pressure anymore and blurted out, “I have lost the engagement ring. Please don’t be me mad at me….”

There was a killing 10 second silence at the other end. Finally he said, “Tell me you are joking.”

10 seconds of silence from her end, which told him the truth.

“You know how valuable that ring is, and its significance, don’t you?” he said.

“Can we postpone the dinner at your mom’s? she asked.

His voice was curt, “No way. This is very important to my mom. You’d better find the ring, I have no other solution.”

There was a click at the other end as she stared at the silent phone.

Another round of searching, going crazy, trying to retrace her movements on the day the ring went missing…over and over again. No clue.

She had to come up with a convincing plan. An idea slowly took shape in her head. She would wear a pain-relief patch covering the fingers and wrist on one hand, feigning a muscle pull. That way she could always say she had left the ring at home.

She felt a lot calmer. Her fiance visited her that evening. He joined the search, though his eyes looked hurt.

She gently broached the pain-patch plan. He reluctantly agreed.

The family dinner was a huge success, as she was warmly welcomed into their midst.

At home, however, the ring remained elusive, and the strain was beginning to tell in many small ways.

After nearly three months, Lady Luck decided to visit her in the form of a Dryer Serviceman, who found the ring in the lint trap of the dryer. The dryer was used only when it rained. So, there it was, the shiny ring, bringer of relief and happiness.

Her birthday was coming up, and she decided to surprise her fiance by wearing the ring.

On her birthday, as they sat down to a candlelight dinner, she moved her hand this way and that, but he didn’t seem to notice.

Just after dessert, he asked her to close her eyes and stretch out her hand for his gift.

She heard a loud gasp. She smiled as she imagined his reaction on seeing the ring.

His voice sounded strange, “Why didn’t you tell me that you found it?”

She said, “Wanted to surprise you.”

He said, “Open your eyes.”

When she opened her eyes, she let out a loud gasp as she saw another emerald ring, identical to the first one.

“I had this made especially for you”, he said.

A Bride’s Journal

Journal entry #1

The  date for my wedding has been fixed. In two months, I will move to my husband’s house.

Sid is a nice guy, in as much as I could glean from the three meetings we have had.  After all we have known each other only for the last week, five days to be precise.

Am I freaking out? You bet I am.

Journal entry #2

My parents and brother (who has no choice) have had their thoughts programmed to only one word, you guessed right, my wedding. The intensity overwhelms me….my two aunts are visiting us next week. Should I take on an extra project so I can come home late from work? Worth pursuing.

Journal entry #3

Not sure if the term ‘arranged marriage’ talks about the craziness involved in the arrangements. Flowers, catering, shopping for my trousseau, jewelry, invitations, menu choices, make up, hair dos, I am unable to leave the house without my parents thrusting a few samples of ‘this or that’ for me to choose from.

Journal entry #4

Today, Sid called me at work to ask if we could have lunch together.

Was I excited?  Yes, a  bit…hmmmm….actually,  a lot!!!

Journal entry #5

The lunch was good…yeah more than good. He has a great sense of humour. We captured our first selfie. We kinda look nice together. He gave me a chocolate…

Journal entry #6

The craziness at home continues….things seem to get finalized one moment…and new checklists are being made the very next.

Today we went shopping for my trousseau (read my family of four, plus my four aunts and their spouses, my two cousins, a brood of nieces and nephews) plus Sid’s family, his two cousins, three aunts and their spouses.  Thankfully pets were not allowed in the shops.

Observation #1
30 odd people screaming their choices is embarrassing

Observation #2
Getting a reservation for so many people in a restaurant is a challenge at such short notice……

Journal entry #7

The bride, that’s me, is ready with her sarees and jewellery.  Sid & I call each other frequently – the family indulges me….Once we get off the phone we are on chat mode on our phones. We are both doing a crash course on understanding each other after all….

Journal entry #8

Did I tell you that in India it is not only the couple that marries, even the families marry? So I am now being introduced to Sid’s  first cousins, second cousins, great uncles thrice removed, to the aunt who is a great singer, to the aunt who is a style icon and to the uncle who was just two steps away from making it to the Indian cricket team, among others

Sid has also met my great grand mom, my third cousin who happens to be related to Sid’s family, my  first cousins, the three bad boys of our family, the talented singer aunt, the dancing sensation aunt, the rangoli cousin and the chef-in-the-making aunt.

Our families have outdone each other….huge resource pools of talent!!!

Journal entry #9

Sid and I sneak away for a midnight drive and an icecream. ‘Twas wonderful.

5 more days to go…

Journal entry #10

We are married. I get to show off my new dresses at the many family lunches (on both sides) that we are invited to almost every day.

We are on an eating orgy here. I applaud and over eat at his cousins’, he does the same for dinners on my side. We are extravagant in our compliments….everyone is happy.

Journal entry #11

We are back from our magical honeymoon.

Entering the phase called ‘digitally yours’… repeatedly looking at the wedding albums, uploading videos and pics & enjoying all the gifts.

Journal entry #12

The calm is restored…it is just the two of us now…starting our life together, bit by bit. Planning the move to our own apartment

Fully focused on transforming the apartment into ‘home’.

Journal entry #13

We had our first guests over for dinner. Received two invites in return. Our social life starts….

Journal entry #14

We had our first argument….I was right, of course…!  We are well & truly married.