Then there is this fetish for information! Unparalleled in the history of the past.
It is said women dress for the critical appraisal of women. (Never mind if I say, I am pleasing myself, or even my man; another woman’s approval affirms my choice). Now, even men have accelerated the pace for us women by shifting their own parameters. As he struts the social circuit in that Abu Jani kurta and shawl, and all manner of aromatic unguents, resplendent as a peacock, she is exposed to a host of possibilities for improvement. In any case, in this age of discontent, the ideal is just that much beyond her reach always (even in the six-inch heels). It is true, no one can be too rich or too thin, or for that matter, too presentable.
I remember, one of the city’s most eligible bachelors opined to me at dinner, some years ago, that the trouble with Indian girls was their habit of mentally stagnating into mostly weight issues and even so bloating once they got married (perhaps that is the thought that keeps his eligibility status alive). It is true that the Indian wife is known for her traditionalism, and one aspect of the Indian wife’s tradition is that of burgeoning into the plenitude of adipose soon after marriage. However, he was speaking in the last century. The nouveau wife has gaily thrown tradition to the winds in most matters, and elegantly emaciated, in skin-hugging leotards and skimpy top, she leads the off-spring to the health club for the daily tone-up of the Gluteus Maximus.
And there I am too, with the self-fulfilling prophecy from pre-marriage unfolding itself unrelenting without any concessions to additional demands. Running a household, a husband, my schedule, my organisation, myself (in the Colaba Woods with my little Lhasa Apso) and the variety of additions to my responsibilities, work and social work portfolio that has unobtrusively crept in over the years.
Then there is this fetish for information! Unparalleled in the history of the past. God-given intelligence is not enough. This is the age of information, remember? To hold a minimal conversation, even to agree, more so to disagree, in fact even to be a silent participant and look one category above a moron, you have to be replete with trivia on people, politics, sports, fashion, etc.
Remember the March Hare in Alice In Wonderland? “No time, No time, No time”, he repeated as he buzzed about. He was prophesying the present. So, the dilemma is when do I have the time to do the living in this rush-rush life?
The point of course being, acquiring knowledge and conforming to any standards is not the way to ‘be’. It’s the collection of memories and friendships that constitute the happiest moments. To own the best figure or the best home, the best wardrobe or the greatest knowledge is not as fulfilling as a life of great laughter, giving, sharing and fulfilling relationships. All that time and effort spent conforming to the standard of a benchmark which keeps on changing and going higher, is the time that could be spent on love, laughter and happiness.