Sunday, June 29, 2008

During wifely get-togethers I always feel inadequate. The conversation seldom appeals to me and my contribution never appeals to anyone present. I don’t know a diamond from a zircon or a Pajero from a Prada. What’s more , I don’t bake or barbecue, or straighten my hair or read Femina. My self esteem dipping, I question my feminity. I am proud to be a woman and I hate to be a freak.

But my gender identity is reaffirmed beyond doubt when I go shopping. I simply love to do that.( not the grocery type). I go shopping with my friends and browse along. We compare prices, inspect the quality, marvel at the variety, get excited about the new arrivals, fall for discounts and have a great time. We try on footwear, recommend tops, exchange tips on crockery – And we cement our friendship. The lingerie section is our favourite. These intriguing items leave us intrigued. It is fascinating to see the feathered, sequined, padded, lacy, transparent varieties. None of us buys one .But our expeditions are never complete without giggling and marveling at them.

Little do men understand the womanly passion to shop. They don’t know that it is a mission of fantasy. It is a noble endeavour to gather information to be handed over to others of the Sisterhood. It is a Sacred Duty!

It takes feminine logic to know that when you enter a shop to buy sandals, you don’t have to buy them. You can leave the shop with that lovely dupatta instead (which was never on the agenda and for which you have to shop to find a suit to match.) The male morality does not recognize the sin of getting lured into buying something that is overpriced however much you adore the item. They assume that just because you rejected the sari with big flowers, you should buy the one with the small flowers. The wisdom of buying a top that is small for you so that you may feel compelled to reduce is beyond a man’s comprehension. Hence it is very important to never take a man along when you go shopping.

Very early in my marriage I learnt this lesson. My husband would expect me to have a shopping list and buy what was there on it. How foolish! He would tag along and look at his watch after just 3o minutes. Then he would sigh dramatically. Then glare angrily. When I ignored these childish displays, he would begin getting palpitations and I really don’t know how he managed to get smoke to come from his ears. When he proceeded to become a public nuisance, I would have to leave. Soon he willingly agreed to stay at home when I went to the shops. But (I think just to kill joy) he would send my son along. The son is worse. It is a wonder how the chromosomes can carry behavioral features. The fellow would hover around murmuring and grumbling, until I got him to sit in a cosy corner with his mobile or MP3. But he has this terrible tendency to make big eyes when the bill is given and harangue me about spending such amounts for ‘stupid stuff’.

My daughter, now she and I are of a feather; only we tend to stray from the sane path when we get together. I remember some of our adventures at sundry malls. The time when we took a set of skimpy dresses (which she would never be allowed to wear) to the trial room and laughed as she tried them on. It is amazing how models manage to keep them on or get themselves into such clothes. Not to mention the complicated strings and contraptions

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Marital Accord

Matrimony and Arguments make strange bedfellows. But the two are inseparable. What’s a marriage without its healthy share of shouting matches? It is ok as long as it doesn’t turn nasty. Believe me it can. The couple may end up saying things they never meant. So despite its okness, arguments are better avoided. In my role as Materialmom, I distribute unsolicited advice to the young and the less experienced on how to do that.

Usually an argument has its origin in unconnected factors such as a bad day, a bad mood, a headache, deprivation or just about anything else. The signs of an argument are easy to discern- a frown, raised voice, rude words…. Once you detect the signs, be alert. Decide that you will not contribute to the quarrel. Deliberately adopt the body language that is opposite to that of the partner. If he (read she if you are a male)) frowns, you appear calm; if he shouts, you speak softly; if he is rude, you be extra polite. Now, this may seem too submissive, but it isn’t. Bide your time and later when the snapping dies out and he is feeling sheepish, you can remind him how childish his behaviour was and how mature yours. Besides when you have a bad day you may be the one shouting. ( make sure that your partner reads this post so that he /she will know the ideal response.)

The trick is not to get provoked. Let your partner’s harsh words fall off you like water off a duck’s back. Don’t get soaked by them. You can do this by understanding that your partner needs to let off steam and is too upset to understand what is really bothering him. So don’t take criticism personally. Even if you are the reason for resentment having things out in the open is certainly better than the cold and silent treatment. In such cases explain your behaviour/action and then shut up.

When you swap words with your partner it is not just a temptation, but an obsession to have the last word. But never insist on that for a) there is no last word in an argument. b) silence is the best last word. In fact during a war of words, the less said the better. Reticence is a virtue. Imagine your partner throwing barbs at you. When you don’t bite the bait, he would scream in frustration while you would have the last laugh and your dignity.

I know that many youngsters are frowning as they read this. I understand their longing to rebel- because I’ve been there and I’ve done that. Two decades of the real thing have convinced me that one stoops only to conquer. If you get involved and emotional you are in for tears and trouble. ( Sometimes tears do wash away a lot of accumulated frustrations.) When you stand outside yourself and watch a shout scene being played out, you find that it is but a laughing matter.