Let me begin by saying the last six years of my life have been a roller-coaster ride, at the very least.
Moving to Hyderabad and then Bangalore, I embarked on the most important and eye opening chapter of my life - the life of the single working woman in India. I can safely say no formal education or parental advice had ever prepared me for this. At times liberating, at times frightening, at times grueling…it has been frustrating, tear-jerking, and soul-shattering but ultimately - empowering.
I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world though. It has taught me my self-worth; it has taught me to question blind faith in others, and at the same time to trust my own instincts. It has shown me the worst in people, and also the best. I have learnt that I have the (apparently) unique capacity to make friends and connect with people regardless of age, background and culture- a fact I am unabashedly proud of. Bangalore in particular, while having dealt me the hard hand of gut-wrenching heartbreak, has also given me the blessing of rock solid and lifelong friendships that have broken the many falls I have taken.
Somewhere down this road began the quest to get married - partly self motivated, partly due to a gentle nudge from the maternal entity. Being the wildly social person that I am (hint - sarcasm), I knew I couldn't count on my buzzing social network to meet a potential partner, and with some trepidation, turned to the various matrimonial portals burgeoning in cyberspace that guarantee instant marital bliss in the blink of an eye. Given India has a ratio of 933 women for every 1000 men, it is rather baffling why 3 years later, aforementioned bliss still eludes me.
The plethora of eligible (?) men that I have had to power-swim through would put an Olympic swimmer to shame. I sifted through the potential grooms who want 'fair educated slim' brides to sit at home and make round chapatis for their parents, and not to go out and have a career, because ‘what am I there for?’ With this preliminary elimination done, I was sure I was just around the corner from finding Mr. Right. I could not have been more wrong.
Starting from the guy who my friends nicknamed ‘The Romancer of the Elderly’ - he indicated to me he had a ‘special’ lady friend who was a year older than his mother, who he had dated for five years and was still ‘emotionally attached’ to, and hence wanted to financially support for the rest of her life; to the guy who kept looking up pictures of my elderly female relatives on Facebook and telling me how hot they are - I've met very interesting men. There was this one guy who I dated for a month, and after a small difference of opinion, went and slept with a prostitute, only to come back and tell me that it was my fault because ‘you made me angry’. Why don't I tell you about the guy who met me for 45 minutes for coffee and couldn't stop looking at his phone, or about the guy who after meeting me through Shaadi.com confessed he didn't want to get married and needed a lifetime of solitude? Maybe I should tell you about the guy who was known to enter office wearing a florescent green tie and pink hot pants (I have sources!) - He spent 8 hours with me on a lunch date and then disappeared the next day saying he didn't ‘feel anything’. Or the guy who spoke to me once on the phone, and then immediately asked for ‘natural pics’, by which he meant intimate/candid photos without which he would ‘lose interest in me’. Oh and when I refused to send any, he proceeded to explain to me why I was old fashioned and wouldn't be able to ‘maintain’ a guy's interest. Precious.
Although I think my favorite amongst these - the undisputed winner, is the guy who after talking to me on the phone twice, wanted to buy me leopard printed OR polka dotted lingerie (he was very gracious and offered me a choice) and then insisted on calling me ‘Ms. 36’ (I shall refrain from indicating what that number pertains to, I'm sure adult readers will get the reference).
In a discussion about the vicissitudes of fortune I have encountered in this life-altering quest, a very interesting point was brought up by an insightful friend of mine. He told me - there are people who become extremely wary after a couple of unsuccessful relationships and stop dating completely (or date and then destroy the relationship themselves), there are also people who become wary, but continue dating halfheartedly, and then there are those, who despite having their heart broken don't stop giving it their all. They still gravitate (sometimes stupidly so) towards where they find even a little love, they love with abandon…without caution.
So this rare breed of soldiers of love - these warriors who fight for what they want, for what they believe they deserve, and what the relationship deserves; who, more often than not, are left alone fighting…while the person they are fighting for has long given up and walked away, because that was just the easy, more sensible, practical thing to do - are benevolently told that it is their goodness, strength and innocence that enables them to keep loving and keep trying again and again, despite the threat of impending doom. Who then, are they? Are they dreamers - whose good hearts compel them to believe that no matter how heartbreaking the journey is, true love will find them one day and will be worth it? Or are they realists, who have the clarity of thought to see that in the thorny bramble that life sets down for us, a loving partner is like a kid glove - which lessens the pain from the scratches sustained?
A quote from one of my favorite TV shows- Modern Family, summarizes this -
“There are dreamers and there are realists in this world. You'd think the dreamers would find the dreamers, and the realists would find the realists, but more often than not, the opposite is true.
See, the dreamers need the realists to keep them from soaring too close to the sun. And the realists? Well, without the dreamers, they might not ever get off the ground."
Who's to say our warriors can't be a bit of both?