Thursday, March 28, 2013

M Courage

We have all heard of Dutch courage. Urban dictionary describes it as 'Alcohol induced self-confidence'. 

In our times of whatsapp, Skype and Facebook chat, there is a lot of evidence of what I would like to call (and trademark) M courage or Mobile courage. 

It is not courage to carry a Nokia phone from 90s. Side bar- I have exhibited that kind of courage for the longest time in the past. Now I have graduated to a Blackberry, which in the iPhone generation, is rather courageous too. 

M courage or Mobile courage is a new form of Dutch courage. It does not need any kind of alcohol. All it needs is a smart phone. And the inclination. And with great data plans, its tons cheaper than Dutch courage too!

M courage involves flirting, as incessantly and boldly as you desire, using an everyday communication object i.e.a mobile phone.

You can hide behind the screen and say, actually type, a lot of things you probably would not have the courage, to say otherwise.

The innumerable emoticons at your disposal only make it tons easier. My personal favorite is the 'wink' emoticon, as if offers you the flexibility to pretty much say whatever you want, and leave the receiver guessing whether you meant it or not. The true meaning of the message can be a mystery till you are ready or willing to reveal it. All thanks to ;)

M courage makes people bolder, at times unnecessarily so. It provides a shield one is able to hide behind. It lets you get away with a lot more than you normally can. And it provides an easy 'out'.

It has taken the charm out of flirting as you can't see that cute smile while he is asking you out on a first date. You cant decipher if he is being cheeky or just plain obnoxious when the message appears suggestive. It is tough to fathom the true intentions behind the typed words. 

And what do those bloody emoticons really mean? Does a hug emoticon signify a friendly 'you are a true pal' hug or a suggestive 'I wonder if I can unhook that bra' hug? It's a conundrum.

Does the good night emoticon mean...well 'good night'? Or is it code for 'I hope to visit your dreams tonight'? The range of what you can read into the emoticons is rather varied.

M courage is a two-way street. You can use it to drive a conversation further by a cheeky message of your own. Or you can simply put a stop to it by not responding, or typing something generic, like a regular smiley face. With the variety of emoticons available today, a smiley face is the equivalent to a polite nod. 

M courage comes with a very comprehensive insurance policy. You are pretty much covered for anything as long as you are hiding behind the mobile phone screen. 

You want to ask someone out and wonder if they will say yes? Test the waters with M courage. Send a whatsapp with 'Hey! Long time. What's been happening?'. If you get an almost immediate response, it's a good sign. If the response is delayed by a few hours and is the bland smiley face, let it go. It's not worth wasting your mobile phone battery further. If the response is 'Good to hear from you! How have you been?"- its positive, but could be construed as just friendly. Something like "So what are the weekend plans?" Now that's a promising sign ! As it opens up avenues for further conversations.

Innocent, sweet flirting is all good. However M courage can be misused (or leveraged- it's the way you look at it) for, well putting it mildly, 'hook-ups'. Friends can turn to 'friends with benefits'. Strangers can become one night stands. Boardrooms can lead straight to bedrooms. And casual daters (is that a word?) can become lifelong lovers.

Use it wisely, use it liberally. Keep it light, easy and fun. And remember, once you feel that you would rather hear the voice and see the face, pick up the phone and make a plan to meet. Then it's time the emoticons are replaced by true emotions.

Till then, happy typing ;)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Knight in shining armor

He ain't coming. I have been telling myself that for very many years. However my heart still believes. It's the years of conditioning with tales of damsels in distress and knights on white horses. And then there is Disney. Who turned the knight into real pixel flesh and animated blood and bought him to life on screen.

He was charming and handsome and he rode a horse. All swoon worthy features. He rescued the princess from clutches of evil witches, mean step mums, ugly beaus and threatening dragons. To top it all he was usually an heir to a throne, rich, well groomed and displayed impeccable manners. The complete package!

I always wondered how this knight in shining armour knew where to find the princesses in peril? Did he have a sixth sense which guided him towards the maiden that needed his assistance? Or a control room fixed with CCTV cameras? (OK scratch that, it's just plain creepy). May be he had an army of elves who reported to him on the damsels in distress and their vital statistics. Because  he probably needed some means to shortlist, else he would be stretched like private bankers today are.

Whatever the selection criteria was, what followed was always the same. He scooped the princess in his arms, put her on the horse and rode away into the moonlight. He took her to his palace, put a crown on her head, gifted her a wardrobe of gorgeous gowns and a few hand maidens to help her wear the gowns. He always kissed her on the lips with his arms around her teeny-tiny waist. And he had a magical twinkle in his eye when he looked at her. And naturally, they lived happily ever after.

I was a reasonably sensible girl and never believed in the 'happily ever after' charade. Life can't be all lets-wear-pink-gowns-and-blue-tuxedos- and-waltz-every-chance-we-get party all the time. Get a reality check dudes! However I never could shake up the knight in a white horse fantasy. Actually the horse could be black too. Am not fussy. 

But yes, I am old, and old fashioned. I still admire chivalry in a man. I don't need him to open doors for me, or pick my grocery bags. But it's nice when he does it. Just like he should not expect me to cook for him everyday, but I would love to cook for the one I love. It's not about gender labels and cliched expectations, it's simply about little gestures that make the other person happy.

Yes women today are capable and able to do anything men can. I won't belabour that point. However there are times when it is reassuring when a man comes to the rescue. 

When you have been waiting for 40 minutes for a cab in the rain, and the person ahead of you turns back and offers to share his cab. Or even better, lets you have his cab. In the Singapore cab situation, the latter is simply asking for too much though. 

You are standing in a long supermarket cashier queue with one bottle of Vitamin Water (citrus flavour in case anyone's interested), the gentleman in front of you let's you go ahead. He receives a charming smile in return of course. And if he is handsome and does not wear a ring, you can can slip him your number at the back of the receipt. 

You are struggling to project your fabulous presentation from your MAC, it's so reassuring that a guy can fix it before the IT person turns up.

I am not saying that women can't do all of the above. In fact in most cases, it is women who have come to my rescue in many such situations.

So I ask you, where have all the gallant men gone? And when did they turn into such whiny self obsessed spoilt brats? Or venture to the other extreme and become henpecked yes-men with a lower standing than house pets?

Most men today whine and whinge more than teen drama queens. Or they are simply callous and egoistic and are completely incapable of seeing anything beyond their self-groomed reflection.

May be its just my ill luck. Or may be I appear to be the type who needs no help. Or perhaps, you have to ask to receive. And asking for help has never been my strong suit.

He ain't coming. I have been telling myself that for very many years. However my heart still believes. There is a knight who does not need to be asked. He simply knows when I need him, and he will appear. And he will make things easier by simply making me smile when I am about to cry. Make me laugh when I am going to lose my cool. And hold me tight when I am going to crumble. 

That knight won't have a horse, or many riches. He won't be capable to slay dragons or capture forts. He will just be my personal knight who will share some of my troubles and allow me to take on some of his, which I would be more than glad to do.

Till then there's Ryan Gosling and my dreams...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A love story like none other- The Bridges of Madison County

If you've ever experienced the one true love of your life, a love that for some reason could never be, you will understand why readers all over the world were moved by this small unknown novel, The Bridges of Madison County.

I must've read this on the back cover of the book which made me buy it. I am only assuming this. As I have no recollection of why I bought this book. I do know however when and where I purchased it. Like every book I own, on the first page, in my neatest hand writing, I write my name, the date and the book store I bought the book from. This one says 'Seema, Mumbai, Danai, 21 March 2003'.

I may not have remembered when, where and why the book made its way to me. However I have I never forgotten the book. It's the most poignant and beautiful love story that was ever written. It touched me when I read it all those years ago. And it touched me again tonight when I finally got around to watching the movie. 'Touched me' is an understatement. I am still crying and worried my iPad will malfunction on account of the salty tears that just don't seem to stop. 

It's a story about two strangers, from different worlds who spend four days together and experience a love that lasts them a lifetime. Except they spent that lifetime apart from each other. Most people spend a lifetime together and never feel such love.

Like Robert Kincaid, Clint Eastwood's character says "We're hardly two separate people now. Some people search all their life for this and never find it, others don't even think it exists".

Can a love that is so short lived be true love? Can you live a lifetime in four days? Or just one night? Can you love someone for all your life, when you spend most of that lifetime away from each other? Is it really love if no one else but you can understand it? Is it still love if its in your heart, but not in your life?

The simple answer to all these questions is YES. 

There will be no doubt in your mind, and you will just know in your heart when it happens to you. 

As Robert says "This kind of certainty comes but once in a lifetime."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Little Girl Inside You

 It was International Women's Day on Friday. Lots of wishes flying back and forth. Many inspirational quotes made appearance on Facebook. Women threw parties, went clubbing, some were pampered by their spouses, others treated themselves to good old retail therapy. My boss very kindly gave all the women in office a half day to acknowledge their roles as wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and more than anything as women. It was a happy time all around- some over happy hours even.

It got me thinking about all the women in my life- badi mama (my grand mum), my mum, my aunts, my cousins, friends, nieces, colleagues, and even the women around me who I see on the bus, by the pool, at school, at work, in the supermarket. Today these women have busy lives with their careers, their husbands, their kids, their ageing parents, their kitty party friends, their catty colleagues and more. 

However at one time each of these women was a little girl. A little girl with big dreams. Some dreamt to be a princess and wear pink everyday. Others envisioned themselves as doctors saving lives. Yet others wanted to travel the world as a journalist. Or become a teacher, a baker, a model, an actress, a gymnast, a singer, a war correspondent, a ballet dancer. Limitless possibilities. Countless dreams. Some were innocent dreams like marrying a prince who had a white horse. Some were ambitious like becoming a leading fashion designer and having Madonna as their customer. 

Some little girls loved to dress up dolls. Others adored jewelry especially tinkling colored glass bangles. Many loved crayons and some preferred water colors. There was the Tom-boy, the girl-next-door, the miniature diva, the bossy pants, the goody-two-shoes, the bookish nerd (yes that was me). Each unique. Each special. Each with her own likes and dislikes. Her preferences and priorities. Her passion and pet peeves. Her love and her fears.

But what each and every one of them had in common was the big girl dream. "What will I be when I grow up?" She thought about it constantly. While sitting on the swing. While day dreaming in class. While lying on the grass in the park. While sitting by the window seat in the bus.

Some little girls spoke about her dreams to their best friends while sharing a milk shake. Some confided in their mums. Others with their sisters. While some kept every dream a secret, lest anyone steals it. At slumber parties they discussed their future together. They shared their hopes loudly and spoke about their fears in hushed voices. 

Where is that little girl today I ask you? Does she still exist? Or is she lost in the demands of her kids? In the commands of her husband. In the complaints of her in-laws. In the expectations of her boss. In the commitments of her family. In the claims of her career.

She is lost perhaps in the supermarket aisles. In the train queues. In the elevator lobbies. In the PTA meets. In the car pools. In the soccer matches. 

She tries to find herself in shopping malls. In yoga classes. In barbecue parties. In wine bars. In island getaways. In coffee sessions. 

But alas! It seems she can't be found!

Because no one is looking for her in the only place where she still lives. Deep inside the heart of us big girls. She lies there. Waiting to be found. Wishing to live her dreams. 

I urge you all today to go find her. Coax her to come out. Explain to her that even though the dreams lay unfulfilled, there is still time. Time to make those dreams come true- may be not in a big way, but come alive all the same.

Its too late to be a journalist, but not too late to write for a community newsletter. It's tough to study medicine now, but you can volunteer your time in a hospital. It's too late to have kids, but there are millions of orphans who are starving for affection. 

And it's never too late to learn. Pick up the paint brush. Brush the dust off the old guitar. Take up a baking course or a drama class. Don't resist the urge to dance. And if your heart desires to sing aloud, do so.

Of the many forwarded messages on International Women's Day, this one stood out for me:

"What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us, are tiny matters, compared to what lies WITHIN us"

So search for that little girl within you and let her live out those dreams. 

Wishing all my lovely friends and family a very happy International Women's Day.