Friday, March 11, 2005

Aliens amongst us...

After that hefty last double-post, it took me a while to catch my breath back. Thanks to all of you who have been patient enough to read my thoughts, and those who did not read my post can go climb a tree... No, seriously, it was more of a soliloquy than anything else. Whatever.

If you have been a fan of the Twilight Zone and the Sci-Fi channel, and you have avidly followed the plethora of A- and B-grade Alien/Science Fiction movies that Hollywood churns out, you know this already. There are aliens among us. Yes, it is true. I have it from a most authoritative source, an informative travelogue called the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. If you have not read that yet, remedy that ASAP - enlighten yourselves.

As I was saying, there are aliens amongst us. They are here, on earth, in droves, walking and talking, playing major league, chivvying foxes, climbing up magical ropes, presidenting countries, and doing all that shit that puny earthlings generally do. I am fine with that. Hey, if they chose to travel all that great galactic distances in order to mingle with the ever-swelling mass of humanity (and perhaps do a little bit of anal-probing, too, in the side...), they are welcome.

But what gets my goat is that all of the above mentioned gospels, except perhaps the excellent HHGG, portray the aliens as super-human beings, having great intelligence and knowledge or physical strength or technological wizardry or sexual prowess, with immense power to do good or harm to humankind. I mean, come on, if they chose to live on earth, they cannot be that bright, right? Friends, Romans and Countrypeople (being PC), I submit to you: aliens are stupid, aliens are effing dumb, aliens are intellectually closer to idaho potatoes than anything else.

What's more, I have evidence. Allow me to expand a little on this, and judge for yourselves.

I encounter all kinds of aliens at my work place (I guess this follows from the Equal Opportunity mandate of the United Nations) and elsewhere. There are life-forms engaged in all kinds of activities, generally demonstrating acceptable behaviour except when it comes to flushing the loo-bin after they have released excess moisture from their body. These life-forms are interestingly blind to one color of the spectrum, yellow, and its shades, and are also deficient in their sense of smell. Therefore, they do not find any difference between the clear water that normally fills the bin and the yellowish aromatic micturate they leave behind with impunity, much to the distaste of the more sensitive.

There are aliens who, presumably, run on cells that generate energy from the combustion of alcohol based fuels (much like our beloved Bender B. Rodriguez from the New New York City, ca.3000), and therefore, need to replenish their alcohol content by clandestinely visiting the brooms closet in the middle of the day, and then return to the daily duties reeking of cohol. A subclass of these aliens, slightly better and more complex models, run on a 168 earth-hour time cycle, requiring replenishment in a ritualistic manner once at the end of the each cycle at a particular time point they refer to as 'Free-day' or 'Friday'.

There are some fascinating hydrocarbon based life-forms who demonstrate a rudimentary symbiotic relationship with some energy beings capable of conducting electricity through neural networks. However, the major hydrocarbons of the former being of a non-conducting nature, the flow of charge in the latter is often hindered resulting in slow inputs, and delayed outputs. Often, these life-forms are found associated with vocations that require handling of sources of electromagnetic radiations, such as computer networks, electrical engineering and so forth. Presumably, they try to passively imbibe the electromagnetic radiation to overcome their physiological blocks.

And then, there is a special class of aliens, eminently suitable for specialized tasks (remember the four-handed mail-sorting alien chappie in a Massachusetts post office in MIB2?). What makes them special is that these aliens have a special kind of inherent affinity for other aliens, and they are stranglely impaired in a region of their ganglionic mass corresponding to the humanoid Broca's area (the speech and vocalization center). They are often recognized by a marked inability to articulate certain word forms, such as names (and I don't mean word forms like Huaxapretzolotl or supercallifragilisticexpiallidocious...).

I will finish with some strange, but identical experiences that I had late this week. On more than four occasions, I have found big cars (mostly SUVs or minivans) solidly standing or double-parked, completely blocking one lane in a two lane road. In majority of these situations, even the hazard lights were not on; so I drove upto those vehicles and kept waiting for them to move forward or out, only to realize much to my annoyance that they were not going to, and I had to signal left and take a sharp turn out to the adjacent lane in order to pass. These incidents would have passed my mind. But when it happened last night, again, and I was going to give that idiot of a driver a piece of my mind, I suddenly noticed a third shining eye in the middle of his bally neck staring at me with a wicked gleam. Not wishing to be divested of any piece (or peace) of my mind, I rushed forward, pronto, before it could catch up with me. Scary!!

On that note, have a good weekend, y'all. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

eMatrimony - Part II

Still with me? Much appreciated!

So, as I said earlier, with the advent of the age of individualism (I refer to the our generation and that of our parents to some extent), considerable changes in the total outlook towards the matrimonial issue were brought about. This was possible because of paradigm shifts in our socio-economic, cultural and psychological profile, brought upon by enhanced scope and necessity of travel, whether work-related or not, lifestyle changes, and increased exposure - direct or indirect - to influences that were formerly alien (Not the saucer-racing, reed-thin, glassy-eyed, green-tinged, big-head-pointy-jaw kind...).

That engendered a broadening of mind, exchange of ideas, free expression of thoughts and so forth - in short, it created an environment in which the individuals interacted with each other more freely, got acquainted, expressed interest, articulated feelings, and in the end, if everything worked out well, settled down for matrimonial bliss. And thus was born "Love Marriage". The individual now had a say in who he or she wanted to spend the rest of the lifetime with; romance, passion, chemistry and so forth became the watchwords of the new generation and cornerstones of new relationships. Again, we have scores of movies and sitcoms that dedicate themselves solely to the glorification of this end.

I must make one distinction here. Unlike in the Western world (often portrayed as 'permissive'), in India, the system, and associated paraphernalia, of dating did not exist - at least until recent times. People did not go out with casual acquaintances or strangers, hoping to strike the right chord somewhere and igniting some spark; there was no organized self-advertisement. Sex is taboo in India anyway (such a pity - in the land of KamaSutra, too), and casual sexual gratification, though not unheard of, was not popular, and was certainly not running through every fibers of a man or a woman's mind whenever they found an interest in someone.

People met in common circles, in workplaces, and sometimes in strange lands. Expression of common interests would often lead to courtship, which was considered a very important time for both parties concerned. They would invest time, energy and effort in knowing each other, and many a time infatuation or even interest would burgeon into romantic involvement, leading finally to marriage. As you would have guessed, more than anything, the Indian man and woman primarily seeks stability in a relationship, and since we have been conditioned to consider the marriage vows as sacred and immutable, marriage essentially represents the sought-after stability in the conjugal relationship. This is where most Indian movies end, too. You may call it the 'happily-ever-after' syndrome, which, it is becoming increasingly clear, is not as graven in stone as was imagined earlier. In order to make a marriage work, both partners have to work at it; what is encouraging is that people have now started recognizing that. But I am digressing as usual.

The generation of parents did not give in that easily, though. Often, the son would leave the household after fighting his parents, because they would blindly refuse to accept his choice of a bride. Or, some daughter would elope with a young man of her choice, and get married in a temple or a civil court in presence of friends but no family, because the young man did not measure up in the eyes of the parents. Rather than some genuine incompatibility between the family and the young bride, most of these situations were created because of a steadfast stubbornness on part of the parents to accept that their children had grown up and were capable of making intelligent decisions about their own lives. Many of these marriages worked beautifully, some did not - but that happens every where, with every thing.

Thankfully, in modern day India, this is changing; the change has been coming on for quite some time now. Many of today's parents interact with their offsprings in a positive manner, giving them space and helping with their wisdom, and allowing them to make a good decision and be responsible for it. Of course, as with everything, there are weird people - those who still see love marriage as a stigma, and often having been forced to accept it (because a son or daughter has chosen his/her partner without their consent), pretend that nothing of that sort ever transpired.

So, where does eMatrimony stand in all this? To me, it represents a reasonable synthesis of both worlds. People caught up in today's hectic lifestyle - students, professionals et cetera - often run short of time, and do not have the opportunity of meeting others and prospective partners. But they may not be ready to acquisce to anyone else's concepts of a suitable partner, particularly since today's young people are quite savvy and fastidious about who they interact with at all levels. Parents, on the other hand, often feel guilty and responsible for what they see as their child's predicament. The eMatrimony offers a common solution. You carefully word your profile, in which both you and your parents contribute in outlining the choices, and put it up on the website of the matrimonial service. Simple, right? The profile is then made available to individuals who are seeking a match. Thus, a dialog can be initiated amongst all interested parties, family, relatives, friends, neighbours, the cook, the chambermaid, the butler, the ex, and so forth.

Since there is absolutely no obligation to choose any particular individual, the total control is in your hand. All that the service is doing is catalysis - it is bringing together two individuals bridging artificial and natural barriers. If you are familiar with the concept of Brownian motion, the service is working in the same way - by enhancing the probabilities of interaction between two molecules, it is increasing the chances of a chemical reaction ensuing. There are some who equate the putting up of a profile to exhibitionism, but in the complex and never-ending saga of human lives and emotions, aren't we all already Exhibit A, B or C?

Ah, such a relief to get that off my chest...

Peace, dudes and dudettes, even if you did not read it all.

eMatrimony? Tut-tut, we're Indians... part I

An interesting question raised this past week by a family situation. What do I think of the internet-based matrimonial sites (eMatrimony) that are becoming increasingly popular in India, with sites such as and receiving over a million of hits every day? BTW, "Bharat" is the traditional name for India, and "shaadi" in Hindi means marriage.

I guess, to begin with, I was not very favourably disposed towards this entire concept. But over the past few years, my views have undergone a good deal of change. In order to explain that change, I must first describe the existing familial arrangements in India. Please surf to some other site if I begin to bore you...

There are two types of marriage arrangements in India, for those not in the know, namely, 'arranged marriage' and 'love marriage'. Arranged marriage, the so-called traditional form, is not (contrary to popular belief) designed to be love-less. It is just that parents or relatives take an active part in finding a partner for their children. Of course, as you can understand, this selection is bound to be colored by the parents' perception of what (or who) is good for their ward.

It was not very common for Indian men to live away from the parents, an arrangement that facilitated taking close personal care of their aged parents. The system of finding a suitable bride for the son, therefore, necessarily involved complex considerations of the compatibility between the bride and her mother-in-law, who would be living under the same roof. This was an important consideration, since the interests of both these parties essentially intersected upon one man, the son and husband, who was often torn between mixed loyalties.

As has been the norm since the beginning of times, both female protagonists in this saga, with the best of intentions and the interests of the son/husband at heart, want to retain a measure of control on that poor man; for the mother is loath to relinquish control of someone she has given birth to and seen growing up in front of her eyes, and the wife is naturally insistent on having the sole attention of the person she has chosen to spend her life with. Amicable settlements between them, though not unheard of, have often proved difficult to achieve, and the constant tussle between them has formed the subjects of many humorous movies and sitcoms over the years.

But wherever these two parties have allowed the reign of reason, quite satisfactory and, indeed, peaceful and pleasurable co-existence has been effected. The young bride would come to know and love the man she has been married to, and through his eyes she would look affectionately upon the rest of the family. Love and affection would flow on both sides. A case in point is the generations of our parents, grandparents, and earlier.

Antagonists of this system have argued often and loud, that this rosy picture is not necessarily true. I agree. Perhaps conjugal romance and passion were often sacrificed in favour of comfort. Traditional roles of men as the provider and women as the domestic arranger were strictly defined and adhered to, and any deviation therefrom was frowned upon and discouraged. It has been said that women did not dissent, simply because they would not be heard or paid heed to, or because dissenting would have to involve breaking down an existing, extremely inflexible social structure. The problem was not simple by any means, having had to factor in multiple socio-economic, as well as psychological situations.

However, by and large, things had worked, or were made to work. And so the tradition was perpetualized. And then came the age of individuality (I sound like a Lord of the Rings narrative), which brings me to the part II of this monologue. If you have read till this far, pray continue.