Thursday, August 28, 2008

Well, what did you expect?

i have come to the painful conclusion that ours is a nation of forbidding expectations when it comes to our personal lives, but of zero expectations when it comes to governance as we continue to crib and crib about all that's wrong with our great Republic, even as we take great pride in being staunchly proud, who-the-hell-wants-to-vote denizens of this great civilization. i say denizens, not citizens, for even as we continue to burden the system with our physical presence, our spirits reside elsewhere, most of us dreaming of the Great Escape.

back to expectations. check out any matrimonial ad and you will be hit by your marriage-material inadequacy as reflected in the long list of wanna this and wanna that, by all sorts of wannabes looking for that perfect mate.

it don't matter if the purported White Knight aka prospective groom is a dark as night former Kendriya Vidyalaya kabaddi centre forward, or a chocolatey, pink-lipped, gel haired Panjoo boy struggling as a salesman on Daddyji's pocket money, or the tied-to-mommy's-petticoat strings family man holding an MBA (Master of Banal Allocutions) correspondence degree from Rattanpur, he still wants the standard fare: "convented" (what the HELL is that anyway?), "fair" (could they mean like a referee with a perfect record of unbiased decisions? hah!), "b'ful" (boxfull? bashful? bountiful? ahh... beautiful!), AND "homely" girl, of just the right physical dimensions.

as for the girls, its simple: most of us gaze intently at the glossy cover of our favourite Mills and Boon, desperately willing the roguish brute to step out of its pages. alas! this is real-life and its back to choosing the lesser evil from the above-mentioned "catches". we all want more, so we continue to look beyond the ads column and some of us are lucky enough to find "the" man from among the boys. and if we don't, we crib some more, dream some more - always being very specific about what it is that we're looking for.

in fact i remember a time when one of my friends' moms asked a group of us (all single at that time, years ago) what exactly we were looking for in a perfect partner. after taking turns listening to us as we rattled off all the desired attributes of this "husband-material" type (it took us all through lunch and dessert to get to the bottom of it all, with some continuing over coffee!), she shook her head at us with a combination of shock and bemused exasperation and remarked : "tuade nakhre taa khota vi nahin chuk sakda!" (Even a donkey cannot bear the burden of your tantrums/expectations!).

luckily for us, and perhaps unluckily for them, we all managed to find husbands, and got hitched, after periodic intervals following the historic dining table conversation. what we all realised that in a marriage you must periodically reverse roles (the master and the donkey) to balance these high expectations.

Well most have survived, even flourished. I did not. But then that's another story for another day...!

my question is that even as most of us fail to budge or compromise as far as our personal lives are concerned, why do we prostrate ourselves at the altar of expectations, in abject dejection, when faced with bigger national problems affecting the quality of our lives? in my experience, we mostly react like this:

  • on a newly constructed road: "Arrey, abhi dekhna, baarish aayegi aur sadak khatam!" (Just you wait, one downpour, and that will be the end of the road!)
  • on a 'clean' politician (oxymoron? see, i knew you'd say that!): "Yeh to zyada din tikne wala nahin hai!" (He won't survive for long!)
  • on a day without a power cut : "Kyon bhai, koi bada saheb sheher ka daura karne mein aaye hai lagta hai!" (I wonder if some big shot government-type is here on a visit!)
  • on a project being completed before time (even on time is surprising here): "Suna hai Japani engineers ko contract diya tha banwanae ke liye!" (I've heard the contract was given to some Japanese engineers!)
  • on our team winning a cricket match: oh, nothing here, we're just really excited when they win sometimes :)
  • up until a day before our first individual gold in Olympics : "Pata nahin hum itna bada contingent bhejte kyon hain, jab ek bhi medal to kabhi mila nahin!" (Why do we send such a large Indian contingent when we have never won a medal!)
and finally:

  • on Aishwarya Rai marrying Abhishek Bachchan: "Suna hai woh gay hai aur pata nahin kyon usne shaadi ke liye haan kar di?" (I've heard he's gay and wonder why she agreed to marry him?) ooops!!! sorry! that was just most of my male friends/colleagues/family-members and all other Indian men, married or single, from the ages of 10 to 90 talking, while trying to plug the gaping hole in their hearts with comfort food that was just really a big bowl of sour grapes!
well, what did i just say about scary personal expectations? now, only if John Abraham was really seeking some "inner" beauty!! sigh....

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