In all great works of history (like this one, for instance) it is important to be impartial and tell you some bad things about the great one being historied, so that people know that the great one is for real.
You know, the main problem with, say, Akbar is that all his historians would go on about how wise he was, how fair, how brave, how kind and so on, causing skeptics to wonder if the guys who wrote those things weren't made to sit before a large chap with a sharp sword and irascible nature. If only those historians would have told us that Akbar used to wash his undies in the sink, or make loud noises while eating his Jodha Special Khichdi, one might have believed the hagiographies.
So, in this post, we shall recount a few shortcomings of our great hero, Naren. These were discovered during courtship.
The courtship started with phone calls. I started getting calls from Sheela which initially were
1. How are you?
2. How are your parents?
3. How are your sisters?
4. How is Bombay?
To which my replies were
4. Great. How is Mysore?
Great, she would reply and I would go around town with a smug expression for being such a smooth talker where the fair sex was concerned. "Regular Casanova you are, my lad", I would say to myself, though not aloud as one did not wish to brag.
This, I later found out, wasn't quite the standard. I made a trip to Mysore where we went around the quaint little city with its broad avenues, stately homes, large royal people and places known as Iyengar messes which did an all you can eat for Rs.5/-
These things form a bond, as you'd readily appreciate, and Sheela and I started talking a little less formally. I still got electric shocks when her hand accidentally touched mine, but now they were the regular 440 V shocks, not the 12000 volt killers of the early days.
"Tell me something about yourself" she'd say and I would go
"Er, Well, I, well, you know, that is to say, I think Ayn Rand is a terrible writer". It speaks highly of young Sheela's character that she did not pick up a rock and bean me with it, though she came within an ace of it. Breeding will tell.
Eventually, I learnt that I was supposed to have qualitative opinions on things rather than quantized, deterministic responses. It was not cool to go to a store, see one shirt and buy it because it is your size, you can afford it and it does not have a frilly collar. Those are necessary conditions, but not sufficient. One had to see twenty seven of them, decide which one is better, which one is not too loud, too soft, too dull, too bright and so on.
But, dear reader, while I was nowhere in the top league as a shopper, I managed to perfect the art of talking to girls. Here is a primer
1. Never say yes or no.
2. Begin all your sentences with "I think"
3. Agree with everything she says.
4. Rephrase an opinion you have heard your fiancée utter and quote it back to her. She will think you are sound. For example
She: I think Madhu aunty is such a snob
You: Ithink, you know, I don't know if you agree with it, it is such an impulsive thing to say, but you know Madhu aunty? I think she's a snob.
And she will fold you in her arms, shutting her eyes, and thank God for giving her such a sensitive and SOUND fiancé.