Where: Trivandrum, Kerala, India

When I tell people I’m taking a trip to Kerala, they always get excited. “Wow, you must be so happy!” is the usual reaction. I don’t get it. I’m never excited about going to Kerala. In fact, I kind of dread it. Mostly for 8 reasons…

1. People always ask me about my hair. “Why do you color it??” “Why do you cut it so short??” And the worst part is, you can’t just answer with a simple “Why not?” or “Because I like it that way.” Because they just WON’T GET IT. Their minds are all tuned to one channel. And there, every girl has long, frizzy black hair. Yeah, that’s supposedly a good thing.

2. I never get to wear heels. Let’s face it, no sensible person wears heels in the land of mud and rain (unless they hate said heels and want to see them dead. Which I don’t. I wuv them.)

3. I’m 23 and not married. Enough said.

4. I cannot wear a tank top without being stared at by every-freaking-one. Not in a nice way, no.

5. Power cuts.

6. The roads. The goddamned roads. I mean, I gotta hand it to anyone who can manage to drive a vehicle there. It’s like an obstacle course… drive an inch, avoid a big hole in the road, swerve to avoid hitting that group of girls, swerve back the other way to avoid hitting the beggar sitting on the road and talking on his phone, go over a pile of rocks, look both ways and run the red light, hit a guy on a bike, apologize… OK, you get 10 points. Now imagine a couple of hours of this. It’s great for video game lovers I suppose.

7. The people who come up to you and ask, “Oh do you remember me?”, assume you do, and then proceed to talk to you about other people you’re supposed to remember. And all the while you’re trying to figure out who the hell they are, so you have no idea what to say when they suddenly ask you a question, and then you have to pretend your phone was ringing (“it’s a special tone… only I can hear it”) and edge away.

8. The “Do you never eat anything?” question that you’ll be asked at least once by every person you meet.

But despite all this, every time I get out of the plane in India and take that first deep breath, it feels like home. And I guess that’s what really matters.

For whom the wedding bells toll… part deux

YES! The worst is over. The manhunt is taking its toll on Mom the All-Knowing and Big Sister the Ever-Excited. The former is not so all-knowing now, and the latter can be seen wandering around with an expression of resigned acceptance.

It did take a while… after all, the men on shaadi.com kept increasing like the world rabbit population, and every new one was a source of intense, stalker-like interest. Even the idiots who had profiles like, “hi myself ‘name, i looking sweet beatiful gerl godfearing…”

I mean… seriously??? The only demand I have is the guy be able to speak English without sounding like a character played by Mammootty in an old malayalam movie. (Please God, please!)

What was more annoying though, was the way they treated any guy I talked to. Like, the other day, I ran across an old friend from college and we were catching up on life… and I could feel the eyes of the All-Knowing, Ever-Excited team boring into us… well, him. And sure enough, as soon as we said our goodbyes, they were there with a notepad and pen, demanding to know his life history. All I can say is, thank goodness he isn’t from Kerala.

And so in the end, my continued rejection of anyone they came up with was too much for even the All-Knowing, Ever-Excited team. Now my sister uses her laptop to work on her 3D projects rather than on shaadi.com, and my mom spends most of her time trying to get her grandchild to not pee on the bed.

They’re off my back. Thank you all, for listening, and for the prayers. I’m sure this peace won’t last, but the break feels good, no matter how short it may be.