Friday, May 30, 2008

Trials of a Single Brown Girl with a Marriage Minded Mother

Last month, one of my many cousins tied the knot at a simple, but elegant ceremony just outside of Sydney. A mutual friend who was at the wedding sent us pictures so that we could all oooo and ahhh appreciatively over the beautiful setting, the gorgeous couple, the tasteful decor and all other aspects of the happy occasion.

Scanning the photographs online, my mother gushed excessively over the bride and her dress; Over how happy she looked and how happy HER mother looked, and over how happy HIS mother looked. She could not stress enough how happy everyone appeared to be.

My mother has taken to excessive gushing over every photograph that is wedding related. This amounts to copious amounts of gushing at regular intervals thanks to the fact that I have recently reconnected with a whole bunch of my high school friends - who are all married, and all have their wedding photographs posted online.

While looking (and gushing) my mother also throws significant looks my way that are accompanied by various strange eye and eyebrow gestures. My mother used to study classicalI Indian dance and she is very adept at manipulating her facial expressions. While this modern version of facial yoga is perhaps fascinating to some, I studiously look away during every performance and pretend like we're not looking at her hopes and dreams getting (yet again) dashed, but rather at something quite common place and usual.

If you think that I am over reacting to my mother's recent obsession with getting me married, let me tell you a little story that will perhaps put my situation into focus. A few months ago she pitched me the idea of going "see" a "boy" in Texas. She was even willing to pay for my flight out there and back, and even contribute a bit towards my hotel. All I had to do was go spend some time with this guy and see if I "liked" him.

On the surface, this sounded like quite a good deal really.

Free flight - check

Free accommodation - check

Chance to see new city (even if it IS in Texas) - check

All good things really you're saying... as you wonder why I wouldn't go off on a little vacation just to please my mum. After all, I'm always going off on little trips here and there. Well, yes that is true. But I do NOT go on vacation with the intent of "seeing" prospective suitors/husbands. I do NOT like the idea of my mother trolling for men for me to go visit. And I CERTAINLY do not like all of the above if the man in question is RELATED to me!

Yup - turns out that the guy she was trying to set me up with is actually my cousin! My dad and his mum are first cousins. Our grandfathers were brothers. Now, I can fully understand if this was some 5th cousin twice removed or some equally vague relative. Those are the kinds of relationships where one acknowledges that one is related, but over dozens of generations of a tangled genealogy no one quite remembers how the two families were related in the first place. This situation was quite different. Call me a prude, but I'm of the opinion that if the relationship is close enough to figure out, then the only kind of kisses those two should be sharing is the quick-peck-on-the-cheek variety. Honestly, when the guests show up to the wedding and are asked "Bride's side or Groom's?" - there should be no hesitation!!!!

When I realized just who she had pegged as the groom in this Bride of Frankenstein kind of set up and I began to protest about how a) vile an idea it was, b) she should really stay well OUT of my private life, c) she had a better chance of me agreeing to having my eyes plucked out and d) that she should not be trying to set me up with guys with who I would probably end up having mutant children.

My mum's response to my barrage of angry statements is that there is absolutely no danger of mutant children because she has already consulted with a doctors in regards to the same.


I wasn't sure which part of this entire situation I should be most upset about.

The fact that my parents are determined/desperate to get me married.

The fact that they are so determined/desperate that they'll stoop to considering family members.

Or the fact that they are determined/desperate enough to talk about this with total strangers.

I do know that I was so staggered by her last remark that I was left gaping at her back as she majestically swept out of the room. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe that round 1 went to my mother!

Friday, May 23, 2008

An Early Christmas Present

As of 9:05 am this morning, Operation "Explore Oceania" was officially underway!

In regular person speak, that means my tickets for my trip to New Zealand and Australia have been finalized and booked and *gulp* paid for! I leave on November 29th and arrive into Wellington, New Zealand on December 1st - loosing an entire day somewhere along the way over the Pacific! 

On December 9th I depart for Sydney, Australia where I will spend the next 3.5 weeks shuttling between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane/Gold Coast and IF possible a hop over to Tasmania as well. 

Scheduled return to Toronto via LA on January 7 2009. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm Bringing Sexy Back

I've been so caught up with Ballroom dancing over the past 6 months, that I'd almost forgotten the joys of West Coast Swing. Thanks to JulieFest this past weekend - I'm back in love with that dance all over again!

To celebrate her 50th birthday, dancing diva Julie Epplett decided create an entire weekend dedicated to her love for the dance! She brought in Mike Topel - a diva in his own right - to lead a series of WCS workshops and styling sessions and invites were sent out to all and sundry. And since it was a Madonna themed weekend, why not invite the grand dame herself? Well, that's just what Julie did! Lady M was a no show, but perhaps that was all for the better as it would have taken the spotlight off the rest of us party guys and gals!

JulieFest offered an entire weekend of WCS and at first I thought that I'd only sample a few bites here and there. On Friday night I went to the class on combining Cha Cha Cha with WCS patterns and wow was it a revelation! Who'd have thunk that you can alternate between two styles of dancing in the SAME song! After the workshops, I stuck around for the dance even though I wasn't quite sure if I remembered everything I had learned a year ago. Apparently my trepidation was showing in my steps coz one of my partners leaned in during a dance and said, "Look, I can tell that you've got it - somewhere in you. You have the feel of a dancer - now just own the idea! I KNOW you can give me something more."

I could only gape back at him (while trying not to miss time) and wonder if he was still taking about my dance moves! I tried to keep what he said in mind as I went through the rest of the workshops and dance sessions for the rest of the weekend. Obviously something went right because on Sunday night as I danced with the same partner, he gave me a big beaming smile and (much to my general embarrassment) shouted out, "Alleluia!!! She's got her SEXY back!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nature's Poetry

O setting sun! though the time has come,

I still warble under you if none else does, unmitigated adoration.
From "Song at Sunset" by Walt Whitman

Holy City of Pushkar, North India

On the road to Aurangabad, India

Covent Gardens, London

Lake Pichola, Udaipur - North India

Lake Pichola from City Palace, Udaipur - India

Bhandipur National Park, Karnataka - South India

View from West Umeda Buildings, Osaka - Japan

Bandra Bandstand, Bombay - India

Juhu Beach, Bombay - India

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Springtime in Shakespeareville

Thanks to an amazing deal with tickets and train fare, and then finding a most wonderful (and VERY affordable) little B&B, my friend Shutterbug and myself found ourselves heading to the idyllic town of Stratford, Ontario last weekend. A mere hour and half away from Toronto, Stratford is a heaven of the arts smack dab in the middle of farming country. Most noted for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival from April to October and the Stratford Summer Music Festival in July/August, the town is aptly called the "Heart of Perth County".

Although it was the first weekend in May, Spring was taking a vacation as the rain poured down the entire train journey from Toronto there. Still, it was a great occasion for me to break out the funky rain boots that I'd bought in Montreal.

Thankfully we were able to amuse ourselves indoors for all of Saturday afternoon. By the time we walked over to the main street for dinner and then to the Festival Theatre for the evening show of Hamlet, the rain clouds had moved on and a feeble but determined sun was shining through. By the next morning, the rain clouds had all been blown away and although a keen wind still lingered, the weather was much more Spring-like and far more conducive to walking around and exploring the town. Shutterbug was delighted at the prospect of being able to fully try out her new camera and all of the photographs in this post are thanks to her good eye and amazing new toy. For most of the morning we wandered in and around the main street of Stratford taking in the quiet of the river and the bright tulips and other spring flowers. Even the town jail looked inviting enough - and not just for the criminally minded! Of course my joy knew no bounds when I discovered all sorts of wonderful book stores and even more wonderful - they were all having sidewalk sales! Yes, my bags were several books heavier on the return trip home. In keeping with our theme of "Discovery and Relaxation", we found this nice little restaurant just off the main path and spent a few hours sipping wines and sharing tales. And then spent the remainder of the afternoon stretched out by the river as I read and Shutterbug took pictures! Our weekend in Stratford was capped off with a drop in to the town's first ever documentary festival for a screening of one of the shorts that coincided perfectly with the amount of time we had to kill before we caught our evening train back to the city and to the real world!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Table for One, Please

I have been reading blog entries of The Bride and Curly who are both currently deep in chasms of loneliness at this point of time. Curly's parents are away on vaykay and The Bride's hubby is away on business for 3 months. Two smart, sassy, beautiful and wonderful women - who are right now miserable with their current state of singleness.

About a year and a bit ago, this would probably have been me as well.

Then I went away on an extended trip where for the majority of four months I spent time with myself, by myself and with myself. True, I met friends and family along the way and often hung out with them. But I also spent extended periods of time where it was just me and my thoughts; an island in the middle of a bustling world. When I returned home, I was faced with yet another sense of alone as I was confronted with a four year relationship that had dissolved into nothing. 

In the year that has followed, I have learned to be content in singledom like I never had before. It wasn't easy, but it was surprisingly not very difficult either. Perhaps my time away when I traveled to new and often unknown places alone, now enabled me to step into that otherwise unknown territory of spending weekends alone, going to movies or the ballgame alone and eating at restaurants alone.

There are days when I feel a twinge of self pity as I watch couples on the subway or at the movies, or hear my colleague making weekend plans with her partner. I remember the time when I was in that situation and momentarily I feel a sense of loss. 

But when the moment passes, I realise that although I'd like to be able to have a special someone with whom I could make weekend plans or movie plans or life plans... I know that I don't need that someone to continue making plans in general. 

Curly, Bride... I hope that your current situtions improve. And believe me, if I were in the same city I would happily loan myself out to you right now! I enjoy my time alone - but good company is ALWAYS welcome!

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