Pauline Thomason once said "Love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener". But, even the pre-marriage phase also can open your eyes to so many things. And if you are as general-knowledge-deficient as me, every moment is a new discovery. If you have a sense of humor, each discovery can be complete fun.

***

Just before the saree shopping, mom asked about my fiancee - "AvLu work sarees wear maadthaLa?"
I understood it as "work 'ge' sarees" and told - "No mom, she generally wears jeans or salwars to work"
Mom was least surprised by the all too familiar stupidity of her son and said - "Work sarees do not mean the sarees which you wear to work. It means sarees that involve lot of handiwork like embroidery, mirror work etc."

***

Shopping for sarees will introduce you to so many new things - crape silk, tusser silk, raw silk, butta, mango border, peacock border, temple border, self, contrast, double color - the sheer magnitude of terminologies can cause a data overflow error! The shopkeeper comes up with different adjectives for even the most pathetic sarees, a skill that can put HRs to shame. Self border rich pallu, contrast saree grand look, big border traditional wear, lateshht dejign fancy saree - believe me, getting this knowledge imparted can be a very humbling experience.

***

The interesting thing is that while most saree shop keepers are such great ego boosters, the shopkeepers of men's dresses are in complete contrast (Yes, its a contrast, not a self :D)
You go to buy a formal shirt and the one Hritik is wearing in the ad looks very good. You ask the shopkeeper if he has the same piece and try it on. It looks quite ridiculous on you. You ask the shopkeeper if its a different shade or something. The shopkeeper would say its the exact same piece with a big "Thats Hritik, this is you" smile.

You look at some other trousers and ask your fiancee - "Will this look good on me?" and the enthusiastic shopkeeper jumps in the middle - "Sir, you go for that one - that one would look good on you. Since you are not tall sir, this will not suit you..."

You go for the suit trial and ask the tailor - "Is this okay? Or has this become a little big?", the tailor who has no idea of your beaten-up morale tells "This is perfect saar. Since you dont have broad shoulders, it looks like a little big thats all. Otherwise its just perfect"

Thats when I realized why men and women differ so much in their shopping frequencies. Women go to shopping to boost their egos. Men avoid it to protect their already low self-esteem from hitting rock bottom.

***

The other thing that strikes you at this stage is the importance of gold in human lives. Mythologies are full of gold related stories. "Hiranya garbha" or the golden womb from which the universe is formed, bears an uncanny resemblance to the big bang theory. Hiranyakashyapu and Hiranyaksha were the earliest of demons - kind of Bhimas and Chemmanurs of demonosphere. The earliest known story about gold was from Ramayana. One idyllic afternoon, Sita spotted a golden colored deer in the forest and suddenly realized that she had not shopped for gold from the last 10 days or so. When Rama was back from his jungle jogging, Sita looked at Ram in a way that makes men ask "What do you want honey?". Sita in a very husky voice said - "I want gold dear". Rama, who had studied mostly in bhojpuri medium schools understood it as "I want gold deer" and killed the golden deer Mareecha. This enraged Ravana, who then decided to kidnap Sita. The rest, as they say, is mythology.

The anthropologists also believe that the discovery of gold changed the equations in human society. In the very early hunter-gatherer societies, the persons who were strong, who could fight with animals, who could run for miles were considered to be very useful in the tribe. So the strong, big, fat, stout, sturdy people were well respected. The big, strong, sturdy guys got all the great girls (which means big, strong, sturdy girls) in the tribe. The thin, slim, sleek, delicate types were constantly ridiculed and were subjected to social bullying all the time. "Thin is in" is believed by many anthropologists to be the first ever hate slogan - to force the thin, slim types not to come out of caves. Within a few hundred years, gold was discovered and the big, strong, sturdy guys started losing out to the thin, slim guys who had found gold. But, this created a peculiar situation. The gold discovered was still not enough for the big, well built girls of the tribe. Jean Pierre, the first known statistician cum fashionista discovered that the thinner the girls are, the lesser the gold required and he manipulated the century-old hate slogan "Thin is in" into a very popular fashion statement. Humans, even today, have not discovered enough gold that meets the demand - and the fashionistas have maintained the balance with the still popular "Thin is in"!

***

Marriage is not without its share of compromises. If you take my example, I always wanted to marry on a wednesday in some city far far away from Bangalore. Sounds weird? There is an interesting logic to that. If you are marrying on a wednesday outside Bangalore, only those people who are very close to you will attend your wedding - applying leave and taking the trouble of traveling to a different city. Its a very effective method of avoiding unwanted acquaintances who might attend your wedding for the only reason that its anyway a holiday and the choultry is very near to their homes! But, I have compromised - for getting married in Bangalore on a sunday. Yes, this sunday! :)

It was late night. Surprisingly, the first auto I stopped agreed to come from Rajajinagar to BTM. The driver looked like Vijay of the movie "Duniya". He had long hair, wore a gaudy shirt and sported a 92.7 FM logo on his faded cap. I dont initiate conversations with auto drivers in general. But, when they start an interesting conversation, I know how to keep it going.

He was silent for almost 15 minutes.
"Saar, I will get the gas filled for the auto. Jusht 2 minutes", he said as he took the deviation off the main road. I remembered my dad warning me just an hour back that Bangalore is no longer safe and to be careful while going home.
"It wont take long, right?", I tried not to sound too worried and suspicious.
"Jusht 2 minutes saar. We can join the main road directly from there itself. See, here is my driver identity. I did not get time to stick it on to my seat", he seemed to sense my uneasiness.
"No thats fine, I just meant to ask if it wont take too long. I had to go to office early tomorrow, thats why I asked", I smile sheepishly.
"What are you working as?", he asks while taking a weird U-turn near the petrol bunk that seemed to defy all laws of physics.
"I am a software engineer", I blurt out.
"You also do computer graphics? If you know anybody who can do movie posters, tell me. There is an opening in Gandhinagara (Kannada movie industry) they pay 8000 saar", he tells me as he fills the gas into his auto. "My auto was missing from one month saar. Got it just today"
"Oh, what happened?", I knew I was getting into a long conversation zone. He got off the petrol bunk and joined the main road.
"I am actually Vinod Rajkumar's car driver saar". The way he legitimizes Vinod Raj's surname amuses me. "I had rented the auto to a friend. He owed me lot of money and also escaped with my auto. I spent so much money in finding it. When I found him, his wife begged me not to beat him up. Even Vinod anna and amma (Leelavathi, Vinod Raj's mom - he calls her amma) told me to forgive him and forget about that money. Bere yaar hathra aadroo avnu hinge maadidre majestic li hoge ne"

The way he said "hoge" makes me uncomfortable. [For those who are not familiar with Kannada or this slang, "hoge" means smoke - which is symbolic of post death ritual. The sheer audacity and casual carelessness towards death gives "hoge" that chilling effect]

"Vinod anna said that shooting will start next month, and I have to help them in farming also. Amma cooks nice food to us all the time. Vinod anna lost almost one crore ten lakhs when he made 'Shukra'. Even 'Inthi Ninna Preethiya' did not yield much money. So next month we are starting 'Govindu, Karnataka Nindhu'"
"Did you not enter into the movie industry?", I ask him.
"I have acted in 'Shukra' saar. I was the villain who raped the heroine and killed the inspector. And then Vinod anna comes back and takes revenge. Nowadays, anybody who has made some money in real estate business can cast his son as a hero. After 'Mungaru Male' and 'Duniya' were hits, everyone wants to act as a hero. 'Nanda Nanditha' was good, the girl has acted well, even the hero was okay. 'One Two Three' was nice saar. Full comedy. 'Om shanti Om' was good too, did you watch it?"
"I saw 'Om Shanti Om'. You watch lot of movies, is it?
"Tamil, telugu, hindi - we watch all and remake them into Kannada. Who writes original stories in Kannada today saar? And did you know, even the hindi people copy from english movies?"

As we were still half way to BTM, I decide to ask him about the actors. Movie trivia flows effortlessly as he speaks.
"Ganesh, saar, has same type of dialogues and mannerisms in all movies, he will fade away. And he will be replaced by 'Nanda Nanditha' hero. As far as I have heard, Shivrajkumar is the most decent in his family. Puneet earns one and half crores per film saar, but no commissions, no rollcall. Nenapirali Prem, 'Sainika' hero, 'Shishya' hero - they are all big rowdies saar. Darshan is good, he has struggled a lot to reach where he is today. He used to do up-and-down from Mysore in lorries so that he can save 20 rupees. My friend who is a lorry cleaner has told me this. But, Darshan is not proud, very down to earth. And Vishnuvardhan - he is almost God saar. His heart is purer than Rajkumar's. He has got homes built for all the people working for him, and he treats all the people - from his car driver to bathroom cleaner - equally".
As I keep wondering if someone needs to be employed full time as a bathroom cleaner, he abruptly stops the auto at a junction near BTM. "If you take a left from here and then first right, the third house is Darshan's"

"Why do Kannada movies get their heroines from Bombay?", I ask him, half expecting to hear stories about Kannada heroines not 'compromising' to 'expose' when a 'role demands'!
"Kannada heroines ge kobbu saar. This 'Cheluvina Chittara' heroine got 25 lakhs for that movie. Before that, she had got only 10000 for 'Shishya'. Now, she is demanding 1.5 crores saar, Narayan has filed a court case also. Kobbu saar, kobbu. But, heroines from Bombay, they are inquisitive about our industry and want to prove something.", he said dashing all my hopes of some juicy gossip.

As he takes the last turn towards my home, he makes me an offer - "People in our industry loot a lot for giving an acting chance. If you want to act, dont go anywhere. Come to our office, give 3 photos of yours, mention my name on the backside. I will get you a chance, no money. I am the one who processes all these things in Vinod anna's office"

As I get down from the auto, I imagine myself in a movie awards function, dedicating my first award to this driver.
When you are not talented enough or ambitious enough, you should at least be brave enough.

I sit here and blog, while I could have been applying make up in the van or watching that driver get beaten up yet again trying to rape Vinod anna's onscreen sister!

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