Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Enter the Dragon - Part II

Attempt No. 3 (also known as the last chance): As sitting around at home clearly was not conducive to conversation, I decided to move the talk outdoors. Ruchira, the restaurant run by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation, was a family favourite - good food, good view, and cheap booze even by Goan standards. Of course, things HAVE to go wrong, so not only is it raining, it is also peak painful tourist long weekend (good friday etc) and the Catholic Staff has obviously taken the day off and the Hindus etc. were very sore about it, though they would be taking the next day, Holi, off. A disdainful waiter handed menus to us. I recalled my mother wanted to have a Gimlet the other day.

"One gimlet and One bloody Mary Please"

"No Bloody Mary"

"Well, make it two Gimlets then"

My Dad scowled and began a long lecture on ordering alcohol in restaurants.

"How do you know how much alcohol they put in it? They probably put some drops of booze and plenty of sugar. Nonsense. You should have just ordered Limca and Gin."

Yes, my Dad was pained at the prospect of me getting less alcohol than I was paying for. Most people would think that with a father like that, I should be making out with my boyfriend in front of him instead of dying over having a conversation about my love life. But it's never that simple, and it isn't about to start just now.

A long time later, our drinks arrive, lots of fizz and some candied cherries thrown in. My father scoffed as I bent down and sipped the sugary limca hybrid.

Which is what it most certainly was not.

The Gin hit me like a BEST Bus at a Bhandup Crossing. I hadn't had this much of neat alcohol since the time I shot a 3/4th full glass of Romanov one afternoon at Surya.

"Too sweet?" asked Dad.

"I don't think that's the problem here, Dad."

My mom's drink was as loaded, but she finished it without making too much of a fuss. I took about 1 hour, 1 bottle of soda, 1 60ml of lime cordial and lots of ice to finish mine. Dad was down 3 drinks, and we were faced with terrible service and confused cuisine. I was slightly comforted by the high, what's wrong with a little Dutch Courage, right? Then, my mother put her head down on the table, right in the middle of my changing the subject.

"Why are you putting your head down in a restaurant?" my Dad shrieked. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing", said my Mother. "Let's go somewhere else?"

Somewhere else was a new hill top restaurant in Panaji, with arguably the most gorgeous view and surprising rates. Also, it was a lot more quieter. Perfect, I thought. Mom disappeared to the ladies room, and came back giggling.

"I haven't been this gone in a long time - I couldn't even fix the door!"

Great - now I had to break the news to them while they were drunk. After we finished dinner, I went to the ladies' room for a pep talk. With myself.

You only have to have this conversation once. After that, the subject is open, things will take their own course, all will be cool.

In a fit of desperation, I had earlier asked the Boy for gyaan on how he did it.

My boyfriend, being the consultant, had come up with a list of potential questions that he thought his parents would ask, and he anticipated each and every question they shot at him and was able to answer them confidently. I tried to recall the question checklist I had prepared in my head.

1. Where does he work?
2. What is his educational qualification?
3. Will his family have issues?
4. When will we meet him?

and some such.

I walked in confidently to the restaurant and uttered the words which would ensure things would move away from the giggling highness which was prevailing at present.

"One pot of coffee, please."

Halfway through the coffee, I intercepted a stupid conversation topic and decided to get over with it, finally.

"Guys, I need to talk to you about something."
"Huh" said Dad.

"There's someone I want you to meet", I said, unabashedly stealing Q's opening line.


I stared into my coffee cup, at the slowly forming layer of cream, while I muttered something about the tam brahm (this had to be established at the outset, even prior to the fact that the person I was dating was, in fact, a male) guy I've been seeing...dating...whatever... for the past year types.

"And so, I want you to meet him"

I looked up to catch my Dad looking at my Mom knowingly. Oh crap. They were planning the Good Cop Bad Cop on me. Sweet Jesus.

"So, why should I meet him?"

"Because... you should know who he is."


"Well because this is getting serious now. And though it's not like marriage or anything..."

My parents looked at me intently.


My mother looked slightly relieved.
"...Because, well, neither of us have figured what we need to do - I've applied abroad, he's trying to figure out what career path he wants to take..."
"Does he even have a JOB?" asked my Father, in all seriousness.
"Yes Dad", I said, pissed off at the ridiculous question but at the same time thankful that this gave me an opportunity to bring out the educational qualifications and the cool job story, which of course I was not given an opportunity to do, as my Father decided to contribute to my chaotic state of mind by asking me another unheard of question:

"But why should I meet him?"

"What do you mean why should you meet him?"

"Look, I could meet the guy, take one look at him and decide I think he's a loser because I don't like his face..."

Trust my Dad to be so reassuring in the circumstances.

"...but I guess I cannot do that, because its, well, stupid." I thought I detected a bit of wistfulness in his voice, like he almost wished he could be like that, "And anyway I don't see the point of talking to him when I should actually be talking to the person who will actually be making the decision."

Thus, two things were established: One, you can never discuss boyfriends with parents when you are above the age of 25 without the issue of marriage cropping up. Two, my parents were threatening to move into the twilight zone of relationships - parents meeting parents.

I panicked.

"Look. We haven't discussed this, long term or anything... " again, "yet. But when he was at home, he told his parents."

Oh f*&^.

"He told his parents?" my mom squealed.

My Dad just looked at me expectantly.

"And they seem to be, well, enthusiastic about the whole thing", I concluded, the bad use of adjective immediately striking me as making myself sound like a new mixer grinder.

"So when did he tell them?" asked Dad.

"Some time ago."

"Some time ago means when?" he leaned forward. "It could have been two days, two months, two years..."

EESSH!!! "Last weekend Dad, before he left for the US", trying to slip in a brownie point, "we hadn't discussed it at all. I was going to tell you..." (quick cover up job, why doesn't life come with a concealer?)"... but I didn't want to discuss this on the phone."

Dad leaned back into his chair.



"So I want you guys to meet, to get to know each other."

"Now why do we have to meet?"

My mother, the good cop, realized that this was going out of hand. She says my Dad's name slowly and seriously to attract his attention, which is definitely a "mom means business" sign in parent lingo.

"But we have to meet him"

Dad looked pained at the ad lib by my mom. "But what am I going to say to him?"

"Look Dad, there's nothing to say. There's nothing to discuss. You just have to meet him. Okay?"

Dad looked away thoughtfully for a minute, and then said, "But what am I going to say to him?"

At first I wondered whether this was the sign of some geriatric disorder. Then I realized it. My dad was actually looking for a topic of conversation to have with my boyfriend.

"Come on Dad, you can talk about anything - stock market, cricket, whatever it is that men talk about."


"No. Stop. No. No no no no no. Figure it out! Do some research! Talk to some of your drinking buddies!"

"But what..."

"Dad," I sulked, "dude, it's my first time man. I really don't know how these things happen. Really."

My Dad finally smiled.

In the end, I mumbled something about the educational qualifications and the parents and the fact that he was a vegetarian.

"So do you think they have any objections?"

"Well, no."



"None at all?"

"Well..." I thought hard, and then I remembered. "Maybe they wish I was a little taller."

"How tall is Q?" asked Mom. She knew the answer to the question but she wanted to know it again.

"6 feet" I lied, just to make her happy.

She tried very hard to conceal a gloat meant for all the aunts who thought I wouldn't find anyone who would be OK with my 5' 2" ness.

My Dad wasn't impressed. "I'm sure they wish you were Ambani's daughter too."

The statement was so random that I strongly believed that my Dad had it mugged up all these years just to be used for this kind of occasion. Now that that was over with, I finally relaxed. It was done.

Yeah, right.

Dad finished his coffee. "So do you think they will ask for Dowry?"

I spluttered the rest of my coffee out.

"Actually, I don't think they will be like that."

Much like I never thought my Dad would ever ask me such a question. I had most certainly underestimated how ridiculous he could be. Enough was enough. There was only one thing to do in the situation, only one thing left to say.

"Cheque, please".


I didn't know what my Dad's actual take on the whole thing was, till I was given permission to go to Bangalore to spend the weekend with Q's parents (something which went fabulously well, and hence I do not deem it fit to blog about it). I messaged my Dad as soon as I landed to tell him that I had reached safely. I get a reply about a minute later.


This may not be as bad as I thought it would be. But then again, that won't be saying much.

1 comment:

Contra Bonos Mores said...

Trust me,vannakam is where it starts going downhill...this is the exit skeptical dad, enter enthu dad stage....and beyond a point it is hard to decide which is worse- dad who doesnt know what to say to your boy or dad who wants the two of u married off next national holiday...