Friday, March 16, 2012



You wrote to me. Asked me to look at your profile. So I did.

In that first message, you said you'd liked what I'd written in my profile, that I was very direct, that I defined and declared myself and my tastes so I didn't seem to be appealing to a broad spectrum, that I “came out” as feminist, atheist and progressive. You contrasted that with “spiritual but not religious” and “middle of the road” that, seemingly, a lot of guys declare themselves to be. That I said nothing about “going from hiking boots to a tux in ten minutes”. That I seemed to be someone whose company you would enjoy, and would I mind taking a look at your profile to see if you interested me. 

So I did.

I mean, you wrote to me. Not that many women do. Not that many even favorite me. Plus you are very attractive in your photos – hair falling to the side of your face, as well as swept back, both photos do you honour. Then I looked at your profile, in some detail. Sure, you were a match (liberal, agnostic, right age, education, liked dogs, a foreign language, open to a range of ethnicities, little TV, Mervyn Peake (!), conscious food, no shopping etc.) but you already knew that, perhaps the GYMBII algorithm had suggested me to you. You came across as intelligent, unafraid yourself to distinguish yourself from the crowd, with a sense of humour about yourself and your expectations from web-dating (I have to say that there seems to be a lot more web-match-making going on (fifteen a day?!) than possible web-dating, though that feeling might just be a result of sour-grapes.). You were straightforward as well, without the earnestness and sincerity that just bores the hole out of me sometimes. And Mervyn Peake?! Seriously, I don't know anybody else who has even heard the name, other than Takla, who lent me the books in college, and the Englishwoman at the end of the affair. Also, no pretense about yoga! No humble but super-honed inverted postures at the edge of Half Dome. If all the women on the dating sites who claim to do yoga actually did so there wouldn't be enough space to do ek-padasan in the studios –you know how much space Americans need to be wunnn with the universe– leave alone one of the postures where you are on your palms, your forehead nearly kissing the ground, one leg extended back and the other over your elbow with your foot in your neighbour's underarm, don't you wish?

I wrote back to you. I asked you about your hiking (five to six times a year) and we exchanged emails about the kinds of hikes and landscapes we liked (all). I asked about your social justice work and you told me about your involvement with PP rallies, local Green candidates, food banks, water security and your current involvement with the local Occupy movement, which you said was very active. I said I was quite involved as well, though in a supporting role, taking food there for distribution to the homeless and hungry as well as for their General Assemblies every other weekend that I had my young daughters with me. You were curious that we hadn't noticed each other, you were there almost every weekend, with or without your tween, usually at the left front of the gathering as one faced away from the memorial to Cesar Chavez.

Memorial to Cesar Chavez? How had I missed it? That's when it occurred to me to look at your headline. But you are twelve hundred miles away from me! When I pointed that out, you checked as well, and oops, you'd thought I was located in the city you are moving to next month. I'm flattered, and you should be too, that we both got so carried away with each other over a few emails.

Mel! (I don't yet know whether it is Melissa or Melanie.) Stay! Don't go! 

But what am I saying? That I am offering or asking for a commitment without our having met even once? Based on a “match” determined by a third party? Based on physical, not even chemical attraction? Without knowing what sex –which, going by the sensual nature of your descriptions, I suspect is as important to you as it is to me– would be like?

But I've tried that before, an arranged marriage fifteen years ago. “Everything matches!”, my aunt had said, “Caste, economic status, education, family background –they are related to my Akka through the father's side– family outlook, the grandfather moved from a village in Mallapuram district but they have modernized quite nicely by now, they have dogs too, you know, family is Malayali but they speak Tamil as well, she is willing to move to US, one cousin-brother is already there, and the family is willing to overlook your age, I was so worried when you insisted on waiting till after your PhD, but no matter now! It's okay. Just take a look at the photos na! And read the ad., see if it interests you.”

So I had. And look where it has gotten me.



Anonymous said...

It took a while to stop feeling voyeuristic, a too-personal look into the life of a friend, and the judgement of "Americans" was a little jarring -- there is, of course, no such thing. However, even though the story never did stop being a match for what I know of your life, by mid-story that feeling disappeared and I was fully immersed in the story. The trick ending flowed nicely -- no feeling of contrivance at all -- and the closing reminiscence was a beautifully executed change of voice and a great way to finish up. Outstanding writing, Ranjeet.

Some minor, almost all technical, suggestions:

--U.S. punctuation differs from that of the Commonwealth in being usually inside quotes (exceptions: colon and semi-colon)

--in the first para a line misplaces the comma: [. . . “middle of the road”, that seemingly, a lot of guys . . .] should be [. . . “middle of the road” that, seemingly, a lot of guys . . .]

--"sour-grapes" needs no hyphen, nor, any longer, "e-mail"

--if you can, find a way to use a true dash for your dashes, instead of the hyphens you use now, and then you need not and should not surround them with spaces, or, as you sometimes do (and it almost works), insert only a leading space. This true dash is technically called an "em dash." You can create it in MS Word by simply typing a word followed by two hyphens followed by a word (MS Word replaces the two hyphens with the em dash after you type a following space)

--i'd spell out all numbers unless they are percentages or over a hundred. It subtly keeps the piece feeling like prose rather than an essay or report

--"OK" usually should be "okay" (there are exceptions -- when the intent is a nearly audible curtness -- but this isn't one of them)

The above are almost all more copyediting than anything approaching a writing problem. As I say, very nice piece.

Ranjeet said...

Thank you for the commentary!

I've made the suggested editing changes, except for 'sour-grapes', for which the blog-editor insists I use a hyphen.


Ranjeet said...

@ Readers

GYMBII = Guys You Might Be Interested In


Ranjeet said...


Mel wrote:
| Why 'bore the hole out of me'?

Would you have preferred 'bore the well out of me'? I hope you aren't offended by my intentional misuse of English, it wouldn't bode well for us, would it?

The website wouldn't allow me to send the email to you until I figured out and replaced the apparently taboo synonym for 'inferno'. In addition, earnestness and sincerity do bore a hole in irony.

I hope your move to Boulder is working out for you.