Friday, June 28, 2013

Girlfriends are expensive!

Roberto and Luis seemed to be helping each other out by taking photos.  Wondering whether they were hesitant to ask somebody else to click for them, I offered to take a photo of the two of them, with the volcano in the background.

"No. It's ok. We like photos alone" Roberto said while Luis chuckled.

After a few seconds, Roberto expanded on it. "We don't want people to mistake us. We don't want a photo of us on Facebook. Friends will make fun."

I couldn't help laughing at the way he phrased it.  They too laughed.

Women are way more confident than we men are.  As friends, they hold hands, pose cheek-to-cheek, dance together. All as friends.  No way is that immediately interpreted as being gay.  With us guys, in this part of the world, we are so careful about it.  Insecure. Paranoid.  When I travel in India, I am always amazed at boys and young men holding hands, with arms over each other's shoulders, ... I am sure I, too, walked around that way back then.  Practices are so cultural and contextual!

"Given that you are medical residents, and good looking young men, how come you are not traveling with women?" I asked them.

To quite an extent, talking like this with men at any age is easy.  No guy in his right mind will ever mistake such a question.  I would think that guys, straight and gay, at any age, would love to talk about the female of our species.  The females were mysterious to me when I was becoming aware of them many decades ago, and they continue to be a mystery even now.  My guess is that even women don't understand women.  Perhaps the purpose of life is a simple one--to understand women!

Roberto and Luis laughed at my question.  Then Roberto said "girlfriends are expensive.  They want gifts. Then they want marriage. And kids.  And then it will be a divorce. More money.  I want to travel first."

Lots of young men and young women--and middle-aged balding men too--traveling alone these days.  It has become possible to travel any which way we want anymore.  Life has changed a lot, for the better.  I stood for a while looking at the crater and taking photos when I heard the guide, Alberto, calling my name.  It was time to move on.

During the hike down from Poás

The following morning, I went to have breakfast at the hotel.  I missed the tasty and home-made breakfast at Andreas' and Connie's.  If Charlie Chaplin could eat a shoe when hungry, I certainly can devour old bread and drink horrible coffee.  Ok, that was an exaggeration!

Three women were having breakfast.  Two were more than a decade older than me, and the third was at least a decade younger than me.

"Did you have a good vacation?" I asked them.  It was clear from their bags that they were checking out.

They were indeed moving on to the next place on their schedule.

"Where are you from?" I asked them.  They were all from Hamburg, Germany.  And, of course, the question bounced back.

"From the United States. I moved from India a long time ago."

"Where in India?" asked the younger one.

"From the southern part. The city is called Chennai."

Out in the wild ...

"I love India" she said.  "My boyfriend is half-Indian.  He has family in ..."  She couldn't recall the name of the place.  "It is a place with Communist government."

It had to be Kerala or West Bengal.  And given the wanderers that Keralites are, the odds were not in favor of Bengal.

"Is it Kerala?" I asked and she was excited.  "Yes, that is the one."

"It is a pretty place.  Have you been there?"

"I would like to.  But, it seems like my boyfriend's family want him to marry an Indian woman, and I cannot pass of as an Indian" she laughed.

No way, indeed, for that slim, tall, blonde to pass of as an Indian.

"Wrap a sari around you, cover your hair, and get married" I joked.

"My eyes will give it away." She had a quick comeback.

I suppose it is to avoid complications like this that Roberto has decided against a girlfriend.

During the hike down from Poás

It seems like the German has found what she was looking for, but her journey hasn't ended.  Roberto is looking for other things in life.  We are all travelers in life looking for whatever we are searching for, and our paths intersect.  We share stories. We laugh. And we move on to the next intersection.  Sometimes with people from the previous intersection and other times by ourselves.

I remembered the intersection at Orosi Lodge.  When I returned to the room, I sent them an email:
Good morning, Andreas and Connie.
I miss your breakfast and coffee. Miss it bad. I have to wait to reach home to make myself something comparable :(
Thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality, and an absolutely friendly and welcoming nature. Tell your son I loved his sense of humor :)


Ramesh said...

Why don;t you write a travelogue ? Take off around the world, get somebody to sponsor you and write a book. Yes, a million other people have done that, but few write with the inciveness and the curiosity that you do. Sen this post to your would be sponsors and start counting the cash :)

As for women, we shall let Shachi have the last word.

Sriram Khé said...

you are way too good a friend to think so wonderfully about my writings, ramesh ... thanks

now, even if there were a trace of a possibility in what you say, i lack the genes to monetize even my own ideas :)

yes, what captures your attention in my travel writings are what i like--these are new places and contexts for me to reflect on life. so, it is not about the new place alone ... the flip side is i am always amazed at people who have been to different places without seemingly no effect on how they view the world ... obviously such writings won't appeal to them.

hey, wait a sec ... you are a finance guru. you can be my agent and we can make money together ;)

Shachi said...

About women - I did my schooling at a girls convent, so until college I never knew what it was to study with a co-ed crowd. but even then, I had so many male cousins/neighbors and got along better with them than the girl friends at school. In general, because of my inclination toward sports (playing/watching), hiking n adventure activities, etc...I seem to naturally have more guy friends. I have great mommy groups now as a mom but the only person closest to me from the female species is my sister. (not counting mom n her generation).

So I really can't comment on the confidence, holding hands and dancing together of females. Maybe I'm missing something fascinating in life but I'm quite happy with what I've got :)!

Sriram Khé said...

An all-girls school and a convent school at that ... hmmm ... quite a contrast to the schooling experiences that Ramesh and I had at a co-ed school (though, we didn't interact much across the genders!)

Ok, will have to wait for some other women to enlighten us then ;)

Indu said...

Having had very good friends of both sexes, I think the basic difference lies in the way we relate to each other. To girls – physical expression is not always associated with sexual undertones. So usually there is no morality involved when one girl hugs another. From there comes what you call the confidence. With the boys I think it is the opposite. Let me not elaborate – Had a nephew blog this topic so extensively, it created a storm in the family!!! Lets say, nature has built us like that and leave it there!!??

The cultural differences.. I’ll leave that for another day… I think it is irritating to decide on sexual preferences just from a casual hug or a hand on the shoulder .. let me not even start on that topic!

Now on a more playful note- the girlfriends being expensive… A pity that the boys cant wait to find the right girls- They better be happy to settle for girls who ask for tangible gifts.. As long as they don’t ask you to say I Love you a million times a day or write like John Keats or play football like Beckham.. You get one like that you know what’s expensive!!! ;-)

BTW – girls also think about boys – when will they get over this obsession and get serious!! Another point that they may never ;-) An example I see right here in your blog - your comment about not being able to talk to women… I know a lot of women who wish – If only conversations with men were more ‘normal’… I am sure, most women will be very happy to be looked at as another human being –instead of as ‘a woman’. It is exactly this extra ‘awareness’ of the gender that men usually carry that puts off women. May be that’s the reason why some women couldn’t be bothered to find a male partner… It takes a lot of tolerance and patience as a girl/woman to wait for the boys/men to turn around into really good friends!!!
Hope your Roberto finds a really expensive girl friend!!!

Sriram Khé said...

Hey, Indu, long time no see ... wish you would drop by more often with your comments especially because unlike Ramesh who agrees with me almost always, and Shachi was trained by cane-holding convent sisters to always be polite, well, you seem ever ready to put up a fight and I need a debating partner ;)

Will be neat to read that nephew's post ... do you have the URL?

I agree with most of what you have here ... except this ... and I quote Billy Crystal's Harry from "When Harry met Sally": "men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way."
Now, people who know me know all too well that I am absolutely at ease with women being my friends, and women, too, seem to be at ease with me. So, I don't mean Harry's quote as being autobiographical by any means. ... But, I would not casually dismiss the notion that the sex part gets in the way of friendship, particularly when we are young.
It is biological programming! And it takes a few years to re-write that software code, after which, to quote another movie line, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." I think you need to cut us men some slack on this--we are created that way ;)
(Too bad Ramesh is not into movies. But, I am willing to bet that he was watched Casablanca more than once all because of Ingrid Bergman!!!)

Oh yeah, I have always wondered how girls--I mean women my age but back when they were teenagers--thought about all these. I did ask some of my girl classmates about this at the 30th reunion we have ... but, that is a blog post for another day ;)

Most read this past month