Singapore Adventure

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Giving Thanks
by venitha

Ashwin, my adorable 27-year-old co-worker, returned from his recent trip home to with completely expected but nonetheless very exciting news: he is engaged.

"Engaged to be engaged," he clarifies, and Raghu, across the aisle, rolls his eyes and tells me the wedding is in June. Raghu would like to be in Ashwin's place, and soon enough, he will be. He leaves for his own match-making trip home to India in just over two weeks.

Ashwin's stunning unstoppable smile confirms that the date's been set, and when pressed, he produces photos of, and the lowdown on, his intended, along with treats from home. She is, of course, both beautiful and educated. Of more surprise to me is that the treats are yummy. I have learned through painful experience that free snacks at work are to be given a wide berth. The Indian guys laugh at my wariness; they avoid the dried pork laden Chinese treats, too.

"It's cashews and condensed milk," Ashwin reassures me kindly, "and the top is silver. Real silver. They come in gold, too."

Now begins the fun of getting acquainted long-distance, for Ashwin and his intended did not know each other before his recent trip. They're sending e-mail, talking on the phone, chatting through instant messaging.

"Only two-and-a-half hours," he tells me when I ask about the time difference.

Two-and-a-half? Where does she live, Papua New Guinea? No, of course she lives in India, where, I am informed, this is the standard time difference. Furthermore, there is also a off by a quarter of an hour. Good grief! How can a country playing so fast and loose with the time practice something so sensible as arranged marriages?

Of interest to me is that I'm far more accepting of and nonplussed by Indian marriage customs than are my ethnically-Chinese co-workers. Yoong Han quizzes Ashwin as much as I do, and it's clear from his questions (How much of the girl can you see in the early exchanged pictures? Raghu: "What, man, you want nudie photos?") that Yoong Han wants luuuuuv, complete with hearts and flowers, swelling violin music, and passionate embraces and has already erected a towering pedestal for his glass-slippered ballgown-clad princess to scale. But then he calls himself "fundamentally unmarriageable," drawing quotes around the words with his fingers in the air in such a cutesy little bunny foo foo way that I'm left wondering, well... Anyway.

With sympathy for his lamented girlfriend-less status, I tell Yoong Han that luuuuuv doesn't last a lifetime and that he should look deeper and marry a true friend, someone who sees his imperfections and loves him anyway. He looks at me as if I had just told him that Santa Claus does not exist, but Ashwin nods in sage agreement and flashes me his beautiful wide grin. He's going to make his lovely fiancée an excellent husband. I hope she knows how lucky she is and is thankful on this Thanksgiving Day.

Just like I am. I love you, Jim. Happy Thanksgiving.

If you now need some humor to cleanse yourself of excessive sappiness, click here for some Thanksgiving fun. Thanks, Val, for sending me this.