Talkin' Bout My Guy

For an actor, I'm generally a very bad liar.  I don't mean to imply that actors tend to be master fabricators except, of course, when they are getting paid to fabricate.  It's just that I don't tend to speak untruths in my normal everyday life.  I don't like it.  I get nervous. I feel dirty.  Even "nice" lies meant to protect someone else's feelings make me uncomfortable.

In India, however, I'm getting pretty good at it.  Today, Sandosh took me to see the Palace of Kerala's erstwhile kings ("Very Beautiful Palace").  Granted, I thought we were going to the very famous Dutch Palace with the amazing frescos of the Ramayana.  Sandosh had other plans.  No surprise there.

On the drive he plied me with more questions about my husband, wanting to know things like how long we had been married ("Uhhhh....six years"), what he does for a living ("consultant"), was it a love match ("Yes, of course.  That's how we do it in America.")  If he'd asked me what my husband's name is I would have said, "Guy."  I think "Guy" is a funny name for an imaginary husband.

I keep an imaginary husband to ward off unwanted attention from men.  I'm not sure it really works.  I wear a wedding ring and everything.  I didn't know, however, that in India no one wears wedding bands, so the ring doesn't really do anything but help me feel more confident about lying.

Sandosh and Shani have been married for 13 years after only meeting briefly before their wedding.

Roy and Leelu, too, had spent just one hour together before tying the knot.  Leelu copped to the first two years being difficult.  Gesturing with her hands, fingers splayed apart, she indicated that it took that long for their personalities to mesh.  After that, "they did not like to separate."  Here she slotted her hands together in a "Here's the church, Where is the steeple" fashion.

I was dumbfounded when Leelu, in answer to my question, "How did you and Roy meet?", said, "Arranged Marriage."

They are so solid, such a team.  The equanimity of the house is unquestionable.  They work together and sleep together and have made three "fine" sons.  I assume they are "fine."   I've only met one and he seems "fine", you know, in nice, upstanding way, not a mediocre Martha Stewart "It's a good thing" kind of a way.

Huh.  Arranged Marriage.  I'd somehow forgotten that that's they way they do it in India.  All the couples I've met have been so functional, loving, trusting.

One of my favorite daily sightings is seeing a couple on a motorbike.  The people change, but the picture is almost identical.  The man is driving, wearing a helmet.  His wife sits side-saddle behind him in a gorgeous flowing sari.  She has no helmet.  He is zooming in and out of traffic at break neck speeds.  She rides on the back of the bike as if she was gliding in a gondola on a smooth, calm lake, back straight, one arm ever so gently leaning on his back, the hand perched delicately on his shoulder.  She is all grace and ease, there is no clutching or panic or worry.  Sometimes she is even holding a small baby, or their helmetless toddler is sandwiched between her and him.

That's one thing you'd never see in America, am I right?

As hard as it has been for me to sometimes handle unwanted attention, I do have an appreciation for how very manly Indian men are.  This is a country where Men are Men and Women are Women.  No doubt about it.  You don't see wives driving their husbands around on motorbikes.  In fact, I've only seen two women, period, driving a motorbike.

In Malayalam, as Roy explained it, wives often call their husbands, "Achai", or in Roy's case, "Roy-chai."  Achai means "respected one."  When I asked what he calls Leelu, thinking there must be a feminine version of "Achai", he said, "Sweetie."  Leelu claims not to make any decisions without consulting her Roy-chai.  Even when he is off in Dubai for months at a time tending to his other business affairs.   If they were an American couple I would have thought these behaviors sexist and mildly offensive.  Leelu is more than capable of running the Homestay.  She's got back-bone enough for 10 people.  But I let that notion go instantly because the two of them are complete partners in exactly the way I would hope one day to be with my Guy.

Of course, Guy and I are a "love match" and that can be so much trickier.  We are always expecting that same spark we had in the beginning.  But six years is a long time to keep the passion fresh.  Lately he's always off consulting and I'm forced to travel by myself.  It is nice when we meet up, and we will in a few weeks, you know, because it's like a little honeymoon every time.   But then he starts telling me how to do the laundry and I tell him I do it just fine, if he wants it done differently then he can just do it himself and we fall into bickering.  I blame the travel, the time spent wandering by our lonesomes (and here I'm splaying my hands wide, fingers apart).  We need more (and here I'm weaving my fingers together) Meshing.

(See what I mean, the lies are just rolling off my fingers.)

The trouble is, what if a guy comes along who could really be my "Guy."  Wouldn't that be something?  If I missed my real guy because my fake Guy got in the way?....I am wearing his ring, after all.

Maybe I should just ask Leelu and Roy to arrange something.  They like me.  I think they'd probably do a pretty good job of setting me up.