Decent Proposal (hopefully)

It has been three years since this boy (me) met this girl (love of my life, mistress of my heart, my lady, my baby…).  The relationship was coy and reserved in the way that all good relationships on the right path are at first.  We even went through that phase when boy gets shit scared of the reality of the relationship, girl gets too invested, and relationship gets quickly kaput.

Tears, awkward path crossings, weird cinema visits, and bored intoxicated nights at nightclubs thinking about the other; found us back in each other’s arms.

Romantic? Not so much. Truth? Completely.

It is an age-old complaint, “Men just don’t listen”. I would like to think that I managed to prove that statement inaccurate.  Our relationship progressed to the stage where every jewelry store window presented her the opportunity to go, “oh look rings” to which I replied, “…that is a really cool watch”.

“No presents,” she would say ripping through the giftwrap, “there is only one ‘gift’ I want and you should save up for it”.

I was flippant. I was inconsiderate. I was rude. I was an asshole… but for good reason. It was soon after our second year together as a couple that I decided, “Yes this lady gets my crazy, I should make things official”, and so began the planning. Hindu custom has no real place for an engagement ring nor the one knee question popping, my Hindu girlfriend however had her own expectations which she had no problems voicing once we were together for more than a year

This being the case the traditional gift laden trays and family visit was not going to cut it.  There had to be a ring, not an “I sold an organ to buy this ring” ring, but a ring and a decent location that was different to the everyday, familiar surroundings.

Getting back to the, “Men just don’t listen”, comment. I tried my best to rubbish that stereotype. My lady has always mentioned her love for orchids and I noted this. As a birthday treat she took me to a spa. That evening sitting for dinner I was preoccupied with the table settings which happened to be orchids. I was then chastised for photographing more of the stupid flowers than paying attention to her.  She also mentioned, in passing, that her favourite precious stones were those that were blue, besides diamonds of course, Sapphires and Tanzanite to be precise. I looked at every jeweler catalogue and window in Durban but found nothing that was really special and meaningful.

The designer in me realized that a ring designed specifically for her would speak volumes. When I was satisfied that enough reference was gathered I started the design of a ring just for my lady. Finding the right jeweler to make this ring proved a bit of a mission and something I never imagined doing. Meetings with jewelers discussing stone sizes and cuts and metal and colour and moulding versus engraving. The biggest stuff up came when I was asked, “What is your girlfriend’s ring size?”. Which guy knows this, seriously? I needed to get a ring size but still keep it all secret. Asking her friends for assistance was not an option, as lovely as they are women are horrible at keeping things hush. Thank God for little miracles. We were out to the mall one day and whilst perusing the shops, the girlfriend tried on a ring and said, “see, doesn’t this look pretty?”.  Later, while she was distracted by my loving sister and more shops I excused myself, ran to the store with the ring, purchased it and hid it in my pocket until I found a jeweler with a ring size measuring thingy.  Finally I found an excellent craftsmen who was able to make exactly what I wanted and the ring was made.

But what about her parents? So the traditional way is easy, our folks make those arrangements… we just pitch up. A modern world and a progressive culture means certain practices are outdated and not everyone’s cup of tea. But tea was a perfect idea. I made arrangements to secretly meet with her parents for high tea on Sunday and with my mum and respectfully asked for the blessings of the elders.  High tea was a success… but secrets and lies needed to continue if my plans were to work.

On Friday the 13th of March, after over a year of planning, the day had arrived. We drove to the beautiful Oribi Gorge Lodge Hotel that beautiful afternoon. All through the car trip I mentally recited the chorus of a Bollywood song to sing as part of my grand proposal – cheese sells, believe it because it is true. Later that evening I insisted we change for supper but we needed to take a walk and see the sights at sunset because it would definitely be amazing on such a beautiful day.

We walked along the path to a viewing sight. A gift in my hand, curiosity and impatience in her heart and head. The gift was rather large so no ring was suspected (or so I have been told). At the sight I finally handed over the gift which was wrapped several times and well. She battled to find the edges but did. The good thing was that as she struggled to unwrap the box I battled to fish the ring box out my pocket. She eventually got to the actual gift and as she opened the box realization hit, for nestled in the confines of cardboard was several bangles. At the very beginning of our relationship I said to my girlfriend, “rings serve no purpose in the customs of Hindus and so if and when the time comes for me to propose I will do it the Hindu way (from what I understand) and give you bangles”. Surprised she turned to look at me but had to look down instead for I had taken to one knee, ring box open in hand and said, “Miss. Nina Maharaj, would you please give me the honour of allowing me to make you my Mrs.?”

The answer came was a very excited and shaky “YES”.

Just to be clear I never sang the stupid cheesy song, it just did not feel right, but I did confess having a song prepared. I also confessed all the lies that went into keeping my plans secret and had to name the co-conspirators. Neither of us cried, the ring fits perfectly and Oribi Gorge will forever be a special place to this boy and his very special girl.

THE BEGINNING…

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I LOVE YOU

These words hold immense power. They send forth a powerful energy into the universe. That power, that energy, is to be conserved and let out only in the most intense situation. Say it to often and the magic and power become ripples in an ocean instead of the giant wave it is destined to be.

Save that magic for the right moment and submerge yourself in its glory. 

Two Guys, a road-trip and a pretty place

A bucket list, we all have one though we call it something different – our list of things to do before we kick the bucket/croak/die. A road-trip with a good mate has for long been on my list. I can however check that off now. Agreeing to travel cross-country on a whim is not something I would generally do but when a friend needs assistance and the destination is Cape Town… one is hard-pressed to find an excuse not to. Our journey began before the crack of dawn on Good Friday 2013.  Driving out of Kwa Zulu – Natal in the dark required patience and navigation through horror movie mist. The most difficult part of the journey is that odd bit between the two beautiful coastal cousins… the Eastern Cape, clearly the neglected, issue riddled, country cousin. Most of the roads we were on in the Eastern Cape were under construction. The Moo Moos (cows), the Baa Baas (sheep) and the Maa Maas (goats) were interesting but after a couple thousand they went from being boutique to being wholesale. The odd hoarse, and even odder ass, were welcomed additions to the landscape. I dosed of on several occasions. I must admit to being the only person to ever have front row seats to the Emil (like Madonna and Cher – no surname) concert.  With genres ranging from Hip Hop to Indie Rock he succeeded in butchering it all.  The sound of shrieking, raped, cats aside the drive was fun nonetheless – filled with laughs and memories that make life worth it. Arriving in the Mother City was akin to a fairytale. As we rounded the mountains of Somerset West the clouds lifted and we were greeted with sunshine and a rainbow.  We also saw the ship being used for the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean 4 along the highway. We got to our destination and I couldn’t understand why I ever left this pretty place. Like an addict taking another hit I was giddy with joy.  Having no furniture to rest our weary selves on, we were lovingly invited to crash at a friends place. Crash is such an inappropriate word considering the great comfort we enjoyed but all that after a night on the town filled with abs-moulding laughs.  While in Cape Town old habits surfaced. Long walks on the promenade and to the city centre to soak up the vibe were a regular occurrence. Never got to climb the mountain again though as everyday was overcast or a tablecloth covered the mountain. Alas just the day before my departure the skies were clear but time was limited. I was lucky enough to experience an international live act that evening in a really cool spot. Thanks for the memories Friends and thank you Cape Town, you beautiful Mother… ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Mother’s cooking

Food is an essential aspect of human existence. The joy of it lies in it’s flavour rather than the sustenance. We can dine at the finest restaurants and eat with friends and families, meals which they lovingly prepare but there is a certain gratification that comes from labouring over the stove with the aroma of blended spices and the sizzles and splutters that emanate from the pots and pans. The sense of achievement as you fill your plate with your freshly created meal that steams its invitation to your senses. You poise yourself at the table, say grace and take the first mouthful. The food, tongue and teeth dance together arousing the taste buds and bombarding the brain with messages and memories. The mouthful is swallowed and you are left with the satisfaction that you are able to cook but with the disappointment that it is not as good as your mother’s cooking. I have come to a conclusion though. A mother’s cooking is always best and this is not to say that others cannot cook but merely that a mother’s cooking is just more special. While we cook with the desire for a good taste and the hope to emulate the abilities of our mothers we will always fall short. A mother cooks like everyone else save one ingredient, love. A mother cooks not to impress, not for glory not for experimentation nor for shear sustenance. A Mother cooks with love to feed the heart and souls of her family and with every loving stir of the pot and every spice whispered into the mix she infuses her love. That is why a mother’s cooking is always best. Ah for the day I eat once more from my mother’s hand.