[A shameless reproduction of a conversation worthy of transcription. One that I even more shamelessly overheard at a Silicon Valley pub last night. (Yes, I agree. Most of the entries in this blog have a direct or indirect relation to a watering hole – Not a good sign!).
My particular interest in this conversation was in part due to the extreme banality of topics being discussed by my friends, and in part due the similarity of my predicament with that of the partakers of this discourse (two desi guys, seemingly in their late twenties). Here it goes…]
a : So, when are you leaving for India?
b : 27th November.
a : & when’s the wedding?
b : 7th December.
a : Wow! I still can’t believe you’re getting married. Can’t stop thinking of all the crazy irresponsible stuff we did back in the day. Congrats & All the best!
b (laughing) : Thanks!
a : So, what got you convinced, finally? Last summer we met, you were totally confused about this whole marriage thing. I frankly still am, hence asking you.
b : I don’t know… I guess I started out as confused as you were…
a : ….& then you met her and the bells rang and the violins played… Don’t give me all that!
b : Of course not. The bells and violins stopped playing soon after college. Life muted them out I guess. I needed to first convince myself of the purpose of marriage.
a : Hmm..& are you convinced now?
b : Yeah, I guess…
a : So what is it?
b : What?
a : The purpose… What else?
b : Well, it’s different for everyone I think. You should figure out your own… You’re old & smart enough to do that, aren’t you?
a : Aren’t you the one who decides product strategy for a million dollar startup?
b : Well in that case, aren’t you the one who makes million dollar investments for a hedge fund?
a : Oh come on… I think you just caved into all the social & parental pressure, if not the age and loneliness. Seeing friends getting married left right & center, your circle getting smaller and full of married people with their married talk of school districts & buying houses…
b : Great! You should star in an Anti-Marriage special on Amir Khan’s show! It was none of these & I think you know that. I have enough on my plate for the present and don’t live in the past or the future. I also don’t really care what others think , say or do.
a : Yeah yeah. I know…. But seriously, I’m curious now… what did you figure out?
b : Okay, so in terms that you would understand, getting married as I see it, primarily gets me 2 things: Value Added Per Unit and Improved Analytics
a : Stop confusing me like Confucius & elaborate.
b : Let’s start with Value Added Per Unit. It relates to our intricate craving to add meaning to our lives. We satisfy it at work by making a difference to the world and impacting the life of our coworkers & clients, by donating money to charity, helping our friends, family relatives etc. By doing what the world expects and trains us to do – the good stuff. But it’s mostly selfish or with predefined goals and objectives I think. It doesn’t match the sense of Purpose one craves for, or is genetically designed to crave for. One gets that by being an intricate part of someone’s life in a truly special way – knowing that one would keep doing it for the foreseeable future and yet finding joy and growth in it. That I feel, is selfless and symbiotic at the same time – a bit difficult to grasp, I know. In essence, it makes you feel better about yourself, showing you a new dimension of your personality – and gives you a reason to be even better every day – thus, adding Value to your life so to speak… Ah & without any guilt & hangovers BTW.
a : Sure, Mr. Know it All! But why do I have to get married to get that? I can get the same from the relationship I have with my girlfriend.
b : I never said you have to get married. I just said getting married is one way to get there. Plus for what you said, marriage is like a gym membership – Spending money just gives you another reason to be regular and consistent, specially when the going gets tough.
a (smiling) : I agree… And what was that second thing?
b : Improved Analytics – yes. Think of an old broken mirror. You get so used to yourself that you either begin to understand and accept your weaknesses or become completely blind to them. Marriage gives you a new mirror to reflect upon. A fresh perspective that’ll judge you honestly and nudge you to correct your course. It’ll help you overcome that inertia of acceptance and that ‘It’s okay’ attitude that you’ve become so burdened by and used to. You might say that your friends can do the same but they either don’t care or are in such similar mess as you that they don’t really see any faults.
a : So the first thing improves you and gives you a reason to improve further and the second thing essentially tells you how much you’ve improved and where you stand. Hmm.. so in 2 words – it’s self improvement.
b : Sure.
a : But it seems so dependent on finding the right person…
b : Of course it is. Value Added Per User can very easily become negative and your Improved Analytics engine can blind you with wrong data if you end up with the wrong person.
a : This is getting scary… Can I get another single malt please, on the rocks? Would you like one too?
b : Sure, clear for me.
a : So what does your Smart B School of Thought say on finding the right person? Do you have a model for that too?
b : Just as in Product Strategy, the Goals decide the requirements. Once I had the purpose laid out, defining what I was looking for wasn’t hard.
a : Okay… go on…
b : So if you’re looking to find a mirror, I think you need to feel comfortable standing in front of it as you are. If you’re having to pretend to be someone you’re not, because it’s too expensive a mirror, or you’re afraid the shape would spoil the mirror’s aesthetics, or you’re afraid it’d break on seeing your true self, it’s the wrong mirror for you.
a : Alright, what else?
b : And the mirror of course needs to function properly. It shouldn’t show you the picture you want to see but should show you one that you ought to see. It should be honest and as selfless as a mirror can be and at the same time smart enough to show you what you really need to see.
a : Smart Mirror! I hate this zen-like allegory but I think I’m getting it.
b : That’s the whole point, isn’t it?
a : So is that it?
b : And then there are requirements around the first goal – of value-addition. If you’re expecting to be relevant and important in someone else’s life and add-value to theirs and also expecting them to be the same to you, I believe your interests & expectations from life should be complementary. Too similar is bad and too different is worse – ‘complementary’ is the key word I feel.
a : Isn’t this too simplistic a model?
b : Sure is. But look at the couples in your circle and think about how many don’t fit this supposedly simplistic model? Simple isn’t always bad.
a : Yeah…. I see your point.
b : Phew… some topic…Why did we start talking about it in the first place?
a : Oh yeah…. because before I leave for NY on Sunday, I wanted to finalize the dates & location for your bachelor party… But I think my mind is on a tangent now with all this heavy talk… We should close on that tomorrow morning. Lets head out now.