Valentine's Day is now history, thank Cupid, and I do not have to worry about it for another year. All those cute red hearts floating every-where were giving me heartburn.
Suddenly, for one day in the year, I am supposed to become all romantic and buy my wife roses (I am allergic to flowers and get into serious hay fever mode) or take her out to a candlelight dinner where gypsies strum guitars or Lebanese strum ouds and sing of unrequited love (she actually prefers a buffet, especially at very expensive restaurants).
Over the past few weeks I have been inundated with flyers that go: "For Her, buy your love a photo frame to treasure all the good times you have had together." I don't know what the marketers are talking about.
My wife and I went on a romantic holiday to Goa once and it was really blissful, but only for 24 hours.
We took a Fokker, a turbo-prop plane from Hyderabad to Goa on the west coast of India, a place well-known for hippies and hash at that time. The pilot of this tiny plane became friendly with us and was very solicitous and kept turning back and giving us the thumbs up from his seat, one seat away from us.
I had carefully planned this trip and had booked us first into a cheap downtown hotel. It was a good thing both of us were unaware that in a similar plane the toilet seat had fallen off earlier, floating away in the dreamy blue atmosphere with one hapless passenger on it wondering whether he was dreaming, or praying that if he is saved he will never indulge just before a flight.
The second hotel on the beach we booked into gave us lunch on the house, so we made it a point to come down from our room to luxuriate in the buffets that offered so many surprises to our tactile senses.
Seafood was a big item on the menu since, well, we were on the edge of the Arabian Sea, so my wife ate lobsters and immediately fell ill.
Instead of trying to be nice, I blamed her for ruining our holiday and sulked off to the beach alone. She could not understand why we had to go to the beach everyday and toast ourselves brown, because we were already brown anyway.
I don't remember the view from our room, but it must have been fabulous. One night, when we were sitting on the beach and enjoying the soft breeze and with an impossibly, bright Moon overhead, I made a rash vow that sometime in the future we would come back.
Thank God that hasn't come to pass so far. The only thing we remember of that romantic trip is pictures of us both looking haggard and tired as I had insisted we take a motorcycle and go around exploring India's smallest state.
We had a hilarious encounter with a drunken guide who took us into a historic church, and a waiter who told us that (Charles) Shobraj, the half Indian, half Vietnamese serial killer ate in the same restaurant we were in, just a few tables away.
Since my wife says she can't really understand me even after all these years, she plays safe and buys me colognes with names like "Cold Water", "Insensitive" on Valentine's Day, hoping that I would somehow get the message.
Seems we are not the only ones suffering when Valentine's Day comes around. According to a survey, two-thirds of UAE residents stress out at the prospect of buying that important gift for their loved ones.
But times are-a-changing, and many seem to prefer something thoughtful, rather than the traditional chocolates, flowers or expensive gifts.
By Mahmood Saberi