Unwrapping, Not Unravelling

There’s an episode in ‘Sex and the City‘ where Carrie proudly declares to her posse of passionate femme fatales that she relieved herself at Big’s place. That revelation is met with a look of pure revulsion from Charlotte and shock from Miranda and Samantha followed by advice on how to, even remotely, never do anything so horrific at a guy’s place. So, basically never poop if you actually ever date someone is what one gets from this? Um, sorry but, I do like my Charmin time, folks and I’m definitely not going to let my relationship (when I’m in one, that is) get in the way of my bathroom reading time.

Nonetheless, this is something I’ve been noticing with girls and guys in this sea of dating, courting and everything chase-worthy, appropriately called twenty-something life. There is such a need to come off as absolutely perfect, something ethereal, positively radiating and shimmering – almost diamond-like when people here present oneself to each other, especially when it comes to dating. I understand that there is a need to put one’s best foot forward but, to parade oneself in a way that is projecting an image of sheer perfection and goodness seems a tad bit unrealistic, pretentious and frankly, off-putting (to me, at least). I get that an aura of good ol’ musky mystery and feminine coquettishness is attractive but at the same time, it is important to not get washed up by the stormy currents of dating etiquette, as this hopping about on one foot is politely referred to.

Moreover, it seems to me that participants in the dating game are equally baffled by the veneer of propriety and projected personality and are desperately trying to find out what’s really beneath the layers themselves. For instance, take the new dating app, Lulu – a way for girls to see if the guy they’re dating checks out. It’s a deeply antagonistic app, one based in so many pop culture, movie-esque and pretentious assumptions, it’s appalling to see women and men flocking to it. And, is completely one-sided, by the way – men have no option of contributing or countering their ratings/tags, etc. (I won’t go into just how anti-feminist the platform is, that is for a delicious new blog-post.) ‘Lulu’ is an example of how twisted the entire dating game has become. It’s not even fun anymore, these rules are flummoxing and retarded, to say the least. The current dating scenario is like a monster that’s just been fed everything it ever wanted and now just won’t tame the fuck down so everyone just keeps appeasing it.

Whether it’s deconstructing text messages with girlfriends or boyfriends or waiting three days before calling a girl you exchanged numbers with at a bar, there are unwritten, confusing and, ultimately just weirdly constricting  and intangible guidelines in this dating space. Take the case of HeTexted.com, a service where guys help girls decode guys’ texts. Some of the entries are just heartbreaking and absurd at the same time. The sheer number ‘Yahoo! Answers’ queries on the subject and the umpteen websites online are ridonkulous and bordering on pathetic!

Since I’ve grown up in a different country, it is funny to observe how ridiculously absurd this jungle of dating, romance and everything courtship in New York City really is. A city of eight million people, it is surprising to note that hardly a fraction is actually being real when trying to find the most real thing of all – a connection.

Moreover, it is absurd that, even when two people have found a connection, they’re still not really letting go of the facade that’s been created by them for the other person to make each other believe that they’re this, also that but, that really they’re just not all that stuff that they were kinda portraying themselves as all those other times. Huh? Girls wait before they actually even think of not caking on tons of make-up, changing six outfits and assiduously adjusting their hair-dos before meeting the guy they’re dating so that the guy finds them attractive enough.

On dates, there’s this constant and frankly speaking, hilarious guessing game of what to order and how much to eat. Oh, I’m a girl, I can’t make it known just yet, I enjoy Philly Cheese Steak and a triple sundae any day – gotta order the salad with light vinaigrette on the side and multigrain bread even though I’d rather choke on my bile than eat this hippy shmiff (new word coined!), really. What the heck is that all about? Just eat whatever the hell you want, lady plus, that hooch of yours needs wine, and lots of it – so order it. And, have some self-respect and split the bill or at least offer to pay once in a while, okay?

When you look at the guys, it’s a different ball game altogether. They’re pumping iron, working on their body to show off their pecs, abs, other rib-cage enhancer type things and what-have-yous so that they can some. Yuuuck. I mean, if you’re a fitness buff, I’m all for it but, working out to get the ladies is, umm… weird. And what’s with all these supposedly hip hair-dos? Excuse me, what is with the Macklemore-ish hair-do, the one with the shorn-off sides and mop-inspired residual foppy hair thing on top? They look ridiculous on ninety percent of the people I’ve seen them on. The movie, Don Jon, did a good job of exploring a bit of the body image and grooming styles of twenty-somethings nowadays. In fact, that movie was an eye-opener in so many ways – romance, sex, expectations, belief systems, the effects of media, pop culture, etc.

Anyhow, getting back to the point of this post, even when in some sort-of stage of a relationship, girls and guys have this weird hide-and-go-seek thing going on. Supposedly, it’s like a game, a light banter, a playful teasing, a friendly chase… Frankly, it seems a bit random and really just not fun. Maybe it is for some of you but, I’m just finding this ridiculous running around exhausting, fiendishly dull and not amusing in any way. I understand that it’s enticing to have someone be interested enough to make the effort to figure you out – like you’re a delectable gift (cheesiness alert!), waiting to be unwrapped with care. But, the current scenario just seems like everyone’s unravelling even without trying just from the sheer demand to keep it classy, mysterious, exciting and whatever else is the in-thing nowadays.

Here’s my beef, though. If you liked someone, why would you wait two to ten days in the first place to go talk to her/him? What is this hazy time-frame boundary and time-bound communication manual everyone’s following without really following what’s being asked to be done? Even more facetious is the fact that why would you not be yourself around somebody you’re genuinely excited and interested to know more about? What the hell is going around here? What the fuck is this mystery angle all about, when there’s no more enticing a mystery than being inherently yourself because aren’t people by virtue of just being themselves wonderfully intense, beautiful, fragile, wholesome goodness-filled individuals? OR AM I LIVING IN SOME FANTASY WORLD AND NEED TO GET MY HEAD CHECKED UP? No, right! Isn’t being real and just chilled out and honest to oneself and thus, to others the way to be?

Here’s what I think. If you don’t want to do it, just don’t. And, if you want to, well go after it, won’t you? Honestly, it’s better than all this running, chasing, faking, anticipating, whatever-ness. Seriously, let’s just be frank about it – he likes her, she likes him, they get together and take it from there, period. Whatever happens, happens. What’s so much of all this pretension about, anyway? Just get off your high horse, m’kay? Everyone has insecurities and they’re still likeable. And, no one even cares so much about yours, they’re much too involved in dealing with their own schmut (Really fond of the ‘sch’ sound right now, oops!), really.

Please, just go for it if you think it’s worth it. Definitely, don’t run around hiding and seeking, waiting and strategizing because that’s some sort of unspoken rule, because there is no such thing.The only time it’s okay to stave off is when you don’t feel ready, like really not there yet. Or when you think you could offer them something better or could try to make yourself better and then go at it. Otherwise, why wait?  I can’t think of another coherent reason to, really. Life’s short, go for it in the truest sense. That actually does make sense – to me, at least.

Things I Bought for Myself Over the Weekend

A Beige down jacket with an overlarge hood, to keep me warm and toasty through these cold Nor’Eastern winter perambulations through town. A pair of squeaky white sneakers, to keep me agile when I run to catch the ‘N’, just making it as the doors start sliding to a close. An organic soap bar with hints of Lemongrass, Tea Tree and Orange oil, to wash away the grime, dirt, stress and fatigue accumulated over the course of the day. The smorgasbord of delectable ingredients will run smoothly over my skin, thoroughly removing traces of anything unnecessary and rejuvenating everything wonderful so that I feel like I’ve taken a bath when I take a bath. A foot soak – mint and eucalyptus, so wondrously aromatic and relaxing, so that when I give myself a pedicure, my feet feel like they’ve been massaged by cherubic angels and my muscle soreness feels soothed by salves made from feathers, clouds and a bit of blue sky.

Can’t wait to try ’em all.

Why I Love Dives

 

1. $3-$5 for a pint!!

2. Almost always 50+ years old. Love, LOVE the ambiance – the old wood, the worn-out leather seats, the regulars, the friendly bartenders.

3. The li’l notes patrons pin on the walls, carve into the maturing wood, hide somewhere in one of the corners of the walls.

4. JUKEBOX. YES, PLEASE.

5. Conversation with… everyone possible.

 

As the Fan Creaks Me to Sleep

Sometimes I lie awake at night — well, I’m sorta border-insomniac so most nights I lie awake at night — and just ponder over stuff as the gentle hum of the air conditioner soothes my ears.

At times, I think about all the things I’ve gone through, all the weirdness that is my life and the way(s) I handled or manhandled the situation(s). Y’know, little ‘Notes to Self’ for the future, so to say.

At other times, I think about society – just people, in general. It’s funny how selfish the world can be  and yet, most fight anything anti-social tooth and nail to fit in. It’s astonishing how many people leave good sense and go along with herd mentality. It appears that the want to be appreciated by the masses swallows the desire to be internally fulfilled.

And, most are unaware of this cyclical battle between the Spirit and the Ego. Lives are recycled, souls reincarnated, aimlessly wandering, devoid of thought processes, ignorant of their reality. The world seems like a whorl of directionless souls. Even being mis-directioned would be a step towards the correct flow, a foothold to veer the black hole of nothingness into the Light.

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Still, there is a glimmer of hope. The outliers who look at themselves. The ones who really see their potential and go for their goals, sans everything, sans anything. There are the few who just have an idea, a goal or a fetish, even – all consuming desire or a willingness to do what they set out to, to complete the opportunity they possess. These are the people who bring the Light, bring life, bring everything a little bit more into line.

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Whatever I may be thinking, I always aim to look ahead as I drift off to the land of dreams (Some of my dreams are quite disconcerting, by the way).

So, let’s look ahead – we have a life to live.

On ‘Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas’

Not one to typically indulge in mindless chick-lit, especially works authored by desis, I picked up ‘Losing My Virginity and other Dumb Ideas‘ primarily because the title intrigued me. As I read the jacket blurb followed by the first two pages of Madhuri Banerjee’s debut novel, I found myself wanting to read on. Not because the story was particularly gripping (it wasn’t) but, because there was a certain simplicity with which the story was narrated.

The novel is centered around thirty year old Kaveri, a single, educated working woman in Mumbai. She is well established in terms of career but, her life revolves around the massive “problem” that she’s a virgin and she wants to rid herself of this humongous albatross hanging around her neck. A stereotypical hot-Bollywood-industry best bud sets her up with potential “devirginizers” and doles out gyaan on love, lust and men while the protagonist does little but judge her friend’s character and errant ways while placing herself on a pedestal.

However, our heroine finds her “One Great Love” in the form of a hunky “Greek God” (actual description in book)  in Goa and a whirlwind romance begins with the deflowering of romantic Kaveri. In case you’re wondering just how romantic this encounter was, here’s an excerpt:

“The rain seeped through my light shimmer shirt and I saw him noticing my breasts… We had a soul connection.”

The twist in the tale comes in the form of a Missus Greek God and Kaveri’s ability to delusion herself into becoming the ‘other woman’ in our Greek God‘s life. Kaveri does what any hopeless romantic would do, she molds herself completely in order to become Greek God‘s spare muse and repeatedly ignores her savvy Bollywood friend’s pleas to look at the situation with objectivity.

Many a broken dates, fights, make-up sexual encounters, lost assignments and a ‘Rakhi ka Swayamvar‘ inspired reality show later, our heroine has an epiphany wherein she sheds her inhibitions and, gets off the path of immaturity, so to say. (Oh, and there’s also a psychic in the mix, somewhere.)

Banerjee’s writing is cheesy, to put it bluntly. She can’t really write very well either, as is obvious from the colloquial prose and appalling grammar but, her writing has an iota of honest emotion that tides her laborious story through. Furthermore, the editing is quite off – there seems to be a disconnect in the formatting of chapters and attention to detail is non-existent.

However, Banerjee’s protagonist’s reflections and brutal honesty about her own flaws is what gives the book its unique flavor and soul to the work. Kaveri’s saving grace is her willingness to acknowledge her mistakes and forgive herself for them. ‘Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas‘ is a lot of things but, it is not a good book in the literary sense. It is, however, an honest reflection of how messy life is.

Love and Other Thugs

Hey, y’all!

How’s it goin’? As we all know, V-Day has come, caused chaos (at least in India, it has) and gone. As I flip through Valentine’s Day articles, the yawn-fest of the moral brigades who claim to uphold the holier-than-anything-in-the-frickin’-universe Hindu culture as they shun such ‘western’ and ‘indecent’ concepts while threatening gormless lovers makes me ponder over the banality of the issue at hand.

What IS the big deal with Valentine’s Day and the Indian? It’s just another way to mark the importance of love and show one’s gratitude towards someone significant in one’s life like we do on Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, XYZ Day – ain’t it? Then why do the moral policing brigades rain down on those who profess their affection to their loved ones on February 14? How is a rose or a violet going to uproot Indian youth from the Vedas and Yoga on this marked day – or any other day for that matter?

Come Valentine’s Day, Sri Rama Sene’s minions don full regalia, get their sniffer dogs ready to fetch lovestruck Munnu and Munni, beat the living daylight out of them and proclaim victory of Hindu culture over the West. In Guwahati this year, cops had actually chalked out a plan (instead of handling the general lawlessness in the N.E., precious time went into this!) to fence off local parks as officials pointed out, ”We often receive complaints from senior citizens and various organisations regarding immoral activities going on in the city’s parks.” I don’t endorse people going all the way in public but, is giving a card and candy an immoral activity? Is holding hands one?

I think India has seen enough nonsensical violence on account Valentine’s Day, Rose Day and What-Not Day. The nation’s grown-ups need to grow up. Valentine’s Day just signifies heartfelt emotion between a woman and a man. Indian society needs to realize that love between a woman and man is natural and pure. It isn’t something a society ought to shun. In fact, it is this sort of love that creates life – the most joyful thing on Earth!

The problem stems from the fact that most people confuse romantic love with sex. As society looks at sex and everything related to it as ‘dirty’ and perverse, moral policing and unnecessary violence ensue. However, the notion could not be farther from the basic truth that love and sex are not one and the same! I agree that love may lead to sex but, then again, it may not – who’s to say? And if sex is as filthy as the Indian perceives it to be, why is India’s population exceeding that of Deinococcus radiodurans? The land of ‘The Kamasutra’ really ought to know better! Let lovers be. Let Valentine’s Day be.

It’s just love, you know.

Note: I was happy to read that this year RSS refrained from violence and let people celebrate Valentine’s Day ‘decently’ albeit with the resigned statement from Sh. Om Dutt Sharma, “What is the use or point. We cannot stop them from celebrating, and we are getting a bad reputation.” At least it’s a start. Perhaps it’s time that other such puritanical organizations take cue from the ‘marathi maanoos’ (Never thought the day would come when RSS would be used as an example of shunning violence!) and stop harassing innocent romance.

An Ode to a Fish

Hey y’all!

My pal (NMD) and I (SSS) came up with the idea of writing a song on ‘channeling your inner fish‘ post a swimming session. So, here goes nuffin’

‘Channel Your Inner Fish’

Live stuff like a fish in blue waters

that sparkly creature with no layers

for she goes with the flo’, goes in lo’

breathes in slo’, let’s it go(ooooo)

When you feel like you can’t take it anymore

And you may wish,

to channel your inner fish

Strap on those flippers

don’t listen to no whispers

breathe in slow, let it go

You gotta live like a fish

She looks so damn delish

Deep and blue is her home

her song is like a poem

You may think her mouth is funny

when she goes all bubble-blowey

But a fish always knows

that the bubble not only blows

It also carries her inner hopes

so they can be sown and shown

She looks at a current, a wave, a high tide

and never goes uh-oh!

For she can always, always go with the flow.

So(ooo) channel your inner fish

whenever you know something’s going amiss

and just let it go(ooo)