An Exercise in Writer’s Block

Recently, I’ve been meaning to write many many things, but every time I try, things don’t come out right. I’ve been trying to stay patient, thinking ‘somethings going to happen, it’s bound to!’ (also said the man with erectile dysfunction. SNAP), but nothing did happen. All I ended up with was a chunk of meaningless Paulo Coelhoesque dribble.

So finally, I decided to just fuck it and write about what I’m doing. Can’t really hurt can it? And the fact that I’m perpetually doing something also supplies sufficient material. So here goes, the unedited continuous nonsense centering around my current activities:

The plane hurtled through the air, but on account of its almost excruciating tininess, it was more like a little capsule hurtling through the long intestine that is the stratosphere. It was one of the smaller planes, without all that ‘jet engine’ metrosexual poofy nonsense that’s all the rage these days. Instead, it had little black exposed rotors that suspiciously kept the plane in the air.

Anirban Chakraborty sat on the window seat at the rear of the plane looking through the window and half expecting the wings to flap.

It was a plain plane at best, without any class distinction as such-everybody got the same kind of seat. They still however wrote ‘economy’ on your ticket so you would know your place in the aero kingdom.

Anirban yawned and stretched as they cut through the sky elegantly, appearing to be motionless against blue pastel background, but actually moving because planes usually have to go somewhere. I’m guessing.

‘This is a no smoking flight’ said the hurried, heavily accented voice of an air hostess over the communication system.

They all are, thought Anirban. They all are. He played with the ashtray that was in his seat from days when that announcement did not have to be made. A happier time.

‘..Smoking in the toilets is also forbidden’

Well they’re part of the fucking flight aren’t they? Thought Anirban. He returned his attention to the corpus of the ashtray. Yes. He gingerly pulled it out of the the seat- it opened slowly. There was no ash inside. Just emptiness. Half expecting a burnished interior but finding-

‘Smoke detectors are installed in the bathroom-’

FUCKING REALLY? WE GET IT said Anirban. Perhaps out loud. Judging by the looks of the passengers around and the man sitting next to him slowly edging away, it was probably out loud. Or maybe he’d just grimaced. Or maybe they had traced the source of erstwhile occurring flatulence. It could have been anything.

An air hostess stopped in the aisle by the row he was sitting in.

‘What would you like sir?’ she asked in a softly lilting voice. She smiled, but there was sadness in her eyes that no prosaic language can express. Well truthfully, he wasn’t sure, but she was wearing what is best described as an upside down blue tin on her head. Such things can only bring sadness.

‘Sir?’ she asked again and she continued to smile. She was well proportioned; quite buxom. A fine ribs-to-funbags ratio. She looked at Anirban, her smile fixed. He felt a rush of feeling toward her. Most of that feeling was concentrated in a particular region, but at the same time he felt a hint of disgust. A hint of disgust that had no place being, yet was.

And suddenly- there was silence. He pondered his ambivalence, mulling it over in his mind, oblivious to the silence, the hum of the engine, the vibration of the plane-

‘Sir can you stop typing?’ she said finally to Anirban, who turned and flashed her a charming smile while continuing to type with one hand. A feat he could accomplish, because he was fucking awesome.

‘Yes m’lady’ he replied handsomely. This is also possible to do.

She tittered at being addressed in such a fashion. She was, after all a waitress in the sky and he, a liberal serving of man candy.

‘What would that be?’ she asked Anirban, who hadn’t replied yet because it takes much longer to type with one hand.

‘A whiskey’ breathed Anirban, dangerously.

‘Sir, we do not serve alcohol on domestic flights’ she said. Her mouth was probably wry, but this fact lay unverified on account of the aforementioned ribs-to-funbag ratio, coupled with the fact that Anirban had only two eyes.

‘Ah’ said Anirban, leaning back in his seat, stroking his chin with his free hand.

‘This is a domestic flight?’ he asked.

‘Yes sir’

‘I see’ said Anirban. This complicated matters slightly.

‘And where does this flight go?’

‘New Delhi, sir’ said air hostess funbags.

‘Dash it all!’ exclaimed Anirban for no particular reason, striking the tray of the person to his left, as his tray was occupied by his laptop, and no one hits the Macbook.

‘FUCK!’ screamed the man next to Anirban, whose groin had been splashed with hot coffee caused by table-banging. (The boring kind of table banging. It is also useful to note that there is no interesting kind EDIT: OMG yes there is.)

The air hostess was quick to begin to mop the spill. And leant over the man, undoing her scarf-

‘Sir, could you stop doing that?’ she said to Anirban, who was now loudly humming 70s porno music, while winking at her.
People are ungrateful, thought Anirban and resumed typing with both hands.

The flight landed in Delhi and Anirban sat in the airport terminal, having a few hours to kill before his next flight to Bangalore.

Now Anirban sat at the airport, with an hour more to kill. He proceeded to the smoking lounge, doing his best to look business-like. He struck up a conversation with a middle aged man, who was looking into Anirban’s laptop screen and was OVERWEIGHT and beginning to lose his hair and possibly the function of his genitals

“Hello” said the man, smiling benignly.

“Top o’ the mornin’! ” replied Anirban cheerfully.



“I’m [not paying attention and even if I was, I’d have forgotten by now] ” said the man. “Saurabh, actually” said the man, who Anirban had forgotten was still looking into his laptop screen the motherfu-

“I’m a business man” replied Anirban stiffly, brushing off the shoulders of his Spongebob T-shirt.

“Of course you are” said fucking douchebag who was wouldn’t stop looking into Anirban’s screen.

“Lets cut to the chase shall we? Who are you?” said Anirban, in an business-like fashion.

“I just told you I’m [still not paying attention]

“So you are” said Anirban. “Listen, what do you want? I’m kind of in the middle of something right now”

“Uh. You started a conversation with me, and then pretended like I started it. I can’t help but notice that that fact is not reflected in whatever you’re writing” said the pretentious douchebag who continued to eyeball fuck Anirban’s screen because of his general ineptitude and lack of understanding of PERSONAL SPACE.

“I try to be as accurate as possible” snapped Anirban.

“Can I ask you why exactly you’re doing what you’re doing?” asked the man, who we may now note had stopped looking into Anirban’s laptop screen. Bitch.

“I have writers block” said Anirban woefully. “This is a desperate attempt to overcome it”

“Ah. So you’re a writer!” said the man.

“Very much sir. Very much” said Anirban, moving a little closer to the man.

“So you write, books, screenplays, articles, what?” said the man.

“ I have a blog.” said Anirban.

“Oh” said the man. “thats..uhm..”

“I’m a student!” cut in Anirban, quickly.

“So you’re studying writing then? Or just some general English litt. course?”

“Umm. Kinda. Well, in the sense that it’s less writing and more engineering”

“So you’re an engineer” said the man, with a trace of disappointment in his voice.

“Engineering student” replied Anirban, feeling continuously worse as this conversation proceeded.

“Don’t feel bad about it” said the man, who it appears had begun to look into Anirban’s laptop screen again, the nosy little bitc-

“I’ve stopped looking” said the man quickly, causing Anirban to stop gritting his teeth ferociously.

“Think about it bro” said the man, who for some reason felt that he had reached bro status. “Writers get writers block, musicians the same, creative fields are dominated by words to express a lack of creativity, but really they’re just general slumps. And slumps happen in every field. Even engineering” he said, with unnecessary drama.

“Achieve to be the highest you can be, and persevere through the slumps, that’s just life. Be all you can be, reach the highest possible platform, the zenith, rise up to the sun-”

“SUN BLOCK!” said Anirban. “Sorry. Necessary joke, but too easy. Carry on”

“I’m going to leave” said the man.

But Anirban beat him to it. He may have failed to push the man down the stairs. At that might also have been a completely different man. He may also have spent the next hour hiding in a coffee shop till they called for his flight’s boarding. Prove it.

As he boarded his next flight, he realized that weird nosy laptop screen staring man had an extremely valid point. Maybe writer’s block was like sun block. It shielded the skin from writing and prevented rashes and tanning.

That’s what life is really about.

Leave comments or I will hunt you down and make you. I have google analytics and I’m not afraid to use it.


Your Insane Guide To Picking Up Women

Hey you.
Yes, you.
You in the shirt, with the thing, and the tears. Life not going so well? Do you suffer from poor self esteem? Can’t seem to catch a break with the ladies? Do women cringe at your presence and scream and run at the sound of your name? Has repeated experience made you now enjoy the occasional pepper spray in the eyes?
Well congratulations, champion. This is the guide you’ve been looking for. For years I have leveraged my social numbness and unbeatable prettiness to zooma zoom zoom zoom in many boom booms. However, this evening as I lounge in my armchair, wrapped in my  official spongebob smoking jacket, I realise that this knowledge would mean so much more if it was shared with the unsexed masses. That’s you.
So enough idle chat, lay down your tissues and stop sputtering. I will make a man out of you yet. Okay, poor choice of words, please put your pants back on. Damn! Has it been that long?
What? Okay then let’s get to it quickly.
Let me first paint you a scene, that I’m sure you’ve seen altogether too often. You’re standing in a public gathering and your see this exquisite woman out of the corner of your eye. So sheer was her beauty, that you can never see out of that corner of your eye again, which was worth it in retrospect, because that’s a stupid way to look at people. This insurmountable distance that separates her from your side becomes increasingly unbearable, but you are at a loss for what to do. 
Your intentions are correct but you are in want of a methodology besides your usual ‘jump and wave’. Here’s where you remember me and follow the steps :
Open: Look at your target. She’s not standing alone is she? No, of course not – she has friends. (Note to you: get some friends)  She’s standing with a group of her peers, each of these men and women being an obstacle to your success. To get to her, you must first approach them and initiate a conversation with the entire group.
What’s vital here, is as you approach the group, you must betray absolutely no eagerness to speak to them whatsoever. I outline some ways to do this below:
Heyyyy! You guys:
Go and say hello in the most warm way possible to one member of the group. This can be with a hug, peck on the cheek, borderline dry-humping and so on. But as the recently dry humped individual meditates a response to your gyrations, you instantly begin talking to the rest of the group. They will automatically think that you were friends with the confused dry-humpee.
And you can lead from there.
Do you have the time?:
This is a tad complicated so I’ll explain using a conversation.
You (talking to  stranger in group, pointing at watch): Hey, do you have the time? 
Stranger in group: “Yeah, it’s ten -“
You(Cutting them off): “It’s a yes or no question, buddy.”
Stranger: “What? I’m trying to tell you the ti-“
You: “You do have the time! Why did you take it? Who gave it to you? Was it Rahul? Damn that Rahul!”
Stranger: “Wha- I-“
You: “I need it for THE PORTAL YOU FOOL!”
Stranger (possibly backing away, with group): – –
You(speaking louder, so the retreating group can hear you):  “you will NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENED EARLIER TODAY-“
And you can lead from there.
Noooo duuuuudde!:
Works best when your target group of choice is on a balcony or some place with open windows. Get a friend to go the window nearest the group and jump off. Make sure he screams quite loudly because the groups attention to the jumping here is paramount. As the group turns and notices that someone has vaulted off the premises, run the the window screaming
“Noooooo! Rahul! Whyyyyyy?”
This will garner feelings of sympathy towards  you from all present.
Continue, now while sobbing “..I didn’t even care that you gave that guy the time..” (This is important to really seal the authenticity of the situation in all present.)
Now you are free to approach the group.
You: Hey guys, did you see that? Funny story. Oh, you will never guess what happened earlier today-
And lead from there. 
Attract: Now that you’ve got their attention, you must demonstrate that you are a man of value. A man of skill and talent and prowess, a man that can melt the hearts of women because he has so much to offer to the world. A man that has qualities and abilities that are desirable. To do this, you may use the following:
Palm reading: 
Softly, but firmly, grab the hand of your target and thrust it palm-upwards in front of your face. Cluck your tongue and shake your head.
You: “oh no…no…no.. Jesus”
Woman: “What? what is it?”
You: “Look, this is the grope line.”
Woman: “where?”
You: “Look! it’s right here”
Woman(Looking closer): “Where?”
You(quickly pulling her palm and placing it one your chest. Pref. atop a nipple):”How DARE you?”
Woman:”What? I-“
You:”Just because I’m talking to you, and I’m being nice to you, you think it’s an invitation to grope me?”
Woman: “You pulled -“
You (burst into tears and run away)
This demonstrates personal integrity. She will now value your character and not think you’re a slut.
Cold Reading and psychological tricks:
Look deep into the eyes of your target and determine that you have the ability to tell when she last had a cold. She will be skeptical, this is understandable. Tell her you are adept at ‘cold reading’ while raising your eyebrows several times. At this point she will probably challenge you to ask her when she last had a cold. Improvise.
Seduce: By now you would have successfully penetrated the society of your target as well as attracted her to you. Why yes, you do deserve a high five. High five! Okay now stop jumping. You’re embarrassing yourself. You find yourself now at the last and most interesting step of your journey into pants. Seduction.
There are many methods to seduce women, and honestly you should figure this part out on your own. But I’ll give you a quick sample.
You: “Well…”
Woman: “Yes?”
You: “Sex.”
That one’s a classic.
Field Report:
Went out yesterday wearing, large U-shaped magnet around my neck and pants with zippers along the sides of the legs and my “I like girls, that like girls, that are free from existential crises” t-shirt. Spotted a fiery brunette with cheekbones like a babies elbows and a tight black dress drawn taut around her tall frame. Basically, she was pretty hot. I told my wing man (N. diddy, who was incidentally wearing Khaki pants, like an asshole) 
that we might go for the ‘nooooo dude!’ so he should be ready to leap off the balcony. Then I told him he would probably die in Khakis. Who wears Khakis at night? Asshole.

I sidled up to a group and hugged a short guy wearing glasses. (PROTIP: Short guys wearing glasses usually need love and they will respond to hugging positively. Just be sure to break away quickly otherwise things get weird.) I smiled at him and turned to the rest of the group, which was the target and another girl with emo hair.
“Heyyy, you guys!” I said. The short guy with glasses rubbed his cheeks and smiled.
“Hi”, said the girls and resumed their conversation.
Women will often disguise interest with a complete lack of interest. Do not be fooled.
I needed to get between them so I could be better placed strategically. I moved into position doing the running man and staring in the eyes of emo girl. That’s because I guessed that her hairstyle would have resulted in poor depth perception, allowing me to get closer to her without her realising how close.
I was wrong, but that didn’t matter. 
“I know how to cold read!” I yelled at the target over loud music.
“What?” she yelled, backing away.
“I know how TO COLD READ” I yelled at her again.
“I can tell when you last have a cold!”
“You know that I can hear you? I’m saying ‘what’ because you’re not making any sense!”
“WHAT? Ohh. I can tell when you last had a cold!”
“Wha-ok. Fine. When was that?”
“It was last week.  ..? “
“No it wasn’t”
“That’s right, I was testing you!”
“Were you?”
“Damn straight”
Being the gentlemen that I am, I cannot tell you how the rest of the night went.
Leave plenty of comments my pretties. It has been quite a while, and yes, I have done all of these things.

No Clue Why This Was Top Trending in 2016

Last week, a rather unsettling email — which questioned my commitment to my religion (also known as the internet) — landed in my inbox. It claimed that a certain video was the top trending video in 2016 in India and suggested I take a look. Since the year had stopped pretending to be nice or bearable, I assumed that I may have missed it while sobbing about the year’s many tragedies.

This particular episode has 22,883,227 views. To put it into perspective, it is more than the population of Sri Lanka. And what exactly is this video the country has been going nuts over? An episode of The Kapil Sharma Show which had Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma.

Pic Courtesy : YouTube & Sony LIV | Shown Here : Brain Assault

Now there are several reasons I steer clear of anything that has Kapil Sharma and one of the biggest reason is the ‘casual sexism’ it promotes. The permanent fixtures on his show are two cis men, dressed as women. And these characters are meant to be caricatures — foolish, over-the-top, embarrassing and vulgar. Sharma’s ‘best’ jokes involves retorting to their stupid comments with his own wisecracks.
Salman Khan is introduced into the show as soon as it begins, but before that, of course, we have Navjot Singh Sidhu. Sidhu, who can laugh uproariously at everything from air to mosquito bites, opens the show doing just that. Salman Khan enters soon after, looking bored as hell. I never thought I will say this one day but it seemed that he got me.

Four minutes into the show and Kapil Sharma has already cracked a fat joke. “Achcha inki (Salman Khan) body hain, yeh utaar bhi saktein hain…yeh Pandey hain na humara drum wala paaji (the drummer of the band)…achcha ek din usne shirt utaari, pata nahin chal raha tha drum kaun hain, Pandey kaun hain (He {Salman Khan} at least has the body, he can take off his shirt…but our drummer, Pandey…once he took off his shirt, we couldn’t tell which was the drum and which was Pandey).” Navjot Singh Sindhu’s laughter booms, Salman Khan looks tortured.

The jokes then begin to move to some dangerous territory, namely the langot. The very inquisitive Kapil Sharma wants to know what is the reason behind Salman Khan denouncing his pants? Is it the ‘demand of the script’ or female fans? I tried rolling back my eyes farther, I had to dig it from the back of my brain with a scoop spoon.

Five minutes into the show and we have the first homophobic joke. Salman Khan says, “Demand toh script ki hi thi. Aur, I think female fans se zyada, male fans isko appreciate zyada kar rahein hain. Samajh mein hi nahin aa raha (It was the demand of the script. But I think more than female fans, male fans appreciated this look. It was all very confusing)!” Everyone laughs like they have stumbled upon the best joke of the century.

Yeh kya ho kya gaya hain tumko bhai? Achche bhale toh the (What is happening to you? You were fine till a couple of days ago), ” he adds. “Ulta zamana aa gaya (The times have changed),” says Navjot Singh Sidhu, carrying this atrocity further.

Then out of nowhere, Rochelle Rao, part of The Kapil Sharma Show cast, trots towards Salman Khan, loudly wishing him Eid Mubarak. Kapil Sharma calls her stupid and shows her how to actually wish — he goes and hugs her and she tries to escape his clutches. Just some casual, comical harassment. Don’t we love it?

Shortly after this, Kiku Sharda appears in a pink costume and after some nonsensical chatter tries to feed what he claims to be ‘stale kheer’ to Salman Khan. Sooooo funny that I could actually feel my brain crackle and burn up.

Again, Khan seems to be the person you will be able to relate to on the set. He laughs, clearly because he has to and has realised that he has a long day ahead of him.

After some good seventeen minutes, Anushka Sharma is introduced. She is a sight for sore eyes and ears. There are some jokes cracked at her expense. Oh you know, those really funny ones on how women can’t drive? Those.

Navjot Singh Sidhu sees an opportunity and does not let it go. He says, “Jinki zulf ko dekh kar banda madmast baadal ho jaaye, Roop aisa qatil ki aashiq bhi pagal ho jaaye, Zaroorat kya hain mohtarma aapko kushti akhare ki, aap muskura do bade se bada pehelwan ghayal ho jaaye.” In all fairness, that seems to be the plot of Sultan.

The most trending video on YouTube, in all probabilities, took a subtle dig at the outrage around the ridiculous analogy.
Describing the experience of kushti, Salman Khan says “I felt like…” and Anushka interrupted. “What?” she asks. As an afterthought he says “…killing those guys.” Kapil Sharma says, “Bada soch samajh ke bolna padta hain aaj kal…aap bhi soch samajh ke hansiye. Sab phasenge (One really has to think before speaking these days…you all should also think before laughing. Or you all will be in trouble).”

If you are wondering what prompted this epiphany, you’ll have to be reminded of that unfortunate moment when Khan compared the rigorous work-out involved in getting a wrestler’s body to that of the physical trauma a raped woman has undergone. The most trending video on YouTube, in all probabilities, took a subtle dig at the outrage around the ridiculous analogy. Yup, what did we tell you about 2016?

Next comes Ali Asgar, dressed in a salwar kameez and jewellery. He makes a pass at Salman Khan, who knows not what to do. I assume we are supposed to find the idea of a cis man, dressed up as a woman, and hitting on another man, funny. At least from the raucous laughter on the sets, I am compelled to feel that I am in a minority.

The next couple of minutes is salvaged by Sunil Grover playing a funny know-it-all doctor called Dr Mashoor Gulati. Those were the actual few minutes in the episode that I stopped wondering who finds this nonsense funny. I think I had Anushka Sharma for company — she was pretending so hard to convince people that she was having fun that I could cry a tear or two for her.

Sometime later, at one point, Sunil Grover and Chandan Prabhakar, dressed as a woman, start a mock wrestle. They pant, they make faces, their wigs come off and the audience sounds like they are having a hard time keeping their stomachs from splitting. Understandable, I was almost in a similar space — only my head was the one at the receiving end of this extreme experience.

My Encounter With Digital India

A week ago, I decided not to spend money in the wake of demonetization.

Some of my Modi bhakt friends suggested I spend money to keep the economy going. Heeding their advice, I got my weekly rations last week. Not foodgrains, silly, but cash.

Rs 24,000, the government dictated weekly cash quota for all Indians.
I felt great when the bank teller handed me 11 notes of Rs 2,000 and another 20 notes of Rs 100. Before I could tell him I needed change he had summoned the next person in the queue.

Armed with the Rs 2,000 notes, I stumbled on the dawn of Digital India.

With a Rs 2,000 note in hand, I sought to buy three tickets for the Alia Bhatt-Shah Rukh Khan starrer Dear Zindagi at Navina, the single screen theatre near my home.

The man at the ticket counter told me firmly that he would not accept the Rs 2,000 note and if I wanted to watch Dear Zindagi I would have to bring change.

Unfazed, I smiled and showed him my debit card, saying, “Now please accept this. India is going digital. Don’t you know that?”

The ticket seller laughed and said, “Are you serious? Who is going digital? Which India are you talking about?”

“Modiji’s India,” I replied.

“We don’t accept credit or debit cards,” he told me sternly, “If you want to watch the film, bring Rs 480 in change for three tickets. Or go to bookmyshow and book the tickets.”

‘Eureka!’ I thought almost with Archimedean fervour, ‘Modiji’s Digital India works!’

I logged onto bookmyshow and tried to book three tickets using my debit card.
I was startled to discover that the site would bill me Rs 58.20 extra as Internet charges for the three tickets. The extra charge, I guess, is the price one needs to pay for life in Modiji’s Digital India, but I was unwilling to do so.

“You are a fool,” a bhakt friend told me. “Download the Paytm app and then buy the movie tickets. They have many discounts.”

‘Eureka!’ I thought again. ‘Problem solved.’

I tried to download the app on my phone and felt I was entering the Alibaba’s cave of digital riches which Modiji talks about all the time.

In two minutes that illusion too was shattered.

My outdated smartphone responded, saying I didn’t have enough space to download the app.

“Ouch! Now what to do?” I asked my all-knowing bhakt friend.

There is a way out, he said, asking me to move my phone’s memory data to an external memory card, and then install the app.
I would have to buy a 16 GB external memory card for Rs 528 to do that, he added.
“No way am I going to pay Rs 528 extra for a memory card just to watch Dear Zindagi,” I said.

The bhakt was determined that I jump onto the digital bandwagon.
“If you don’t change,” he asked, “how will the rest of India change?”
He helpfully offered to book the movie tickets from his Paytm account.

His fingers moved like the bullet train which Modiji wants us so badly to have on his phone’s display and within seconds he was on Paytm to book my tickets.

The Navina theatre was not listed on Paytm and my friend finally gave up.
There were only two options to watch Dear Zindagi. Pay Rs 58.20 extra on bookmy show or fork up the exact change, which I didn’t have.

I opted for the time tested Indian solution, jugaad.
I asked my friend to loan me Rs 480.
And thus ended, for now at least, my ‘Digital India’ dream.

Why Does Rejection By Your Crush Hurt So Much

Crushes are beautiful. Sometimes even more beautiful than relationships themselves. They remind you of a perfect world; two lovers existing in a blissful modern-day fairytale; no disagreements, no jealousies, no tiffs. They say the best thing you can do to your love is to never marry them. In English poetry, the concept of the unattainable mistress has been very popular. The languishing lover, usually the poet, pines for the love of the icy beloved who doesn’t give a hoot about him.

Something similar happens in real life too, even though we may not realise it. Crushes are very often one-sided, more often than we’d like them to be. And this probably is not gender specific; it ails both men and women equally. The reasons could be many—perhaps you are not yourself in front of them; perhaps you two are very different people (a fact responsible for you liking them but also for them not noticing you).

Stealing glances at them; butterflies in the stomach when they come to talk to you, stalking them on Facebook are just the first sensations of love we feel. And they are often so overwhelming, often orgasmic in their headiness that everything else fades into oblivion. Overcome by that feeling, you can never be yourself in their presence. Perhaps you fall silent, perhaps you falter; hopefully you just don’t grin from ear to ear in their presence; you are too busy admiring them, basking in the warm glow of love. Or sometimes you are too chatty, too close for comfort, always available, always the guy staring.

They say we always like someone who we think is better than us or is out of our league—more good-looking, smarter, more successful. While that’s somewhat true about infatuation and the outward signs could confirm that, truth is we often take a liking to someone when we see in them what we desire in life. You may be able to see something in someone that the rest of the world can’t. You like the fact that she can stand up for herself; you like it that she can be so empathetic towards people; nobody else notices it but you do. You value those traits; maybe they come naturally to her but for you, they matter enough to make you fall in love with her. Her parameters of love could be different.

They say opposites attract, and that is one of the first laws of attraction, but it doesn’t guarantee a relationship. You love the way she laughs easily and heartily, something you never do. You love the way she brings life to every gathering. You are in awe of her. But will she be in love with you? Maybe yes, maybe not. She might not notice you, she might never get to know you, considering you don’t talk much. Often it ends as a one-sided feeling.

And then the hurt starts. The self-introspection, the self-blame, the embarrassment. You have to realise it didn’t happen because one of the two of you is better but because you are two very different people. If your natures are different, then your worlds are different, your friends are different, your tastes are different. Love doesn’t happen easily in such cases. A crush is like a beautiful rose bush; let it be, let it bloom away in the distance; don’t try to own it, don’t struggle too much to make it your own or you might ruin it forever. If it’s meant to happen, the wind will carry the fragrance to you.

Why It Hurts So Bad

So when our crush doesn’t reciprocate our feelings, why is it that we are left heart-broken? Have we fallen so in love with that person that we can’t imagine a life without them? Or do we think they were the one? And it couldn’t have been anyone better? But in reality, we grieve not over a lost love but over a hurt ego and a ‘what if’. They rejected us. They did not choose us. They did not develop a liking for us. We failed to entice them, to make them fall in love with us. We see it as a personal failure. At the end of the day, it’s not about them; it’s about us.

We all have insecurities and it’s perfectly okay to have them. Those very insecurities are brought to the fore when someone rejects us. Maybe it’s the hair; or if I had been a little taller; or if I were a tad wittier…the list never ends.

And then there are the what ifs. What if were perfect for each other? What if we got on like a house on fire? What if she secretly liked me? What if she was the one? Could we have been soulmates? The uncertainty is killing. The regret sharp. When it’s a crush that fails to materialize, you can never know. Whereas, in a relationship that eventually fades away, two people have gone through the process of falling out of love. They have tried and they have failed. They have spent good times and they have spent bad times. They have seen each other’s ugly.

But when your crush walks away, you are still head over heels over them. They still make your heart skip a beat. You are still in the most beautiful phase of falling in love—the one where you get tingly sensations in the stomach on seeing them. You did not get a chance to try it out and see if it worked or not. You did not get a chance to grow out of the heady feeling. And that’s why it hurts.

But, of course, it’s a phase that’s short-lived. When a crush fails, the pain is sharp but quick. Like a bandage being ripped off. As soon as we realize that all the hurt is within us, it’s very easy to get out of it. It’s the ego you’ve to nurse. It’s the hope you’ve to rekindle. Because there will be many more, many who like you. You will not miss the person. You will even forget their name. But you’ll nurse that heady feeling, that capacity to like someone so wholeheartedly and purely. As they say, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and you are a person who is beautiful enough to find beauty. Cherish that. You’ll always find it.

Hi! (Again)

When I look at the last post from this blog, it almost depresses me. It been more than a year that I’ve managed to hoodwink my own self and everyone around me (who still care about my writing) not updating the blog in the pretext of being busy with one thing or the other. Truth be told, it was just laziness. If they had an award for lazing around, I’d be the undisputed champ.

True, I had my exams and had to study a little to not fail, but it wasn’t like my leisurely activities were cut short in any ways. No. I was still spending generous hours on Facebook and YouTube, doing absolutely nothing of use but only when it came to updating my blog did conscience strike like thunder, telling me that I shouldn’t be wasting valuable time updating my blog that is read by, like, 20 people. So I went on to play Counter Strike instead. The blog kept on dropping down on my priority list and was eventually forgotten to be existent until a good friend of mine read the previous posts here and literally forced me to update this. So here we are.

I think I’ll post more regularly now. Lets see how long that lasts!


Half Girlfriend : Another Cheap Shot At Love?

So, the connoisseur of Indian love stories with the oh-so-tasteful dramatisation is back at work again, this time taking the avatar of a so-called ‘Half Girlfriend’. As perplexed as this title leaves me, it has undoubtedly latched onto the imagination of a major chunk of the youth, looking for a quick fix of cheap literature. Who cares for quality literature when there is a proud bearer of a legacy unmatched in Chetan Bhagat A.K.A the Yash Chopra of our Indian literature, painting mustard fields for our wayward romantic daydreams and raunchy fantasies to play out with much abandon?

chetan bhagat half girlfriend

Half is the new full? What does the title of his 7th novel even signify? Can we actually address someone as half girlfriend? As Chetan Bhagat has always been a serious trendsetter, there is an extremely high probability that this new jargon would catch up too, as soon as the book hits the shelves in October, if not sooner. He has been an iconic figure in his proclivity to propagate a sea change in India’s reading culture, but that has been at a cost. When ‘Five point someone’ and ‘One night at the call Centre’ had been published, I clearly remember how popular it became among my classmates and contemporaries courtesy the explicitly choreographed sexual exploits. It was the first time that a subject of such taboo had been made available for the masses and the scavengers that we are, we took the bait. Hook, line and sinker. People took to reading like the fish takes to the water and the bird to the sky. And mind it, for the ‘non-literary’ people, reading soon comprised of Chetan Bhagat, a little more of Chetan Bhagat, and some more of Chetan Bhagat.

No sooner was the announcement made public (Times of India being the good Samaritan, it did not escape us what you did there), the social network was thrown in a frenzy, perhaps synonymous with the icons similar to KRK or Honey Singh’s stature, each taking to their wittiest best garb, some of which can be found here.

He is one of those authors who write a story so paltry, as common as a common cold and yet never fail to churn them as a bestseller. The secret perhaps lie in the common teenagers’ woes so lasciviously woven that Indian adolescents can connect with so effortlessly. This management graduate had found the precise nerve to hit on for the young, almost pubescent India back in 2004 with his first book “Five point Someone”. It is often a no-brainer as to what the story would be about. A girl. A boy. A chance encounter. Awkward moments. Soon turns to Lots of love (LOL). Truckloads of obstacles (often includes a second guy or some parental figure). All obstacles miraculously taken care of. And voila, they lived happily ever after!

It is a quick fix like M-seal and while all those who are reading his work often condemn the standards, they themselves are unable to resist from indulging in a little double standard and good old guilty pleasure every once in a while.

While we indulge ourselves, there is this bespectacled guy spinning moolah oh-so-green with book and film royalties feeding on our need to be optimistic. And if that wasn’t conspicuous enough, he decides to show solidarity for our fellow beings who have been friend-zoned so conveniently (the colloquial term as it is) by titling his next as the ‘Half Girlfriend’. I can’t fathom here who it reflects more poorly on. Him, and his increasingly manipulative efforts while taking cheap pot-shots at young love – something he trivialises or chooses to desensitise in this time of over-sexualisation, particularly with respect to India, Or we, the readers who encourage him and his rather warped imagination to spin more of such mind-numbingly repetitive stories.

He has come a long way from his IIM days, but his writing, at best, is ordinary. And ordinary is in! As a writer, he works on a well built PR-machinery, as could be seen from his marketing strategies, and capitalises on the latest fad of books being adapted to films. He would have chosen better had he taken up script writing professionally, because more often than not, it almost seems that he writes while keeping the plot of a film in mind.

We have to admit though that despite much criticism and ridicule, here is one guy who has stood the test of time and as much as we would love to be polarised on his writing skills and the ancillaries he surely knows, ignoring him would be a hard task, a fact that he regularly banks on.

Stereotyping the LGBT : Where do we stand?

“If you believe that your thoughts originate inside your brain, do you also believe that television shows are made inside your television set?” ― Warren Ellis

If I ask you to imagine a homosexual person right now, what kind of a description will you come up with?

Chances are, you’re going to end up thinking of a delicate looking, effeminate ‘male’ with soft movements and “girly” gestures, and most likely he’s going to be impeccably well – dressed and well- groomed. He frowns at wardrobe disasters and is a bigger fashion diva than you will ever be. You know, the fashion –designer type. (Remember how the gay Patrick scores over the fashion-goddess Lacey every time in Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management?)

Alternatively, if you’re a girl who’s got her heart broken by Matt Dallas, you might think of a devastatingly handsome looking – man, who’s got all his charms set, but to your horror, doesn’t respond to female attention (because he is perhaps feeling like that for another guy himself): whatever might be the case, almost always, a homosexual person is surrounded by a bunch of homophobes (or fake homophobes) who believe they’re their biggest nightmare. (“God, stop acting gay! Get away from me!“)

After numerous fight-scenes in movies following the use of a certain word “faggot” , or the playing out of the classic trope of a homosexual man playing the heroine’s best-friend in movies (a la Rupert Everett in My Best Friend’s Wedding), we can cross our hearts and ascertain that queer characters have finally arrived in mainstream media.

However, portraying these characters in popular media comes with its baggage – it’s not enough to simply use such characters for the sake of adding entertainment value. What’s really important is to portray them correctly. Considering that the LGBT community is a marginalized section of society that faces enormous social stigma in many developing (also developed) countries, it is absolutely imperative that the media which serves as a channel across people of different beliefs and faiths does its best to push forward their interests, and represent them as they are . People who are entrusted with the job of creating queer characters for the screen shoulder a very heavy responsibility; to strike a balance between entertainment and truthfulness…

…At which, the larger section of them, fail miserably. Merely churning out a laughable queer character is not only irresponsible, but also, unfortunately, the bitter truth about mainstream media today. The LGBT community is given the treatment of an outcast group in our popular culture. So much so, that If we’re asked to imagine a homosexual individual, our minds lead us directly to one of the stereotypical stock images of queer characters we’ve seen in television serials and movies.

Massive generalisation and an overdose of stock homosexual characters have distorted our own sense of reality to the extent that we begin to subconsciously filter people around us through a lens that was created for us, and not by us.

Let us take the recent case of Tiger Shroff – his androgynous looks have made him appealing to both women and men, but for the very same reason, there are jokes being created over his sexuality.

We’ve perhaps been over fed the idea of a queer man as an effeminate character, which might be true of a certain group of these individuals, but not the whole lot of them.

Could you tell just by looking at Ricky Martin that he’s gay? For all I know, all my friends, including myself, regarded him as one from the community of (heterosexual) alpha-males! When the news of him being gay came about, most of  girls I know reacted with a sigh, “But he looked so manly!” which just goes on to prove that there is no one prototype of a homosexual man. But if Ricky Martin was to be a character in a mainstream Bollywood flick, he would have been played by Abhishek Bachchan, perpetually shrieking and batting his eyelids. The lacuna between reality and representation, thus, is vast and unfilled.

What’s worse is that the damage done doesn’t end here. A graver aspect of such a demeaning representation is in the use of our language, of terms related to the queer community.

Katy Perry released a song in 2007, titled “Ur So Gay” with the chorus line going- “You’re so gay and you don’t even like boys…” The tone of the song is such that it employs the concept of being “gay”as a horrible insult, the label of an emasculate man. At this point, being gay stops dealing with the concept of a sexual preference altogether. It instead becomes a synonym for unmanliness where Homophobia is glorified and homophobic men are considered “real men”, and homosexuals, pitiable. In effect, the mainstream media has taken the simple case of a sexual orientation and preference, and made it something of a funny business.

It has conditioned us to look for signs of “gay behaviour”. What is gay behaviour but a media created term? By promoting myths about homosexuality, it has ostracised the community, so it cannot be assimilated within our own. One such embodiment of stereotypical queer characters is Rishi Kapoor playing the gay school principal in Student of the Year. If we were to prepare a checklist of seemingly gay characteristics, Rishi Kapoor’s act in the movie would tick off every single one of them. And that is not a good thing.

Moving on to the lesbians of the LGBT community, situations are graver. Quoting from the blog, Equal Writers, Feminism and Gender issues in Princeton University, “It’s still somewhat of a novelty to see lesbian characters in films and television shows, and when we do see lesbian characters, we see them as lesbian characters, not characters who happen to be lesbians.” That is to say, if gay men are portrayed in the mainstream channels for the purpose of amusement and laughter, lesbians are props for adding the sex appeal and glamour central to popular media. A lesbian movie sells because of the steamy and passionate love-making scenes in it, and what essentially happens in the process is utter objectification of these women as promiscuous sex-slaves.

In India, attempts have been made to portray Lesbianism explicitly on screen (read Deepa Mehta’s Fire), but they’ve been met with strong criticism of right-wing political parties and flak from conservative audiences. Thereon, the theme has been subtly explored in various mainstream movies by daring directors like Madhur Bhandarkar and Abhishek Chaubey, though the travails of a homosexual female are hardly explored; or even touched, for that matter.

Ours is a country that’s stuck neck-deep in a confusion of ideology. We don’t want to give up on our traditional belief system, yet we want to modernize and become open-minded to issues that challenge our values. God knows how that is supposed to be achieved, but for starters, we could begin by respecting our differences. Sample if you wake up one day to find the world order has changed, and it is not “normal” for a girl to have a crush on a boy anymore, or for men and women to be married. You’ll feel as if something as natural as your sexuality is being taken away from you. And who are people to govern your personal life anyway, isn’t it?

That’s exactly how people from the “other” community feel as well. If it’s hard for us to even imagine a situation like that, consider how difficult it must be for the queer community to live with a reality like that. How dreadful and offensive it must be for them to not even have a right to express their love and sexuality, just because it doesn’t fall in the proper “world order.”

Let’s give this a thought. Let’s not derive amusement from the media stereotyping of the queer community, because remember, one day you might wake up to find a ‘new normal’, and the odds might not be in your favour then. Let us respect every individual’s right to a life of their choice. Let people be more than just their gender. And let us, for once, stop making homosexuality a funny media business.

Stereotype breaking : 

-Every gay person is not a “designer – type”: I’m talking Alexander The Great and Harvey Milk.

– Every lesbian female is not a promiscuous, drug addict with unstable relationships and career: Haven’t you seen Ellen DeGeneres rocking her prime-time show, and don’t you know she’s in a happy marriage?

– Every transgender is not a loud and awkward person: if your idea of a transgender is still Bobby Darling, you need to grow up.

Why Hush Your Periods?

I was seven years old or maybe eight. I had started doing minor shopping. It usually happened when mom was busy cooking and she suddenly realized that a couple of ingredients are missing. She used to quickly grab a pen, find out a piece of paper, scribble her requirements and handed the paper to me. I used to go to the shop, give him the list, have a chat with the shopkeeper (which usually meant I would be playfully teased by him), get the stuff and come back home showing-off my new purchase, even if it were only a packet of iodized salt. I grew up doing this and hence, I have a fantastic rapport with the shopkeepers of my locality.

As I entered my tenth year, I started going to the pharmacies in my area. But I did not have the same kind of a rapport with the pharmacists in the shop. Whenever my elder sister used to come to visit, I would be sent on her pharmacy-errands. I would enter the shop, give him a paper with only one thing written on it. On seeing the list, he would quietly get the product, wrap it up with a newspaper, give me a black carry-bag and send me off.  I failed to understand the mystery behind this activity. Somehow, I had never questioned her or my parents, for that matter of fact. Or maybe I had and never got a reply. Nevertheless, I kept doing this till an age by which I understood what I was actually doing. I was buying sanitary pads for my sister. I, as any curious young child will do, asked my friends at school. None of us knew what it was. Some wise guy of our batch professed that he knew everything about pads. We went to him. He sat on a bench, wore a grim look on his face and started his rant about how sanitary pads are used by women to absorb blood if they get hurt. We thought we were enlightened and came back thinking that pads were gauze-bandages.

Sigh! Those days of innocence!

Now that I am an adult I do understand what menstruation is, what a sanitary pad does, and how a majority of rural Indian women do not have access to a proper sanitary pad and use cloth/sack instead. But I fail to understand one thing:

“Why do women hush themselves when it comes to discussing menstruation?”

Menstruation is something which women can’t avoid, at least naturally. It is something which the men are bound to know while growing up with sisters or girlfriends. If it is something so obvious, why does the society consider it a taboo?

Why did the pharmacist wrap it up? Why were most of my friends clueless about this- totally natural phenomena. Why do we have to get embarrassed about something which is practically, inevitable? Intriguingly weird are the norms the society.

Forget about childhood. My friends feel extremely shy to say that they have to go and buy tampons, in emergency, for their girlfriends. I don’t see many men going to the pharmacy store to buy sanitary pads for their wives/daughters. And strangely enough, not keeping pace with the otherwise modern society, the pharmacist still wraps up the packet, and gives it in a black bag. Why is it such a big deal for my friends to say that the reason for them not coming to the adventure island is because they have their menses on? Why do they have to lie that they have fever?

Giving it a thought, I believe the origin of such a taboo or the so-called- “fever days” was because of the retarded attitude of the society in the previous generations. Women, who had their periods on, were treated as untouchables. And, suddenly as if they have contracted a deadly communicable disease, people surrounding them would start avoiding them for the entire week. Having visited some villages during my education, I see the same attitude even today. Perhaps, not as regressive as our grandmothers or their mothers had faced, but still very regressive compared to the advancement in the society

But of all these, the most appalling fact is that my ‘modern’ friends who are educated from the reputable colleges of the world, still shy away from talking about their periods. The other day, I and a friend of mine were watching videos on Youtube when the advertisement of a tampon popped up. She felt awkward and immediately switched tabs. She was perfectly educated, a woman of substance with strong opinions about many world issues. Her behaviour automatically questions the behaviour of many such women.

How about a world where every woman can freely tell their men counterparts about their totally natural and biological processes? How about a biology class where the topic of menstruation is not rushed through with giggles across the class? How about a brother going to the pharmacist and asking for a tampon, confidently? How about the pharmacist giving it without wrapping it up? How about my “modern day classmates” telling me the actual reason for missing that trip?

Imagine the happiness of young teenage girl, when she can share her pain with her father without feeling guilty.  Imagine the comfort of the woman/man getting a packet of tampon without being stared at. Imagine!

It’s time we realize that menstruating is not a crime! It’s time we stop chuckling every time an advertisement of a tampon brand is broadcasted. It’s time we speak up! It’s time to stop killing our freedom ourselves.

If you shut up now, you switch on the mute button forever. Make it a culture. Let’s get this transformation in ourselves and allow it to infuse in the society. Tell your twelve year old son about that product. Tell that pharmacist not to wrap it up in a newspaper. Ask your friends to stop laughing at this topic. Tell your brother to go and proudly get your monthly needs. It is YOU who can bring about this change.

From today, don’t hush it down, ever!


Good Porn, Bad Porn And The Culture Of Ban

There has been an upsurge in the opinion amongst ordinary people and legal experts about the criminal impact of porn on people’s psyche in general and the youngsters in particular, with an increased reporting on crimes against women and children recently. A thought which comes to mind after reading these lines is that the real culprit behind these crimes must be porn. A PIL was filed in April, 2014 in the Supreme Court which sought, among others things, a specific law on pornography; and to make watching of porn videos as a non-bailable and cognizable offence.

Serious concerns have been raised in the PIL about free availability of porn on the internet, its impact on people, violence against women etc. and the Court issued notice to the Central Government and the government replied by saying, “Blocking porn sites would cause greater harm”. Without getting into the legal nitty-gritty of the PIL , the issue at hand is whether we will develop a scientific response to such issues or go by tittle-tattle. It is beyond the scope of this article to explore the scientific relationship between porn and crime and that there is no such conclusive study available or done to establish the same. The article in no way tries to promote insensitivity about crimes against women and children, and is an attempt to understand ways in which the term, ‘Porn’ is defined, used and misused.

Definition of Porn according to Oxford Dictionary is, “Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement. Synonym of Porn includes words like erotica”. On one hand, we have the much stigmatized porn, and on the other, the artistic erotica finding a place in the literary works and part of mainstream culture. There can be any number of opinions for and against porn and the divide results from the way we define it.

So, let’s start by asking a simple question, what constitutes porn? A cursory look at the above gives a standard definition of porn but leaves so many questions unanswered. For instance, a consenting adult couple indulging in sexual activity uses printed/visual material (Vatsyayana’s Kama Sutra) to heighten sexual excitement. Under which category will we place such an activity, porn or erotica? Another example can be of a married couple indulging in sex and recording their act to watch it later for purely private purposes. Would it be termed porn and thus stigmatized or will it be passed in the name of private affairs of two consenting married adults enjoying their marriage life. What kind of criminal tendencies will it generate in such cases?

Porn is vital to freedom“, says Rushdie. In an extract from his essay, The East is Blue; Rushdie implies that Muslims are avid consumers of pornography because of the segregation of the sexes. This is not just true for Muslims but for all the people around the world. With no sex education allowed in the schools in India and parents trying their best to avoid and suppress any information relating to the word sex, the youngsters turn towards peers and all possible sources to understand the psychological, biological changes that their bodies go through. This might result in gaining wrong information about their own bodies, unacceptable sexual behaviours etc. If proper guidance can be made available to our youngsters, if free mixing of both the sexes is allowed without any prejudice or bias, then it might change the way we tend to perceive porn or pornographic literature.

India has, according to studies reported in Firstpost, some of the highest rates of sexual crimes against children in the world: in 2007, 53% of children reported one or more forms of sexual abuse. This can’t possibly, given low levels of internet access, be linked to online porn.

We must try and identify correctly the cause of a problem. Dowry practice is prevalent in all corners of the country, but can it be said that it is because of pornography. Of late, it has become a fashion to put blame on those which are not even remotely related to the issue. The article in no way tries to defend or oppose porn or its many avatars. It tries to highlight the way in which we deal with any issue of concern. Terms like development of scientific temper, objectivity, and rationality have been reduced to purely academic discussions and conversations, and every vice is blamed on the west. Freedom has come to be understood in a very narrow sense of the term and moral policing is exercised as a fundamental right in the country. The tendency to prescribe remedy without understanding the root of the problem is posing serious challenges to the society at large. To promote porn or not is altogether a different question. Our decisions and choices should be guided by rationality and not by any unscientific approach.