Thursday, January 19, 2012

Give us a break

So this morning the Good Men Project had two lovely and highly contradictory articles up. (Actually one of the reasons I love them is precisely because they do that--post all sorts of perspectives at all strengths.) The theme this week seems to be online dating, and the first of the pieces (in the order in which I read them) was this one, about being a man while on a date. The second was this one, about giving men a break because in the dating world, all the onus is on them. (I wonder how I'd have reacted if I'd read them in reverse order?)

Summarizing for those too lazy to read ;), the first one says that when it comes to the first date, be the man, take charge. Pick the location, pay for the date, text her the next day. The second one says that its 2012, men have to ask out, hold the door, propose, bring home the bacon, pay for dinner, etc. Cut them some slack.

I gotta say, I loved the first one. Yes, I can pay for dinner or go Dutch. Yes I am perfectly capable of getting myself home, and if I want to talk to you, I have your number and I can call. But when it comes down to it, even if I'm not evaluating you as future provider, etc, it's nice to let go and have someone take charge once in a while. I think that, in the context of me, and my peers, we've established that women and men are equal. Unfortunately, in the process, we seem to have established that the acceptable way to enact this equality while dating is to be discourteous--don't call, if you do you're needy; if a guy does something kind like offer to carry something, he's being sexist, just cos he's a guy and you're a girl; don't give people advance notice of things, you should keep them on their toes, etc.

The main reason why I'm totally with the first article is very simple: it's a first date, and you're essentially there to get a sense of the person. This does not mean a woman cannot be assertive and take charge. However, if you buy into the whole women are in power in the dating marketplace thing, since they, ultimately, are the ones who decide if anything is going to come of it at the beginning, then they are the ones who have to be given a good sense of who you are, so they can then decide fairly.*

Of course, having gone on god know how many terrible first dates in 2011, and having dated a pathological ditherer who drove me CRAZY with his inability to pick a restaurant, and generally never having been on the receiving end of a date like the one he describes there, I'm not exactly unbiased.

The problem arises when either or both parties thinks that this is or should be the norm. If I received a first date like that, I'd return the favour on the second date. Of course the problem that crops up there is that, whether they admit it or not, the standard desi man does NOT like women who take charge. Once you do, you're bumped. Which brings me to what's unfair about the dating world for women--we have to be equal and step up and take on our share of things, but do it in a delicate unobtrusive way that will not bruise the fragile egos of the men.

Don't date.

*Notice that I'm saying this is in the specific context of dating today where women are supposed to have all the power. Haven't seen much of that vaunted power myself, but still...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Reticent Mr Snuggles

The Dragon and I once write a children's story based loosely around a rabbit called Mr Snuggles who was, well, reticent. It caused much hilarity because it was so lame and Mr S was a code word we had for a boy I was then crushing on. The reason I bring this up today, however, is that I've noticed a remarkable level of reticence in boys I date. Is it just me?

Granted, I am one of those people who will tell you what I've done all day if you ask me what's been up, but still, I've noticed that, when making plans to meet up, boys are supremely reluctant to give out information, even in response to a direct question. Often they do this across the board, resulting in my dithering for five minutes about whether I'm prying before deciding to say "You never answered my question" and repeating it. Though how on earth 'What time?' when trying to figure out if one can meet for a drink a certain evening can be constituted as prying I don't know...

Perhaps they don't see it as prying, and it's just how they are--not seeing the need to give me information as important enough to be addressed, and definitely not as important as their need for information.

Friday, January 13, 2012

In which you are given more unsolicited advice on relationships from atop my soapbox

Moving forward from this post, there are there are other and far scarier things in relationships than someone not being your everything. Take parents.

Nothing is scarier than being with someone whose parents are irrational about you, and the person you're with dismisses it. 'No, they just need time to get used to you.' 'No, they can't understand what a girlfriend is; they'll be fine once we're married.' (Yes, personal experience. BBot's father used to leave the house when I entered. His mother used to harangue me with 'generalized' theories about love and marriage, unsubtly hinting that I was bad for her son and it would never work. Heh, guess she was right eh?)

Don't get me wrong--lots of people are hard to deal with and always will be. The problem to me is when the partner is like no my parents are FINE. No. Not okay. You have to accept that your parents are at least a little nuts, and acknowledge that they could cause problems. This is the only way I can honestly believe that you're on my side. My mum can be scary as hell, mainly cos she will take your trip as if she were your friend, and is rather merciless about it--totally not aunty behaviour and thus nothing any desi boy is prepared for. I know this. I tell her to behave. I deflect the teasing when I can.And I warn them to expect it and show no fear, as it were.

Then what about when the person you're with displays behaviour that you can't like. You try, but it doesn't work. You get hurt. You talk about it, they promise to fix it. The whole week they are good. Or say you broke up with them, and they want you back. New rules are laid down and they are following them. But somehow you can't trust them, and you wonder if you're being unfair. I've done this with BBot so many times--berate myself for not trusting him to follow through on the promise of better behaviour, even though I know he hasn't in the past. Don't do it. Don't resent the person, but until they have proven that they are truly in the past don't forget what they did to hurt you. Forgive, but don't forget, because you learned something, you had to recover from what they did; you have to heal yourself and learn to trust them again--why should you let it happen again? You'd be stupid if you weren't even a little wary!

But somehow women are expected to just let things go, in a way men aren't.Oh he's just a guy. And guys act like they're naughty rascals and you should just slap their wrists and let it go.

I'm tempted to make statements like "women are always more grown up; we're less fragile; we are more resilient. It's a sort of species trait, as it were". I don't know how true this might be, but I can't help but think it has quite a strong element of truth to it. But then again, maybe I just keep only SIW in my life and ignore the other women because for my purposes of friendship I don't need such a huge pool, but when it comes to dating I gotta keep em all around. Either way, there are still less SIM then SIW that I encounter. But setting aside the argument about gender traits, the goal in a relationship should be balance--that sometimes you can be the kid and he has to mollify, and vice versa, etc. Indian women, we often have this sort of ingrained tendency to just make things easy for guys.

Must. Fight. It.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Each year, when my sister is here and my cousins visit, we gather around the table for my grandma to prod our palms and produce occult pronouncements like "Ah yes, you'll want to get married after you have a physical relationship"--to The Snoog, who proceeded to gulp in shock till Scoo dived in to the rescue.

Now Nona is famous among many for the accuracy of her occult pronouncements (you can't really argue--once you have a physical relationship, you are more open to marriage, unless you're a bit of a ho like me). She told a friend of mine, who desperately wanted to study in Germany, that he wouldn't--but he'd study abroad all right, and use his German. He studied in the UK and is now in Switzerland. She told me, on the 2nd of January 2011, that I shouldn't fret about work--it would sort itself out in 15 days. Penguin called on 17th January. She told me at Deepavali that after 15th November all the things that had been bothering me over the past three years would begin to chill out--I found Career, evolved the right kind of relationship for me, and have a truckload of friends in Delhi now. She also told me I'd be promoted, and I was, on the 1st of November or something like that.

This time, her pronouncement for me was this: You'll have a very good year, with a very interesting middle. Will I go to Colombia, I asked. That's a very specific question she said. Okay, I said, Will I travel? Yes, short trips, about 15 days at a time. And also on work. Oh, also, you'll find yourself in a permanent relationship in May.

It was my turn to gulp like a beached goldfish.

What does it say about me that the one sentence I've been waiting to hear from her for ten years, when it finally came, my reaction was: What! May?!?! No! That's too soon!!!

Of course we've been referring to the proposed arrival as May-kaaran, or May-man. Though apparently there's a delectable double meaning in Tamil that I don't remember.However, Universe, if you're listening, May-kaaran better be able to furnish our house from Fab India ;)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Does this count as writing?
I guess not huh.

I spent half of yesterday travelling and all of today catching up at work, and it's karaoke tonight. So, no post till tomorrow I guess.

Monday, January 09, 2012


Many things have been bubbling in mah heid of late, especially the day I was fretting over BBot and the night I was crying for something--I still don't know what. After that night I wondered to myself why I hadn't called anyone. There are definitely people who would have soothed me telephonically, people who know what's going on and are unequivocally on my side. I thought maybe it had something to do with my wanting someone from our gang to be on my side, but I know that's not true, because of how much they did support me through the whole thing.

One night though, it came to me. While my life might be am embarrassingly open book with no boundaries, I hate letting people see me vulnerable. And then one of my friends suddenly confessed, in a moment of candour, to something, and it made me smile, because of our complicated history. I knew in that moment that he trusted me---something neither of us might have expected 2 years ago. And I realised that I trust him too. And then I realised that I don't know how I feel about trusting all my wonderful new friends in Delhi, mainly cos they are new, and experience etc. etc.

But then  I started thinking about how this trust starts, and how it becomes the ultimate foundation for love of all kinds. There is a point when you do reveal your vulnerability to someone, and in that moment, when they swoop in, scoop you up and protect and nurture you--that's when you know you can love them, and that's when you start. That's when the seed is planted.

Also, turning that around, can you love someone when you have not seen them at their lowest and most vulnerable?

*for those who haven't watched the show, his tagline was "Trust me, I know what I'm doing".

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The great meeting

So when I came home for New Year and Her Ladyship, I called the boys. The Punjabi (which I realise is a bad bad nickname cos hell I live in Delhi!) asked me what I was planning for New Year and I said nothing at all, bumming at home. I never go out for New Year's and I wanted to be at home. He then asked if he could come over, since there really was only him and Disco Dancer in town. After the debacle of OOF at my birthday party we are all understandably wary of parties, and both TP and DD told me to tell my mum, no OOF! We'll be fine!

Then, the day I was leaving Delhi, TP said to me, oh, by the way, BBot is in town, you should invite him and his other friend.

I was in shock.

It's FINE he said, don't worry. He'll come and if he doesn't behave, I'll kick him out.

Something in me rebelled. Yes, I'd been hoping that one day we'd manage to be friends again. It would make everyone's lives easier, and well, I miss him. But like this?

For one thing, wouldn't it be better to meet in a neutral place, not MY house? Second, since he shut the door, and rebuffed my attempts to reopen it, shouldn't he be the one to open it?

Both TP and DD dismissed objection #2. DD said that I was being silly, because I dumped him I had to make amends. When I said I did, I gave him my best friend, he said please that's got nothing to do with this--she's an adult. Touche. But I'm not completely comfy with the way that everything is on me cos I "dumped" him. As if it was easy for me. As if he never did anything wrong. Etc. TP also reacted along similar lines. He also said, look I've never asked you to meet him before this; I'm telling you, he's ready for it. I explained that what scared me was that BBot has never met me halfway--maybe 10%--which is one of the reasons we didn't work. And I did not want to let myself believe that he would actually make an effort and meet me halfway. TP told me not to worry, he would guarantee BBot would.

I talked to Appa, who told me it was fine, we should all be civil and friends. I said okay.

But deep inside I was in turmoil.


I don't know.

Well, I have some theories. But those are for later.

I freaked out for two straight days. I was calling people. I cried myself to sleep after three months. I felt worse because the person I'd have called was the Dragon. Bombay Boy told me I needed to figure this out in my own head before I saw him, and I knew he was right. So I said no, not in my house. We compromised with the party as TP's grandma's which is ten minutes from where I live. I told the Poo she had to come with, cos I really needed someone unequivocally on my side at the party, someone who got that I didn't "dump" him, and didn't think that the supposed dumping sort of gave BBot martyr status--as if he's miserable now and not really much happier.

Then another friend called to say he was throwing a surprise party for his wife's birthday, and agreed to have BBot come too--so we met in a neutral place. This friend, for whom I can't be bothered to think up a nickname, despite the fact that we're all friends, is someone who has actually heard about the whole BBot story, right from the start, and is much closer to me than him. He promised to keep my glass full and let me hide behind him if I needed (thankfully he is the one person I can actually hide behind), and I went to the party.

BBot came. We shook hands. We made small talk. TP stuck around to be buffer. We were relaxed and cheerful. People who've known each other a long time, and have very close friends in common, but aren't close themselves. We even managed to talk about the Dragon, and hold our own alone for five minutes.

It was over.

And then the mindfuck began.
Which will get it's own post if I'm ever ready to talk about it.

But all told, we're fine; we can socialize, and even refer to the fact that we knew each other very well. New Year's went off well, with a few very minor possibly awkward situations, which he handled with grace. (Me too!) I wonder if part of the mindfuck stems from the fact that he couldn't do it to save our relationship, and still he gets to be the victim.

But I think mostly being around him is a stark reminder of how easily I was replaced in his life and in Dragon's, making it not a 2 year relationship I have to get over, but an 8 year one. 

Saturday, January 07, 2012

In which I discover I am most lowbrow

Recently I wrote about how I need to start reading literary fiction again. Full of purpose, I decided to begin with one of this years most lauded books--Open City, by Teju Cole. It's a book about New York, about wandering the city, and everyone at work has been raving about it, so I said, what the heck.


I should remember not to read non-African non-Latin-American fiction. Though Cole is Nigerian. Perhaps I misunderstood the blurb; perhaps I've lost my ability to interpret blurbs accurately; perhaps I was nostalgic for New York. I wrestled with that book for a month. I'd keep losing my place, rereading it without understanding it, battering desperately at the impenetrable walls of his navel-gazing stream-of-consciousness narrator's languid prose. People told me the ending would be great, I should keep going. Three times I tried; three times I had to give up. It stood for all that I find revolting about the literary world today. India, Europe and the US seem to produce such obscure novels that are lauded as superior writing but serve only to send me into a stupor.

Mind you, my inability to read it had little to do with the fact that I've been running around with my niece. I know this because in a moment of frustration I tossed it aside and picked up The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junor Diaz. I read all but the last 50 pages in one day, while chasing niece, baking, cooking, running errands and doing whatever was demanded of me. Three pages in I just fell into the novel. The fiery, agile writing was ALIVE; it grabbed me by the cerebral cortex and headbutted me. The characters were real; they DID, they didn't just think.

Then  Scoo, Poo and I had lively discussion on writing (well mostly them, as always happens when the women in my family as discussing things and I'm supposed to participate), and I am amazed at how disparate our views are on the subject of what is good writing. I guess I'm just a pleb.

Friday, January 06, 2012

And another thing

Save me I kinda made resolutions. And here they are.

1. To write something, somewhere, every day.
2. To work out 6 days a week--gym, walk, run, dance.
3. Not eat out or drink during the week, except Wednesdays.
4. Cook my own food 4 times a week.

I also, at the New Year Party, asked my friends a question--what is one thing you want to do this year.

One very drunk boy said get married. Last thing I'd expect from him!
I said I wanted to go to Colombia. Disco Dancer said that wasn't fair cos I knew I was going--but I don't. and I really hope I make it there.
DD himself refused to say anything.

What's one thing you want to do in 2012?

The New Year Post

Let's sum up 2011, shall we?


Yup, I think that covers it.

What? You want details?

Well, I broke up with BBot. The Dragon dumped me. I found the perfect job. I cried myself to sleep for a few months. My parents were a rock. I was desperately lonely. I dated a LOT. I dated a psycho. I learnt a LOT about myself. I hid from the blog for a while, but I made it back.

And now I have friends in Delhi, who call me drunkenly on at 2am New Year's Day to yell WE MISS YOU GET ON A PLANE NOW. And I miss them too, after ten days in Hyderabad (though the two days in Chennai probably helped a LOT).

I think I finally know what I want to do with my life; I have finally made some peace with wanting to have kids; I am surer than I have ever been about the kind of person I want to be with, whether I'm willing to settle, and, most importantly, that I am just fine on my own. I even managed to hang out with BBot twice on this trip.

Gotta say 2011, you ended okay. But fuck you were SUCH a boy. *shudder*

Be nice to me 2012, I kinda need it.