Tuesday, March 13, 2007
As with bungee jumping, it’s always the first step that counts. The hardest and most challenging part of wooing women is the first step -- getting them to notice that you are an entity distinct and separate from the walls. This doesn’t, of course, make the subsequent steps any easier -- the veteran wooer has to endure hardships and pain, insult and insinuation, in his quest for amatory bliss.
Being your average warm-blooded hormone-infested low-down leech-happy flirtatious creep, I have been deeply influenced by the female half of this world. Trouble is, it hasn’t worked the other way around. I’ve bounced along from inclination to infatuation, from flattery to fixation, from obsession to adoration, from passion to preoccupation, without making so much as a dent on the female mind.There is this really cool friend of mine who ambles admirably through life with clinical élan, while I get tossed and twisted upon the rodeo horse of emotions that seems to constitute my existence. As was usual with him, he made it a point to give me sage advice upon learning of my latest amorous adventure. With the kindly sympathy accorded to one who flounders at a pursuit that is clearly above him, he spoke to me thus:
"What’s your strategy? “Strategy? "
You’ve got to have a strategy. You think you’ll be able to get a nice girl like that to stick around with a button head like you without so much as a strategy half the life you drain sitting near the computer ? " "So what should be my strategy?”"For a start, you’ve got to start saying Hi to her every time you come across her. You’ve got to do this for a week. Then all of a sudden, start ignoring her. Act as if she doesn’t exist. That’ll drive her crazy -- she’ll really want you then and will do anything to get you. "This was sound advice” but so very painful the girl whom I like tries to ignore me at all cost and probably will give alms if I start avoiding her still as the advice came from esteemed friend. I started saying Hi to the girl with dogged persistence every time I came across her on the college campus, dogged persistence being something I'm good at when it comes to these things. Only hitch was, because I trailed her like a love-crazed shadow, I came across her, to put it mildly, often. Being greeted lustily with a huge toothy grin twenty times a day by someone she didn't know from Adam seemed to unnerve her deeply. Then came ignoring time. I started ignoring her, acting as if she didn't exist. She turned out to be awfully good at this part -- she was even better at ignoring me than I was at ignoring her and adept at acting as if I didn't exist. When we passed out of college, she even went away to another country so she could ignore me better. As at date, we're still devotedly ignoring each other so I suppose she should come rushing into my arms any moment now.
Few and far between are those lucky enough to be going around, while their less fortunate brethren go around only in circles. Whenever quizzed about the secret of their success, they will smile back beatifically, draw a deep breath, mentally visit Rio de Janeiro with their beloveds, and give you that great con line that leaves you right where you were to start with: "it just happens". Recently, one of the members of our all male (surprise, surprise?) buddy gang finally acquired the ultimate status symbol -- a girlfriend. So we called a meeting to try and understand how such a situation could have come to pass on one whom, till a few months back, wallowed with us in stifling celibacy. Ensconced on a pillow in the centre of the room and invested with the halo of one who has crossed the sea of life, he prepared to reveal to us the elixir of love, while we held eager pencils to paper to take detailed notes. However, enlightenment eluded us, for, in his own words, it had "just happened". It doesn't just happen. Not, at least, to me. I mean, if I were to put my faith in such retrograde philosophy, I could sit around till the cows come home, waiting for it to happen. No sir, I'm a man of action. I believe in taking things into my own hands (those who read more into that last statement than I've written will have understood my predicament better than others). The most difficult kind to successfully woo are the refrigerators -- the ones who when told: “You are the apple of my eye, the reason for my existence, the object of my adulation; " She will say:” wish I have met you before i got commited to someone else"There was this other girl I thought I had an iron clad case with, because her birthday was a day away from mine. I would say to her, "You're born on the twenty-fourth, I on the twenty-fifth; our union, O heavenly one, is divinely ordained". But she failed to appreciate such persuasive logic; always seeming to think that laughing ludicrously in my face was the appropriate response. Delicate coincidences are not what the female mind easily grasps. I think it's fair to say that girls are about three hundred times smarter than guys. There was this lady who I was more than a little taken up with. I would try and drop subtle, but fairly obvious, hints to her like also ordering vegetable samosa whenever she did in the college canteen. She began to order vegetable samosa more often, which obliged me to do the same (those who know me will vouch that so many vegetable samosas were the source of, and not the solution to, the problem). Things reached a point and the samosas a number that convinced me that all that separated us from conjugal bliss was a nudge and a prod from my side, and nudging and prodding the lady in question presented itself to the male mind as a pristinely pleasant activity.The lady in question, of course, had had me perfectly sized up from the very beginning. She knew exactly how debauched my intentions were. So she took me aside one afternoon and, looking at me as apologetically as a doctor would at a terminally ill patient whose life support system he is about to cut off, said: "Ashraf, I'm going steady"
Astute observers of life as we know it are apt to classify the Earth's people into two kinds -- the FOTUs (fast on the uptake) and the SOTUs (slow on the uptake). I, however, at delicate moments like the one above, am seized by a slowness of mind that would put the most lethargic of SOTUs to shame -- thus proving my allegiance to a third category, the NUTs (never uptake). I chose, therefore, at this point, to say :"Going steady? That's nice. It's been pretty smooth sailing for me too, so far. Actually I'm getting along pretty steadily, if you ask me. Steady as a rock. We should open up like this to each other more often", and, for effect, I added "heh, heh!"She gaped at me, temper rising -- girls, when they're telling you to get off the bus, are not the embodiments of patience and coyness they're made out to be -- and said, "You're a real #$@#%@#$%#$%@%$%%$%, aren't you? I've found this guy, I really like him, I want to have his children, I want to settle down on Robinson Crusoe Island with him, and you know what the best part is? He's not you! " Since that day no samosa of any sort was included in my appetite.
However, things can always get worse. I was with this girl who had caught my fancy and summoning the kind of courage that wiser folks would prefer to call brazen stupidity, I said:” I like you" "I like you too", she said, as I gathered myself back up on the chair, having fallen off the second she said "like". Now this was new. I was stumped. She hadn't stared at me coldly and said "Are you crazy? You and I? Look, control yourself". She hadn't doubled over laughing either. What's more, she hadn't run away deciding on her way out to review the whole basis of our friendship. She’d actually said that she liked me. The thing to do, of course, was to elope that instant before wiser counsel prevailed on her. Or at least to extract a promise to see a movie together the next week. Instead she made a statement that I have since learnt never to trust or rely on.” I’ll call you next Thursday", she said. Well, sometimes your lucky day does dawn. A day on which, as you sit alone and contemplate the floor, a voice you know belongs to the pretty girl you've been eyeing lately says: "Ashraf!" Say nothing. Never does to be overenthusiastic. There could be another Ashraf around. What the heck even my dad looks younger than me, it can be anyone… a foe within my family too "Ashraf!"
This is serious. She's really fast. Have to play cool. Have to fight the temptation to jump up screaming, “Yes, darling, yes, you've finally noticed, I'm here, I love you, I'll always love you" etc. "Ashraf!" All right, don't panic. She's in heat. Turn slowly and look at her as if disturbed while in deep concentration over theory of bond pricing. "Ashraf, may can you give my pen back ?” And you know why you'll never make it first run -- because you'll never get admitted into the stadium
Well, coming to my Queen Bee... I have been observing her for almost 6 years. 'Was I really counting the days ?' You might ask. Honestly speaking... No. She always wore jeans or Salwar Kameez. Even on Ethnic Day, she didn't wear Saree while other female isotopes wore saris. I heard her saying "I'm not comfortable in saris. Just like the way she was not comfortable with me, but I have my own notion I feel she looks best with me and in a Saree" She wears different kinds of earrings. Her round face looks more beautiful when she wears those big round earrings. She looks awesome whenever she wears blue with her famous French plait. Don't you know what a French plait is?! Don't worry, I am here to explain. Have you seen "Pretty Woman" movie?! In that, hero Richard Gere meets Julia Roberts taking bath in the bath tub In that scene, observe her hair style. The name of that hair style is 'French Plait'. I could've said 'Go and Google it' but you know... as I said... I tell things in a round-about-one-mile fashion. Coming to my heartbeat again...
She's beautiful, Gorgeous, Stunning, Striking, and Attractive. Everything about beauty personified... That's why I had fallen in love with her in the very first sight... just like many people did... But I never conveyed my feelings. I used to dream about her. Dream a lot...
She falls ill. I'll sit next to her on the bed. I take the thermometer and see the temperature. As I gaze at the thermometer, rather act as if I am seriously reading the thermometer, she slowly keeps her head on my shoulder... My hand moves forward and covers her soft cheek and caresses her earlobe... 'Are you listening?' she asked. I mean, my Professor asked. I gave a sheepish grin. Everyone in the computer Lab was looking at me. Some of them were already laughing. See?! Most of the situations end up like this... making me a jackass.
One day... something has happened. Something very different. She came in a Saree. And I see another person with her. They both walked towards me. This person looked like a rowdy. He confronts her and holds her hand. She tries her best to get away from his hold but in vain. She cries out 'Help help'. I go and punch him in the stomach. He's dazed for moment but attacks me. I fight with all my courage and somehow get rid of him.
(I thought) He smiled at me and lifted his hand and said 'Hi...'. As I came out of my day dream, I wore a staggered look and gave a sheepish grin as usual. Before I could acknowledge his 'Hi', I heard a bigger 'Hiiiiii...' behind me. Her 'gang'. What's next?! Yes... The same 'I hate you all' dialogue but now this new guy is an addition to that hate-list. He was her first true-blue crush in the campus
I heard those words 'Meet my girl friend' from behind. And I felt as if I was going to faint.
That night I prayed sincerely to God before going to bed. ‘God! You gave me awesome parents, who did all sort of awful things to me. You gave me good friends, who had great habits which rubbed of on me. You gave me thankless job where I am subjected to abuses Americanized that pushed me from lower-middle-class in morale to down-trodden in soul.. You gave me so much tax free… then why didn't you give me enough courage? I want to speak to her. I want to tell her about my love. I want to have her as my wife. Will she be mine?! And please don't give a same old 'NO'... NEVER' God had answered me that night. He came in my dream and said 'She will be yours at any cost!' I couldn't get to see Him in the dream but I heard Him. When I woke up the next morning, I was very happy. After all, it’s God who has answered. Nothing in this world can go against His will. I wanted to tell about what has happened to my friends. I said this thing to my friend Sharad. He laughed at me. I said the same thing to Rahul. He didn't sound convinced but he said 'Believe in yourself'. I said the same thing to Stanley, he kept mum. I got scared and ran away from all these people.
I wanted to share this with someone who can understand my feelings. I couldn't find anyone. But since God has answered my prayer, I need not go by what these mortals say.
Coming to my Queen Bee once again... She got married yesterday. I was there... My heart almost stopped, as I saw her in the bridal attire. She looked amazing. As she walked into the mantap, her sister-in-law had put a black spot in her cheek, while her father hovering over like a vulture. Just in case... to avoid a buri-nazar from a person like me...She was feeling shy. Someone from her 'gang' commented about something. I couldn't listen to those words... Last month, same day and date... I saw her and her fiancé in a restaurant. They were having candle-light dinner. I was hosting a party for my room-mate - I became a floor manager out setting Deepak Sir. We were sitting a few tables away from theirs. I asked my friend 'What should I do to win a girl's heart?' He said 'Have a full-house wallet' and laughed... But I was serious. I was serious for two reasons... one - I didn't like the answer and two - I forgot my wallet that day. Since it was my party, he didn't care to bring enough money. We were just Rs.310/- short. I wanted to go home and bring money but you know... strange things happen... Her gang entered the restaurant. They greeted each other and suddenly one of the girls in that gang noticed me. She came directly to me and said 'Congratulations...'. I was still. 'How come she knew that I don't have money?' I thought. She continued '...I heard that you got promoted'. In another five minutes, those 4 girls were sitting around us. They had some light stuff and left, but not before congratulating me and bidding adieu to the candle-light-dinner-couple. We were now short of just Rs.4189/- As we were thinking of the next course of action, my heartbeat came to me. She smiled at me and said 'Congratulations'. As I acknowledged, the rowdy next to her looked at me and smiled. As they started moving, I noticed that she was looking at the bill that I was holding. They left.
I wanted to give some time for them to leave. After five minutes, as I got up, I saw my heartbeat again. She came to me and asked 'Any problem?' I , with the same sheepish grin', said 'Nothing'. She looked at me and said 'I will pay the bill. You can give me later. I am very sorry on behalf of my friends. They always try and take advantage of soft people like you.' and she grabbed the bill and walked towards the counter and paid through her card.
As we walked out, I thanked her profusely. Her rowdy-fiancé was waiting outside. The unpleasant look on his face made him uglier. I said 'Good night' and walked towards my bike. My friend waited there to buy cigarettes. As we raced towards our house, my friend said 'Looks like your colleague had an argument with that guy.'
The next day, as I was about to leave for home around 9.30 in the night, I saw her rowdy-fiancé in the waiting lounge. I smiled at him. He gave a who-are-you look. My heartbeat came and they left.
As I walked towards my bike, I heard someone shouting loudly. I saw that rowdy-guy asking something in a high-pitch voice. She was looking down. I could make out that she was crying. I walked towards her. As I neared them, he looked at me and said 'What's with you?'. I saw her sobbing. I was furious at that moment. I folded my fingers and made the fist a super-tight one... Only one punch... and it all made the difference... I was hospitalized. He broke my nose and she broke the engagement. And now, in the mantap, as I look around with a small bandage on my nose, everyone seems to be laughing at me. Even my heartbeat... I could hear her giggling as I bent forward to place the flower garland on her neck Oh... I did live up to my reputation... About telling things in round-about-one-mile fashion...When I was hospitalized, she said that she had a crush on me, when she first saw me. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that. But after she got engaged, her fiancé had casually asked her whether she had any crush on anyone. She was honest... and her honesty brought her to me. Another happy ending?! Sarad said 'I am jealous'. Rahul said 'Good luck'. Stanley was quiet as usual. You know... ultimately all of the above were very happy for me. But I didn't know why they became furious when I revealed the truth about the dream of God's answer to me. I never dreamt of any such thing.
“Don’t tell me you got kicked with one bottle of beer” came the voice of Sharad… Aah guys high time I wake up and work for my dream. One mile walk per dream is bit tiring now.
"I hadn't your assistance by giving me annual how-bald-are-you-now reports."
2003: "Yes he is my younger son, I know he is dark and shorter than Iqbal (my brother) but he was born in the month of December you see.
'" 2004: "Son, you're so bald, and your hair is already white."
2005: "Son, you're so bald, Jet has asked for permission to land."
Being a writer herself she knows what to say and the soft spots where it hurts most for a person like me.
What would we do without our mothers? On Mother's Day and other days, we should show our gratitude to them not just because they've loved and supported us, but also for another major reason: If it weren't for our mothers, we wouldn't know all our faults. We'd be deceived into believing we're almost perfect. Yes, we'd be living a lie. Anytime I get too full of myself, I just have to speak to my mother and she'll bring me down to earth faster than a DSL service which we provide. She'll say something to make me realize that I'm a long way from achieving any goals, especially the ones she has set for me.
We need mothers partly because our spouses and friends have learned to lie to us. You can't blame them. They're concerned about their safety. I always praised Arnab for his long hair till he went home and his mom told her it’s not the scissor but land-mower which he needs!!! Now look at the human side of our cartoonist.
Mothers are so wise. You've gotta love them. I certainly love mine.
The unthinkable has happened: after leading a singularly single life for quarter of a century, I'm planning to get coupled by extreme emotional stressed applied by my friend Chris who has been my Queen Bee for quiet a long., who softly tiptoed into my heart over the past 6yrs, persuaded me to renounce my solitary ways and join the great matrimonial majority. Actually, 'persuaded' might be the wrong word; it implies a surrender of will accompanied by a sigh of resignation, like so many demoralized Aztecs renouncing their feathered gods and converting to Catholicism. (Those helmeted knights who knew how to be persuasive.) No such thing happened here. What startled both of us, in the end, is that the proposal slipped happily and voluntarily from my lips -- no cajoling, no arm-twisting, no threats of bodily dismemberment just 6months of thought process and lot of feed back from recently tamed Kamal. Oh boy falling in love marrying the one you love is not that bad atleast that’s what the glow on Kamals face reveals. Recent polls predicts girls want us to dress up something like him, winning this poll was a cake walk for him with almost all the soul from the fairer sex voting for him, why not to follow him in the matrimonial section too. In a sudden flash of insight I beheld delightful visions of wedlock in the company of my Chris, and those visions seemed to glow brighter and more steadily than the open-air circus of bachelorhood. I promptly knelt on a pile of unopened mail in my living room and popped the question.
Ah, bachelorhood. I feel as if I'm taking leave of an old friend -- a quirky and occasionally morose friend, but a friend all the same. What will I miss about it? The traditional bachelor mode of dining, for one. Single people enjoy the inalienable right to eat anything, at any time, in any room of the house, without someone to bug. Ice cream is ALWAYS eaten directly from the carton, without guilt or ice cream dishes. In fact, I've dispensed with dishes of any kind; to be honest it’s been 6 months since I last heard how the cooker whistles. About 6 years ago I took the ultimate step toward bachelor-friendly accommodations (my college hostel and present one after a short stint with my parents: eat everything on the bed, smoke and sleep … Padma aunty is always there to clean it up in the morning. College hostel was better you don’t need to go till Loo, crawl till the balcony and water the garden below, which wife will ever allow her husband such liberty which my solitude as a stag did? How many married men can boast of such a gloriously unfettered and efficient arrangement? It pains me to give it up.
As a single guy, I've also enjoyed the freedom to seek my recreations spontaneously and without consideration for the emotional needs of a resident life-mate. I can watch old Popeye cartoons or werewolf movies with impunity; I can listen to Jim Morrison on my stereo without causing a minor riot; I can linger at my computer until 2 a.m., I can drink coffee or tea at any time and then use the same cup as an ash tray. I can clutter my abode with all manner of artifacts culled from my long and fruitful bachelor years: all the clothes on one chair with lizard shitting on it in competition with the spiders weaving their webs. And of course, books everywhere. Shelves of books... desks and file cabinets topped with books... books next to the bed... Books ON the bed... books piled on top of books. No married man can arrange such exuberantly unfeminine interior space and live to tell about it. I know full well that my bare-breasted-goddess and books-on-the-bed days are numbered.
What about the bachelor's freedom to fall in love, you might ask. Surely I'll miss the prospect of fresh romance lurking in the next visit to Forum or MG road, bewitching eyes enticing me from an adjoining restaurant table, a lone kindred soul encountered on a darkened train while going home. But as a wise friend once advised me, that sort of life always reads better than it plays. I'd bet that most bachelors spend their prime years, as I did, longing for those heavenly accidental meetings that never materialize. My own romantic karma was famously bad; whenever I'd enter a cafe or bar with a reputation for attracting uncommon women, those fine-boned females instinctively knew enough to scatter just before I arrived on the scene. It didn't help, either, that I spent my prime bachelor years marooned fighting for my right to have a girl friend…
Still I attempted to extract some classic bachelor pleasures from my provincialized life. I ventured on solitary vacations with the hope of discovering romance at the hotel, on the hiking trail, go any where bachelors like me always exercise their right to fall in love. When I was growing up I'd envy the charmed lives of single men as envisioned by Moviedom: Richard Gere courting ravishing Julia in Pretty woman... taxi driver Amir Khan squiring princess Karishma Kapoor around hill station...King Khan going till Switzerland to woo Juhi chawla. What impossible, treacherous and misleading fantasies the screenwriters had concocted! What a thumping letdown when my own single life played out more like the annals of the Yeh meri manzil to nahi!
I don't mean to imply that my bachelorhood was the social equivalent of Kazakhstan. I enjoyed a modest but rewarding share of romance and adventure. And when I did find romance, it was never while giving a lift to a mmmm, or taxing through hill station, or singing “Jadoo teri nazar”. It was generally through friends who had the grace and good sense to introduce me to one of THEIR friends -- a woman who had the happy misfortune to be unattached at the same time I was. I'm going to marry one of those women, the most endearing and eloquent of the lot -- my own Chris. I'm sacrificing the splendors of bachelorhood for her, and I'm hoping she'll be kind enough to let me wear my lucky pair of jeans without washing it for months in a row.
Monday, March 12, 2007
I had a meeting like that… meeting like that after 8 years with someone who had been my everything once thanks to my godmother who played a match maker for us. It was as if the Universe wanted to test the limits of my endurance, thus played that trick. Why does man think he can conquer the world, when he crumbles so easily in front of a single card being dealt?
She was on the arms of an old known from Dehradun.
Now you will say "Grow up. It was 8 years ago" and I tell you all. "You are right, you are so right". 8 years is a long time to think that you’re finally over someone. That you’ve moved on. That you’re finally over those rushes of heady emotions that landed you in trouble the first time. That you know you’re more mature, more stable, know what you want out of life…or the tricks god play with your life.
But you know what really defies your own reality. It’s that email address you never deleted. It’s that stuffed toy that you got on your first date that somehow still lies in your room. It’s those diary entries about her that still get read occasionally (of course you were just laughing at how stupid you’ve been. Nothing more). It’s those pictures that you still have of her (you keep them still because they will teach you the meaning of a true relationship and make you a more learned person)....and when you saw her once in the crowd...you avoided making eye contact. That was only because you didn’t want her to be hurt of course. Or remember you...but then she’s probably forgotten all about you TOO....What a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive.
I saw him bring her over to me. At that moment perhaps I would have traded everything I owned to avoid that meeting....or perhaps to be the person on whose arms she was on. Our eyes met and except for a slight flicker of recognition, she didn’t show any emotion at all. I too was calm on the surface, but underneath...it was as if at that moment a hundred volcanoes had decided to explode together and were spewing their hot lava everywhere.
He introduced us. Not knowing that I already knew more about her than he could ever find out in a generation. At least that’s what I thought or still think. There’s something about finding a soul mate. You just know what the other person is. You never have to explain yourself or even tell another about you. You just know. I looked at her and she never had to tell me what she had done in all those years. I could feel her pain, her joys, her essence....I just knew...and I knew that she knew everything about me too. After sometime I just excused myself and left. At one point of time they come closer to you than your heart beat and then they suddenly say delete my number from your address book… I curse the day when I first talked with you…don’t ever call me up or try to meet me, they make the rules... They always made the rules because they always ruled your heart.
It’s amazing the way some people are a part of your life. How they just happen to pop in at intervals decided by the Universe. It’s ironic because it’s the same universe that conspired to take those same people away from you, once. I don’t know why though. I’m reading this right now and I see more than one girl in these pages. Whatever… and I’ve written… "She’s perfect" Just like the one who chose her for me
Was born several centuries ago to a very nervous set of parents - in a bat cave of a hospital, in eastern