“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

“Do you believe in soulmates?” I asked, and my senses were assaulted with the sudden onslaught of loud, uncomfortable laughter, smirks, some remark about soulmates being a manufactured Hallmarks and Hollywood concept, another about it being something only teenage girls believe in.
Everyone had an opinion about it, as about everything else under the sun. I smiled and tried to listen without making any judgments or categorizing people into shelves labelled cynics or dreamers. I saw a few people look away pretending to find the answer at the bottom of their beer bottles, or perhaps there is some new chugging game out there which demands that you drain your bottles each time someone mentions something vaguely reminding you of the word “love.”

It’s an interesting question, and one I used to give a lot of thought to. Personally, it seems easier for me to admit that there is a special human being in the universe made to fit into the jagged ends of your personality and vice versa, than to explain to myself the existence of an Almighty.
Possibly, it may also be the last refuge of hope and explanation for the single people in the world who have tried in vain  to pair up. I’m happy to report that the cynicism is mostly false and a default self preservation mechanism. Unfortunately, in this pool of people with vague hopes of still finding that one enduring connection, often a few sharks find their way in. But I’m sure they have a reason too, or maybe a shark is just a fish that hasn’t yet found the courage to be vulnerable.
This post is not about either of them. For far too long, I have sought comfort in generalisations and written about them in embarrassing detail. But it isn’t something I regret, I was observing and evolving, just as I am today. I read about, met and heard of other women and men who fell into unhealthy patterns or ran into bad luck or deceptively wonderful people, and I often found myself reflected in the words and problems of another. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that they may have had similar experiences, but they are not me.

As the years sped by, societal pressure evolved too. It was no more parents and relatives who made me feel that there was something missing in my life. (I lucked out there.) It was the most unassuming acquaintances on social networks who held no importance in my life, but made me feel their choices led to a happier place than mine.
Non conformity is not always a choice, they made me realise. But it is more than often uncomfortable.
Was I jealous of pictures of weddings and babies and happy couples? No. I had made a very conscious, very informed choice to want a different life for myself. Was I happy with that choice? On 7 out of 10 days, yes. On the other 3, there was probably trouble at work, or my hormones were protesting, or I was battling Internet trolls, or my favourite Game of Thrones character was murdered.
Happiness and sadness weren’t enemies, they both visited in turns. Indifference was the enemy. That state when I built high walls to protect myself from the dangers outside became a cage where I couldn’t protect myself from the turmoil within.
So what if somebody broke my heart? It wasn’t the first time, why did I make it the last? So what if I made too many bad decisions? I still have so much more to screw up. Why was I comparing my life to those of others, when my choices were different and my own?
There were men I dated who disappeared without a word, and there was a man I loved who was never really here. I allowed myself to be vulnerable to the ones who couldn’t give more of themselves for reasons they could hardly justify to themselves. That was the only mistake I ever made. And one I must make over and over again.
Because while I was breaking some conventions, there was one I forgot to bear in mind. There is no age for love. And soulmates? You’ll meet them when you find the strength to bare your soul.

Let’s work on that first.

Being Honest

I live in constant fear of something in my life suddenly changing for the worse. Maybe it’s because I’m really happy and the misery around me makes me feel like a misfit, maybe it’s because the choices I’ve made in my life have kept me solitary at 33.
I want some things to change. I crave things like steady companionship, but I’ve realized that while most of us do things we otherwise wouldn’t to avoid loneliness, not even a handful admit to it. When did it become so shameful to say, “I’m lonely.” and why?
I’ve known married people who are terribly lonely, same as the single ones. In fact, it is probably the greatest affliction to have passed on to us from one generation to the next.
Don’t blame technology for it.
It’s us. The upper middle class, who don’t worry too much about inflation, the ones who debate about beef ban because the choice doesn’t affect us acutely, the ones who crusade for free speech, against political parties, the latest blockbuster. We are the lonely ones. The rest don’t have time. It’s always been us. Too caught up in the images of ourselves we’ve created for the world to see, to let them even detect a slight chink in the armor of our confident, self reliant, smiling photographs taken at clubs and holiday cottages. We are victims of the fake badass, sarcasm overloaded, always mocking, always judging, critical identities – always talking about spreading positivity, without an ounce of hope in the person sharing our cubicle, yet talking about how the world needs to come together to solve the European refugee crisis.
We are all lonely. Maybe rightly so.

When was the last time you gave a truly honest answer to the question, “How are you?” More importantly, when was the last time you asked someone how they were, really wanting to know the truth?
When did the answer become so automated?
Recently, I admitted to myself how lonely I was and decided to do something about it. So I downloaded a couple of dating apps, hoping to find some interesting new people of the opposite sex, and to be honest, hoping to find a lot more. A few right swipes and matches later, I was talking to some good looking, well read men. Some told me they were married and did I have a problem with that? Others told me that were looking for a no strings attached association. And a couple of them were looking for someone to date, like I was.

While none of them worked out, and after I was done judging them, I realized that once you tear away all they want you to believe, they are just lonely men. And not one of them is willing to admit it. I guess it wouldn’t really attract many ladies, and vice versa. All it would attract would be ridicule, a series of “I told you so’s” and maybe a smooth talker or two.

I don’t want to be one of them. But I am now.
Then, I deleted all those apps because no, of course I wasn’t going to meet the love of my life there. Truth is, I wouldn’t get to meet him at all.

And that’s when I realized I had lost hope. And it’s been terrible since then. The walls have come up. I have shut up. Nothing looks pretty anymore. No songs remind me of anyone anymore. I stopped singing along in my car to my playlist. And I wonder why that disturbs me more than anything else.
I am not lonely anymore. I want to be alone. I didn’t know this would feel worse.

Meeting nice people, and realizing that you are the asshole, not them.

Guess I’ll Hope Another Year

There are 3 kinds of single people in the world – the ones who want to get laid, the ones who want to get married and the ones who want to be left alone. Except in the city I live in. They want to be somewhere in between. And I am one of them.

Before I go on, I’d just like to state that I am not heartbroken. I have a perennial case of unrequited love. It has become the story of my life and the recurring pattern of my association with the opposite sex. And obviously, I am at fault (though I haven’t quite understood how). So if I had to write a disclaimer for this post, I would be:

Disclaimer: I’m sulking. I got rejected (yet again, lol). What you are about to read could range from depressing to self deprecating humor-less. I’m writing because I need to talk to my screen, I don’t like people.

Biologically, I am a woman. That kinda sucks.

Because I am not petite or dependent enough to warrant the protection of the average male and make him feel superior. I am not strong or angry enough to join the trending tirade against men and feel superior. I am just your average plain Jane who is trying to earn an honest living, who feels outraged at injustices against both women and men but who has no time to indulge in gender wars.

I’m sorry, okay? I just don’t feel angry enough to pick a side. I really like both men and women, even if it makes me sound like a complete wuss. I want to confide in my women friends but I enjoy the company of my male friends more. And I really, really suck at making people feel special when they aren’t.

I am attracted to men. That kinda sucks too.

I don’t understand men. They want to be loved, but it should be just the right amount of love- too much of it and you are clingy, too little and you are not involved enough. What you feel is your fucking problem and you should be mature enough to deal with it and what they feel is so fragile that you have to tiptoe around it so that you don’t say a word that is insensitive. The sum of your experiences is baggage and you should deal with it before you associate with them so that you share the baggage they have been lugging around since they were 10.

I don’t understand women either, for the record. If men leave a message more than twice a day, they don’t give us space and when they don’t, they just don’t care enough to check if we are okay. When men don’t talk their heart out, we feel they are too closed and guarded and when they do, we think they should grow up and not over-share. When men admit they are not going to be monogamous, we think they are not worth our time and when they say they are going to be monogamous, we think they are lying. When they want only fun, they are using us and when they don’t, omg why are you rushing me?

Yeah, we kinda cornered ourselves into a very tight spot where nothing feels right and hope is a bleak light only some of us are holding on to. I am. I don’t believe in soulmates anymore. But I believe that I will find love. And I know that there are people like me that are clinging on to that hope too. We have some shining traits, here are a few:

  1. We believe in love, not just the idea of love.
  2. We do not have a massive ego.
  3. We know that sometimes you just gotta give even if what you receive is minimal.
  4. We let go. And believe the right one will come back.
  5. We wait. And don’t use people to fill up the gaps in between.
  6. We don’t exist, till someone makes us fall so hard that we are forced to.

Love is Dying

The end of another year, the end of another romance.

Disclaimer: I was wondering if I should update my blog about my recent failures in the search for love and it did occur to me that I might be too old to share all this publicly. Then again, it’s nothing less than what people expect from me and I haven’t written in a while, so I guess I must not pretend that I care.

As my 32nd year on this planet approaches its end, I am taking stock of my life all over again.

I have moved into a bigger, better apartment, am doing what I love for a living, am at peace with myself. Life, as I know it, is mostly perfect. A good family, a few friends and financial independence. But still no romantic love for miles around. Well, nobody said it would be perfect.

Solitude is more comfortable than ever now. I am painfully uncommunicative about my feelings now. I can write about them but talking makes me feel uncomfortable. Obviously, that leads to a lot of misunderstandings but I guess I’m alright with that too.

I need my personal space more than ever now. If someone messages me daily or attempts to meet me daily, it makes me go further into my shell.

Sometimes I wish I was slightly less perceptive. If I could somehow let myself smother my survival instinct and fall prey to sweet words and insistences to “think less.” Things would certainly be simpler.

Being one of the few single-by-choice 30-somethings is not easy. There are several moments of self doubt and loneliness one must get used to, apart from the familial concern. I often wonder if perhaps it would not be simpler to not look for love, but just harmonious companionship. But I guess a pet would qualify for that too.

I have quite a few friends my age who are single and their reasons to remain single are either overly convoluted and untrue or utterly simplistic and dumb. Mine would perhaps belong somewhere in the middle.

Often, I feel incapable of feeling too deeply for someone. Like I’ve somehow exhausted my capacity to love and give without wanting reciprocation for the same. Which is the most disturbing thought of all. Have I really no more love to give? Maybe I wasted it all on the undeserving. Maybe there is only so much heartache you can bear before you build impenetrable walls around yourself. Maybe once they’re done pushing you away, they push you so far away that you can’t even find your way to your own heart anymore. Maybe we were all meant to stand alone and just want, never get. Maybe the grass is looking greener on the other side.

Married friends seem to not stop gushing over my good decision to remain single. Let me just say it has its moments but it’s not always great. I don’t envy you one bit but that’s only because I haven’t yet met the man I can envision sharing my life with. And the possibility that he doesn’t exist becomes more of a probability with every failed romance.

One of the biggest factors contributing to my decision to remain single is the number of married people I see cheating on their spouses. People have become so easily replaceable. Concepts like monogamy are considered old fashioned now. Multiple partners is the flavor of this age and I find it pukeworthy. There is one person who gets to be your arm candy, another who co-parents your kids with you, yet another who you find desirable and another who you emotionally connect with and then yet another who you find intellectually stimulating, never mind the fact that your intellect has no time to think of other things when you’re done keeping track of the number of people in your life. It’s like your whole network is a giant orgy or an episode from The Bold & The Beautiful, minus the fact that none of them look like Ridge Forrester.

To the married I say, soldier on. To the single, stay strong. None of us have it simple. Let’s just co-exist, because love doesn’t live here anymore.

Sharing in the Offline World

I started writing about love and dating when I was in my early 20s and it helped bring a lot of clarity to what I was looking for and what I would do to get there.
Now that I am in my early 30s, I wonder if it also was instrumental in taking me away from it all.

The last few years introduced me to a lot of people who were looking for the same things as I was. Love, security, companionship. But there were a few of us who weren’t willing to compromise to get there.

I fell in love. Absolutely and irrevocably. It was incomplete in many ways and yet beautiful. Disturbing at the best of times, yet comforting if only by the virtue of existing. I invested emotionally while keeping a tight grip on my default paranoia and pragmatism. So no, I didn’t fall head over heels because my heels warned me to never leave the ground.
And then just as absolutely, I fell out of it. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. It’s just that the time was not right.

And then it happened again. In fact, it happened every two months till I finally had to admit to myself that this couldn’t possibly be love. I know I’m a very loving person (barf!) but really, I had to stop baring my heart to every good looking thing that treated me right.

And so by the time I reached my late 20s, a wall was in place. High, impenetrable, probably unnecessary and more sturdy than any resolve I’ve taken. Nobody could break it down, but more than one walked away with pieces of it. The gaping holes were plastered by my bouts of sudden and short depression, extreme plunges into low self esteem and a fear that some termed commitment phobia (which is really ridiculous- how can I fear something I’ve never had?)

I met some wonderful men. But years of conditioning, unpleasant news items, second hand experiences and my inherent fear of all things human, made me look at everyone with myopic glasses that came with a filter: “What does he REALLY want?”

I was aware that the standards I had set were utopian and couldn’t even be met by me. That was when I had to introspect and ask myself- Do I really, really want someone by my side? I’m not sure of the answer yet.

I still go out, meet people and am dating. And I’m often led to believe that I’m wasting their time. Because you see, I’ve shut up. I don’t share things about myself. I don’t talk about what I want, what I fear, what I dislike. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because sharing is not just some silly button on your social network page. Sharing is saying, “Hey, I trust you. Here are some of my deepest emotions, my most well kept secrets. And they are now yours to accept or mock or spread.” Not happening, bro.

But then, I’m 32 years old. People I meet (around my age group) are often 10 times more jaded than I am. I have no unpleasant experiences to speak of. I’m not heartbroken or messed up. I’m not out to even any scores and I’m not trying to make anyone jealous by how happy I am without them. It’s like being enveloped in an ice casing when the rest of the world is on fire. You are just not getting through to me. And it’s not that I feel left out. I just feel like you’ve lived, and I haven’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want your life. Hell, I’d kill myself if I had to coochie-coo someone. I love being single, mostly. But it wouldn’t hurt to share things, without guarding every word I utter.

Someday, I’m sure. The walls are high but I’m building bridges too.

Unlove Story*

*based on someone’s true story, I’m sure. 

Day 1:

The skeptics were at large, cynicism was in the air

“Love is a commercial concept- I’m not gonna lay my heart bare”

Two individuals- burnt, scorned, disillusioned yet lonely

“I’m only looking for company, not my one and only”

The conversations build and with it the hope

“Something just clicked. Ah it’s probably just good dope”

“We should meet, you know, and see where this goes”

“I think you’re right. We’ll be good friends, or something else, who knows?”

“Let’s meet for dinner,” he says, “pick you up at 8?”

“That works fine with me. Let me know if you’re running late”

He pulls up at the corner and her heart goes bumpity bump

“Hush, you silly thing, you don’t need to go back to that dump”

They eye each other sneakily, both wondering about the other’s thoughts

He drops her home later, “Well I think she likes me, lots.”

 She smiles while she thinks about the evening, his wit and his charm

“I must see him again. This deserves a shot, what’s the harm?”

 

Day 2:

They talk after work, she hadn’t felt that good in days

“I’m falling for him,” she thinks, “must try and take it slow as he says”

There was something about him that was right, something true and yet raw

But he was closed and guarded, “That’s something I didn’t bargain for”

He enjoyed her company, she was new and she was fine

“I must not get in this too deep, that liability must not be mine”

They meet for dinner and drinks, for movies and it’s not a mess

“These are just rites of passage,” she thinks, “and nobody settles for less”

The conversations are good, they talk and they connect

“He is what I’d been waiting for,” she thinks, ”I can now forget the rest”

“Let’s go dancing tomorrow,” he says, “it’s been a while since I’ve gone”

“Why not,” she replies, ”it’s better than sitting at home alone”  

 

Day 3:

The skirts are short, the dinner jackets are tight

She clutches his arm, he asks, “Baby, do you feel alright?”

He smiles at her, downing the contents of his glass

His eyes stray, “I hope she didn’t see me make a pass”

The music blares now, there are people on the dance floor

She used to love dancing once, now she longingly eyes the door

“Dance with me,” he whispers as he pulls her towards him

She half-heartedly moves her body, “Why don’t I feel the rhythm?”

The evening is a disaster, nothing is going as she planned

“I’m too old for this shit,” she thinks, “everyone under 30 should be banned”

The crowd is young, so is the night

“He’s getting drunk, I hope he doesn’t pick a random fight”

The last date was beautiful, her memories were fond

They had talked through the night, had she imagined that bond?

“That was him, but so is this

I’m still with the same man, so who do I miss?”

He drops her home and on his way he thinks

“Gawd she’s boring, she can barely hold her drinks

She seemed good last night, or was I drunk

If I had to rate her from 1 to 10, I’d say she’s flunked”

She calls the next day, “I think he deserves another chance”

He sees her name blinking on the screen, “I’m not taking her call. She can’t even dance!”

She hangs up and thinks, “Well, I guess he’s busy”

“I’m not calling back,” he thinks, “shouldn’t encourage this missy”

 

Days pass as they are often prone to do

Both of them keep waiting, “Well, he could have called too!”

And so once more, they both miss their chance

“Well, that settles it, I’m never again going to dance!”

chillin

Have Letters. Need Recipients.

I have a rather useless talent for writing letters (emails, now.) I pour my heart out to people when I write to them, no inhibitions, no what-ifs, no conditions attached. It’s useless because even while I’m writing, I realize that I should probably stop and not ramble on because seriously, who has time to read long copy these days? No matter how good a yarn I might weave, you will stop reading as soon as this paragraph gets uncomfortably lengthy because there is so much one needs to do when one is online.

I changed the paragraph for no other reason but to keep you hooked. I’m going to do it again.

 Coming back to the topic at hand, writing letters is rather a self-defeating exercise now. If I have something to say to people, they would rather I text them in one of the hundred ways available to me. But no. I insist on writing sappy letters where I tell people what I think about them, why I think that way about them, what they did to encourage it, and why am I left with no choice but to write to them. The answer to the last question is invariably that one, I am extremely non confrontational and don’t have the guts to talk to people via a medium by which they can answer back in real time (a normal face to face conversation, to be precise); and two, if the topic is not about confrontations, then it is about my extreme fondness for them, which I again get too tongue tied to talk about in a real life scenario. I’m not shy, just plain cowardly. There’s a difference. If it’s a pointless debate or a flirtatious situation, I would be babbling on. The moment things get slightly serious, well, I freak out.

I could blame a lot of things for this position I find myself in all too often, like growing up with technology, a number of fictitious rejections or some other particularly traumatic episode I will have to make up. But the truth is, I am an average woman, with very humdrum wants and goals and a nerve that gives up on me when I most need it. And so to the rescue come these letters I write.

I doubt if I will ever run out of things to write to people about. But something rather unforeseen has happened and I have run out of people to write to. My family and my best friends are people I have no communication gaps with, so I would rather talk to them. But I am looking for a mindless confrontation I feel offended about (tough to do, I’m too tolerant for most people) or an unreasonable affection that makes me want to say so many things, I don’t know where to begin. That is missing.

People insist on being friends these days. Friends these days mean pleasant acquaintances you may want to spend some time with. Such people do not stir a passion in you that leaves you agitated and hungry for more and vulnerable and unreasonably happy or sad. Friends don’t make you think. They make you relax. I hereby declare that the reason for the death of my useless writing letters talent is the over-supply of friends in my life. The supply has exceeded the demand creating an economy of withered out ideas in my mind. Friends do not inspire. They do not question. They understand. They are the assassins of original thought in my life. I don’t know what I’d do without them. Get the Pulitzer, maybe?

Of course, these letters may be unwelcome by most. Which is why one needs to be extremely choosy while scouting for recipients for them. There’s a checklist involved. I’m not kidding you.

I would write to you only if:

  1. I am under the impression that I could get romantically involved with you.
  2. You have morbidly offended me but are important enough to know that you made me upset.
  3. I need to communicate with you but have nothing other than your mail address handy. (I’d rather write than call)
  4. You are a horrible listener and I need to put a point across but you just don’t shut up when we talk.
  5. You are so short tempered and such a bully that I’m afraid of holding a face to face conversation with you.
  6. I said I’d write to you, in which case it’s only a formality and that will reflect in my letter. Also, there won’t be a second one.
  7. You leave me tongue tied because you’re either overbearing or too good looking or you stink.

It’s not a useless talent, by the way. Just a dying one.  

Of Love, Prejudices And Being Indian

Hello. Are you over 30, Indian and single; or romantically inclined towards someone who fits that demographic? Please continue reading if so. The rest of you can close this tab because you won’t relate to anything I write. Worse, you will think I’m a bitter, frustrated woman with an unreasonably high opinion about myself and low morals I choose to hide under the guise of being liberal. Still reading? Well, let me help you save your time since I’m sure you have so many judgments you can’t spare one for me. I am indeed a bitter, frustrated woman with an unreasonably high opinion about myself and completely devoid of “morals” because I choose to be called liberal.

Now that we have the judgment out of the way, let me bring to your attention the people I’m writing for and about.

We are 30-somethings and happy and single Indians. Caught between society’s never ending pressure to cave in and get married and our own search for what we believe is true love and our highly cynical outlook, we are a generation that has been fucked over not only for our taste in music but also people. Most of us have friends who are busy updating their Facebook feeds with their oh-so-cute babies or the latest vacations they went on with their spouse, while we are still running up a tab at the local microbrewery and spamming your Facebook walls with our sarcastic but oh-so-wise comments about everything that goes on in the country.

The single 30 somethings are of 5 kinds:

1.       The Perpetual Loner- They have never had a serious relationship and have been accused of being commitment phobic, owing to how long their love affairs last. (I think it’s unfair to call them love affairs, for the record. They fizzle before they can sizzle.)

2.       The Newbie Single- Once married, the Newbie Single is back on the scene with terrible memories and a very cautious approach.

3.       The Veteran- The Veteran was married quite a few years ago. One early marriage and quick divorce later, he/she is not bitter about anything and will not be uncomfortable talking about the ex.

4.       The In-Denial Romantic- This poor soul has been looking for true love since the age of 14. Call it bad luck, poor choices or maybe just lack of personal hygiene, love has evaded him/her but every time s/he dates someone new, s/he starts fantasizing about how adorable their offspring would look.

5.       The Serial Dater- This wonder of humankind is really a subset of the above 4 sets (barring maybe the Newbie Single in some cases). With zero attachment and fewer scruples, the Serial Dater is a compulsive yet inimitable flirt.

Well, now that I’ve given you the boxes you can categorize us in, let me say that all that you just read is bullshit and you cannot categorize people like that and that you, my friend, are one prejudiced piece of shit for doing so. You’re welcome.

It is because of you that so many of us are single and would rather stay happily single than be with someone who thinks like you. Someone who reads one stupid blog post or article by someone they’ve never met and gets so influenced by it that they start basing first and lasting impressions on it. What did you think “an open mind” refers to anyway? A vacant room where anyone can come and stuff their bitter bullcrap in? Other than the fact that you are prejudiced, you are also extremely intellectually lazy, which is by far the biggest turn off ever. It’s easier to deal with someone who stinks than someone who has an uneducated opinion. Let me break it down for you so you can comprehend it easily: You. Stupid. 

 For the ones who agree with me so far, keep reading. The rest of you, well, I sort of warned you to close the tab in the first paragraph. Still not too late. (Excuse to be used: “This is boring.” By the way, I’m inclined to agree with that- I do ramble on).

Being single and in your 30s is not easy at all. With a social circle that just keeps contracting (mostly because you find yourself saying “I’m too old to deal with this nonsense”) and stupid people all around who would rather voice an opinion than read more about it, it’s tough. Add to that the 100 prejudices that the average Indian is born with that you realize you must break out of in order to respect yourself. Some prejudices that I have been plagued with over the years and that I now find horrifying are listed below, along with some that you may unintentionally be harboring. Please feel free to add more.

  • Age: Most of us don’t even realize how ageist we are. While it is considered perfectly acceptable for a girl to be involved with a man 10 years her senior, a woman dating someone 10 years younger is objectionable and “has no future.”

If it is old enough to vote, it is old enough to get involved with. Go take it up with the Election Commission.

  • Skin color: Are you Indian? Yes? Would you call your complexion brown or wheatish or fair?

If your answer is anything but brown, you are prejudiced. Some of us are a darker shade of brown and some a lighter shade. There is NO such word as wheatish. We created it. By the way, LOL has found place in the dictionary and wheatish hasn’t. I rest my case. So if you are going to say inane things like “Oh she’s as fair as a foreigner,” you are stupid.

  • Region: The eternal South India versus North India and Delhi versus Bombay debate has had more articles/blog posts written about it than the number of comments on Rahul Gandhi’s speeches on YouTube. Really, get a life. We’re all Indian. “Unity in diversity” is not a fuckin rhyme. Unite already.
  • Marital Status: I, for one, find it extremely offending when an interviewer asks me about my marital status. Does it mean that if I’m married I can leave office earlier than my unmarried colleagues? Or does it mean that because I’m unmarried I will be expected to work on all Sundays? Dear HR people, please, your incompetence is showing.
  • Attire: Not sure if men are victims of this prejudice or how, so I’ll write from a woman’s point of view. If I wear skirts, I’m not a flirt. If I wear ethnic dresses, I’m not “homely” (can we please retire this word already?) If I wear jeans to a page 3 party, I’m not “looking for adventure.” In most cases, I’m just trying to fit in and doing a damn bad job at that. So dear ladies, stop checking out other ladies unless you’re homosexual. Some of us feel extremely uncomfortable when you do that. 

That’s the end of my rant. I’ll leave you with a dialogue from Sex and the City I love:

“Your 20s are for making mistakes. Your 30s are for learning from those mistakes. Your 40s are for paying the bills.”

I’m learning and paying the bills and making new mistakes every day. So cut me some slack, will you?

An Open Letter to…Well, The Hopelessly Hopeful Heart

Dear Heart

What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you out of your mind? Do you even know what you’ve put me through for more than a decade? Blind, deaf, dumb, stupid, weak, impulsive, reckless and completely bonkers- that’s what you are!

Look around you, come on, don’t shy away now. Look at the mess you’ve created. Go north- right up till the brain. See there? Not that, you fool, that’s my nose, a little more up. Stop complaining about the upward climb, I’ve seen you jump right into my mouth whenever I take you to see Gerard Butler’s movies. Yeah, that perked you up now, didn’t it? Get back on track. Take a good look inside my head. Cluttered, isn’t it? Yeah, I should do something about…hey shut up, this isn’t my bedroom and you’re not my Mommy. Now look for my brain. It’s a little small, I know, but that ain’t my fault, bro. Go take it up with God or Science, whatever you’re leaning towards today. Ah…there it is, my little brain, hiding as usual from you. Heaven knows why I let you bully it. Okay so you’re stronger, but you’re also dumber and a closet coward, like all bullies. Oh don’t you even think about lying to me, I’ve lived with you all my life. I know how you’re scared of everything from lizards to heights to losing to stability to the lack of it. My vocal chords are testimony to your fake displays of courage. Every time I start yelling, I know that I’m really just trying to hide how scared you are.

You and the brain have this ongoing feud that’s lasted for more than a decade now. Look, guys, I can’t win with both of you playing tug of war. And hey Heart, pick on somebody your size, okay? They don’t call me Pea-brain for supporting vegans, you know.

You have to calm down, take a deep breath, and look at the bigger picture here. Yes, so you don’t go all bumpity-bump at every good looking thing anymore, thankfully. My mind thanks you for that. My sleep cycle is eternally grateful. For years you kept telling me (and yourself) that you’re just unnaturally detached.  And then, like a sick plot written by a cheesy author dying to get recognized, you attach yourself to the one thing you know is way out of your league. That’s neither wise nor prudent, mister.

But you’re kind of used to that, aren’t you? The surge of love you feel for the ones that play hard-to-get and the bouts of hatred as soon as they are ready to be gotten (pardon the grammar, but I don’t get paid for writing letters to you).

Anyway, the point of writing to you today is to not complain over pieces of you I scattered to the undeserving. The point is to tell you that there is going to be a change of residence for you (metaphorically so, of course).

Yes, dear Heart, I am handing you over to someone who I think may be more deserving of you than anyone I’ve ever met. Of course, you know who he is. And of course, he doesn’t know that he is going to get you. So we’ll have to be real discreet about this, okay? What? You can’t expect me to just go up to him and tell him that I stay up nights writing about him! Cmon! Who even does that anymore? And before you say it, no, I’m not scared of rejection. I just think I should be sure before I let him know. Because what if I want you back and he gets too attached to you? Gotta cover all bases, sport.

I know you don’t agree with my methods and that I’m listening to my brain for once. So I’m going to give you reasons why I think one-sided love is a great concept:

  •  You can change your mind without anyone getting hurt in the process.
  • No expectations and thus, no accusations and so, no arguments.
  • Butterflies in the tummy that make you feel oh-so-good soon as you see them or receive a message from them.
  •  You can like them without having to spend an inexcusable amount of time with them on a daily/weekly basis.
  •   You can dream about how wonderful being with them would be, if it were ever to come true.

Dear Heart, I know I’ve put you through a lot of hard knocks over the years because of bad judgment. But believe me when I say that “he” is the One. Because whether I can be with him or not is just not important anymore. For the first time, I like someone enough to not want to be with them, lest it ruins everything.

He probably knows. And if he doesn’t want to do anything about it, well, we’ll just keep right on searching. There’s always space for more disappointment.

Attraction: You Have Been Friendzoned

Obsessed as we are with relationships, love, romance and fairy tale endings, as our conversations, books and movies all seem to suggest, it is strange to acknowledge that most of us are dissatisfied with the same. Blame it on media, singers, authors or film-makers, we’re all chasing impossible dreams. For the sake of this particular blog post (and my current dilemma), I shall refrain from talking about relationships other than ones that have a romantic connotation.

I’m horribly inexperienced with stable, deep, meaningful relationships between a man and a woman, who might consider spending their lives together. It makes me feel both proud and ashamed to admit that I have never met a man who I might want to be with for the rest of my life. Proud because unlike many people I know, I have standards that I will not compromise on. And ashamed because I have standards I will not compromise on. That said, it pains me to admit that over the last 3 decades, each time I have been attracted to a member of the opposite sex, it has always ended on a very good note. So I have no stories of heartbreaks and wild, break up sex to share. As a result, I have more friends than your average Jill (or Neha/Pooja if we are talking about North India). Because attraction is easy, fun and healthy. But what does a woman do with so many friends? Well, she looks at them all getting married one after the other in rapid succession because she has yet to meet that one man who can sustain her interest with time (and vice-versa, probably).

However, I strongly believe that attraction follows a pattern. We get attracted to the same kind of people over and over again. They are just upgraded versions of the one before (I had to get an app reference in there, occupational hazard).

You might think I’m talking through my hat here, so let me try and prove that the scientific way. Most of us are familiar with Pavlov’s theory of conditioned reflexes. In short, it states that people are conditioned to react in a way that they are most used to. There are many applications for the theory and you can click on the wiki link to know more (or let me know, I’ll direct you to more detailed scholarly articles). So consider this:

 There are several amusement parks and rollercoasters all over the world, right?

 Now, if a child is made to go on rollercoasters that only go up and down, he may not feel nausea because with time his experiences and his rides are all of the same kind. His body and his mind both get used to it. Something on the same line as Pavlov’s conditioned reflexes.

 If this same child is one day on a rollercoaster ride that goes in circular, haphazard directions, it’s a change for him. He was confident that rollercoasters would not affect him, he would not feel dizzy because he never has. But each ride is different. He just needed to be on a ride that would snap him out of his conditioned reflexes to make him dizzy.

 Similarly, maybe the men/women you’ve been with so far have been all of a certain kind. We tend to follow a pattern when we feel attracted to people. You are getting consistently attracted to the ones that have not been able to make you react in that fairy tale way. MAYBE. It’s a possibility.

Personally, I strongly believe we tend to find ourselves drawn towards people who display inherently the same kind of traits. But our brain refuses to acknowledge that dude, it’s not gonna work because it never has worked before with this kind of a man/woman.

In my case, I tend to get attracted to men who are always, without a doubt, emotionally unavailable and expressively challenged. Which is not to say they are assholes, they are just people who are either stuck in their past, or have so many women around them, they can’t see the forest for the trees, or so painfully shy, the mere thought of talking about what they feel makes them bolt for the hills. I can’t explain why I’m attracted to these men, but I do know that men who want to “talk about love” and plan candlelit dinners for two and send sappy poems will never manage to get more than my ridicule for being shallow. But to each his or her own (that’s what we’re supposed to say to seem non-judgmental, right?)

Being attracted to the same kind of men has led me to a zone where attraction feels over-rated now. Love feels bookish. Romance feels nauseating. After spending a good part of the last 5 years analyzing my own behavioral patterns, I’m, for the lack of a better word, bored. These men I tend to get attracted to are intellectual giants but so emotionally challenged (or hidden), that I now realize that I somehow convinced myself that I’d be happier if I stay single. And nothing short of a man who looks like Brad Pitt, reasons like Richard Dawkins and emotes like well, no-one, is going to make me change my mind. Before you say “That’s impossible!” let me state that I have met men like that and they are all my friends (and single). I felt they were emotionally challenged (as I said before) but the truth is, I am simply friendzoned. And it’s not as bad a place to be as some might insist.

A lot of us are friendzoned for one reason or the other. Here’s how you know for sure you’re there:

  1.  If they are never afraid of discussing their shortcomings with you, you have been friendzoned.
  2.  If they burp or fart in your presence, you are not only friendzoned, you are never getting out of there.
  3.  If they discuss politics, scientific theories or movies with you at 3 am, you have been friendzoned.
  4.  If they ask you for relationship advice, you have been friendzoned. Also, you had to read this to know? Dumbass.
  5.  If they flirt with other people when you’re around, you have been friendzoned. Or alternatively, they are playing childish mindgames with you and you should friendzone them.

Given a choice, I would choose attraction over being friends because I know that eventually, all attraction will end there. So why not make the best of it? But if you have a friend who is harboring notions about being with you, it is not only cruel to let them not know that you will never be with them, it is pretty evil. And if you are that friend attracted to another friend, hello there, I think we need rehab. Drop me a line and we’ll get through this together.

It’s a tough world out there. Make friends. Not love.