Monthly Archives: August 2009

Long Distance Relationships

Let’s be honest. Given a choice, I would never pick a long distance relationship. I mean, what’s the point? Like DeePad says in Love Aaj Kal,

Kya fayda? Relationship ke jo achche things hai woh nahin.

(What’s the point? The benefits of a relationship aren’t present.)

And yet, I guess long distance relationships do happen. No one gets into one for the sheer joy of it. It’s practical (like the movie says) and we live in a world of super-pragmatism.

Anurag Kashyap makes an interesting observation (in his commentary of Dev D – quoted in context only, not words).

In that time, people used to write letters to and wait for months to hear from each other. In this day and age, they talk every day, they chat and email. They are a part of each other’s lives. They are emotionally connected. So the frustration is just physical.

Interesting point that. It isn’t just the sexual deprivation while being completely fulfilled on all the other fronts. There is that loss of a tangibleness in the relationship. For a hardcore sentimentalist like me, I wonder where’s the romance in memories of emails and phone conversations?

There is of course that sense of incompleteness from not really know what the other person is looking like at the point of time. Is he smiling, does she incline her head to one side when I say her name? Even more, in detail, I can explain the delicious aroma of the samosas frying next door but can he really grasp the entirety of what I’m saying? Does,

I’d love to be sharing them with a hot cup of tea with you on a day like this?

..even begin to cut it? Truly, a look is worth a thousand words and more. There is so much that words can’t say, after all, that my eyes can.

Which brings me to think about the last time I had a long-distance relationship. I think the biggest problem with it was that you may still be able to sustain a relationship long distance. But to build a relationship long distance…that just seems impossible to me now.

I think what also happens is that one tends to overcompensate for the lack of physical proximity with an extra serving of emotional intimacy. For what else is our compulsive social networking, our minute-to-minute status updates? We miss the physical company of other people and probably we are all such a lonely generation that we wander into the excess of forced emotional closeness.

To come back to the long distance relationship, I must admit that there is also something vaguely appealing about it, in equal measure. There is the convenience and practicality masquerading as ‘respect for the other person’s choices’.

There is the supposed trust and comfort levels that we associate with being able to have a relationship with two physical addresses. Perhaps it is true that some measure of trust does exist but in today’s day of disposable relationships and where marriage itself is an ambiguous term, I think it is largely about shutting your eyes to what you don’t want to face. Somehow a relationship whose manifestations are no more than an email inbox and a mobile phone just seem easier to shut away or even ignore. (I rather expect this statement will cause some uproar so I’ll clarify that as everything else on this blog, it’s just my point of view). What can be more attractive to a generation of people hungover on choices and control?

There is a certain romanticization too, of the other person, of the special bond etc. But when it comes down to it, people are just people, it is our individual experiences with them that make them special to us. And there is that undefinable something that draws us to a particular person and not another. I’m just saying that we’re ignoring that altogether in a long-distance relationship.

It’s like perfume. There’s no point trying to describe it, you  just have to get close and smell it to know what it’s like.

Versions of this article are also posted at Yahoo! Real Beauty and Love Beckons.

Freedom at 30

For the first time ever,
in my conscious memory,
none of my dreams
or things that I look forward to
in the future with anticipation
have anything to do with a man.

Isn’t that something? Even if it did take me three decades to get to it.
It was so worth it.

A version is posted on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

The Man-Child: Tribulations Of A Twenty-Five-Old

I am really liking this. There is a new kind of man up and about and he makes me re-think all my notions about men and relationships. There was of course the spectacular younger man that I had the good fortune to be with for a brief while. And there are my other friends and acquaintances. They have one thing in common – they’re all twenty-five. Of course it is the fact that they’re 25-year-olds viewed from my 30-year-old eyes. I don’t think I quite liked 25-year-old men when I was 25 myself. At the risk of sounding all haughty-superior, I’m now at the vantage position of viewing them from an older and yes, wiser perspective.

25 seems to be right time to call him a man-child. There are traces of his boyishness and childishness (some of which he may never grow out of). And there are stirrings of adulthood, many-hued, whether it is the seriousness of ambition or the charm and ruthlessness of a Male Slut, the depravity of the grown-up Bad Boy, the ‘tortoise in hare-and-tortoise’ of the Beta Male or even the decisiveness of a human being who is just older and more confident. He could go any of those ways (or all of them), he’s poised on the treshold of who he is going to be for the large part of the rest of his life. You can almost see how he’s going to turn out as a husband and father. It’s watching his adulthood in its crystallization.

The love of my life made the mountain-moving decision of his life at twenty-five – that it wasn’t going to be about finding a perfect woman but finding someone who’d do and making it work with her. That was a drastic shift from the ruthless, nearly-Nazi-like quest for perfection that marked his earlier relationships (including the one with me).

What makes it truly sweet is watching the vulnerability that also accompanies him. Either it gets shattered with heartbreak, disappointment and such. Or it is hidden away, as is the case with most men and their need to be ‘manly’. And in a few, very few cases, it grows along with him (though to be quite sure, I’ve only seen this happen with gay men).

Amidst all the fun and laughter that spotted my last (and only) association with a younger man, there was one serious discussion about relationships. At the very base of his multitudinous flings, I unearthed a fear in him that every woman he’d meet was likely to cheat. And all because he had received (willingly, I may add) the attentions of a woman who was already in a relationship. I could tell it was early days and that fear had not solidified into an attitude as yet. But I could very easily see where this was going. I could see him as the kind of guy who’d jump from fling to fling, with little regard to the feelings of the people concerned, because he was in so much of a hurry to get away before he got hurt. It was almost tangibly painful to realize that his tenderness, the sweet solicitousness with which he received me might very well be gone in a couple of years. And yet, it could go the other way. If he found someone who could change his mind about that, he might be a very different person indeed – a wonderfully caring partner and a delightful friend. At the end of it, in my mind, it is symbolised by his voice – deep-throated and firm most of the time, but briefly turning plaintive and tentative when he said,

That’s what I wonder. Is there any loyalty in relationships anymore?

It was haunting in how vulnerable it sounded and it moved me. I haven’t felt moved, really touched by something a man said or did for a long time.

I also recently had a conversation with yet another man-child (unsurprisingly twenty-five). He’s tired of being called ‘cute’ and he imagines that he’ll never get a girl if this continues. So he wants to revamp himself into a sexier, more macho, adult avatar. I don’t know why he can’t see what I see – a guy who’s quite pleasant to look at, affable, fun, intelligent and nice to boot. What woman wouldn’t fall for that? And they probably already are, only he isn’t realising it. But I can’t stop him if he decided he wants to turn Neanderthal man. I hesitate to tell him that it will only make him look ridiculous because that so isn’t him. I wish he would realize that his cuteness, this little-boy vulnerability that makes women want to take care of him…that’s his greatest draw. Well, perhaps he’ll realize it on his own. Man-child he may be, but he isn’t stupid.

And finally, I get something out of this. Seeing the vulnerable side of a man, much before it has been buried or strangled out of existence or mangled beyond recognition…it’s a moving experience. It brings me back the respect I had for the male species, that brought me so many close friendships with them. It also brings back the tenderness and affection, banishes my own fear of all men being monsters. It makes them look human in my eyes and that can only be good.

I raise my glass to the wondrousness of the twenty-five-year-old man! Cheers, baby, you’re awesome!

Protection – A Monologue

What lies behind protectiveness?

Would you beat up someone for me? If I got hurt, would you want revenge? And why?
Nothing you do or say can change what has happened.
There is a certain helplessness about not being able to change the past. I can feel it and I imagine you feel it too. Is it because you are supposed to be responsible for me? Is it because my well-being and safety validate your existance in my life?

In that case, isn’t it only to prove a point?
To show that you’re playing your role as protector, friend, guide, lover, father, brother…so well?

And what is behind my mask of indifferent independence?

Am I too proud to admit I need help?
Am I too scared to admit I could be scared too?
Do I want you to understand that without my saying it at all?
Do I want to be protected without acknowleding the protection?

Do I want to even remember that I have been hurt?
Do I want to look at wounds that exist
Or do I just want to look away and pretend everything is perfect?

And in the midst of all this….there are such labels as love and jealousy and comittment and security to save us from having to face reality.

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