Category Archives: On a lighter note..

Who says women don’t have a sense of humour?

The Trials Of The Girl Who Reads

The Crush has given me a book. The question is to read or not to read?

What if it turns out to be like ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’? What if it’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hain? I crushed but I still found it problematic even back in the 90s. Oh, what a grave falling there will be! Men, please note. If you’re calling yourselves modern and telling us you like ‘smart women’, you’ve got to be careful about twice as many things. Keep your shoes (and teeth and other vital body parts) clean. Smell good. Even intelligent women have noses. AND please, for god’s sake, have good taste! There is nothing worse than a snob-slob unless it’s a well-dressed guy who says he enjoyed Amish Tripathi.

Via Book Riot | Facebook

Let’s come to the book. Goodreads and Amazon reviews offer some solace but I am a skeptic. Too many smooth-talking boys and too many well-written reviews of bad books, have me running to my Comfort reading shelf. I’ll take a well-thumbed copy of Harry Potter over all the fad ‘Best of 2016’ listicle books any day. At my age you cannot risk having your heart broken by yet another well-marketed book.

Besides 2017 has just begun and I’m still basking in the afterglow of ‘The Help’ (which I took 4 years to decide to buy, after enjoying the very excellent movie version).  I don’t give my affections easily. Not to a man and certainly not to a book (and you know which one can break my heart worse).

On the other hand, there’s the supreme Male Ego and how pandering to it becomes directly proportion to said male’s interest in one. How can I say I don’t want to read this book because what if it’s really horrible or worse still it sucks and I can’t deal with omghowdoessuchalovelylikesuchahorrid and then I have to block you and scrub my crush-organs with bleach to obliterate any memory of you? No, it’s a lot easier to say, “No thanks, I don’t drink coffee.”

Better to lose a man than the fantasy of him. I’ll have a (potentially bad) book to keep me company. But what if it turns out to be really, really good OMiGawdIKnewItWeShouldBeBookSoulmates and he’s gone? Sigh.

how many books do you want to read in 2017? my goal is 25 😌✨

A post shared by jen 👩🏻‍💻 (@myriadinklings) on

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Boyzoned! (No, Not Those Guys)

No, I’m not referencing my generation’s equivalent of Justin Bieber (times 5). I’m speaking of a very specific phenomenon that happens between men and women.

* Image via Unsplash/Lea Dubedout

Say you’re a single woman who is friendly and lives in a place that affords plenty of interaction with both sexes. Most men’s first interaction with you tends to be at least a little flirtatious. You learn not to take it too seriously. After all, you don’t want to be one of those girls — the ones that imagine wedding bells ringing whenever a guy smiles at them. So, no, whatever, really, you thought I was going to go soppy on you, no dude, we are splitting the bill equally. You know you’ve had a close shave when the guys bitch and snark about those girls. You’re a Cool Girl.

It happens so suddenly you never see it coming. A burp here, a torn/food-stained teeshirt there. It’s okay, he’s human. Oh never mind that you NEVER do any of that around him.

Then he keeps you waiting for an hour and when he shows up, he says he got caught. Fine, you fume a bit but you get late sometimes too. Then he starts telling you about what a horrible week he’s had and how his job sucks. Well, you listen. I mean what else can you do? And he leaves before you get a chance to tell him you’ve been working 14 hour days straight. But well, okay, maybe next time. You’re We’re-Close Girl.

It’s all cool for awhile except he’s really busy. Then when you meet and you’re aching for some nice company, he’s distracted. He shows up on time but he’s constantly whipping out his phone. You go silent. He doesn’t even notice. Then he looks around (never at you) and says this place isn’t that great, how about leaving? You realise he is just not that into you. You thank your stars you didn’t fall in love. You eat some chocolate, drink some wine, talk a little too long to a girlfriend and then it’s okay. You’ve got a couple of other people calling and asking you out anyway. You’re Independent Girl.

Two weeks later he calls when you’re in a meeting. You can’t take his call and when you’re finished with work, you just want to go home and get to sleep. He calls again the next day and you can’t take the call just then, your head hurts because your period is due and you don’t really feel much like talking. Then your Whatsapp starts pinging like crazy so you have to look at it. He wants to know why you haven’t been responding and what’s wrong and are you feeling okay? You smile at the phone and think that’s sweet and tell him you’re not feeling too well so taking a day off. You have a pretty nice conversation on Whatsapp, which you don’t ask to take to a phone call. It is your day to yourself after all. You hang up after an hour feeling proud of your independence and your willpower, feeling good about the world. Even the period cramps don’t hurt so much.

The next day you call him. He doesn’t answer. Two days later you call him again. He answers with a curt, whispered “Hellocan’ttalkrightnowI’llcallyouback”. There is a phone call a day later which you don’t want to think about who initiated. There’s only this much willpower a girl can have right after her period. It’s been a crazy time he tells you. Same here, you say loudly, determined that this time you get to talk about your work woes too. You spend ten minutes mutual bitching and you decide to ‘do that event’ that evening. There are plenty of your common friends around so you barely have a full conversation. But it’s nice to see him. Your back is still aching so you leave early. He doesn’t offer to drop you home and if he did, you’d scoff. Pffff, are you mad, it’s only 8 o’clock, stay, have fun, I’m alright, just want to get to bed early. You’re No Fuss Girl.

A couple of more weeks pass. You had a couple of Tinder dates. All of them wanted instant sex. None of them even wanted a conversation. You didn’t want any of them. You are in touch. On Whatsapp. A joke, an emoji, a photo of his new Kindle, more emoji, a random sentence that you can’t decipher followed by “Sry ignire plz”. You shrug. You won’t be GrammarNazi Girl.

One time you call to tell him about this music event you’re going to and will you hang together? He says no, he’s working really hard. You go back to being Solo Date Girl.

It’s over a month before you hear from him. It’s a phone call and you tell your Independence to shut up lecturing you for feeling good about seeing his name flash across your screen. He’s calling to ask what was the name of that restaurant you went to once where you had to leave early because you didn’t like it? No, it wasn’t me you insist, he’s the one who had itchy pants that evening. He laughs at that and challenges you to a drink-off at that very place and you’ll see who has itchy pants.

You meet him three days later for the drink-off. It’s a Sunday afternoon but you might want to go home to your teddy bear after one Cosmopolitan he says. You give him a LOOK and order your usual rum-and-coke. You’ve always been A Girl Who Can Hold Her Drink. You finish before him and wait for him to catch up (sniggering, pointing out his half-full glass). He gets a call. You’re made to give directions, cafe suggestions, accompanied by elaborate indecipherable facial expressions from him. When he hangs up, he chugs his drink and calls for the bill. What, you start to ask. He tells you he has to go, he doesn’t want to keep her waiting and will it take longer to get there by road or should he take the train? Chuck it, he says, he doesn’t want to get smelly in the train. He grabs the first cab that comes along. You get a text from him ten minutes later saying “Sry babe, hope u dint mind.” You’re starting to get a sense of what Girl he sees you as and it’s not any kind of girl. Boys treat other boys this way.

He calls a week later and this time you’re out with a new guy, your first date in ages and ages (well maybe it is, but you’re not going to be the first one to call it that). You mute the call, resolving to call him back the next day. But Whatsapp starts ringing and you have to unlock your phone to mute it. And now he’s calling again. If you don’t answer it, you’ll have to tell your not-date why not. So you answer meaning to say you’re busy and can you call back. Before you can even say hello, there’s a barrage of words flooding through the phone in his voice. You look up at the guy sitting in front of you. You listen to the guy talking to you. Which one of them is likely to stick around longer in your life? You take a deep breath. You are an independent woman and you don’t have to let a new guy dictate your life. Your friend needs you. You get up and take your phone outside. He’s ranting about the shitty restaurant and can he come over right now? Not now, you manage to tell him, you’re outside. But you’ll meet him over the week. When you return, the bill has arrived. Your not-date is not a date anymore.

Rinse and repeat, Boyzoned Girl.

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* If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Men’s Messages On A Dating Site And What They Actually Mean

1.I don’t know how to say cheesy lines so I’ll just say hello.

Means: I’m lazy AF and I think I’m so awesome that even my saying the world’s most common word since the invention of telephones makes you fall in love with me.

2. Whassup

Means: I’m actually 12 and I think dating equals making friends with a girl equals treating her like I’ve known her forever equals nothing new bro, wassup with you?

3. U der? Hello? Hi

Means: I got stuck in cryogenic freeze in a chatroom in the 90s.

ID-100322505

4. Sexy gril

Means: OMG I just spoke to a girl I just came usually that happens only when I hear that lady who says “The number you’re trying to reach is switched off”.

5. M new to this place….wanna chat….howre you?

Means: I hit on receptionists, call center operators, movie ticket sellers and tour guides because I think women exist to help me.

6. Hi dear

Means: I probably think I mean no harm and this true even though I just opened a conversation with a total stranger, with a creepy endearment (literally). Or maybe I didn’t know how to spell ‘there’ and I misspelt it creatively.

*Image via atibodyphoto on FreeDigitalPhotos

Night Out

Man getting ready for night out:

Run across shower.
Spray deodorant.
Howl at underarm chill.
Repeat on other side.
Howl again.
Yell

“Aren’t you ready yet??”

20 Steps: A Digital Love Story

1. He sends her a carefully worded to sound casual-but-smart message.

2. She replies with the digital equivalent of a laugh.

3. Encouraged, he does some more of that.

4. She chuckles (digitally, of course). He notices that her smile is crooked and that her teeth don’t quite line up. He wonders whether to judge her for not using Photoshop or be impressed that she doesn’t feel the need to.

5. While he’s thinking, she springs a snarky/smart/weird reference on him that makes him laugh.

6. Encouraged, she does more of that.

7. They continue in this fashion, trading funny lines, witty insights and an occasional urban angst reflection, that they agree (without words) to consider original.

8. The dating site goes down for 27 hours. They return surprised at the relief they feel that the chat history hasn’t been vaporised. But just in case, she says, maybe it’s not such a reliable platform after all? Sure, he agrees, how about moving this to chat instead?

9. They now feature on each other’s ‘Last messaged’ and ‘Always Show’ chat lists. Gripes about work, mid-morning panic pangs and I’m-so-bored-but-it’s-not-time-to-stop-work-yet chats feature on these.

10. Work hits. Life intervenes. Illness happens. Or, never mind that deus ex machina crap, it’s just a weekend. But she types his name into the search bar every now and then. And he stalks her photos on a lonesome Tuesday night.

20 Steps

11. 4 days later, a Hi goes unanswered. 2 days later the reply goes unnoticed. 3 days later a message goes undelivered. A week later, they are online at the same time but they don’t exchange a word.

12. 10 days later she says ‘What’s up?’ He replies ‘Same old’. Another week passes.

13. A month later, he says ‘Hey’. She replies (after 20 minutes), ‘How are you?’. They talk. It’s almost like it once was. Almost. But he’s texting a prospective hookup about later. And she is parallel-chat-flirting with a new crush/Fwb. There are no goodbyes in this conversation that is peppered by intervals of at least 5 minutes between each message.

14. Three weeks later, he messages saying he is going to be in her city. She replies “Oh cool”. No further communication.

15. Two days later she pings him saying she saw his profile on another dating app and isn’t it funny how things turned out? He replies with a smiley.

16. A month later, she notices his profile picture has changed to show a geographic landmark that she recognises from her own city. She chooses not to comment on it. She forgets about it.

17. He changes his profile picture back to one more his style, his city after 2 weeks. This time, there’s a girl in the picture as well, her head pressed close to his. Two weeks later, he notices the Facebook ticker shows her rapidly commenting and liking some guy’s status updates. His eyes move back to his feed before he can even think about it.

18. She receives a friend request from someone. It’s an old classmate. Among the 37 common friends, she notices his face. And she wonders if she should ask how they know him. She files it away in her head for a later, more casual conversation where it won’t be noticed. And she forgets about it.

19. He pings and says ‘What’s up?’. She says ‘Same old’.

20. Repeat from 1.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

*Image (without text) via thanunkorn on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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I Want To Be A Modern, Female Superman…

…only in that I have a smartphone app called ‘PhoneBooth’ that lets me change clothes at lightning speed.

Phonebooth

*Images without text courtesy Gualberto107 (Phonebooth) and photostock (Clothes rack) on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No, this is serious. I am friend, businesswoman, creative thinker, socially aware voice, family woman, hot single girl, gal pal and a host of other things. Each of these come with their own dress code. I exercise my individuality adequately in each uniform. And I exercise the rare privilege afforded to few Indian women, in just being able to be so many things.

In addition, I’ve come around to accepting and then even embracing vanity. I am a woman and impressions about me are formed and sustained by my physicality a lot. How I look determines a large part of the response I get. I’ve been a marketing professional in another lifetime. It would be silly to forget the lessons from then. When packaging plays such a large part of reactions and hence relationships, I would be a fool to disregard them. Also, it’s not worth the effort of dealing with the backlash of wearing something that people don’t deem appropriate for an occasion.

I’ve found a comfortable zone now, where I know what to wear that is the right blend of appropriate, individualistic, practical and eye-catching. To almost any situation that I find myself in. I’m also a compulsive organiser and juggle several engagements as efficiently as I can.

Where it gets tricky is when different uniforms jostle for consecutive time-space on my calendar. Time planning now involves not only figuring out optimal routes of travel, energy level/mindframe required for that particular engagement and location feasibility, but also what I can wear that will cover everything adequately.

Take last week for instance. I had a semi-casual meeting with a friend who I’m helping out, professionally. Lunch was on the cards with some old colleagues. After that, I was to have a conversation with a prospective client. Then, I had to proceed to cultural event with a networking session among artsy/business people. All of this on a scorching day in Mumbai, at locations clean across the city. What could I wear that wouldn’t crumple or drench me in perspiration, look formal but not severe, would be casual enough to be friendly, seem cool and also arty? I thanked my stars that I’d begun wearing sarees last year and picked out a Kalamkari cotton. Sarees work like Superwoman costumes (complete with capes). Nobody in India questions a saree. It’s considered dignified for any occasion. I was counting on my personality and general rarity of women in sarees to pull off the individualist vibe. It did surprise my colleagues a bit but overall I think it worked.

My last two jobs had little to no dress restrictions, which allowed me to practise, even perfect this perfect-for-every-occasion look. I managed to go seamlessly from train travel to client meeting to afternoon-behind-computer-screen to partygoer a few times. Accessorising helped, as did layering with such delightful things like scarves, dupattas, shawls and shrugs. Summer brings its own challenges though.

Next week, I have a casual date, a feminist play and a kids birthday party to attend. It’s not for a few days but I’m going to need that time to figure out what I can wear that will work for everything. Sarees are out (I could work a draped length of cloth anytime with safety pins but NOT around toddlers). So are jeans (what, are you crazy in this weather?). What does that leave? Dresses or skirts? Hmm, mostly okay but these might bring in more undue attention than required, while travelling back. I still have some time though.

*Sigh* That’s why I wish I had a phone app, that allowed me to dart in and out in a matter of seconds, rocking a new look each time. Tech-entrepreneurs, are you listening?

XXFactored Mar2013: We want gender-neutrality but we also want sex!

I initiated a social media clean-up last year that continued over several weeks. Pages were unliked, dead blogs were unsubscribed from, uninteresting and spammy twitter accounts were unfollowed, Boards rather than people were looked at to follow on Pinterest. The result is that my timelines move slower and I’m getting a better chance to look at things that are really interesting and relevant. Also, it has considerably reduced my social media fatigue (yes, there is such a thing!) so I’m more inclined to look at newer content.

The Idea-smithy’s Facebook Page looks at pretty much everything that isn’t here so pop culture, fiction, poetry, general slice-of-life moments all fall under that purview. There is so much coming in there that I’m considering making Ideamarked (The Idea-smithy version of XXFactored posts) a weekly rather than monthly feature.

There have been posts coming up that I am not quite sure whether to put on XXFactor or The Idea-smithy. They often have to do with womanhood, sexulaity and relationships but are also about pop culture, fiction or other such things. In a few cases, I’ve posted to both places. But I’m starting to question whether it makes sense to keep these two blogs separate. I’m the same person writing for both and I’m not even anonymous anymore. On the other hand, each one has taken on a certain voice of its own. Also, these are two communities with some overlap but possibly differences, too. So I ask my community here at XX Factor: Should I merge the two or should they stay separate?

And while you’re thinking, here’s the March picks on XX Factor:

How I Met Your Mother & Hated It

Yesterday I came upon a wonderful, if not depressing realisation. Human beings seek the same old social structures everywhere. We replicate the same relationship models, no matter what new social settings we are in. This realization came to me courtesy too many back-to-back episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

Why was I spending Sunday alone at home, glued to the TV set, watching reruns of a sitcom past its prime? That’s another story kids, but today let me tell you about the time I discovered that we recreate familiar relationship structures.

I detest Lily Aldrin. I think she’s pushy, overbearing, interfering and self-absorbed. None of those are really reasons to dislike her since these describe a lot of other people and characters that I do not dislike. Yesterday it dawned on me. The HIMYM character cast is nothing more than the modern version of a family sitcom. Cue Lily, the pushy, harassed, center-of-group mother. Marshall is the too-good-to-be-true papa bear who goes to work, is a lawyer who is actually nice and loyal and *never* looks at another woman. Barney is the sometimes annoying, sometimes lovable brother. Robin is – wait for it – not the girlfriend but the elder sister, you know the one you have a teensy crush on but you can’t breathe a word about  it to anyone. Ted Mosby of course, is the collective us, the audience.

Think about it. The group’s  structure, its habits (remember the episode on smoking?), their hangouts, who is ‘in’ and who is not, even who Ted and Robin date are judged and gavel-on-table’d by Lily. Everyone else nods a guilty ‘Yes mommy’ at her and continues. It’s sickening now that I think of it. No wonder I don’t like Lily then. Intrusive moms-in-law are not for liking, they’re for fearing.

Ted Mosby, you’re newly defined as pathetic. A job you love in a city you’re passionate about, an apartment and a life as a single man in New York and you still want to stay stuck to the oldest family structure ever – tied to mommy’s apron strings, hiding behind daddy and incestuously sharing a wet dream about your sister with your brother? For shame.

I’m deeply disturbed that I’m suddenly crushing a wee bit on you too. This totally sucks.

How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

XXFactored Jan2013: Dating, Sexuality & Relationships – The Same New

I’ve really spent 2012 so self-absorbed, haven’t I? In my defense, I got into the utlra hot-and-heavy of commitment, did the deep soul-searching that everyone does after getting engaged (don’t they?), hit rock bottom with a break-up, wrote plenty of mournful stuff, bored myself and got back with the ‘Really now, are you over *all* the drama finally?’ and here I am. So yes, I haven’t really spent much of the year looking at other people and their relationships and what they think of them. But a new year is here with new people, new problems and adventures of the heart. And I’m promising to bring back the social butterfly that I and this blog have always been. Let’s start with a round-up of interesting reads:

  • “When a woman is the sum total of her headscarf and hymen – that is, what’s on her head and what is between her legs – then nakedness and sex become weapons of political resistance.” A thought-provoking article on the objectification of women’s bodies. ‘Nudity, Niqab and the Illusion of Free Choice‘ (via The Express Tribune Blogs)
  • I’m most intrigued by no.4. We never seem to think of condescension & sarcasm as would-be abuser traits. These seem to be cool & attractive behaviour, drawing us in like flies to honey. ‘Are You Dating An Abuser?‘ (via Psychology Today)
  • The Subtext Of An Entire Relationship In 4 Minutes‘ (via TheFrisky)
  • Some surprises here on what guys do on Facebook before dating the girl: ‘10 Ways Guys Use Facebook For Their Dating Lifes‘.  (via HowAboutWe)
  • A great answer to ‘What Do Guys Wish Girls Knew?’ (via Quora)
  • When do you google your date? The obvious answer was ‘before the first date’. But I’ve been meeting so many familiar strangers on account of social media that I find I only google after a couple of dates now. ‘Poll: When Do You Google A Date?‘ (via HowAboutWe)
  • Ever notice how Satan’s head bears an uncanny resemblance to the female reproductive system? (via 10 Daily Things)
  • Cosmopolitan’s hilarious and terribly wrong sex advice (via Uptown Magazine)
  • What the dating guide has to say about Facebook: ‘When Is It Okay To Friend Someone You’re Casually Dating?‘ (via HowAboutWe)
  • A study says bisexual women are likelier to be abused/raped. This article points out a few holes in that theory. (via Thought Catalog)
  • 25 Things You Wish You Could Ask Someone On A First Date (via Thought Catalog)

Date A Man Who Knows Women

* Inspired by Date A Girl Who Reads.

Date a guy who has sisters. Preferably a middle child, so he knows what it’s like to look up to as well as look over (sometimes overlook) women. Hope that they’re the kind of women you’d like because it’ll be like having that many more mothers-in-law. Take solace in the fact that PMS & the fact that women get puffier, then sleeker in a matter of days, will not come as a complete surprise to him. On the other hand, remember you might need to teach him that women have not been put on earth for his exclusive service. Mostly, it’s a worthwhile trade-off.

Date a guy who doesn’t worship his mother. It may be a herculean task to find such a man in India where ‘mama’s boy’ is a badge borne with pride, not embarrassment. Still, look for him. You may also get thrown off by an odd dysfunctional specimen who actually hates the woman that he popped out of. You’re looking for a fine balance here – that rare guy who understands everyone has foibles, everybody is human. If he can see his mother through the same lens that he uses on the rest of the world, hang on to him for dear life because he’s the one person who’ll treat you as a complete human being, not an assortment of body parts that he likes.

Date a guy who’s a father figure. Find him in a classroom or a coffeeshop. He’ll be listening intently (or he may not look it) but the woman next to him will always be talking. If he’s looking at her, he’ll be looking into her face. If not, he’s probably staring at his coffee but he’ll give a slight nod every now and then. He’ll make sure to be on the side of the traffic while crossing the road or even walking on it. He may not open doors for you but he’ll keep a constant eye on you  as you walk across the floor to the restroom. And when you return, his response will be inversely proportional to the ones of the other men around. He might even lecture you a bit on dressing, walking or talking. Fight with him for your independence. Fight for space. Fight for your own time. Fight for your right to your opinion. Fight in every way possible. Stomp off in a temper. You’ll know you’ve found him when you turn and discover he’s following you quietly, at a respectable distance till you get to a safe place. And go back to him. Because even the most independent of women love their daddies.

Date a guy who’s had a lot of girlfriends. Look for him when he’s slightly past his prime. Wait till he has exhausted his bag of tricks on the women before you and tired of the games. Hold your counsel when he tries them on you. He can’t help it; it’s habit. But it’s like dying embers – keep it stoked just to the level that you like. Ask him about his past. No matter how discreet he insists he is, it can be done. Remember, he’s been a collector and old collectors love to tell their stories. Let him regale you with his escapades and bite back your jealousy and ego bruises. Then, after he’s began talking, when he takes a break to breathe and get a drink, tell him your conditions. Seal the deal then. You’ll need to keep listening to his stories for the rest of your life but remember, you’re the one he’s telling stories to.

Date a man with a lady boss. Date a guy who’s the only one in a team of women. Date a man who works in a woman-centric industry. Date a guy whose job it is deal with only women – like a bra salesman. Guys who have to rub shoulders with the everyday nature of women. Who have to deal with ambition, pettiness, stupidity, greed and every other human trait – in women, on a daily basis.

Date a gynecologist. Date a psychiatrist. Date a counselor. Date a teacher.

Date a man who knows women.

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