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Coming Out Of Vertigo

I’m really enjoying the company of books and my plants. For the first time in my life, these don’t feel like temporary or even like escape from the loneliness between men. Because I’m realising my times with men have been my loneliest. I know I’ve probably had bad luck in this regard. I also believe it’s not really luck  because factually speaking, I live in a time and culture where my prospective mates are created and encouraged to be irresponsible, misogynist and cruel. To look at it mathematically, my chances of finding a man who is not these things and also matches my exacting standards of intelligence and values are slim. Knowing how things stack up against my being single and giving male humans what they want at any cost, this is average not bad luck that I’ve faced.

I don’t know where I go from here. I’m not sure I believe in the institution (legal, social) called marriage anymore, considering how badly skewed it is against my gender. I’ve also realised that I’m looking for love, for that special spark that makes one person stand out from the hundreds of others who also match up on those compatibility factors. And this is something that happens by the kind of chance that my knowledge of mathematics cannot predict. There’s no going looking for it; there’s only being open to the possibility of it happening.

There’s a comfortable peace about accepting all of these. I won’t say there isn’t pain. But that’s like old wounds that ache in bad weather. Stressful or tired times bring up bad memories. But there is even a comfort in knowing that these are old memories, a certain sepia-tinted peaceability in the knowledge that these situations have been lived through, thought over, labelled, addressed in the best ways I could and now must only be lived with.

I think I’ve always been this person, only I didn’t realise it because I was too used to living obediently according to the kind of moods and dreams I was supposed to have. I struggled to explain how this state in my life, whenever I went through it, was not misandry (or ‘man-hating’ as the people around me like to say). How can this be hate? These are the only times in my life when the dramatic, acid emotions like fear, rage and hatred don’t seem to touch me. In these moments in my life, I live in a world of pastels and soft, instrumental music and easy, comforting food. This time round, I don’t even feel the need to explain it to the ones challenging me because truly, they don’t matter.

I’m able to enjoy songs about heartbreak without feeling overcome with emotion. For the first time in my life, I’m starting to glimpse what they mean when they say sensitivity is a strength, not a fault. I can see the nuance of grief, the depth in heartbreak without being in pieces. It feels like being able to stand at the edge of the world and look into the darkness and say hello old friend, I hope you will find peace some day.

Peace, that’s all I’ve ever wanted. I feel it in the company of my plants. I have never felt it in the presence of another human being. Instead, my delicate, treasured peace is constantly disrupted and shattered by other people, most of all by romantic associations – my feelings undeniably a big part of it. It’s comfortable to have feelings that are like moonlight on a serene pool. I don’t know if and when they will be shattered by an enchanting voice or an engaging look. All I can do is feel gratitude for what I do have right now. And that is peace and contentment without a man.


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Out On Singles Town

Out On Singles Town

Something interesting that happened to me in 2014 was meeting two different guys and deciding NOT to pursue relationships with them. I remember an Ally McBeal episode (does anybody even remember that show?) where she says,

“I don’t actually date, not for the fun of it. I audition potential husbands and if I don’t see any potential, I don’t waste my time.”

This is what I spent my 20s doing. I may have missed out on a few good men but I definitely missed a whole lot of fun. Fun, dating should be that. It’s about meeting a new person, about getting to know them, doing fun things with them and maybe chasing a dream of something nicer. I enjoy all of those things. The trouble with this husband-audition business is that it becomes too much like a work goal and when that happens, fun is the first one to exit the door.

This is not about random hook-ups. I am not that person. As far as I’m concerned there is nothing random about my interest. I value my time and mindspace so why would I want to throw it away on people who actively do not want to matter? The real fun of people is when they are being people with their unrealistic hopes, their politically incorrect desires, their lovable vulnerabilities and their unpredictable flaws. I’m looking for people to experience, not cucumbers.

I’ve done the girlfriending thing several times over and the till-death-do-us-part style partner once (and that probably was ENOUGH). Being the female half of a comitted couple is not fun. It’s about having to put yourself and your relationship into limited roles and explanations that everyone feels able to digest. In my experience, it has been about stifling boredom and disappointment, pretending public approval is enough to make up for squelched fantasies, dealing with neglect and taking-for-granted, trying to live up to ideals of Independent Fabulous Perfect Indian Woman and never pleasing anybody else. Oneself? Ha! Where is there space for me? Nobody wants to know that there is a ME under all those roles and restrictions.

Complaints aside, maybe there is a solution. After I hit 30 and especially after my engagement ended, the pressure to commit to one man has eased. This does have a lot to do with most of those pressuremongers giving up on me. Their snide comments have not just dropped, I’ve become invisible to them. That’s okay. Because beyond their judgemental, oppressive gazes, there is a whole world beyond.

This world is called Singles Town. It’s got good health and glowing skin from waking up early after a good night’s sleep. It’s got turning in early or spending a weekend tucked away with a book. It’s also got daring makeup, on-the-whim clothing and shopping sprees with girlfriends. And yes, it has men. Men who find their attention captivated, who want to have conversations, who want to impress, who want to hear what I’m saying.

These are not bad men. They are not even necessarily the kind of limited men I’ve dated before. They are intelligent, independent, smart and fun. When I stopped mentally measuring their appropriateness, their compatibility with me, their fit with my social circle and a million other things, I discovered how much fun they could be. 2014 has been a year of some very, very fun dates and conversations that went nowhere. And so what? They were fun.

Of the two men, one of them turned mean and the other went flaky after I said thank you but no thank you. Well, they were only human. I think it would have been a lot harder for me to accept these flaws in them, if I had started off thinking of them as potential longterm partners. Instead, because I approached each one just as a new person, it felt a lot easier to let them grow into who they would be in my life. This is such a new notion for me! I didn’t even realise I had the ability to not jump at a man offering commitment, as if he were my last chance at a happy life. To any of you who think I deserve your pity, ask yourself if you feel you would be able to do that? Hmm, I thought so. Well, saying NO to what might have been everlasting happiness, because I want to see if there are other kinds of happiness — that’s a kind of freedom that’s worth more to me.

Yes, I have to worry about my own safety each time I’m out. Yes, I don’t have anyone to care about my health and well-being (well, come to think of it, none of the men I dated ever did, even while I was with them; most Indian men, not trained to think about someone other than themselves, I think). Yes, I don’t know what the future holds for me. But you know what? I wouldn’t know what it did, even if I were in a committed relationship. People lie, they fall out of love, they weaken, they cheat, they die. All kinds of things happen that a commitment cannot insure you from. I’d rather not live my life under a mushroom, fearing storms and floods.

MeMaybe I will regret this. But I don’t think so. I see no point in regretting doing something that seemed like a good idea at the time. That’s the only reason I don’t regret sticking to the straight and narrow through my 20s. That’s what appeared to make sense then. Life is such a mixed bag of tricks coming at you, there isn’t much sense you can make of it, except post facto anyway.

Commitment in all the forms I see around me is limiting. I haven’t yet gotten to a place where I can envision a comittment model that gives me the same inspiration, freedom and joy about the next minute, that being solo does. And what’s more, I know even if it exists, it will need a lot of work and effort to build and sustain. I think I’ve worked really hard for all my adult life at this and I deserve a break.

2015, Singles Town, here I come!


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Mayank Shekhar bemoans the plight of the single urban male in Mumbai today in an article that’s interestingly titled ‘Suffering single-it is!’

Everybody loves a single woman: The world donates her affection, attention, drinks, dinner, coffee, Orkut scraps….she gifts them hope. Nobody loves a single man, not even the single man himself, and least of all the bouncer outside the bar!

While his dig at the ‘donations’ my ilk get makes me fume, I guess by my own logic, I can afford to be generous. His species really does appear to be getting a rough deal. Tch, tch, poor things. And I don’t imagine views like the ones on this blog make it any easier for the critters. No, it is true, I ain’t being sarcastic for a change.

When I break up with one of my late20s/30ish boyfriends, amidst the agony and anger is the realization that heck, I have a lot more options than the guy does! We’re both young (well young enough), smart, fun, friendly, attractive and freshly single. But unlike the unlucky protagonists of SATC, I live in Mumbai not New York. And the ratio of single members of the opposite sex is skewed in my favour. 🙂

The music video for "Material Girl" ...

The music video for “Material Girl” (left) was inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” (right), from the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Besides I can afford to savour the delights of being that much-debated personality – a single Modern Woman. While a man can be a convenience, an amusement and even a sex object, he isn’t anymore a vital necessity to my existence or even my happiness. I can well have a social life, fun with a lot of men (if I so choose!) than misery with one (okay, fun with a single one). Heck, I can have as many girls’ nights outs as I want, even if I claim to be homosexual, I’ll still not lose out on male attention (isn’t it a fact that lesbianism is one of the greatest male fantasies?)

When I decide a boyfriend is starting to cramp my style, I can very well decide to ‘go underground’ for a while, can choose to ‘concentrate on my career’ and if all else fails, can beg off from the social circuit citing ‘family pressures’. Oh and I don’t even need to go out actively searching for the opposite sex. My family will do it for me, well-meaning friends will match-make and the men themselves will present themselves for inspection. Ha! The mountain will come to Mohemad so to speak so IdeaSmith can afford to be lazy.

Hmm, I’m smug, aren’t I? I ‘gift the world hope’ after all, so I can afford to be more than hopeful!!!!! If I had had a choice in the matter I would never have chosen to be born a woman. After all, who would willingly want to live as a second-class citizen all their lives….but you’ve heard that rant already here. If I had to be born a woman, there was never a better time or place to do so. Amen to that.

Reasons A Woman Should Stay Single

A guy I know, takes great pleasure in explaining to me, why he’s sooo thrilled to be a bachelor. According to him, if he were married, he’d have to put up with frequent calls from his wife complaining about the bai/her boss (depending on whether she’s a working wife or not), nagging and general discomfiture.

I have to point out that the above perception is based on his having to field calls from his boss’s wife who apparantly does all of the above. I’ve a good mind to sit his boss down and explain to him the damaging effects that his distatrous desicion (to get married) is having on impressionable young children. Uh…well, friend in question happens to be older than I am, but what the hell, he’s a man…do they ever grow up???

Frankly I am sick and tired of men who crib about the woes of marriage…..I mean most marriages happen because the guy proposed!!! Why do men pursue a women they don’t want after all? Oh well, as I observe, having two heads ought to make you twice as smart, not twice as confused and duhhhhh….

But anyway, who says men listen? The only way to get them to is to speak their language. And keep saying it again and again.

Hence, here goes the top reasons I am happy to be single (yeah, well that’s one hell of a thing to say on V-day but bash on regardless…)

1. I can wear floral skirts and knee-high boots to work and not have to put up with insinuations of how frivolous my job must be. My sense of self-worth, my ego and my value is not under scrutiny or at least subject to any kind of judgement by another person. My experience tells me that any thoughts a woman receives on this from a man whom she’s romantically/sexually involved with is flawed and should be thrown into the dustbin. Women rarely do that though…we tend to care about the opinion of the person we are with and hence ah, I’m saved the catastrophe of having to live with someone else’s screwed-up analysis of me.

2. I can flirt, ogle, lech, fight with, date and generally have fun with whoever I want, whenever I want and however I want. Consider this point in the perspective that I am in my 20s, reasonably attractive, friendly and fun. Put that together with the fact that there seem to be more single men in this demographic than women and tell me if I have an advantage or not?

3. I get wooed, seduced, gifted nice things, poetry written about me and compliments showered. Instead of trouble with in-laws, household maintenance and a bored husband. To quote who was it (?) Mae West perhaps… Katharine Hepburn said, “Why trade in the admiration of a 1000 men for the indifference of one?” Why indeed?

4. Men make an effort for me. They want to look good, sound intelligent and act ‘well’. They even try to impress my family and friends. I don’t have to put up with in-law jokes or a balding, podgy man who wants to believe he’s 21 and needs me to pamper him when he doesn’t feel it.

5. I can read, write, sing, paint, dance, sleep, work, meet my friends, watch movies I want to see alone if I want, travel, attend weddings and family functions, go for concerts. Instead of arranging my schedule around a workaholic husband, instead of sitting around looking pretty for a late-but-protective boyfriend, instead of entertaining an anti-social (okay, not-as-friendly) partner. I have a full life with a lot of people and interests and things to do and I can have all of them in it. Instead of one not-so-fulfiling person who makes my world have to revolve around him.

Having written this post I realise greatly reduces my chances of finding a ‘good man’ (if such a creature exists). I’ve said I’m not a man-hating feminist and I stand by that. I am however, not willing to put up with any less than I think I deserve…especially when the man wants Ms.Perfect. If this sends of the impression that I don’t need a man….well, who needs men like this? I so don’t.

So there!

Single by choice

Last year, I wrote (though very little) with IFSHA’s blog. I’m recyclying those posts here before I start for 2007.

See cross-posted here.


These days, one word that appears to dominate life at every step, hanging over like a noose and watching like a big eye in the sky is…..MARRIAGE. Nearly all my close friends are enjoying matrimonial bliss. “So why not you?” I hear my mother’s plaintive cry.

“Because…” and I stumble right there. Well…I don’t have a justification for my singlehood. Come to think of it, it isn’t a crime that I need to justify, is it? I am not married because I am single. That’s that.

I’m not single because I can’t get a man
I’m not single because I have something against marriage
I’m not single because I’m too busy

I’m single by choice. Yes, it is an option.

Matrimony is a thriving market and in a ritual-ridden culture like ours, the stakes are pretty high. Think wedding halls, think jewelers, think fashion designers, think interior decorators, wedding planners, temples and churches and what-nots, priests and singers and garland makers….to be specific there is one particular road in Chennai that is hailed by the locals as being the place to go when you get married since it provides every possible thing that you could need for a wedding. I assume that comes with a fine-print caveat that says

“Brides and grooms not included with package”.

Now it seems to me like the whole world is plotting to pull me into this set-up. After all, seen from the above point of view, I must be another valuable piece of raw material that they just can’t wait to get their hands on to polish and package and present as a finished product with the tagline of “New Bride”.

I’m not cynical about the process. I’m not even against the instituation of marriage. After all, my parents (among other couples I know) have been happily married for 28 years. As I see it, I have a good life. A caring family, lots of good friends, a good job, interests and hobbies, a social life and no major problems. A spouse will do one of two things to this. He will either take away some part of it…..with inevitable loss of freedom, additional responsibilities, financial worries and adjustments major and minor to attitudes, religious beliefs and behavior. Or perhaps it will be an ideal situation and he will be someone who won’t feel the need to control or change any aspect of my life. That’s the best case.

People tell me that there could be a man who actually makes my life better. Personally I can’t see that happening, but in the far chance that it does….that’s a lottery ticket. I’ve never been lucky that way and I’m not about to start hoping now.

In the words of the then bad girl Rizzo from Grease,

There are worse things I could do
I could stay home every night
Wait around for Mr.Right
Take cold showers everyday
And throw my life away
For a dream that won’t come true

Well….maybe it will. But a woman can have lots of dreams. A good husband could be just the icing on the cake of a perfect life. I’ll work on getting my cake ready. Plain sponge cake tastes just as good as gooey chocolate cake.

Its going to be a long way to when people can accept singledom as a perfectly natural state of being rather than an aberration to society.


I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone

I finished work a little earlier than usual. On an impulse I went window-shopping instead of heading home. I bought some music and browsed other stuff I’d never spend money on. I played ‘Boulevard of Broken dreams’ 3 times continuously at the listening booth. I chatted idly with the store staff for a few minutes and then drifted out.

After awhile I wandered into a coffee-shop and sat down. I enjoyed a long, solitary cup of mint tea while listening to Sting, Pink Floyd, ghazals and some 80s pop all in a mixed order. I stared around at nothing much and that’s when it struck me that this was the state of contentment that I so seldom achieve. It is moments like this that make it worthwhile being single.

There was a real light-heartedness in me that came from not having to explain myself, not having to adjust to someone else, not having to sell the idea of me as I really am. The relaxation that I was feeling came from the rare situation of being silent not out of submission or fear but simply because silence was beautiful.

I realise that I’m biased towards relationships, comittment, love and men by a rather bad and not necessarily typical relationship from the past. Still, we learn from the pasts that we have lived and this is mine. I find that I never achieve the kind of still clarity with other people, that I do when I’m alone. I find other people don’t always stimulate my thought processes…rather they muddle them. Men are like the slow poison, addictive at first but eventually I have to sort out the hangover myself.

I enjoy being alone. I do like conversations with other people…….but those are like movies for me, pay the price of admission and don’t make it too much of a habit. A weekend of being all alone at home, no TV, only some music and a good book and the housework….that really is an ideal vacation for me.

I am probably a loner. And I am actually blissful that way.

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