Forced Interactions

Yesterday, I was in the market close to home, picking up some fruit and other odds and ends. My mum came with as well, as we’d decided to make a day of it. Now, I don’t usually leave her side, because she is somewhat wobbly on her feet. But as we were crossing the road, and standing on the road divider, we happened to be a few metres apart.

And that is the only reason I don’t have a murder scene to clean up today. Because my mum didn’t see this entire interaction unfold.

I stepped into the road, intending to cross as a car made a u-turn. However, I quickly jumped back because a bike rider swerved in the space between the car and the divider, and proceeded to speed ahead. I was directly in his path, and I would have rapidly become roadkill if I hadn’t moved when I did.

First of all, I was annoyed that he was being so ridiculous and rude. And then, as he drove past, he leaned over to me, and sang into my face.

I’m the first to admit that I have no clue about human psychology, apart from what little I read or see firsthand. But this? This was aggressive. Unnecessarily so, in my opinion, because apart from a hurried backward skip and maybe a frown, I didn’t react to his swerving in any way.

At first, I thought it was merely cheek. Then I recounted the story to a few people, and quite a few of them seemed to think it was because of my appearance. Great. Because THAT brings back WONDERFUL memories. :-\

[Post from old blog. Many of my views have changed in the interim, and I was too embarrassed to write the whole story out even then. But the incident remains disturbing nonetheless.]

Disturbia

My opinion of guys in India is no secret, in fact, I have a sneaky suspicion Akshay is slightly resentful of that opinion. Hardly surprising – he falls into the category – but he isn’t creepy. Creepiness is my number one complaint for the great unwashed (men) of India. And this time, I have an incident to prove it.

I have to open a DEMAT account, so I decided to trot along to the nearest branch of ICICI and open one. The person in charge wasn’t available, so my number was duly noted and I was told that a representative would get in touch with me. So far, excellent. I got a call later that afternoon (wow!) and the rep explained that he could come over and I wouldn’t have to go to the bank to fill out the forms. Great. I asked him to come the next day, and I needed to collect the necessary documents for the application.

The next day, he showed up. I handed over the documents, signed half a million times and was told this part of the process was over. For extra points, credibility-wise, they wanted a copy of my passport. I had the identification page photocopied, but not the address page. So the guy said I could hand it over to the rep who came to verify my address. Fair enough, I thought, although I was slightly annoyed that he didn’t tell me this before.

The next day, the guy calls up again, saying he needs that photocopy. I still hadn’t got the copy, so I asked him to give me an hour before coming (I also happened to be out at that time).

He came, right inside (which was odd since he had to merely collect one paper), and proceeded to make a big deal about the whole thing. After he ran out of excuses to linger, he finally got to his real point.

He turned to me, and said (in Hindi) that I was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Also, yesterday when he saw me, apparently I blew his mind. I kept him awake all night with thoughts of me, and he is in love with me.

[blank stare]

All this sounds awful in English, but it’s typical movie dialogue in Hindi.

I was petrified.

I’ve had some horrendous experiences with perverts and touchy-feely guys, and this exchange made my blood run stone cold. I gathered my wits long enough to ask him very politely to leave, and that I was very uncomfortable with this situation.

I was terrified till I closed the door, on his parting words of ‘I love you’.

Some notes:

– The Akshay in the story is my ex. Not the most recent one, but one relationship I certainly regret with every fibre.
– I no longer think that Indian guys are creepy. I just have lost faith in humanity overall. I am exaggerating of course, but these sort of happenings don’t help.
– I was living alone at the time. There was no one else in the house except for me. My parents were in another city, and the boyfriend was too. My best friend had moved to another city recently, and I had just chucked up a job. If something were to have happened to me, exactly no one was going to know for at least 10 hours. My mother and I spoke every day, but that was in the evening. No one knew that this guy was coming over today, because I had told them that the process was over the previous day.
– A lot of people asked me why I didn’t complain about this guy to the bank. Mainly, it was because he didn’t threaten me. My fear was based on my poor experiences previously. Also, I was terrified that since he knew where I lived, I would face repercussions. And, he was handicapped. Must have been hard enough for him to get this job, with a stammer and double thumbs on both hands. No idea if I did the right thing, but that was my thought process at the time.

C’est la vie, eh?

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Being The Other Woman: The Scumbag Edition

JP. [Aside: I have lots of stories about the maniac that is JP, but in the archives of the old blog. I have to extract and post them here at some point. Too salacious to miss.] JP. The very pinnacle of scumminess all bundled up into one human being. Liar, cheater, addict, dealer, and so much more. None of which I knew when he walked into my office building one evening.

I was a new, wet-behind-the-ears editor at a local newspaper, and I was working late one evening. I didn’t know all the staff writers, nor did I know the freelance writers who regularly dropped into the office. So when JP walked past my office that fateful evening, did a double take, and walked IN to my office, I was under the highly mistaken impression that he was a writer.

I asked him as much, and he outright lied and said he was. I took it at face value, and spoke to him for a while. I was very friendly, because new job and wanted to make a good impression on fellow colleagues. A week or so later, I get a message on Facebook. He had found me, and proceeded to chat with me there. He was witty [and stole his lines from the Internet to maintain that facade] and quite confident. But something was off.

I met him for coffee one afternoon, and we sort of clicked. He made me laugh, but he frightened me a little with his crazy eyes. He also told a lot of stories about being part of the underworld, and rubbish like that. I was properly off put. However, I went home and told my mum about this, and she said I should give him a chance. So I did.

Big mistake. He wanted only one thing from me, but he wanted to possess me otherwise too. I became the repository of all his needs, wants, desires, frustrations, and much more. I held out for a long time, because I wasn’t comfortable with him yet.

One fine day, he tells me about his ward cum sister cum daughter from Pune. Originally from Fiji, this waif apparently needed rescuing, and she was living with him in Goa. Mmhmm.

Long story short, it was his wife. He tried to pass off his WIFE as his ward. There are so many facets to this story that are contained in the other posts, which I will post later on.

Before I found out about this though, I did end up spending time with him. I don’t know what it was about damaged people that I wanted to heal with kindness and love. Ridiculous, in retrospect, because I was brainless twerp and these people needed counselling. In JP’s case, he needed incarceration.

Offence in Reverse

I made the monumentally stupid decision to rejoin Tinder just before the new year. This idiotic decision was wholly prompted by a pal, who was having a riot swiping on the app. So in a misguided attempt to try my luck at dating once again, *sigh* I downloaded Tinder again.

This time however I knew better than to leave my Instagram account public. I had turned it to private a few months ago, and boy did that save my goat. Over the course of one night, I had 44 requests to follow me thereafter, and 14 requests to message. I was overwhelmed to say the least, but the worst was yet to come.

I logged into my email and saw a connection request for LinkedIn. Now, I am not picky about the people I add on there. Mostly professional requests in any case. I got into a discussion with the new connection, and he wanted to talk about some content for his company. Fair enough I thought; this sort of thing is fairly common.

We spoke later in the day, about the kind of content his company was looking for. The whole thing appeared to be vague in his mind (not uncommon if the idea of content marketing is nascent) and he kept swivelling back and forth between various points. I realised that the conversation was going nowhere, so I proceeded to wind down the call, stymieing all efforts of a meeting. The last gasp of an effort though was still there: “So when can we meet?” Sigh.

But, the creme de la creme of asshats today was on Facebook. Now, I don’t know how the dude found me on Facebook by just my first name, but hooboy was he weird.

He sent me a message which was ordinary enough, and not in the least offensive. So I wasn’t creeped out, but his message implied that I knew him from somewhere. Thus, I allowed the message, and replied, asking him whether we had met (and I had forgotten).

He said that we had a friend in common. I asked who. He named someone I didn’t know. I said that maybe he had contacted the wrong person? And then..

He flipped his lid.

“Do you think it is so easy for me to message you?” – I never hinted at the ease or difficulty of this at all!
“I asked you for Taj (sic: coffee at Taj), keeping safety in mind.” – Ok?
“You didn’t even consider my invitation!” – Obviously. You’re a stranger off the Internet.
“Trust me you would not have regretted it.” – Whoa, boy. Calm down.
“I will NEVER message you again!” – Um, ok?

He got offended WITH ME. Why? Because I refused to go out with a total stranger for a coffee date, based solely on his stated “liking” for me, his invitation, and in consideration of the difficulty in asking me.

I regret nothing, crazy person.

Being The Other Woman: Introducing the Characters

If you haven’t read part 1 of this post, it is OK. You haven’t missed anything. This is the post I actually set out to write, and got bogged down in the details.

There are several characters in forthcoming incidents. I deliberately obscured the ones in the previous post, because otherwise they might be recognizable to people who know us. [I am relying on the anonymity of the Internet to prevent that from happening, but the truth is I still am scared of it occurring.]

So, without further ado, the cast of characters in the following short stories:

  1. JA: The inveterate scumbag, drug dealer, shiftless work-shirker, and general malcontent, with an appetite for the good life but not for the work that goes into realising that life.
  2. Chunky Hunky: The rich kid with starry eyes, and the determination to carve his niche, albeit with a little help from mummy and daddy. Absolute charmer, with movie star good looks, and the pedigree to leaving swooning girls in his wake. [Boys too maybe, I am not judging.]
  3. The French Student: Not conventionally handsome, but still arresting enough to draw plenty of attention. Tall naval officer, with a authoritative presence, and boyishness that first melted my stony heart and then broke it into a million pieces.
  4. CC: The British heartthrob. Star of his own series on my blog. The one I thought was different, but turned out to be a philandering playboy.

And then there is me.

Another Day, Another Celebrity Death

It isn’t that I don’t feel sad about death, because I do. I however don’t understand the mourning for someone who is an art icon in their own right, no doubt, but ultimately a stranger. I don’t understand when people are die-hard fans of other people either, but then if I start listing out things I don’t understand, I will never finish this post.

My point is that death is sad, I get it, but the death of celebrity shouldn’t cause you so much anguish that it shuts you down like you lost a dearly beloved family member. I should say though that this is purely my opinion. Other people make the argument that a child dying in Syria because of ISIS is far more tragic, and yes it is, but that doesn’t diminish or augment other sorrow. You cannot compare away sorrow; it’s an emotion not the stock market.

Having said that, I do feel sad when a beloved celebrity dies. I feel sad that their greatness of talent and spirit have left the world. I feel sorrow for their families in their time of grief. I feel sad that, if they were great humans in the bargain, the world will be a lesser place without them. There is a moment of reflection on the fragility of life, and I move on. No stirring speeches or copious tears.

But today I wake up to the news that Chester Bennington committed suicide yesterday.

Chester Bennington was the face of Linkin Park. When he and Mike Shinoda sang, their voices hit chords in what felt like my soul. Their band mates played music that stirred emotions I didn’t know I had. Linkin Park music was a balm for my 20s, at a time when I felt alone and isolated, and unable to find love (even though it was there). I was at my lowest ebb in those moments (of course this is before I lost my father), and Linkin Park was succour. There were moments I wanted to reach through the music, and touch Chester, and thank him for giving voice to the pain I felt. In those moments and for many years later, their music became my anthem. And I realised for the first time how powerful a drug music is.

I still don’t mourn for Chester Bennington, because what I said before still holds true. However I do mourn for the comfort that man brought into my life at a time I needed it, and wish that he could have received the same for himself.

The world will be a lesser place, because he is no longer in it.

English Mem Desi Babu

Waiting at Dadar station with mum, minding my own business, when:

Random guy next to me: “Is this your first visit to India?”
Me (replying because I am a slave to my love of absurdity): “Um no. I live here.”
Rando: “Where are you from?”
Me: “Mumbai.”
Rando: “Nonono. From from?!”
Me (desperately trying not to laugh): “Well I’m half Malayali and half Maharashtrian, so I guess India?”
Rando: “Oh! You are Indian only! Then why is everyone staring at you while passing?”
Me: “People who stare have very little work.”

Well, that was fun. And I was a little overdue for weirdness anyway.

[Title is a reference to a Bollywood movie from the 90s. Although, in that movie the couple end up together. In my case, I ended up with a hearty chuckle.]

Heckle Again

Many many moons ago, one of the things on my bucket list was to attend a live comedy show. [Please don’t judge the ease of my my bucket list item; this was one of those throwaway tasks that I could cross off and not feel awful of a ginormous list of unfulfilled hopes and dreams.]

Yes, the comedy show. I was following a Twitter handle that advertised a for-charity comedy event for stray dogs. The tickets were 500 bucks apiece, and my boyfriend at the time and I decided to go.

It was in a fairly upmarket restaurant, with a little space, for events such as these, at the back. I forget the name of the restaurant though. Anyway. Off the august line up, I recognised nobody. The opening acts were nice: the first being a rank newcomer, who stammered a little poor thing, but had good material; and the second being, Sapan Verma, a fun comic, who we thoroughly enjoyed. The main attraction was Aditi Mittal.

Now to be fair to her, I am not really well-read in terms of pop culture, and it isn’t a reflection on her that I had no idea who she was. She is a fairly renown comedienne, and props to her for that. Her material was mostly feminist, and I found it quite fun overall. My boyfriend? Not so much.

He didn’t mind the feminist stuff, because he was a feminist too. What he objected to was that she sort of heckled (probably not the right word) me.

One of her bits was about this vaginal tightening cream, 18 Again. She asked if anyone had heard of it, and before my dearly beloved could react, I had raised my hand.

The reason I had heard of it was because, when I had spent 3 weeks in Bangalore a few years prior, I saw advertisements for 18 Again lining lampposts. Now, I am a huge ad junkie, and I love trying to reverse-engineer the creative process in my head. These ads immediately stood out to me, because they were 1) Exclusively marketed to women; 2) Clearly a cream or gel of some sort; 3) Contained no explanation of what 18 Again actually was. I was intrigued. The only other ads I have seen with this level of vagueness were for contraception. More specifically, for condoms. And while there was a blurry, softly lit picture of a caressing couple entwined on sheets, I think it is safe to say that condoms are meant exclusively for men.

So what was 18 Again? Was it a contraceptive a woman could take? I was not on the pill, and I figured it might be a good option to explore. So I Googled it: “Femininity restoration cream.” Yeah, no. Pass. That’s how I knew what 18 Again was about.

Back in Aditi Mittal’s audience, of course I wasn’t able to explain all that. Also, I am well aware audience members get heckled for comic purposes. And so, it was no surprise when Ms. Mittal looked at me in feigned outrage and shock, and said I needed help for going looking for that sort of product. I get it, it is funny.

Except, I would never heckle anyone. So it wasn’t my idea of funny. Embarrassing someone for a few laughs is a cheap shot, and honestly really good comedians don’t do it.

I shrugged the whole episode off, but the French Student was super pissed. And eventually, I wasn’t all that impressed with comedy scene after all. How disappointing.