Thirty And Me

Keep Calm Turning 30

At precisely 42 seconds past 5.30 PM this evening (on Aug 20, 2014) the Earth will complete it’s thirtieth revolution around the Sun with me on it. I have spent the past four hours reading about what it means to people when they exit their twenties.

Turning 30 is supposed to be a big deal, an achievement of sorts, having survived tsunamis, earthquakes, riots, murderers, diseases, ninja assassins and of course, traffic. It is also supposed to signify the fact that I’ve officially a grown up and cannot rely on my youthful ignorance as an excuse when I screw up. I am supposed to be responsible, financially and emotionally stable, be able to hold down a job for more than three months and not throw boogers at passersby. I am not supposed to scratch my balls in public and have random fits of paranoia causing me to run down the road naked, dodging invisible aliens. I am supposed to be mature enough to realize the difference between right and wrong, morals and immorality, black, white and grey, and most importantly, coffee and tea.

I am supposed to start leading a healthier lifestyle – no more smoking, no more drinking binges and definitely no more weed. I am supposed to drink lots of water and work out regularly to ensure that my first heart attack happens only three decades from now.

I am supposed to be a strong pillar of support for my parents, be able to provide a good quality of life for my wife and be a responsible role model for my younger brother. I am supposed to be mentally strong to deal with the real world and I am not supposed to get depressed with the fact that I am growing old and am one year closer to death.

When I look back on the things I’ve done during the past three decades, I am surprised at the level of ignorance, insensitivity and intolerable cruelty that I have exhibited at times. I am also surprised at some of the intelligent decisions I’ve taken, something I was not sure I was capable of.

I’ve alienated people, I’ve infuriated those who love me and I’ve driven others to murderous rage. I can think of people who would put a bullet through me right now given the chance. I can think of people who would walk past me on the street and pretend to not recognize me. I can think of people who would smile at me and stab me in the back with the metaphorical knife when I turn around. But I can also think of people who would love me unconditionally and take me in as a part of their family. I can think of hundreds of people who would still acknowledge my existence without any animosity.

In a world filled with hate and anger, where people are being slaughtered each minute, the fact that one insignificant boy in Bangalore has grown up and turned thirty should not make a difference. But when I look at the journey I’ve been through to get here, I am overwhelmed. I am moved to tears at the kind of experiences I’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly ones.

We all have fantastic experiences in our lives every day. Each moment of joy we experience means so much to us that it’s hard to imagine hordes of such people being killed. Millions of dreams and hopes being crushed every single minute by people pursuing theirs. I ask myself if it’s all worth it. Is it worth having a really ‘happy’ birthday when there is so much grief all around us. Or maybe, these tiny sparks of happiness keep the world turning.

We are all allowed meaningless rants straight from the heart, once a year. Today is my turn. As I see the clock inch closer and closer to the hallowed hour, I am filled with a little hope about hope.

Image Courtesy: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

The Man From Nowhere

“See the nowhere crowd cry the nowhere tears of honour 
Like twisted vines that grow 
Hide and swallow mansions whole…”

— James Hetfield, The Memory Remains

He came from nowhere and he didn’t know where he was headed. He seemed lost, confused, a paper boat caught in a hurricane, with turmoil eroding the last traces of sanity and reason in his head. He was escaping, hopefully to a better tomorrow, but he didn’t know for sure. He wanted a fresh start, desperately. He didn’t know how he was going to achieve it – his bad luck seemed to have followed him here as well. Everything he tried seemed to fail, and fail miserably. He caught himself searching for straws to clutch at.

He vowed to find a muse, an inspiration, a candle in the whirlwind of his bad luck. He wanted to find the elusive abundance of good luck that had deserted him for so long. He yearned for the peace and tranquility that had been hiding from him. It was not a search in vain.

He met her on a hot, sunny afternoon and they regarded each other cautiously, unsure of just how much attention the other person warranted. She seemed harmless enough, but he was expecting his seemingly unlimited quota of bad luck to step in again.

“Been a while,” he said. Cautiously. Two tigers, one paranoid and the other indifferent, circling each other.

“Yes. How have you been?” she asked.

“Good,” he replied and they went on to talk about other things mundane.

Time flew by and a pact was etched in stone between them, unwritten yet indelible. It took time, obviously. It did not happen overnight. He began to experience her presence more and more in his life until it almost became an addiction. Over time, he started craving for her company. She became the beacon of light in the darkness that had clouded him. She forced him to embrace good luck again, though he never knew how she managed to do that.

He still had no destination in mind, but he knew that his journey wouldn’t be lonely anymore; the journey that he had started from nowhere and had seemed to head nowhere; the journey that she had spectacularly derailed and made more bearable. He had a lot of things to be thankful for. And for a million things more.

He had found his muse. He had found his share of good fortune. The man from nowhere was finally home.

The Dummy’s Guide To Long Distance Relationships

Long Distance Relationships

“Wait a minute! What is this? The Dummy’s Guide? Oh my god, it’s back! It’s back!” screamed one hysterical groupie who ran into me on the street this afternoon. I didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or delighted. In the end, I just managed to nod my head, smile, make appropriate noises, and escape to the safety of my office.

After what seems like a really long time, MirrorCracked is proud to present the rebirth of the Dummy’s Guide series – the self-help guides that guarantee results. For the uninitiated, check out the other guides here.

This time, I write about a topic in which I have done very extensive research – women and relationships. I don’t claim to know all the answers, of course, but I know just about enough that is bound to help all those poor souls who are unlucky enough to be trapped in a long distance relationship. I have an ulterior motive in writing this post, obviously. I, too, am stuck in a long distance relationship with a wonderful woman who amazes me with her sudden bouts of weirdness. After a deja vu morning that saw me relive my gory days of 2006, when I was rapidly losing my mind and my hair over a dead-end long distance relationship in the US, I decided to write this guide to help ease the pain and mental agony that many of my fellow men face in similar situations.

Given below are a list of the top five accusations that a unhinged girlfriend/wife/partner can make against you in a long distance relationship, and the appropriate responses that you can use as rebuttal. These responses are guaranteed to ensure a long-lasting feeling of warmth and love in the unhinged girl’s mind, while totally absolving you of any grief, guilt or need. Here goes.

1. You never have the time to talk to me!

I’m sorry, I’ve been too busy talking to other people about you. I’ve been so held up that I haven’t really had time for anything. Everyone around me seems to want to know about you, and I’ve told the story of how we met and fell in love a million times in the last three days! (For added effect: Each time, with a smile on my face.)

2. You don’t communicate enough! I don’t know what’s happening in your life!

If I don’t communicate enough, it’s probably because there isn’t anything interesting to report. In the past few months, the only interesting thing that has happened to me is YOU. There is nothing else happening with me. Without you around, I lead a very boring life.

3. You are never there when I need you the most!

The obvious thing to say would be, “Well, neither are you, bitch!” but please refrain from doing so. Instead, say this: I know I’ve been preoccupied with certain things of late, but you’re always a priority, darling. I will make sure that I’ll take the effort to be there for you whenever you need me. You’re never off my mind. 

4. I don’t know whether this will work out or not!

Neither did the Shah of Persia, when he set out to walk around the world alone. But he did. He accomplished the seemingly impossible task by sheer faith. Have faith in us, and we will survive. (PS: There was no Shah of Persia, but she need not know that. Forrest Gump is also a good name to use.)

5. My friend saw you with another woman on the bike / car / mall / beach!

It’s true, I won’t deny it. I met a friend from school / college and we went out for a coffee / lunch. She called me a hopeless romantic because all I could talk about was you. 

***

PS: For tips on how to lie effectively to women, wait for my next guide.

PPS: For more information on specific scenarios, feel free to contact me. If I’m alive at the end of the day, I’ll reply to your mails. If not, It’s been sweet knowing you.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

candlelight dinnerShe wore a very pretty, pink, long-sleeved sweater that hugged her body and showed off her curves quite well. Her jeans were a couple of sizes too small, which was perfect for me, for obvious aesthetic reasons. She walked towards me from across the crowded bar, with a lovely smile on her lips – blood-red lips that broke into an easy smile that wrinkled the corners of her hazel eyes and made her look that much more beautiful. She was a little under 5’10” tall, and easily one of the tallest women in the room.

She moved with a graceful, relaxed-yet-sexy walk, with her brown-streaked curls bouncing up and down with each step she took. She walked over to me, her smile widened as I stood up and hugged her tightly for a couple of seconds, and held out a chair for her. My fingers deliberately brushed her shoulders and her waist as I helped her into her seat, leaving no doubts in her mind what my intentions were.

“A gentleman,” she said. “You guys are hard to find these days.”

Her voice was sweetness personified.The lilting tones put my head into overdrive and even before I could say anything, I felt a stirring in my loins, an almost animalistic urge to pounce on her and take her roughly, right there in the crowded bar.

I smiled my best smile and said, “Then I’m glad you found me.”

We spoke of this and that, made small talk, and flirted quite a bit. I think my best line was, “I wish I knew Braille.” Since it was a blind date,  she got my meaning, and blushed deeply. Her lovely face turned bright crimson when I said it. We ordered a couple of drinks and a bite to eat. I reached my hand over to hers and held it there for a few minutes. She didn’t retract her hand. Instead, she locked her fingers between mine and we sat there, looking into each others’ eyes. Was this love at first sight? Was I really doing this? Meeting this beautiful woman, holding her hand, looking into her eyes and steadily falling in love?

The waiter handed me the bill, and just as I was about to pay, she reached over and snatched the bill away from me.

“I’m paying,” she said with a sweet smile.

I couldn’t react because I had seen something that had sent a shiver down my spine and in an instant, filled my very soul with terror. I wish I hadn’t seen it and I hoped I had imagined it, but I knew it was wishful thinking. I had seen the most terrifying sight that threatened to make me into a sniveling coward.

“Uh,” I said. “Look, I – I have to go. I am running late for a meeting.”

She stared at me coldly, stunned, unable to comprehend. Even before she recovered, I stood up, hastily threw down some money on the table and muttered something about it being my treat, stammered an apology and like a fool, I stumbled out of the bar and ran for my life. I did not take a cab, I did not even bother looking for my bike that I had parked close  by. I ran the three blocks to my house, in full sprint, not looking back. I was scared and I was not going to stop until I reached home.

After what seemed like an eternity, I reached my front door, out of breath and wheezing heavily. I rang the doorbell and almost collapsed into my roommate’s arms. Being one of my closest friends, he was obviously shocked and worried. He helped me into the chair, gave me some water and helped me calm myself down. My kid sister, who was also home, came out of the room and stared at me. I looked a total mess. They asked me what happened and demanded an explanation. They even offered to call the cops, thinking I had been mugged.

“No, don’t call the cops. They won’t be able to do anything,”  I managed to say between deep breaths.

“Nikhil, you’re scaring me,” said my sister. “What happened!?”

I looked into their faces – my sister and my best friend – anxiously looking at me, and waiting for an explanation. So, I told them my story about how I had met the perfect woman, the wonderful time we had had, the drinks and the dinner and the conversations. Then I reached the point of the story where the bill arrived and she had reached out to snatch it from my hand.

“What happened? Why did you run when she took the bill??” asked my roommate.

“Dude,” I said. “She had body hair!”

***

Things Women Do

understanding women

Based on a true story. (Almost)

There’s this girl.. She’s in love with a boy. Now, the girl and the boy have been in love for quite a while and very recently, the boy popped the question and asked the girl to marry him. They’re both doing reasonably well in life with good steady jobs and a decent amount of money tucked away for the future. Now, when the boy proposed, the girl said, “Oh wow. I’m stunned. I need some time to think about it.”

Though he was a bit disappointed, the boy agreed and told her that she can take all the time she needs, that he really loves her, and all the jazz. A few days later, the boy asked the girl about where she was on the proposal, and she asked him if he was sure about it.

“What do you mean by that?” he asked, a bit confused.

“Are you sure about marriage? I mean, you hardly know me,” she said.

“But we’ve been together so long and I thought it was the right time to solidify things. I don’t want to get married immediately, but we could get engaged,” said the lovestruck, albeit disappointed boy. He had a sinking feeling in his gut.

The girl went on to explain how they were still too young to think about marriage and engagements and suggested that they both take some time to think about it. “It’s a huge deal,” she told him. “We need to be sure about this.”

The boy did not tell her that he was shattered and disillusioned, but put up a brave front and told her that he was ready to wait until she was ready. “We’ll make it work,” he told her. And life went on, with them taking one day at a time.

“I have an idea,” said the girl, a few days later when the boy broached the topic of the unanswered proposal. “Why don’t you marry my sister and we can have an extramarital affair?”

Jesus Christ. Women are difficult to understand, let alone live with. I wonder what the boy did.

Image Courtesy: Blaugh.com

2011: Acknowledgements & Year In Review

2011 Year in ReviewIt’s been a long-drawn battle with time, and I finally won. A crappy year ends and a hopeful, new one begins. There were so many instances in 2011 when I thought that things couldn’t get worse, and each time I was proven wrong. I have laughed, cried, fought, patched up, been cheated, cheated myself, been lied to, lied myself and finally, searched for the eternal peace which has seemed just barely out of reach for so long. The past year has had occasions of absolute bliss and considerable misery for me, and I will very glad to end this year on a good note, with friends, lovely strangers and a lot of well-earned alcohol.

2011 began for me on a fairly good note, with a job offer at a promising firm. Just a couple of months down the line, I realized my mistake and it was too late to rectify it. The company turned out to be a nightmarish hell-hole managed by lesser mortals and run by an insect. After being sucked dry, my will to go forth and survive took over and I quit the garage (yeah, it was a communications firm being run out of a garage) and started managing my own firm, which had been neglected so far.

I did that for a few months and made some absolutely lovely friends in the process. Here’s a shout out to Satish and everyone at Design Esthetics. A couple of more months saw me take up scuba diving as a pseudo profession. But, as luck may have it, the dive center for whom I was doing the marketing, was run by another insect who turned out to be a bastard of the highest order who cheated all his employees out of their hard-earned money and respect. It’s only sweet justice that his business is ruined and he has nowhere left to run. Oh, I’m waiting to see the asshole’s face in the papers when he gets arrested for fraud.

Things got really interesting after that, and I reached a point where I had to dip into my savings for the first time in five years, just to survive. A year-long courting ritual with a well-known and respected multinational communications firm finally reached fruition and I made the decision to move to Mumbai, tentatively at first, to check out the playing field. It was a decision that I have not regretted and I’m pretty sure I won’t regret for a few more years.

On the personal front, things couldn’t get more strange than they did in 2011. I had a lot of illusions shattered this year when the woman I was in love with turned out to be nothing more than that – an illusion. I made a few bad decisions, I agree, but when two people love each other, they are capable of both pain and pleasure. I realized that money plays a vital role in deciding how long you can love someone. So, on a fateful day in November this year, I lost someone very close to me and made me wonder if she ever was capable of loving someone for who they are and not how much their wallets can carry.

Just when I thought I’d give up hope on 2011 being a good year, I rediscovered what it was to fall in love with someone totally unexpected. A fresh feeling of puppy love, evolving into lust and desire and at this point of time, to a steady state of mutual understanding, trust and faith, made me a believer again. Here’s a warm bear hug to the woman I’m in love with – the hottest mallu chick in the world. Yeah, I’m dating a mallu, and if anyone’s got a problem with that, you can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass when your number’s called.

If I were to send one message to 2011 and all it’s incidents and people, all it’s merry and misery, it would be this: Good riddance to bad rubbish.I can’t wait to enter the new year. I’m ever the optimist, cautiously pessimistic and according to my girlfriend, annoyingly pragmatic.

All the people who have made my 2011 bearable: Rohit Nayak, for his constant support and encouragement; Pavan Attavar, for making sure I never got drunk alone; Mum & Dad, for their support through financial famines; Satish, for his trust and belief in my limited abilities; Nargis Namazi, for making the transition to Mumbai that much more easy; Sagar Pandey, for his warmth, generosity, hospitality and for allowing me to use his PS3; Mark Monteiro, for ensuring that I didn’t kill the asshole dive center owner by replacing the air in his tank with rat poison; Mahesh Bajaj, my newest friend who took the leap of faith and is hopefully in a better state of mind after Gokarna; Renuka Balachandran and Niveditha Singh, who made my days in the godforsaken garage bearable; Nitin Kumar and Pooja Rao, for their steady supply of sex scandals, movies, television shows and porn; Gitanjali More, for making sure that I got my steady supply of interesting conversations; and finally, a very special mention of my new-found sister, Aishwarya, without whose support and love, I would not have been able to settle into Mumbai.

My love to you all and I hope 2012 will be a fantastic year for all of you.

Return To The Bay Of Pigs!

A long, long time ago, I had written a piece on how men can be more successful in wooing women. I had come across a lot of men who had complained to me about the difficulties they were facing when trying to talk to a woman or flirt with a woman.

Recently, a close stranger read this post (titled ‘Bay Of Pigs’) and decided to write a rebuttal for each of the points, this time from a woman’s perspective. What started out as an experiment in killing time soon became an insightful glimpse into the mind of women, what they think of men and what they expect from a man when he tries to flirt.

You need to read the original post for this to make sense, because in the interest of time and keeping in mind my readers with attention deficit disorders, I’ve edited those parts of this article that belong to the original.

Bay Of Pigs: Redux

(Note: The text in italicized black is part of the original post, while the text in brown belongs to the stranger, the woman who wanted to argue. Any mistakes in spelling or grammar are entirely my own and not the fault of the guest author.)

men-are-pigs

Men are pigs.

They say that God created Man because he was bored and that He created Woman because he needed a challenge. Man is the blueprint while Woman is the masterpiece. […] Men can consider this post as an eye-opener and take stock of what qualities they lack, and women can consider this post as an easy read and be amazed at my insight into the female mind.

Men are pigs. Truer words were never spoken!

1. Sense of humor: Most women look for funny men. But be warned, being funny does not mean cracking inane jokes and making complete idiots of yourself. It’s the wit that counts and not your ability to remember jokes. […] Just make sure you’re laughing with them, and recognize when they’re laughing at you!

A good sense of humour does appear to be amongst the top 3 of “what women want”, and the author appears to have it figured out. I think this is what most women want. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want a man that can make me laugh as such, rather, I like it when a man can keep it simple. By this I mean, a light and easy-going conversation is favored. I am the kind of person that is rather shameless, and have no qualms about laughing at myself. Men seem to love making jokes at the expense of the ladies around them, and get terribly disappointed when it isn’t received well by their female counterpart. In that regard, I am a good subject of jokes, I would say, because I almost always laugh along.

2. Build: Women are very realistic unlike men, and they know that not all men can have a body as hot as Arnie and Stallone. […] We men need to be realistic, and not stupidly optimistic. All women are hot, no exceptions!

Let me make this clear – most women do not aspire to be at the arm of men like Arnie; Stallone maybe, but not because of his build! Men are the only ones that want Arnie bodies. I wouldn’t want a “flabby piece of shapeless dough” (I’m shallow that way) I would like a fit guy though. Let’s face it – they’re so much more fun to look at, and show off! We women tend to look awesome pretty much all of the time (unless we’re caught in midst of beauty treatments like face masks or oily hair) and men need to realise they should at least try to live up to the standard we set so early on. Digressing from build, allow me also to add that well-groomed (which means well dressed, clean and smelling good, just in case you’re clueless) is what we’re looking for. So if you’re going to show up in denims and a sweatshirt, make sure you look cute while you’re at it, would you?

3. Chivalry: The concept of chivalry, for most men, stops at holding the door open to women. Wake up, men! That’s not all what women look for in the chivalry department. […] It takes great skill and greater patience to hold your own and also defend her while arguing in a group.

Ah! This is the tricky one. You don’t want to be chivalrous to a point where we constantly feel like damsels with faint hearts,  but you don’t want to be so aloof that we feel like you don’t care. It has to be just the right amount. That’s all I will say here. Why should we make it easy for you all the way? 

4. Possessiveness: Women like men to be possessive about them. It makes them feel special and wanted. […] For more advice on this, mail me.

Do men actually enjoy being possessive? Oh yes, you have the whole Neanderthal way of expressing ownership. You might as well pee all over us to state we’re “yours”! I personally don’t like possessive men. If a guy were to “tell me at every opportunity that they’re….” yaaaaaaaawn.. Oh MY, I think I just dozed off there a second! No no noooo! I really don’t want to hear that, I’d probably end up punching you in the nose!

5. Music: Women hate tone-deaf men. Every woman has a particular taste in music and it may not always match with yours. […] Listen to her favorite tracks with her, and encourage her to play it again if she wants to. You can pull your hair out later, when you’re alone.

Looking at the next point I’d like to say, mood music is very important – make it sensuous, trust me, you’ll enjoy it too (if you can get past the fact that you’re getting it on!) I don’t know about most women’s taste in music, but I’m always open to listening to new genres of music. In fact, most of the music I listen to today was introduced to me by men. If you don’t listen to death metal and the screeching, banging sort, I’m good to go. Some women really seem to enjoy sappy music, and that’s where I think you men should just take a stance and say, “hell no!” (and knock some sense into your lady’s head, please!)

6. Sex: Do not, I repeat, do not push the woman for a physical relationship. Women are very, very careful in this matter and if you push the wrong buttons (no puns intended) you come across as a sexually-frustrated despo! Be careful!

You have to tread carefully in this department. Women may say they are alright with casual sex, and want no strings, etc. but trust me, they almost always hope that strings will develop, that they dazzle you with their sexual skills, and you’ll fall in love with them. Sometimes that does happen, but I’ve noticed that men are capable of knowing the difference and maintaining it, women are NOT. I would suggest, if you really like the girl, take it at an easy pace in this department, and things will fall into place nicely.

7. Family Values: Most women like men who have good family values. Respect her parents and her family and she will like you all the more. Never ever call her dad “Dude!” or “Old Man!” because that will being down your brownie points!

What gets to me the most about a lot of Indian men is that they’re “mumma’s boys” and they want their partners to be as domestically awesome as their mothers. It’s all very well that you love your folks, in fact, I endorse it, but come on – recognize! I don’t know about other women, but that’s a big turn off for me. On the other hand, I don’t expect that my partner will get along brilliantly with my folks. It’s almost a universal fact that there will be friction between them. That’s what keeps life interesting, eh?

(On an entirely unrelated note – what exactly are brownie points? Am I allowed to cash them in for an actual brownie or two?)

8. Perseverance: Women like to be pursued with vigor. They hate being ‘flung’ around, if you know what I mean. […] Trust me, it works!

This one’s true, makes us feel special and adds the whole romantic movie atmosphere to real life. Lots of fun! Keep it real, don’t be a big pile of mush, because that gets old real quick. We like to be shy and coy and play hard to get – it makes the whole deal feel that much more special. Indulge us, would you?

9. Fighting: Fights are inevitable in every relationship, and when there are situations where you know that the reason is trivial, just take the blame. […] You do not blame the woman!

Don’t be irrational, that’s all. We are always right, that’s true, but we would get suspicious if you always agree – we’re smart that way. And that would lead to a whole new set of fights! So pick your battles, men, put your ego aside, in fact, maybe its best if you forget you have one, while you’re with us! 

10. The Ex- factor: Do not, I repeat, do not maintain contacts with your ex- girlfriends while you’re pursuing a woman, or when you’re in another relationship. […]

Hmmm, this one is a bit tricky. If you’re staying in the same city as your ex, and have common friends, you are bound to run into her, right? What we want to see is that you’re over her, and there is no residual anything for her. You’re better off if you cut all contact, unless you want to see us turn into raging lunatics? Oh and by the way, we’re complete hypocrites about our own exes – we will want to remain “friends” with ours, and you’re not allowed to protest. So there.

Good luck. Live long and prosper. If you didn’t understand that, you’re no fun, and you’re not a geek, which is what women want! (Or do we?)

AUTHOR’S NOTE

It takes great literary skill and greater convincing skills to get a chance to write for, or be featured on MirrorCracked. To have successfully passed all the barriers and made it on to this forum, I would like to personally extend a warm greeting to the lovely stranger (who has expressed her wish to remain anonymous) for her time and effort in helping men pick up women.

One beer coming your way, ma’am.

We are open for comments, opinions and brickbats, which I will deftly deflect in the stranger’s direction.