Number Thirteen: The Doppelganger.

 

13 Doppelganger
Art Work: Siddha Kannur.

Churchgate

It’s a blind date, but I can recognize him anywhere. I’ve been told we look alike, but Thirteen, a writer with twinkling eyes is younger, brighter and happier. How do I know?

He’s waving at me across the station – dopey grin with a cornucopia of curls – and also I’ve only spent the last two days guiltlessly stalking him on Facebook. I laughed out loud with his status updates, sighed at his vacation pictures, pondered over his notes, judged his check-ins, scrutinized every freckle on his face, every friend on his list – well, you know the gist. His life is an open book. I am surprised by how minimal his privacy settings are. Do you know that one quirk we all adhere to?

We keep our friends close, our enemies closer, and our Facebook friends closest. Do I want other gay men to know who else I am flirting with? Our friend lists are like our little black books: full of old conquests, exes, one-night stands and those standalones whom you occasionally flirt with on messenger but have no intentions of meeting. Would I share my address book, lay it out bare? Not at all. It’s an unspoken rule: Hide your friends like you hide your prescription meds.

‘Hi!’ says the boy, he sounds breathless. How long was I breaking the fourth wall?

‘Hi!’ I grin back, full of hope. He was in the neighborhood, I was in the neighborhood – we decided to make the most of it – plus it makes a great story to tell. The greatest love stories begin at train stations.

‘Do you want to take this one?’ he asks, pointing at the train that’s just pulled in. Waves of people rush past, but we don’t lose each other. At least not yet.

‘Lead the way,’ I say.

He grins.

Grant Road

His work as an intern with a reputed tabloid – writes blurbs and whatnots – helps him earn a byline every now and then. There is a lot of ‘go get-me-some-coffee’ and ‘did-you-call-that-celebrity?’ or some ‘have-you-written-the-review-I-asked-you-to-write?’ if he’s lucky, but he’s always wanted to be a writer and he knows that’s how writers start. I cough involuntarily. Is that what he really wants to do?

No.

He wants to write stories about food – talk about it the way people talk about love – all-consumingly. Taste is an emotion – can a bit of chocolate tart give you butterflies in your stomach? Do you whimper with pleasure when you dig into a portion of freshly made Eggs Benedict? If your answer is yes, He is the right question.

Wait. Has he seen Ratatouille?

‘Everyone asks me that,’ he sighs. He loves food and even though he’s only a home baker, it is – hello, when do we get married?

He laughs aloud, and tells me I am funny.

Bombay Central

He’s telling me the perfect way to bake brownies (Let your eggs sit out of the fridge for a half hour before baking. They ensure that the brownies are gooey, and have a delicious crust) when –

‘You should come over for dinner sometime, I cook really well.’

Would there be brownies? I ask. We both giggle. A horde of travellers gets off the emptying train, but we don’t move apart.

Lower Parel

It’s difficult to discern whether you’ve made an impression on someone when you are being closely watched by everyone around you. A hundred pair of eyes. His are large and expressive, full of hope that I am too scared to crush.

‘Can I tell you something, you promise you won’t tell anyone?’

Uh-oh. I don’t like secrets that I can’t share.

‘The last time I went out on a date, I almost got mauled in an auto rickshaw,’ he blushes. I laugh loudly. The men around us are not amused. What did he do then?

He pushed him away (The him-in-question being a feisty television producer quite like number Eleven), jumped out of the rickshaw and never looked back once. Every gay man is a collection of short stories. Snippets shared over unlimited sangria and cigarette breaks or discussed behind dinner plates and closed bedroom doors. He is an anthology.

The train ride ahead is full of them – an S&M loving architect who designs celebrity homes. A thirty-something media mogul who has a weakness for twenty two year olds. A young fresh-faced doctor who had his first kiss at the age of twenty-one. If I weren’t in a northbound local back home, I would have thought I was auditioning for an episode of Gossip Girl. I take my chances and tell him so. He scrunches his eyebrows. Did I say something wrong? Did I lose my chance?

‘Are you team Blair Waldorf or team Serena van der Woodsen?’ he asks. I sigh. I think I should just go buy him a ring.

Mahim

He’s heading off to London in two months. Is he now?

Yes, for a writing program – and then he can kiss the internship goodbye. It’s going to be so exciting- the pubs, the food, the clothes, the English life, the aww’s instead of the aah’s – can you believe all the tea and scones I will have?

‘You should come visit if you are in that part of the world,’ he says to me. The train screeches to a halt in unison. I’ve never appreciated a signal so much.

It might be too soon to tell him that I am broke, but I know that he’s going to go places. Over the next couple of years, he will finish his Masters degree, work with a popular food magazine, start his own blog and get his heart broken multiple times. But where do we start?

With me.

On cue, a disembodied voice tells us that Bandra is next. Are we there yet already?

Bandra

It’s time. One of us has to go. ‘Do I see you again?’ one of us asks. It’s a pity that the two of us have different destinations to head to. The other one nods.

He beams as he gets off the train, and waves at me through the sea of faces that separate us. I wave past the faceless men and women, as the train pulls at my heartstrings. The others fade away, he doesn’t.

He texts me later, saying that I had him at hello. So did he, I almost tell him.

I never hit ‘Send‘.

 

The Date-o-meter: 8/10

Does this have a sequel? : Yes.

If this date were a song, it would be: ‘Wonderwall’ By Oasis.

 

 

 

 

Salvation Star’s Taboo Soiree: Saturday Night Fever.

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What: Salvation Star’s Taboo Soiree

Where: The White Owl Brewery and Bistro, Lower Parel

When:  9:30 pm onwards, Saturday, 21st November 2015.

Why: Cute boys, great music, and these beautiful cocktail deals that make us weep with joy and break into Broadway performances of ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’. What else can one ask for on a Saturday night?

See you there?

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20 Other things Not To Say On A First Date

20 other things to not say

  1. ‘I think you might be going bald.’
  2. ‘Well, technically, we are still together. Do you think this would count as cheating?’
  3. ‘Wow, the people who take your profile pictures on Facebook do a really good job!’
  4. Okay, don’t look now, but that waiter has the cutest butt in the world.’
  5. ‘I am so sorry I couldn’t return your call last night, I was on a date.’
  6. ‘But how can you like Gossip Girl?’
  7. ‘I see that you are friends with my ex on Facebook…’
  8. ‘So funny thing, I Googled you.’
  9. “ I am vegan.’
  10. ‘So sorry for being on the call – you were saying something? Is that so? Tell me more. Oh wait. I have to take this call, hang on. Hello?’
  11. ‘I have a strange feeling that we’ve met before. Did we have a threesome in 2009?’
  12. ‘I am so sorry for not paying attention, but there’s something stuck between your teeth.’
  13. ‘ Something tells me I am going to meet the love of my life soon, I know I’ll have to kiss many frogs till then, but I know I’ll find my prince in the end. Are you fine? You look sick.’
  14. ‘Do you want to see me snort beer from my nose?’
  15. ‘ ‘I think I saw your shirt in Zara’s sale last season.’
  16. ‘I think I am still in love with my ex-boyfriend.’
  17. ‘I am sorry but I think I am getting distracted by the pimple by your nose…’
  18. ‘I might have dinner plans with some friends later. You won’t mind, would you?’
  19. ‘Do you think it would be weird if I ask you to be my boyfriend?’
  20. ‘Wow, you drink a lot of beer, don’t you? Now I know why your face looks so heavy.’

    In case you missed our first list of twenty things not to say on a first date, read them here.

Number Twelve : The It-Boy

Art  Work: Siddha Kannur
Art Work: Siddha Kannur

Twelve. Where do I begin?

Grindr’s geo-location tag says that he stays three blocks away. For gay men, that’s the same as being next door neighbours. ‘Three blocks?’ one might say, ‘Think of that as three hundred and sixty two meters to someone who could possibly be the next love of your life.’ Any closer, and he could practically duck-walk his way home, in thirty minutes or less. There’s a pizza commercial in there somewhere.

His name flashes on my phone – ‘What are you doing now ‘. Is that a question? Does it have an answer?

Continue reading Number Twelve : The It-Boy

The Eden Festival : Time for Garden State.

Eden Festival

What: The Eden Festival – designed as an oasis in the middle of Mumbai and an escape from hectic urban life, The Eden Artfest has set a benchmark for urban music and art festivals. It’s a cultural playground, this one.

Where: Tote On Turf, Mahalaxmi

When: 14th and 15th November, 2015.
Why: It combines three of our favorite things – music, art and fashion (and my one-way relationship with alcohol). What else does one want? (red velvet cupcakes, but hey, this is not the time.)

Who needs another reason to go here?

You don’t need to go all the way to Pune for this (cough, cough, looking at you NH7 Weekender.) Book your tickets here.

Topman on Jabong: The five must-buys your closet needs!

While everyone in Delhi is going crazy about H&M opening in India, our fashion expert, The Guystyler is obsessing over the ridiculously amazing discounts over on Topman products at Jabong. Here’s an excerpt from his recent preview of the sale:

“Always a personal favorite, I can’t be happier that Jabong’s made TOPMAN go live in India. Their collection here might not be as outrageously cool and funky as it is overseas, but they’ve got the basics covered and that’s what they do best. Here is a list of 5 items that you NEED to buy from the big TOPMAN sale going on at Jabong right now:

  1. Jeans – Where else would you get super comfortable jeans for as low as INR 2022? Topman’s premium quality jeans are on maximum 40% discount and are worth every single rupee.  Guess we won’t have to sell that arm and leg after all.Jeans
  2. T-Shirts – I have been wearing Topman T-shirts for quite sometime now and I must say that in addition to their quirky designs, the quality is impeccable. In fact, I am wearing one right now while writing this article. With sale prices as low as INR 474, you need to buy one of these. (Or multiple, if you’ve got the space for it in your closet.)collage
  3. Underwear – A pack of 3 for INR 1000 is not a bad deal at all. Topman’s underwear are super cute, with the brand name printed almost on all of them. What’s better than telling your lover you wear fancy underwear? Telling your lover that you wear fancy Topman underwear.Underwear
  4. Sweatshirts – Be it hoodies in various plain colors or printed ones, you know you can count on Topman sweatshirts to keep you warm in this changing weather (If winter ever comes, that is). Hoodies start from INR 1800, and I start from scratch right now.Sweatshirts
  5. Bags – Ranging from basic wallets (starting from INR 1100) to delicious black backpacks (Ranging from INR 1500 to 2800) and also the lone (but beautifully snazzy) duffel bag, Topman’s bag collection doesn’t disappoint, even if boyfriends do.Bags

Now that you know what to buy from Topman, what are you waiting for? Head over to Jabong and make those credit cards weep (or not really.) Don’t know where to go? Well, we’ve got a secret portal right here.

Chop chop, happy shopping!

Hello, Fabulous World!

Intro

I’ve always had a lot of questions in my head.

Is ketchup better than mustard? Did man really walk on the moon? How do you eat crème brulee? Will they ever resume Heroes? Should I really have that fourth cup of espresso? What’s eighteen times thirty-two? Are gay men any different than the straight ones? Does true love exist for either?

Like the classical gay stereotype, I might not know the right spoon to eat my crème brulee with, or what colour shirt goes with a leather jacket, but I do know that there never really is only the One. There’s a Two, a Three and a Four, and probably more. It will work out with some of them, and sometimes it will not. (Side note: white shirts work with anything.)

Sounds familiar?

It obviously does, because there really is no difference between gay and straight when it comes to love, sex or relationships – unless you have to think about who fits the bill when things are going so bad, you probably might never ever see each other again.

There’s a definite need to bust the many stereotypes that exist about gay men, and most of them need to be busted like the bell-bottom trend – do we like pink? Is Adele on loop? Are we promiscuous? Do we really lust after our best friend’s boyfriend? Not really, nope, nope and never ever, unless he’s cute and made a pass at us (but then again, never.)

It’s simply rude if you ask gay men questions like these – it’s like asking someone if they’ve ever killed someone or whether they have something stuck between their teeth. Here’s a friendly PSA: Gay men come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. If someone tells you they identify as gay, there’s no need to ask them whether they like Bradley Cooper or Brad Pitt (Cooper, any day). It’s that easy.

But even though we live in a world full of hipsters and millennials, coming out, isn’t easy. In fact, it’s far from the Hallmark movie that I make it out to be – every year, more and more people are pushed back into the closets to rot away with clothes that are too tight, cigarettes that are too damp and love notes that are long forgotten. Every day, more and more gay men are abandoned, disowned and even condemned to hell. Every day, a few more gay men hate themselves for their sexuality, and a few more men shut down these doors to their closets forever.

Blame it on Section 377 or blame it on middle class mob mentality, but it’s almost disheartening that things work this way. Coming out shouldn’t be an ordeal or a celebration; it should be a regular, everyday thing – like flossing your teeth every night, or telling your friends that you are vegan, or don’t like Taylor Swift. (We feel for you, Calvin Harris.)

That’s where the Guysexual comes in. (without any invitations, because invitations are so 2008) Think of this as your quintessential guide to the secret lives of Indian gay men – There might not be a pop culture guidebook to being a homosexual, but there is one to knowing how to behave with one. This is a list of do’s and don’ts and will’s and wont’s for every question you might have regarding the friend gay man (or men) in your neighborhood – how do you decides who plays for the bill at the end of a meal? Do we prefer beer or mimosas? What are the things you should never ever say to someone when they come out? Is it okay to call a woman a fag hag? Do we really like brunch as much as we say we do? Why are all the hot guys gay? Why is it not a good idea to instantly try setting up a new gay friend with the only other gay person that you know?

But more importantly, how about one individually decides not to make homosexuality a big deal? So don’t say ‘something is gay’. Don’t point at someone who dresses differently. Don’t snigger at the guy who doesn’t play cricket. Don’t say that you want a gay best friend because you think it’s cool. Don’t assume. Don’t presume, but most importantly, don’t bully.

Maybe sometime in the future, a month, a year or even a decade – every LGBT person in this country can enjoy the same privileges that a select few do. And maybe, just maybe, it won’t be a privilege, but simply a way of life by then.

Until then, I’d need a beer. And probably your number too.

Love And Other Drugs: Volume I

Love and other Drugs

Q. I might be in love with my best friend. What do I do?

– LoveLorn2012
What have all great Romcoms taught us (apart from the fact that bangs are cool, and you will most likely end up with your high school sweetheart)?
That it’s easier to fall in love with the best friend than it is to fit into a size Small during the Zara sale. But then again, life is no Romcom movie. (Least of all like You Got Mail, contrary to popular belief). Falling in love with the best friend is always a tricky thing – how close are the two of you to begin with? Do you watch an occasional movie together? Bitch out the new office intern during lunch hour? Braid each other’s hair while watching late night reruns of Grease? (Just kidding, no one braids each other’s hair anymore.)

Do gay best friends work the same way conventional best friends do? There’s always that thin shroud that cloaks every friend we come in contact with – it’s the diplomatic version of the friendzone, only politer. One minute you are both ogling at that cute boy sitting two tables away from you at the restaurant, and the other you are trying to awkwardly avoid each other. So what do you do if he doesn’t feel the same way?

The thing about great friendships is that they can withstand anything – so if your friend can’t deal with a confession and let it go, he probably wasn’t that great a friend to begin with.

If that happens, you can always have a cupcake.
Continue reading Love And Other Drugs: Volume I

The 5 different guys you meet on Grindr

Can I tell you a secret?

Every second love story begins on Grindr. What about everybody else?

They lie, and say they met at Starbucks. Grindr is a haystack of men, but there’s no corresponding shiny needle to find. For every possible Prince Charming that you would find on the app, you’d find half a hundred dozen men you wish you had never met (or said ‘Hi’ to; who meets anyone in person anymore?) Here are five such men you’d see doing the rounds of Grindr every day, while on their gym breaks or lunch, or those lone moments in the loo when they (read: you) have nothing else to do:

Continue reading The 5 different guys you meet on Grindr