Nine years ago, as I watched Sex and the City reruns, I had a dream. I craved to have a book reading for my (hypothetical) book, smile and pose for the press, and giggle with my friends over cocktails after – just like Carrie Bradshaw did (without all the bad decisions and bad boyfriends tbh). I was twenty and silly.
Over the next decade, my dreams and passions changed, and so did I – but this cringeworthy one remained. Did I want to keep calm and Carrie on?
Obviously, because ZOMG IT’S FINALLY HAPPENING!
Come along to the Korner House this Friday and watch (and laugh at if you want to) me read excerpts from my debut e-novel, ‘The Gay Man’s Guide To Dating’ by yours truly (there’s a fun Q&A about douchebags, desirable men and dating dilemmas after, and I am full of zany one liners and undeniable wit). It’s going to be a riot of words (and delicious appetisers!)
Where: 6-8 PM, Korner House, 21, Union Park, Khar (West), Mumbai -400052
Why should you go: Come along if you are a friend. Come along if you are someone who supports the cause. Come along if you want to know more about LGBT culture. Come along if Mean Girls is your favourite film. Come along if you are looking for (fun) relationship advice (or want to secretly diss and judge people who do). Come along to cheer me on. Come along to heckle me along for all you want. JUST COME ALONG, PLEASE?
First dates can be intimidating. What if you smile too much? Or talk about the ex too much? Or drink too much? As you flirt your way over aperitifs and appetizers, there could be a lot of questions that are racing through your mind – from the classic ‘does he like me?’ and ‘Who’s going to pay for this one?’ to the more practical ‘Should I go commando?’ and ‘Is that boil over his lip a cold sore?’
Point is, every date is different – from borderline psychotic to RomCom-level charming – and each one is a story by itself. Don’t know how to sort the good ones from the bad? If this were your train of thought while you were out with a potential Prince Charming, I’d say you board the first compartment and flee as far away as you can:
It’s a sweaty Friday afternoon – but we are indoors, wolfing down second helpings of chicken schezwan noodles, and trying to get the waiter to get our drinks (two large pegs of rum with a little cola, topped all the way with ice) to our table. The air is heavy with cigarette smoke and endless chatter – you can smell the waywardness of our lives. I want to ask him whether he would like to share a smoke – but first, I have something more important up my sleeve –
In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.
Do juice cleanses really help? ( A bit.) Is Bradley Cooper a great conversationalist? (Not really.) What is ‘a soul mate who isn’t’ called? (A soup snake.) Mindy Kaling answers these and many more questions in her second book, a book so ridiculously charming and funny that you wish you could marry it (I already tried.)
Also, the woman knows that her target audience is ‘women and gay men who buy it as a gift for their even gayer friends ‘- there’s so much truth in that line that Al Gore can make a movie about it.
Buy the book at the Amazon store right here.You can thank us later!
It’s Independence Day. August has never been crisper. It’s cool and fresh, and smells of the holidays.
I stare closely atFourteen as he smokes his joint – he has a traveller’s face – mousy, windswept hair on a lean stubbled face. His features boast of a deep tan, and a glow that only comes with not having wasted your life at an office desk for months. Is he an analyst with a tech giant or an IT junkie? Is he a writer? Is he a travel journalist? A baker, a butcher, a candlestick-maker? What does he really do? I’ve always been an unreliable narrator. However, we have more important things to think about. Is he going to pass it? Is he not? It’s such an exciting game –
I splutter and burst out into giggles.
‘Take it all the way in, and then blow it out deep and slow.’
That line is so infested with innuendoes; we’d need an exterminator (or probably two). He grins. The smile is only slightly lopsided, but that’s not a problem when my mind is fuddled with fumes, and running on overdrive.
What am I doing here?
He passes the spliff to me.
We are at his house, a modest one-bedroom home in the depths of Andheri – any closer, and he would be a next-door neighbor, any further, and I’d never make the effort to meet him again. The house is sparse – it looks like one that lets you pack up and leave at an instant. There are bulging bookcases, but no wardrobe. He practically lives out of a suitcase unless his parents are visiting, he says. That’s when all his clothes go under the kitchen counter.
I spot William Darylmple’s City of Djinns on his book stand by the bed (single mattress, faded bedspread that smells only slightly of mothballs.) ‘It’s my favourite book,’ he tells me. I lie that I love it too. I don’t have a clue what it’s about – I’ve not really read it. But that’s the rest of his bookshelf – it’s full of books I’ll never have the patience to read, but will never tell the world. I take a closer look – there are some titles on sexuality and homoerotica.
‘Are you out to your parents?’ I ask – visiting parents would hardly glaze over a copy of Queer Science. He laughs. They found out a year ago – chanced upon his diary.
He has a diary?
Not of the conventional sort – it was a journal of his sexual encounters, in all its lurid glory. It’s my time to have a laugh now – where have we heard that before?
How did they take it?
The same way most parents do – there was some crying, some ‘where-did-we-go-wrong?’, some ‘are-you-sure?’ but in the end, it was all good. They came out stronger as a family, and he came out stronger as a gay man. It’s been a year since.
Where does he see himself a year later?
Travelling, he replies almost instantaneously.
I cough; he thinks it’s the joint. I’ve heard this one so many times; I have it tattooed into my mind from one of those cheap tattoo parlours at the mall. It’s a classic answer. A gay man lusting after the idea of travel is like gay men lusting after, well, other gay men. There’s always that one off chance that you’d find love while on vacation, something more than a vacation fling – something so remarkably beautiful that it has an airport story to it – for the quintessential homosexual, it’s the next best thing to saying that you met your future boyfriend at Starbucks.
Where then? I ask him.
He spent the last two months in the hills (and that explains the tan), searching for substance or spirit, and sometimes even both. But one thing that’s common – he’s always searching for himself. I find it all very confusing. Gay men often find themselves in the strangest of places – the hills, the beach, at the opera, a fashion show, the runway, and sometimes even in abandoned restrooms a little after midnight.
I usually head to the bookstore, and find myself in a book.
‘Sometimes I wish I could just pack up and leave.’ He’s excited about quitting his job and leaving with a suitcase and an undecided ticket. The man wants to live his dreams through his travels – scuba diving by the Andaman Islands, building bonfires in Rishikesh, attending local rave parties in Kasol. Instead, in exactly a year, he’d head on to work for a major political campaign, and then find himself at business school. But that’s all in the future. For now, his dreams and aspirations are as pure the Malana cream we are smoking.
“Have you been to Parvati Valley? I spent a month there. It was fascinating! Can you imagine sleeping under the stars and waking up to the morning sun?”
Yes, I almost say – it’s the morning after every night of drunken debauchery. Sometimes I even forget where my pants are.
‘I’d want to go back there, and never come back,’ he says wistfully. You know something else that isn’t coming back?
He takes a long drag, and blows out the fumes in concentric circles. I can hear him breathe. It’s deeply unsettling.
‘You know what I was thinking-‘
What can it be? Why is the sky blue? How do touchscreens work? Where does life come from? Am I eyeing the joint too much?
He exhales. I can be at peace. He hands it over. That’s another dose of peace.
‘What?’ I ask. If this were a B-Grade softcore thriller, now would be the point that he would pull out his machete and hack me into pieces. Instead –
‘Want to see me hula hoop?’
He heads inside, and comes out with hula rings and a pair of clackers. Soon, the speakers are playing EDM on loop, the strobe lights are on and we are at the toys like kids on a mad sugar rush – we might as well as be the music video for the next M83 song – it’s that trippy. The hula-hoop lies unnoticed. ‘I know just the thing that will help,’ he quips and darts back inside.
Ten minutes (or forty) pass, and he’s been inside the kitchen for too long. My paranoia could be the third wheel on this date. Maybe he does have a machete. If I end up sleeping with the fish tonight, I won’t be surprised. I’ve a good life, seen great loves, understood joy –
He comes out right one cue. There’s no gleaming knife; only a pack of chips and some salsa dip. As the English say, a good spliff deserves some good food. I’d even eat an old shoe right about now. Thirty minutes and two packets of chips later, we are satiated. Well, almost.
‘So what do we do now?’ he asks, expectantly. We fade to black.
‘Let me know if you ever want to come over again?’ he asks, as I prepare to leave half hour later. I smile, but hesitate at the same time. It’s a now-or-never situation.
‘I will, but I had a question. Where do you buy your stuff from?’ I ask, tying my shoelaces. I don’t give away my eagerness. He gives me a peck on my cheek.
He has a supplier who stays close – she’s a twenty-minute phone call away – any closer, and she could be my mother. I take down her number, and accidentally delete his.
The Date-o-meter: 6.5/10
Does this have a sequel? : Yes.
If this date were a song, it would be: ‘Paradise Circus‘ By Massive Attack.
Q. I’ve been trying to find friends on Tinder, but everyone I talk to seems to think that I only want to sleep with them. Help me out?
– K. Das
A. Most people like to think of Tinder as the supermarket for singles. You go up and down aisles, picking up the ones you look and swiping off the ones you don’t. Assume you are going to the market to buy avocadoes – you’d buy some, but then you would also end up buying cilantro. And maybe, even some jalapeños. (Side note: hey, maybe you are making some guacamole. In that case, call me over for dinner?) At the same time, some people come to only buy jalapenos. Or Oranges. Or Apples. Or even toilet paper (well, you get the gist.) Finding a friend is like buying jalapenos when you want to buy avocadoes at the supermarket – you don’t decide to, it just happens – unless you end up buying half the hypothetical supermarket, in which case you might need a therapist or just a break from Tinder. Different people want different things, and there’s always a high chance you’d find someone who wants to buy the same thing you do (to make guacamole). All this supermarket analogy aside, here are a couple of questions you have to ask yourself.
Do you have a half-naked picture of yourself up as your display picture?
Are you flexing your biceps in said picture?
Have you ever asked anyone to come over for some ‘Netflix and chill’ without even knowing what Netflix (and chill) is?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are finding a friend on Tinder is going to be more difficult than trying to read the news without having a snippet about Kim Kardashian in it. You just can’t help it. Continue reading Love And Other Drugs: Volume II→