Tag Archives: Gay India

#PrideTalk: 21 (Fabulous) Men Tell Us Why We Need To Walk For Pride

 

PRIDE_TALK.jpg

What’s that faint buzz that you hear (and feel in your bones)?

That’s the sound of Mumbai gearing up for its tenth-ever Pride March – and it’s charging up as you read this sentence. In a few hours, thousands of straight, gay, bisexual and transgendered folk will take to the streets for their right to love, their right to live, but most importantly, their right to be.

But are these numbers enough?

As these thousands take a stand and do their bit to make a difference, countless others choose to sit #Pride out instead  (and their excuses are equally abysmal.)

Which is why, to honour the day and prove how important the cause is,  I asked 21 different men why walking the talk was necessary. The answers poured in from all over my little black book — from actors and illustrators, journalists and doctors, entrepreneurs and bankers.

They even poured in from my Tinder account.

Jokes (and accusations) apart, here’s what the men had to say:

Simply to stand up, and be counted. Wear a mask if you don’t want to be identified, but go nonetheless. Experience it and contribute to it, in however small a way.

Each attendance counts. 

— Varun, fashion editor

For one reason — continuum, because we owe it to our future generations.

The liberties that we enjoy today, the relative ease of coming out, the parties, the social acceptance, are all a result of  the social movement built over decades by people who had to face ridicule and discrimination.

It’s only imperative that we continue it all and play a role for furthering the cause for future generations.

— Aman, health professional

To spread awareness about the fact that it’s not a taboo to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. As a community we are extremely prone to protesting AGAINST something, but rarely in favour of anything. If more and more people walk the Pride, the other margin of the society who still think that it’s a taboo, will get to know that if a large part of the society is supporting a small community, it ‘probably’ isn’t taboo anymore.

Since the fear of homosexuality is so deeply rooted, primarily because of our attitude of rarely doing anything out of social sanction, the society in general needs to walk the pride and tell everyone how they accept homosexuality, in turn telling everyone else that it is ‘normal’ to be homosexual. The more the people, the more the acceptance, the lesser the fear of taboo.

— Paarth, filmmaker

The sole reason we need to walk the pride is to create awareness. To be taken seriously. To help explain that homosexuality isn’t a disease or abnormality you can cure, but an orientation.

— Sumeet, fashion designer

I think everyone should walk the Pride, whether they belong to the LGBT community or not  — straight, gay, bisexual or transgendered,  if you support us it’s time to take some time out, show those numbers to the society and show your level of acceptance to the government.

— Rehan, screenwriter

To show the world that queer people exist.

And that we exist in large numbers.

— Ujjwal, PhD student

Pride March to me is a yell of existence; we’ve been hidden in the dark for so long we need to be in the light so that no one has to live in the dark anymore.

Not just this time, but for many more times to come.

— Arnav, video editor

A Pride March is (still) one of the very few places and ways queer people can own and express their identities. And if we want the conversation around equality, rights and non-discrimination going, we cannot afford not to be visible.

— Jacob, writer

This year, our numbers need to be visible even more, especially since the political class needs the stats to even consider us to be any kind of vote bank.

— Anand, marketing executive

The reason why I love Pride (apart from the free service eye candy) is because, like almost all queer people in our generation, there had been a long period of feeling alone in my experience.

It’s a shell that is very tough to break out of.

That feeling of being the only one to live something so different was so heavy, I would not go even to gay parties for fear of being singled out. Which is exactly why — when I went to my first Pride after much contemplation — I was overwhelmed. It was a cathartic experience that heavily soothed this feeling of being the only one queer that I knew of.

Since then I have been going to at least one Pride a year. It is impressive because despite all this ‘growing’ that has happened since the first time, it is STILL a cathartic experience every single year. It shows to what extent we are unable to find things to relate to in the quotidian life.

And that is exactly why I will continue to go to pride. Apart from being the lovely celebration that it is of being yourself, it is a day when you contribute to the visibility of SOGI rights.

And this aspect holds not only for queer people, but also for everyone else. It is an opportunity for any ally of SOGI rights to make his/her/their own contribution by showing their support.

— Kaushik, research scientist

The single most important reason to march for Pride is to make sure the judiciary, the government and the country knows that we are not a minuscule minority, and that our rights matter.

We are not criminals (and never will be) and have the same rights as any other Indian citizen!

— Maanav Dev, restaurateur

To get a sense of community beyond what one might see on apps — there’s strength in numbers and if we want change at an institutional level, we are going to need our voices heard!

— Siddharth, academic and translator

Because it’s important that people see that we exist. That we exist in different age groups, that we are queens and that we are butch. We have beards and we put on make up, we wear heels and we have moods — and that’s just the gay men!

We are so much more with the LGBTQ community put together.

— Laksh, digital entrepreneur

The struggle for LGBT equality is a long and tireless one. Over the years, as societies have relatively evolved towards us, the LGBT community has regressed in its understanding of the long battle people have fought for this world and leaders to have conversations around ‘homosexuality’.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, George Cecil, Jeanne Manford, Harvey Milk and others who shaped this movement in times so difficult and extreme have been conveniently forgotten… sadly most LGBT youth would hardly even know them. How can we celebrate our ‘gay-ness’ when people in authority, like Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya, pledge to persecute gay men or when statesmen in the Middle East criminalise and dehumanise us?

Our celebration lacks recognition and acknowledgement of this ongoing journey but remains a mere annual social gathering that fails to make any concrete statement beyond a single day’s headline. At the Stonewall March, there were no floats, no music blasting through the streets, no extravagance, body glitter and scantily clad dancers: it was a political statement and a test!

We’re working against deeply ingrained social mores that have been around so long no one even remembers how they got there anymore, and a visual of loud and proud, yet naive and un-informed men and women chanting and screaming and kissing is not going to cut it.

— Kartik (name changed), social worker

People should come out and show solidarity because in one way or the other, we have all shared the same (or similar) experiences while growing up.

A young LGBT kid, unable to understand or cope with his own desires, often one feels alone. Unable to talk to someone about it coupled with the feeling of isolation potentially scars each one of us. The pride parade and consequent publication of articles, photos and media coverage of the parade can, to my mind, lend immense support to a kid struggling with his/ her own sexuality.

I sure wish the concept existed in Delhi during my adolescence.

Additionally, often times such coverage of the Pride parade tends to focus on men in drag and other elaborate attire while ignoring the huundreds of people who are from the community and at the march, the ones who choose to dress more — for lack of a better word — conservatively. While I fully support everyone’s right to be themselves and dress as they wish to, the sole focus on the stereotypical ways of the parade, to my mind, takes away from the seriousness of the parade and the issues involved. As responsible citizens, the journalists/media must focus on the core issues, as opposed to just restricting their coverage to attention grabbing colorful pictures and headlines.

— Ansh* (name changed), lawyer

The word Pride itself suggests the whole purpose of why one should step out and join the march.

For someone who has ‘pride’ in his/her orientation, it becomes integral to participate and send the right message; so that acceptability (and more importantly, awareness) becomes more commonplace.

— Tushar, architect

To show the world that  we are not a bunch of crazy colourful people — we are doctors, engineers, artists, your co-workers, your brothers, neighbours, the person you think is your idol — for all those men  hiding in the closet because YOU make me an outcast for coming out of one.

— Karan, fashion entrepreneur

Visibility.

For too long gay men and women have been poured in casts of assumed professions, temperaments, and allowed limited places in everyday lives. People need to come out to represent diversity — cis, trans, gay, straight, femme, masc, camp, or even butch… but remain unapologetic, at the end of the day. We need enough representation for younger lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and straight people to find a bit of themselves in us, just so no one feels alone.

For too long we have been assumed minuscule, when owning our authentic self is every person’s dream.

— Anuj, consultant

Pride is not only limited to LGBT community but it is for all the oppressed sects of the society. So, if you think you are not exercising your freedom right, it is your one-way ticket to Utopia.

— Prashant, sales executive

To show people that we can protest with love and without waging a war.

But more importantly, because each voice counts.

— Vikas Narula, restaurateur

People, gay or not, should walk the Pride March this year to show that even while the country is in a state of turmoil over a movie screening that pushes India back in time back in time rather than moving forward, there’s a united front that wants change and people who are ready to be a part of the process to bring that change.

— Raghav, banker

Happy #ComingOutDay : the Guysexual’s Guide to Coming Out

Happy International Coming Out Day.jpg

Do you hear that low rumble in the background?

It’s the collective sound of a billion closet doors being thrust open, so that their occupants can finally step out and enjoy the sun (and their sexuality).

Happy International Coming Out Day, boys and girls.

Today, if a close friend, a colleague or a sibling puts down their low-fat latte, looks you straight in the eye and tells you that they’ve got ‘something important to say to you,’ there’s a very high chance you are going to be privy to a coming out story — unless you’ve got something stuck between your front teeth, that is (so before you put on your best understanding face, do check a mirror).

Coming out is a special milestone in every gay person’s life — a coming-of-age ritual that all of us have to go through in this convoluted journey of trying to ‘find ourselves’.

The real question is, do you need to come out to be at peace with yourself?

I think so. Coming out can be difficult for a variety of reasons — the fear of people’s reactions, the stigma of being ostracised, the conflict with your religious beliefs, and the acceptance of intolerance, to just name a few — but it’s honestly refreshing.  Your internal struggles feel less painful, and your life seems more beautiful.

So why this big fuss about International Coming Out Day when you can make the big announcement any day of the year?

Continue reading Happy #ComingOutDay : the Guysexual’s Guide to Coming Out

Byesexual: What Not To Say When You Meet A Bisexual Person

Pride

 

Twenty seven year old Aneesh isn’t fond of many things.

He isn’t fond of liars. He isn’t fond of menthol cigarettes. He isn’t fond of pigeons. He isn’t fond of relationships that move too fast.

And he isn’t fond of bisexuals.

A management consultant from Chandigarh, Aneesh hasn’t had many great experiences with them. ‘I don’t get them at all,’ the boy says out aloud, as he picks at his French fries at a dusty old pub.

I’d want to pick on him, but I find him irresistibly cute. ‘Because I don’t really think that they exist,’ he says, toying with a crisp one. I don’t have the heart to tell him that unlike Santa Claus or Donald Trump’s sincerity, he can’t just compartmentalise bisexuals with other imaginary things — they aren’t myths, bad decisions or drug-induced trips.

He has no particular reason for disliking them, he tells me — he just thinks they have it easy because ‘they can switch anytime they want’. He had a girlfriend back in college three years ago, but we don’t talk about her.

I know that Kartik, my copywriter friend, also feels the same way. He got his heart broken by an architect five years ago — a man who left him on Google Chat, because he wanted to get back with his ex-girlfriend.

The said ex-boyfriend is now fighting for gay rights in the Middle East, and was last heard dating a Swedish accountant.

Who is a man.

If Kartik were in my place right now, he’d shake hands with Aneesh. Maybe I should introduce the two of them?

In a world that strongly identifies as black or white, it’s sad to see that bisexuality is the grey area that neither gay nor straight communities understand. Why should they have the best of both worlds while they decide what they want, they say — however, what most people don’tunderstand is the fact that bisexuality is not a stopover, it’s a destination.

Cut to Shrayana, a 19-year-old BMM student who sells homemade jewelry on her website and does button poetry on weekends. The girl is great at handing out conversational candy — especially as we spar over the Kardashians at an after-party one day, months after my tryst with Aneesh.

She’s exactly the kind of boy I’d want to date. Sadly, she’s not one.

I make the mistake of telling her that.

‘I don’t need to be a boy to date you,’ she says to me, as I splutter on my drink — who knew compliments could turn catty? Apparently my track record with bisexual women is the same as my track record with gay men.

It’s abysmal.

I tell her I meant it in the nice way. She frowns again. I don’t want to put her off, but I seem to be doing a great job of it (which is strange, considering my usually impeccable standards of charming women.)

‘Okay, let’s make this simpler,’ she tells me off sternly, before I say something offensive again, ‘Have you ever had a good-looking boy tell you that he wished you were a girl so that he could date you?’

The girl does have a point (but sadly, there have been no such boys). I try mumbling out an apology about being bisexual-friendly, but Shrayana’s already distracted — she’s just caught the eye of a beautiful woman standing by the door — a stage actress who’s celebrating the success of her recent play. Their eyes meet, and my voice trails away. My gay charm clearly has no effect on her.

Shrayana disappears off for a while, leading the (much older) actress to the depths of the kitchen. I make small talk with a gay hairdresser from Spain, but keep an eye out for my lady friend. I have a woman to woo, and I mean business.

They appear fifteen minutes later, looking disheveled but very pleased with themselves. She winks at me — it looks like I won’t have to wave a white flag anymore.

‘It’s not about what you said,’ she says, sliding next to me ten minutes later, gently nudging the hairdresser out of the conversation, and out of my life. ‘It’s upsetting that bisexuals get so much hate from the community itself, and it’s all so misguided — if you can love anyone you choose, why can’t the same rules apply to us?’

Who knew an after party could lead to an after thought?

As someone who thought that his views on bisexuality were always liberal, it turns out I have been sitting on the same side of the table as Aneesh and Kartik (side note: not that I am complaining, they are both very attractive boys). Only, my indifference comes out in the form of ignorance.

‘It’s not about how many men or women I have dated or how strong my feelings have been for each of them,’ she sips on her gin, lighting a cigarette with the flair of a man in his early forties, ’It’s about how I feel at that moment.’

‘Well, let’s start over then. Can you tell me what I shouldn’t be saying?’ I ask her, jokingly. I’ve already reached two strikes. One more, and I’ll be out. (Side note: we are exactly three hours away from being Facebook friends, and two weeks from exchanging numbers.)

She smiles, and gives me a whole list instead:

1. ‘So vanilla or chocolate; which one do you prefer?’

2. ‘So you are actually gay, right?’

3. ‘Not that I have anything against bisexuals or anything, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to date one.’

4. ‘Okay, gun to your head — if you had to finally choose, who would you rather do — men or women?’

5. ‘Moment of truth — who is better in bed?’

6. ‘OMG, I am so jealous of the number of threesomes you must be having!’

7. ‘I think you are a confused gay man — you just don’t know it.’

8. ‘Is it something that you just wake up and decide? One day I like men, another day it’s women.’ That sounds like so much fun! How do I sign up?’

9. ‘Yeah, you are too hot to be a lesbian!’

10. ‘Listen! Can I introduce you to my friends? They’ve never met anyone who’s bisexual before!’

11. ‘Ohh. What does your ex-girlfriend have to say about this? Does she know? Wait, is this because of her?’

12. ‘Only girls can be bisexual. Guys? Uh-huh.’

13. ‘I’d be so scared of dating someone who’s bisexual, what if one day she just decides to leave me for a girl? Just between you and me, I’d feel less of a man.’

14. ‘You know what? This sounds terribly convenient. You want to be gay but you don’t want to be gay at the same time. You know what I mean?’

15. ‘That’s not fair — you have a wider pool to bang. I hate you, man!’

16. ‘So let me get this straight, you like men and women? Doesn’t that make you really greedy? Leave some for the rest of us!’

17. ‘Hahahaha, so what is your favourite colour? Pink or blue?’

18. ‘Oh, I totally get you, I was dared to kiss this boy in school, so I am bisexual too. High five, mate…no?’

19. ‘Wait a minute…are you bisexual because Lindsay Lohan is bisexual? Because that’s not a good reason to be…’

20. ‘Are you sure you aren’t bisexual because you have a fear of commitment? Because you can’t decide?’

I take her list, and we both clink our glasses. The hairdresser is still around, and I am in no hurry to go back home.

The Idiot’s Guide to Every Homophobic Question In The World

 

Idiot's guide

Would you like a scoop of double chocolate chip fudge ice cream? Do you think that Ryan Gosling is hot? Want to go shop at Zara’s end-of-season clearance sale? Should we leave behind a trust fund for you? Would you like a promotion? Want an all-expense paid vacation to Greece?

The world is full of silly questions, but there is no question sillier than an ignorant homophobic one. Don’t want to sound even mildly homophobic the next time you are talking to a friend, family member or even foe that belongs to the LGBT community?

Refrain from asking any of these 69 (no puns intended) questions out aloud:

 

  1. ‘Can I set you up with another friend – he’s the only other gay guy I know?’
  2. ‘If I kissed you one time, would I become gay too?’
  3. ‘Does it hurt knowing that you can’t have your own children?’
  4. ‘You must love Sunday brunch, don’t you?’
  5. ‘Will you get AIDS?’
  6. ‘What can two lesbians even do in bed together?’
  7. ‘…But you know I don’t mean it in a homophobic way, right?’
  8. ‘It’s Fashion Week! Shouldn’t you be more dressed up?’
  9. ‘If you were straight, would you have married me?’
  10. ‘Listen! You are gay! Will you come to Girl’s Night with us?’
  11. ‘Boys suck so much! Why can’t you be straight?’
  12. ‘Tell me! Is pink your favourite colour?’
  13. ‘Ryan Gosling is totally your dream man, isn’t he?’
  14. ‘ …how do you not know what a cocksickle is?’
  15. ‘So do you do drugs regularly?’
  16. ‘Okay, who’s your favourite member from One Direction?’
  17. ‘But how can you not know every line from Queer As Folk by heart?’
  18. ‘Dating two people at the same time isn’t a problem, right?’
  19. ‘Oh! What are your dance moves? The jazz hands?’
  20. ‘How have you not seen every episode of Sex And The City?’
  21. ‘Beer? Why are you not ordering the Cosmopolitan?’
  22. ‘Are you the man or the woman in the relationship?’
  23. ‘Yea, but that’s now how we straight people do it, is it?’
  24. ‘Have you ever seen a vagina? Want to see mine?’
  25. ‘Why is there only a Gay Pride Parade?’
  26. ‘How are you having dessert? Shouldn’t you be off sugar?’
  27. ‘As a gay man, aren’t you supposed to hate sports?’
  28. ‘OMG! Why aren’t you the queen of sass?’
  29. ‘Are you sure you can’t pull off sequined trousers?’
  30. ‘What about a sequined jacket?’
  31. ‘…Sequined shoes?’
  32. “Oh God! Now who’ll drive us? YOU?’
  33. ‘You are obviously not good with secrets, are you?’
  34. “You are a gay guy! So what’s the latest gossip? Who are we bitching about?’
  35. ‘You are in a relationship? Shouldn’t you be changing boyfriends every month?’
  36. ‘All the sex, and no worries! Being gay must be so much fun, no?’
  37. ‘Don’t you feel dirty after anal sex?’
  38. ‘ OMG! You are totally like Will, and I am like Karen from Will & Grace, right?’
  39. “Oh come on! You fantasize about married men all the time, don’t you?’
  40. ‘Listen! Will you be my gay best friend?’
  41. ‘Are you a Khloe or a Kim? No, you don’t know what I am talking about?’
  42. “But you are one of us girls now, aren’t you?’
  43. “I am not going to introduce my boyfriend to you. What if you hit on him?’
  44. ‘Oh! It’s a straight person thing, you won’t get it, will you?’
  45. ‘OMG! You’d love to come shopping with me, right?
  46. “Isn’t it great that you don’t have to pay on the date?’
  47. Have you ever cross-dressed? I am sure you have!’
  48. ‘How can you not have seen Wicked on Broadway?’
  49. ‘You’ve not even seen Funny Girl?’
  50. ‘But I can call you a fag, right?’
  51. “I can’t even call you a homo?’
  52. ‘What about queen? No? But you guys call each queen all the time!’
  53. ‘How can you be really sure that you are gay?’
  54. “Will touching my boobs make you straight?’
  55. ‘Are you going to snap your fingers at me, mister?’
  56. ‘But how can you not relate with Stanford from Sex and The City?’
  57. ‘You don’t even relate to Elijah from Girls?’
  58. ‘Definitely Kurt from Glee? No?’
  59. ‘’Have you slept with all the gay boys in the city?’
  60. ‘How are you not promiscuous?’
  61. It’s so great that your parents accepted you, no?’
  62. ‘How do you even know so much about football? Is it because the players are cute?’
  63. ‘Is section #377 even a thing?’
  64. ‘Why are you getting so worked up about Section #377? It doesn’t even recriminalize homosexuality!’
  65. ‘Why are gay people so loud, man?’
  66. ‘How do you know that you are gay if you’ve never been with a woman?’
  67. ‘Why aren’t there any pretty lesbians in this world?’
  68. ‘Do you love Ru Paul’s Drag Race or do you love Ru Paul’s Drag Race?’
  69. ‘How can you not read the Guysexual column?’

 

Is Online Dating The Serial Killer Of Romance?

Viraf, a thirty-something brand manager loves plaid, soy lattes and expensive single malt. Like most quintessential gay men that I know, Viraf is on the lookout for ‘shake-me-by-my-shoulders’ love – the one that you find in dog-eared romance novels and primetime soaps. To further his cause for finding romance, Viraf goes out on a new date every week (while sleeping with twice the number of people in the same time) – and falls in love every month. It’s a tough life, but he survives (and so does his wallet).

Serial Killer

Continue reading Is Online Dating The Serial Killer Of Romance?

14 Reasons Why Valentine’s Day Isn’t All That Bad

 

valentines

It’s that time of the year.

Valentine’s Day. Hearts, flowers, economically destructive sales, ecologically destructive confetti, cheap chocolates and cheaper motives for the whole world to see.

While it’s usually tradition for most of us to dismiss it as a farce that lets stationers and chocolate makers take their annual holiday to the Bahamas, I’ve pledged to be nicer (less cynical) this year. As I look forward to 2017 with a sense of optimism that can only be the result of too many wine spritzers, here are 14 reasons why Valentine’s Day (never call it V-Day) isn’t all that bad:

  1. Your Grindr is going to be very, very busy.

 No one wants to be alone on Valentine’s Day – especially the torso across the street, who asks you for a dick pic every alternate night. Three glasses of red wine and one life-changing Rom Com later, you are going to be swiping right faster than the speed of light.

Because everyone else certainly is.

Continue reading 14 Reasons Why Valentine’s Day Isn’t All That Bad

Number Fourteen: The Analyst.

 

fourteen
Art Work: Siddha Kannur.

It’s Independence Day. August has never been crisper. It’s cool and fresh, and smells of the holidays.

I stare closely at Fourteen 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.

He stares.

‘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.

Yes, that.

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?

The joint.

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?’

Why not?

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.