Saturday, May 19, 2007

Shakti I'll always be waiting for that Coffee

Last day at my first job with my first boss Shakti, editor, Lifestyle Trends

“Priyanka, I am impressed with your CV. You can join us on one condition.”
“What ma’am?”
“Call me Shakti! No ma’am!”

With that sentence and a huge smile Shakti Bhatt made an entry into my life on 13th April 2005. She was my first boss. She gave me my first job as a part time reporter in Lifestyle Trends. Her first editing job since she arrived in India as I later came to know. An amazingly chilled out person she was someone I looked up to as almost a mentor (though she was not that much older to me). Pointers like what to read, what to listen to, where to hang out, films, theatre, art exhibitions you name it and she gave me exposure to them.

What I remember about Shakti is her skirts. They were AWESOME! She even told me about a shop in Bangalore to go skirt shopping. Managed to actually make me eat karela and like it too. Shared lunches, chocolates in the office, the tack board with words of wisdom, art, photographs… leaving her CDs with permission to listen to what I would want to. Teaching with every word and action. A fair boss. A great friend with a sense of humor that makes me smile behind the tears that are rolling down my face. Shakti also introduced me to Dostovosky’s work, Shahid’s pain. And Jeet’s poetry.

I remember listening to her talk about Jeet. She was so much in love. I had never seen anyone so much in love. Once she gave me a lift to the Osian’s film festival. On the way we went to her mom’s home to pick up Jeet. When they both met after the days work, I knew I was in the presence of LOVE.

I write all this not because I want her to know that I remember her. But to make sure that I thank God for her presence in my life even though for a very short period. And most importantly to remember all that I can about a beautiful lady with a beautiful heart who encouraged me enough, corrected me enough and praised me enough.

The last time I saw Shakti was at a poetry reading at IHC. Wearing white, I remember her looking like an angel. In all the calls in the past year she always asked to meet for coffee and I always said sure will meet you the next time I am around. Sadly enough for me she is not around anymore…

This was the last mail I received from Shakti---

Dear Priyanka,

Hi. Doing fine - enjoying the break from work. Trying to see what I can do and what I want to do. Meanwhile, doing some freelancing writing and appearing for a couple of interviews. Will let you know what happens.

Meanwhile you keep in touch and anytime you're planning to be in Khan market, gimme a call and we'll meet for a quick coffee,

One thing that I learned from Shakti was the art of Googling. She had given me a golden tip of Googling people. I was in my office today. I remembered Shakti out of the blue. I thought it would be fun if I google her. Find out what she has been upto and then talk to her straight away about what’s happening with her. With this thought on my mind and all happy to call her soon I Googled her name today sure to meet her up for coffee, only to find a blog written in her remembrance.

Shakti I’ll always be waiting for that coffee. May you party hard in heaven. Will miss you very much…

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Guy Gyan*

* This is a piece of pure fiction. Resemblance of the ME and HE is purely due to some subconscious elements at work. Believe the below at your own sweet risk :-)

Recently I had a great conversation with a friend. We were discussing the one problem that seems to be plaguing most of the people I interact with (my age group). Yes! You guessed it right --- love and relationships. I was representing all the sad girls who are duped by false promises and he was justifying why boys were the way they were in these romantic situations.

So here is how the conversation went on between Me and He…

Me: Tell me one thing what is wrong with you jerks? Why would you repeatedly lie to a girl? That too so convincingly about your supposed true feelings… and how you want to marry them and that all the other relationships and the girls before meant squat to you? And and and…..ufff

He: hahahhahahah! Are you done with your questions Ms Question Bank? The volume of your questions is the sole reason I guess I never did hit on you. hahahhaha! Now brace yourself for the truth. It’s not as easy as it sounds. First of all this is India, not USA.

Me: Ah! What an excuse! Are all the guys as big jerks as you are?

He: What you call jerk I call master! (A smug smile on his face) So there is a well researched, tried and tested methodology we Indian guys have to use. Calling it methodology will not suffice. It’s more of a scientific procedure.

Me: Oh Great Master! Bless me with thy knowledge. And by the way if you knew about the scam! Oops sorry, THE scientific procedure could you not have been a darling and warned me and your other friends who are girls?

He: Yet again you simplify a complicated solution. The reason is profound. As you are very well aware that I intend to do great things in my life, the foremost is dating a record number of women before I am 23 years of age.

Me: What does this have to do with you not telling us a thing?

He: A little logic dear girl and loads of patience as well. You and other friends are instrumental in introducing me to their girlfriends. And this is how the cycle of my dating progresses.

By this time I had convincingly reached my boiling point.

Me: And to what great deed on my part do I own this special preaching of the guy gyan today?

He: (Laughing so loudly that Gabbar would be put to shame) Well after what I did with your best friend I am pretty confident you will not be introducing me to any more friends of yours.

Me: True! But that’s still not the real reason. Spill it out. (The threat in my voice worked its magic)

He: Okay! But this does not leave the two of us. You are recovering from heartbreak. You blame him. Which is fair enough. But I just don’t want you to fall in the same trap again. This time I want you to know the signs, read the patterns. There are a few genuine guys there. You’ll find one too.

Me: Really! There are? You promise? (The emotional fool inside me raising her head almost teary)

He: See these are the kinds of lies I am telling you to be aware of. Okay?

Me: Hmmm

He: Now can I start my lesson?

Me: Should I take notes? (Mocking his tone)

He: It will do you only good. Now the ground rules. You are allowed to laugh. But do not interrupt with questions, silly one-liners in your juvenile attempt to be over smart. Any talking you want to do kindly get it out of your system right now. I am risking a lot in telling you all this.

Me: Risking a lot? You speak as though it’s a national secret. What is the big deal?

He: It is a lot bigger deal than some national secret. (Volume drops down to almost a guilty whisper) By telling you this I am in a sense betraying all the men around the world. (Volume restored) But I trust you to keep this a secret.

Me: Thanks. (All smiles and already thinking of what would I title the post as)

He: So now the monologue starts. The basic course to ‘Patao a desi girl’

He: Do not pass judgment on all the guys. Though they do use the same tactic more often than not still some of them are your true friends. Do not, after this conversation, be skeptical of all the guys around… understood?

Me: (Nodding since I was not allowed to speak)

He: The look of the girl really does not matter. The standards we keep to buy a mobile or a vehicle are higher than the standards we keep to judge the girls we are perusing. Anything that is female and is moving is our target. So if a guy shows interest do not take it personally.

Me: (wondering WHAT!!!!!!????????)

He: The first step is to approach the girl. Either the guy will use a common friend to lead him to the target or in this net age the web does a fantastic job. There are many out there like you who are impressed with guys with a great command over language. So a flowery mail, where I discuss some common points like music, books, my love to travel, the fact that I do not generally do this but could not help my self in making an exception in your case.

Me: (By this time totally into the talk. Aghast at my naivety)

He: if the girl replies in one go. I know she is an easy target. No challenge, nothing exciting. I might talk politely to her once a while. Just keep her in reserve for a rainy day. Remember only one girl was not mailed at least ten were. But if the girl is smart enough and asks if I had mailed others also, the answer will be simple. “Well I am no saint there were 5 others, 2 of you replied and in so many days that we have interacted I don’t feel anything for her in comparison to what I feel for you”. So you see on a later date when a girl questions my fidelity, honesty or any other trait my answer is ready. I do not lie. I had told you I am like that.

Now getting back to the steps. If the mail did not receive the reply, a second one will follow. This one will convince you that its not how you look but who you are that is so mesmerizing for the guy. ‘Since the time I have mailed you, I have lost all sleep in the anticipation of receiving your reply.’ The level of the language will vary from guy to guy depending on the educational background. The urgency will be the same. After such urgency 8/10 times the girl replies back exchanging chat ids for further talks.

Initially the chats are generic with just a hint of flirtation here and there. If the girl herself flirts she goes into the reserved category for a rainy day. If the girl is a challenge I pursue her more. If her birthday falls in the interim the Gods are also on my side. Just a thoughtful wish at midnight, a sentimental message which in all probability is a poem and a romantic song in the email, again depending upon the level of knowledge; average Joes will send ‘I will be your hero’ by Enrique, better ones will choose ‘She will be loved’ by Maroons, or ‘Ain’t No sunshine when she is gone’ by Lighthouse family. Hmmm hmmmmm (Clearing his throat and checking whether I am paying attention or not). If the birthday is not around chances are the songs will be sent through chats making occasions out of no days. Got it.

Me: (Nodding my head with such ferocity that he almost comes forward to support lest I sprain my neck.)

He: Well now that the rude shocks are settling in let me tell you about the philosophy behind all this. It has got nothing to do with love, hormones or even sex. Lets face it this is India and sex is still pretty much a post marriage or at least a post engagement ritual. It is just the challenge of making someone, who thinks she knows it all, and believe me, you do know it all, fall in love with complete idiots like us. That’s the only high. Period. Once a girl says ‘I love you’, the excitement pretty much dies out for me and I am 99.9 % sure for the rest of my species.

Late night calls, the urgency to message the girl all the time, the need to meet up, inform her of all the mundane stuff, control the conversations in such a manner that the anecdotes are funny, a little personal…

You can ask a question without opening your mouth. (again that smug smile)

Me: (Wish to smother him, but it is imperative for him to live if I want to know more)

He: …Personal so that the girl feels that she is special and infact we do not even shy away from mentioning this blatantly to the girl. The confession goes something like this, “You are laughing at my misery! How brutal are you! And here I am sharing all this personal detail with you because you are so special to me!” yes you have heard it before. Never mind. Chances are you’ll hear it several times more. Hahhahahahah! (Again the Gabbar roar). Now that the girl is impatiently waiting for his calls or to answer his messages and the voice has a silly giggly quality it is the time for the next crucial step. Include her in your life. Make her feel that if she ain’t around you cannot function. Requesting her to wake you up. “I want to start my day with my little sweet baby calling me up” or “I’ll know what I mean to you if you call me and wake me up”. The masterpiece ofcourse is to call her up one day, “I want to be the first voice you hear today. I want you to remember me through the day”. Some artistically blanketed cheesy lines and rest assured that the girl is almost putty in your hands. All this is done not mechanically. I truly believe whatever I say to any girl at the time I utter the words. The only problem is that soon the girl changes. But a genuine guy that I am, my emotions remain the same.

Me: (I cannot stifle a smile on this one)

He: Weeping at least once over the phone is another thumb rule. A man who can cry and wear pink shirts is the idea of a perfect man since your dear SRK started the trend. So crying over something that I genuinely feel sad about makes for killing two birds with one stone. My emotions get a vent and the girl realizes that I am a sweet man who is not afraid to cry. Apart from this I constantly give the girl the impression that I have spoken about her with my mother. This is a tactic to let her think that I am serious about her. If she mentions another friend I feel jealous and do not shy away from showing it. Possessiveness. So basically in a span of about a month I can easily cover all these emotions that according to girls seem to define love.

It is now time to get busy. Office keeps me occupied. I am so tired yet I make time for her and call her whenever I can. “Hope mom is not angry?” I am concerned that all is well at her place. Then one fine day when my boss has decided to make my life a living hell, I tell the girl that there is only one respite that I continue to harbor the hope that one day she’ll tell me that she loves me. If it is my lucky day the girl breaks down. Professes her love for me. The challenge has been won. I am invincible.

A few dates where I get to ride with the girl on the pillion on my bike, a few good dinners, maybe holding hands in the movies or if I am very lucky a kiss.

Me: (Totally shocked at the last confession!)

He: This is the longest I have seen you quiet. Who would have thought that I could accomplish the task? And yes now comes the sad part. Something goes amiss somewhere. She thinks that now that the love has been declared its time to take it a step forward emotionally. Suddenly I do not have a girlfriend; I have a wife cum mother. The questions that once I encouraged now seem to encroach on my space. So now its time to actually get busy with work, remember I had done the ground work some days ago for it. The thing is I and the other distinguished members of my species do not believe in creating or facing embarrassing situations. We run from it. So the best way is to take the easy route and stop attending the calls. Replying to messages in monosyllables and slowly but surely create a rift that can only be blamed on circumstances and situations.

Me: Enough!

He: Well now there isn’t anything else to say so good that you have had enough.

Good girl you stayed quite for the longest time. Awesome! Another feather in my cap. Made you keep mum for almost twenty long minutes. Haahahahahahha!

Me: The sobs that seemed almost ceremonious drowned somewhere when I joined in his Gabbar roar. With a tune suddenly playing in my mind. “Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho… Kya gum hai jisko chippa rahe ho?”