SWIPED OFF MY FEET

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Last night I forayed into the world of hookups a.k.a Tinder. Please don’t judge me for missing this train five years ago when it docked at the hookup station or worse for boarding it at all after all this time. I am for sure not to be blamed for it because I was forced to commit this sin by a not so well-meaning friend who wants me to live life on the edge and my sister who has mastered the art of convincing me for all things crazy.

I surprised myself by downloading the app on my phone because I am a tad too finicky about trusting someone in the real world so the virtual world seemed like a far cry; there is no dearth of psychopaths and fraandship stalkers in this world.

The app lost its new-found home in my phone in less than 24 hours of installing it. I couldn’t help it because those few minutes were bound to put my liking for men in grave danger.

I created my profile quite painstakingly because I am paranoid about disclosing even an iota of information about myself. Ironic because Facebook leaves no stone unturned in literally making your life an open book and you can sign up on Tinder only if you have a profile on Facebook. The logic behind this move is to give the users an illusion of safety and security.

Following the instructions I chose the age group I would like to mingle with and how far was I ready to go to swipe right – obviously speaking in terms of distance.  What did you think?! You would even need to mention your interests and choices both physically and intellectually. Simply put how tall you would like the person to be and your hobbies and interests.

The above parameters would make Tinder’s job easy when picking the matches for you.

My journey was far from over or rather it hadn’t even begun. Since, I was too reluctant to add a picture or two, Tinder took the matter in its own hands and uploaded a few of its choice. I think it included my current profile picture on Facebook and a few more that I had shared in the past.

Soon, I was ready to swipe right or should I say left.  It looked like that there was no filter on who could or couldn’t sign up. I don’t think they would want to bar people because it would beat their very criteria of promoting the hookup culture.

However, I did not sign up for any kind of hookup whatsoever rather I was looking to interact with interesting men. Big mistake! But I was lured into it by friends or friends of friends who had managed to build lasting friendships even though they didn’t end up cuddling up or maybe they did. Well, that’s really not the point I am trying to make.

The first few profiles I swiped left made me double check the age bracket I had chosen because they all looked ten years older than their professed age. If I ever bumped into them on road I am quite likely to call them uncle! While the remaining ones either left me in splits or disappointed.

So, the other day a friend told me that Tinder was a haven for married men, but I didn’t take it quite seriously and forgot all about it. But my little adventure on Tinder turned out to be quite a reality check albeit a hilarious one.

So, while swiping left I came across Mr X at random and he happened to be engaged. You would wonder that how did I ever manage to come across this piece of information. Obviously, he wouldn’t be dumb enough to write about it on his profile! Naa, he outshone every smart alec on this planet by sharing a picture on Tinder where he was not only flashing his good for nothing smile but also an engagement ring. Damn right! The picture was clearly from the event. Would you call it being dumb or just being dumb?!

Sure, age is just a number but not when it is clearly shitting on your not so well thought of lies! Most men I came across looked way older than the number of years they had been on Earth according to Tinder.

It is easy to bluff while sitting in the virtual world but someday you would have to leave behind the garb of deceit and meet us in the real world. Well, I would say chances of meeting in person are quite dim but consider it a heads up from me.

One picture in particular caught my fancy because it made me wonder how could God send such scumbags on this planet. The picture didn’t show much except a buck naked man with a woman on top. Now, would I want to swipe right for such a person? Hell no!

I did not write off all the men by swiping left – there were three men I swiped right for as they did for me because we clearly matched or so Tinder thought. All of them had one or the other element on their bio that caught my interest along with their looks. Sounds snobbish? Well, isn’t this platform all about choosing what meets the eye on the surface? I pretty much did the same though a lot more reluctantly than most people around me.

The first guy I spoke to had graduated from Harvard and had quite a charming smile. He was intellectual too and thankfully did not believe in saving his time by obliterating ‘yo’ from ‘you’. Well, believe it or not he loved poetry too and could quote it and how. Maybe he was picking it from the internet but I would like to be a little optimistic out here. He loved my tresses – that’s how he initiated the conversation – but clearly wasn’t proud of his achievements. So, I tried really hard to make him fall in love with himself more than my hair but in vain. Well, I suppose we all have priorities in life and I featured on top of his list. For the moment at least.

So, Mr Tresses was followed by a Polo player, owner of a chain of cafes, and finally a certain gentleman who had graduated from Oxford and seemed to be passionate about art and literature. Fortunately or unfortunately I ran out of patience and uninstalled the app even before anyone could initiate a conversation or wax poetry about my ‘tresses’.

The one day trial period on Tinder made me realise that I don’t prefer swiping at all be it right or left. I would rather love to meet a stranger in a cafe -which I have done plenty of times – and have a conversation or two to decide if I would like to know him more than a stranger or not. It doesn’t come with any surety that nothing would go wrong but the old school route of meeting someone face to face has a different kind of charm to it.

I would love to say with absolute conviction that I am never ever giving in to peer pressure or any kind of temptation to swiping right or left but then mom has even taught me never to say never. I shall heed that advice because after all mum is always right!

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BREAKING POINT

 

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The walls were pristine white. They were neither devoid of emotions nor did they present any stark reminder of a hospital. A number of canvases on the wall told stories through a riot of colors that pierced the monotony  like the first rays of the rising sun.

An array of chairs and tables, lamps hanging from the ceiling, and a long, granite counter held mouth-watering culinary assortments behind a glass shelf which held her attention but only for a fleeting moment.

There were handful of people in the room – a man who nursed a lone cup of coffee, which was his only companion, a couple who sat with their fingers entwined but their thoughts seemed to be far away from each other, an elderly couple who playfully bickered over the last bite of chocolate cake while sharing a steaming cup of tea. But in midst of this she sat alone on a table surrounded by books, a bottle of water, a cup of tea, papers with words scrawled all over them, a few memories, and regrets. She didn’t seem to belong there.

The kohl-rimmed eyes had a haunted look to them, which only magnified the grief reflected on her face; it did not flit but stayed constant. The devastation tore at the heart because it brought her to her knees. She was broken yet emanated strength.

She was strong! Why? Because had it been otherwise then the room would have been echoing with heart-wrenching sobs. It seemed as if something from the very core of her soul had been brutally ripped away; such wounds left no visible marks but scars that stayed timeless.

She gazed at one of the paintings quite aimlessly as if the vibrant colors held within their depth all the answers to her clashing thoughts. Tears lent a sheen to her otherwise blank eyes but last vestiges of pride wouldn’t allow her to shed them. Self-respect and an inherent ego helped hold her head high but fragments of jarring memories snuck in through her otherwise heavily guarded armor. He was the chef concocting bittersweet memories and regrets and she played the character of a mute spectator to perfection.

There was very little she could do about it because now it was too late.

“Is it?”, he would have asked with desperation and mockery lacing his voice. An icy hand closed around her heart as she thought of the man who had coaxed, manipulated, and cajoled her into questioning her sanity.

She tried hard to let go of the silent scream that wanted to deny his every accusation but her shattered soul and trembling hands told a different story.

Clenching her fists tightly, she reigned in her emotions and schooled her features to perfection. When she lifted her face, those looking at her were taken in by the smile on her luscious lips. She looked ethereal and so fragile. If one peered closely at her face then she was only a beautiful stranger enjoying the solitude.

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A THOUGHT OF YOU

 

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I miss you every second of everyday. There are a zillion things that refuse to leave me alone; I don’t want them to. I look at your picture and I can’t help but be in awe of it. You were a man of a few words, but every word you spoke held a lot of meaning. You exuded charm that could lit up the dimmest of rooms. There was a class about you that I haven’t seen in another man. An aristocratic face, slim frame, confident gait, and a mysterious smile… you were a man who was way ahead of his time. There is no one like you and can never be and yet they strive to be you but in vain.

In you burnt a passion to learn the impossible. There was a restlessness in you to satiate both mind and soul. You took things apart only to put them back together with a touch that was unique to you.

I miss those daily talks over a cup of tea, or was it double whiskey for you and scotch for me over dinner? Our shared love for music specially the old songs that we sang together is something I miss the most. It was because of you I fell in love with all things vintage. But more than that it was your knack for fashion and love for luxury that taught me the value of finer things in life. You helped me grow into a beautiful person who learnt to accept only the best in life.

You were by no means a serious soul. Oh boy! You were a force to reckon with. I would rather call you a daredevil who broke the rules whenever you wanted and those who envied you called you arrogant. If I think about it then for a man like you arrogance added to your charm. The ease and finesse with which you used to speak your mind, increased my respect for you several notches higher.

Now, as I look around listlessly, cherishing the memories I hold close to my heart, I wonder how different life would be had you been with me.  Every thought of you leaves behind a sweet smile that is tinged with tears for what I can never have. I think of you when I am filled with despair for from you I seek my strength. I have never met you yet I wish with a burning intensity to bring you back; back from the place where I can reach you only after my last breath.

I miss you, Baba!

This is for my grandfather who lived a life full of love, conviction, determination, and dreams. My life feels absolutely incomplete without him and always will. 

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STORY SO FAR

 

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Delhi Book Fair was a week long affair and I went for it on the very last day, which happened to be a Sunday. A hectic morning, less than pleasant weather, and no company at all motivated me to head back home. Obviously, given the circumstances it was a wise thing to do, but someone managed to change my mind. I was surprised by my decision because only a handful of people have the privilege to do so.

I went to the fair not once, but twice in a span of three hours. First time round I was by myself and it wasn’t the best of days for solitude. As soon as I encountered the sea of people – which was expected – I almost ran towards the exit. Later, I lamented about how I hated crowded places to which I was reminded that India is a crowded country. How will I ever escape it? All I could do was roll my eyes.

I was quite disappointed because Harper Collins, Penguin, Rupa, and my childhood favourite CBT were clearly missing from the fair but they have been doing so for a while now. I thought it to be a crime because such stalwarts should have been leading the show. Hachette India was there but they refused to sell the books to me unless I bought a copy of every book on the shelves. What kind of ridiculous marketing strategy was it?

For the first time in my life I returned empty handed from a book fair. Not literally because I did buy two books – one was to indulge every romantic bone in my body and the second was a gift for the man who shares my love for reading. His taste in books is far more eclectic than mine but the weathered old pages and the smell that is unique to books is what had us bonding in the first place.

My books are my babies and I absolutely cannot bear to be separated from them. So, choosing a book is a serious business for me. Unless I have caressed the cover to the point of satisfaction, run my fingers across every word flowing through the pages, felt their warmth seeping through my soul, till then I just cannot settle for any book at all. Come to think of it then how could I ever pick a dozen books without really knowing them?

Simply said I like to linger over books even though I might not make them mine.

Second time too I needed convincing but I gave in because it would have been a sin to miss a conversation with and company of a man with a fabulous taste in all things lyrical.

We searched high and low for a good book, stopped at every stall, and in that mad rush he managed to find couple of masterpieces. He doesn’t restrict himself to specific genres or a language. I say so because he reads Premchand  with as much interest as he would read Rumi.  The only difference is that in three months he has read 80 odd pages of Premchand while Rumi would stay with him forever.

I coerced him into buying Past and Continous by Neel Mukherjee – something I haven’t read myself. Hopefully, he loves it else I will never hear the end of it.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t sad about not bringing back at least ten books with me.  However, I am sure he must have already judged my choice in books after seeing my childlike enthusiasm for the dog-eared copy of Nora Roberts in my hands. I shudder to think of his reaction only if he had caught me red-handed with a JudithMcNaught. He surely would have disowned me!  Now, I really can’t afford to let that happen but the hopeless romantic in me cannot not sigh and dream once in a while.

So, even though the fair didn’t leave a lasting impression on me but my company for the day was worth the time spent. But, I hope the Nelson Mandela autobiography I got for him doesn’t land too hard on my head. After all it would be a hardcover in his hands and the person standing closest to him would be me.

 

 

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THE NAKED SOUL

I wish I could say I am back after a long break but it won’t be the truth. Yes, I am back with soul-searching thoughts, which are not mine though I wish they were. The words are so beautiful that you would want to be with someone and discover their naked soul. 

By Aanchal Mittal

She was strong. She worked like anyone else and enjoyed a glass of wine as much as she liked her whisky. She spoke her mind and laughed out loud. She cried too just the world did not know. She was a shoulder to cry on as much as she was the person to handle a fight. She stood for herself and accepted if at fault. She spoke her heart out very rare only not to have a listener. She danced to no music as much as she took a lonely walk. She was what she felt.

She was often called as the man in any relationship. All she asked was not to be insulted. She was a happy woman living her life not understanding how did it make her a man. Last she knew she was very much a woman in every possible manner. She went out on dates as much she took out a man as well.Yet each date ended up being friend with the intimidated men. She had men in life all just good friends.

She asked questions which wouldn’t be answered. She had all she made for her. She was different as they said but not knowing how. She was given the right to ask yet none had the courage to give. She loved with all she had and lost what she made. She still looked for that hand to guide her through. She still liked those stolen kisses every now and then. She liked getting flowers as much as she enjoyed roaming streets with balloons. Well, she was strong yet not invincible.

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STORY OF BUTTONS, CORNERS, AND PARENTS

My morning seemed to start on an interesting note because my parents had clearly marked me as their target for the day. Targeted that too by the people who gave me this very life? I can totally feel your thoughts, but that is the truth of my over-dramatic life. I think it was last night itself they had conspired to make me squirm and boy were they successful. Instead of the soothing notes of my alarm, it was my dad’s booming voice shaking and stirring out of my dream world and none too politely. He wasn’t too happy to see that I wouldn’t so much so acknowledge his efforts to buy me a gift much less lift my fingers to mark my approval on the choice of model. How inconsiderate of him, no?! Well, I had to sit through finalising the best deal and voila I hit a jackpot! The website offering a so-called big discount wasn’t an authorized reseller with the brand; I think I saved my dad a lot of headache. I could see his love for me grow by leaps and bound but later I was informed with a poker face that my cousin had utilized the same deal and all was hunky dory in her world. Oh well, I performed my victory dance too soon because I did have to squirm later for losing out on a good offer.

My mom has this uncanny ability to be right about most of the things. She opened today’s edition of Mint Lounge to read out loud the article by Shoba Narayan; loudly because she wanted me to know that there I had missed another opportunity of voicing my thoughts. Shoba Narayan too had a story to tell about her experience aboard the Vistara flight. She was served manchurian idli and after she spat out the food, the flight attendant said, “You see, madam, north Indians don’t want to go for southie dishes,” the flight attendant said. “If we mix some Chinese flavour with these idlis, then it will be palatable for north Indians as well.” Well, how in the world did the attendant come up with such an explanation?!  Empty headed and racist, I say!

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Anyway, so the point my mom was trying to make at that moment was that I too should have written about my disastrous round trip with Vistara. In order to pacify her, here is my story. In August, I flew to Bombay to attend the Lakme Fashion Week and also to see a different side of the city that I had missed during last two visits. I am lactose intolerant –  a fact that most of you know by now – and I communicated the same to Vistara not just once or twice but about 10 times. They assured me that a word to the flight crew, all would be taken care of. They were as clueless as they could come and offered me bananas and apples from the business class. Beat it! Kindly honor them with a slow clap! Hungry and annoyed I refused to let it affect my vacation. So, before boarding my flight back to Delhi, I made them assure and reassure me that my meal would be taken care of and they didn’t disappoint me. Meal was there, yes, but by the looks of it I would have preferred no meal at all. In order to compensate for the previous disaster they served gobhi, rice peppered with 4-5 pieces of chhole that were half-boiled, and corn spinach along with a laddoo, which made up for my dessert. In terms of quantity it looked nothing short of leftovers that they picked from someone’s tiffin as a last resort. The taste was beyond my expectations and I couldn’t eat more than a bite or two. You see I simply had to take it back home, after all you don’t get experience such a culinary delight on a daily basis. The cherry on my cake was the stone cold bun with butter. So, I chose to put it back in the doodled box just the way it came. Vistara made my flight quite a memorable one. Now, in order to cherish this flight with them I have decided to never travel by Vistara again. One such experience is bound to last me for a lifetime. There you go, Mom! I finally narrated my experience, which isn’t as exhilarating as Ms Narayan’s but an exciting one all the same; not for me but Vistara.

The moral of the story is that no one can add more spark to your day like your parents because they know all the buttons to push and corners to dust even though I would like to believe otherwise. They will love you and hate you at the same time. Eventually, I am going to get my gift by tomorrow because dad won’t have it any other way even if it means waking me up at the crack of dawn and well mom did have her way by making me write this post.

I hope I haven’t missed out on something else and if I have by any chance then count on my mom to bring you another amusing story of my life.

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A PARADOX

THOUGHTS ON THE HOUSE

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The pen caught between nimble fingers was tapping in a staccato rhythm… sometimes against the worn out spiral notebook else her chin.

Long, beautiful curls streaming around her face were pushed back by fingers on which her forehead rested.

An intense look of confusion and passion was writ large on her face; a face so expressive and transparent was enhanced by troubled eyes. Every flitting emotion had its own story to tell in a language hard to interpret.

She was bent over the table furiously scribbling away and after a few seconds scratched it all out. It wasn’t her words but confusions that she wrote only to erase. Eyes full of sorrow and a ghost of a smile on the lips, she refused to look towards the door. She seemed to seek solace from none but one.

He stood and watched her from afar. She was his bundle of contradictions…

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