Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's a wine-wine

To those who are lost in the labyrinths of the dating game, I’d say, get some sun. Throw in some wine, some music, and watch it all unfold. Or better still, go to the Sulafest (thanks to rationed outdoorsy escapades for the Bombayite) and do it all.

Unlike say, a rock concert, a club night (where you can see/hear nothing), or a brunch (where people are focused on heaping their plates or downing their drinks) , things like the Sulafest are a flea market for singletons. You can drink some, mingle some, flirt some, and move on — space, oxygen and members of the opposite sex are unlimited. You can lie on the grass, say a lot, or say nothing, and it would be okay. When you are drinking wine, it is not treated like you are actually drinking, so no one will hold the too-many-drinks-down against you.

So there I was this weekend with the husband and the infant in tow (no point waiting in treating him to the good life, we figured).

One thing that stood out was hundreds of sweet-somethings wearing little-nothings that, in the city could be voted tarty, but in the hot Nasik sun could pass off as something-I-wore-because-the-heat-is-killing me.

And then I realised, you could get away with anything here, and this is true for men and women. Men can get away with being grunge, dressing down or being OTT, having bad hair days, losing footwear, smoking up behind hedges, living on a liquid diet for 48 hours, grumbling there’s no beer at a wine festival, being nonchalant, aloof or over-familiar.

Women can be coy, mysterious, slutty or smart. And a lot can happen over wine (never mind if stomping doesn’t look as good here as it does in France). For instance:

You’ve had so much Satori that you are being a slut (and I must agree with Paul Giamatti’s views on merlot in Sideways)

You can’t remember if you spoke to guy with cute butt, so you ask his name for the third time, because you are Chenin blanc-ed out!

You are happy as a bird for no particular reason and giggling away like a hyena, or whatever animal that comes close to it, and you blame it all on the Shiraz

Midway through the evening you decide that you no longer have to hang out with the guy you came with, because, you are so red and he is so white.

You begin to you question whether, in your search for coupledom, you may have passed the gentle Pinots for the aggressive Cabernet men.

You think getting a tarot card read would not be a syndrome exclusive to singletons afflicted-by-coupledom syndrome. Never mind if it was rather dear at Rs 100 per question, and no, questions could not be combined (so you couldn’t ask, “Will I go to Cappadocia on my honeymoon with X after I get that Y job?”)

You could flash your changed relationship status, either through your just-acquired ring/squeeze, and just giggle, Aishwarya-like.

About the grapes and the music, well, frankly my dear, I didn’t give a damn.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Arm candy

Now that I’m in possession of an infant, I am constantly looking at things anew. One of them is how people engage with a baby at social outings and what it says about them. I was surprised to find that on an average, the men seem more eager to pick up the baby than the women. I wondered why.

A friend suggested that since parenting is more a thing of equal partnership among men and women — unlike another era, when men contributed the sperm and the women more or less did all the work — the men might seem to be more at ease in displaying prowess.

But that didn’t explain the single men who were all keen on their new arm candy. The last time we did a brunch, at least four single men were all rapt attention for the infant, chose to hover around him, pet him or carry him, and of course, pose for photos with him.

And then I realised what it did for them. It certainly pitched them higher in the eligibility gradient. It made them look good. It had the I-am-not-afraid-to-speak-my-feelings-or-show-that-I-am-vulnerable kind of vibe. It made women look at them differently.

In an era of Facebook profile pictures — usually chosen to reveal your current state of mind — a picture of a single man with a baby seems to say, “I am not afraid of commitment,” or simply, “I am ready.”

It seemed slightly trickier for women.

If she is single and looking, she could be thinking one of two things: The first is, “If I go all gooey on this baby thing, he might think I am putting pressure.” So she seems cool, nonchalant.

The second is, “If he still hasn’t seen my nurturing side, now is the chance to show it.” So she is effusive, all over, and very demonstrative.

On the other hand, if she is single and not looking, she doesn’t care what the men think, so she takes to the baby as she would a cat or dog (provided she is an animal person)

The rather large-hearted husband felt that since the men were more likely to get the picking up of the baby right and not the harder stuff, they would just do what comes easy. Also, it’s visually more documented, and the men are suckers for that. The women, he said, would not do the obvious, but could be trusted with the harder stuff.

I think if you are trying to get a grip on relationship status in a roomful of ambivalent men and women, just throw a baby in and watch the changing dynamic.

When a single man picks up a baby, the women are thinking, “Hmm.. this looks like a good sperm to invest in.”

The men are thinking, “Hmmm.... he’s got the female eyeballs now. Clever.”

As for me, I am thinking, the more people that offer to carry the infant, the less I have to carry him, so be my guest.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

To grey or not to grey

Yes, I have been greying, and have decided not to do anything about it. The mother is concerned, the aunts curious, the friends sceptical, the husband surprisingly cool. Most men and women seem to have an opinion about it, which they don’t express, but I can see it in their eyes. “She is ageing,” they seem to say. Of the two who did tell me they approved, the man said, “It does justice to you.” The woman said, “I am proud that you have let your greys be. It reflects your individuality.”

So whatever Aishwarya Rai may have to say, I’m not covering my greys, even though I’m “worth it.”

It’s not random, it’s not a statement. I actually did the math.

Today you’ll colour because you are just 30 and don’t have a boyfriend, and want to look good in photos.

Tomorrow you’ll colour because your boyfriend/husband shouldn’t start making eyes at other ‘younger’ women. Also, you want to look good with him in photos.

A few years from now, you’ll colour because you don’t want to be in PTA meetings where other mothers look younger than you.

And then, you’ll colour because you want your child to think you are hot.

Soon you’ll be 50 or 60 and still be colouring because now, you can’t stop. The transition is just too drastic and scary.

Okay, I know that when you are 70, it will make you look 65. Point is, how does it help?

When I was in this dilemma of “to colour or not to colour,” I performed a little experiment. I sent out a mail to 10 girlfriends, carefully picked as they represented a sample of women who held their own, who called a spade a spade, who were achievers in some way.

I got three replies: One said since she started greying in her twenties, she had no choice but to colour, and now it’s just a habit. Another said that somehow grey didn’t suit her complexion. The third said she didn’t want to announce her age yet to the world, but when she is finally okay with ageing, she will let the greys grow out. Till then, why not colour?

The seven who didn’t reply suggested to me that they were uncomfortable discussing this.

At my wedding, a few decidedly 60 plus uncles and aunts came with shocking black manes — wattles, eye-bags, wrinkles notwithstanding. Did it make them look younger? No. It sure made them look weird, though. So the problem is not whether to start, but in not being able to stop, I figured.

Recently I ran into a male anchor friend, reasonably good-looking in a George-Clooney-salt-and- pepper kind of way, and his mane was coloured too, (although the roots were showing, and that’s a bigger problem with men). His explanation: “It looks better on TV”

The thing with ageing is that unless you can control it at every level – botox, tummy tucks, colour, face lifts, hair transplant, you name it — it just doesn’t work. Because then you just look like unfinished business. It is cooler to just look your age.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Comfort in numbers

Research is a weird thing. As long as you have numbers and statistics, you can practically report anything and get away with it. For instance, you can publish a study on the fact that 90% of the people who dig their noses begin from the right nostril and then move on to the left when they are satiated, unless, of course, they are left-handed.

I recently read that couples matched on the basics of DNA testing are likely to have better sex. And one which said that dogs who wag their tails on the left side are marginally happier than those that wag their tails to the right side. And believe me, such research is not cheap. Somebody somewhere got a grant sanctioned that allocated huge funds to the same, deployed robots and other hi-tech trappings, not to mention 500 dogs allotted for the study, and obviously, owners to document the learnings.

If I were a cat, I’d say, “Poor sods! Why wag at all? And how totally presumptuous of the human species to assume that the owners had anything to do with the dog’s behaviour.”

Another study says that the heavier your snores are, the more calories you burn. There goes any residual desire in the minds of the pot-bellied and the simply fat to hit the gym or go for that run. “Why work out when I can snore my fat away?”, the men are bound to say.

Such is research. The weirder it is, the better. So it doesn’t really surprise me why not enough research is reported on things that are more relevant, more every day? Like what goes through the minds of people who drive SUVs in the city of Bombay? Or wait till 1 am and seven times the permissible alcohol content in their blood streams so that they can finally drive them at speeds that make them look good, killing a few cops or passersby on the way, if need be?

Because if there had been such research, the likes of “US-returned beautician” Nooria Haveliwala or Puru Raj Kumar or Manu Sharma or our very own Salman Khan could have read it and not spent nights in jail with unpleasant cell-mates, two tubelights, one fan and no mosquito repellants.

Poor Nooria. Had she done this in the US, she would have at least spent the night in a better smelling cell, there would have been a bigger window perhaps, may be even air-conditioning, and definitely no mosquitoes. But then, would her daddy be able to bail her out? I doubt it.

But then, may be no one volunteered to do research on such trivial offences, and may be dogs and cats and moustaches and snores are keeping scientists really busy. Also, ridiculous research is safe, it doesn’t ruffle any feathers and more importantly, makes good copy. Evidently, we all read them and chuckle from time to time. It’s a win-win. Someone is paying for them. Someone gets paid to do them. Others, like us are paying to read them.