Tinder Chronicles: Part I

I lasted for 5 minutes on Woo and about 15 minutes on Aisle. I always had this daunting image of Tinder — the big daddy of dating apps. I  thought it would be sleazy. I thought I wouldn’t be able to deal with it coz I am not even sure about dating. Plus I am not a texting kinda person. So I downloaded it for a lark and am trying to figure out what the big fuss is all about.

One thing is true. Everybody (most everybody) is on Tinder. It is not just this or that. Not just a dating app or a social network. Not just a place to be social or a place filled with sleaze. Whatever notions you have about Tinder will be shattered in the first 5 minutes.

You are unprepared for sleazy message on Instagram or the odd creep on twitter and on Tinder you think you know what you can expect. But, nothing, absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the mass of humanity on Tinder.

Guys what are you thinking? Sticking your tongue out in a selfie is a strict no no! Please don’t hook your thumbs on your pockets. Are they your life jacket? Why oh why is your friend’s arm draped around your shoulders? Or worse, why are your friends in the frame with you? Who the hell clicks a pic with an idol in the background? So you smoke, but stuffing 3 cigarettes in your mouth naa-aah. Another big turn off — the ear hair that is threatening to stretch right out of the photo and dangle off my phone. And what do you
mean by you are are not there for hook-ups or romance or marriage? Plus , what’s with mentioning your height in your bio as 6.2 and a 1/2. You are a sapiosexual and interested in conversations — really you think no one understands this is code speak for my wife will cut off my balls if she finds me here?

This list is long but I am saving it for another time.

At first I was hesitant to swipe anywhere. Left is for Nope but be careful coz if you swipe Up it means Super Like. And the reservations about ‘hearting’ any profile pic held me immobile for the first few minutes. Then I got this message that I was super liked by someone. I had to google and figure out how to find out who super liked me. You see
Tinder doesn’t keep track of who you liked and all that. Unlike Instagram which not only shows you who liked your pic but also the posts you’ve liked, Tinder doesn’t bother with keeping count. So you are free of any and all baggage. You are truly in the moment as you
ruthlessly tap the X or heart icons. (Still not trusting my swiping  skills.)

So it turns out that you can only find out who super liked you by actually swiping through profiles till you find one with a blue bar and a blue star. So I went through the drill of hitting X and heart and finally reached the profile with the blue star and tapped heart ‘coz it was the very first Super Like. Yayyy. I was prepared for creeps and had my guard up. But, I needn’t have been worried. I had an innocuous conversation about Goa with my first Match. He promptly unmatched me after I said Good night. So far so good. Got another super like, but he seemed busy.

I realised that Tinder shows you profiles of even those who are out of the distance range that you define in your settings. And even those profiles you have marked as Nope keep reappearing in the deck. I kept shuffling the deck by changing the distance and age settings. So maybe it was because of that.

Then I started reading some blogs on the art of mastering Tinder. One of the recurring themes is not to feel guilty about swiping left or rejecting a profile based on the pic. Tinder encourages you to be exactly who you are. Sometimes in the physical world you can’t escape small talk with unsavoury characters. On Tinder you can Unmatch a person
if you don’t like the way they say Hello 🙂 Now I can understand how an entire generation, which thrives on instantly knowing whether or not they are interested in someone, does not make allowances for long term relationships to bud, let alone bloom. This is not about being old school here. Just an insight or a possible explanation on why most relationships and bonds are fleeting…It is not because of Tinder. It is in fact the other way round, Tinder thrives because that is exactly how people are or how they want to be. You realise just how importance physicality is. And no it is not about good looks or a particular type of feature set. It is about how a person strikes you as attractive or not at that very moment. Unlike the real world where you might take offense if someone you are chatting with replied after ages, on Tinder neither you nor the other person feels obliged to chat continuously. The feeling that nothing is permanent is all pervasive. Or was it just me building walls, I don’t know.

All I know is that I deleted my account after a couple of hours or so. But, I will definitely visit again. Maybe with my girl gang and laugh and poke fun and make light of it. Yes it sounds cruel but that’s not going to change, so if you are on it then you need to be made of stronger stuff 🙂 And who knows someday I might even find a Mr. Right-for-the-moment on Tinder. Tally-ho!

Why rape culture in India is as much YOUR fault as the rapist’s

This is not the first or the last time that anything other than the rapist will be held responsible for Indian women getting raped.  A swami something or the other is ‘trending’ on Facebook for mouthing asinine stuff like women are getting raped because of worshipping Shani. Yes. It is ridiculous but what is worse is armchair activists and Facebook vigilantes taking umbrage over the issue. These are the people who actually do not give a crap about rape. They are the ones (or should I say ‘you’?) who post everything from the Nirbhaya case to this Swami’s stupid comments on your page with a comment expressing disgust and shock and loathing, but will never get a grip on their own mindset.

I know so many of you who post or “share” such links and obnoxious videos and pictures with politicians and rapists talking rot and stupid photos of Deepika’s cleavage or Kate Middleton’s Marilyn moment with remarks like “wtf” and other forms of disbelief and shock and rage. The discussion is often just a momentary reaction, no deep, meaningful conversations on even exploring their own gut reaction. Because aside from the collective revulsion towards the perpetrator, what is it that you all feel exactly?

Rape is horrific because of the physically violent nature of the crime and instantly provokes a reaction. But, this is not about the nature of the crime. It is about perpetrators of crimes against women blaming the women. Have you ever blamed someone for walking the street provocatively dressed and then “asking for it”? Or, said she was asking for it when you saw a father hit his daughter? Or said that it was her fault she went to the guy’s apartment? Or, what was she thinking when she slapped her boss’s arm playfully? Or called someone a slut? Or condoned a “guy” for just being a “guy”? Or laughed when someone made an inappropriate sexually offensive remark in your presence? Or wondered how a guy like him could be with such a “behenji” type?

All these attitudes go a long way towards shaping how as a society we condone the perpetrators of the so-called softer crimes and then we are so shocked when somebody does exactly what we have been doing – blaming the victim.

Rape as a horrific outcome always gets our goat. But, we ignore the collective mindset which encourages gender discrimination and male privilege and never examine our own attitude, which endorses rape culture. How are you helping this culture thrive and creating an environment where people mouth off like this Swami? I would like each vigilante to explore the answers to a few questions:

  1. What would you do if your own cousin, aunt, sister, mom, or daughter told you they had been sexually abused?
  2. What would you do if they told you that it was x,y, or z “guy” who you know so well and would never in a million years think he could do something like that?
  3. What would you think if it was somebody in your own family who was being abusive or offensive or guilty of any other crime against women, which is not rape?

Are you going to be concerned at all? Or, is it like the dowry crime to you? Someone has to burn the bride for you to sit up and take notice? Daily verbal torture is not enough?

There are a few of us who seek to understand what we can do as a society to change. There is a simple solution:

“Be the change you want to see.”

Sit up and take note of all behavior that violates a person’s body or mind or both, instead of sitting back and getting outraged at murders and rapes. Female mutilation, rape, infanticide, foeticide and other physically violent crimes are horrific. But, the ones that don’t leave a very visible trail are scarring too.

Well, here’s a list of things you say or do, which contributes to creating a society where rapists reclaim family honour and marital rape does not have legal recognition. Before you argue about how rape is horrible and rapists are psychos and these 20 statements are innocuous and not really responsible for a heinous crime like rape, think carefully, and STFU if you have been guilty of any of these:

  1. She is such a slut, she has so many boyfriends
  2. Don’t come home late, it is dangerous.
  3. What else do you expect with the clothes she wears?
  4. Her poor husband, wonder what she feeds him after reaching home so late?
  5. I can’t believe he would hit her. She probably deserves it.
  6. How can we interfere? It is a family matter.
  7. Why are you wearing lipstick? You go to college to study or attract boys?
  8. Be a ‘good’ girl.
  9. Take a pill to postpone your periods, puja hai.
  10. It’s a little girl’s birthday, let’s buy her a Barbie, what will she do with a Lego set?
  11. Boys do so much masti. You are so lucky you have a girl.
  12. You are a brave boy na, don’t cry only little girls cry!
  13. So what if your in-laws say that? So many of your women friends get beaten or worse!
  14. She is pregnant, should we give her a promotion?
  15. How many female chess players do you know?
  16. Women’s cricket is a joke!
  17. You are a woman, you won’t understand.
  18. You are one of the boys! (And that’s supposed to be high praise!)
  19. God is a man. We refer to him as ‘he’.
  20. And the old classic: You are a girl and don’t know how to cook?

This list could go on and on. But, the point is this: crimes against women will not end till we put a stop to it collectively in our own family, in our own neighbourhood, and our offices. Stop thinking that it happens to other people. I know that in India women are supposed to put up with a lot and we do, but we need to put an end to it at some time. This is my time. Hope it is yours!

Conversation with a cabbie: Bhagwat Gita to Modi to Aamir Khan

I don’t know the taxiwala’s name. I just know that he came from UP to Bombay and has worked hard and has had many jobs. He has also been a day and night watchman at one point. He said that driving a taxi is the only job that gives you higher returns if you work harder. He has two sons who are doing very well for themselves. One is an MBA making 42 grand in Bangalore and the other is a medical rep in Bombay.

So I wondered why he is still driving a taxi and whether his sons ask him to stop. That’s when he told me that it is important to keep working and I added that it is better not to depend on anyone. But, he disagreed. We have strong ‘sanskar’ he said, but, you can’t expect anything from anyone. “Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kada Chana,” he quoted. Then he steered the conversation to Modi’s visit to Bombay for a Jain peer’s 300th book release. He told me that crores of rupees have been spent on the pandal. He said that Modi was right in his beliefs but it is difficult to govern (tantra is the term he used) such a diverse country where there are people from so many different religions and speak so many different languages. But he felt Modi has created a positive impression about India abroad.

“Aapko yaad hoga VP Singh ke time pe, desh ka sona girvi rakhke paise laye the…” he said. Not that I recall VP Singh’s politics, but I nodded anyway because his lecture was very interesting.

On the one hand, there is Modi trying to create a good image and on the other hand, there is  Aamir Khan who is the brand ambassador telling that his wife wants to leave the country. What will those who live abroad think if all these people who get such VIP treatment and all extra security and other perks talk like that, he asked? I did not have a fitting reply because I tried to imagine a situation where Aamir Khan would dis a brand that he endorses and failed.

At one point in our conversation, while talking about traffic and how people behave on the road, he said that if people only spared a thought for the other person all our problems would be solved. And that was my takeaway for the day.

Do peacocks have to marry peahens?

On the way to school we had an interesting conversation.

Nuni: Do peacocks have to marry peahens?

Me: Instead of marrying pigeons you mean?

Nuni: Ya

Me: Yup!

Nuni: Is there a law like that? Did a peacock make that law?

Me: No it’s nature’s law.

Nuni (laughing): No a peacock minister made that law. If a peacock marries an pigeon, then the baby would be half pigeon half peacock!  If a peacock marries an elephant, then the baby would be half peacock half elephant!

Nuni: I think I want to marry a boy at a young age.

Me: No no you can’t get married till you are 25 years old :-p

Continued at night:

Nuni: If you take a human egg and put it in a bird, you would get a human body and bird wings. That’s how angels are made.

Me: What will happen if you put a bird egg in a human body?

Nuni: If you put a bird egg in a human uterus then you would get a bird body with hands instead of wings.

Then after a few seconds she said:

No, no, no, no sorry sorry sorry, you need to put a bird egg in a human body to get an angel.

🙂

Guide to watching Bajirao Mastani

I decided to take the film maker’s word for it and suspended disbelief as soon as he mentioned it was his interpretation. Instead of being nitpicky about whether or not the real characters behaved that way I allowed myself to be drawn into a world where every frame was picture perfect and a story that made an illicit affair sound cool with the line, “Mastani se aiyashi nahi, mohabbat ki hai!” Who cared what historians said when Bajirao said that dialogue. For many it was a pure “seeti bajao” moment and there are such moments aplenty.

It was a visual treat from the word go because instead of wondering whether or not zippers were invented during that period, I rejoiced in the gorgeous costumes that Mastani wore, the vibrant silks in every hue and the sensuous drape of Kashibai’s sarees. Mastani with her glorious mane flowing unkempt on a horse and while brandishing a sword is sheer magic. No one ever wondered why the Vikings never had crew cuts in battle then why should Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Mastani be subjected to this scrutiny?

But, I am getting ahead of myself. Let me begin at the beginning with Milin Soman. Despite the salt and pepper moustache, he is as dishy as ever. This movie makes you remember why you tried to catch the “Made in India” song every time it played on TV. Aditya Pancholi never had a trustworthy reputation or face. And casting him as a naysayer and enemy of the mighty Peshwa Bajirao was a perfect call. The rest of the cast is just as perfect.

Tanvi Azmi as Bajirao’s mother is impressive, especially in the scene where she tells the Peshwa that she is proud of a son who respects women, but she can’t let him follow his heart. Everyone went gaga over Ranveer Singh chopping of his locks to play Bajirao, nothing has been written about her going bald.

Vaibbhav Tatwawdi as Chimaji Appa is a delight. I loved him in Coffee ani Barach Kahi and as the Peshwa’s brother he has outdone himself! Even the tiger who fails to intimidate the Peshwa is spot on. Kudos to Sanjay Leela Bhansali got these awesome artists together for his magnum opus. Irfan Khan’s narration is gentle and not overpowering.

This movie is all heart. It brings back the romance of conveying love and desire with a look and a gesture. Bajirao beckons his Mastani while standing in a little pool and Kashibai seduces her husband in the same way as she realises he is falling in love with another woman. Priyanka’s dialogue as she talks about the love between Krishna and Rukmini is another one of those “seeti bajao” moments. The love triangle tugs every heartstring and he goes for your gut in the scene where Mastani protects her son by singlehandedly fending off the thugs sent by the Peshwa’s enemies. She looks like an avenging Goddess as the Ganpati Vandanam plays in the background.

It is a movie where Tanvi Azmi chants, “sharanye triyambike gauri” and Deepika prays with her arms outstretched. These little things somehow assume a significance in today’s “intolerant” climate. Especially the part where Mastani verbally rips the Brahmin to shreds with her take on the religious use of the colour saffron and green. These dialogues are going to stay with people for a while.

I just felt the ending could have been a bit tighter. The drama and theatrics would have held more punch if it had not been slowed down towards the end. I am not going to talk about the battle scenes because whether or not it was Bahubali-esque or like the TV Mahabharata doesn’t mattter. Ranveer Singh is ripped and looks ready to take on the world. Deepika is every inch the royal warrior princess and Priyanka is towering as the Peshwa’s legal wife.

It is a movie worth watching in the theatre. Go and revel in the sheer opulence of the sets, the drama and the love. Yes, love. It is a movie that will make every woman in the audience go weak in her knees as she imagines herself in Mastani’s place as her dream Bajirao adores her and longs for her.

P.S. Just realised I haven’t spoken about the songs — the ode to Mughal-e-azam and his Singhamish Vaat lavli. What can I say? There is no comparison to Madhubala and wondering whether the Peshwa used that kind of language is a small price to pay when you step into Bhansali’s dream world. Then there is the powerful Gajanana vandanam to make you forget all this and revel in the music as you get goosebumps watching Mastani wielding her sword!

 

3 things you should know about Tamasha

1. OMG Ranbir Kapoor

He is so cute. Matargashti is simply the best part of the movie. You should stop watching it right there. It doesn’t get any cuter or better than that!

2. Rahman repeating his scores is just sick

Mid-way through many of the songs you feel like you’ve heard that tune before. Will definitely try to get back with a definitive list after checking the songs again whenever I am in the mood for forgettable music.

3. To be or not to be bipolar is not a choice

I think the My choice video has gone to Imtiaz’s head. You can’t show someone with serious psychological problems getting fixed like that. It just messes up with our head. Get a grip on your characters man!

Movie: Angry Indian Goddesses is blah!

Angry Indian Goddesses starts with a bang. The first few scenes grab your attention but the rest of the movie simply fails to deliver. It’s like the makers thought: let’s make a list of what is wrong with Indian society or what is it like to be a woman in India. Their list goes something like this:

  1. Eve teasing and molestation
  2. Slut shaming
  3. Discrimination in the workplace
  4. Objectification
  5. Frustrated marital life
  6. Guilt of being a working mother
  7. Increase in rape cases
  8. Victim blaming after rape
  9. Women have sexual fantasies too (just FYI)
  10. Section 377 (so lesbians can’t marry)
  11. Overly concerned boyfriends
  12. Objectification of men by women (reverse eve teasing)
  13. Lesbians being disowned by parents
  14. Obsession with fairness creams
  15. Trouble with in-law

Then they decided to write a few scenes around these issues. Then they assembled a cast and shot a ton of stuff. And at the edit they decided what to keep made a hash of it! So with actors like Sandhya and Anushka they could have had a mind blowing screenplay that would have nailed it if only they would have stayed true to character. Every character behaves in ways that you can never reconcile their actions to your perception. The only good thing is that they talk like women talk in real life. So the dialogues are cool.

And the direction is totally weird — they oscillated wildly between melodramatic and symbolic, which by the way was a total bouncer as we say it — what was that butterfly scene all about? If you watch it let me know. And what’s with censoring only the cuss words but wiping out pictures of goddesses from the screen. Yes! The screen is actually blurry in places.

All in law, if you want to know what real women talk like, watch this movie, just don’t expect to leave the hall with anything other than a mild sense of regret for having chosen to spend your time in this way because it fails to evoke any response. I can’t help wish the first scenes were the last part of the story and the rest was a flashback (with a different story) leading upto the first scene.

 

Nunism: Heaven is not up, it is under the ground!

So Nuni declared that heaven is not up but underground. When I asked her why, she thought about it for a couple of seconds. First she said that rockets go to outer space so maybe heaven is there. Then she thought a few seconds more and explained it away like this:

When a plane goes up in space we can see the clouds but no heaven. But, zombies are normal people who die and rise up from the ground and they came up in a different form. The others who die and are buried, stay there in heaven.

Just to be clear:

The good people get to stay in heaven and get to do fun stuff. The others who do bad things come back in weird skin forms (their souls get these weird skins) when they come up as zombies.

Penis = Power? Man’s World by Y Films kinda implies that!

Don’t get me wrong, I loved watching Man’s World and I honestly feel it will help some men empathise and get what it’s like to be a woman in their world. I have embedded the first episode in the series so you can decide whether it does that. It is 4-episode YouTube video series with a role reversal story where the lead character is a man whose identity is flipped overnight like the Freaky Friday movie and he wakes up one day in a world where men are getting the short shrift at home and at work as women call the shots. He has to cook, clean and work till he gets married, just as every other urban woman in India.

But here’s what’s wrong with it: They took role reversal one step further as they switched the reproductive organs so a man could get periods and have a baby.

While the character get’s to experience what it’s like to get periods, or get raped on his wedding night (as the woman’s on top doesn’t give a fig about waiting till he is ready or bother with any foreplay) or have mood swings during pregnancy, it seems like he is in this position only cause he is the one with the vagina.

So the woman who has a penis is the one eve teasing, hitting on men in the bar, getting the plum jobs in office, slut shaming the guy for sleeping his way to get promotions at work.

Moral of the story: Penis=Power?

Bang Baaja Baaraat: It is not that common, it doesn’t happen to everybody and not many have heard of it!

I thought YouTube videos were it and everybody has heard of Permanent Roommates and Pitchers and Man’s World. So when Bang Baaja Baaraat opens with a couple who hooks up on Tinder, I assumed everybody has heard of Tinder.

Then I had this chat with a good friend about these Webisodes and she told me she had never heard of Tinder or Hinge or Truly Madly Deeply. I was surprised, but to be honest, they were just words to me till a few months back.

Somehow most of the men my age know of these apps, but women, especially stay-at-home moms have not even heard of theem. And my friends tell me that so many of these men are also on these apps regardless of whether they were married or single. My conversation with my friend about how many people are on dating apps, reminded me of this line from Friends where Rachel says, “Just so you know, it’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy, and it is a big deal.”