EXCLUSIVE: He Says, She Says: Season 2

On Movements: Women want upliftment, Men don’t mind any movement as long as it has ups and downs.

He Says:

Think about all the activist movements you’ve come across crying for your attention to save something or the other: gay rights (save our souls), vegetarianism (save the animals), Green Peace (save the environment), anti-war (save the world) or free speech (save us)… What’s common to them?

They all acknowledge that they are up against something larger, something so stronger and superior than them that it takes more than one of them to fight it. In fact, the basic idea behind activist movements is that they are in constant need for more and more of their tribe to take on all mighty, powerful majority who run the system.

That’s probably why men never sign up for any ‘Masculinist’ movement. For God’s sake, have you even heard of one?

Men are confident, even amused at the thought of asking another man for help to stand up for him. After all, there’s nothing a man can’t do but the even more significant point is that: Does he really want to do it?

Not unless it gives him tangible pleasure, monetary gain or brownie points when he’s bored.

So I wonder why women feel the need to gang up in the name of feminist movements?

Because, by doing so:

1. They acknowledge that the “other” (in this case, men) are running the system and are much stronger than them.

2. They come across as scaredy cats who want to hide under a banner or umbrella without an individuality of their own.

3. They jeopardise their chances of scoring with men with a sense of humour… and humour knows no political correctness.

4. Post-point/stage 3, end up lonely and in need of company, social security with plenty of time to sign up for activism, a voluntary activity that does pay. At least, not in cash. Or tangible pleasure.

5. Post-point/stage 4, by ganging up to take on the all-mighty ‘other’, are only re-emphasising points 1 to 4.

Moral of the story: Men like their action only when it’s fun. Women take their activism way too seriously.

She Says:

I’m feminist. And I don’t flaunt facial hair.

I just thought I’d clear the air, because that seems to be the common assumption about feminists, i.e. they’re a bunch of ugly women who use activism to give them a power that lipstick cannot.

Of course, if that’s how you dismiss feminism, you’re probably as shallow as a baby’s wading pool. Especially if you also subscribe to His theories, which summarised seem to indicate that feminists are a group of nervous women who band together so they:

1. Don’t feel lonely.

2. Can tremblingly acknowledge that men are more powerful;

3. And have given up trying to desperately hook male chauvinists (all of whom apparently have a rocking sense of humour).

Though if you really believe all this, my terrified, lonely, weak — yet shockingly still functional — feminist mind is just going to come to one conclusion: You’re really aren’t the brightest lipstick in the makeup kit, are you?
Feminism is essentially humanism. Feminists are women AND men who stand up for the rights of half the world’s population, because it’s routinely discriminated against.

The woman who insists she’s equal to any man is a feminist. The girl who refuses to be Barbie is a feminist. The open-minded man who treats his partner as an equal is a feminist.

Stand up for your rights, and you’re feminist.

The alternative? Well, for one you can sing along with Aqua’s Barbie Girl: “I’m a blonde bimbo girl, in a fantasy world/ Dress me up make it tight I’m your dolly… Make me walk, make me talk, do whatever you please. I can act like a star, I can beg on my knees…”

Though, I must point out in my rabid feminist way, any man who dates That, might as well just get himself a poodle. It’ll save him a fortune on diamonds at least.

(By Sudhish Kamath and Shonali Muthalaly)

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Master Chefs and Magicians

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.

The king, apparently, was in his counting house, counting all his money. The queen was in her parlour, eating bread and honey. Not a bad combination at all, honestly. Besides, considering the royal chef’s wicked sense of humour, I don’t blame her for sticking to the straight and narrow. Who knows what horrors lurked beneath the murky depths of pea soup.

There’s an legend about an Indian chef who did the same thing. Apparently he would bake live birds into pies, so that they flew out the moment guests began their meal. And my guess is, when the pie was opened the birds certainly didn’t begin to sing. It sounds more like a scene from a blood-chilling Hitchcock movie than a pretty historical anecdote. But apparently it was quite charming and clever in those days. (Clear evidence, of course, that a society without ‘Sex and the City’ disintegrates in horrifying ways. Tsk. Tsk.)

Yet, it’s undeniable that royal chefs could — and still can — capture imaginations and create romance. So when I recently met Mohammed Ashfaque Qureshi, of the iconic Qureshi family that’s produced master chefs from more than 200 years, of course I brought up the birds.

Chef Ashfaque says his family “worked for the king’s kitchen: the Nawab of Awadh.” (The nawabs governed in the in the 18th and 19th century. The region is in the centre of what’s Uttar Pradesh today). But he’s still rather cagey about the avian pie.

“Well, if Tan Sen (of Akbar’s court) could create rain, or light lamps with his song, then yes, a chef could create a pie filled with live birds,” Ashfaque says, adding, “Chef means leader in French. The top most guy. In Hindustani they say Maharaj, meaning king. In Arabian countries it’s Rabakdar. A person who can create food out of nothing. The word magician actually comes from chef.”

He adds that since food is really the only art form that is consumed it’s hardly surprising that there’s a romanticism to it.

His father started out as a nine year old cooking for royalty. When I met the senior chef Qureshi a few years ago, he was delightfully blasé about the whole VIP thing. He talked of how his ancestors, famous for their fragrant kebabs, rich biriyani and heavy dals, cooked for different kings, since royalty then borrowed each other’s cooks for weddings and important banquets. The cooks worked in shamianas, with large charcoal and wood fires, making kakori kebabs, mutton raan and chicken draped in gold leaf.

Chef Qureshi went recreating many of the same dishes at the ITC hotels, where he worked for more than three decades. He’s cooked for “All the prime ministers, all the presidents, the entire Nehru clan.”

Five of Ashfaque’s four brothers are chefs. He himself started cooking at the age of 6. “I was making simple things like alu tikki, or gajar halwa.” Simple? For a six year old? Most of us are still scribbling crayons on walls at that point. There’s obviously something in the Chef-Magician theory.

“Well, taste is about 70 per cent ingredients and 20 per cent methodology,” he smiles, maintaining that anyone can create a pretty good kebab. But that final 10 percent? That’s the spice, herbs and secrets. “And yes, in that 10 per cent you can create the magic.”

Though Ashfaque insists that you don’t really need to travel back in time to experience the glories of a rabakdar. “The best example really is a housewife. To create three and four meals a day, everyday,” he says, “Well, that is magic.”

(The Qureshi brothers are in Chennai for a North West Frontier Festival at The Crown restaurant, Residency Towers Hotel. The festival is on for dinner till February 9. Call 28156363 for details).

Episode 29: Boys don’t cry

He says:

Why are women always the delicate darlings? The cry-babies.

Think about it, women display grief like it’s a work of art.

Haven’t you seen many an argument automatically swing in favour of the woman simply because the poor baby cried?

The audience vote always is in favour of the woman who is crying, irrespective of whether she’s right or wrong.

Why does this happen? Because, men don’t cry or break down. Instead, the more upset they are, the more they frown or the angrier they appear. Now, we all know women are more attractive than most men. And, nobody feels sorry for an angry man. In fact, the angrier he gets, the uglier he looks, the more despicable he appears. What choice does he have really? If he cries, they’ll call him sissy. They’ll say he’s wuss. And it’s not really macho. So he does what he has to. Pretend he’s got buffalo-skin.

Women, aided with a few drops of tears, have no problems appearing convincingly victimised.

The way men and women handle grief is very different. Women think of grief management by getting it out of their system, indulging in self-pity and then rationalising that now that they have been victimised, they have to think of emerging out of the whole situation stronger.

Female bonding and such self-help groups help them achieve liberation.

Men, take the easiest way out. The ‘escape’ route. A boys night out.

They laugh out the blues over a couple of drinks by poking fun at the situation. Or just Movies. Games. Work. Or just other girls to take their mind of the current problem. They probably cry secretly in the privacy of their bedrooms if need be, but largely, they find ways to escape the situation. They let something else occupy their mind-space.

And before they know it, the tragedy of epic proportions is forgotten or looked at objectively, with a new perspective.

That’s because Men don’t take their lives as seriously as women do.

Which is why they travel light. They don’t think ‘Once bitten, twice shy’. In fact, they like the adventure, they don’t hesitate to visit old ghosts. They face life with new confidence and optimism.

The scars remain as a mark of the courage they displayed under grave circumstances. The scars that remind him that he’s a warrior in this world sympathetic to the female of the species. And he will survive.

She says:

Saying all women sniffle sadly into delicate lace handkerchiefs every time things go wrong, is like saying all men hate to ask for directions. (Oh. Wait a second. All men DO hate to ask for directions. So lets just say you can’t generalise with women.)

Just because everyone knows a couple of wet mop women turn on the waterworks at the slightest provocation, that doesn’t mean every woman you ever meet is going to be that soppy.

The truth is that most women are far tougher than men. Take their thresholds for pain, for example. Whether it’s enduring a waxing session at the parlour, or having a baby, women just grit their teeth and get it done with without complaining.

On the other hand, have you ever seen a man with a cold? He’ll bring the house down, shuffle around groaning mournfully and sniffle sadly over hot soup as he mentally draws out his last will and testament. For men are the ultimate Drama Queens. The whole ‘I’m so macho I open beer bottles with my teeth’ image is just a front.

In fact the last time I saw a man open a beer bottle with his teeth (to impress some young thing in too much lipstick of course), our hero bit through the bottle, cut his mouth and spend the rest of the evening holding a hanky over it and shrieking like a just-crowned Miss World.

And why do people always assume it’s the women who cry at movies?

I’ll never forget watching Titanic at a movie theatre in Mumbai. As the ship went down, its brave band began to play. But I was looking elsewhere. Because on either side of me there were men crying so hard they could have probably re launched the Titanic.

When a friend of mine got pinched at a mall, she turned around and walloped the guy who did it, though he was twice her size. Another petite friend charged at four whistling morons to shut them up, brandishing her helmet and scared them half to death. At a party, I heard a pretty young thing tell her friends how she ran after and kicked down the bicycle of a man who was kept following her.

None of them cried. It wasn’t even an option.

For women realise that collapsing into a teary heap doesn’t help anyone, least of all themselves. So they pull themselves together and work out ways to survive. Besides tears can really mess up your mascara!

Episode 28: Bad boys bad boys

She says:

He has a snarling tiger tattooed across his gasp-worthy biceps. His hair hasn’t seen a shampoo bottle in weeks, and looks like its been chewed by his pet dog (who’s probably called Tarantula). He wears a black leather jacket that’s evidently seen happier times. And zooms about town on a wicked-looking bike.

Of course, he’s irresistible.

What is it about ‘bad boys’ that makes women go weak in the knees?

Logically, why would anyone want to date a man who knocks out people’s teeth as often as your friendly neighbourhood dentist? A man who gate crashes parties and then needs to be carried out horizontally – probably clutching a bottle of rum and singing all the way. A man who is probably as difficult to bring to heel as a puppy who’s just found the cookie jar.

Why do all romantic books and movies feature men who are arrogant, head strong and difficult?
Because men like that are exactly what make romance so interesting.

Nice boys are boring. They get up at 5 a.m. and jog, for heavens sake! That should be enough to put you off them for life! They have important, responsible jobs, like banking. Yawn! And once they manage to tear themselves away from their computers, they probably spend the evenings doing exciting things like Sudoku. Or watching reruns of Desperate Housewives. Or making new friends though Stamp Collecting communities on the Internet.

Life with tattoo man, however, will never be boring. First of all there’s the challenge of keeping him interested, which should apply to all women who ‘like the chase better than the kill.’ Good boys can be taken for granted, while bad boys keep you on your toes.

Then there’s the fact that they surprise you with delightfully impractical ideas: organise a post-party basketball match at 1 a.m. on the way home, or book tickets to Alaska and take off for a month of madness. You don’t always have to listen to them, but an impromptu bike ride at midnight can be unforgettable.

Besides, life with the Muscled One will always feel a safe, in a deliciously unsteady way. Because when one of those letches, who always seem to congregate at discos, tries his lousy lines on you, the Boy’s not going to just frown dissuadingly and complain to the manager. He’ll stand up and plaster the creep, and his friends.

And that’s why biker boys will never be short of girls.

Of course, keeping up with them in the long run can be exhausting. But, for a while at least, go ahead and date that bad boy for a while.

After all, you know the old saying: Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere.

He says:

Now that it is official that bad boys are cool, I reproduce below the abridged confessions of the original bad boy (the actual ones had to be censored heavily for the sake of children who might come across this space).

Dear Shrink,

I know I’ve been visiting you more off late but the truth is your receptionist makes me go crazy every time I call her to fix up an appointment with you.

Yes, I’ve been seeing her for a while now. That’s given me unlimited access to her diary that has the numbers of all the other flaky chicks who visit you.

Given my obsession with being bad, I’ve dated almost all your patients, within the last few months. To tell you the truth, it doesn’t take much to get these women.

A daily trip to the gym has won me even women twice my age, so much that I completely enjoy the experience. Of gymming, of course.

The tattoo and the leather jacket I got in high school have always complemented each other. With bad girls showing great interest in tattoos, my jacket comes off too often these days.

Being a bad boy has given me the licence to drive miss Daisys, Roses, Jasmines and Lilys, all at the same time, simply because they like the challenge of keeping me interested in them.

While the first few dates used to cost me a beer to get an excuse to drop her home. These days, they invite me over for the free drink, dinner and dessert. Sometimes, it ends with breakfast on the house. Interestingly, I’ve learnt a lot about the kind of furniture they invest in, during these midnight surprise parties I gatecrash into. And my basket-ball games have never gone score-less.

It’s not like I like the street-fights. That’s pretty much for the same logic as why dogs guard their territories fiercely.

I live a dog’s life. And my day comes very often. All a dog needs is a bone. And I don’t mind making a few extra bucks doing Full Montys for the Hens having a night out.

Party animals live by the wild rules of the jungle.

I wouldn’t say I cheat, I’m just commitment-phobic and high on life. I’m just there for the ride.

Besides, it’s not like I promise them a happily-everafter ending. I’ve always been nice to her friends because I know that they are just waiting for the day I break up with her and soon enough, my web gets more Mary Janes than Spidey’s ever found hanging upside down.

With all my lunches and dinners being taken care off, all I spend on is my bike and gym subscription. My roomie sorely misses me because I’ve not gone home in days. That’s also the reason I don’t get a chance to shampoo my hair.

Oh that reminds me, I got to get home to my roomie so that she can give me a Thai massage. But the real reason is I need to check if she’s washed my clothes.

Like chick flicks have demonstrated, it pays to be a bad boy. By the way, change your receptionist dude. I’m getting bored of her. Or let me make this easier for you, I’ll get myself a new shrink who lives next street.

Apparently, she’s 24 and has a young clientele. Heard she likes cats and dogs. Time to get a new pet. Will call her Tarantula. If she’s younger, I think even a simple Pussy-Cat would do.

After all, the new saying goes: When bad girls go through hell, bad boys find heaven.

Episode 27: Why men like chick flicks

He says:

It is a big myth that chick-flicks are for girls.

Men dig the genre too. But for different reasons.

But before we get into that, what is a chick-flick really about?

There’s always this goofball, simple girl-next-door every girl can relate to. She’s down on luck because the guy who holds the torch for her is the original fruitcake, and the guy she likes happens to be the wrong guy.

She, post makeover, transforms into the hottest thing on heels and before you know it, she nails her man and after some minor misunderstanding where she catches him with another girl and takes off sobbing, he pleads with her, goes down on his knees and locks lips for a `happily ever after’ ending.

So why do the guys like these movies that show guys doing the most wuss things? Simply because, they watch these flicks for the chicks.

The girl always has a scene or two where she’s at her hottest best. Watch The Sweetest Thing and you’ll know what I mean. That one scene alone is more value for time than what they show after minutes of waiting patiently surfing FTV shows.

Besides, the things a girl wants from a guy and plausibility of the romance cracks him up.

Also, chick flicks are easy on the bad guy.

In a chick flick, you can be however bad you want, be with how-many-ever girls you want, be a total jerk too, and you can just say sorry with a long speech going down on your knees and be sure as hell that she’ll forgive you.

With that sort of moral encouragement, sex appeal, and of course, the unintended comic relief generated out of the mush and corn soup, chick flicks make for great entertainment.

But the biggest reason men tolerate these films is because they are perfect for the date. What better time for romance than when she is, Ahem Ahem, in the mood for love?

After all, romance comes alive when it’s dark.

Post Script: What do guys without dates do? They head out alone to the halls playing movies like Ek Se Mera Kya Hoga.

Psst: Do check the paper for exact show timings.

She says:

It’s a big myth that chick flicks are for girls.

After all, who wants to identify with some loser babe who never seems to wash her hair and is perpetually slobbering over a jock with great abs and a rotten attitude.

If you believe these movies, all women can be neatly divided into two categories: geeks and bimbos. Because, if you’re svelte and sassy, you can’t possibly be capable of reading a book — unless it deals with the art of eye shadow — or even adding up your shoe shopping bill without help.

If you’re a geek, you just have to display braces decorated with yesterday’s lunch and be incapable of wearing a pair of high heels without tripping over your own feet and landing unglamorously on your dowdy behind.

For heaven’s sake, they’re just high heels, and walking a straight line is hardly brain surgery.

Chick flicks assume women have no powers of judgment whosoever. Show us a hunky man in a leather jacket, and even if he’s a convicted mass murderer, we’ll dissolve into wimpy, lace-handkerchief wielding Mills and Boon heroines, according to them. And when they cheat on us — and being hunky and leather jacket clad, they must cheat — all it takes is a sad song, or a bouquet of roses to have us jumping up and down like bunny rabbits spotting carrot cake.

Smart women realise that chick-flicks are ridiculous. They also realise that the original fruitcake in huge glasses is the same guy who’ll probably pass out of MIT and run a fancy corporation.

Chick-flicks are really for guys, so I agree with him there. But it’s not just for the scenes when the loser girl dramatically manages to shed pounds, her glasses and voluminous clothes to become her `hottest best.’ (Let’s not even go into how shallow these storylines are!) But also because they let all the dumb jocks believe their fondest dreams can come true.

That there’ll come a time when all girls will look like Cameron Diaz. When mini-skirts will be the only way to dress. And all it will take to `get the girl’ is a soppy love poem read with the expression of a puppy that has just misplaced its chewy bone.

Go ahead, fill up on your two hours of cotton candy and popcorn soaked euphoria. Just remember, real life is nothing like the movies. And Bridget Jones — far from being the role model for millions of single women world over — was just a girl who ate and smoked too much.

(A fortnightly column on the battle of the sexes)

Episode 26: Who wears the pants?

He says:

What makes for a healthy relationship?

Democracy or dictatorship?

And before you say democracy, you could consider that since there are only two people in a relationship, democracy means anarchy.

Yes, maybe anarchy isn’t really a bad thing. For years, relationships have been run and governed by dictatorship. It’s very unfortunate indeed.

It is very unfortunate that woman has been boss all these years and man was just relegated to the blue-collar jobs: hunting, running around, fetching food and being watch-dog protector of family.

The woman for years has pretended to be the slave when she has actually been running the show: she made sure men fought wars for her, she got the Taj Mahal built, she made sure many men died for the sake of love. And all the while she stayed indoors without any pressures of having to go and fetch bread, butter or newspaper.

Roles were well defined and divorce rates were almost non-existent. The phrase marital discord had not yet been invented.

Today, when man is trying to take control of relationships and the woman is all dressed up for the kill in the corporate world, the home territory is left unguarded, vulnerable to outside threats.

Modern day society has seen divorce rates go up. Suddenly, dysfunctional families find their way into the vocabulary of society and crisis management experts, like lawyers, relationship counsellors and psychiatrists, find that their workload is going along that one-way street called Up.

Clearly, the change in age-old household management conventions and practices has upset the balance between the sexes. In this age of coalition governments, man and woman must sit together and find that line that separates democracy from anarchy.

Duties and responsibilities must be worked out according to strengths and weaknesses of their personalities rather than gender. And, man should be given that opportunity to stay at home and run the show. The wretched women have been doing it too long.

She says:

Political jargon aside, this is about just one issue (and pardon me for using this deplorable phrase) — it’s about who `wears the pants’ in a relationship.

Now the mind of a man sees just black and white, so I suppose it’s just natural for a man to presume that every relationship has one leader and one meek, subjugated dish-washing, dog-walking follower.

And, regardless of what He Says, it’s an established fact that a `man is the master of his house.’ And while the male of the species has always been loopy enough to get cross-eyed and silly with love — remember the morons who waged wars motivated by little besides a nice nose — when it came right down to it, even poor Helen of Troy probably had to keep house, and make sure her dozen maids kept everything tidy so the love of her life could trudge across the kitchen in dirty boots, probably making annoyingly long declarations of passion all the while.

Think buying butter is exhausting? Well, you’re welcome to switch places with the woman who dusts, cooks, washes, cleans and raises your children while you sit in a plush office and ring for your secretary to bring you coffee.

But here’s the catch, all you big-talking, muscle-flexing men. The truth is you’re not really in charge, you never have been.

Because — luckily for us — women are masters of subtle power games. Games you don’t even know you’re involved in, you poor misguided puppet. For women realised long ago that all a man needs is the illusion that he’s in charge.

And that’s easy enough to pull off. A smart woman seats her man at the head of the table, and makes him a cup pf tea. Then, she makes all big decisions herself, and pretends it’s his idea. He’s too busy swaggering to contradict her anyway.

Cook a man a couple of meals, and you can twist them around your little finger. After all, as every intelligent woman knows, men are easier to train than puppies. It’s not democracy. It’s not anarchy. But it works just great. For us.

(A fortnightly column on the battle of the sexes)

Episode 25: Dance like a man

She says:

I’m so tempted to sharpen my stilettos.

I recently started learning the salsa. A breathtakingly beautiful dance form set to addictive Latin music, it is great fun to learn, once you get your mambo in place. Except for one thing. It’s a man’s dance.

My bright-eyed chirpy instructor — Salsa Boy — just loves the fact. Every ten minutes, he stops class to bellow, “Girls, follow your man, because… ” And every single man in class (including the ones with two dangerously left feet) stop treading on our toes to proudly holler, “It’s a man’s dance.” Sometimes, they thump their chests too. Which makes it kind of difficult to do the required high speed twirls. There are also exercises to keep us in place. One particularly unflattering one dictates that the women act like rag dolls, while their partners push and pull them across the floor. While, of course, Salsa Boy and co yell, “Because it’s a man’s dance.”

Thump. Thump.

At which my bratty teenage partner smirks, “Follow me. Coz I’m the MAN.”

I’ve tried pulling rank on him, telling him I’m older and thus wiser, but apparently belonging to the big-headed, big-footed gender makes him King.

Salsa Boy even walks around with a wooden ruler to make sure no woman sneakily tries to call the shots. Yes, I’ve been whacked across my knuckles, but what’s a woman to do?

Sometimes, men just can’t keep up. We’ve made it quite clear that we will not dance to a man’s tunes in the outside world. Why do we still have to do so on the dance floor?

Some quick research reveals it’s not just the Latin Americans who were all about `all hail the male.’ Jive is a man’s dance. So is ballroom dancing. And Wikipedia tells me there’s something called the `Gourd Dance’ performed by some Native American nations, which is “primarily a man’s dance.” (Sounds familiar?) Apparently “women participate by dancing in place behind their male counterparts”

Sheesh!

Clearly, it’s time we storm another bastion. After all, twirls aren’t just for girls.

He says

To the best of my knowledge, barring Kathakali (where men play women too) and the traditional dead body dance (the dance the drunk do on the street during funeral processions in this part of the world, to the native beat of `dandanaka’), most of the other Indian dances have been the bastion of women from the days and nights of Umrao Jaan. I mean, who would today believe that Bharatanatyam was actually something born out of a holy old man called Bharata Muni inspired by Lord Brahma? And the Tandav was supposed to be Lord Shiva’s stress buster. But that was so long ago.

Today, traditional Indian women have completely taken over most dance forms performed on stage. And the modern Indian women have taken over MTV and those Punjabi music videos on `Balle Balle’. One look at Yana Gupta in “Babuji Zara Dheere Chalo” or Aishwarya in “Kajra Re”, and you know who calls the shots in the Indian form: the item girl, of course. Yet, she looks West as far as Latin America, and even pays to learn and follow a man’s footsteps.

I bet she has not heard of techniques like hijacking and backleading that help show off dance skills and steal the lead from the man. (Chuckle, chuckle)

Dance is either ritualistic (social dance) or for concert (performance). Each dance form has an objective. While concert dances such as Kathakali and Yakshagana tell stories, Bharatanatyam interprets stories and presents them in a lucid form, the social dances like Kummi and Koothu are used to express joy or sorrow. Salsa is a social dance that involves one lifting the other. It showcases chemistry between man and woman.

Hence, if you notice most couples who do the salsa, you will find that men are usually heavier and taller than the women.

So it would be unfair to ask the lady to lift you, unless your partner is Karnam Malleswari.

Besides, how many women like someone who follows? Women find leaders attractive, they always go for someone they can look up to. And, as I read somewhere, it’s not about command and obey. It’s about a partnership between two people who are equal but different. Just like bad workers blame the tools, some dancers just blame the rules.

(A fortnightly column on the battle of the sexes)

Episode 24: Dating and your date of birth

He says:

Why do you think that it is almost a norm that men date women younger than them? Because unlike men, who mature if at all, do it slow and steady, women mature early and grow up. “The older they get, the more messed up they become,” says a friend.

Most girls have their first relationship much earlier than boys have theirs (that’s again because boys date girls younger than them). So while they start off believing in true love, they get jaded and turn cynical and disillusioned pretty soon, most of them finding it hard to let go of their excess baggage.

Boys learn the ropes; take their own time to figure out how relationships work. Every relationship gives them new strength and encouragement. At the end of the fifth one, they know what lines work and what don’t. At the end of the tenth, they know how to make the girl pay on dates. At the end of the twentieth, they have mastered the art of making the girl dump them, so that they don’t have to bear the burden of guilt and the mantle of being the “bad guy”. Therefore, they travel light. The most they need is a hanky to pick up a wreck.

So women, after five relationships, are sick of mushy lines. After ten, they lose faith. After twenty… come on, how often do you hear girls have 20 relationships?

Due to their differing behaviour and attitudes towards relationships, older guys can only date a younger woman. Because what a guy needs is a believer and not a cynic. Which is why most men roam around with puppy dog looks and women have to contend with being labelled the female of the species.

Woof!

She says:

As much as I hate to burst his bubble, I have simply got to point this out. Women don’t date older men because they are “sick of mushy lines.” When was the last time you saw a nubile 20 something being flaunted on the red carpet by a bespectacled, toothless eighty-year-old, and thought “Ah, she must be tired of mushy lines!”

It’s not too difficult to figure out why he’s going out with her. As an accessory, she makes a much better impact than his walking stick, for starters. And, I suppose — for a while at least — she’ll make him feel young again. Until the punishing schedule of dragging his arthritic limbs onto the dance floor every other day begins to get to him. And his therapist.

On her part, it’s probably interesting to date an older man.

He will take her to an exotic restaurant, and order champagne. While a boy her age will take her to greasy dive and order Coke, which he will probably try to spurt out of his nose for entertainment. An older man will impress her by talking about world politics, while the Boy will attempt to do the same by arm wrestling with the waiter. And, yes, the older will deal with excess baggage much more gracefully, making peace with ex-girl friends and wives. While the Boy will seriously consider throwing rotten eggs at an ex-girlfriend’s car, to `get even’.

Maybe, one day, the older man will discover he can’t keep up and needs to be tucked up with his hot water bottle around the same time she gets started clubbing. And she’ll realise she can’t be seen with a man who dances like the Bee Gees, and thinks the salsa is some kind of condiment.

Or maybe not.

Fortunately there are no absolutes in life. Younger women will date older men. Older women will date younger men. People who are exactly the same age will fall madly in love with each other.

In the end, after all, age is just a number.

(A fortnightly column on the battle of the sexes)

Episode 23: Where have all the cowboys gone?

She says:

Where have all the cowboys gone?

The `macho’ man seems to be slowly becoming extinct, as cities get overrun with over-hyped, overdressed metrosexuals. (A clotheshorse wrapped around a dandy fused with a narcissist: Wordspy.) There’s no point blaming David Beckham, the man with painted nails and ponytails. The fact is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the men from the girls.

I was at a pub with a big gang of friends watching football recently and, in between goals, two guys intensely discussed hair straightening, swapping tips on techniques and stylists. Men strut in and out of beauty parlours, getting pedicures and facials done. They colour, perm, straighten, twist and tease their hair, probably pouting prettily in front of the mirror all the while. At gyms, they narcissistically work on every part of their body, toning here and shaping there. Muddy sports are out, unless they’re being watched on a flat screen television, accompanied by butter-free popcorn and low fat white wine.

And don’t even get me started on their diet. Chocolate chip cookies are a fate worse than cellulose. I actually know a man who called for the chef and made him list out ingredients in a low fat milkshake, adding up the calories till he went white and so weak that he had to be revived with a spray of Evian from his `man bag.’

I even have a friend who follows fashion with such a passion he actually made his cousin go back inside and get out of her platform sandals because he was horrified at the thought of being seen with a woman wearing last season’s shoes.

And talking of fashion, what’s with them masquerading about in all our colours? Pinks, bright greens and aquamarine. Whatever happened to the time when men didn’t even know what `aquamarine’ meant? What next? Pink lace-trimmed folders at the office? Leave granted by the office for bad hair days? Having to knock out women who whistle at your boyfriend?

From the looks of it, soon country crooner Paula Cole won’t be the only one singing, “Where is my John Wayne? Where is my Marlboro man? Where is my lonely ranger? Where is my happy ending?”

He says:

Maybe women hang out with gay men because they feel safe. Maybe that’s why they believe that cowboys do not exist. But wait, going by Brokeback Mountain, maybe even the cowboys were never straight.

Cowboy: A hired man, especially in the western United States, who tends cattle and performs many of his duties on horseback. (Dictionary.com)

Firstly, we do not live in the western United States. Our cowboys have always worn pink and yellow. Ask the cows about a certain Mr. Ramarajan.

The Marlboro man found himself dead and left behind a valuable lesson: Cigarette smoking is injurious to health. Man, being the more intelligent of the species, decided that smoking did not make him macho.

Macho: Used of men; markedly masculine in appearance or manner.

(Dictionary.com)

Men have not started getting silicon implants (transvestites excluded), but maybe they are grooming themselves a little more seriously. But then, so have women. Just because they did it first does not mean that they can patent the hairless body as `feminine.’

Because, going by the same logic, many women are tomboys. They wear shirts and pants, some of them smoke, drink beer and some, even womanise.

Yes, what is wrong with keeping track of fashion? Maybe once upon a time, denims, hats and biker beards used to be fashionable, now it’s all about whatever makes you look good. Which also determines what men eat.

That’s exactly what her problem is: Men look so good these days that she has too much competition to snag him over. Add jealousy to that insecurity and you find a woman wishing for a man who is his simple basic self. You get Paula Cole.

Besides, if hairy men in faded jeans and duller chappals are what you are looking for, maybe you should get out of the `effeminate’ circuit and check out the boys at the bus stop. The good old macho man is still alive if you care to look beyond Page 3-types. He still burps, scratches, smells, smokes, drinks and does all those disgusting macho things you hate about him.

Think again. You’re safer with wuss company. What are you complaining about?

(A fortnightly column on the battle of the sexes)

Episode 22: Why she won’t introduce her friends

He says:

Noticed how women you date don’t always introduce you to their friends? Certainly, not in the first few weeks. More so when the friends are pretty.

It’s a strange divide-and-rule policy born out of insecurity. Having common friends means her friends will always get two versions of any incident — her version and the truth (Your version, dummy). So why would she want to put herself in a spot?

When she is still dating you, she will have to answer questions like: “What did you guys do?” “Can he drop me home?” “Why don’t you bring him along to the party?” and of course, then they have to deal with comments about you: “Oh, he’s so cute.” “He does the sweetest things. Wish my boyfriend did that for me.” “He smells so good.”

The first thing you need to know about women is that they are jealous of each other. Haven’t you seen how they check out what other women are wearing at the party or even if it’s just the coffee shop. Though they might shower each other with compliments, both women know what the other is really thinking. If that applies for clothes, you could imagine how much more they would be jealous about boyfriends. They are paranoid about the friend stealing the boyfriend, a possibility born only by the death of trust in the relationship.

Besides, if at all she stops dating you, then she has to explain and blame it on you. It is rather difficult to paint you as the bad guy if the friend also knows you well.

And imagine the possibility of her friend continuing to be friends with you.

Given the already established premise that women are jealous creatures, it will cause her immense pain and heartburn if you start dating the friend.

Not only will that be her worst nightmare come true, it will also mean she loses her friend and that might endanger friendships within their circle.

Men have no such qualms. They know there are 1.3 trillion fish in the ocean. They are just looking for one. On their plate.

P.S: Sorry Nemo.

She says:

Sit down. Think carefully. Remember Standard II Geography? What did your textbooks say? Somewhere in the fog of French fries and football, this might emerge: `The earth revolves around the sun.’ NOT you.

When will men realise that everything is not about them?

If a girlfriend doesn’t introduce you to her friends it’s not because she stares at the mirror in anguish every morning, wondering which one you’ll pick over her. No woman’s going to date a man with a mind like a fish, anyway. (Sorry Nemo.)

Because if you’re going to change your mind every time you take a turn around the pond, you’re better off dating your computer. Maybe you can find a virtual girl, who’ll change her hair colour every week and introduce you to all her virtual friends.

Women don’t skip introductions because they’re insecure. Yes. Of course we check out other women in the room and their arm candy, but that’s more out of curiosity than anything else. While stealing a friend’s boyfriend might not be too difficult (following the `Men are like sheep’ theory) it’s really bad manners. And it also smacks of desperation. Besides, who wants to be seen as the wicked vamp (usually plagued with a bad stylist and hideously bright lipstick) anyway?

And trust me, women definitely don’t keep their boyfriends hidden because they’re afraid their friends will inflate their nostrils, sniff the air like Dobermans and collapse in a pool of mush cooing “Ooh. He smells so good!” After which, I suppose you men presume, they’ll fall upon you with cries of joy like a pack of wolves.

The truth is, maybe you weren’t introduced because she was too busy to get her friends together to meet you. Or maybe she’s ashamed of you. (Still walking about with lunch on your tie?). Or maybe you’re just the flavour of the month, and she doesn’t want to bother with an introduction that’ll be longer than your relationship.

But more likely than not, it’s probably because she wants to get to know you better before she lets you into her circle of trust. And that’s reasonable enough, isn’t it?

(A fortnightly column on the battle of the sexes)

Sho-Buzz

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