Coming Out

Well hello.

It has been a very interesting eight months since my last post. But most interesting of all to me is how many people still come and read this blog, comment on it and like the Facebook page. I mean I’ve had nearly as many likes after I stopped writing than I did when I was writing! You guys are more committed than I am heh. Thank you =) I often think that the best thing about that whole experiment was discovering that I can write in a way that appeals to people, which is something that would never have happened with all you enthu batanis.

So here’s a heart for you: <3

Okay wow that really doesn’t work in this font. But you know, the thought etc.

One of the things I miss a lot about the experiment is, actually, the blog. I miss writing. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be writing that damn book, but since I only really started last month and I’m still not sure how it’s going to pan out, that’s not nearly as much fun as the periodic blog post. Though they tell me I’ll be thrilled when it’s done.

Anyway, I wrote something recently for the Indian Express, (yes, I’m dropping all pretence at anonymity now) and it made this missing a lot worse. So I decided that, even if I’m not really dating focussedly, and even if it will likely have much more of me pontificating and much less snappy dialogue as a result, I am going to try and write a post a week, for you guys and for myself. I’m going to try and keep them tied at least partly to this theme of love, dating and relationships, but I cannot promise I’ll manage to do it! This week though, I’m cheating. Go read that Indian Express piece.

The End

Greetings faithful readers. (And the sudden spike of new ones. Did scroll retweet that article or something? One day in June I suddenly has a crazy spike in readers and followers.) I’ve been terrible lately, haven’t I? I don’t post and, honestly, it’s because I don’t want to. Even if I had a date, which I don’t, I don’t want to write about one more evening of me trying really hard to relate to and engage with a person who, even if I do succeed in connecting with him, is just going to vanish on me without the courtesy of a good bye. Honestly, I am also very tired of making all effort that to reach out to and relate with what, sadly, I have found to be a self-absorbed, self-indulgent and entitled group of people.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all desi guys are horrible or useless or something, though I am very tempted to draw some very un-nuanced and unqualified generalizations about the group after the past four months. It might just be that because I’m looking at older guys (though I have dated younger ones), or because I’m in Delhi, or even because I’ve found it so difficult to meet single people in offline settings and go out with them. Heck it’s probably at least a little bit because I’m a picky cow myself! But the bottom line is that I have had multiple conversations with and attempts to connect with at least a hundred Indian guys between the ages of 23 and 40 in the past year, and dear lord it has been a lot of work with next to no payoff.

Most guys don’t want to make conversational effort. Okay I think, maybe they don’t realise it. So I tell them to ask me questions, to work a bit. ‘What is this, an interview?’ ‘I asked you to tell me about yourself!’ And then when I patiently explain that specific questions help move a conversation along, I get ‘Are you a virgin?’ or some such ridiculous thing, which is like a toddler that’s trying to push the boundaries with a parent–oooo I’m walking on the edge and if you react badly it’s because you’re not cool or chill ya.

Eyeroll.

Most guys think they deserve my attention (or that of any woman they have deigned to contact); they’re always pinging and they need instant responses. They don’t want to decide what to do. They make truly awful nudge nudge wink wink jokes, which, I keep telling myself, is because they don’t understand how oh the ol-ball-and-chain kind of jokes are deeply sexist and problematic. They are bewildered by generalized conversations about sexism and harassment: but are you saying I’m a rapist! I would never do that! How can you say that! And I explain. And some of them get it, and some of them don’t, and either way, all that work, all that investment, and later they are gone.

Maybe there is something deeply off about me; maybe that’s why it’s so difficult for men to relate to me as more than friends. Maybe I’m ridiculously picky. Though I have to say, as part of the project, I don’t think I have been. I’ve constantly been shushing my gut and saying give him a chance. And guess who’s been right every single time? Maybe Indian society has screwed up gravely in how it raises its men (ok ok more then maybe). We have all these fantastic women who just can’t seem to meet guys they can be with. It’s almost as if we’ve spent so much effort teaching women to be anything they want, to adopt ‘masculine’ emotions and reactions and roles, and all we’ve taught men is that they need to be ok with women doing what they want, or appear to be, or perhaps, to be fairer, to believe that they are. But they’re not. And we do not teach them to look to others first; we do not teach them to take on ‘feminine’ roles, emotions and reaction; we–yes even feminist women–hold them to unfair double standards just as they hold us to them too.

Whatever the reason, the main lesson I have learned in this past year is that I cannot do this. I cannot woo Indian men; I cannot coax and persuade them; perhaps I cannot even date them should there be genuine interest. Then again, there has not really been genuine mutual interest, so who knows.

When I set out to do this, I often got asked what outcome I expected, what if I met someone on one of these dates and fell in love–how would I deal with the project then? I used to say there were three possible outcomes. The best would be meeting someone who gave me the space to finish. The second best would be meeting someone. And the worst would be what has come to pass–that I would end up where I began, just more tired and frustrated. I think that all along I wanted to be wrong about the conclusions I have drawn in the past 5 years of dating. I wanted this experiment to prove that desi guys CAN be great for me, that the only reason I hadn’t met someone was because I wasn’t trying hard enough, I wasn’t casting my net wide enough, I wasn’t being open to possibilities. Somewhere deep down I was convinced that I would meet someone–as a friend said last night, ‘But it can’t end like this; you’re supposed to meet someone!’ Yes that is how the story goes, and I believed in the story.

But now I know that the story is, like all stories, just a story. It is powerful and hard to fight but just because you believe in it doesn’t mean that it always comes true. And so I come away from this project with, if nothing else, a much better understanding of myself, some great experiences, a book I’m going to write and at least two good friends. And you know what? That’s not so bad.

I don’t quite know what I’m going to do with this space now. I know I definitely don’t want to date for a while–unless I get to be the princess most men claim they don’t like and yet they chase after. I have things I would like to write about and they might be about dating and body image and love and suchlike pandemonium, but I’m not sure this is the right place for that, or honestly that people want to read about it! But I am very grateful for all the support I’ve had from you, my readers. I never thought I could write, and you’ve shown me that apparently I can. You’ve shown me that there are people who want to hear these stories, who are willing to invest in and root for a complete stranger. So thank you. And if I actually write that book, I promise to post about it so you know!

Wading through shit

Regular commenters might have noticed that things have changed around here. Now your comment is not only moderated, you also need a WordPress account to comment. Why you ask?

Last week, when I was travelling like a madwoman, this blog was nicely trolled. Now don’t get me wrong: I have no problem with trolls. Trolls are everywhere and here I am living my life online–I’m bound to run foul of a few. And yes, in my frustration this past month, and from being on the move all the time, I have stopped blurring out OKC ids, which is not good practice.

I was accused of cheap journalism, told I was a cyber bully, all sorts of things. And  then someone else stepped in and started linking to my photos from OKCupid, uploaded to imgur. I’m slightly horrified that OKC lets you download pictures from profiles, but maybe this guy is a bit more than your average internet user and knows some way to do it. But hey, it’s nothing that’s not already online and public, and also something I’m linked to here. He did a sleazy comment too, but hah that’s an actual compliment compared to the usual OKC sleaze.

And then someone, using tor and gmail (ahem) posted a threatening comment, purpotedly from the hackers collective Anonymous. Because you know, I’m so important they’d want to troll me, and also that’s how legendary hackers work: they leave you comments with incorrect information and threaten to hack into your life, ending with a smiley. They don’t, you know, hack into your life.

Dear <my name>,
You have come to our attention as a repugnant bully and a creep. You were reasoned with to respect other people and their privacy and not misuse dating sites, but you declined. Your unethical and harassing behavior has been noted. Would you enjoy if you, your close friends and your family were humiliated online? I doubt <incorrect name of workplace>, your college mates or even little <incorrect name> would have a great time if someone were to spam the internet with their very personal information.
:)
ANONYMOUS

And I’m the cyber bully. Ahem.

So I’ve always held that if you put information on the internet, it’s likely to come out. There’s no point in telling yourself you can control it. I also actually go out with people and email with people so I’m not exactly anonymous. Plus most of my friends and their friends and also most people at work know my identity. (Yeah Mr. Troll, you can call my boss and tell her what I’m doing and she’s going to say, ‘And? Your point is?’.) Obviously my anonymity is a bit of a joke. And I’m okay with that.

Still, I’ve never been threatened before. And coming as it did at a point when I was tired of the constant low grade stream of ‘u r fat’ ‘u r ugly’ ‘cn i lick ur pussy’ ‘i wanna bite ur boobs’ type stuff I get out of OKC (and have been getting for the past 8 months), something snapped. I realised that, as part of this project, because there’s no point in doing it if I don’t make an effort, I have really been putting myself out there these past 8 months. And I’m so very tired of wading through shit. All. The. Time.

Now this doesn’t mean I haven’t met some really wonderful people here–both dates and commenters–and I haven’t felt a great deal of support and respect for what I’m doing. I don’t even need to mention the regular commenters who just hang out here and then rush to my defence when I am trolled. And at least two of the dates have become beloved friends, who rallied and petted and soothed and promised contacts in Cyber Crimes when this happened. Still, over time, the shit has begun to obscure and smother the possibility of good.

I thought very seriously about shutting this whole thing down and, yes, letting the trolls win. I have gained plenty from this project already, and I don’t really expect to make it to 50 anyway. I don’t expect to meet a partner, even a short term one–just look at the data so far. I spend more and more time trying to find dates and less and less time enjoying them. And I really am tired of the excrement. And that day, with all the other stressful stuff going on in my life at the time, I really just wanted to stop.

But then, sleep, family time and the rallying of the blog people made me feel better. I began to think about it as a problem I needed to solve. (I think I even figured out which OKC boy is the troll.) And here is the solution. I am not putting myself out there anymore. The blog is out there enough. Enough people know what I’m doing. So people can write to me, people can set me up with people, i can just stumble upon people who want to go out with me in real life (hahahahahahaah! yeah I know.) And comments are only allowed with WordPress accounts.

It’s 2015!

And I don’t like it very much so far. Humph. This is mainly a housekeeping post. Hello! I haven’t died or anything; life has just been utterly crazy since I got back. However, here I am, at the laptop again, and hopefully soon you will be regaled with stories of dating again. I have a date this week…

I often get asked what happened to the guys I’ve already dated, and also what happens when I like them, how many dates before I stop and say ok time to wrap up the project. I figured this is a good place for short updates.

#1 proved me wrong and did resurface. He floats around in my Facebook, occasionally commenting on things. I’m sure we’ll manage to meet again someday.

#2 is happily working away in his foreign country. We occasionally ping each other on chat to say hi, what’s up. Sadly I have not had the chance to see him again. He is most amused by how popular the blog is, and when I told him how popular he and his post are, he promptly demanded a cut. Ahem.

#3 I saw a couple more times, but I think we were mutually disinterested, and not connecting enough to stay friends, so he faded out.

#4 also lurks on my whatsapp and gchat. We have not managed to meet again, which I guess proves neither of us is motivated enough? I like to think of him as a friendly acquaintance I’m always happy to hear from. Unfortunately I lost my wallet last year, so I also lost the prediction he’d made for my project that I was supposed to open on the 1st. I should ask him what it was…

#5 periodically surfaces, always at highly inconvenient times poor lamb, so I’m always rushing off unable to talk to him. I did invite him to a party but he fell sick and couldn’t come.

#6. Hah. #6 bombarded me with phone calls from cockpits and strings of texts and several ‘I’m likely to be in Delhi; I’ll call you when I land’s, but never actually did. He also threw a hissy fit when I told him I didn’t appreciate the flakiness, citing his work as excuse. I did like him a lot–too much for my own good–so I let him keep me on the hook for longer than I should have. Once I started ignoring him he faded away too, only to resurface to wish me Happy Diwali (!!) at which point I chewed him out for shitty behaviour and he claimed he was in a foreign country which is why he hadn’t been able to talk. He had no response of course when I pointed out that they have internet.

#7 and I have made a few attempts to karaoke again, and he has sent me the occasional text, but he too has faded. I do feel bad–he was sweet. I should text him right now.

#8 was also a great flake. He claimed great interest and was slow to respond. I, in my excitement at having met two interesting guys by that point, was very enthu and that is likely where the problem began, because I think #8 needed to chase. Anyway he flaked god knows how many times, I ignored him, he resurfaced with abject apology explaining that his life was very stressed out with family stuff etc and would I please let him make it up to me. I said okay; he finally committed to a day, saying he’d let me know the plan then, and I have never heard from him again. Never ceases to amaze how badly people behave while dating, and they think it’s okay.

#9 of course I never saw or heard from again.

#10 did text me a lot for a while, and I did invite him to a party that he swore he’d come to, but then he didn’t, and I heard nothing from him till the 31st when I was in the ToI. I think I can safely say there isn’t enough motivation on either side for friendship or anything else.

#11 I saw twice more when he was in town, and he was a charming and breathtakingly hot as the first time. We had a really good time both times–how could we not when they involved the Taj Mansingh! But then he also dropped off, and I think has left the country because his number doesn’t exist any more. Which I am, on balance, quite okay with, since I guess I knew it was unlikely there would be anything serious between us.

#12 again I did not see or hear from again.

#13 was active a lot on whatsapp for a while; we swapped more cat stories. It turns out he also went out with a friend of mine in Bangalore, which freaked her out but doesn’t bother me. He told me he’d be in Delhi in October, but then did the vanish thing, and did not respond to any of my messages after that.

#14 and I were on whatsapp a lot for a while, much banter and flirting, but he was too busy and I got tired of suggesting plans and he said he’s surface when his life calmed down. Which apparently it hasn’t because nary a peep in months.

#15 was so very nice. I really liked him, but I had learned from #6 and #8 so I refused to invest. And despite our fun date, it turned out to have been a wise move, because when I asked about second date he told me that he’d actually, in the month it had taken for us to work out a date, rekindled romance with an old flame. ‘I’d love to hang out as friends though,’ he said, and of course I have never heard from him again.

#16 I saw again; he came to my house for dinner and I fed him south Indian food. And then we had some serious misunderstandings that made me want to run like crazy but then he explained it. Still I’m wary where he’s concerned now, which is immaterial anyway since his phone is dead and he’ll be gone soon. We are in desultory gchat touch.

#17 is still around. He is the kind soul who checked in on JP when I was in Bombay for a friend’s wedding last weekend. I have seen him a couple of times after the date, but he has an infuriating habit of not understanding time. The first two plans we made he missed because he fell asleep. The most recent plan he swore he’d be there at a certain time and an hour later texts to ask if there’s any point in coming. So, while he’s really hot and easygoing and fun to hang out with, I can’t invest in him in any way because he’s a total time flake and nothing drives me crazy quite like that!

#18 I never heard from again.

#19 was in constant touch all through my trip to the US, and turned up at the airport to collect me upon my return. Awwww. He is incredibly sweet and lots of fun and I look forward to spending a lot of time with him, if nothing else because I must add him to my people collection.

And there you have it folks!

Oh, no, wait. I also saw Bombay date when I was in Bombay, and he remains in touch too.

P.S. This is post #80!!! Wow.