Tuesday, 24 January 2017

How to fall in love - A user's guide

Of all the stories in the world, love stories are my favourite. They make me smile, laugh out loud, get misty eyed and I carry them with me at all times. They give me hope, joy and a lot of peace. Yes! I am one of those annoying women who love a happy ending. But even if there isn't one of those, I love the journey. I want to hear every love story ever told, look at wedding albums even if I don't know the people and I want to make people fall in love! Yes! I am one of those annoying women.

I have been in love constantly in life myself - with men, plants, books..as long as I am in love, I'm happy. But it wasn't always like this. I had my share of unhappy endings. I was miserable and scared to do it again. Until I met Prashant (he introduces himself as my "bitter half", my "victim", but that's another story. And I did fall in love with his sense of humour!)



I had started Footloose No More because I wanted to get married - or at least fall in love again - or meet someone I liked - and then I would see what happened. But, I now admit it - I was not really committed to it. I met people but never took it further. Or I avoided meeting people altogether. It was so much easier to stay in my comfort zone while pretending to be making an effort! And, as I told myself, had I not started Footloose No More? Wasn't that effort made? So I never ventured out. It was too much effort. It was easier to do coffee with Ritu, dinner with Gayatri, walk with Shehnaz, and go out in the evening with my usual bunch of friends, all of whom I had known all my life, most of whom lived within a 2 km radius of me and made me feel good about myself! I was a fulfilled and complete person. And that's the truth. I also secretly wanted to experience the rush of love, and that too is the truth!

Then I met Prashant. He wanted to meet, go out, have coffee, dinner, get to know each other....whew! That sounded like a lot of hard work. And for once, I decided to do it. I did all of the above. And that is when realisation dawned! Falling in love, finding someone to be in love with was work! It was a bloody process. You had to step out and meet people. You had to forgo that prior commitment to long standing friends, get out of office and keep yourself free to explore! Because sitting at home was getting me nothing!



I'm glad I made the effort because I did find that feeling again! I was complete then and I'm complete now. And I had no reason to worry or fear the unknown. Because I step out into the unknown everyday! I don't know what any day will bring. But I don't fear it. And I am still the same girl I was. Romance, love, marriage, kids - they didn't change me (apart from turning me into the woman who likes to give gyan, but bear with me). If anything, it's given me more strength!

I have no idea of what life holds for me in the future (there's the great unknown again) but I've learned to enjoy the excitement of it!

As for my friends, they are still around. I still do the coffee, dinner, walk and party, sometimes with husband in tow and sometimes without! And no matter what happens i life, I'm glad I did it. The effort is worth it just for the stories I now tell. Trust me and go try it!




Sunday, 22 January 2017

Things we need to talk about before the wedding.

We often have a million questions milling in our minds that we'd like to ask of the person we are emotionally investing in before making the final commitment. It often takes months before we get the answers to these questions. By then, it's tough to stay in the relationship or break up. How do you know how a person thinks in advance without killing the romance? You get on to www.footloosenomore.com

To get a preview, read the article below. It first appeared in Zee News online.http://zeenews.india.com/relationships/important-things-you-must-discuss-with-your-would-be-spouse-before-the-wedding_1966623.html

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

How to make sure a girl never goes out with you!

Once my friends decided to introduce me to a single, eligible guy (that's the only time they did it because that's the only dingle guy they knew). Everyone seemed to like him and the general cry was "what a fabulous guy. Let's get him and Varsha hitched." So I landed up at the party, a little wary, but willing to give him a chance. The guy was hanging about the door, waiting to meet me. That was strike one against him - he was too desperate! Why was he not with his friends? After all, the party had been organised so we could meet, so why not be yourself? Do the things you would do at a party? Why wait like a wolf? It's not like I could run away after all that my friends had done to make this happen!



Anyway, we met - and he wouldn't let go! He told me everything about himself. Within minutes I knew what he did, all about his family, what he liked and didn't like, who his friends were (most of them were in the room but he told me anyway), all about his education, yada yada yada... Strike 2! Let me discover it myself!

Then came the questions - what do you do, how old are you, what do you like, how many siblings (my brothers were in the room too, but why not ask) blah blah blah...strike 3! Stop the interview! You sound like your mother doing a "ladki dekho." I wanted to ask him if he wanted me to sing, walk in a straight line, let him sample my cooking and knit a sweater for him! (Can't cook, can knit)

By now, I was desperate to run, anywhere, even off the balcony! But he wouldn't let go! I was trapped! I had come there to meet him, and by God, he was going to make sure that happened! I couldn't dance with anyone else because he wanted to show off his moves, which included about 35 left feet, I couldn't get myself a drink because gentlemen fetched drinks for the ladies. Now I'm a sucker for gentlemen, but this time I wanted to give up being a lady.

He kept asking me out (which at the start of the evening I had wanted to do anyway) - movie? I'll book the entire theater if you agree. Dinner? I'll fly you wherever you want to go? Coffee? I'll buy you the coffee shop! He could actually afford all this, but by now I was willing to be a nun to get away from men. Thoughts running through my mind were, "men are idiots." Finally, I was rescued by my brother and taken home where I switched off my phone to avoid him. He did have a lot of strikes against him.



I met him again years later, he was happily married except I pitied the wife, until he spoke to me. He said that he really wanted to be married. He had been looking for a long time, but hadn't found anyone. So when he met me, and I seemed like the right type, he tried everything to impress me and made a mess. After a few more interactions, I realised that he was in fact, a great guy, who just did everything wrong that evening! And when I remembered this incident, I decided to write this post.

I meet a lot of great guys who would make someone a wonderful spouse. The problem is, they are either too nervous about asking someone out, or make blunders in their eagerness to make an impression. In both cases, they come across as either simpletons or creeps. So here are basic rules to asking someone out -
1 -BE YOURSELF! You don't need to be like any of the other guys who are suave and glib. If that was the only thing that mattered, they would not be single too.
2 - Don't talk about your money and success. We can see it. And when you keep talking about it, you come across as someone who just got it and doesn't know how to handle it. Remember, actions do speak louder than words.
3 -Be polite!
4 - Repeat to yourself - do not touch. Do not touch. Do not touch.
5 - Don't lie because sooner or later you will get caught.
6 - We know you're eager to meet us. But stop pushing to meet NOW! Ask us out at a decent time. 1 am, just because that's when you'll be done with meetings makes you sound like a creep!  Instead, wake up early and invite us out for breakfast.
7 - Stop asking us to come to your house! Or to come to ours. WE WILL LET YOU KNOW WHEN WE WANT TO DO THAT!
8 - Revise no.4!
9 - Do not message and call late at night. Stick to human hours and tell the Dracula in you to go away!
10 - Revise no 4.


And women, please be kind to men but keep your safety in mind!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Age is just a number...

If you are woman in your 30s, you've probably heard it already. And if you haven't reached this "ripe old age" yet, then rest assured, you will be haring it sooner or later. This line is not usually used to make us feel ok about being "old", "past our prime" or make us feel good. It is usually used by ignorant men who think this is the way to impress us.

There are even versions of this...and when we hear them, these are the answers running through our heads...




"Oh you're older? Don't worry. Age is just a number and I'm ok with it!" Whew! I was really worried that you may not be OK with me being an adult, since you clearly are not!

"Wow! You're older than me? Awesome! Will you pamper me and look after me?" Of course! All my life I've waited to find an imbecile to look after. In fact, I'm going to marry your dad, the officially look after you, my child!

"I've always wanted to be with an older woman! I bet you can teach me stuff!" Firstly, if you've reached whatever age you are and not learned "stuff", then I'm really sorry for you. You need help. So sure, I'll teach you, I'll teach you some manners, how to respect a woman and a lesson, though not necessarily in that order, because clearly, your mother failed at it.

"You're older. At this age you should be over this wanting to be serious thing and go for some fun!" Sure, I'm up for fun, but your idea of fun and mine will never match. You're just a moron and I already am looking down upon you.

"Your experience and my youth would be a perfect match!" I'd prefer my palm and your face to match!



We know what you're saying, and it's not complimentary.

No matter how you say it, a man saying this with a leery grin just comes across as a sleazy creep. We understand that you've watched porn and it's your fantasy, but really, do we look like we fit in? And don't even try to put on the "I'm so sincere" act. We can see through it. Which is why we sometimes actually marry younger men and go on to "look after them, teach them, have fun and be a perfect match", because with the right man, age is just a number.

But the thing is, this line is used by boys, not men. And we know the difference! You see, we've had more years of practice spotting them than you know.

Here's a lit of women who knew the difference and "men" who meant it.

http://www.bollywoodshaadis.com/articles/8-bollywood-celebs-who-are-younger-than-their-wives-1714

http://www.popsugar.com/celebrity/Famous-Women-Younger-Men-Pictures-36267077#photo-interstitial-0






Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The New Year Resolution!

On a bright sunny morning, I got into the lift to go meet my kids over breakfast. They were staying with their grandparents (they seem to prefer it), when a lady got into the lift with me. She gave me a wide smile and I returned it thinking she must be someone I know.
"How are the kids?", she asks me.
"Fine. They've begun to speak. Quite a handful now." I reply politely.
"How old are they now?"
"18 months."
"Time to have another one. No?"
I stare at her in bewilderment! Last time I checked, my mom in law was home, my mom and assorted aunts were completely disinterested in my reproduction plans (even before I had the kids), and this lady didn't look familiar.
"You must have another one. Children need siblings", she persists.
I wanted to say, "as you command! In fact I'll name my next child after you. Oh wait! I don't know who you are. I've never seen you before and I probably never will again. I will only remember you as the crazy lady in the lift, but what does that matter? If you think I, a rank stranger should have another child, then it is clearly my duty to do it!" Instead I politely say, "Well I do have two!"
"Oh!", she sounds surprised. "I thought the other one was not yours!"
And the crazy old bat got off the lift, probably to go and ring someone's doorbell and interfere in someone else's life.
Turns out, she visits someone in the building and has seen kids playing downstairs. So she took it upon herself to give me some advice! She seemed like a well meaning old lady, but there wasn't any good in this conversation, was there?

And this pretty much sums up our lives! Strangers, friends, relatives who decide to inform us of how they think our lives should progress. "Finished college? Get married." "Studying art? For what? You'll make no money and just waste your time." "Shifting abroad? Take your parents." "Got married? Have children." "Making enough money in your job?" "Not got a car yet? Work harder!" "What? Don't have your own house? Do you want help finding a better job?"



The thing is, though we either laugh or complain bitterly about these people, most times we let these things influence us! Look back and think. How often have you wanted to do something and stopped yourself because "what will people think?" "My friends will laugh at me." "I will be called desperate!"

This getting influenced is pretty subliminal. We're conditioned to conform and everyone has the right to comment somewhere in our sub conscious. And it doesn't end will nosy old neighbours and aunts. Our friends have the right too! However evolved we may be, we do think of what society will say and end up giving up a lot of our freedom and happiness willingly, though we may not realize it.

"Can't drink too much. People will think I'm a lush!" So? Will these people be paying my bills? "Can't marry that girl. She's great but not pretty enough and I want my friends to be impressed by my wife's beauty." This one is not direct and pretty much self generated. "Can't go out with that guy. I like him but he's bald and people will wonder why I'm with him!" Really? Would these be the people who will never lose hair?



When I was single and started Footloose No More with Abhishek, our friends laughed - called us desperate! Hell yes! As Abhishek very wisely puts it, "desperate is a positive word! Only if you are desperate  for something will you go out and get it!" Desperate for a new job? You'll hunt. Desperately hungry? You'll go out and get food in biting cold! Desperate for a drink? You'll call everyone in your phone book to see who wants to go out! Then why not be desperate for the things that could bring you joy? Why think about what people will think? Is your life not all about you?

As I look back on my life so far, I realized that everything I've done that brought me joy was insipte of what anyone thought! I went out and led a full life, full of little joys and giant troubles. But it was all my own. And if I were to weigh it, even when I failed, I failed with joy at having given everything I wanted a shot  without caring about what anyone thought.

And I learned the greatest lesson in life - People who matter don't mind. And those who mind, don't matter!

This new year, go ahead and try it. Live for yourself. It's your life and you get just one shot at living it the way you want. It will never be perfect, but it will be yours and what you make of it.

This year don't make a resolution, start a revolution - for yourself!

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

When we look back...

I remember watching a film very long ago. It was called Yeh Wo Manzil Toh Nahi directed by Sudhir Mishra. It was about three school friends now old men, travelling by train from Bombay to Rajpur for the centenary celebration at their boarding school. On their journey, they recall their days of student activism, and failures. Upon reaching they find once again confronted by political skirmishes, which reminds them of events wherein they failed to uphold their conscience. Till date, it remains one of my favourite films.

Today, when I see people's reactions and over reactions on scial media, in the news, in our living rooms, I wonder if some day we will look back at what we do to our world and say, "Yeh Woh Manzil Toh Nahi!"

I see people having arguments on Facebook about things and taking opposite stances. So far so good, because afterall, it's a democracy and we have the freedom to express. Then suddenly the people in the argument have unfriended each other and sometimes became sworn enemies!

Discussion is great, arguments are welcome but these violent reactions, everyone sharing stuff on social media without thinking ... is this who we are? Is this who we want to be? Do we really feel proud of ourselves after we have unfriended people for eating meat or going out at night, supporting a political party whose ideology we don't believe in? Are we really bigots who were dormant for years ad have now become active? 

Yes, someone didn't stand for the national anthem and they deserve to be punished, by law, because it is a legal matter! But sharing news feed that says "Muslim family evicted" is just fanning the fires. What if they were Hindus or Christians or non religious?  Would they still be anti nationals or terrorists?

When did we start talking about people like this? Are we soon going to introduce our friends as "my Buddhist friend", "my gay friend", "my straight friend"...Do we just want to label and judge? What happened to us?

Are we even thinking for ourselves or are we mere pawns in the political game, just turning into armies on the street for one faction or another? Or are we simply allowing the media to fan the fires and adding to the mass hysteria helping create content for news channels in the TRP games? Are we victims or culprits here?

Once upon a time people argued, aired their differences and went about the business of living. If you didn't like meat, you didn't eat it. You didn't like a person, you stopped speaking. Didn't like a car, didn't buy iy. Today, all of us seem to be keepers of some misguided morality which can only be kept by violence, be it words or actions! Whatever happened to freedom to choose? And let's not blame the government for it because we ourselves are taking it away from each other.

The nation doesn't want to know...it doesn't need to know! And it needs to stop pointing fingers saying if they can do it, so can we! What the nation needs is to calm down! We need to realize that eating meat or dal can be an issue only when everyone can make the choice between them. As it happens, most of the Indian population can't! Give us roads, and we'll discuss road rage! Provide basic safety to our women and then discuss their moral rights! Give us jobs and then tell us what we can or cannot do! Give everyone education and then complain about fees! 

Until then, stop shouting yourself hoarse and unfriending people. And start thinking for yourself! And for God's sake, stop the mass hysteria! Focus on the real issues!

I'm a simple woman, and I already look at where we have reached and say "Yeh Woh Manzil Toh Nahi!"

Monday, 30 November 2015

What we want from relationships.

I met a guy a couple of years ago whom I befriended at a party just because he was shy and I was "Jhansi Ki Rani", rescuing this poor guy! He was trying to run away from the party but unfortunately for him, he bumped into me at the gate and I dragged him back, promising to hang out with him. Slowly, I got to know him. He is shy, but will always speak up for what he believes in. He is loyal without being clingy, well to do but not flamboyant, polite but not a pushover, ready to commit to the right girl but without cramping her style. Basically, he'd tick most boxes.

And I met a girl who also ticked all boxes. She too wanted to meet and settle down with a guy who wanted to commit. Naturally, they got together and it seemed like a match made in heaven. They got together and all seemed fine. He proposed to her, she rejected him. Reason? He was too committed!


What does that even mean? What on earth is "too committed?" Is it a person who is ready to commit? So do we want someone who will give us the run around citing all kinds of issues? Is that what we find exciting?

Is a person "too committed" of he/she promises not to cheat on you or even look around? Is that what scares us because it takes away the most commonly used excuse for getting out of a relationship?



Is it when the person wants to spend time with you as opposed to saying, "Hey! It's New Year's Eve but you do your thing while I do mine because if I ask you to spend time with me, I'll seem to committed?"

What is it that we want from relationships? Freedom? Commitment? Generosity? Understanding? Space? We make up these lists in our minds and then we want it all or a balance thereof. While fact is, in a relationship, like in life, there is never perfect balance. We need to pick and choose in order of priority.

But above all, we need to be sure that we are ready to commit in our hearts before setting out to explore people's emotions. Because, I do agree, the thrill of the chase is great, it's fabulous to see what turns up next and the butterflies only appear when romance is new, but romance is not lasting...love is! Excitement is momentary...but commitment...that's my favourite word!



If we say we are ready for thee "ever after", perhaps we should first give up on the excuses that stop us! I've put down some of my favourite ones that I've heard over the years. Feel free to add your own :)

I've been traveling a lot. (Really? Every weekend? You need to quit that job!}
I'm really shy! (And it's got you nowhere)
I'm too different! {Just like everyone else)
I've never met anyone decent. {And you figured this out in the one time you got out of your comfort zone?}
I've been trying to meet people but it isn't working. (From your couch? By looking at pictures and rejecting or accepting?)
No one spoke to me! (This brings out memories of class 2!)
I did try it once! (And now you'll hide for ever?)
I once had a bad experience! (Yes! You and all of mankind! You may need hand holding but you'll get there.)
Mera kuch nahi ho sakta! (That's just giving up hope and no one should do that to themselves!)