Women’s Day Special: Ode to 47 Women Who Gave Me Valuable Life Lessons

On Women’s Day – Let Me Tell You About The Women Who Made MAJOR Contributions in My Life

International women’s day is on 8th March. On this day women get pampered, treated specially by way of discounts, free dinners, drinks, and what not (let us face it, women get these privileges throughout the year anyways; who can after all forget Valentine’s Day deals for women or couples right?)! There is no luck in India for male stags, I tell ya, as even many nightclubs restrict entries strictly to women and couples; on the other hand, most Indian men are so desperate that it is very easy for a female stag to get a guy any time she wants to, not that she needs one. Trust me, if only sex change was cheap, I would have done it by now.

International men’s day is on 19th November; I have seen and lived 32 “19th Novembers” but can’t remember a single time when I have been treated royally just for being a man, not even for one day. Someone said on Facebook that this is the result of Patriarchy, a comment that made absolutely no sense to me.

A typical Indian feminist might of course retort: “Shame on you. How dare you ask for special treatment? That is a privilege exclusively deserved by women for the centuries’ of oppression that they underwent through at the hands of evil men!” By the way a Bangladesh based Men’s rights organization claimed that men too get oppressed by women, but they don’t express it, out of fear of social shame. Here is the link, if you can read Bengali: http://www.bangla.24livenewspaper.com/bangladesh/17621-man-crying-quietly-in-the-pain-of-the-wife,-there-is-no-one-to-see

Jokes apart, I got the idea for this article from a women’s rights activist I met who I really admire (the two of us are going to start a project together, but that is a story for another day); I won’t use the term ‘feminist’ for her since that is exclusively reserved for those who think women are superior to men. What I can promise you here is that this is post is not going to be a ‘typical post’; this is not all ‘goody goody’ as I am going to list BOTH positive and negative contributions that women have made into my life; as such this is going to be an article you might remember for some time, even if not for ever. I want to thank all these women for doing what they did to me else I won’t be able to write this article today, right? I personally find the idea of ‘women’s day’ or ‘men’s day’ as ridiculous as ‘valentine’s day’ or ‘proposal day’. Why should there be special days for celebrating humanity or love? Should not these things be celebrated every day?

We have so many laws for the protection and safety of women, however the fact remains that those who actually need the protection of these laws are either unaware of them or are unable to make use of them (there were recent reports of a gangrape victim being forced to withdraw a rape complaint because her assailants were set free and they threatened her family of dire consequences using political influence; a well known RJ angrily reported her maid’s 6 year old being raped on Women’s day) while a bunch of unscrupulous, well educated women are misusing these very laws for personal gains or to settle scores. I would say that the idea of feminism in our country is totally screwed up; it is more about treating women specially just for being women rather than truly empowering them in the real sense of the term; we are trying our best to ape the West but ending up acting like headless chickens.

1. Woman #1: My mom: If you want to learn the art of bullying, manipulation, emotional blackmailing, taunting, finding fault in others, sarcasm, fastidiousness, stubbornness, arrogance, throwing temper tantrums, religious prejudice, etc., you cannot have a better teacher than my mom; I learned them all from her. In fact she also taught me that that unless I can live separately (not in my parental home) AND build a bungalow in a big city like Mumbai I cannot call myself successful. She sang real good, too. She has tremendous contribution in ensuring I don’t live a life of high self-confidence and self-esteem.

2. Woman #2: My art teacher: I was in 5th standard then. I think she was my first crush. She taught me that you cannot be good at drawing if you cannot even fill in a blank sketch properly with colors. I had colored some of the sketches (almost all of them, because I really got into it, so to speak, plus my mom said that if I do them all then the teacher would be impressed). So there was this sketch of a cat which I had colored in a way that some of the color (of the sketch pen) got outside the sketch. She saw it, pointed out my mistake and threw the drawing book in front of me in much the same way as you would throw a cat that bites you; this was her way of telling me that I had not done a good job, or maybe she secretly hated cats (that would be very unusual for a woman)? In any case she was quite a heartbreaker let me tell you; I faintly remember having a crush on her in spite of all that due to her lovely side whiskers. Her contribution was that I quit the idea of either color filling or drawing sketch totally and won’t have the heart to do them again until decades later. Even now I shy away from any activity which entails color filling or sketching. It was not until more than 20 years later when I started coloring a mandala (when I was coached by a female coach) that I resumed the activity of color filling again.

3. Woman #3: I have no siblings, and this woman made me feel, even if just for a few days, about how life would have been if I had an elder sister. I was just a stranger to her when we met, but she not only encouraged me to make a completion with my mother, but also invited me over at her home during a party and more importantly, really MADE me feel at home.

4. Woman # 4: A teacher who did not last long enough for me to remember what subject she actually taught to begin with, she gave me two lessons: one, that laughing loudly in a class can be a bad idea when the teacher is present, as well as how brittle manhood is. This must have happened when I was in the sixth standard. Someone wrote something based on the task she gave to everyone; she looked at his exercise book and commented: ‘What hodgepodge have you written on it?’ I started laughing at the word ‘hodgepodge’ because it was a new word to me and I found the sound of it really funny. However, she was not amused. She told me to stand up and explain the reason behind my laughter. By now I realized that I had done something terribly wrong, so I kept my mouth shut. But she was determined. She ordered all the girls to slap me one by one (which would hurt a man’s pride, as you know, since manliness is such a fragile concept in our society) unless I tell her the reason. All of a sudden, even before I had hit puberty, a sudden epiphany on the true meaning of manhood dawned on me. So I had no choice but to blurt out the truth, not to save my skin, but to save my manhood. She was rather amused, but I did not like being forced into confessing something I did not want to do. That was the first time I realized how vulnerable a man can be to a woman (before that, I had only watched my mom dominating my dad) and how to blackmail a man into doing whatever you want him to do (just get a woman in front of him).

5. Woman # 5: Another teacher who again was not in school for long but long enough to make me leave the school for good, she taught me the value of keeping quiet even when the worst hits you and that complaining against fellow classmates in politically incorrect language can be detrimental for you. It so happened that a bunch of boys used to bully me because after the above incident, I had become even quieter and more sheltered than ever before, and who can be more suitable for terrorizing than a sheep? We had both male and female prefects with the female one preferring to chide me or preach me while the male one used to sympathize with me but he was slightly effeminate so he would never raise his voice against the female prefect; however none of them did a thing to prevent the bullies from beating me up or molesting me every time they found an opportunity (that is whenever they found me alone, especially during lunch break). I used to complain about them to my parents: my mom used to sympathize with me and my dad used to be very mad. Both of my parents are short tempered but in those days my dad was even more so; one day he decided to write a really acerbic letter to the class teacher complaining about the bullies and demanding strict action against them. The class teacher responded by making me look like the ‘bad guy’ and instructed the whole class not to ever interact with me (‘Look at this guy, look properly, do not ever talk to him, and whoever talks to him against my wishes will get punished for that.’). So the bullies stopped bullying, but at the same time everyone stopped talking to me and avoided me as much as possible. I felt ostracized and had to leave the school; later on I learned that she had resigned a few months later. In the second school again there were a different set of bullies; the older bully had a girlfriend who was in the same class as me (the bully was a year senior tome) who used to poke fun at me for being shy and ‘weak’. I left that school and came back to the previous school after 2 years, where the bullies resumed bullying, until the class teacher (this time a male) ordered them not to.

Complaining is indeed bad, that is something which another woman told me in no uncertain terms very recently. A self-styled life coach who is highly proud of that one quality that you would rarely find in life coaches: arrogance, and takes herself a bit too seriously. Now according to her, her arrogance is actually a useful trait as it comes handy in weeding out time wasters because she has only so much time in her hands which she wants to invest only in those who are SERIOUS about coaching; so if someone calls her arrogant she actually takes it as a compliment. Point well taken. As a salesman I can tell you (since I use these terms myself as well) that ‘time wasters’ are people with little money and ‘serious’ people are those who have a lot of money. Yes, as salesmen or saleswomen we want to target only those who have ready cash in their hands, because it makes absolute business sense. I usually don’t tolerate arrogance but in spite of everything I used to follow her because she made some useful posts. Until one day, she made a post about the futility of going after wealth creation and the usefulness of focusing on spirituality.

Now this came from someone who had posted a picture of her lavish office just a couple of weeks ago, so I could not help but point out the hypocrisy in her post in a subtle manner (on top of that I am also an atheist, so for me going after something called God which is nothing but a man made figment of imagination is actually more futile than going after wealth creation, which can at least give you tangible material comforts and social status; as they say, a poor person has no friends, and no one can perhaps attest to this better than I can). Some back and forth exchange and I did express some of the life issues I was facing. On the page itself she replied rather warmly but on the facebook messenger she started sending me stuff like ‘Stop complaining about your life on my facebook…this is the last time I am gonna message you…I am a human being too so value my time’ followed by an advertisement of her coaching business. Do you think I would sign up with such a life coach? Nope. Instead I just unfollowed her as I have a low tolerance for attitude. She may have great talent, she maybe a great coach, but as you know people judge you by the way you communicate, and in this case it proved true. Also I have an advice for Indian men: if you encounter a bad woman any time in your life, then, instead of confronting her and standing your ground it is best to ignore her and cut her off your life as quickly as you can; trust me, the risk to prove your manhood to an aggressive, crazy, psycho or conceited woman is not worth it, not until the Indian legal system stops being so gynocentric.

6. Woman # 6: She is a celebrity poet in Mumbai circles (and even outside too) but she does not have any of the arrogance that you might expect from a celebrity. What she has though is a ton of self-respect for herself. She calls herself a feminist and I think she is what all Indian women should be like: very friendly, chilled, fun loving, gregarious, approachable and very straightforward (unfortunately she is also married). She was the very first woman in my life who approached a complete stranger guy like me for help and if you ever meet her you will agree that you cannot say no to her. However it is very rare that she asks for help. One thing she taught me is never to look for shortcuts in life, and that one should build one’s reputation by virtue of his hard work and talent rather than relying on connections to get him to the top quickly: the first approach will ensure that he lasts for a very long time and have pride in his work, the second one, not so much.

7. Woman # 7: There was a clique of college girls who were more of ‘agony aunts’ so to speak; I did not talk to them coz I found their constant gossiping very irritating; moreover none of them were good looking; actually I did not talk to any girls much even if we had more girls than boys in our class because most of them were shy, boring and not at all sexy. Yeah there was this girl I liked a bit but gradually her act of ignoring me actually made me distanced from college; I used to bunk classes a lot and would rather focus on enhancing my keyboard typing skills by spending the pocket money my mother used to offer me for lunch into a cyber café there. After my mother I think she was the next woman to make me feel unimportant and worthless; she used to treat me as if I am Mr. India, the invisible guy, the non-entity, so to speak. That was the first time depression hit me and I realized that girls don’t like me; my fellow classmate, after staying single for almost two years, made the ugliest girl in the class his girlfriend; he was probably even more desperate than me. I would bang my head against the wall sometimes then get frustrated even more.

8. Women # 8 and #9: They taught me one valuable lesson: never take what someone tells you online seriously or even believe their virtual personalities unless they prove their words by their deeds when you meet, for people can be fickle minded and it is just too easy to fake it online. They also taught me why online dating is such a bad idea, that real, long lasting relationships can never happen online, and that relationships that get built fast are shallow at best and can get broken up quickly. The first woman was someone I met at an online dating website. She started by ‘love bombing’ me and also promised to marry me (she, however, did not like my singing; ‘Do others a favor, don’t sing, ever, you will scare people with your voice,’ she said, and found my poetry writing skills to be ‘average’ at best); however when I actually visited her she first threatened to shout to call the cops if I so much as even touch her, but also called up her male pals at night who issued death threats to me (‘I will skin you alive, your mother won’t see her son alive again’ was what a guy told me, while her female friend said ‘You don’t know how much clout we have here. We can do anything to you.’ The girl I fell for was highly confrontational, with her chin up, and asked me ‘Do you want to force me?’ I said no relationship can happen by force, and left.) if I don’t leave the city immediately and also molested me; she refused to marry me in such a vehement manner that I hit a really low point in my life where I realized that this is the end and I am not going to find a girl who would marry me ever, because after all I had found love first time in my life after living 29 years on earth, while most of my peers were already settled through the system of arranged marriage (a system which I abhor but that is a story for another day)…I also had no support system to get help from because my mother hated the girl for her religion; most of all I wondered how could she do this to me.

I lost my appetite, banged my head against the wall a few times, to no solution. I made some lame attempts (yes, that is why I am here to bore you with the details) to end my life by popping sleeping pills twice; I was so happy they did not demand a prescription; the first time I vomited them all out after I fell asleep which added to my frustration, the second time I bought pills of higher dosage and to ensure that I don’t vomit them out again, preferred to stand and consume them; this time I landed up first in ICU and later on a wheelchair; I had a midnight crush on the attending nurse who promised me she would attend me the morning after too but did not stay back; the cops who escorted me back to the airport were very understanding: they said that girls play with guys like that and even make promises they don’t intend to keep. Later on I found out from my call records that as I lay unconscious and bleeding on the road and some guys called up her number for help, she denied ever knowing me at all.

The second girl was a married woman who was a poet and writer. I met her through Linkedin and poetry was how we connected to each other. She invited me to meet her at her university and I automatically assumed that she was ‘into me’ because she kept sending me SMSs even at midnight asking me when I am going to arrive. When we first met she showed me around the city but later on she refused to meet me anymore and once I had boarded the plane back to home she won’t even pick my calls anymore. Till date I don’t know the reason behind her sudden U-turn change of mind after the first meeting; I know for sure that I did not misbehave with her. I quit online dating soon after and deactivated all of my online dating profiles.

9. Woman # 10: She was the organizer of an offline dating event (yep so by now I had figured that if online dating did not work, maybe offline dating is the answer). She made me realize that when it comes to dating, women usually have the upper hand and that it is very hard to get girls for such events. I found her very forthright and honest; only if her salespage was as straightforward then I would have never attended the event to begin with. I paid like Rs.5,000 for the same event for which women got away by paying Rs.2,000. However except for her (and she was not interested in dating; she told me bluntly that if she wanted to she could get hooked up anytime and won’t have remained single), none of the girls there were really hot. You could categorize the girls into two categories: immature college girls who would first ask you your age before they talk to you (even though it is a violation of the terms of the event to ask someone his or her age) and a group of old, lackluster aunties who have nothing to offer but have a huge list of things they are looking for in a guy; it is safe to assume that they were in that event because they did not find any guy ‘good enough’ for them; I found it very misleading because on their sales page they had promised models, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and in reality I got some immature college students and a few aunties employed in various jobs; I won’t have paid 5,000 to meet them. The organizer refused to refund me anyways, saying that ‘We had promised you would meet 8 girls and we have fulfilled our quota. Refund for what? You won’t find love when you are actively looking for it, the more you chase something, the further it gets away’ was what she said. Quite an expensive lesson for me I must say. Almost at every table I found it was the guys who were keen to meet the women, not the other way round; the women were relaxing in a laidback manner as if they could care less about whether any guy approaches them or not – sipping the free beer they got as part of the deal.

11. Women # 11, #12 and #13: The two (inept) psychiatrists and therapists, none of whom were helpful but the solutions they offered are so ridiculous that they are worth mentioning. I visited each of them to find a solution to my depression and low self-confidence issues; as solution, the first one advised me to cook noodles to get my confidence back and refused to believe that I have depression and the second one asked me to start believing in God and forgive everyone. The third one, although at first refused to believe that I have a problem at all, later on actually helped me cough out my inner demon (you read that right) using NLP techniques.

12. Woman # 14: A real psychotherapist who knows her stuff, she is also the most honest therapist I have come across. She told me that she understands and agrees that life is bad, but it is not as bad as I think, and asked me to be happy with what I have already have, rather than focusing on what I don’t have. She also said that unless I love myself and accept myself the way I am, I cannot expect others to love and accept me; why would anyone love me if I don’t think of myself as worthy of being loved? Yet another thing she told me was to relax and not to follow life with rigid rules and formalities; if you miss out on doing a ritual one day, don’t beat yourself hard over it, rather resume doing it from the next day onward; don’t think about how you would manage doing a ritual for one whole month, rather, focus on doing it only one day at a time. She also advised me not to try satisfy my mom, “I could not satisfy my mom throughout my entire life, so don’t bother. Does she know what it is like to earn your rent? If not, then her opinions don’t matter”

13. Woman #15: A fellow poet like me, I met her only once and from then on we have stayed in touch over calls and whatsapp. I share my poems with her, and she tells me that I don’t seem to be comfortable in my own skin, and that I should learn to accept myself the way I am, before I expect others to accept me.

14. Woman #16: It is wrong to express your feelings to a woman too soon, that too over an online medium, until she feels the same for you; else you are going to get ghosted. This is what I learned from this woman. She was a powerful Tedx speaker and corporate trainer. One of the first women I truly admired and had a crush on because she was not only physically attractive but so were her speaking skills. This was the first time in my life when someone’s two hour long lecture got me hooked in such a way that I did not even want to visit the restroom. To me it did not matter that she was a couple of years older to me. She was the first woman to tell me that I should learn to live life ‘shamelessly’. She was the very first empowered woman I had met in my life; not just that, I met her at a time when I had a breakup and I was feeling very low after my unsuccessful suicide attempts; in other words, I was on a rebound. She was the reason why I went to Delhi to meet her. But in between I had made the stupid mistake of expressing my feelings for her; no I did not tell her I had fallen for her, but I did tell her about the qualities I liked about her; until that time she was really very responsive to my messages, but after that she virtually stopped responding to my messages and in fact made excuses about how she is ‘too busy to check emails’. I then pretended to be someone else and used another email account so send her a neutral message to which she replied instantly, so that I was confirmed now that she was lying to me about being busy and was in fact ignoring me. If I called her she would get irritated and in fact blocked my number four times (four different numbers); once she even asked me why I called her if I had no business with her, and that was the final time I called her. Whenever we met afterwards she would avoid sitting near me as if I had plague; if I sat in the west, she would move toward the east, so to speak. For a considerable time since then I stopped expressing my feelings to just about any woman I met; I would keep it all stuffed up inside me and cry alone at home. Gradually I stopped going to places where I had even the slightest possibility of meeting women because what is the point of doing something that indirectly made me unhappy?

15. Woman #17: A witch from USA, I used to discuss with her my problems in finding love because I found her very non-judgmental, until one fine day when she decided to be ‘very honest’ with me and tell me that from what she saw through her psychic abilities, I seem to choose or reject girls based on their looks, so if good looking girls were rejecting me it seemed to be nothing but a karmic repercussion of what I was doing. In simpler words, I deserve to have only an ugly girl as romantic partner in my life, and since I am not ready to accept that fact (because I believe I deserve a good looking partner), good looking girls are rejecting me. Sounds like a decent argument. I have not talked about my love problems with her since.

16. Woman #18: Once a coach, always a coach; even when the coaching is over, she will still insist on being your coach whether you like it or not; you cannot ever make her anything else, including friend, girlfriend, etc., so choose your coach wisely and if you want some other relationship with a girl, then don’t ever make her your coach. This is the lesson this girl gave me. She was someone who would be offended and reprimand me if I asked her how she is, or how was her vacation going; on the other hand she would never take my calls; she would take the calls of everyone else in her coaching class except me. When I asked her the reason behind this, she made a snarky comment that she does not talk to ‘weak people.’ It is important to note that in the spirit of sharing I once shared with her everything, even my weakness and shortcomings, on the advice of someone in the class and she had bluntly told me then that I should shut down my content writing business because at that time was not doing very well. Then something magical happened.

One day I was very frustrated and angry with her uptight attitude and her insistence on continuing to be my coach even after the course was over; I whatsapped her saying that I wanted to marry her. She forbade me from talking to her ever again. Few days later I was informed that some lady from her institute who I barely remembered had filed a sexual harassment complaint against me; after much cross-questioning the head of the institute told me that she had become offended at my touching her necklace once upon a time and I faintly remembered admiring her necklace but that was a month ago and back then she made NO objection to my act; frankly she was rather happy that I liked her necklace. Why would someone who is so offended sit over the incident for a month and then suddenly file a false complaint of sexual harassment on me? Although I have no proof of this, I am quite sure that this coach had instigated her to do what she did to get her revenge on me because apparently she did not like the fact that I refused to be her student anymore long after the coaching course was over. In retrospect I think that my story can be turned into an avant garde Bollywood movie; I doubt any other guy’s marriage proposal had a more dramatic finish. I never expressed my feelings to any woman since; it was too scary; I did not want the same shit to hit me again.

17. Woman #19: Fat ladies take heart, skinny guys get shamed in as much the same way for being skinny. I have met at least two women in my life who expressed in no uncertain terms how unattractive they find me for being skinny. One was a member of a toastmasters club. Now if you are a toastmaster you know what they offer for snacks: yep right, junk food like pastries, chips etc. I told this girl who I was chatting with that I don’t wanna fill my stomach with junk; she retorted: “Maybe you should start eating some junk food you know, it is about time, at least you will put on some weight.” The second woman was a fellow trekker whose very first comment to me was that: “By looking at you it does not seem like you eat or drink at all, right?” By the way I have a special weakness for women with round figures, but unfortunately all such women I have come across are already happily married, so I cannot do much except for looking, which brings me to the next woman in this series.

18. Woman #20: Love is blind, and if you want to find love, you must act blind too. This is what I got from this 44 year old woman. She is another witch from USA; she is a very good spell caster but not a good counselor. I discussed my problems in finding a romantic partner with her as well. Every time I mentioned it, she would inevitably answer, ‘But that is because you keep looking for love. You must not look.’ Very well said, indeed. Eventually I got tired of he cut and paste answer and decided to keep my problems to myself only.

19. Woman #21: She is my social skills coach, and probably the only person in the entire world apart from the two witches mentioned above with whom I shared the story of my suicide attempts with. She told that I have treated myself far too cruelly through my entire life, hitting myself hard for even the smallest of mistakes I made, therefore, it is time to take a break from getting so self-critical. She also told me that I am focusing too much energy on what I don’t have instead of believing in my own talents, and since I am myself filled with doubt and fear, that is the kind of energy I emanate when I meet people, the reason why they go away from me. Almost everyone has problems and no one is happy with themselves, therefore focusing on the positives is more important than focusing on the negatives.

20. Woman #22: Never underestimate a woman; if you are not careful enough, she can even scam you. This is the lesson I learned from this woman who was running an escort business in Bengal. She had put this ad in a well known newspaper that she is looking for male escorts. Now I don’t know a single young, hot blooded male who would refuse the job offer of a gigolo. The idea of taking out hot, bored aunties and getting paid for having a good time with them is like a dream job for any guy. Needless to say, I fell for it. However, soon after ‘registering’ with them with a low end investment (they promised that there would be no further investment until I get paid by my client, the auntie, that is), they started demanding more money from me under various pretexts (one of them being that for getting medical insurance done) and each time they promised that this would be the last payment I was going to make; on the other hand there was this ‘auntie’ who was apparently excited at the idea of me taking her out and rather upset that I was taking too long in getting the ‘formalities’ completed because she cannot use my services until I am done with the formalities.

I kept getting calls from this scam agency and that auntie every second and minute until I was out of Rs.22,000 in total; I had wiped out all the savings of my parents without telling them. Then the calls stopped. I realized that the entire thing was fabricated and that the auntie was just a tool in the entire game. I filed a police complaint but no luck. Since then I have gotten many such offers but have learned to ignore them. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say. While I am still open to the idea of being a gigolo, I won’t pay a penny.

You know what, life has a way of teaching you touch lessons in the most unwelcome manner possible. Years later I got scammed by a fraud woman in Mumbai who promised me work in screenplay writing, and maybe it was because I still believed that women can do no wrong; nearly everybody she took money from never got any work from her; thankfully I got away by paying just 3,000.

21. Woman #23: In a business environment, a one-time handshake from a guy with a woman is normal, but anything more than that can be considered creepy. This is the lesson I got from this woman. She was an investment banker; we met at a business networking meeting and I shook hands with her twice: once when meeting her for first time and the second time when exiting the hall. Later on my sponsor told me that she complained to him about what a ‘weird guy’ I was doing handshakes over and over.

22. Woman #24 and #25: Be as much upset as you might, but as a guy keep in mind that it is an offense to text a girl you don’t know personally. This is the lesson I got from two girls. One of them was part of a random meet up group; all I did was to text her ‘Hi, how are you?’ message. She did not respond but the male group admin sent me a message that if I message any FEMALE members of the group again I will be removed from the group; this must be what patriarchy looks like, I thought. The second incident involved a girl who was a freelance architect (a previous incident had happened where a Bengali auntie reported me to the group admin for making small talk to her: like where she is from, where she learned fashion design from, etc; we were part of a Facebook sales group where she was selling some saris). We bumped into each other a couple of times in various toastmaster club meetings and used to chat on whatsapp.

All was well until I messaged one of her friends on Facebook messenger asking what I thought was an innocuous question: was she also a member of any toastmaster club (like this girl was)? That architect girl was not amused; first she removed me from her Facebook friends’ list, then she started fighting with me on whatsapp and vehemently denied ever knowing me (and I thought that we were friends and that the friend of a friend is supposed to be a friend??). In the end I deleted her from my contact list because she was getting nastier but the experience left me fuming and put me off social media for quite some time; obviously she was not as open minded as I had assumed her to be.

23. Women #26, #27, #28, #29: If you can, avoid commenting on the whatsapp DP (display picture) of a woman – even if you offer her a compliment, she may still get offended; this is the lesson I have learned from at least four women, all of them being in the ’empowered’ category. The first woman was someone who stayed in a monastery (but asserted that she is not a nun) and I used to book my retreats through her; all was fine until I made what I thought was a nice comment on her hairstyle: I simply said that it was a good idea to experiment with hairstyles the way she was doing, to which she responded ‘I will appreciate if you please stick to retreat talks only.’ The second one was a girl who I met at a theater workshop; one day I asked her who was the girl who was with her in the DP, to which she responded by saying that I am violating the decorum of the theater workshop by asking such questions, that I should maintain a professional distance from her, and that she is under no obligation to answer such questions.

The third one was a motivational speaker and life coach who I met far too often, be it at a business seminar or motivational talk; one day I asked her where she met the woman in the DP (she happened to be woman #16 btw) and that they looked good together, to which she responded by blocking me. The fourth one was a president of a prestigious toastmasters club and we had met quite a few times; her hairstyle in the DP resembled that of the ears of a rabbit; I admired the hairstyle and said that I wished she had come to the club with that hairstyle; she did not respond, but instead reported me to a guy who was in charge of the executive committee of the club; the guy messaged me saying that I must stop messaging any club members from thenceforth, that if I don’t stop then he would hunt me down, and that the next time I visit the club he would throw me out (it is safe to assume that the little dickhead was probably her angry, possessive boyfriend, at least from the immature way he acted, but I am quite sure she scripted the whole thing); for awhile I was very angry but could not do much except for leaving the city for good.

24. Women #30, #31: Whether or not you have romantic feelings for a woman, it is best not to share romantic songs with them unless she is your OFFICIAL girlfriend. This is the lesson I learned from two female toastmasters. I was infatuated with one of them, but had no feelings for the other. To both of them I once shared a famous romantic song of Kishore Kumar. The first girl expressed her offense at this and asserted that I must not message her anything more than stuff that is strictly toastmaster- related (before that we used to have small talk and chats over trivial matters, however she would get mad at me if I call her at her office hours as well as if I didn’t pick up her calls on time; the reason why for a considerable time after I became very scared of calling up people and preferred limiting myself to texting); the second girl went a step ahead: she lied to the entire executive committee that I had been sending random messages to the members of the club; needless to say the EC told me I was not welcome at the club anymore; the irony was that a few days before she had impressed me with a speech on love and forgiveness: evidently I was a bit too gullible to believe that she would actually walk the talk.

25. Woman #32: Whoever said that women are complicated is absolutely right. They indeed are; they send subtle signals and if you miss them then woe would befall you for sure. This is the lesson I learned from this woman. Now she was someone who was married, very friendly and even a little ‘shameless’; she was very open about her life and shared the entire story with me, about her abusive husband, her suicide attempts, her becoming empowered enough to start living life on her terms and being married only in name, her husband cheating on her, etc., and I got this impression that she liked me (why else would she share so much with me). The only ‘crime’ I committed was that of putting my arms a little below her shoulders when we were traveling back home; she seemed to be comfortable with it, but later on I got to know it from someone else that she felt very bad the whole time.

I was very angry, first because it she never told me about her discomfort, and secondly, even when I got to know about the reality, it from was someone else, not her; at first she told me that she did not say anything because otherwise the crowd of frustrated, hostile uncles looking at us would have killed me, but later on claimed that she did send subtle signals expressing her discomfort (which I missed??). Then she told me that she had always considered me her ‘little brother.’ Ouch! Being brotherzoned by an attractive woman is about the kind of jolt that can take a man’s self esteem even below the sea level. I blocked her; I could not do much else; being brotherzoned was about the last nail on the coffin. At 32 this was the first time in my life when I had a decent looking woman in my arms; I did not have enough knowledge about a woman’s body language, I learned that women were too much work and that that it was not worth it.

26. Woman #33: Once a woman forms an opinion about you, you would find it VERY hard to change the same, no matter how hard you try. In spite of online advice against traveling during mercury retrograde (for it results in mishaps and miscommunication), I still traveled with this group I connected with through a whatsapp based travel group where the leader was a female. All went well until I lost sight of the group as I had an important group call to attend on the phone and they were walking too fast. As luck would have it, the internet connection started getting flaky and my battery charge got reduced to less than 15%. In the meantime this woman had switched off her phone as well.

In spite of my best efforts I was unable to connect with the team and it was not like some of the other members did not help me with whatsapp, but I guess the universe had decided to go against me on that fateful day. After much efforts, when my phone battery was about to die, I decided to leave home for good. As I was traveling back home my internet started working again for a while and I got this text message from the female leader ‘Do you think we are idiots to wait there for you like that?’ Once I got back home, I explained the whole thing to the woman as well as her male friend; the male friend understood the whole thing and sympathized with me; the female did not respond to me at all and her only response was removing me from her travel group, to which I responded by blocking her. Since then I decided not to go out especially with strangers during a retrograde.

27. Woman #34: An astrologer, she told me that some things are never to going to happen in my life: I am never going to find love, I am never going to get famous, I am never going to get rich, and I am never going to find domestic peace. Whether her predictions were accurate or not I don’t know, but years since those predictions, they have continued to prove themselves true. Either I was born under a bad star, or I subconsciously believe her predictions which in turn make them real for me: I don’t know for sure.

28. Woman #35 and #36: I met her (a classical singer) at a small informal concert where we sang together; she was very encouraging and said that I sing well and that my jokes were very entertaining to her; that was the first time someone appreciated my singing talent so it made me decide to at least get my voice trained; she did refuse to teach me how to sing, saying that she was not up to it. Fingers crossed as of now on the matter. Another singer who, although she refused to teach me how to sing, gave me a lot of encouragement but using the name of the crappiest singer in our times; she said that if that singer can make it big, so can I. She did give me the name of the place she learned singing from.

29. Woman #37: I was possibly in 5th or 6th standard then. My dad was a bit concerned about whether I would pass my exams or not, as I would mostly love watching TV (back when Doordarshan used to broadcast some really good stuff before they sold out) or writing stories, poems, etc. My dad seemed opposed to both but he took my zest for story writing a bit personally perhaps; every time I would write one more page of a ‘novel’ or a new poem he would unfailingly start taunting: “Okay, so you are writing that story about Dhana Nanda again eh?” Now for those who don’t know Dhana Nanda was the last Nanda ruler of Magadha dynasty in ancient India before he was overthrown by a coup initiated by Chanakya (now I am sure this fella needs no introduction). I took his comments to mean that I cannot write anything great, that I am useless as a writer; since I did not know who Nanda was I failed to understand exactly what he meant but he always said it with a snarky smile; if in spite of his comment I continued writing, he would report it to my mom who would in turn start shouting.

So I tweaked my writing schedule a bit; I would indulge in it only when dad was not around; around this time my Hindi language teacher asked all of us to write a story of our own. I don’t remember what story I wrote but I remember her admiring my story as the best in the class as it was unique (‘You all wrote some generic stories but he wrote something very special. This is how stories should be like’); when I told my mom about this incident she asked me, ‘How many students were in that class?” Out of the total number of students of around 100, less than half had their second language as Hindi, the rest being Bengali students. So I told her that number and she said, “Oh okay, so getting good remarks from within such a small batch is no big deal.”I was of course used to her discouraging comments; when I was in the primary and there was only 5 or 6 students in total in my class, my mom would be dismissive of my getting good rankings like 1st or 2nd in class, because it is relatively ‘easier’ to get good ranks in a small batch.

The next year I had to leave school because of the horrific treatment of the class teacher I talked about earlier; and when I came back she had left the school. I felt bad about it because she seemed to be the only encouraging person in my life and with her absence and constant discouragement from my parents I eventually quit story writing for the next several years, to the point of neglecting preserving my childhood manuscripts so that I could not locate them anymore when I was 30+ and wanted to leave home for Delhi. She was a stark contrast to my first Hindi teacher of my primary school who said that my Hindi was so bad that I am a ‘cancer case’ who cannot be cured, only to change her opinion later on to ‘what a miracle’ when I actually got some decent marks in Hindi; throughout the 3 years I spent in that primary school I saw her having nothing but groundnuts for lunch; did not she ever get bored of her lunch, I wonder.

My mother of course needed no tutoring to tell her that a mother should never open her mouth to encourage her kid; she dependably kept her mouth shut when I got good marks in English during my secondary exams from among a batch of 100 students (I remember having a crush on my then English teacher who was probably the only sexy teacher among a bunch of fat aunties but unfortunately she was married; she was one of the two English teachers who gave me some respect because fortunately or unfortunately I scored very good marks only in English language); one thing I had learned by then was that I could not expect anything else from my mother expect criticisms (I remember when I had hit puberty and some lady told my mother that I was fair skinned like my mom, my mother instantly dismissed her comments saying ‘No, you cannot call him fair skinned, he is of mild dark complexion to be accurate’ and much later when others told me that I am fair I dismissed it as people lying to me to make me feel good); my father did mildly encourage me when I got good marks because he was always concerned that I may not do well in studies as I hated studying; however under the dominating rule of my mother he spoke very little.

I actually feel very sorry for him really; I met my dad recently and while he had lost his backbone long ago (metaphorically speaking), he seems to have even lost his voice and sense of humor; now his efforts at being funny is really tedious at best. Being with someone as hostile as my mom can do wonders to the personality of anybody really; no wonder none of her relatives stay in touch with her.

My mother used to sing a lot of songs; one day however when I started singing then she made a really big deal about it so I stopped. And I stopped, forever, when that online date of mine asked me to refrain from singing in my bad voice (I already told you about her; unlike Ekta Kapoor I don’t believe in repetitions).

30. Woman #38: If I did not attract any good, decent looking single woman in my life (else I won’t have been single right?), I at least attracted some really weird women in my life (so in my case it has always been like this: if a woman is nice then she is also obese or ugly, if she is sexy then she is also bitchy, and if she is both nice and sexy then she is also married), so all of your readers please give me credit for where credit is due okay? Even if I forget the rest of them, how can I forget my encounter with the first true feminist who on one hand used to take help from guys like me and on the other hand blamed men (in a blanket manner) for all the problems women (like her) face. From her I learned and understood how scared a feminist like her can be of horny men, so much so that she had to travel in a women’s coach every single day of her life, lest her co-passenger turned out to be a serial rapist! What I could never understand was how can a woman who blamed men for every single problem of hers (which reminds me of that online ex of mine you know) and used to start each post with a ‘Dear men, learn to respect women…it is perfectly okay for men with no dating skills to hire a whore’ and stuff like that could not find a female to help her in times of need! She was a travel fanatic, no issues with that, but then she would call me up because she needed some monetary help. Since she was my yoga teacher I did not find anything wrong in lending some money to her because hey, she would teach me yoga and we would make the adjustments then, right?

Wrong. After that she made a vanishing act and won’t receive my calls; then she appeared again but said she would be in the city for a few days before she goes on a foreign trip; now I had some serious water issues at home and she being a cleanliness freak (she used to use my toilet regularly, no issues with that of course as long as the water supply was good; she even gave me some toilet cleaning tips because my toilet was so DIRTY you know?) I did not want to put myself in a soup, so I said that I could meet her only after a month or so. Her foreign trip however lasted longer than expected and I asked for a refund of the money I had lent her because I had found a replacement for her; she made some stories putting the blame squarely on me and refused to refund me, ultimately blocking me too when she told me she was ‘busy’, and I in turn told her that while she was always too busy to take my calls, she was never too busy to message me when she needed my money (the only other time she messaged me was when she was hosting an American and needed some help from me; note that she never for one day ever invited me home for tea but she was super excited to host someone who came to visit India from thousands of miles away and wont likely stay back for more than a few days). She used me, and used me well, but you know what, I gained great satisfaction from the fact that she could not use me for a very long time as I was smart enough to catch on to her act. Credit where credit is due- but for her I would have never known that I have motor issues, that my limbs and my brain don’t co-ordinate well.

31. Women #39, #40 and #41: Relationships built on social media can be very flimsy at best; I believe that since I had not learned my lessons from the previous poor encounters with women on social media and taken on to chatting on social media in a big way again, the universe decided to send more women my way to teach me the same lesson again. One of them was the owner of a hair salon opposite a huge shopping mall; actually the size of the mall somehow overshadowed her salon even though they were on the opposite sides of the same street. Anyways she used to post fun posts on Facebook which were very original; what she did not do was what 80% of women generally do on Facebook: put lipstick and makeup on and post a selfie for others to admire. She came across as a very spunky and real woman to me, although we did not chat much on Facebook (she was not on messenger). When we actually met, she almost hugged me with a wide smile saying that it was nice to meet me (as if we knew each other for a long time). 2 hours later when I returned home I realized that she had blocked me on Facebook, which left me stumped for a while. I challenge the mighty Ekta Kapoor to think of a better twist for her soaps.

The other two are poets (I found both from Facebook). One of them was hosting a free poetry workshop and I being a poetry enthusiast, could hardly resist it. However I had trouble finding out the location; I called her up but her phone was switched off (a fact she later refused to admit); the place was far away from home so I was a bit frustrated; none of the neighborhood uncles or aunties there could tell me where the exact location was as the location given by her was a hodgepodge of several other places located in opposite directions. On the second day of her workshop I posted on Facebook about my problems; first she called me a liar then a troll. Fair enough; I stopped the conversation then and there; I called her up and it ended with her saying ‘If you can come then come, if you cannot come then don’t, others are coming just fine and only you are facing problems.’ This time I was determined to go and locate her anyhow so I did my homework and located her when the workshop was almost over. I expected her to convey an apology to me for the inconvenience caused to me but instead she ‘punished’ me for being ‘late’ by putting me at the last of the queue of those who were about to recite their poems; later on she did not hesitate to also lecture me on how I lack basic social skills.

This second poet, she happens to be a bit more famous than the previous one and is the owner of a performance theater too. Now I liked the serenity of the environment where her performance hub is based in; if you get murdered there and not a soul would get a whiff of it; soon after arriving there (to watch a performance) I got a booklet which detailed everything about how I could benefit from their membership – all except what I was most interested in…the cost. So I told the assistant (as she was not available on that day) to tell me the cost; he in turn told me he needs to go to his office next morning to find out the information. Fair enough. Later on in the afternoon I got an unexpected call from the poet herself telling me (like a typical Ekta Kapoor recap) all the things which I already know: the many benefits of the membership, while all I was interested in was the COST. I thought maybe it was the result of poor coordination between her and her assistant; I was having my lunch at the time but asked her to mention the money factor to me. When she mentioned it I found it to be a bit too expensive for what she was offering, so I just said ‘thank you’ and disconnected. Later on she started calling me up again and when I did not receive it she sent me one sms ‘Thanks for hanging up on me while I was still talking.’ I of course could care less. Here is one piece of advice for all you business folks: tell the prospective client EXACTLY what he wants to know; while recapitulating may work great on TV, in real life it is boring; besides repeating the same salesletter 10 times won’t necessarily turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’, so please value your client’s time as much as you value yours.

Aside from the above incidents, I would mention three more. In all these three instances I was NOT looking for monetary compensation and I don’t know any of them personally, don’t even know where they hang out even though I am sure they all stay in and around Andheri. But is not that what social media is for: to connect with people whose existence you won’t have even known about otherwise? NOT!

I found out a well known ex-model on facebook who is now divorced and was making a docu about her relationships with her father. I liked the idea and wanted to be a part of her newly created production team. She was recruiting on facebook or so it seemed; I posted a comment that I want to be part of the team. She said she does not have any money to pay. I said I don’t need any money, all I ask is for the writer’s credit if she likes and uses my work. She ignored my comment and even my messages on fb messenger. Later on I found out she recruited folks from within her social circle itself. If that was all she intended why post about it on Facebook?

There was a cleanup drive going on at yari road and the drive as headed by some lady I don’t know personally; maybe it is still going on, I don’t know. I have never been to yari road: I have been staying at andheri less than a month; nonetheless I wanted to be a part of the cleanliness drive. So I posted a comment on her facebook post AND messaged her too personally. As usual, I was IGNORED. Another incident: this lady is a well known bollywood fashion designer and she started her own little movement to revive the dying authentic textile industry (cottage industry) in the country. This lady and I, although we never met, used to chat on whatsapp (she rarely replied) and comment on her facebook post. I wanted to be part of it too as I liked the idea. As usual she just ignored me and later on blocked me.

32. Woman #42: There should be ONE punishment for all offenses, regardless of the degree of the offense, was the lesson I learned from this woman. I met this woman in a photo studio. She was proudly relating a story about her slapping a man in a crowded metro coach and getting away with it. Being the curious cat that I was, I egged her on to divulge more information to me. I learned that while the offenses may range from a guy looking at her in a ‘creepy’ manner, taking a selfie of her without her permission, to touching her in an inappropriate manner, her answer was always the same: tight slap on the guy’s cheek. Later on she admitted having slapped a guy even for no offense at all, much to the chagrin of her friends who were traveling with her. So much so that her friends advised her to travel only in the ladies coach to avoid undue trouble. If I could I would have named her the ‘The Slap Queen.’ My regret will be just one thing: I met Adaa Khan in the same studio but if only I had gifted her a wedding ring instead of a box of chocolates…for the first time I had met a woman who had true ladylike manners with zero arrogance (back then I used to encounter more she-males than females, I tell ya).

33. Woman #43: Talking to a woman can act like a double-edged sword; you may have heard that you can attract a woman by talking to her, asking her about her life story and all; what you may not know is that there is also something called ‘talking too much’ or ‘asking to many questions’ which can just as well kill any of the attraction you may have built. So don’t make the same mistake that I did. I met this hot woman at the airport and we talked and talked; at the end of it I knew more about her than the other way round; she also asked me ‘what is the use of knowing so much about me.’ We exchanged numbers but when I called her up a couple of days later she said ‘What business do you have with me?” I realized what I did and never dialed her number again.

34. Women #44 and #45: To someone who never got any emotional support from his mother, it comes as a nice surprise if a member of the opposite sex supports him. I would forever be indebted to these two healthy women for giving me a chance to perform at poetry open mics even though I was neither on the guest list nor a celebrity performer; the point is, they believed that my content was worth sharing, they believed in me, perhaps more than I believed in myself.

35. Woman #46: I was on my way to a screenwriting workshop, and as luck would have it, I encountered this female in an Uber cab who was on her way to do some CA studies. She was so concerned about social issues of the underprivileged and so full of ideas that I asked if I could have her number; any writer in the world knows about the proverbial ‘writer’s block’ when ideas simply stop coming your way and your pen or typewriter refuses to obey you. She refused, saying that she does not see herself as my ‘idea woman’ as she has a lot of work to do anyways; but she gave me one valuable lesson: there is no dearth of ideas, ideas are everywhere, but I am restricting myself and cutting the root of my creativity by prejudging whether an idea is saleable or not (all the time I was talking about how film producers prefer one type of concept over the other); that the only way to know if I can sell an idea or not is by actually going out there and selling it myself. She said: “Don’t cut the root of your creativity by restricting yourself.’ Common sense, but it came from someone who was 10 years younger than I am.

36. Woman #47: It won’t be fair if I don’t mention this girl who met me only for a day but offered me a tremendous amount of support and empathy while I was going through a very grueling NLP session of coughing out my inner demon; she encouraged me again online. Perhaps the funniest part of it all was: I did not really expect any support from her, due to her place of origin (where I had spent more than a year and had encountered more bad than good people).

One universal lesson I have learned from various women, directly and indirectly…I have forgotten their actual faces however I have not forgotten the lesson:

If a guy gets a woman who shits on him, it is the guy’s fault: either he is attracting bad women in his life because there is something wrong in his life that needs to be fixed first (the ‘fix’ can be a pill, motivational talk, gemstone, therapy, energy work, spell, anything that makes the ‘counselor’ some quick money) or he does not know how to ‘tame’ women properly (confidence issues, that is). If a man shits on a woman, sorry, it cannot be helped; after all, men are evil anyways! Either way, between everything that happens between a man and woman, at the end of the day if something goes wrong it is ALWAYS the guy’s fault. Girls are innocent. They are never at fault; they are always victims of evil men.

I don’t know about you, but I count both bad and good experiences of life as valid; I don’t believe in living in a state of denial and pretending that shit never happened to me, or living in a fantasy world where life is a bed of roses; after all we are supposed to learn valuable lessons both from our negative as well as positive experiences, else we won’t have had those experiences at all. In spite of everything I prefer the company of women over that of men and most of the time I do get along with women well. Given a choice I would prefer a meet up where 90% of the attendees are females (and it would be so nice if not all of them are married, pretty please), but that is like dreaming of the impossible in a patriarchal society.

And with that I will end it here.