Monthly Archives: April 2011

The art of the fine flirt

There are countless articles about how to become the most fantastic flirt in the kingdom of flirtdom and bat your eyelids and mirror actions until the night becomes a haze of heady lust and zinging signals.

So I’m not going to make this another one. Namely because I am in need of Freddy the Flirting Fountain of Knowledge to impart his (or her) wisdom to me.

My flirting technique has not so much evolved as mutated into separate phases; each is a unique and amorphous life form. Some are higher life forms than others but all are strange and slightly wrong in their own right. I went through a phase where I was the ballsy, brazen flirt who went out for what I wanted and goddamnit I got it. But that doesn’t really work because inevitably the guys that are attracted to this flirt want a woman who will carry on dominating them and bossing them around when really I wanted to play with their ears and read Jughead comics while eating vanilla ice cream in bed.

Sometimes I go the complete opposite direction and do the total antithesis of flirting. Pay attention, if I really like you this is what I’ll do. I’ll start talking about my diet plan or the weird fungus that’s growing out of left toe for no real reason other than that my mind has convinced me that flirting with this particular man is so out of the question as he is so utterly unattainable that I should firmly instate him as a eunuch-like friend by telling him all the things that were wrong with my ex and the detailed reaction my body has to Senakot.

Recently my flirting has taken on a new life form. Faced with the latest victim/bachelor, I became The Giggling, Blushing Maiden Woman. I don’t know who this woman is, usually the one I’m sneering at from behind my black double espresso. It all started when I knocked over a rack of lollypops while talking to him in a shop (yes, really) and since then I’ve found myself, to my horror, tittering and looking down and even using my hand to cover my bashful smile in his presence. Unsurprisingly this particular tactic is most likely to provoke a favourable response in men.

But really none of this is my fault. It’s the men who are bringing out the bogus flirt in me – a quality flirt needs a quality man for inspiration, like a beautiful work of art and its admirable muse who made it happen. So until my muse comes, I’ll keep stumbling out inappropriate jokes about mothers, talking about my recent bout of athlete’s foot and twiddling my hair around my finger coyly. It worked for Minnie Mouse…the last one, I mean.

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Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


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If you’re happy and you know it…

There’s a saying about happiness. It goes: Happiness is the man who was looking for his hat and found that it was on his head all along.

When I first heard it, it made my heart soften and go ‘aaah’ but then a sort of alarm took over. Because it was suddenly clear that the happiness I got out of hoping, praying, wishing things will be better in the future was in itself deep unhappiness.

The suggestion that happiness is in the here and now seems like a Mount Everest challenge to concentrate and find happiness in the present moment. Where is it? Is it here now? Then why is my heart squashed and crumpled with fear and anxiety – is there happiness in letting go of this? Can I really let go of all my ‘If only’s’ and wistful gazes away and embrace my warty, imperfect present happiness?

David Cameron et al are currently prancing about the idea of a Happiness Index  whereby Britain’s level of happiness is measured in some wooly way involving voluntary groups, reiterations of the words ‘Big Society’ and lots of clapping and meetings in church halls or whatever.

My efforts would certainly add a smile to Cameron’s red, elasticated face because I’ve been fulfilling his credo of becoming an upright citizen by volunteering and throwing myself into the harangue – I’ve signed myself up for various things of late, including the role of voluntary Development Ambassador which sounds great but I’m not entirely sure what it actually means. I think I’ve also signed up for some sort of assistant cake maker role, which could have been one of those spur-of-the-moment-when-slightly-inebriated decisions since the closest I’ve come to making a cake was when I accidentally left my trainers next to the radiator for two months. The reason I’m doing this malarkey is because I’m making an effort to become happier – the thing is it hasn’t quite worked yet.

I stunned myself when I asked that question and forced myself to be frank. Are you happy? I asked. ‘No” was the immediate and unfaltering answer. I didn’t even have to think about it. Frickin’ hell, I thought. This is worse than previously assumed. But hey, my brain reasons, you’ve had a rough time of it of late, it’s ok to be unhappy. Work isn’t great. My love life is like a drunk driver on the M25 taking random swerves, having near misses and periodically ramming into stationary objects with the airbag having long given up trying. I suppose since coming back from my travels in India, life in England feels like a long, stale fart – an anticlimax, an act of simply treading water.

Don’t we just love finding comfort and salvation in our unhappiness. It’s like a smelly blanket we wrap around ourselves, pretending to complain but really loving the scratchy feel against our skin, because it’s something. It’s there, it’s tangible and we can touch it. Unhappiness is always attainable. Happiness- well there’s the effort. There’s the change in the way of thinking, feeling, being.

I still don’t know how to answer the question about happiness. But I feel it inside me. I know it’s there because it is the delicious mischief of this world. As long as you can still smile at two pigeons having a little domestic on the pavement or at the evening sky that makes you stop in your tracks on the way home or how your sweet pancakes have somehow ended up tasting of anchovies, you can see the universe that is behind our small lives, that is not taking life as seriously as we are. And when you suddenly come right into tune with that energy, well then you are right in the music.

That’s when I know that it’s there all along. It is the invisible hat and it is resisting the wind, no matter how much of a hurricane my mind is conjuring up.

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Posted by on April 17, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Girls not on top for India

There’s been a lot of talk lately about India and it’s worrying sex ratio with men significantly outnumbering women and reportedly the chance that there could be 20% more men to women in the next two decades. That is a pretty scary figure and yet more proof that India, while racing ahead in many other aspects, remains sadly lagging behind when it comes to the way men and women are viewed. That was apparent to me not only as a woman travelling alone in India but from meeting other women there and it isn’t limited to disturbing sex-selective abortions but is there, spread in everyday life like an invisible yet smelly film over everything.

Of course I’ll be the first to acknowledge that men and women are viewed differently in all countries and we are not living in a rosy utopia of equality in the UK. But what struck me when I told Indian women that I was travelling alone was their sheer incredulity that I had embarked upon this journey. More than one girl said, “Here in India we don’t do that kind of thing.” Well I’m Indian too. “No, you’re not”, they’d say back to me. The girls I spoke to were slightly admiring yet mainly determined that they would not undertake such a journey alone. And these were not wide-eyed village girls but cafe latte-sipping, working urbanites.

This isn’t an uncommon fear – travelling alone is daunting for anyone and certainly wasn’t always a cup of tea for me – but it was the resigned acknowledgement that that was the way things were that I remembered. It was the accepted ‘Things will not change when it comes to deciding what women can and can’t do’.

Yes Western women are just as shackled to these ideas, being dragged along by their high heeled shoes in an imbalanced, hysterical, beauty-clutching, marriage-obsessed world. But the more ingrained nature of family values on the young people of India leaves a certain mark which is less in British society. The closeness of families in India leaves less room for traditional ideals to slip through and get forgotten or neglected – the ideas stick and breathe in the everyday air and become a part of their fibres.

This can be a good or bad thing but it is just part of our being more (when I say ‘our’, I speak as an Indian living in Britain, also living in these tight-knit ideas) because family has always been a more inherent part of Indian culture. And it is a good AND a bad thing because it keeps us close but also keeps those old ideas stagnant, stale and ever-present, withstanding the passing mini whirlwinds of modern technology, career and education. There is nowhere for these old-fashioned, gender-skewed ideas to go so they remain and get passed on through generations.

So unless there is a throwing down of the old concepts and a dusting off of these moth-eaten rugs we will remain entrenched in what we can and can’t do. Being entrenched in that, along with all else that comes with being a woman these days, can keep those invisible barriers creeping up towards you until they are pressed up against your nose and you are gladly sitting on the other side.


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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Uncategorized


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