Relationships are fine, if you’re into sober sex .

I think the trouble really started when the first man encountered the first woman on Earth. It led to a kind of a hunger; a hunger for what isn’t known, for what could be seemingly owned, like stumbling across your own private discovery, your own personal mission, careless of consequences and driven my primal instincts. Hunger that’s bred madmen, hunger that’s created works of art, hunger that has been disguised as love, despair, peace, humiliation, power. Hunger that’s metamorphosed into ambitions, into wars, into the creation and destruction of empires. Hunger, that since, has wounded & healed – its assault unforgiving, its hold intoxicating, and its understanding?

Well, its understanding negligible. Especially, for my generation.

Not that I’m arrogant enough to proclaim that I speak for an entire generation (not in writing, in any case) when I say this but how many times have you sneakily opened that article on thoughtcatalogue that talks about ’10 ways to decode what he meant when he sent you a blank text,’ to checking whose picture has he just liked on Facebook, to his ‘last seen’ on Whatsapp, to the minutiae of ‘the number of times he looked straight at you when you met last,’ to should you text first, to ‘does that sound like a 3 am booty call?’ to ‘maybe I just want to cuddle tonight.’
You get my drift.

 

There’s a special language of our own we’ve created when it comes to our 21st Century relationships. Fast, satiating, easy, cruising in this driveway today, parked in another town the next. Prisoners of the next attraction. Less talk, more action. Chasing something that always remains slightly out of reach; romanticizing the idea of a life always ready with an ‘exit route.’ We like our transactions quick, and our relationships quicker. The move onto bigger, better, slicker, faster – it’s the ambitions we’ve internalized, one eye on the prize, the other on the clock, and the next you know you’re 30 and married since there is little else left to do (I could be jumping the gun on this belief but let’s pass it off as creative license).

 

It’s almost a collective conscience: casual sex. God, I despise that term. Not because of what it represents; but because of what connotations its attendant cause & effects carry. Half the crowd in & around my age is involved in some version of a ‘sex on weekends/talk no more than twice a week/out the door before the condom comes off’ setup. The expectations clear, the boundaries defined & the feelings in check. That’s not to say the corollary to this doesn’t exist. The ones who settle in the first comfortable mould, the first promise of security, what is man but a creature of habit.

 

My contention is not the concept in itself; but the distortion of it that we’ve managed to achieve in our minds. Where we’re passing off human connection for a fleeting moment of passion, conversation for the fear of having said too much, scavenging hope for cynicism, waiting on that phone call instead of texting yourself. Why are we collectively so afraid of our own longing? Why are we so wrapped around in our own denial? How do we expect commitment without honouring it ourselves?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for a run-in at the local bar, or the exhilaration of a night where names needn’t be exchanged, or the convenience of a no-strings attached booty call when the liquor runs out, as does the talk credit on your phone, hell, desire is a tricky thing. But, the next time somebody calls me up to talk to me about the breakfast habits of their “casual fling,” excuse me while I tune out.

Disturbed 

Of choices .

Just as I decided to leave behind a world that I’ve let swallow me the past three years, mostly tired of turning human emotion into fiscal profit, resurfacing from a self-decided exile & forcing myself to sit up and take notice, I got a phone call.

You know, that reverie you lose yourself into at every long red light (unless, of course, you use that time to make the kind of phone calls that only truly warrant time in-between traffic jams), or unless you’re Snapchat-ing the “on the way to work” selfie, or vscocaming the indents of the car’s bumper in front of you, you’d be familiar with the kind of reverie I’m talking about.

The questions that go to & fro in your head are deep enough to be shallow, and you’re hardly smart before your morning coffee to know the difference. Did you really switch all the lights off? Does this shade of lipstick even really suit you? How much more could you possibly dumb down the idea you’re pitching today for your boss? You should really trash that Shobhaa De, and pick up the Manto you picked up one Sunday afternoon at Khan. Where could you afford happy hours tonight? You should probably get down to updating your Linkedin; lying untouched in the dusty corners of the corporate paraphernalia. And, why again, you were you paying 12/- a cigarette? And, so on and so forth. Before, you are hustled mercilessly back into the grind of getting to work at a respectable time.
Dignity, intact, if not your kajal.

But, anyway, back to the phone call. So, well, I’d recently, finally, blessedly managed to quit my job, to get back to writing full-time & I get a call for an interview at Weiden Kennedy.
Now, as any self-respecting 22 year old kid worth his Ogilvy on Advertising would know, this is a moment most have spent fantasizing of during brainstorming sessions they’ve only learnt too well to pretend to enjoy. The briefs from London, the creative license that goes beyond the number of variations you could possibly add to your Starbucks cuppa (assuming you can presently, one year down in advertising, afford one. In which case, let’s be friends?), an opportunity to be around conversation that goes beyond the best “one-liner shayyari” on the radio today, and well, needless to say, it’s a fairly exciting proposition (toning down excitement for the sake of propriety is also an occupational hazard, as I’m beginning to realize). Anyway, the short exchange that concluded in a to-be meeting for to-be work for to-be glory left me confused. Again.

It had only taken me three years, to finally get back to doing what I always wanted to. And, all it took was a 3 minute conversation to have me rethinking, rehashing, a doubt per cigarette I smoked. Does that happen to you lot often? Intense, unbelievably, crippling indecision. And, no, I’m not just talking blueberry cheesecake or lemon, the flyover or the underpass. No.

I’m talking Bentley convertibles vs. Independence, chasing what seem like castles in the sky vs. that pretty paycheque. I’m talking college canteen love vs. French boys with delicate accents and unassuming smiles. I’m talking that Film Noir course post work in the evenings vs. the drinks with colleague/buddies/confidantes/universe post work everyday. I’m talking that play you debated auditioning for vs. the afternoon you spent recovering from the previous night’s hangover. I’m talking choices. Choices that force us to make decisions.

Wise, stupid, reckless, measured, hasty, drunken, stoned, sober, lost, in denial, aware, determined, blind, selfish, selfless decisions.

Constant ebb & flow of choices. I, for one, would rather navigate through Chawri Bazaar on a Dilli June afternoon on foot, than really have to make these constant, split-second, long-hauled, decisions. The latent need to know that the decision you made was ‘right,’ or maybe the awareness that temptation was a flighty mistress, or maybe just the bare need to shrug off responsibility. Because, at least for me, that’s what it really boiled down to – taking the onus for these decisions: right or wrong, independent or influenced, original or imitated.

By the evening, I was in, as a good friend likes to put it, “a fair bit of a tizzy.” Indecision, had yet again, lulled me into a very familiar space. Would it be the hallowed halls of Weiden Kennedy or the push & shove of a writer on the revival? The answer was sort of obvious to me all through – but what really drove the point home was the immediate need to pen this down as I got home. It’s silly, almost, in retrospect. But that being said, it’s also a very stubborn, individualistic experience. Maybe some of you are still out there; covering your indecision beneath a veneer of practiced indifference. And, I for one, don’t hold that against you. After all, it took you years to get there. But, if the last thing you think of while getting to bed, isn’t what you’re going to be chasing first thing in the morning?
Well, fuck.