Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Monday, September 24, 2012
Monday, November 08, 2010
Disclaimer: The reason why I am writing this is because I am being paid for it. I hereby declare I do not ever intend to hire the services of a gigolo.
Facebook has little charm for me left. Of course I am not including spying on profiles. I hardly ever check my Facebook inbox. It is perennially cluttered with unread messages from various groups I have joined just for the heck of it. But with more than 800 unread messages, I felt guilty about the clutter. I could sometimes imagine my mother scowling at me, “Clean it up now!” she grumbled. So one fine rainy day I decided to do a little spring cleaning and what do I find? A message from a man called Aah Ooh!
Now going by standard baby nomenclature, no mother would want to name her child after the noises she made while she was in labour – unless of course she had a ball screaming her lungs out. So I halted my ruthless mail deletion mission and started reading the rest of the mail.
“Hell .... O cuty. Greetingz. I am a Gigolo, so if someone in your circle is looking for the same … please let her inform. Looking forward to grab you there.” Below this introductory letter, Mr Aah Ooh he had listed out his chat IDs and cell numbers (all Delhi numbers). Inspired by the great Indian rope trick, Mr Aah Ooh’s professional name was ‘Greatindiangigolo’.
If it hadn’t been for a colleague of mine, I would have deleted the mail and resumed my inbox combing operation. “Do a story!” she said with her eyes twinkling. Women may never intend to hire the services of a gigolo but are always excited to know more about them and their female patrons (that is if they really exist). So I decided to explore this further.
I noted down the email IDs and blocked Mr Aah Ooh permanently from my Facebook. These were some necessary precautions I had to take. I created a new Gmail ID. My new name was Avantika Rathode. The name was my favourite as I had used it a long time back while I was writing a script for a film in college. My heroin Avantika Rathode was a serial husband killer, who married rich men, killed them and ran away with their money. Obviously the sequel would have her stinking rich, alone, bored and looking for excitement. She was called ‘avlooove’ in cyberspace.
Journos, back off
An excited avlooove then shot a crisp professional mail to Mr Aah Ooh. “Hi I saw your profile on Facebook. I wanna know more about your services.” There, I had written my first mail to a gigolo. As I looked snugly at the screen, a reply popped up. “If you are a journalist, looking for some story, I am really sorry as too many magazines have already published a lot about me. I communicate through sms which u can send anytime. Or else just drop me a mail. As of my services ... I don’t give oral”
How did this man know I am a journalist? I decided not to give up and I replied back; I praised him for his PR skills and assured him that I had nothing to do with newspapers. I said I couldn’t send him an SMS as I don’t give out my number to strangers and asked him if he could do a striptease at a party.
Sugar moms please
“Hmmm, he replied. “At the age of 39 don’t you think I am not so young to do striptease? Now I am only looking for few matured women to offer my services.”
He is 39! I gasped. Was he an out-of work gigolo trying hard to make money? “You are a little too old to be a gigolo. I thought only older women availed the services of young gigolos. Do you have any other job or are you a full time gigolo?” I tried to probe.
“Well, as per gigolo standards, you are free to say I am too old. But what I prefer to say is that I am XXXperienced! Itz not a question of being young or old, women prefer to hire my services because I know how to love and please women by all meanz.” He admitted that sex starved women prefer younger studs. “But not all women are sex starved... I satisfy them physically and mentally.” In this perform-or-perish world, there are gigolos talking about mental satisfaction... strange! Was he really a gigolo or was he just fooling around with women for his own satisfaction... I tried to find out. He might as well be a middle-aged, hen-pecked husband looking for some cyber-space thrill.
Gigolos – fact or fiction
I googled out ‘Gigolos Delhi and greatindiangigolo’ and found that he had advertised himself on various web portals. A few more google pages later I came across articles that said that well-educated men took to prostitutions because of the money that was being offered. But I still had my doubts whether rich aunties of Delhi really hire their services. They can get all this for free. “Historically I am not aware of women hiring the services of gigolos,” says Sudhir Kakar, psychoanalyst and writer. An Australian man once told me, “What Thailand is to men, India is to women. There’s plenty of sex available for them. And they don’t have to pay for it either.” With these points in my mind, I shot another mail enquiring about Mr Aah Ooh’s charges, the reason he was in this profession and the number of women he had ‘please by all meanz’.
Money for honey
“Right now, I’m not attending clients, as women are getting as much satisfaction from younger men without paying a fee.” My Australian friend was right, I thought. “ I am looking for some sugar momz only. I am in this profession simply coz I love to please women by all meanz. It is quite paying as I was getting up 5K + all XXXpences for first 24 Hourz and Mzximum 3 Roundz. As for as numbers may be 700+”
I did a quick arithmetic. Going by his rate, he would have extracted `35,00,000 from the 700 women he pleased. Quite unbelievable, I thought. By this time, I was quite tired of playing Avantika Rathode so I did not reply. A few days later he wrote again. “What happened? I was thinking of having a long and lonely walk with you on a hill in rain.”
Enough is enough
“Too much flash floods happening so it is not a good idea to walk on the hills.” I couldn’t think of anything better and almost spilled the beans. “You talk too much for a gigolo. I heard gigolos aren’t very good with words. I am not a sugar mom either... I am just 26. Are you still interested? If this is a prank please tell me.”
“I am too old to play games,” he sounded like a tired old hag. “It doesn’t matter if you are 26. I am not getting clients due to self-imposed restrictions... so why not? Any chance of SMS?” So now he was okay with 20-somethings! I decided to call him and end it for once and all.
The phone booth
I scouted for public telephone booths that could not be tracked to my home or workplace. I took the metro to Connaught Place and decided to call him from one of the paid telephones at the station. Out of the eight phones I tried, only one was in a working condition. So as per standard procedures, I picked up the phone strained my ear to hear the dialtone and put the coin and dialled the number. “Hello,” a voice called out from the other side. “You asked me to call you,” I said trying not to panic as two drunkards were hovering around me. And then without any notice, he hung up.
I was furious. I took all the pains to call a gigolo and he hung up on me! As the smell of alcohol from the goons became stronger by the second, I banged the receiver and lo... the one rupee coin I had inserted came out of the slot. It was lying there with another coin some poor guy had inserted and didn’t realise that it had come out. I quickly pocketed the two coins and walked off ignoring the goons who were muttering under their alcohol-loaded breaths. I was too elated with the two rupees I had earned just by talking to a ‘gigolo’ (if he was one)! Mr Aah Ooh can now only dream about the walk with avlooove.
Friday, January 09, 2009
This was the response to the fake profile I created on a dating website, Datingfunda.com: “Mandyji, Iam online and waiting 4 u,” said a desperate message from a guy called Krish (a 32-year-old software engineer from Bhopal, and NOT the superhero) onmy G-Talk. In my new cyber avatar, my name was Mandy, I was stinking rich, successful, single and I’dadded 15 years to my age. And in just a day as Mandy, I had become popular in cyberspace, like never before. Besides my profile on Datingfunda.com — a website that tops your searchresults, if you Google for “dating India” — I had also created a profile as Mandy Smith on Orkut.Within a few hours I was receiving responses from all over India. From 20-year-old rookies to old hands in their 40s, everyone wanted to be my ‘true friend’and have some fun with me. So much to choose from? Depends on how you look at it — some might argue that it’s not a happy choice that you get. Well, in my case, Krish wasone guy I zeroed on to. “Hi Mandy, I am waiting 4u. U r my true friend.”
True friend? Was he suggesting a previous-birth connection, I wondered? As far as I could remember, I had chatted with this guy for about one hour, the day before. And this is how he started: “Mandy I am married but I am not happy. Mandy I need true friend to share ourfeelings. Mandy r u ready forfriendship?” I guess I was amused by the way he kept on repeating my fake name —maybe I have developed astrong empathy towards women named Mandy.
“I was married too,” I said.“But I got divorced a few yearsago. Now I am happy, single and ready to mingle,” I replied cheerfully.“I thought so,” said Krish.“Tell me Mandy, why did youget divorced?” Now this was a tricky question. It is not an easy job for a 25-year-old woman, who has never been married, to cook up reasons for her divorce. “Well, it is a long story,” I said.
"Tell me ur story Mandy. I m ur true friend,” he said. No matter how true a friend he was, I knew he could not have helped me out. “Well, we didn’t really gel well and we decided to call it off,” short sweet and crisp… this was the perfect reply I could have thought of. “But I am running a successful chain of boutiques here in Delhi and I am pretty content with my life. So what’s your story?” I asked. After all it should be a fair deal. I had literally described my entire life, albeit fake one, in a nutshell.
"Mandy you are interested on friendship or only time pass,” he said. Wow! Could this man really read minds? “Of course, I am looking for a meaningful friendship here. Tell me what’s bothering you?” I tried my best to further the conversation.“Mandy I am touching person,”he said. I wondered what he was touching and I didn’t letmy imagination run too wild. Obviously, this man was grammatically-challenged.
“Mandy I need friend who give right advices and where I have no hesitate to share our personal feeling,” he said and then he went on and on. All I could dowas reply in monosyllables. He asked me for my contact number and when I said I needed to know him better, hesaid, “Mandy give your mail address where I mail.” Krish was chatting with me through my email. I drew my conclusion:this man wasn’t just grammaticallychallenged but was also technologically illiterate. Yet he claimed to be a software engineer, who, during our brief conversation learned that he was nominated as the IT head in his company. “In my point of view your friendship is so lucky forme thanks.” But it is a headache for me. Sorry Krish!
For a single woman, it is a tough job to find the perfectman. And if it is the Internet she is turning to, it is a disaster. “I keep away from these dating websites. They are shady and sleazy. Online dating in India isjust not an option for a woman these days,” says 25-year-old Aparajita Kumar, social researcher who is single but not readyto mingle with just anyone. “I have profiles on Orkut and Facebook and I chat only with peopleI know. In fact, now I am fed up of these sites as well. Internet is definitely not the place forme to socialise,” says Kumar. So what does a single woman in Delhi do to get herself a new boyfriend? “Tell me if you know,” she says. “It is difficult, and finally youjust have to end up with theman your parents have selectedfor you.” Aparajita definitely doesn’t seem to be a You’ve Got Mail fan.
Arjun Madan, a medical student, meanwhile, has vowed to “teach alesson to those who have no respect for women”. And how? “It’s easy — I made a fake profile on Orkut and chat with men who try to hit on me. Later, I let them know I am a man.”Madan refuses to divulge the name of his feminine cyber avatar.
“I don’t want to reveal itand reduce my clientele,” he smiles. “It is fun to see how people drool over a woman onthe Internet,” says Madan.“There is a man whom I have barely talked to, but he misses me already. Every day I get scraps from him reading: ‘Baby I miss you. Where are you?’,” he says.
Now, even I have myown collection of lousy scraps that scream out in desperation.Francis, a 37-year-oldmarried businessman, was rather a little too ecstatic for my comfort when he learned that I was “one of those gifted women”. I had to take sometime in explaining what ‘gifted’really meant.And when I told him that I was wearing a black sari, he nearly fainted.
“Black saris are a favourite among men. They keep fantasising about it. But the factis that none of these men everget anything,” says Madan, who claims to have culled all this information from books on the male psyche. “Men always think of one thing and that is sex.”But Francis claimed he was different. His hobbies were,“music... friends”, and after along pause ‘sex’. And when Iasked him, “Sex? With your wife or someone else?” he said.“With my wife, of course.”Now here was a man whose hobbies included having sex with his wife, but drooled over women in black saris over the Internet.
And then came the icing on the cake -- a from the UK who was willing to pay me 850 pounds per week alongwith a monthly shopping allowance as well as accommodation, if I joined him and his two beautiful daughters in the UK. Though he was sorry to have contacted me this way, he seemed to have found the perfect housekeeper in me. Talk about taking quick decisions!
I checked again… was it still adating website or a classified for hiring housekeepers.
Anyway, I still have time torespond to this guy. But somehow, he’s helped me make upmy mind on never logging on to this website again.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
"I have it every month you know," he continued. I looked into his eyes and the conviction in them made me believe that he must be marking his calendar. And I was right. "My date is 28 th of every month," he said. "What's yours?" he asked with child-like innocence.
Now this was no giggly girl talk. I got suspicious. This was the perfect way to get close to a woman. All a woman needs is a man who understands her. And a man who claims that he has PMS, and that he knows what a woman has to undergo during that period, is like the sapno ka rajkumar for every woman.
"What are you getting at?" I asked him suspiciously. I knew no man would ever admit that even he is prone to psychotic mood swings. Nothing in the world would make me reveal the details of my reproductive system to a testosterone-fuelled beast. "You really think I'll believe you? No matter what you say I am not going to tell you about my date," I warned.
His face drooped. He looked like the street mongrel that had been denied food. "It is the truth. I do have my PMS and I am having it right now!" he cried. I would not have believed him until … "Sister F*****," he spat, looking out of the window. It made me jump out of my skin. "Who the f*** has given them a license?" He hurled a slew of MC-BC abuses to the man who overtook his car from the wrong side. The man was obviously oblivious to my friend's wrath.
So was it a part of his PMS? I thought. Maybe not... All men are in a bad mood when they are driving. "Someone ought to kill these people. How can anyone call this place the national capital?" he said. "All I need is a gas chamber."
There… he said it. Did Hitler have PMS too? Was the World War II a resultant of Hitler's PMS? Hitler surely did not have PMS… but he was one crazy man. I let my thoughts wander. I thought about Hitler and how he must have kept track of his monthly cycle. I don't think he did a good job. It is better suited for a woman, I concluded. By that time my cave-man-like friend had pacified.
"Do you want to go for a movie?" he asked. I had not seen one for a while. I agreed. But I wasn't really destined to watch a movie. This, I should have understood the moment we entered the theatre complex. It looked as if all the Dilliwaalahs had descended at the theatre. A long queue outside the counter made things worse.
My friend decided not to stand in the queue. I braved the crowd and joined the gang of 'uncivilised' people who like standing in queues. My friend was chivalrous enough to stand beside me. "Is it the night before a holocaust or something? Is today the last day of their life? Why is this place crowded? I don't think I deserve to live among all these people. I think I should go to the Himalayas," he kept on muttering under his breath.
"You know you don't really need to stand here. Go sit somewhere. I'll be back with the tickets," I said. I should have known that this was probably the biggest mistake of my life.
"Then you'll say you had to do all the work. Does anyone care about how much I work? I am doing a thankless job. I never get credit for my work in office. I am under-paid and over-worked. But does that bother anyone?" He walked off. I followed him. My dear friend was having his PMS and I knew exactly what to do.
"Chocolate?" I held out a piece of Toblerone for him. He took it from me. His eyes welled with gratitude. He was about to cry. But he didn't. "I think we should go back now. I will be okay after a few days," he said as he gobbled up his chocolate and took another piece.
I was confused. I went back home and asked my father. "Do you feel cranky during a particular time of the month?" I asked."Yes… the 28th," he said grimly. "Your mother finishes off all my hard-earned money by that time." Ah! I think I got a clue.
Friday, May 04, 2007
I really really wish that this paper does not reach my prospective husband. Not that I don’t want my newspaper to sell (no way… it’s my bread and butter), but I just don’t want him to know about my evil plans in advance.
After 10 years of marriage, I am planning to hire a detective agency to keep an eye on him. Boy! Wouldn’t it be fun to catch him red-handed, hanky-pankying with that stupid bimbette? Aah! The joys of a bad marriage!
Being far-sighted is not a bad idea at all. Though I may not have a very satisfying answer for my next employer, when he asks me that ‘how-I-see-myself-five-years-from-now’ question, I definitely know what my life would be after ten years of marriage.
So I have already talked to a few detective agencies in advance. And believe me, it was not that difficult.
For me, the magic number is 22222222. Just Dial has always been my oracle for digging out phone numbers. They virtually have everyone’s number except Santa Clause’s
(I had asked for his number when I was 12). I called them up and asked for phone numbers a few detective agency’s in the city.
“Ma’am what kind of detective agency are you looking for?” cooed a chirpy voice from the other side.
I was surprised. “They even have different kinds of detective agencies?” I asked.
“Ma’am, detective agencies offer different services. What kind of a service are you looking for?” she chirped again.
Now, that was a difficult question. I simply couldn’t tell her that I was looking for a detective to spy on my husband, who by-the-way, is still happily unmarried and doesn’t even know me. And yes, I would hire them after twelve years.
“Can you just tell me the services they are offering?” I asked.
“Ma’am there are agencies that specialise in frauds, corporate frauds, cyber crimes, marital discords…”
“Marital discords,” I cut her short. “Yes that’s what I exactly want. What are the numbers?”
The chirpy voice told me that I would shortly receive an instant SMS with this information. And so it happened. Soon I received an SMS with all the phone numbers. Long live Just Dial!
They sent me a list of seven numbers. And I chose the ones with the most interesting names. Morpheus Detectives was my first choice. I kept calling but the phone was busy. So I chose to call the agency with the second-most interesting name: Fireball. The concerned person at this agency was a woman called Sunita. I imagined her to be someone like Mata Hari and excitedly dialed her number. Alas! It was switched off.
I was third time lucky. The investigator Gautam Kumar of the third agency, C Three India Detectives, answered the call (and my prayers). And I decided to get down to business. I told him I wanted a detective who could keep an eye on my husband.
“You see I am working in a multinational company and I hardly get to spend time with my husband and on weekends when I finally have the time, he flies off to Mumbai on the pretext of some official work. But you tell me, can anyone afford to work during every weekend?”
“Hmm,” he said understandingly.
“And this has been happening for over six months. I think he is having an affair,” I literally sobbed. “Can you help me out?”
“Yes, madam, the best way to do this is through physical surveillance,” he replied graciously and furnished me with his charges.
The Calculative Wife
Infidelity is easy but a fidelity check is costly. A fidelity check is the technical word for keeping an eye on a cheating spouse. A physical surveillance would cost me Rs 3,500 per day and if my detective had spy on my unfaithful husband after nine then his rates would shoot up like the autowaalahs of Delhi. “If we have to follow him after 9 p.m., we will charge you at a rate of Rs 460 per hour,” Kumar informed.
“And if you had to follow him after midnight?” I asked.
“Then we’ll charge Rs 4,500 for entire night,” he enlightened me.
He told me that if had to follow my husband to Mumbai, then his rates would go up to Rs 5,500 per day and that does not include his air fare and accommodation.
As soon as I hung up I took out my calculator and worked out my budget. I finally arrived at his conclusion: A 24-hour physical surveillance for five days in Delhi would cost me Rs 40,000 and if my spy follows him to Mumbai the next two days, it would go up to Rs 11,000 more which amounts to a total of Rs 51,000 (not including the air fare and accommodation).
With an inflation rate that’s currently above six per cent, I can imagine how much I have to pay after 12 years. But wives who are from well-to-do families and are working in big companies don’t mind shelling out this amount of money.
“More and more wives are coming to us with such cases. In fact, 60 per cent of fidelity check cases are lodged by women,” said Sanjeev Kumar from BLS Detectives, whom I had called as a journalist to get the real stats.
Money problems don’t worry me. I would get reimbursed with the fat alimony that I’ll receive after I file a divorce against my husband on the grounds of infidelity. I may become a rich divorcee some day. Amen!
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Running? Did she just say the word R-U-N-N-I-N-G? Oh yes I had forgot, we are at the Hutch Marathon and no part of my body except my nose is running. But if a marathon means dragging ones feet along with the crowd with your arms and face buried under layers of sunscreen lotion, (which eventually wears off with the sweat) then, yes, technically speaking, we are running.
The three-kilometer mark takes me down the memory lane… to 7.37 am of the same morning. “Aaaaachhhhhu,” I sneezed just when I was about to get out of my house. I realised I made the biggest mistake of my life. The sneeze triggered a torrent of oohs and aahs. “Oh my poor baby… you sneezed… you’re not going for any run-shun. This is bad omen.”… I tried to protest … “No darling… you sneezed after all. Ok just sit for sometime and then go.” I protested again… “SIT” and I obediently sit for exactly six and a half seconds and then barge out again with another “Aaaaachhhhhu” followed by another scary, earth-shaking “Aaaaachhhhhu” that completely demeaned my mother’s screams.
Now after two hours and 21 minutes, I am wishing I had listened to my mother. But then, yeh hai Dilli meri jaan... and despite all superstitions… Delhi is running.
“You know we can always back out,” my friend wisely says as I sneeze out my 23rd sneeze of the day. She points at a couple of ‘desi-turned-mod auntyjis’ who were back-tracking from the other side of the road. For a moment I am forced to think that it is the best idea to ever have cropped up on the face of earth. But then the athlete inside me suddenly springs into action… No way… I am not a loser… and with a fire in my eyes, I start running. My friend follows me. About half a kilometer later, we reach the four-kilometer mark... the athlete inside me has had her seven-minutes of fame and is now looking for an auto-rikshaw on the other side of the road.
“We should have got a camera,” says my friend breathlessly as I cling to the lamppost to regain my breath. I look at her blankly… I think she gets the hint and shuts up automatically. We cross the road and reach the other side of the road. An auto stops. A paan-chewing autowaalah pops out. “Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium chaloge?” I ask. “Phiphty Rupees madam,” he says promptly. Before I can respond he drives away. I give up. I look at the other side of the road… people were still running.
Despite the autowaalahs… Delhi is running.
After the four-kilometer mark, I realise that the run isn’t that bad. My friend is busy talking about her latest crush. Just then I hear people shouting slogans. “Nahi chalegi nahi chalegi, Dengue –gardi nahi chalegi” I see an army of bankers from Standard Chartered marching towards us with a gigantic cardboard Baygon spray and an even more gigantic mosquito. “That’s a good idea… even we should have thought of something,” my friend interrupts. Idea? She’s talking about ideas… and all I can think of now is Odomos. The killer mosquito bites in the morning and I am wearing half sleeves without a drop of Odomos on my body! What if there is an Aedes aegypti casting an evil eye on me from some open manhole? “Nahi chalegi nahi chalegi, Dengue –gardi nahi chalegi” I repeat after them. For a moment I find some solace in those slogans… and then I walk on.
Despite dengue… Delhi is running.
The crush talks continue. I collect water-bottles from the Kingfisher stalls and stuff then into my little marathon pouch. I drink the water, spit it out, splash it on my face and then throw the bottle on the roadside… “I am a real athlete,” I say to myself as I throw away another bottle. A kid of about six quickly picks up the empty bottle and stuffs it into a big jute bag. Something strikes me. “Wasn’t child labour completely banned in India?” says the activist-cum-journalist inside me. I ask the kid, how much he’s getting for doing the job. “Do sau rupaye de raha hai wo uncle,” he says enthusiastically. I am taken aback by his enthusiasm. There goes my first investigative story. Still I try. “Kaunsa uncle?” I ask. The urchin runs away… just like all the other people in the crowd.
Despite child labour … Delhi is running.
We were now nearing the six-kilometer mark. The crush talks have ceased, all we can think of now is to reach the stadium as soon as possible and get some breakfast. All I had since morning were two cups of Maggi tomato soup. Helicopters are hovering us with cameras. “Can’t we get a lift in one of those?” whines my friend.
“Kyu baby lift karu kya?” echoes a voice from nowhere. Wow… is that an Akashwani? This really works. The Akashwani is followed by a prolonged flying-kiss. I see a couple of ‘roadside king Khan wannabes’ on an auto showing their teeth. If they think they are making an offer I can’t refuse, then they are sadly mistaken. I ask them lift their respective mothers and sisters instead. They scoot off … and Delhi runs. Despite these flattering eve-teasers… Delhi is running.
Now I am on the last leg of my ‘run’. Should I start running now? If despite everything Delhi is running, then why can’t I? Are a bad headache, a running nose and a flurry of sneezes, that big a hindrance? If Delhi can run despite high-headed autowalahs, child labourers, dengue, rowdy buses, flattering eve-teasers… then why can’t I? So I run. I run for Delhi… just that my run is in slow motion.