Friday, July 01, 2005

Looking for company?

I’m a very weird person. I’ve figured. Most people go to a pub or a nightclub or a disco to let their hair down, to destress, to drink, to smoke, to listen to good music, to dance, and to catch up with friends. I do too, but sometimes I observe. Last night I was at Hawaiian Shack, this little cozy shack-like pub in Bandra, where rock and soft rock rule. It’s packed most days of the week -- never go on a Saturday though, the joke is it’s worse than a Virar local -- with office going youngsters (yes it’s quite reasonable) downing beer and screaming their lungs singing Just another brick in the wall or Pour some sugar on me. So anyway I’m there with friends and I look around me and immediately I sense the same vibe. The same vibe that had come as a bit of a surprise, culture shock if you may, when I visited Mumbai last August (after a gap of nearly 20 years). After just a few minutes in the same pub, seated on one of the high stools, I mentioned to my husband that Mumbai is a pretty lonely city. I had no idea then that I’d be living her so soon after that trip and would have enough time to socially observe people at length and leisure. He wanted to know how and why I’d made that assumption sipping on beer at Hawaiian Shack. So I told him that everywhere I looked I could see people looking around, scanning, no not leching, not mentally undressing you (that is one of the differences between Delhi and Mumbai yes) but just scanning. Waiting to make eye contact. Some eyes were shifty, some were steadfast but a lot of eyes had a purpose, a mission, and loneliness. Looking for company, for a friend, probably more than a friend.
So last night I felt the same vibe, the same ‘checking out’ scanning vibe. So I gave my little gyan to my friend and of course he promptly asked me why I was scanning the room then. “By your analogy, you’re lonely,”. I told him I wasn’t, I was being scanned. That was a joke of course. But honestly I was really looking to see if my assumption was true. Was it? Is it? Any thoughts? Anyone?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post set me thinking.
Loneliness is a common urban phenomenon and I dare say,afflicts even the happily married.It is natural to "check out" and "scan" strangers in a crowd seeking to bond with a face or even a glance.
I am sure the pub-goer in Delhi feels the same sense of loneliness as his Mumbai counterpart. But he somehow comes across as a sexually frustrated male out to mentally undress every girl.His Mumbai counterpart does seem more decent and the environment inside a crowded Mumbai pub is likely to be safer for a woman.
And the loneliness's my slightly "off-beat" take on this :Life is a struggle in Mumbai even for the well-to-do.The mad rush and the traffic does leave you stressed and at the end of the day when you go to pub you are so drained that all you want to do is relax in peace, be left to yourself and let others be. In such a situation ogling and "mentally undressing" women is the last thing on your mind.Not so for the hot-blooded Delhi male who has had a fun day and is all set for some"fun" at night.
Does the above sound too far-fetched...guess it does :)

01 July, 2005  
Blogger writer-in-egg-style said...

The scanner exists. Wisen up to it, but don't let it bother you.

Bombay is a place I've seen a fully grown senior exec yelling "oooh, mummmmy!" (having suffered hobblement on account of a twisted ankle) to intersperse a cool discussion on mastering business administration. He was not in the least self-conscious.

Outrageous means of self-expression? Think n think again. And be cool.

02 July, 2005  
Blogger Yours Truly...Conman said...

For a second I thought you were talking about me...
You WERE talking about me.
A crowded pub... I see couples everywhere, friends, strangers meeting for the first time, a huge group, some of them faking a smile, some staring, people dancing, singing along. There's rock playing.
People come up to shake my hand, some say hi, they've seen me there regularly. They know my name.
With a beer in my hand, I sink into the music, shut myself to the crowd, move, but my eyes are open. They're restless, searching, for anyone, anybody, you never know. Today could be the day. My search might come to an end. You never know.
I have people all around me, they start a conversation, i respond. The conversation ends soon. They try to make their point, I agree to theirs. They're happy. They achieved something.
The party's over.
But tomorrow, will be another day. You never know. The search might come to an end.
What am I searching for?
I don't know.
Tomorrow is another day. Maybe tomorrow, I'll find out.

02 July, 2005  
Blogger Chez said...


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03 July, 2005  
Blogger GSB said...

OK, for starters, I don't usually respond to comments because comments are meant to be just that, comments, and I don't think they warrant full-fledged conversations. Secondly most are just points of view and rhetorical really, not requiring answers. But this time is different, and since I did ask for thoughts and have received some rather interesting ones, I do want to take this post a step further.
So, to anonymous: your off beat take is not far-fetched but is I think a bit simplistic. What you are saying could be one of the reasons but not the only reason. having lived in both cities, I do agree that daily life in Mumbai is a bit of a striggled even for the well-heeled but let me tell you they don't think of it thatw ay one bit. If they did, they would not swear by the city and continue to live here and love it. Tiredness, at one level, is a state of mind. And I think outsiders like me face it more. They go through the same grind and yet they are out partying, eating much more than any other city. In delhi, the roads are cleaner but public transport is a pain. so unless you have your own car it's quite a struggle. Touts, setting up home,vc allign for gas etc, gettign a phoen connection, these are all nightmarish experiences in Delhi, but living in Mumbai is far easier and it is a relatively less corrupt city as well. And safer. Which is why I feel it draws many more single people to it, and people who have higher demands from life, higher aspirations and people who are not ready to compromise. They will brave the rain the roads but they will not compromise when it comes to their life. They guard their weekends zealously, mumbaikars are more loathe to work on weekends that Delhiites. They don't even wnat to show you their house for renting on a weekend! The lines between colleagues and friends blur in Delhi much faster; in Mumbai freidns and circles are guarded, even though people have less hang ups in mixing around with strangers. So in some sense, yes all of this contributes to the radar, the scanner being on. In Delhi it's just not a nice vibe, it's a very 'I want to get into your pants vibe' (maybe the jaat heartlands surrounding Delhi lend their mentality to the capital as well), here it's more like 'let's get to know each other' vibe. Of course the ulterior motive in both cases may or may not be the same.
Hey Conman: nice comment. may your search yield results soon!

04 July, 2005  
Blogger writer-in-egg-style said...

Celebs, frinstance, are under the scanner in a benign sort of way... even in 'nonchalance' mode, they get vibed like crazy. So, drop modesty awhile: public response may have to do with your own charisma more than their psychic state (purposeful, missionary... whatever).

Another couple of points: Delhi's freedom/lack-thereof is also a matter of what you make of it. You can feel your wrist car-cuffed even if you don't wear bangles, and your ankle cubicle-cuffed even if you wear the most bewitchingly unworklike shoes, but it's still how you feel that matters (so long as nobody dares mess with your free space).

04 July, 2005  
Anonymous unmuggle-repositioned said...

"Thrice to thine n thrice to hine,
And thrice agine to make up nine."

Weird? Tis all in the head.

04 July, 2005  
Anonymous Pottermaniac said...

Say NO to salam witch hunts

07 July, 2005  
Blogger uma said...

this 'scanning with the eyes' thing? it's apparently very page 3. you're not supposed to make eye contact in page 3. heh.

07 July, 2005  
Anonymous beanspill said...

does honesty pay?

11 July, 2005  
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19 August, 2007  
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10 September, 2007  

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