Is that it? Is that why I am wasting my time for, rather, living my life for -- for adult female human beings? Makes me feel like a caveman, rather a chimp, who can't distinguish one female chimp from the other.
If I could rewrite the dictionary, the entry under woman would read as: "Species that drive the world. The earth might be revolving around the sun, but they make the remaining inhabitants of earth revolve around them."
Men are destined to revolve. The chase for a woman might seem to be a linear path that terminates in a "and they lived happily ever after" scenario. But if you view the chase from a space station, it would consist of never-ending circular motions. The man who has a chatty woman will revolve around the silent one. The man who is blessed with a member of the species that measures 34-28-36 will salivate in circles for the one with 38-32-40. Most often, in this part of the planet, the middle figure is not so relevant. Men who are paired with 5'4" look up to 5'8". Men whose women write poetry run around women who wear mini-skirts and read Cosmoplitan; while men whose women read Cosmopolitan want their paths to collide with women who read poetry.
You know what I mean. No, I don't mean that grass is always greener on the other side, or that men always look for variety. (I don't mean any of them at least in this post). What I mean is that women are the nucleus of this planet: no matter who they are, they always have a bunch of men revolving around them. Even if it is a plain woman who, for the rest of the world, does nothing worthwhile other than cooking at home and fetching water from the village well. She too will have a handful of admirers -- they could range from the village dhobi to the son of the headman.
Everybody loves women. So do I. In fact, if you care to go through the archives of Ganga Mail, it would appear that I love them more than anyone else does. And that's because I say so. But that was not always the case with me. In school, I was known as a shy boy. I distinctly remember that trip: I was in class eleven and, having the cleared the written examination for the National Defence Academy, I was called for the interview and aptitude tests to Varanasi, where I met fellow candidates of various ages. The stay lasted for about five days, and during the evenings, we would go to the town to watch movies or stroll in the streets.
One day outisde the movie hall, some of the older candidates bought cigarettes. I was shocked that they smoked. A bunch of girls passed by. Everybody stared at them. Suddenly, the senior-most in the group, a boy from Assam, caught me looking too. He clapped and pointed at me: "Dekho, dekho, yeh bhi dekh rahaa hai (See, see, even he is looking)!" A dozen pair of eyes turned to me and they all burst out laughing. As if I was not supposed to look.
Actually I was not supposed to. I considered staring at girls the most undignified thing to do. When in class ten, going for tuitions on our bicycles would be the only outing we had, and most of my classmates feasted their eyes on every 13- to 15-year-old girl that was found on the streets. I remember telling them: "What pleasure do you get by staring?" Maybe I did not know then. Or maybe I knew better.
During school and college days, many classmates went to movies just to watch Sridevi and Jaya Prada. "Kya maal hai," they would say. But I would choose my movies depending on the hero. And come on, when you had Amitabh Bachchan in a movie, did it matter if Rekha, Hema Malini or Sridevi was the heroine? And there came a time when the entire nation had lost its heart to Madhuri Dixit. I didn't. I worshipped Jackie Shroff, and had watched many of his movies alone.
That is why, for a very long time, I would find myself trying hard to think of names when posed with the question: "And, who is your favourite actress?" You could have interchanged Hema Malini of Satte Pe Satta with Rekha of Suhaag and nothing would have changed in either of the movies. Zeenat Aman could have been in Amar Akbar Anthony while Parveen Babi could have sang Aap jaisa koi in Qurbaani. The films would have still been hits.
But today, if someone asks the question, I have a ready answer: Tabu. She may not be glamorous like Aishwarya Rai, but she is good-looking and intense (if I were to watch old movies, I would prefer Geeta Bali over Madhubala, even though it is impossible to escape the latter's spell. Geeta Bali, mildly plump and with a naughty expression, was the girl next-door). If I were to be marooned in an island with Aishwarya, I would wonder: "She is gorgeous and all that, but what do I do with her?" With Tabu, there would be no such doubts.
For some reason, I also like Sandhya Mridul. I have seen only one film of hers -- Honeymoon Travels -- and I think she is a thinking man's woman. So sad that her husband in the movie turns out to be a gay. Another woman I fell for was singer Antara Choudhury -- singer Salil Choudhury's daughter. I saw her at a concert in Chennai: she downplays her good looks with grace, and her only ornaments are humility and a smile. Wish God makes more women like her.
That makes me wonder: what's the kind of women I crave for, or revolve around? To be politically correct, considering my marital status, what's the kind of women I would crave for, or revolve around? Here's a short list:
1. Women who are not the obvious object of desire for men. The obvious ones are such a turn off because they know they are being eyed by all and are thus so consumed by vanity that they are good for nothing else -- other than looking at the mirror.
2. The ones who are zaraa hatke -- somewhat different. The ones who can wear Fab India and carry it off with an attitude as if they were wearing Ritu Kumar. But on evenings they really wear Ritu Kumar, they make even the regulars of designerwear look pale.
3. Dusky women. Not that I have anything against women who are fair: just that I don't consider fairness as a synonym for beauty. Dusky women are so appealing. You can call it a quirk.
4. Women who wear glasses. (And who remember who take the glasses off just in time).
5. Women who write well -- or at least take pains to articulate their thoughts in writing and not make excuses like: "Come on, am not a writer like you!" They must remember that in the olden days, handwritten letters, crafted with a lot of effort, were the sole expression of the soul.
6. Women who don't care about their looks. That's when you can get on with business.