Sometime last week, two of my friends — single women both — met up for a drink at a tony south Delhi bar, the kind that would have First World inhabitants in a tizzy. (“This is sooooo Manhattan,” one of my American friends had gushed about a much inferior watering hole in Connaught Place).
“You won’t believe it, we were the only women drinking there,” one of my friends complained. “This place was so posh — you’d think stereotypes wouldn’t exist, but they did… By the way, we almost got picked up by a couple of men.”
What was that again?
The other one picked up the thread at this point. “We were sitting in our little corner,” she was clearly enjoying her story-telling session, “when one of the waiters came and whispered that ‘Those two gents there’, pointing towards another little (dark) corner diagonally across ours, wanted to buy us drinks.”
That’s so Friends, I said. I mean Joey or Chandler would do that to a woman/women they liked because it’s such a cool thing to do (Joey can be stupid at times, but he’s the coolest one).
Well, neither of these gents resembled Matt LeBlanc or Matthew Perry, the two ladies grumbled.
“It’s simple,” concluded one of them triumphantly. “Just because we were drinking, it was assumed that we’d be, you know, available. Bad Girls, that’s what we are.”
Last Sunday, I watched Race at the Satyam multiplex in Nehru Place, willingly suspending all notions of disbelief. It was spicy and racy — but totally sans a social conscience. I didn’t really mind that, though my mother called on Monday night to say that Race would cause “unimaginable” damage to impressionable young minds.
What I had a problem with was Bipasha Basu posturing as Good Girl and nursing ‘soft drinks’. Bips, once her mask is uncovered and she’s revealed to be a Bad Girl, straightaway hits the bottle. Seconds after her ‘unmasking’, she strides across the room, snatches a glass of whisky from Akshaye Khanna’s right hand, sits down cross-legged (like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct — and, man, was she bad!) and imbibes the alcohol.
From then on, Bips drinks relentlessly. Even when she’s about to push someone from the terrace with a view to kill, she’s shown hanging on to a glass of white wine.
Bad Girls drink. When my brother got married, for instance, he would insist that I don’t discuss ‘drinking’ in front of his wife. “She doesn’t approve of it,” he tried explaining, and then hurriedly neutralised the situation: “I mean it’s not a man-woman thing, she wouldn’t want me to drink too.”
Perforce, I used to clear out the stray vodka or wine bottle from my place whenever my brother and sister-in-law visited.
And then, on my birthday, my sister-in-law sent me a gift. She wasn’t feeling well, she couldn’t come over, so my brother was the courier. “Open the packet,” he said excitedly. It’s a lovely present.”
It was very lovely. A set of cocktail stirrers — with delicate floral designs at the tip of each one. “Hey,” I turned to my brother, “do you realise your wife has just encouraged me to have a drink?”
No, no, that’s a set of glass flowers, he said, looking aghast that I could even think such a thing about his wife. “You know, to pretty up your front-room shelf.”
“Listen, you fool, I know what stirrers look like, okay? And I know what glass flowers look like. These are stirrers.”
“The poor thing didn’t she realise that she was buying cocktail stirrers,” my brother was looking very panicky now. He called her, and put her on speaker phone (he has this irritating habit).
“Do you know what you bought for Didi?” he asked.
“Of course I do,” she giggled. “I bought her cocktail stirrers.”