September 2007: "No," said Aman, after a 15-minute-long phone-searching session, "I don’t know a single guy who’d interest you, babe. I just realised though, I know so many fascinating women—should make it a point to call them more frequently."
"Sorry, there are just no interesting guys…. But I can give you the numbers of heaps of exciting women. You swing both ways, don’t you?" said Simran.
I pretended to work and not listen as my editor comforted some newly single, to-be-divorced woman on the phone. "There," he said as he hung up and looked at me, "there’s another remarkable woman who’s now part of the dating-mating scene. There are so many lovely, lovely women out there. No guys."
Err… what’s going on? One’s a one off; two’s a worry; and three’s a fucking national crisis!
Now, I’ve always been someone who tries to look at the positive side of things. So I’ve always thought that a skewed National Sex Ratio (also) means that there are heaps more men for us women to choose from. Maybe, maybe there are men. But where is that rare, at-the-point-of-extinction species—the Interesting Indian Man (let me specify: under the Uncleji age)?
At 24, my survey group is between my age and 34 or so (which is a stretch anyway). A ten-year age span should well compensate for the ‘women mature younger’ adage. And still, zilch. In this age bracket, in my sample group, the women are by far more engaging. I’m realising that there are such few options available to a straight, sapiosexual (‘someone who finds intelligence the most attractive sexual feature’) woman.
And now you ask what makes a person interesting. Obviously, it’s the ability to hold my interest (of course it’s my interest… what or who do you think this article is about)! Someone with many layers (like an onion—only, for the purpose of this analogy, I wish it was a more exotic vegetable)! Someone who is intelligent (I certainly don’t define intelligence by IIT-IIM-astronaut-scientist-doctor and all those titles/achievements), and can have great conversations (about as many things under the sun as possible). A combination of a thinker and a doer. Who reads, travels and has varied interests. Is either left- and right-brained, or right-brained. (I have this remarkably unfair prejudice against left-brained people. It’s elitist, I know, but I have this theory that they’re bad in bed, and fairly mechanical and boring. And art and creativity are such turn ons! Oh, we’ll get to this in another article, okay?)
Unfortunately, more often than not, the people who fit this description are women. Watch 'Sex and the City'. Okay, don’t. Just look at the interesting women I know. Arati: a lost-and-found childhood friend is in IIM Calcutta. She is as deconstructionist as I am; a voracious reader; a theatre person. She’s walking the straight and narrow, career-wise, because she wants the money to be able to do what she wants to do at 35. Neha: works with Star News and makes films, writes on music and reads Spivak in her free time. Tanya. Shriyansi. The list is endless.
The other day, M ("I’ll get killed, babe!" A filmmaker.) and I were discussing the circle of people we grew up with. How most of the guys have ended up way-below consideration level: one-dimensional and invariably in the Merchant Navy or in call centres, while the girls are really multifaceted: psychiatrists, researchers, writers (yours truly), filmmakers, designers. And while we were congratulating ourselves and patting each other on the back, neither of us realised how this was just a microcosm of a trend that would prevent us from ever meeting interesting men!
The other day, I met someone who is a senior editor with one of the leading national dailies. And he pointed out that the crop of young editors was predominantly female. And it’s true for the book publishing industry as well. Almost all the independent, unique publishing houses are run by women.
This leads me to the reasons for this phenomenon. Why is it that young women are more interesting than young men? Why? I don’t know. I can only speculate.
Perhaps it’s because of sport. Playing sport is one thing. Spending hours mindlessly watching men in cars (that look horribly cramped and uncomfortable) go around a track (like some merry-go-round thing gone horribly wrong)… just seems like a colossal waste of time. Not to mention test matches. Oh no! Five days of watching cricketers try to do their job while you consistently ignore your own. Or… gosh, I could go on.
Or it’s the gizmo craziness. How many women do you see who are gizmo-gaga? Addicted to their X-Boxes and Gameboys?
Or it’s the hormones. Women don’t waste half as much time as men do watching random porn on the internet or masturbating.
Not being into all these things frees up so much time, doesn’t it? To develop as people. Read. Pursue various interests. Grow.
Or it’s because women can multitask. And do all the above but achieve so much more alongside.
Or it’s because women, as a rule, are exposed to so much more colour and so many more layers in life than men generally are. Women’s clothes and make-up display and require so much more thought and imagination than men’s. As children, women are exposed to the arts, creativity and colour much more than men are. Activities that are considered, in a traditional sense, ‘feminine’—dancing, making rangolis, arranging flowers, going for art classes—all push the development of the right brain, the creative side. As opposed to traditionally ‘masculine’ activities—sport and well, sport.
Or it’s because the world women face and negotiate is way more intricate and complicated than the world men see and deal with. In every sphere, including the sexual, life is more emotionally, socially and physically complex for women than it is for men.
I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. Maybe I’ve generalised too much. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m an intellectual lesbian. You may disagree with this analysis. You may think it’s lopsided. You may know many interesting men in this age bracket. Hell, you may be one yourself. Oh wow! Show yourself! I’m just waiting for somebody, anybody, a man-body, to please, please prove me wrong!
An edited version of this article appeared in Man's World in September 2007.
I have been proved wrong many times since, by the spouse and my myriad male friends.