Whether you snapped or smiled at them, most of you have surely had someone trying to ‘make fraandship’ with you at some point or the other, right? Please don’t dial the anti-Romeo squad just yet, I’m asking for a reason. The other day, my pretty colleague, Natasha, was all fuming and furious as she looked down at her phone. “Can’t believe someone has the gall to do this,” she muttered. And went on to explain that while she was in the waiting lounge of a hospital, where her uncle was undergoing surgery, a young doctor saw her, got her name from the visitors’ register, looked her up on Facebook, and messaged her. ‘My God! You should report him,’ cried a woman colleague, and ‘How cheeky!’ said another.
My first impulse, and what continues to still form a large part of how I felt was that this was unacceptable breach of privacy. Still so, something made me ask Natasha what his message said. ‘I saw you at the hospital. Thought of messaging you. Hope your relative is doing well,’ she replied. And? “Well, I didn’t reply, so he wrote, ‘sorry for bothering you’, and didn’t message after that,” she said.
I don’t know if you’re gonna judge me for this, but I suddenly didn’t feel as negative about the doc. Hear me out.
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Years ago, when the Internet hadn’t made our lives the mess that it has, there were similar ways a guy would approach a girl he liked. He would try and get her phone number somehow, and after a few ‘blank calls’ (those born in the cell phone era would never understand the feel of this landline menace), asked if they could be friends. The girls, depending on what they wanted, either refused or gave in after a bit of wooing after their own mental assurance that the guy was eligible, and ‘decent’.
I’m, of course, not referring to harassment or stalking — despicable phenomena that got trivialised horribly over the years by being labelled ‘eve teasing’. I’m merely recalling a fast-growing, mostly urban pattern where the younger generation in India was increasingly moving towards choosing their own partner a la ‘love marriage’, as opposed to the parents arranging a match for them. The only way to meet and approach a person whom they liked was to, well, approach them. In school, in college, at work, at parties.
Now, in an age where dating apps practically mean that a mere swipe of finger on your phone screen could potentially get you a partner to make out with on the first date, the whole meaning of trying to meet someone eligible to explore a romantic relationship has gone for a royal flip. Overwhelmed with peer pressure, overexposed to a mish-mash of a technology-facilitated lifestyle, overstressed about having a boyfriend/girlfriend because everyone does, and over-desperate about doing it in a rush has left our gen-y in an awfully confused mess. We are practically jumping from one extreme of being horribly direct about instant gratification to the other of dismissing a fairly harmless attempt at connecting as harassment.
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So, what’s the right way to approach someone you like, I asked a few guys in my team, and had a bunch of girls respond to what they said. This is how it went…verbatim
Guy 1:If the girl I like is one of my colleagues at work, I’ll send her a message complimenting her on her looks or something, and ask her out.
Girls (in unison):That’s sexual harassment, dude. Why do you have to look at girls as objects that ‘look good’?
Guy 1:No, no, I didn’t mean it in the sense of harassment. Don’t judge my words literally. But yeah, it’s better to keep workplace out of it.
Guy 2: If I like a girl at a restaurant, I’ll offer to buy her a drink and ask if I could join her.
Girls: Yeh toh thappad khayega. Creep. We are still in India, not the US.
Guy 3:I’ll look her up on Facebook or Instagram and message her for friendship.
Girls: Yeah right. Stalker alert (To be fair, one of the three added that she won’t mind checking his profile and responding, if he did not POKE her).
After a few minutes of listening to them, I was left more confused than ever. I thought in the progressive times of today, the thought barriers that traditionally existed between genders have melted. It’s funny that they seem to be forming again, specially in the light of young people struggling to be both open-minded in their approach and ultra-guarded in the process, though wisely so.
Sonal Kalra went straight to her psychiatrist after this. He has told her that any attempt on her part at relationship counseling should be nipped in the bud. Forcibly, if needed.
Mail your calmness tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonal kalra13. Follow her on Twitter @sonalkalra You can now also listen to Sonal Kalra’s podcast #TensionNot