I am female. I am European. I am white and I have recently moved to Mumbai. Am I qualified to talk about men in the eternal city of dreams and traffic? Maybe not, but after being hit on more or less incessantly for the last eight months, I am keen to share my insights.
Now we all know that ‘showing off’ is deeply ingrained in the male DNA. Males are genetically programmed to ‘strut their stuff’ in order to attract the attention of us whimsical, hard-to-impress females. American men do it, European men do it, and Indian men do it too. What differs is the manner of such ‘showing off’. In Europe you will rarely find a man who introduces himself saying: “I am a very successful guy, I have lots of money, I am super fit, I am good in bed and I can have loads of women.”
Some of them may think it, but they won’t actually say it openly for fear of being laughed right out of the door.
Apparently many guys here do not share such reservations. I have actually heard men here say — each of the above — out loud.
There was the guy at the gym who I asked if he felt that his vegetarian diet in any way compromised his fitness regime to which he replied: “No, absolutely not. I don’t know anyone who is fitter than me.” Okay then, he obviously doesn’t know many people!
Or the chap who introduced himself as a ‘fashion clairvoyant’. Wow, never heard that one before!
I was wondering whether his clairvoyance simply meant that, unlike many other men I know, he actually knew what he was going to wear the next day. He didn’t even blink when I asked him what he foresaw as the fashion trends for the autumn of 2012 and said: ‘Gold & Silver’. He obviously hadn’t picked up on the sarcasm. This being India I also wonder how much of a clairvoyant you really need to be, to see gold and silver in fashion - it’s there every season!
There was the guy who came up to me at a party, thrust his business card into my hand, introduced himself as the head of some company, and asked me for my number. Since I was standing there - slightly shell-shocked - with my blackberry in hand (I had just been texting somebody) I couldn’t claim I didn’t have a phone. Plus the recent custom of ‘just quickly giving people a missed call’ as soon as they hand over their number, makes giving out fake numbers that much harder.
Since then I have been receiving constant text messages from said guy. When I didn’t reply, he saw that as a clear sign that I really wanted to talk to him and called me instead. Since I hadn’t bothered to save his number I actually picked up the call. I then spent 10 minutes explaining why I really didn’t want to go for coffee/ lunch/ dinner with him. I told him that he was a stranger and I was not interested.
To this he replied that all of my friends must have been strangers at some point and that if I only went for coffee with him, he was sure that we would end up being great friends. Infallible logic, but luckily for me, I already have enough friends. A lesser man may have given up, but not business card guy.
I think at this point I should mention that I am actually married. But apparently that doesn’t matter! I always mention my ‘married status’ very early on in every conversation, but they are seldom deterred. They must think that cheating is not an issue. One simply said: “Ah, that’s okay. We are all human.” Apparently he perceived being married as some sort of character flaw…
I even get approached when my husband is standing right next to me. They usually ignore him. Apparently the thought that I could possibly be married to an Indian doesn’t cross their minds. When my husband is not with me and Mumbai guy finds out that I married ‘one of them’ there is usually a moment of surprise followed by a moment of…pride!
This being Bombay, I have also met several actors. Since everyone who has ever been to an audition calls themselves actors, there are quite a lot of them around. I’ve had offers for film premieres (unfortunately the guy only had one extra ticket, so my husband wouldn’t have been able to go), dinner, lunch, a drive (Why?? So we can be stuck in traffic together??) and even a marriage proposal.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. I love the attention and I have never been so popular in my life (since I am definitely no supermodel). Plus these anecdotes provide endless entertainment. And while it may seem to me that these men have left the line between confidence and over-confidence so far behind, they can’t even remember crossing it, my local friends here tell me that such behaviour is definitely not the norm and I simply have an uncanny ability to attract weirdos.