The skirting of the male gaze


Lunch with the girls. Chic café, with an impressive Continental brunch menu which allowed you one drink or beer, one soup or salad, three starters of your choice, a main course and a dessert, all of which you can choose off an extensive menu. Am dogfacedly ashamed to say, I couldn’t make it past the starters. Slumped in my chair thanks to excess greed and superfast ingestion of food which was so delicious almost planned a heist of the chef, with third degree torture as part of the plan to extract recipes and chef’s secrets.  Had to shamelessly ask for the remainder of the uneaten to be packed for the doggy at home. And let me inform you that this is the ultimate compliment I can ever pay a restaurant, asking for food to be packed to take home. To me that is the ultimate in cooking that I will think I will rue the uneaten later.

They had to call in a crane to hoist me off the chair, and wondered whether the door needed to widened to haul this body off. Due to exigencies of circumstances, did not have a car and driver so was reduced to searching high and low for an auto willing to risk his suspension, and seat frame. Having found one, realized that being thrown around at breakneck speed on potholed Mumbai roads is great for the digestion. In fact, so great that was hungry by the time one reached home. And then ate some more. Needless to say, I will not even talk about my weight at this point. Suffice to say, the husband is making a CD of all episodes of The Biggest Loser and threatening to gift it to me as a wedding anniversary gift.

Much girl talk happened. Unrelated to the lunch though, why are divorces and bad marriages spreading like a rash amongst couples I know? Why is it that you look at a billing and cooing couple one fine day and say, how tongue curlingly sweet a pair they make, and isn’t that so cute, they are still so much in love, only to learn the very next day that they’re filing for divorce. And that each hate each other, and have been having rip roaring affairs on the side. Now should I really be grateful that the only time the husband holds one’s hand in a public situation is to drag a dawdling me across a high traffic road, if this is what couples who are all over each other are reduced to.

In the midst of all this divorce talk comes up an unexpected byproduct, the search for spanking new boyfriend material. Now most of them women have been devoted wives for over six to seven years, and consequently have forgotten the fine art of snagging a man. And it is an art, this man snagging business, it needs practice, and if you’re out of practice, its tough getting back into the game. You have to practice the look. You know, the look. The fleeting look into the eyes of the objet d’interest and then look away and then look back. And then move in for the kill. I donot talk from experience. I learn this from friends who have unparalleled expertise in this field. Of course they have the looks and the figures to carry the look off. Should I try the look on any male, I will have a stalker notice set out on me. The look, I am told, with complete authority, from marvelous friend, she of the light hazel eyes, porcelain skin and slinky feline body, always works. Babe, have you looked at yourself. You don’t need to give the look to anyone. They’re already looking at you like lapdogs at a juicy succulent bone (Not to imply that you are a bone, dear). I cannot give anyone the look. I would probably squint with dust in the contact lenses, and squint some more to decipher the look of absolute, unabashed disgust. So there.

On the flip side, if a man does try to woo me (not likely given current state of corpulence, blackheads, grey hair, pimple encrustations, nose hairs and assorted uglies) will probably think, oh isn’t he so sweet, why don’t I introduce so and so to him, they will really get along well. They will make such a sweet couple. Thinking about it, getting the occasional wolf whistle used to validate one’s sense of attractiveness, even if it came from a lowlife wannabe with oilslicked hair and bell bottomed ‘jean pants’ and platform shoes.

Interestingly, one has realized that one does not even look around to look if anyone is worthy of being given the look or is being looked at. Some lucky planetary configuration actually made me speak to current husband when passing through a college corridor. End of dating and wooing experience. The poor man did all the work. If anyone looked at me intently even back then, all I would wonder is whether my trouser zip had split on me, or whether I had something green and ugh stuck in my teeth. And today if any remotely attractive male looks at me, you can be sure it’s a sympathetic look for a ruined monument. Not that I would notice it. Somehow being out of the game for over two decades have lost any radar about noticing strange men. And if a random attractive male does cross the path, you can be sure he’s looking over my shoulder at the cute girl sitting behind me, so don’t even bother looking anymore. It’s finally, one admits, that matronly vibe, the complete lack of pheromones in one’s blood stream, one is post courtship and mating and nesting. One is now a village elder. One sits in groups and tut tuts about the young couples billing and cooing anywhere they can find a minute and an audience. In the good old days, I go wagging disapproving head, we did our billing and cooing anywhere we could find a minute and a bush or an empty classroom.  Still remember then boyfriend, now husband, doing his kissing in instalments between dashes to the end of the corridor to check for approaching predators, read watchmen and peons. Something infinitely sweet about stolen kisses that cannot ever hope to be matched by this open display of lust that most teens seem to think equals lust today.

So back to the dating game, I sometimes feel sorry for the friends who are back into the dating scene after marriage and motherhood. Life gets so complicated, imagine telling your child you’re going out on a date! I stick with my old man. With blinkers on. And hope he sticks with me, adipose and all the more of me to love. Don’t have the mental energy to be seductive ever again. Imagine me doing a seductive hip roll walk. Would be like a tsunami approaching. Can just see the guys keeling over in my wake.



About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective in 2011. Since then, she has published nine books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush (2014), All Aboard (2015), Saving Maya (2017); horror with The Face at the Window (2016), psychological thriller with Missing, Presumed Dead (2018) and nonfiction with Karmic Kids (2015), A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up (2016) and True Love Stories (2017). Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey (2017) and Boo (2017). Her articles and columns have appeared in the Times of India, Tehelka, DNA, Yowoto, Shethepeople, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Conde Nast Traveller, DB Post, The Telegraph, the Asian Age, iDiva, TheDailyO and more. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. In 2018, she was awarded the International Women's Day award for literary excellence by ICUNR and Ministry of Women and Children, Government of India. She is a TEDx speaker and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017.
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7 Responses to The skirting of the male gaze

  1. prynkp says:

    You crack me up!! I love reading your blog.
    Had chanced upon your blog after coming to mumbai and trying to find online sites which could help me find out about shops and the shopping districts here. Have been hooked since.
    So much so, that I am planning to start my own. It must be pretty therapeutic to vent all.
    Thanks a lot!


  2. karmickids says:

    Hey Priyanka, keep coming back, I dont write much about shopping anymore, rarely get a chance to do much shopping, but promise to do some shopping related posts soon…


  3. Average Jane says:

    Village elder, eh? Very apt, my dear. I envy you for being lucky enough to be out of the dating scene. It’s tiresome and tiring to say the very least but it has it’s highs. I find men my age have fewer expectations and are quite magnanimous with their compliments, so much so that you almost start believing in them. We have all been there and done that and have the t-shirt to prove it, so dating at 38 is a trifle calmer then dating at 18.


  4. Moppet's Mom says:

    Hilarious! I do miss those stolen kisses though…. 🙂


  5. Moppet's Mom says:

    Um… what I meant was I don’t miss the dating part overall, I do miss the stolen kisses…


  6. thirtysixandcounting says:

    Jane, will take your word for it. The only man who gives me compliments these days is the brat.

    Moppets Mom: Dont we all?


  7. you have to stop fishing – have i already said that? you look lovely. and if you dont, you’ve been photoshopping the pics.


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