You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it again, I’ve heard it to the point of wanting to slash my wrists. The common lament of the single woman in Mumbai is that loathsome platitude of all platitudes: “All the good men in this city are gay or married” (or presumably, sometimes both). Also, from personal experience, you will know that this statement is always made in the presence of at least one single, eligible, emotionally stable, otherwise completely normal man.
Hence the typical Mumbai male reaction to this pointed jibe at our tribe: first we blanch, then we argue, then we subversively refer to ourselves as the aforementioned nice man who is neither gay nor married. You would think this would be enough to silence the complaining female companion. But no, it will result in a chorus of complaining cohorts who repeat the same lament.
Tired of this incessant rant, I went and did what any red-blooded male in my station would do. I threw a party. More specifically, I, in cahoots with my good friend and fellow singleton Tasneem, threw a singles-only party. Tasneem is a 30-something, single, painfully cool advertising professional who is known to swing
a mean golf club on occasion.
Our plan was simple: My single male friends and her single female friends together for an evening. Would this answer that perpetual question—where are all the nice single guys in Mumbai? Would this be that mythical meeting of minds and clinking of glasses that women think happens only on Sex and the City? Also, would we achieve party success or were we just risking party death by putting 20 complete strangers together in a room?
Determined to answer these troubling epistemological questions, T and I set out putting together the List. Everybody had to be visibly single, everybody had to be gainfully employed, at least 26 or older, be reasonably interesting, non-psycho, etc. So here’s what our list looked like. A few television news people, model-turned-scriptwriter, a radio jockey, a graphic designer, an aspiring singer, two yoga gurus, an author-turned-TV reporter, a luxury brand manager and like every party, a few people of indiscriminate persuasions.
So, the fateful day arrives, when we turn my lovely Bandra apartment into Mumbai’s first fully functional, non-sleazy (oh well, not too sleazy anyway) singles’ bar. Both Tasneem and I, in all due immodesty, are, to say the very least, expert’s experts when it comes to party throwing. And Bandra, as we all know, is a party throwers’ paradise.
Half an hour and five phone calls meant food from Lemon Grass Cafe (excellent Burmese Khao Suey, in case you’re curious), vast quantities of liquor from the interestingly named Pinky Wines and all other party odds and ends from my neighbourhood “Wal-Mart, eat this!”, free and rapid home-delivery store, Benzer Stores.
So the big question is, are Mumbaikars ready for a singles’ bar? Let’s just say our party was a smashing, outrageous, drink-till-4am success. Our singles mingled, exchanged phone numbers, danced, played delightful party politics, imbibed copious amounts and gorged on the Khao Suey. And the nicest thing of it all? For the first time in recorded party history, everybody was perfectly happy to walk in alone, nobody embarrassed to ask for anybody’s number and everybody united by that invisible yet omnipresent thread of being single in the city.
Suresh Venkat is an executive producer at CNBC TV18. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org