Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Perils and Perks of Being a Single Girl in IIT

All the movies will tell you that being single at 21 is probably the saddest thing that can happen, except, perhaps, being single at 30. Bottom line is, being single is always connected with being sad and lonely. More often than not, the girl in question would herself get all mopey when drunk because she does not have a recent ex, or imminent future boyfriend to call. And if you are single in a place like IIT, it might get to be a little more than what you signed up for.

Having being single for three out of my four years in Kharagpur, (which is significantly more than most girls here) I think I am sufficiently qualified to comment on the good, the bad and the ugly of single life in Kharagpur. Let’s start with the good first, since the boys always keep going on about how easy it must be for girls in an IIT.

It’s usually a great ego boost to have some admirers. But in IIT’s it’s never just “some”. It gets a little tiresome when your acquaintance of guys who haven’t asked you out gets so diminished that you run out of coffee buddies outside your hostel. Nevertheless, you do get to have a very eventful time.

You can pick and choose whom to date. If you are a little frivolous, and have no qualms about playing with people’s feelings, you might get a lot of free meals without getting into anything serious. You will get a lot of chocolates on Valentine’s Day or after FTs, and you always have a list of people you can call anytime if you are bored. If you are feeling a little fling-y, you might date multiple people simultaneously and get away with, “I said nothing serious”, if confronted by them, or your own conscience. And if you like being bossy, you might enjoy the thrill of having a cute puppy following you around and running your errands. Once you become committed, you might not be able to get away with the latter all the time, but again, it’s Kharagpur, so you probably will.

Another big bonus is the ceaseless stream of entertainment it provides your friends who have settled down by now. My friends, for example, have a blast whether or not I do something crazy in this respect. They are the ones who get the most out of the slight deviations from your prolonged single-dom that you venture into every now and then. They like to eavesdrop on your conversations when someone is trying to ask you out. They like speculating that you are a closet lesbian. They have a great laugh when they point out that “I’m not looking for anything serious” is NOT a synonym for “let’s just be friends”, and you said yes to a guy without realizing it. Then they just decide to sit back and see the fun waiting for it to crash and burn to an unholy ball of flames. And imagine their hilarity when zero dates later, the same guy suggests that “we should be just Facebook friends”, which by the way, is a true story.

But like I said, sometimes it gets a little too much. You just want to be able to hang out with guys without feeling weird. Having studied in an all-girls school for 14 years and coming from a family where everyone your age is female, it took me a while to get there. And then, the world realizes you are single, and you lose all that faster than you can imagine. I can safely say that updating my FB relationship status to single was my biggest FB faux-pas till date.

Sometimes, you are not just looking for your next boyfriend. But people here don’t seem to get that. All the boys think they are perfectly fine and desirable, and all the girls think you need someone special in your life. The part that makes the oncoming barrage of ask-outs difficult is when you have to explain to a friend why you think you should be just friends. It gets worse when they behave as if they cannot comprehend why anyone would not want to date them. Sometimes, I think, the guys mistake having a good time with someone as those proverbial “sparks” and they cannot fathom that you just didn’t feel it too. I realized the importance of the sparks when I gave it a try once, but that was a mistake I’d rather not repeat.

To make things worse, your girl friends think of every nice guy they meet as a prospective boyfriend for you. Sometimes they get more interested in the match than the two parties themselves, and after a very awkward date, they are the ones with the biggest disappointment. Granted that they have a good screening process for who they recommend, and they do ward off unwanted proposals, sometimes you wish they could understand how having a boyfriend is not one of the things you “need” to be happy.

I think I am one of the few girls who really like being single. Relationships are a big exhaustion for me. To make an effort to open up emotionally and then having it come crumbling down is an experience I would not want to risk unless I really, really like someone and I get those butterflies in my stomach. Meanwhile, I’d just like to have some friends.

To the few single girls in Kgp, I’d like to say, “If you hate being single, don’t worry, your next proposal is just around the corner. In the meanwhile, bask in the glory of your admirers”. To those single girls who like basking in the glory of their many admirers, I’d say, “Don’t get a swollen head. It’s just Kgp, and you’re no Scarlett Johansson”. To the single guys, “Do not ask out every girl you remotely know, and do not be so surprised when they say “no”.” To the committed girls, “Laugh all you want at/with your single friends, but do not try to set them up, unless they expressly want it”. And to those people who have asked me out and think I’m referring to them here, “Only my two best friends in Kgp know I’m talking about you.”

22 comments:

Pravin Sharma said...

Very Interesting. As a general observation, I have found that it is usually girls who equate being committed with being happy more(and vice-versa) and your quip about matchmakers justifies it.

MyTh said...

The last paragraph should be titled 'n commandments' (didnt take the time to count :P)

Aakash Subhankar Bhowmick said...

Gave me deep insight into the workings of the mind of a KGP girl. Very interesting read.

Indra said...

@ Pravin- thanks :)
@ Myth- if only paragraphs had titles...
@ Aakash- I don't think you should construe this as the way all Kgp girls think. It's just my opinion.

Shikha said...

@Aakash: Is it so difficult to understand the workings of the mind of _any_ KGP girl?

Akki said...

:|

Indra said...

@ Akki- care to elaborate?

Pulkit Anand said...

At the outset, let me commend you for this post; it was a very good read. But, there sure are a few things I'd like to talk about here:

First, I must say, that you probably are watching all the wrong movies. Most of the movies I watch show how much more life begins to suck once you are in a relationship. And even otherwise, I strongly recommend the TV Series '30 Rock', which tells you that being single at even 40 doesn't suck that much.

Coming to the "good" part of the post. Personally, I am inclined to think that it should have been the "ugly" part of the post (yes, even for girls). I cannot fathom how a self-respecting girl would be able to look herself in the mirror after doing what has been mentioned here. I like to think that girls from KGP are much more sensible and smart when I compare episodes I hear from several "Universities" in the country. In a world of dumb women, the quest for smart girls should end in KGP-esque places. (Also, I found the "ugly" part missing from the post. And the "bad" part didn't seem so bad either.)

Second, I often find people's commentary on "relationships" to be based on their perception of another individual, which I feel is not appropriate. Saying "I want to remain single" would be stifling any and every possibility of a relationship that could have been, and would have been awesome. I do feel that is an unnatural approach towards things. Something like, "I vow to never watch movies again" after watching "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna", when actually it should have been, "I vow to never watch a Karan Johar movie again.". I hope the analogy made some sense (which I seriously doubt now after having typed it :D )

Yes, most of the guys in KGP will feel that they are the next prospective boyfriend, but those guys are morons because they have a stunted understanding of how relationships work. But you can't blame them, it's KGP after all. But, I am sure that there would be sensible guys as well, who would only approach someone if they really feel it would work, and that they approached deserves some thought and attention instead of being harshly repelled (like water from a good rain-coat). That would be plain stupid.

To my understanding, the problem here is that we come from India. Our concepts and notions about relationships is largely borrowed from western media, a society where the culture is hugely different than here at home. Dating is a healthy social activity of screening potential partners and is not frowned upon by society as a whole in the west. Whereas back at home, dating, especially when it involves a group of friends, often entails a soap-opera style drama that might very well have been an Ekta Kapoor production.

Well, this "comment" is quite lengthy already, so I will stop here. I hope I made some sense. Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading this post, and this blog goes into my reading list now :)

Indra said...

Thank you for the time and thought you have given to my post. I really appreciate that someone decided to give me an honest view of his opinion instead of simply liking it or saying they found it interesting.

I agree with you on certain things. Like I probably do watch the wrong movies, but I have a weakness for the so called chick-flicks. Also, I realized there was no ugly part and hence I changed the title of the post. But I thought the line had a nice ring to it, hence I decided to keep it. I have started watching 30 Rock, and I've read Bossypants too. I don't need Tina Fey to tell me being single is not being miserable. That was the whole point of this post.

Now, I'd like to explain certain things, which were probably not very apparent to you after reading my post. It is meant to be a sarcastic commentary on what goes on in Kgp. Most of it, however, is borrowed from real life instances. The "Good" part was not meant to be good. I thought that was some pretty badly disguised sarcasm on my part, and I'm surprised if it seemed that a sensible girl would enjoy doing all that. Hence I've described them as "frivolous" and "have no qualms about paying with people's feelings". Also, from your harsh reaction to what I said single girls might do, you are probably not aware that this does happen in Kgp. I wrote about it because I've seen people doing it.

The movie analogy makes sense, but I'm not saying I want to remain single because one relationship went bad. In fact, I had a great time while it lasted. I'm just telling people, if I want to remain single, then let me be. I agree that I should not blame Kgp guys, but rather the place for messing people up so badly. Also, I for my part, do give people some thought and attention when approached on this matter. More often than not, however, I know them well enough to know it won't work. The reasons are too many and varied to get into here, but when I think it might work, I do give it a fair chance.

However, I did not understand why you cited the social dynamics of Indian and Western cultures and how that affects our dating life. Though, I agree with what you say, I do not think that is relevant here. I am not averse to dating. If I was, I probably would not write about it so candidly. I am averse to running out of friends and people thinking that there is something lacking in my life because I am single. This post was just a sarcastic reminder to those people.

Pravin Sharma said...

I have a proposition. (Not what you are thinking, so relax) I think the people who are not averse to mass mailing profs all over the world for FT will be more likely to use to similar process to get a partner. Somebody should test this out. I am sure there is a co-relation.

vinayakpathak said...

Scarlett Johansson is hot, btw.

Akki said...

Thanks vinaypathak. my comp is on fire :D :P :D

Nilu said...

What a beautiful blog!!!!

Want to stay here forever....

Indra said...

@Nilu- thanks :)

Chirag said...

It's great to know that girls in kgp realise all this. Some parts of your blog should actually be made compulsory reading for every kgp girl (just my opinion).

Though from a typical guy's point of view, most of the stuff you say would happen regardless of single-dom. Especially in kgp.

Chirag said...

*blog post

Anup Bishnoi said...

You sound like a kgp-grown-up :)

Indra said...

@Chirag- That's going a little overboard, but I'm flattered :)

Achyut said...

This is the best post I've seen in the blogosphere for a while now, and certainly your best work I know of. The brutal honesty is quite clear.

I must admit that I felt a little angry while reading this - not angry at you, but angry at the male:female situation in Kgp, and its consequences. I come from an all-boys school myself, and the first female friends I made were after Kgp (even those from my hometown). And so I was naturally appalled at the dynamics I saw here.

A lot of people here come from similar backgrounds deprived of healthy male-female interaction, or have had their heads buried so deep in their books that they never really bothered to talk to girls around them. The first few weeks are spent talking to fellow males about the prettiest females, and as those with some measure of guts muster up some courage, they're showered with attention - in forms ranging from long, untiring gazes in class to picture folders shared on DC, and YouTube montages of facebook pictures.

The point is, girls get raised on a pedestal. Most of it is just wing bhaat, but the problem arises when all this talk leads to some guy misinterpreting some minor gesture on a girl's part as affection, and then proceeding to develop a crush on the same. Because of numbers, the mapping is many-to-one to an especially sad degree, painful for the guys and exasperating for the girls. Rejection leads to hatred/ disappointment/ resolute anticipation for the next batch of freshers/ diversion to the greener pastures of nearby/home metros for some. The rest become hopeful "puppies" running errands and buying meals.

Disclaimer - I'm sure the above doesn't happen to everyone (it didn't to me), but I've seen a lot of guys in Kgp go through this, and in varying degrees of seriousness.

It's just sad, especially as most of them aren't worth all that time and effort anyway.

Indra said...

Thanks, Achyut. You've given the background story + guys POV there. I don't blame them and I don't even see how the mess can be averted. But good to know that you avoided the pit.

Abhishek said...

I love this post! Unlike so many of your other readers I had a riot and couldn't stop laughing at the picturesque way you have described the "guys" at KGP. Brilliant writing and though I might be pretty late in commenting on this but hats off!

Ramkumar Ramachandra said...

Heavy read for such a light topic. Just bounce around have fun- I didn't realize people thought about it so much.