For someone who has grown up in an age where everything “American” or “Westernised” was considered cool and imitated blindly, I am facing an intensely entertaining dilemma now. There was a time when swooning over Bollywood heroes was most passé and quickly put you in the “so uncool” category. Women who wore salwars were decidedly not “with it” and Indian women forced their cellulite-laden behinds into tight denims scaring the entire population that may happen to be behind them. Then things started to change. It was cool to listen to Bollywood music again. It became equally cool to bob your head to Munni as it was to Lady Gaga. Kurtas came back with a vengeance and it became the outfit for the serious, meant business women of the corporate world. No longer scoffed at, we embraced the Indian individuality with much love.
I decided it was time that all other American references, especially the ones in media and literature need their Indian counterparts.
Losing your virginity at the back of an old Chevy truck
Such a common instance in most things involving a young American girl (preferably blonde, blue eyed with legs that go on forever). Usually the protagonist, this girl would hold on to this memory of her first time, in the backseat of a car or truck and would involve the fumbling, pimply boyfriend and a rather disappointing and quick finish.
In India, we do not lose our virginity. Never. Not till we get married anyway. Now that women have started having some pre-marital sex in our books and movies, we usually lose our virginity on trips. Of course, Goa tops the Lusty place 101 list. Or when the parents are out of town. But since we are a horny bunch, we need somewhere you sneak in some naughtiness which we do at cinemas, clubs and sometimes even cyber cafes.
My dog ate my homework
American boys and girls going to school will claim their dog/younger brother/pet anaconda ate their homework. They come up with versions of this but its on the same lines. Nothing spectacular.
The Indian equivalent is far more interesting and much more difficult to believe. Your homework can be stolen by your aunty in the neighbourhood so her son does better at school. Your homework can be doused in colour because it’s Holi. You could not even do it because the maid ran away and you had to do all the housework. There was no electricity. There was too much electricity and your building caught fire. You puked over your homework because you ate street-side food. The street urchin tore out the page and used it to wipe his behind. The beggar was looking to shelter himself from the rain and you offered your book because you are only a human after all.
Everyone knows this is the biggest deal for high school American students. Dresses, dates, make up, permissions and boys, there is loads a girl has to do for this one night. The boys, and this is definitely not an American thing, are looking to get laid. While they wont get that lucky, most of the students will have their first dance, the first kiss and a bunch of firsts this night. A whole lot of hoopla surrounds this night – and it becomes almost like the rite of passage to adulthood.
In India, the closest girls and boys will get to dancing before they can legally enter clubs is Garba/ Dandiya. Yes, its not remotely the same thing except both the sexes dancing together. It’s not sexy except the occasional hint of cleavage hastily covered by a dupatta or bare backs. Clearly, this doesn’t cut it. We should have proms.
Nubile, young women in teeny-weeny skirts prance around flashing their underpants to the entire school. They jump, fly and catch each other and of course are the favourites with the football team boys. They are shallow and usually have miserable grades. If it’s a horror movie, she is definitely the one that gets picked first to be killed. Terribly lucky.
Some people in India knew about cheerleaders only after the IPL. There is no equivalent. We are Indian and we no flash our underwear to anyone.
Locker Room talk
Naked men and women. Each gender wishes they could walk into the others’ locker room and check out the scenery. Men brag about their sex lives and how many times (cant talk about size coz that’s all out there for everyone to see) and women talk about how he was in bed and how many times. There are no secrets and its gossip at its steamiest best (I love puns). Men shamelessly stroll around with not an iota of cloth on them and women potter around equally unabashed.
In India, our gossip is done on the phone or during slumber parties. Most Indian men and women have not seen their friends naked, which is probably a good thing. For the most daring Indian women, a bikini is a huge step causing loads of giggling and checking out of the anatomy and pointing out her flaws by her girlfriends. For men, a Speedo is considered sexy (eww) and the pot-bellied, hairy Indian man walks around with much masculinity in case he is wearing one. None of us are in the nude. Oh wait, except the homeless, but that’s not by choice.