April 2007


It was in April years ago, when I was twenty two. My first year in Bangalore. Little did I know, how many more first things I had in line that year. Apart from my first time living away from home and my first time in a job…

As a new bachelor in town, after a days work and evening supper, reading fictions was my favorite pass time. On one such night, I was intrigued by the giggles of my room-mate who was busy chatting with his new found online friends. Ah, that sounded like fun, so thats when I happened to login into IndiaTimes chat and couldn’t believe what I saw there….

A ‘Men for Men Bangalore’ chat room.

Still naive and fresh.. I created an online id which was my name and so began my first online chat. ‘ASL’. A message in red was directed to my nick name. “Excuse me?” was my response. Before I logged out that night, I had learned what a “Top, Bottom, Versatile” meant..

And of course, I had a guy to meet the next day at the kormanagala 1st block bus stop. And meet we did and had a little chat in his car. I was soon walking out of his car with his phone number (which I never used), but he told me about ‘OutPersonals.com’ (which was more helpful.)

So the next day, I had my profile up on OutPersonals and it allowed me to browse through some interesting profiles who were around my age and with my stats. I was obsessed to find my clone. It was exciting to wait for the response to guys, which mostly were pondering on the physical attributes and a touch of naive emotions.

One such response seemed to come from a prince charming, who proposed we meet at the Cafe Coffee Day on Brigades Road. Four months in the city, and I had never been to Brigades, it was talked as the most posh place and only trendy people went there. I had put on my best jeans and had no proper shoes to go with it. So I stopped on the way to buy me a pair of new summer sandals leaving my old pair of flip-flops in the dustbin outside the shoe store.

Five minutes of wait there, watching passers by wearing blue. I was to be in blue myself, but I tricked myself into wearing white and I knew I was the one who should recognize him. None in blue stopped there and ten minutes later, I saw a guy with long hair and slender legs looking at his watch as he stopped on the side walk opposite Cafe Coffee day. After watching him for couple more minutes, I pulled myself together to talk to him.

I went and stood next to him. But I had no idea what to ask him or what to say to him. After a minute, which seemed like forever I said, ‘Hi, whatz the time?’ He replied, but I wasn’t interested in what he said. I was looking into his eyes, but he wasn’t paying attention. Unable to come up with anything better and to ease the awkwardness, I started to walk away…

As I was getting on to the Richmond road, there was a slight tap on my shoulder from behind. I turned around and was surprised to see him who obviously was taking long steps. ‘Are you Aryan?’ He asked. ‘Yes’ And I don’t remember for how long I was nodding my head.

‘You are not in blue and I was late, so I thought you probably left.’

What followed was a mubble-jumble of naive words which I hardly remember. But what  remains in the memory is the walk we took that evening on Brigades and MG Road. Met few of his friends and had coffee and then he asked me if I was interested in a movie ‘Bicentinial Man’.

He was a man of little words and I was someone who didn’t know what to speak. But he seemed to know what he was doing and I was willing to follow him everywhere. After the  movie, we were riding back and soon we were entering his apartment and I didn’t question it…What followed was like a dream that was of utmost pleasure and sweetness. As I slept that night cuddling him, I didn’t want anything more than that moment to last forever.

The morning soon dawned and it was time for me to excuse myself before his parents knocked on his door. As I walked back home, I had the most cheerful smile. The lack of sleep didn’t seem to matter. And I new what being in seventh heaven meant.

Not too long after that sweet night, we met again for shopping and dinners and lengthy phone calls. The phone calls were funny, because neither of us were talkers and usually I was at work and he at home. So he would end up describing me the birds in the back yard or sometimes tell some silly jokes.

I was in my new home now and I have been waiting for him to come. This was his first time to my place and so I was eager to show him everything from my collection of pens and books and photographs.. Finally it was time to listen to him. He told me he was going through a break up and he can’t continue anymore. I told him it was cool, but something was broken in me and I don’t remember when he left.

The fairy tale just ended. The sweetness of love had just bitten me and I was savoring its bitterness. Took me a while to figure out ‘why’.

Soon the ‘why’ turned to ‘what now’ and eventually I was back on OutPersonals…

Twenty-Nine Now. But that night of April still lingers in my mind…. I just don’t call it ‘love’ anymore, but that doesn’t make it any less bitter sweet..

I happened to see mails floating around on this topic in one of the discussion groups i am part of – ‘movenpick’. However the question itself isn’t very new. In fact, my friends who don’t approve of me being a queer are pretty much determined that it is a choice I have made.

Now, I don’t really have a good answer to that question and wonder if I will ever know it myself. It is for the researchers to decide one way or the other and I will let them do it…

So what is my take on that question?

“I don’t know, but I do know I can’t make myself to be any different than what I am right now. And being queer is being who I really am.”

Of course where I am right now is because of several conscious choices that probably followed that one unconscious chance.. So I do wonder sometimes, what I would have been if I hadn’t been home alone with my neighbor on that summer vacation.

I was eight-years I think and he was twelve. As luck would have it, he was to entertain me that sunny afternoon while our folks had some ‘grown-up’ things to do. So after running out of ideas to keep me busy, he decided it was time to bring in more kids and play hide and seek.

So we started hide and seek, and I followed him to the hiding place which was a closet in his parents bedroom. And we did more than just hiding there, before we were eventually found and caught in the act… which followed quickly by happy screams..

Of course,  the screams were due to being ‘found’ and not for the act itself. (Think of it today, and I can see what ‘found’ really meant.)

That summer, we happened to have more chances of hide and seek. It is just that, we stopped playing with other kids and it would just be me and him.. In the house, under the sheets or at the lake that we used to frequent with bicycles.

That summer, was our last summer together.

But as I see it now, it sure was a chance.

So did that help me discover myself? or have I made the choice to continue pursuing what I enjoyed the most?

Whatever it might be, I would not have it any other way..

As April brought its bright and sunny weekend, with trees finally blooming.. pink, red and white and some light green, I set out on a road trip along the coastal line of Massachusetts, driving through Providence, Rhode Island and finally planned on reaching New York..

One of the reasons for going to New York, this weekend was the joy of meeting Big B after all these days.. more than an year now. But before that, I stopped to meet ‘Him’, the one I met last weekend in the most unusual clubs…we have been planning for this short stop for a week now and it was an welcome change to meet someone for an evening walk.. on the banks of the Charles River.. The birds, ducks and the people on the boats.. made the evening more serene. We talked as we took a walk on the boston side, overlooking the cambridge on the other side.


I finally touched upon the question. ‘How long were you in relationship?’. I was cautious to not sound very personal, because my intent was more to find out how easy or difficult it is to have a queer relationship. He, as I got to know is a very adaptable person, great to get along with and is passionate about his interest in books and ceramics.

After a long pause he said, ‘…. it lasted for twenty years.’ I was waiting to hear more, though I am sure my face had expressed its question…. ‘How can one fall out of a relationship after twenty years… ?’

As if he knew what I wanted to ask, he told me ‘.. Of course this is my version of the story. I was unhappy for five years before falling out. The relationship had become one sided, and as years passed by, I felt as if he was not listening to me. It is amazing how one can feel more lonely with a person than being alone.. Do you know what I am saying..’ He asked.

I really didn’t know what that felt like, may be since I was never with a guy for that long. But I wondered, how can you be unhappy for five years and still live with it.. ‘I was hoping that things will work out… but they did not.’

It puzzled me how some one so adaptable could end up in a fall-out such traumatic, but I guess things just happen.. or do they?

He obviously had become very comfortable now living by himself. (This is something I can relate myself with. Being alone isn’t same as being lonely.. I do enjoy being alone. After all, life is more than just finding that one companion. There are other things to sparkle the love and emotions..)

May be I shouldn’t have asked him that question I thought, but then it is a fact and talking about it doesn’t make it any worse. As he put it.. ‘.. he was much happier now, instead of living a lie that his relationship was working, which was more stressful.’

As I was talking to him, I could see where his hope possibly could lead him. A few weeks ago, I met this newly engaged couple in their late fourties, who met an year ago. Now they have a new house on a hill overlooking a beautiful valley. And there was something between them that sent out the message, there is hope for love.

….

The next day, I was at the G Lounge in New York waiting for Big B to come. We have exchanged a few messages in the past, but never really met. I know him as one of the most confident guys and his travels fascinate me. He is truely a global person, traveling all over the world and having a really good time.

As we sat there in one of the corners talking about his latest trips to South America and the etc., I asked him if he was going to a party later that night.. He surprised me by saying, ‘I am keeping myself out of parties for a while.’

‘Living in new york and not partying? Is this a fall out from a date?’, I couldn’t help but blurt. He laughed. ‘No, I am just bored of the parties and the people I meet here..’

Well, it contradicts what I have thought about urban guys. Partying is a great way to meet cool people and I guess I am being naive at this point. As we talked about it a little more, he said ‘..people here are not so much interested in dating and relationships. They are mostly looking to get into the pants and once they are done, they would like to move on and find someone new.’

OK. Now that was like hitting me on the head. I have done it myself and I think it as a phase. Well, may be for some the phase never phases out. It is like Alcohol. Don’t get addicted to it. As my thoughts started to wander there, I pulled myself back to what he was saying..

‘.. people are not perfect you know. the moment they see some imperfection, they try to move on and find someone else. And in new york, it is so easy to get sex.’

Well, thats true. I thought to myself. Even at that instant I could tell there were eyes looking at us, and all we had to do was to smile back and say hello.. Oh, it is not just at the parties, sometimes all it takes is asking a question to a total stranger or walking into my friends room with a gay room mate while the friend is away..

‘So are queer relationships that hard in urban cities?’ And it occurred to me, my friends who are in relationships are indeed living in sub-urban cities…

Before we drifted on to different topics, he mentioned.. ‘when I moved to new york a few years back, there was this nice guy who was interested in dating. But I thought it was too early to date, since I will be spending more time with my old friends here and not have much time for dating. Also, I wanted to look around a little bit.. And now I think that was stupid.. He now has a new boy friend..’

I didn’t know how to respond to this, given the statistics doesn’t it seem possible that he still has a chance with that guy, with the frequent break-ups or should I believe that, the nice guy finally found another nice guy and they would get along..

And thats when we changed to topic back to country music and the latest song ‘Red High Heels’, on a funny breakup by Kellie Pickler…

Raining on Sunday….Let it Rain.. Baby we got better things to do. Well, it is certainly not the way the country song goes. But for me it does.

There was a flood watch in place, the autumn rain which is going to stay for a while this time. After a long night at the party, I woke up feeling lazy and yearning for some body contact.

Megaplex, has a bear day every first and third sunday of the month. If you are wondering what Megaplex is and haven’t googled it, it is one of the remaining open gay bath house. Located just off the inter-state 95 in providence, rhode island.
This was going to be my first time to a bath house for real. The closest I have ever got to them was in the erotic movies, and of course from the movie ‘And the Band Played On’. The thought of being at a bath house, thus has a mixed reactions in the mind. Is it a place where I can see myself enjoying?

I rather see for myself what I am getting into than sit back and wonder about it. It is a rainy day, wonder if there would be many people though.. was my thought. Well, it is a rainy sunday afternoon, what else would people do today.

The drive was quick.. as the country music played on the radio. It was around 3pm when I reached the doors. The guy at the counter was collecting tickets from the person who arrived a couple of minutes before me. As I glanced through the notices, one particular paper caught my eye. It read something like, ‘please don’t give attitude, we will need to charge you extra to take care of your attitude.’

After a check on the age, I was making it through the locked doors. No alcohol or drugs, the gatekeeper told, as he handed me the keys to the lockers. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do”, he said.. I decided I stick with the open space and not take any room. Oh yes, there are different rooms. But I would limit (or really expand) myself to the big space with sofas and a fake fireplace.

After quickly getting on to a towel and nothing else, it was time to take a tour of the place. The memory flashes from the movies did make the place look more familiar. The dingy spacious toilet rooms in the corners. They certainly can admit more than two people at once. Well.. I wasn’t going to try that today.

I made my way to the sauna, still feeling a little cold from walking in the rain outside. It was a small square shaped room with people standing along the circumference and some seated in the dual step. This was the first time ever, I got so close to seeing so many people in their bath towels.. and some without.

Well, the only thing about that place was that I couldn’t see the faces, but just the figures. So I moved on to explore the rooms outside and see how it really worked. As I went through the maize of rooms, I noticed some locked and some unlocked rooms. The unlocked ones, had either a single or a couple open to welcome the passer by. I rather have it from the beginning.. so open rooms didn’t interest me much.

As I walked past them, I reached a dark alley. Though I couldn’t tell how many were there(it was the darkest place), I could hear the activities being carried out at the peaks.  Doing in the darkness doesn’t interest me much. It is better when it is done in clear and bright light. So not willing to let myself into the darkness, I walked towards the showers.

This is probably the most shocking for an inhibited south asian queer. The part where you can’t hold on to your towel any longer. But hey, I have long shed that layer of inhibition. I was eager to put it out and wet myself.

A quick glance around at the eyes looking at the new entry and then a second glance at the one I liked the best among them. The third glance followed the invitation to share the shower. As you can tell, it never stops there. And as we felt and explored, I could sense the eyes watching us, but what do I care. The second co-incidence – meeting in the shower(yes, I will tell the first co-incidence later.). Meeting this guy at the bath room. After a while, we did realize, there was a queue forming with neither ‘us’ getting away nor the singles in the other showers watching us.

So we parted, since neither of us had taken a room. Third co-incidence – not having a room. He walked into the steam room, while I made my way to the sauna. After drying myself and still not finding the urge to explore in the dark, I made it to the front desk. The deal here, as I saw was each guy was making them self comfortable in one large sofa. Couldn’t tell if that was just for relaxing or waiting for a pickup.

A few moments later, I saw a hot body with six abs walk by. As I was still staring, I looked back and I smiled. Well, apparently thats a sign (which I wished it was), because he came back and said ‘I have a room, if you like’. That was the best pickup line ever. And the fastest hookup I ever got myself into……

It was time to hit the showers again… The shower room was empty by now and this time I was on my own. As I felt the warm water, I watched someone walk into the shower opposite me. So I turned around to see the aroused person. I was soon, sharing the shower with him, while someone came to use mine and turned it off. And this time I followed this guy into the steam room….

And then, a walk around the rooms again. Looked back at a guy in the doorway. (Even looking back is a signal.). I am 50 he said. “Really, I thought”. Who can tell the age from the looks. So I said ‘I am 29’. He said, it is right here. What he was talking about was his room number. Duh, what was I thinking? Does anyone speak of their age in the bath house.

Well. It was time for another shower. Really it felt like I am in a bath house now. The fourth co-incidence happened – He was back in the showers. The guy I shared my first shower with. It was more like a Deja-vu. This time, I followed him into the steam room. Of course, this is not a private space, but it was too late, a orgy group formed around us, just like they show in the movies.

He left at some point. And I tried to excuse myself after a while, but it wasn’t easy to disrupt the eco-system. Except that I had to use the word, ‘got to get back to my boy friend..’. Well they sure thought He and I were together. I guess it is one of those vibes we sent out.

So I walked back to the showers. He wasn’t there. Avoiding some advances in the shower, I made my way to the living space with that fake fireplace again. He was there having water. So I took it too and sat in the front couch. Fifth co-incidence. And it wasn’t sex this time. But a cuddle. Best body contact one can seek, or I think so..

As we spoke, he told me, he saw me walk in and was hoping to meet me inside. Oh, so it was you in the front.. I said. And bit my tounge. I just revealed that I hadn’t noticed him. After spending another half hour and as I got to know him, I realized I just found an interesting person.

Of all places, bath house was the least I would have expected to find someone like him. Someone who likes traveling, interested in religious histories, likes his job, reads books and listens to music. But hey, I was there too and I am good, nice, decent guy. Don’t you agree? 🙂

It was time to go. And it just happened that our lockers were next to each other. Sixth co-incidence. Well.. not really. It was because we walked in around the same time. So indeed, that was the first co-incidence – coming to the bath house at the same time. As I look back now, all the other co-incidences just fall in place all starting as we entered..

Ah well, back to the locker rooms. As long as were in the locker room, it was time to realize one of the fantasies that appear in the erotic movies… and we did. Not to mention the eyes that were peeping in once in a while..

Raining on Sunday….Let it Rain.. Baby we got better things to do….

OK, now a little on the side that I have had trouble accepting and confronting. This is how it usually starts (or ends, or starts). A long time friend asks me, ‘How is your latest date?’. I must have told him about that guy I was dating a few months back. I reply back, ‘Oh that, it is over.’

He wouldn’t stop at that, ‘Why? What happened?’ OK, now my response, ‘He was very needy, he had lot of expectations from me, he was getting all touchy…’ I go on and on… My friend would listen to me for a while and then say. ‘Thats sweet. What is wrong with that?’

And I go blank. It is not because I don’t know why I broke up, but I don’t know how to tell him that ‘there is no sparkle between us, and I am still looking for those sparkling moments.’ I am not ready to be tied down and told to be coherent. I like variety. I like to change my mind as I explore new things.

But every once in a while, there are those moments where I see a couple. The intimacy they share, the way they look after each other. The way they seem to do everything for each other. It is a nice feeling to watch them. And I give in to one of those moments, and would venture on a new fling with that old date.

He (my old date), still struggling to find out why I left him the way I did, is still looking in the way I went. And in my mood of couple’s intimacy, I look back at him. Though, momentary the yearning towards him is true. In that moment, I feel strongly towards him, but if only I can hold on to that.

Before I turn away, I know I have given new hopes. And he is coming my way, at which point I just wish I had vanished, but I stick around and let his hopes and spirits build up. Only till I reach that moment again, where I walk way, unspoken. And next time my friends calls me, I say.. ‘He is touchy, feely, needy…’

It hurts to leave him groan in the pain I caused, as he says:

Quit Playing

The extravaganza that you crafted meant “nothing serious” to you?
Quite a try. You breach through the cross-fire all shielded leaving me
burnt to ashes. You throw me into your testing waters only to abandon
me when I couldn’t swim across to your bank. Metaphors fail me.

I wasn’t expecting. There was a reason for my recluse. When I
reconcile your sudden affectations as a possible reflection of your
emotions, I got involved. I thought the lapse was needed to know if
the influences and reflexes are genuine enough. Just to be too sure.
It is disheartening to learn that this time went too fast for you to
simply move on.

I didn’t ask for ‘to be loved’ and get hurt. Just don’t turn back
while you go, I will be very humiliated at my own struggling efforts.

Note: The paragraph on Quit Playing was written by a friend (in a context unrelated to me). But it seemed to express the perspective I would leave behind when I walk away without a reason.

It is Monday morning. I just got back home from a weekend trip and fighting the blues of working my day through. As a sweet distraction, I logged into my new social network building up online.

What I like about online communities is the way they help shed the inhibitions. The recent networks that let everyone see the friend’s friends list have made it possible to connect to  new people in a cordial and slightly non-awkward way.

This morning, I happened to find one such guy online. He had scrapped me the previous week with a winker and I responded back with the same. I was just starting my day and it was going to be end of his day in his world. But we did have a little chat which went beyond the basics of knowing about each other.

As we were winding up, he said. ‘Oh!! I forgot to call that guy. Anyway he must have found a different one for the night.’ I told him, ‘May be it is not too late for a three-way.’

He responded. ‘The intellectual orgazm I had with you is better than that for tonite.’

A perfect get away for those friday lovers. It was at HK Lounge, 405W 39th Avenue, New York. This was my first time to an lounge party where I could meet a lot of Desis (south  asians). I loved the ambiance of that slight dim candle lights, constant flow of water around the corners and cozy little gatherings.

As it always is the case, there were well formed groups and a crowd near the hot studly bar tenders.. After the usual formalities of coat-check and a usual gaze through the room for the prospective new contacts, I settled near the stairs. A spot to get a good view of people coming in and those who are already in.

As my friend Arvish settled himself with a drink, I saw my object of curiosity for the night. He was standing at the bar in the middle of the crowd, but not attached to anyone. Had a perfect body and a calm composure. A face with defined lines, happy though he wasn’t smiling at all. His eyes seemed to move from one direction to other in a very animated fashion. Neither too fast nor too slow. When he looked out, he looked as if he had all the right to look. (Usually I would call that a stare.. but there was something about the way he looked.)

I was pretty sure he caught me notice him. But his emotions indicated otherwise. Arvish was back, and was introducing me to his friend. There was that usual social talk, but my attention quickly drifted to the boy standing next to me. A twink with his ears pierced with studs.  He had a drink in his hand, and he seemed to notice that I wasn’t drinking. After a couple of stares, I leaned over him and said.. those are beautiful studs. Well he was himself nice too. He gave that smile.. and he said ‘Are you afraid of drinks?’. ‘Do I look like that?’. He startled me with his response, ‘Never take the book by its cover?’. I had no words to defend myself at that time.. and I just slipped myself into the crowd.

It is interesting to see these groups form (which I have done in the past couple of years).  For instance, I walked by Nicky and Micky whom I had seen as single last time and had noticed them leave the party as a couple. And today they were here as a pair. Just friends .. maybe. And there was this crowd surrounding the Hi’B. (Hi’B started coming to the parties just over an year ago, but now I could see him attract a good amount of crowd. More about him in a different post…). And there is always that person who comes to the party with a new group every time.

But, my favorite groups were those sitting in the slightly dimmer lights sharing jokes and seeming to have a lot of fun. The aura floating around them was that of friends who have known each other for quite a long time.

By the time I went around, I noticed my curiosity standing in a corner.. and so  I approached him and said ‘Hi.’ I had no idea what I was going to say next, but I just had to do that. ‘I am Aman’, he said and then after a couple of moments of awkward silence.. I enquired.. ‘Do you come here often?’ He said ‘Yes, but I usually am not on the dance floor without my shirts?’.

I wish he did that though, he had this great body which I later found out was due to his passion for health. He said, ‘everyone should take care of their bodies, a shirt should look good on the body and not the other way..’ As I sticked along with him, I started to like him more and more.

But, it wasn’t a hookup night, but a social gathering. So I did move around catching up with old friends and meeting some new and interesting ones on the way. I did bump into the ‘boy’ again, who whispered ‘I still think you are afraid to drink’ and left with another boy.

As I involved myself with a group of friends and listening to one of their comic stories, Aman passed by me. As he made his way out, he gave that pat on my shoulder. The one that meant more to me than anything else that night.  Looking back, I wonder if I should have taken that moment to give him a good hug…..

It was around midnight, before we got out. Arvish had left much earlier.

1am friday night. As I walked out on the streets,  there was a sweet feeling in the night. As I passed the restaurant around the corner, I noticed a few people from the party continuing there conversation at a late night dinner.  I waved my hand at them and walked through…

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