Thursday, 18 October 2012

Will Reading Mumbai Mirror make me Pregnant?



I am a big fan of Dr Mahinder Watsa’s Ask The Sexpert column in Mumbai Mirror.  In fact I keep a scrap book of all my favourite problems and believe me, it’s an interesting read.

Dr Mahinder must be a very patient man because he deals with the same ‘problem’ again and again and the answer is invariably: “No, it will not make you go blind.”
Because this is a family publication, I’d better not go into too much detail about the sexual problems of the poor souls who pen these letters, but I will say how shocked I am at the level of ignorance.

If I were a skeptical person, I might say that they must have been concocted by a couple of reporters having a laugh at the readers’ expense but then, if this were the case, wouldn’t the problems be a little more varied? They are, as I say, almost always concerned with one topic and one topic only - and that is the solitary past-time of young men.

Occasionally we see a variation of the theme. Here are a few of my favourites but bear in mind; I am going to have to paraphrase… a lot:

“I stole my aunty’s knickers off the washing line and enjoyed some sexy time with them before hanging them back. Will she get pregnant?”

“How long can I keep wearing stained pants?”

“Recently a mosquito flew into my eye and got stuck. Will I get Aids?”

Most of the problems are triple-X rated and funnily enough seem to happen to people’s friends rather than to themselves. “My friend had oral with a girl and the spunk trickled down her neck and onto her underwear…… Can she get pregnant?”  His ‘friend’ seems to know an awful lot, doesn’t he? It is almost as if he were in the room with them.

I have just read through the whole scrap book of problems – three years worth- and I laughed so much that the maid came in to see if I was alright. Sadly, I cannot repeat any of them here because they are way too blue but it makes me wonder how Mumbai Mirror gets away with it in a city where public displays of affection between men and women are few and far between.

We’ve all seen the couples canoodling far from home on the Sealink and Worli sea face, hidden beneath scarves in case they are spotted by a passing family friend. But you don’t see them going about arm-in-arm or kissing openly because Indian Society is quite buttoned-up about stuff like that.

I understand that sex is not spoken about in the homes of most Indian families and many schools do not have a sex education programme. No wonder there are so many messed-up questions flying about. The good doc Mahinder must be run off his feet but always finds the time to impart wise words to all those anxious, head-scratching would-be lovers out there.

But there’s more to Mumbai Mirror than Dr Mahinder’s marvelous column. I also enjoy the entertainment listing section Fun Zone. I am tempted to pick out one of these events at random and then just turn up for a laugh. I might really enjoy a play called ‘So Many Socks’ or ‘Moments with Pankaj Udhas’ (a soulful-lookin’ dude who looks a bit like Bob Carolgees, you know…him off Tiswas… Spit the Dog)

But then again, maybe I wouldn’t.

 I’m usually on my second cup of chai by the time I get to the adverts for miracle body treatments and marvel about how they get away with it. Don’t the trading standards people read this stuff?

 “Skin Whitening All over body in few days Whitening from within!!”

“Stem cell Hair Multiplication, best price Rs 12 per hair!!!”

“Look 10 years younger in three hours with long-lasting endoscopic face lift!!!!!” 

One exclamation mark is enough to indicate surprise, there is never any need for a double, and triple and above just makes me plain angry.

One minute I’m scoffing at the absurdity of it all, the next I get drawn in and start writing down the phone numbers. I could do with some hair multiplication. Maybe that endoscopic face lift might really work? (I might even have considered it if it were presented without the exclamation marks) (!)

And so onto the News which is mainly either something incomprehensible about a Housing Scam or something I won’t bother reading because the  headline is written in acronyms which I am not familiar with: 
“Now, hold FSs, insurance, PO funds in demat”

How unsnappy is that?

Or how about: “Arrested IM men plotted attack ATS HQ”

Yeah, can’t be bothered to read that either.

But amongst all this political hoo-ha there are stories of such human pain and suffering that sometimes they stay with me for days or even weeks -  the stories of abused and depressed women hanging themselves by their dupattas from the ceiling fan or of children who are taken from their homes and later found in gunny bags in abandoned buildings.  Today I read the story of a rickshaw driver who was hit by a bus as he chased a passenger for three rupees and lost his leg. He was the only bread winner in a large family who will now all suffer. Sometimes the news is too much to bear. Sometimes, it’s easier to think of what we read as just stories rather than things that are actually happening to the people we are driving past in our air-conditioned Innovas.

The woman looking out of the window on the crowded bus might be worrying about a missing child (or else daydreaming about a moment with Pankaj Udhas), the man behind her might be angry at his wife for not giving him a son while she is at home eyeing up the ceiling fan, wondering if it will take her weight. It won’t be long before the one-legged former rickshaw driver is tapping at your window for small change at the lights.

It’s all getting a bit dark, isn’t it? I guess what I am trying to say is that it is hard for us to comprehend the suffering of so many people we see every day on the streets of Mumbai, people who are desperate and real. Our coping strategy is often to detach ourselves because the problem is too big for us to change. But let’s do what we can, where we can to make small differences to people’s lives. A little goes a long way…and that is one of Dr Mahinder’s favourite sayings! (!!) 

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