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Tips for the aspiring socialite (Mumbai)


So I am new to Mumbai, spent about a month here so far, going to be here for a little while more. I tried going out 3 nights, and was amused to notice quite a few faux pas. So decided to write an article about it. I am sure you can think of people who can use these tips. :)

And this is more for light hearted reading than anything else:

1) Shower : No, your strong perfume (or what ever that foul smelling liquid you purchased for a $1.50, is called) is not going to mask body odor. It is instead going to merge with it, and act like a flashing siren - like when a LAPD squad car is driving through Compton. It is going to announce your presence from 2 miles away. Also, for guys, learn not to use your mom's solitary bottle of flowery perfume that a cousin got for her a decade ago on a trip abroad.

2) When I was a kid, I was fascinated by barn animals. Having always lived in cities, it was an awesome experience for me to visit a farm, touch the animals, etc. Till one day, I visited a barn in the hot summer, .... It was hot, a closed environment without much fresh air influx... ergo the natural perfume of the residents permeated the space. I refused to drink milk for a month after that...

Very very similar to a night club in a 'Human Resource Rich' Nation... isn't it?

So Use a deodorant: A deodorant and a perfume are NOT mutually exclusive. Its not One or the Other. A Deoderant is a MUST, whereas a man may choose to use just an after shave instead of a perfume.

3) Brush your teeth before going for a night out. Bad breath is HORRIBLE! Invest in some gum, or maybe a bottle of breath freshening liquid or Listerine strips and take them along where ever you go.


I went recently to buy a salicylic acid based acne face wash - like Neutrogena or hopefully something cheaper. Salicylic acid is salicylic acid, be it in neutrogena or the local CVS store brand.

I visited the local mall, and there was one face wash called "acnea" which by the way did not contain a single medically proven oil control or acne removal chemicals. Apart from that, the shelves were FULL of face whitening products.

"WASH YOUR FACE - CHANGE YOUR RACE!" was the quintessential message! Fair and Handsome, Pale and Beautiful, Pallid and gorgeous! Lives-in-the-basement-never-seen-the-sun and stunning! Dead-fish-belly and Alluring! The brand names were simply .... ermmm out of this world!

Which brings me to my point : just because you are light skinned (by Indian Standards) does not make you beautiful. Example : 'healthy', lighter skinned female with the most shoddy hair color imaginable... she probably colored her hair like 2 decades ago, and now only 3 inches at the end are a bright orange, and the rest has reverted to its natural color.

And of course, homely would be an exaggeration about her looks.

BUT... she had the attitude and airs of being someone exceedingly attractive..

I just want to get it out there, that just skin color is NOT indicative of beauty. Beauty is both on the outside and inside. And the BELUGA syndrome needs to be put under control!


I remember taking a girl I was casually dating to a Ross Dress for Less at 3rd and fairfax (Los Angeles). She was not exactly what I would call hot, she was a typical California Blonde. Yes her dad was a millionaire, and she compensated by always being the designated driver (when with friends). ROFL. You know the score... such girls and scooters are fun, as long as they don't become lifestyle choices.... Well, at the store, she was visibly upset when standing in line at check out, some Mexicans stood too close to her. She commented thereafter that THIS is why she avoided that place!

Look, apart from "Human resource rich" (HRR) nations (reference : "Yes Minister" - Anthony Jay & Jonathan Lynn) people in most countries enjoy having (roughly) a 2 feet circle of personal space that we don't like being invaded in. In case of a queue or a public space, we will concede 1/2 a foot from that and the circle is 1.5 feet. But it is NOT ACCEPTABLE under any circumstances that anyone can feel your breath on their necks! Or Smell your breath or you! Stay the hell back!

Lately I have started a crusade to reclaim my personal space. Like for example at Grocery stores, it involves bringing with me an empty shopping cart, when while holding a shopping basket with the items I want to actually purchase. And positioning the cart between myself and the person behind me.

Only once a guy tried pushing it away. However being taller and larger has its distinct advantages in such situations.

6) Touching:
In most places you go, you will find these "Gregarious" types... or in most cases people who think they are the gregarious types! It is usually manifest by being loud (voice and laughter), and touching.

Of course I understand if you have Protected content for a Protected content population (random numbers), crowding and touching are a part of life in a Human Resource Rich (HRR) nation. But apart from these HRR nations, it is not that common. And honestly most people DO Not like being groped even if you are an acquaintance or a friend.

Physical contact is an intimate gesture. A single touch or a closeness can be exceedingly erotic when correctly executed, whereas excessive touching is obnoxious! And touching is not sex restricted, it has to be universally controlled regardless of the gender. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE!

7) Trying to "network" at a night life event: What is the first question you get asked by people in India? Think... remember? Lol. Yup it is "What do you do for work?!!!!" And they expect details. "So do you believe you can improve the alertness of your chowkidar (Security guard) - especially at nights - by gifting him scratchy, rough material underpants?"

Look, when people go to an event, or a night spot, they are looking to have fun. They are looking to get AWAY from it all. Get it? NOT think about work?

Also, just because you wrangled your way in to the club does not mean that some one is going to hire you or give you business or give you a work visa to come and work for his firm. There are networking Meet-ups, why not go for those?

8) Table manners:
Eating is a social event. In chimpanzees, eating together reinforces social bonds, and it is accompanied by a lot of enthusiastic psuedo mating, poo flinging and a lot of chattering. Every social animal eats with another, to reinforce a social bond. When you take a person on a date, it is usually to eat together. It is like back in the good old days .. "ME CRO-MAGNON MAN, ME BIG HUNTER, ME KILL MAMOTH. ME - YOU EAT!"

Well we have evolved a little from those times, so please... LEARN HOW TO HOLD A KNIFE AND A FORK!

A spoon is NOT the ubiquitous eating instrument!

Also, Chew with your mouth closed! Every wannabe social climber is completely unaware of the faux pas of this horrible habit! People do want to see you masticating, as much as they do not want to see you doing what-rhymes-with-masticating.

DO NOT DOUBLE DIP! If you have a food item and some kind of commonly shared dipping sauce, dip the item ONCE before you bite in to it. Then eat the whole thing! Do not take a bite and dip it again!
On this point, I would like to mention that in the US this problem was solved thanks to George Costanza... I think we should thank Seinfeld for raising awareness of this issue and other severe social problems like... peeing in the shower.

9) At New York where I went to school, we had clubs near the University, like - almost within walking distance of the campus. It was an expensive school, and in the US, people know their place. Townies knew better than to come to those places! Of course we did go downtown some times for wild times, once we even found a credit card, and ordered drinks around for everyone and gave the waitresses $50 tips, but that's a different story. :)

Also in Beverly Hills or Boston, there are distinct clubs for distinct clientele. Try entering Sky-bar on Sunset blvd or Boulevard 3 on Vine & sunset or Playhouse on Hollywood blvd in tattered clothes. The Bouncers will laugh you away!

Evidently that is not so in Mumbai. You can pay the cover, well ... come right in! ROFL! But see just being able to afford the cover does not give you acceptance to a social circle.

10) Learn to dress! Especially for actual expatriates who think it is perfectly normal to wear tattered jeans and a cotton t-shirt to a night club. Seriously? Would you do that in your home country? Is it not enough that older / middle aged people wear hideous hats and flowery attire when on vacation, that young people too should not wear proper clothes? YOU are on vacation, why do you think your fashion sense needs to be on vacation too?

And yes couple of pointers for dressing sense!

- A faded pair of jeans - intentionally faded by the manufacturer is different from a worn pair of jeans.Faded jeans = manufactured "age". Worn jeans = tired old stuff that you should we wearing on Sunday in the garage when replacing the oil in your car.
While Versace and Diesel do make good jeans that you can wear to nice events, jeans are usually not welcomed in nice settings.

- Hair gel vs. hair oil. A pommade or a gel or a cream makes your hair stay in place. Oil stinks and in the heat of a HRR nation, makes the person look worse than the Florida coast after an Exxon Valdez!

- Foot wear : no open toed foot wear for men, and unless you have $ Protected content Jordans or you are a rap star, no sneakers either! And please polish your shoes.

- Grow a trimmed stubble or a beard or shave. The over night growth on your chin looks as attractive as a lawn in Detroit. (Only an American who has spent time in Detroit will get this reference).

- Tight clothes over fat bellies / super loose clothes : self explanatory.

11) Taking too many liberties : It is always astounding when an acquaintance refers to a person as "Dear". Hold on a second there, if you are not Protected content old or related to that person or the significant other to him, DO NOT call him DEAR! Just because you imply it, does not mean it grants you that intimacy!

And do not ever dream of drinking from some one's mug / glass or use my fork with out explicit permission! In my case, I am assertive enough to make you pay for a replacement drink/order of food.

Space left to add more points as I think of it. Hope you had a good laugh and will pass it along. And do feel free to add to this list. :)

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