So yesterday, someone on my timeline (why, yes! I am on Twitter now!) asked one of those questions that are guaranteed to mess up your head.
“Are you what you’ve always wanted to be?”
The reason this kind of question throws me into a tizzy is because I’ve never been one of those people, who, since the age of five, have known, with dazzling certainty, what they wanted to grow up and be. Hell, I don’t think that thought (or any thought really; I was not a very bright child) crossed my mind until I hit eighteen and was forced to, y’know decide on a career.
Like most daydream-prone, reality-divorced people, my professional (for want of a better word) ambitions were usually based on something I’d recently read about / seen / heard. This, for someone who grew up in a household full of genre-defying cultural stimuli, proved to be, as you can imagine, a bit of an issue.
At some point or the other, some of the professions (and I use the term loosely) on my list were: Maria von Trapp (or Julie Andrews), astronaut, fairy, singer (I haven’t given up on this one yet), doctor, vet, theatre actress (more on this later), rich heiress, item dancer (someday, when my body catches up with my mind) and, umm, hooker.
It was some time after our third-year exams, when the prospect of another whole year* of doing the same bloody things loomed large and depressing, that N and I decided we would become hookers. There was, it seemed, such a thing as too much painting. And too much drawing. And too many goddamn girls wearing black nail-polish and too many boys wearing their hair long and too much of being surrounded by people who were so much like you that you want to throw up at the very sameness of it all. And of course, this being Delhi in the late 90s, the concept of part-time jobs to supplement your meagre pocket money did not come into the picture and GOD were you sick of asking your parents for money.
And because a not-quite-graduate from art school is a gloriously, magnificently unemployable creature, 'hooker' was the only career option we had the er, assets for. But we weren't just going to be ANY hookers, mind you, we we’re going to be hookers from BROOKLYN, bay-bee! Because that’s where all the awesome-est hookers went (or came from). I don’t know where we got the idea that Brooklyn was the pinnacle of hookerdom - probably from the same place we got the idea that getting paid for sex was like, the coolest job *ever* – but there you have it. (Considering that we had never been to the States, nor had any previous hookering (hooking?) experience, I’d say the place was called Really Stupid Central.)
Ah, youth and all its accompanying idiocy!
So according to our plan, were going to quit college, somehow reach the states, proceed to sleep with different guys every night and get paid for it. Except, and therein lay the rub, neither of us had lost the curse yet** and sex was a little like Kandivali, i.e. unexplored and possibly hostile territory. And because the market for Brooklyn hookers was kinda difficult to break into – being the seat of higher hookerdom and all – we decided that we needed some sort of specialisation that didn’t involve any actual, well...sex.
The plan was shelved back then because it seemed no-one wanted to pay to have baffling conversation – which is the best we could offer at that point – with cute-but-clueless girls (oh cruel world!). But as the noughties rolled around, the internet’s orgy with language and capacity for instant gratification led to the birth of instant messaging, which has unearthed in me a surprising talent.
I might be socially inept and magnificently awkward in real life, but I give great IM.
Kind of like a 21st-century whore of mensa.
*I don’t know if this is a case with a lot of other undergrad courses – with the exception of engineering and medicine – but ours, the Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Delhi College of Art was four years long. And in this I was informed, we were lucky because earlier it was a five-year course and before that a SEVEN-year course. Though what on earth you could possibly do in art school for SEVEN YEARS is a bit of a mystery to me. What you can do after seven years of a liberal arts education, is an even bigger mystery.
**Yes, yes, we were slow starters okay? Although it *was* more a matter of venue than virtue. Did YOU guys ever get any that wasn’t a furtive grope in the back of somebody’s car? I mean, where, if you were in college and yes, still living with your parents DID you make out?