Sunday, 6 July, 2008

Chick Lits

Sunday-- the 6th of July, my computer clock shows it is 2 minutes past 6 in the evening. I am sitting crossed legged on my shrivel chair and staring at the comp, naturally my office is deserted (big boss, the certified workaholic has already come and left, thank God for small mercies) and I am trying to do some pending work. Of course I cant get myself to do the necessary. I always procrastinate and lean towards the unnecessary. Currently reading some of Payal's old writings which I had missed for some reason. They are damn good and help getting me back to reality. The next paragraph will tell you exactly why I needed a reality check.

I started and finished Advaita Kala's Almost Single. It is a racy, pacy, Sex and the City style chick lit (I do love this word---"chick lit" always somehow brings to my mind a chick meaning baby chicken who has been lighted by a bulb or something) and the book ended like all chick lits do ---with the about-to-be 30 single heroine falling in love. The end was sooo predictable. Same thing happened in Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and even Sophie Kinsella's Undomestic Goddess. Now that I come to think of it Almost Single is desi cross between British Bridget Jones and American Sex and the City. While its takes its heroine Aisha's weight problems from Bridget, it loans the shoes (stilettos and 6 inch heels) definitely from the American ladies and of course their soap. Anyways not that it matters-- if Bridget can gain weight and be single in London then Aisha can do the same in New Delhi and the same goes for our American ladies and their shoes vis a vis Aisha and her friends.

What makes me question these books is the inevitable climax they have. They start very funnily and go into real depths of all the woes of 25+ something single women on the prowl and living alone face-- women who have good careers but shitty bosses, a devoted bunch of girl and gay friends but no steady man in their lives, ex jerks oops boy friends etc. Then midway or sometimes even a little before midway a hero ( the perfect tall dark handsome, rich and even phoren return for the desi crowd to boot) appears and takes a fancy on the single lady (even though she is scatter brained, overweight and looses her act at opportunate moments, she manages to make the hero smile, you see) and before you know it you are on the last page and the hero has conquered the lady. And the apparently unconquerable now joins the couples' club.

Even the oh-so- dangerous and outrageous Sex and the City ended that way, only Samantha daring to hold onto her old life. But even then the organic diet eating Samnata is shown wallowing ice creams to get over her dumping her hunk of a much younger boy friend and getting fat.

Don't get me wrong, I do love chick lits-- the sheer volume and variety I have read of them should testify for me. All I am trying to do here is try and understand what is it they are trying to project? Are they pro-single women or are they trying to say that even though you have been single for the longest time possible in the end you do succumb like the rest and the more time you take the worse jerk you end up with (example Mr Big, yeah ladies? Ok I agree he is damn hot and sexy). The point I am trying to make is that these chick lits start with making a woman feel good, you laugh over the funny bits, instantly gel with the characters and some of the funny things they do. When they mess big time, which is often to add masala to the books or movies or series you instantly love her cos you do the same at the most inappropriate time of your life. When the heroine is broke, smokes too many ciggies, or drinks way too much or is ditched by the boy friend or commits faux pas in office or something more horrendous, we (the readers) instantly recognise the plight and empathise. But then these non stereotype women soon go the stereotype way-- meet the perfect man and head straight towards the 'happy-ever-after' road and all the connection you were making goes for a toss. After you finish reading the book you end up being kind of undecided--then what is it that women should actually do? Why is there such a major fuss over women being single and enjoying life? Why does a man always has to make entry to make her story complete? Do these books actually raise your expectation and also the pressure a notch higher on individual happy endings (read marrying the right man), rather than what Advaita herself says opening something along AA (Alcoholic Anonymous) line support group for all the single women living alone?
A few weeks back while waiting for the evening show for the movie Sex and the City to start, I read Veer Sanghvi's scorching lashing of the movie and his inability of understand why women go ga ga over such stuff. Though I do not agree with him on many of the issues he has raised but on one fundamental point I do agree. What is it these so called chick lits trying to project? I am not very sure and my Libra brain has gone for a drain. Maybe some enlightened soul has some sensible answers?


  1. Nobody really wants to remain single....
    Your last bit is very thought provoking. I think these long-term single women themselves desire to be complete with a man next to her, (though they do not state that). I know I am going contrary to my image here. But I would say if they don’t desire men then they do desire a woman, but every body desires a partner for that is what we humans have as a basic nature. But I would say these long term singles get the best deal (like the so called perfect man or woman who loves her the way she is) at the end just because of the time factor (as they have waited long enough) though grudgingly or almost in a “giving up” way and almost struggling between believing and doubting that ‘I am cut out to be single and that’s so good’.
    Why they get this so-called perfect man at the end because the man himself has gone through the same struggle but in a very ‘male’ way. And as we all know there is neither a perfect man nor a perfect woman so when this man meets this woman after long term confused waiting he becomes the best of himself. So my theory is don’t rush into settling for just anyone and also don’t give-up on your search for your perfect man. Your perfect guy is also struggling between being lifetime free bachelor and being settled man with a settled family. By the time he meets you he would be ready to be his best.

  2. Even though Aatreyee has said it all, i wish to give you my take on this.

    I think companionship is important, and more so during the later years of life. In the wake of this realisation , looking out for a partner is only natural!

    I think if the reader of these chick lit(the single female reader) wants, she can read the message of all these stories ending like this as - "Enjoy single life doing whatever your heart desires and then fall in love / settle down as and when you wish."

    I mean, doesn't the ending [the protagnist(s) settling down] also portray something that her heart desires?? As i see it , rather than concluding that shes succumbing to the societal norms in the end, its the free will (to settle down... juts like many other things she did that her heart desired) of the protagonist which should be taken out as a message here.


  3. Thanks Aatreyee for your comment. I loved this bit "Your perfect guy is also struggling between being lifetime free bachelor and being settled man with a settled family. By the time he meets you he would be ready to be his best."
    Do you know you have always been my inspirition in being bindaas? I just love your attitude in life and wish to be equally bindaas.
    Oh and thanks for the lovely dinner too :) Now no more can I bug you for biriyani :)

  4. Thanks paradox Phillic for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Between Aatreyee and you, you have done a good job of convincing me :)
    Saw you also have a blog, will visit with reading time one day soon.


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