Aranya sat on her old moth-ridden sofa, her legs parallel to the ground, placed lovingly on the small coffee table that she had recently procured at a garage sale, a heavy, clunky laptop resting on her lap. She started intently into the screen, scouring craigslist for deals. She had been able to get a neat little TV (32″) at a steal, and was looking for a smartphone that she could migrate to from her small dumb phone. She had moved to the US to pursue her master’s in physiotherapy, and after spending cold winters in Indiana on a pittance as a graduate student, had managed to secure a job in sunny California. After having waited for about a year, paying off various loans that helped her get educated, she finally had enough in her account to start living like a human being and migrate from the bare-bones grad-student existence. The money was good, but she was not extravagant, and hence craigslist.
She marked out certain links, carefully placing them on the open text editor, noting down the phone numbers and adding her comments. She’d make the calls the next day from work. She looked up at the clock which beamed a red-11 PM with a sharpness that made her realize that she had as usual forgotten to take off her contact lenses. She made a mental note to do so before she went to bed. It had been a long day; far too many patients and too little time to see them all. She had spent 12 hours on her feet and now, all that she wanted to do was to sit and not think. She did not feel sleepy, just physically drained, and hence she decided to spend some time browsing through the various distractions that the internet had to offer. As she looked at the homepage of craigslist, she noticed a ‘personals’ section, which she had seemingly missed all the other times she had been on the site. Listed in neat, small-case were subcategories such as ‘women seeking women’, ‘men seeking men’, ‘men seeking women’ etc. Curious, she clicked on ‘men seeking women’. After clicking through a series of warnings that she did not really read, she arrived at the list of personals of men who were looking out for women. She began to randomly click through the listings.
There was a 22 year old guy who was looking for older women (>40 only), who said this was ‘not a fetish’. A married guy looking for a FWB (friends with benefits, urban dictionary told her). A ‘salacious visual performance’ with what appeared to be a 8.5″ member (yes, he had that data up, no photo though). Another who was looking for a women who’d give him a good time in a parking lot for some dough and then would walk away (was that not what a prostitute did?). A man who was apparently offering his high-sperm-count services to any woman who wanted a baby, but not a man; he seemingly had an agreement made up for this and had ‘served’ other women too. It was when she found a guy who was ready to pay some moolah to have a woman’s breasts fondled (and nothing else) that she quit and jumped back to the homepage.
After having visited what seemed like a dark salacious place where relationships had somehow metamorphosed into outright exhibitions of lust, she decided to check out if the women on this site were as libidinal as the men. She started off with a ‘thick’ woman who was married bu unhappy, but soon started to see what she had earlier been expecting to see. People on the look out for serious relationships. Most of the women seemed to be ‘chubby’, and were looking for the perfect man. They described these men in short sentences, which even in their abruptness provided an excellent glimpse into the world that they lived in.
Who are these people who look to the internet to find a date, she asked herself. And who are these women who seemingly have been tremendously influenced by the chick-flicks that release every year during the holidays. Did they not ever step into the ‘men looking for women’ section and see what they had on offer? She found the desperation of these women ridiculous. Looking to the internet to find love! Ha. At least the men had something right. Looking for lust was probably acceptable, but looking for relationships?! Who were these people who used these sections? Did they actually find someone? The country was really nice and all, but was surely filled with a good bunch of loonies. Desparate loonies. She shook her head in resignation.
As she closed the tab on her browser, she noticed that she had received an email from her mother. She clicked the link as she had the dozens of times before and studied the page carefully. She went back to the email and replied, ‘Seems interesting. Proceed’. Then went back to the page she was studying and did some searching of her own. After having browsed through a handful of pages, she went to her own page on that site, gave it a quick glance and updated a small section that she was not that happy with. She read through her bharatmatrimony listing carefully:
I am a physical therapist who loves my work. I have loads of interests outside of work — reading, learning new languages, music etc. I am an extrovert and am giggly almost always. I love food, travel and pretty much everything else. Honestly, I am not sure what I am looking for in a mate. I’d prefer somebody who is broad-minded, has a good sense of humor and at some point of time would like to return to India. So ping me, if this sounds like the person you are! 😉