Queering Bombay : The Time When The Lip Balm Cock-Blocked My Space

So after my many misadventures with gay women in India, I decided to give men a chance.

So after my many misadventures with gay women in India, I decided to give men a chance. No I did not decide to change my sexuality, I decided to hang out with gay men. When the hanging out ended two things happened. One I thought “What was I thinking?” and two I went into hibernation. Why? Because you cannot avoid gay women in India – wherever you go, they will find you!

You see, this is what happened: For one of those hang outs we decided to head towards a party in the suburban part of Mumbai. Packed with our passports and snack packs, we headed out to the suburbs. While we were on the Bandra – Worli Sea Link, one of the boys shrieked and demanded that the car be stopped. Now you can only stop a car on the Sea Link in emergencies such as you don’t have your passport or if your dog calls you. However our friend’s continued insistence made us stop the car. He went into a super panic mode, stripping himself searching for something. He was about to strip us all, then realizing that a gay woman would not have what he so urgently requires, he aborted the idea. After an in depth analysis of his moaning and whining, which by the way involved me calling a top level linguist from a top level university in a top level first world country to decipher his ramblings, failing which requesting the said man to speak a little more clearly, we realized he forgot his protection at home – no, not condoms. A lip balm. He forgot to take his lip balm.

There were only two choices left – either let him wear my blazer (yes I wear a blazer in Bombay, because I am a New York return SoBo-ite) like a cape and jump of the sea link so that he can fly home to his lip balm, or use the oil from the car engine. Of course the man would rather jump off the bridge than wear something so unfashionable as my blazer (a gay woman’s blazer is rarely fashionable) or let something so stinky as the car engine oil touch his lips even if it is pink in colour (The car was owned by a gay person, so obviously the oil was pink if not rainbow). The drama that ensued forced the dyke in me to bully the gay man into submission, pack him in the car and drive off before the mad mob that had gathered on the sea link threw us into the Arabian Sea.

Somehow we managed to save our sanity and reach the location in question. The uncharted territories of suburban Bombay are far safer than the no man’s land or an annoyed gay man’s car. However, unimpressed by the protection that suburban Bombay gave us, the man in question continued to harp about his lip balm. And believe me or not, as the case always is, the day was saved by the dyke in tights and cape (or rather a pull over which looked like a cape) – no, not me. There was another one in the car who I was obviously ignoring because I had decided to exclusively hang out with men and it being her car the exclusivity clause required modification and as such I chose to ignore her.

So, as I was saying, she saved the day by rummaging through her bag and finding a solitary lip balm amongst other beauty care products. She had a lip balm. Like seriously, she had a lip balm and not just any lip balm, but the one with an exfoliator. This new turn of events shocked me completely and I forgot all about my “ignore lesbians mandate” for you see I started to question her sexuality. Either she was pretending to be a gay woman or she was really transgressing the proper boundaries of ideal lesbianism. It is a universally acknowledged truth that stereotypes are distributed quite equally between all the labels and identities that fall under the umbrella queer and a lip balm certainly does not belong to a gay woman, let alone one with an exfoliator – it is clearly a gay man’s domain and it so typically hypocritical of lesbians to typically transgress these stereotypical boundaries and then as feminists – both typical and stereotypical – talk about patriarchy amongst the queer community. So typical!

Determined as I was, to not let this transgressive breakdown of queer culture happen, I saw it as my duty to dig deeper and figure it all out and salvage her sexuality, which is never an easy task. Her tolerance for gay men, excessive social comfort and ability to seamlessly talk to any and everyone, not to mention the super sixth sense of being able to seamlessly maintain five conversations simultaneously and all of them being rational and legit and all this while being at an absolute ease with herself, really did not work in her favour. Nothing she did made her seem gay!

Never the one to lose hope, I was losing it this time – fast and furious, and just when I had lost it, I found it again for she started talking about football – she salvaged her sexuality, of course, all thanks to me – I am sure I triggered it in her for you see being gay is contagious. You also see, it is a universally known truth that a gay woman loves balls and all kinds of balls – big or small, hard or soft – they just love balls. In fact, the best way to find out whether a woman is gay or not, apart from her hair style, dressing sense and level of independence is how much she loves balls – any kind of balls – football, basketball, volley ball, handball, soft ball as well as cricket ball, ping pong ball, tennis ball etc.

And that’s how the day was saved for the Indian dyke – not me, the other one. For me it was quite the contradictory. You see, much against my choice I was forced to spend most of my evening talking to a lovely single Indian gay woman because the lip balm cock-blocked my space, simultaneously evoking my responsibility towards preserving the Queer culture. Notwithstanding that, most of the conversation went quite smoothly and there was no set up. It was quite simply the worst thing that can happen to any single Indian lesbian woman – not her, me, for I had decided to hang out with men only to avoid lesbian misadventures. As such I was left thinking, “What was I thinking” and eventually decided that I must go into hibernation till I buy the handbook on How to tackle the Indian Queer scene. Ciao.

About the author

Abha Talesara

Abha Talesara is a writer, director and producer with experience in three countries – UK, US and India. After producing her first feature in New York, she recently moved back to Bombay where she set up her own company – Breakthrough Productions. When she is not working, she spends her time in search of fine whiskey and good beer and of course, failing at making sense of the contemporary Indian culture.