Talking to Strangers: New Delhi, India

Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

by Diksha Basu

Meenakshi, 30

What do you do for a living?
I'm a writer. I'm the author of three books now and I run a website in Delhi.

That sounds like a very solitary job. Does it help you meet men?
I feel like being a writer is the new being a model. Every time you tell someone you're a writer, first they say, "Published?" and then once you say, "Yes," their eyes light up and they think, "God, intellectual chick."

So is that how you meet men?
Um. Sometimes.

You said you're seeing someone. Is that how you met him?
I think that's how I got the person I'm seeing now.

Who are you seeing, and how did you meet him?
I'm seeing a very tall man. And I met him two years ago when we both lived in the same city. Through a common friend. But we've only been dating for about eight months.

How did you start dating?
He came to visit the city I'm living in now and we realized that that the chemistry that was between us from the beginning was hard to fight.

What made you go for him? What do you look for in a guy?
That is such a surreal question, because I don't think my answer would be the same year to year. This particular one, he was nice, he was funny, he was good-looking, which is always nice. And he's driven, which is something I admire in a man. I didn't think I did, but I do.

So, I see he's white, and you're Indian.
Yes. Frankly, it's not the first multi-culti relationship that I've had.

You've been with many white men?
I've been with... some. I wouldn't say many. Many is a loose definition. Some. My share.

Would you say you prefer white men?
[laughs] No. I wouldn't say "prefer," but something about the path my life has taken has made me attracted to the more global citizens than people who are solely connected to one country. And foreign men who come to India tend to be travelers, and that is very attractive to me.

Does that affect the permanence of the relationship? Do you worry that they might go back?
Well, insofar as no relationship is permanent, it worries me. But I always worry that these guys are looking for a little curry on the side, and then they want to go home and be with the person who reminds them of... home-cooked food. That being said, I've had reasonably decent experiences so far.

Any good hookup stories? I'm talking about stories you wouldn't tell your grandchildren.
There was a French guy. We were in an auto-rickshaw, and he asked me if I knew any French, and I said, "Well, as a matter of fact, I do know this one song." He said, "Oh, which one is that?" and I'm thinking to myself, "How could someone not know which song? It's the song. The song with the French in it." So I said, you know, "Voulez-vous couchez avec moi?" and he looked at me and said, "Yes."

So you slept with him?

Would you say you're a bit of a predator?
Not at all! I'd say I'm the passive one. It was the only French I knew!

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
There was this one... [laughs] There was this one dude who wanted me to do rather unsavory things, and I was quite drunk that night, and I kept thinking to myself, "Is that the kind of girl he thinks I am?" And there was another dude who was quite rough, and again I kept thinking to myself, "Is that the kind of girl he thinks I am?" Some things are exit only.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get laid? Other than speaking limited French to Frenchmen.
I went to a really really crowded beach in Bombay with this one guy I met there. And it's like tourists only. You wouldn't actually want to be there.

White men?
You're putting words in my mouth now. It could be a brown guy. But, yeah… Okay, you know what? Let me give you an Indian story. [Pause. Folds her hands into a namaste. Long silence.]


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