May 30, 2020
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Not On The Same Page

Well, the cocktail circuit is no hunting ground

Not On The Same Page
Illustration by Sorit
Not On The Same Page

I have often seen a tinge of envy in many a (male) friend’s eye upon catching sight of a picture of me on page 3. I can imagine what’s going through his mind—I must be getting great sex if I’m at a page 3 party every night. Well, let me set the record straight: I have never gotten lucky at any so-called page 3 party. In fact, I will go so far as to say that I am more likely to get better action at an international parliamentary forum or development conference than at a page 3-party. The reason is simple. Page 3 parties are: a) incestuous and b) peppered with people who are either very gay or very old or very bored and have no interest in anything apart from being photographed.

Look at the anatomy of today’s page 3 party. The page 3 press is invited to any kind of an event—from a wedding to a funeral; from a book-reading to a pet-show where Vinod Mehta may be showing off Editor; from ministers releasing their own biographies to boring panel discussions on climate change. Now how on earth would you expect action from me when I’m only keen on either carbon emissions or raving and ranting about how cool the 1960s were?

There are of course fashionable page 3 parties too: where you always meet the same hags carrying their Birkins, all visibly ageing under the weight of the price-tags. Then, there are those women who will make it a point to bribe the page 3 photographer just so that their ‘side-profile’ can be clicked. (Yes, India is the only country where we insist on our ‘side-profile’ being photographed, because we think it is more flattering.) Now, would you like to go to bed with someone whose grammar is so retarded that they use phrases like ‘side-profile’? For that matter, would you like to undress someone who needs several hours to remove her make-up?

Sex is never casual. It’s sex for oil; sex for handbags; sex for caviar; sex for marriage; sex to take me to Goa on New Year’s.

I have always believed a little conversation helps the art of seduction. But what do you talk about to page 3 women once you’ve finished discussing Gudda and Birkins and Hermes’ new launch, and the fantastic cheese that Vir recommended? Let’s not forget that most page 3-types live in a bubble. They get up at about 7 pm every evening, just to get dressed and go out. They haven’t seen the sun for ages; they have no idea that Sushma Swaraj is a politician—they suspect, rather, that this is the name of a brand of hair oil (which, of course, they would never use) and they have no clue which party Manmohan Singh belongs to. The faces you see in any page 3 photograph are faces untouched by the cruelties of reality. For them, 2G is a form of fine bikini wear, and has nothing to do with telecom.

When you do get sex on the cocktail circuit, it is never ever casual. It is sex for oil; sex for handbags; sex for caviar; sex for marriage; sex to take me to Goa next New Year’s Eve. The word ‘casual’ is insulting to the craftiness of most women (and men) who are page 3 regulars. So, if you think you’ve gotten lucky on a one-night stand with some page 3-type at a page 3 bash, think again. It’s more than likely that this night will haunt you for a long, long time—such is the nature of the beast. Casual sex in this world is usually stage-managed. Relaxed, unpremeditated, truly casual sex is as rare here as the sighting of an honest A. Raja or a Hailey’s comet.

I know all of this will be a real dampener to all ye who believe that the page 3 parties are a fertile breeding ground for sexual adventures: the sad part is they aren’t and have never been. They are a breeding ground for the crafty and the wise; for the sublime and the ridiculous to coexist, but not for casual sex. Don’t get taken in by low-slung dresses and pouted lips. They are designed to deceive and worse still—ensnare.

Suhel Seth is the managing partner of Counselage India.

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