Boys in Calcutta cannot get laid.

For some reason, the boys (the men? I've reached that stage where I'm not sure what word to use for my peers) in Calcutta cannot get laid.

This has been an ongoing problem for the past three or four years- more or less since we all finished school. Oh the irony.

You see, in school, practically everyone I knew was in a committed relationship by the time class 11 rolled around. My friend Kimi was in a committed relationship (to be fair, Kimi hadn't been out of a relationship since class 8, but this was definitely her first serious one). Min was in a serious relationship - a major achievement since her first boyfriend lasted about three days. There was Ishani-and-Shourjo, Teesta-and-Riku (although if my memory serves me right, Teesta was the first of us to, er, break free - and how!) There was Jahnavi-and-Sidharth, and then Jahnavi-and-Siddharth.

Let me digress for a moment here to tell you about Jahnavi-and-Siddharth. She had just broken up with her first serious boyfriend, Sidharth, and fallen in love, or like, or whatever the term is, with Siddharth. Anyway, Siddharth was a bit clueless. Thought he was smooth, but was not. Jahnavi had a big party for her seventeenth birthday which I attended. During this party, having made up her mind that Siddharth was The One, and deciding not to waste time now that her mind was finally made up, Jahnavi set about seducing him. It was like bearing witness to a perfected art form.

"Look at the moon, Siddharth," she said, pointing towards the moon.

Siddharth obligingly looked at the moon.

"Kiss me, Siddharth," she said.

Siddharth obligingly kissed her.

And that was that.

Anyway, back to school and committed relationships. So there was Jahnavi-and-Siddharth, me-and-Vikram (I know I should write Vikram-and-I, but me-and-Vikram describes our relationship better), Aditya-and-Anurina. Everything was a perfect fit. Jahnavi was one of my closest friends, Anurina was a close friend of Jahnavi's, Vikram and Aditya were siblings, and Siddharth was their best friend. These relationships continue to hold, although we have all stopped dating (each other).

Oh yes, and there was Varun-and-Mawii, which is something I still haven't recovered from.

There was even someone unnamed who was in a serious relationship with her tutor. I have great respect for that human being. I believe most people would think the tutor was the one taking advantage of the student, but I have a feeling it was the other way around. (You know who you are. High five!)

There were even three girls in the Commerce section who had, er, each other. Once someone spied a hand creeping up a thigh during Second Language class. I'd rather not go into details but my point is: everyone was getting some.

Come to think of it, even Vikram's old classmate Mohak was in a serious relationship. And he was balding. At seventeen. But apparently his girlfriend used to threaten to run away and throw herself under metros so perhaps that sheds (har har!) some light on the matter.

So everyone was in love and - to use my mother's memorable term - flaunting their sexuality. There were love bites galore on people's necks, girls and boys. We used to swap tips on the best ways to conceal them, even though no one ever really wanted to, because it was essentially a big sign saying, "HA HA! I HAVE A SIGNIFICANT OTHER! HA HA! I AM COOL".

Then the changes started. (An obvious one: love bites in your twenties are not cool. They are lame.)

Jahnavi went off to college, that was more or less the end of Jahnavi-and-Siddharth; Anurina went to college, it was eventually the end of Anurina-and-Aditya; I, er, went on holiday, and that was the catalyst for the end of me-and-Vikram. Ishani left Calcutta, goodbye Shourjo. Min and her boyfriend lasted a bit longer, but much to my joy, it ended eventually. And so on and so forth.

Now we come to the interesting bit. All the girls eventually went on to other relationships. And even if they weren't technically relationships, the girls were definitely getting some.

A conversation with one of my male friends - well one of them in particular, the others are more reticent, would, on the other hand, involve this - "WHY CAN'T I GET LAID? WHY CAN'T YOU HOOK ME UP WITH SOMEONE? WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING YOU AS A FRIEND IF YOU WON'T GIVE ME A GIRL?"

"Girls are not commodities," I said with severity, having just read Irigaray's 'Commodities Among Themselves'.

An anguished howl on the other end of the line.

"Okay, okay. I'll see what I can do."

What is fascinating about this is that it only applies to my male friends living in Calcutta.

The ones who weren't in Cal, didn't have a problem. They were banging their way around Bangalore, poking their way through Pune, drumming on dinglebobbers in Delhi, and so on and so forth. But Calcutta was left high and dry.

"Do you know any single girls?" I asked Min on the phone one day.

"No," she said curiously, "why?"

"I have a line of boys who kind of need to get laid."

"All the girls are doing it," said Min, and proceeded to ask me when I was coming back to Calcutta so she could visit my building for a reason I am not at liberty to reveal, unfortunately. Although you might guess if you're quick on the uptake.

I have now moved back to Calcutta, and I can witness the problem firsthand. If I want to have a night out, and none of my male friends are keen, I just lie and say that I'm bringing some girlfriends along. They will come in hordes. And then I make up an excuse, because to tell you the truth, I don't have too many girlfriends in Calcutta, and the ones who are here, are all seeing someone. I have one single friend - just down from Delhi - and she is invited for every outing, because my male friends hope she will bring some of her single friends, and then things will take their natural course, but she has no single friends either.

It's a sad and sorry situation, and I wish I could help them, or even discover whether there is a reason behind the lack of sex for the boys in Calcutta; there seems to be plenty going round for everyone else.

Are they ugly?

Well, my friends aren't, not all of them anyway, and Calcutta boys, though not known for their looks, aren't worse than most Indian boys.

Are they stupid?

Most of them, but even the smart ones have trouble getting laid.

Are they boring?


Are they on drugs?

Yes. But so are many girls, so I don't see why this should be a problem. Get high, have sex. It should work, why doesn't it?

Do they have bad breath?

I'm not willing to find out personally, but I have friends who've made out with friends (this is a very incestuous city; I once drew a chart of who's hooked up with whom and the result made me realise that there are less degrees than six separating us all), so I think I would have heard by now. Also none of the Calcutta boys I've ever made out with have bad breath, so it can't be a general thing.

It is a dilemma I just cannot solve, but it has led me to find the answer to one of life's most puzzling questions: can men and women ever be Just Friends?

Of course they can.

Here's why.

Men want to be your friend and not because they want to sleep with you. Men want to be your friend because they are optimists, and they hope that you have many friends, of the female variety with bigger breasts and longer legs than yourself, tucked away somewhere. In Man Land, this thinking is known as Logic.

I believe this theory is applicable to men all over the world - and it works for some, it really does.

Just not for the ones I know in Calcutta.

On a completely unrelated note, if there are any reasonably attractive single girls living in this city aged between 19 and 24 reading this, please get in touch.

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