Pet Peeves (Part 2/398)

by Ramesh Mahadevan

There are lies, damned lies and statistics. And then there are worse lies, also called a lonely desi male's stories about 'ex-Flames'. How many times has it happened to you when one of the fellow desi guys walks up to you and confesses that he was once in love and therefore now has an 'ex-Flame' ?

Ex-Flame ? Yeah, right. We were not born yesterday. Are we supposed to be impressed by the dude's sexual prowess and ladykiller personality or what ? Especially when we know right away that the man had spent four years of monastic existence in his pet IIT and never even made an eye contact with any woman. We simply know that he has just made the whole thing up or exaggerating that one incident when he happened to sit next to a woman in a crowded bus. And now he talks as if it is natural for everyone to have a dad, mom, brothers, sisters and an 'ex-Flame'.

Every time someone bores you to death about his ex-Flame, there is a ring of familiarity to the whole thing. Usually, it doesn't stop at just one session of conversation. Even if you didn't show any interest in the matter, the guy hangs around you for a few more days going into every detail of his alleged love affair and a complete catalog of his ex-Flame's personal tastes.

"She is a Libran" he would enunciate for our benefit "And I am Pieces and that's why Vandu and I were close. By the way, I always called her Vandu, even though her own parents called her Vandana. When I get a car, my personalized license plate will be Vandu."

Who gives a damn ? And who is he trying to kid ? Dude, we know you are a damned boor without even an iota of romantic spirit. And ex-Flames don't grow on trees.

But the stories would continue, becoming more and more generic. The longest story would concern their fateful break-up.

"Vandu and I are still friends. We decided to split because we did not want to rush into a marriage yet. I will always remember her fondly."

And if you made the gross mistake of nodding your head at the right time or interrupting him with a question out of courtesy, he would spiral into a long-winded explanation, while taking himself very seriously. "On her birthday, we were supposed to go to Q.S.Q.T, but her dad had to ......blah .. blah...So instead we went to blah... blah."

On the third day or the two hundred and eightieth ex-Flame snippet, whichever is earlier, the guy has already presumed you are his bosom buddy and somehow tricks you into going along with him to his apartment. Within minutes, a huge photo album is spreadeagled for your convenience and the story telling would continue unabated. A bunch of little guys with even littler heads could be barely seen in those photographs. And the man would reel off a hundred names of those little guys as if you asked for it. "By the way, can you guess which is me in this picture" is about the only thing he would say which would not involve his ex-Flame. Finally, in a grungy photo, in a far corner, crowded by twenty others, you would see a kind of a female form, wearing either a Dallas Cowboys uniform or the tightest Churidar known to womankind. "This is Vandu" you are informed by a blushing guy. Spotting a cricket ball in a photograph would be easier and more fun.

"By the way, don't mention this to anyone. Not even my wingmates know about it." he would caution you. At which point, overcome by boredom and also by the jealousy of not having your own girlfriend, you core-dump the whole thing in an insensitive and derogatory manner to the nearest desi over some beers. What is the big deal ? I for one, can't keep trivial secrets. No wonder I am not a diplomat making New York Times-grade statements from a godforsaken country.

Occassionally this would lead to an inconsequential fight with the ex-Flamer for having blabbed, even though you crossed your heart and promised not to tell anyone. But soon you also realize that he has himself spread the story to everyone around. It also makes a good conversation topic.

"Ah, What a joke !" would be the others' response. "I have known him for four years in IIT and the only ex-Flame he had was when his adviser was setting his ass on fire."

You also discover that the ex-Flame stories have done far more damage than you had expected. Especially among the womenfolk. "Poor chap" the women would croon "He hasn't gotten over his break-up even now. I felt so bad I invited him for dinner last week and he poured his heart out."

Jesus Christ ! Ex-Flame fantasies are used as a bait in getting to the present 'Flames' in town ! You get bugged like a poorly written software. Yes, there is no god.

I have just about had it with these stories. So I think it is about time we, the Citizens for Truth and Justice, banded together and formulated some codes of ethics for these ruthless guys.

  1. All these guys who go around claiming they had an ex-Flame should bear summary testimony from at least three of their classmates, who were also their wingmates.
  2. A clear, attested passport size photo of the said ex-Flame should be provided as a proof.
  3. No more than three tall stories (four when drunk) are permitted per session per ex-Flame.
  4. Ex-Flame owners should be sensitive to the needs and frames of minds of the listeners who neither have ex-Flames nor can easily cook up such stories.
  5. The listener always has the right to throw up his arms and run away.