Disclaimer: The author shuns responsibility for any feelings of hurt this “Honesty 12.0 on a scale of 10” post may cause. All characters that have inspired this post are certainly not fictitious, although not all of them are known to the author personally. Any resemblance to anyone living or throwing Hangover-themed parties on their fiftieth birthday is purely so not coincidental. The author has documented her observations based on years of harrowing experience of living in the US and failing miserably to blend in with the nouveau riche NRI crowd. The entertainment their over-documented, cookie-cutter celebrity lives have provided the author so much inspiration that the author has renounced any contact whatsoever with the NRI community in Europe. Love them, hate them, unfollow them, but you cannot delete them. Although primarily meant for the NRI, the average Resident Indian (RI) has also started to show such symptoms, thanks to globalization. Here are some sure shot signs of an NRI/RI-socialite, documented without any prejudice or judgment (written in first person for special effects).
1. The more pregnant we are, the filmier our lives get. By the time it gets to the pregnancy photo shoot, replete with Surf-Excel-washed flowing white clothes, pink/blue props (how innovative!), sugary-gooey loving expressions, and close up shots of sixteen different positions of the man kissing the baby bump (that is more of a hillock by now) and making heart signs with jointed fingers, you will be wallowing in self-pity, looking at your own not-so-colorful life and frantically Googling, “How to look amazing despite greying hair, hormonal earthquakes, and PMS”.
2. For someone who attends five weekend parties on an average, you will never see us wearing the same designer clothes or accessories twice. The 90-day return policies of the stores certainly help.
3. We call our close friends "girlfriend", "babe", and "bestie" on Facebook. And a bitch behind their Faceback.
Corollary: Behind every happy groupfie taken with or without a stick is a bunch of dysfunctional friendship stories gone awry due to petty jealousy.
4. The man we are standing next to, and most of the time intimately, or even being lifted up in their arms, is not our husband. In fact most of the time, the husband is the photographer, or a distant spectator.
5. We might originally hail from Kochi, Ernakulum, or Muzaffarnagar. But our children have the names of Roman Gods and Greek Goddesses. A far cry from the Hemlata, Indumati, Agniveena, or even the Nisha, Pooja, and Neha.
Nama Sutra: The art of giving our children never-heard-before names. Take a mixer. Pour plenty of Hindi alphabets you learnt in the first grade. Blend well, until they mix thoroughly. Pick up two or three alphabets at random, and combine them in any random order, creating names like Napa, Resa, Saga, Roti, Kapda. Remember, if the name makes people go scratching their heads because they have never heard it before, it is Roman and Greek enough.
6. You have never seen us without makeup. Even our family has never seen us without makeup. Go check out the makeup groups where we dedicatedly post too-close-for-comfort close-ups of our faces, giving detailed step-by-step accounts of the makeup products we used in different quadrants of our face. Talking of effort, your entire effort of writing that goddamn dissertation that you mistakenly thought would pull you out of your pitiful existence would be put to shame.
7. Our predictable display of affection for other friends is very entertaining. Most of the time, we Like and comment on the same set of people’s updates. We root for brand names, not (writing) products. The comments typically look like this:
We: “Love your dress. Your nail polish. Your shoes. Your sense of style. Your blah blah blah.”
Them: “Thank you. You inspire me. XOXOXOXO.”
We: “You inspire me too. Muaaah.”
Did you know that the number of Likes and comments are a direct function of a person’s popularity, and hence, should not be underestimated? We sometimes ask people offline how our Facebook picture is, and nudge them to Like or leave a comment, or paste their personal email/chat messages on our cake-cutting birthday pictures. We often ask people to "show some love”, because it is not love if it does not show.
8. Akhaade-Mein-Pehelwaan, or AMP alert: We will diligently tell you about every effort we made to get a finely chiseled and sculpted body, making you look at your six pack of (fl)abs and want to die out of shame.
"My breakfast was 50 push ups, 50 pull ups, 50 deadlifts, and 50 Surya Namaskars. For main course, did yoga and Zumba. For dessert, held a buffalo for five minutes to build bicep strength. Loved getting hot and sweaty. Now, time for chocolate pastries." (Hashtag: Loveyourbody, hardcorehotness). To which, rain comments like, "Love your dedication. What an inspiration!"
N.B.: We never ate that chocolate pastry. That was just to distract you, and make you crave for desserts.
9. Our moms and dads are also on Facebook, and usually comment on our funnily scandalous pictures with Alok-Nathish-sanskaari comments like, "God bless you beta.", or, “You are our baby doll.” (Parents, do you know what a baby doll really means?). In case of pictures from trips to exotic islands, our parents mostly write Tagore quotes in pure Bangla in the comments section that no one else understands.
10. We usually comment on other friends' pictures, writing things like, "hawwt momma", and "yummy momma" (although they are neither our mom, nor hot; far from it). Imagine your average Mashima from Midnapore, calling your Mom “Garam Ma” or “Swadisht Ma”. Yeah, I know. When said in English, even the most inappropriate of terms sound sassy and cool.
11. For your birthdays, you visit the local deity and the restaurant to celebrate with friends and family. If the birthday is the 50th one, you hide in your basement. When we turn 50, we fly to Vegas with a bunch of friends, ride limousines, drink champagne, gamble, throw themed costume parties, and wear identical tee-shirts with identical slogans to show solidarity.
12. Chin up. Hands on hips. Turn body to a 45 degree slant. These are not confidence-boosting mantras, but posing tricks that can effectively take care of the double chin, the hanging biceps, and the sagging tummy, respectively. And talking about pictures, if there aren’t any close up pictures of every food item, including the chips and the soda, the party was as good as having never happened at all.
13. Date nights occur more frequently than trips to the grocery store, post office, or bank in our household.
14. One of the epic lines in my favorite movie When Harry Met Sally is when Harry tells Sally, “It is so nice when you can sit with someone and not have to talk.” That’s why every vital conversation with the partner, from when we will be home to how much we love one another, and even wishing each other Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary is made on Facebook.
15. Significant, coolness-enhancing, once-in-a-lifetime events like road trips need special, live updates. Crossed a field. Saw a tree. Stopped by the gas station and took a selfie. Ate roti and achaar while watching the sunset. You get the picture.
16. If a new child arrives without preamble, a maternity photo shoot, an elaborate baby shower, periodic documentation of every emotional crest and trough mapped on the pregnancy curve, or live updates from the hospital, the new child is probably a puppy, kitty, or a new car.
Lastly, you see our pictures from five years ago, and we look like totally normal people.