I looked at Ivan* in surprise.
I was at the gym, on my way to my locker, having just emerged from the sauna. Ivan was at the locker besides mine. I had known him (not too well) for sometime, having seen him around the club where we played badminton.
Now, when the guy charged me for being gay (never happened before), all it took was a second before a reflexive, instinctive, and forceful "NO!"
"Oh, sorry." He looked relieved. And a bit sheepish. "I was gonna change later then, after you left."
I shook my head. "What the hell - I mean why - why would you even ... THINK ... that I might be gay?"
"Towel." He replied.
In a flash it became clear to me. You see, I have two white towels for the gym that I rotate. This weekend they were both in the washing machine, so I grabbed the largest towel I could find in the cupboard. It was a made in Bangladesh towel, mostly blue. Like many desi towels, however, it had designs on it. My towel depicted a dinner table. Sweets. Dates. Mangoes. Lichus. All traditional fruits of Bangladesh.
"Word of advice," Ivan grinned. "Never wear a non-white towel at the gym."
"It's BLUE!" I protested.
Mark shook his head. "Colorful. But I should have not worried. South Asian guys are never gay."
Things were much simpler when I was a kid in the Middle East. Blue lunch boxes were for guys, pink for girls. That was it. Nothing else was demarcated so strictly as masculine or feminine.
I was taught in an English medium school by the British. 'Gay' used to mean happiness. First week I was in Canada, I went to Paramount Wonderland. It's a roller coaster theme park in Toronto, kind of like Six Flags, but only better. The day we went, they had a banner at the park entrance stating Gay Day in Wonderland. And I thought wow, they want everyone to be happy. And no, we didn't know about the day from beforehand - we went as the tickets were half-priced (true desi-ness).
The sight of guys holding hands inside didn't unnerve me that much. After all, common in the Middle East. It was only when I saw two grown men kissing did my Canadian cousins let me on in the meaning of the word 'gay' in North America.
It used to be the colour pink. Now it's all colours of the rainbow, as a comedian commented the other day. What's more, people here seem to find out new signs of gayness every day.
- Don't wear your wrist watch on the right hand. Half of Bengali 'uncles' must be gay then.
- Don't wear colourful shirts.
- Don't carry your cell phone in your right chest pocket.
- Talking in a high pitched voice. Ok scratch that, that's definitely gay.
- If you carry a bag with a sash wear it on your left, not on the right.
- Don't tie your cardigan at the waist. Wrap it around your neck. You may strangle yourself, but atleast hey - the guy down the street will not mistake you for being gay.
I don't understand how a guy can look at Angelina Jolie or Sushmita Sen and tell me it does nothing for them. But what I don't understand even more is how using a certain coloured towel proves that fact (as long as it's non-pink). Jocks should just grow up.
On another note, I saw the movies Zathura (4/5 - really good fun, had low expectations, thought it would be a kid's movie, but very pleasantly surprised), Legend of Zorro (2.5/5 - had read bad reviews, so had low expectations, but suitably entertaining for the most), and the Indian movies Chocolate (4/5 - excellent, given that it's a rip off), No Entry (5/5 - funniest movie I have seen in quite a while - a laugh riot) and Aashique Banaya Aapne (2/5 - low expectations, cheesy moments, but suitable for renting).
* Not his real name.
Tags: Zathura Gay Chocolate