Book Title: Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas
Author: Madhuri Banerjee
I looked across at the other table and saw a couple kissing passionately.
‘Great,’ I thought, `even girls half my age are getting laid!’
I went back to sipping my coffee and reading the papers.
1st April--My birthday--I had turned 30.
The cruel irony of me being born on April Fool’s Day had
haunted me all my life. But today, I really felt like a fool.
I was alone in my favourite coffee shop, Coffee De, where they had these lovely, bright, mismatched chairs, sofas and cushions, It looked like something that Dali would have put together in a Spanish café. And yes, it served the best coffees and no one disturbed me. I was in there almost everyday, having my muffin and cappuccino,reading the papers, or a book, or just working on my laptop on some new assignment. The great thing about this place was that it was open from five in the morning. So I could be here from dawn to midnight, as I generally was most days of the week.
And today was my birthday. It was seven in the morning. Before the calls would
start coming and I would need to sound cheery, I ran down here to have a
pick-me-up cup of cappuccino. And there was a couple here already making
Couldn’t I have just one day of alone time?
Thoughts ran through my head. ‘You’re old now,’ said the little voice
, ‘… you’re ALL alone. And everyone needs someone
to love, someone to share their lives with, someone to grow old with,
HAVE SEX with.’
Sex.Sex.Sex. It all came down to that. Here I was, thirty years old, and still
Unmarried. Single. Alone. A Virgin. A Virgin. Yes it resonated in my head.
Nope I couldn’t get away from that word. For so long I had thought it was okay to be one. A virgin I mean.
I believed that I would find the right man who would cherish me and I would
treasure him. The ‘One Great Love’ that would blind me into losing my virginity
after we got married. But that spiel I had given to myself for over
fifteen years. And my mother, even though we never spoke about sex, because God knows that’s just a taboo topic we should not discuss, would have been proud of me.
But today I felt old. And that theory didn’t work.
On the brighter side though, I didn’t look my age. I did have a few layers of fat
around my belly but nothing a good shirt couldn’t camouflage. The extent of
my exercising was a Jane Fonda DVD I had acquired a decade ago
which I would put on and jump around for forty-five minutes every week or so but my apple shape never went away. I had
shoulder length, black hair and an olive skin
. And I had beautiful eyes. They
came from my grandmother. It was a lovely shade of grey and people could
never figure out if I was an Indian or a South American because of them.
But despite my hair, skin and eyes, I had never had a real date in my life.
So here’s the thing, men elude me. I’ve read all the books about men and how
to get a date but I’ve never really had a steady boyfriend. After the first five
minutes I feel the man is really stupid, extremely juvenile or highly pretentious.
I have an IQ that’s, mildly putting it, above average. It might
have given me the title of ‘over achiever’ in school, but never gave me a
boyfriend. Frankly, I did not think I even needed one. I was too busy achieving things in
life to have a man ruin it.
I played the piano, I learnt animation and I studied Modern Art for
fun in my spare time. I knew seven different languages, which brings me to what I
do. I’m a freelance interpreter. What that actually means is that I translate
languages for people, for example from French to Hindi or Spanish to English
or Russian to French. The embassies call me to help them translate important
documents, from their native language to ours, to ‘Indianize’ it, or when they hold a
conference I am the one the Indians would hear on their headphones
translating a particular speaker’s speech. Or when
delegates from different countries come, I help translate talks between dignitaries. Like when Laloo Prasad Yadav had to meet the
railway minister of Russia, I was called to help translate their conversation. It
was another matter that I could barely understand what Mr Yadav was saying
and probably translated what I thought he should have said.
Most times I’m a guide for some important delegates’ wives and family. I love
my job even though it can become very erratic. It pays well and I get to
meet some interesting people from across the globe. And it helps that I live in the melting pot of India, Mumbai.
My parents currently live in Bangalore. My dad’s in the foreign service and we’ve
moved around a lot. That’s why I know seven languages, because of the different
countries I had to grow up in. Finally when I was old enough to say I’m done
with moving, I left them in Moscow and moved to Mumbai.
It was strange at first trying to find a footing in this city. Mumbai was definitely a harder place to
be in than Russia, America or France put together. But it gave me back so
much more than all the other countries. And that’s why I decided to stay
here and make it my home eight years ago.
I stay in a rented, one-bedroom apartment in Bandra. It’s grossly
overpriced and there’s no view, but I completely love it. I’ve done it the way I
would see art through the ages from Renaissance to Cubism, with colours and
images jumping out from every corner. Something like this café. And that’s
why I was sitting here on my birthday, to collect my thoughts because it felt like an extension of
Which is why I was irritated that a bunch of teenagers had decided to meet
here before going off to college and were sucking on each other’s pimples.
The topic of my virginity came back again. I had always been a social recluse. I didn’t have many friends and the only people I spoke to were clients. I always had a hard time opening up to relationships. I never found a deep connection with anyone and I was still searching for that to lose my virginity. And if that wasn’t enough reason why I was still a virgin, I was mortified about getting pregnant or ending up with a life threatening disease. Protection wasn’t always hundred per cent full proof and I couldn’t take my chances with even a small margin going wrong.
But today I felt it was Time. The time had come to change. I could feel a wave of a revolution coming over me. Sex and relationships could be two different things. I should forget about understanding a man and just have sex with a man. That’s what my head was saying. Who said age doesn’t play with your hormones? Today, mine were raging like the dry lands that had caught fire in Wisconsin.
The phone rang. It was my best friend Aditi.
‘Happy April Fool’s Day babe. What you doing?’ Aditi had been my friend for
the last eight years. She was the first friend I had in Mumbai. And it was the most
awesome meeting ever. I had taken the First Lady of France to see a film
shoot and help her interpret Hindi and Bollywood better. Aditi was the
Assistant Director running around trying to get a particular hat for the lead
actress. While the director was screaming his head off, she noticed the First
Lady’s hat and quickly came over and asked her to take it off and hand it to
her. I was appalled and didn’t know how to translate this galling request.
But Aditi said very firmly, ‘I don’t care who you are but I’m part of a mega
crore industry and will lose my job if I don’t get that hat now!’
So the First Lady took it off (after I translated what Aditi had said, a toned down version, of course) and gave it to her. We got an umbrella to shield us from the sun, and Aditi gave us the hat back after the shot. Later Aditi took us around the set and introduced us to the Superstar of
Bollywood. The First Lady said she had never had so much fun and Aditi and I
exchanged numbers and were friends ever since.
‘Having coffee,’ I replied to her blandly.
‘No re! At CD’s. With my normal strong cappuccino,’ I said.
‘What plans for today? Anyone plan a surprise 30th birthday party for you?’ She mocked knowing that I had very few friends.
‘Nothing much. No delegates in April. So I’m broke.’
‘You poor thing. That is a terrible April Fool’s joke that God
is playing on you! So let me treat you tonight. What say?’ Aditi asked definitively.
‘Ok.’ I replied and then with an added thought, `I also have some news!’ I said enthusiastically. ‘I have finally made up my mind about the “problem” I have had.’
‘What problem?’ Aditi asked.
‘My virginity,’ I whispered, cupping the mobile phone so no one would hear me.
‘Ah, that problem! If you would remember, I’ve been telling you since the last
century, that you should do something about that ‘Hi-men, bye-men’ attitude
of yours.’ She laughed at her own joke.
‘I’m serious. Really, I need help.’
‘Ok we should not waste any more time then. I mean, it’s already been three decades!’ And she laughed again while I cringed, ‘Let’s make it happen tonight. Let’s
de-virginize you! See you at the bar at eight okay?’ She said authoritatively and hung up.
I smiled. I could always count on Adu.
I hung up the phone with supreme confidence. It was going to happen
tonight. And then I could shake this monkey off my back and get on with my
life. I planned to have a great thirtieth birthday.