Saturday, June 6, 2015

Dr. Fixit





My fiancĂ©e is pregnant. And I’ve been sleeping with her sister. She’s also pregnant. But I’m not ready for kids. Should I ditch them both?

Remember hiding a magazine in your shirt and reading the ‘Your Questions, Our Answers’ column in the privacy of your bathroom, when mummy was taking an afternoon nap? Since mummy wouldn’t tell, and since sanskari kids were not supposed to know anything about love or sex, this is how we grappled with adolescence. I am talking about the column where the magazine editor used to print one true story and imagine five other outrageous problems to create a sensational page in an otherwise staid magazine. But in spite of featuring all sorts of unrealistic sensationalist problems, the ‘Ask Me’ column was much more than a titillating page or a voyeuristic ride. 

Much like today, most problems were related to sex, infidelity, love and sexual health. At a time when there was no Sunny Leone, there was Dr. Prakash Kothari, a sexologist, God bless him, because month after month he told teenage boys that they were normal and that nothing was wrong with them. All in all, the ‘Ask the Expert’ column used to entertain and educate middle class India by virtue of being anonymous and handy. 
With the arrival of internet, Google became the new age agony aunt of the virtual world. While most advise columns were consigned to the dustbins of irrelevance, some survived. Like the HT column in the Sunday magazine called ‘Seriously Cyrus’. A lot of water must have flown under the bridge because a MTV VJ of our times is now an agony uncle.That he continues to make a ‘bakra’ of most problems is another story.

What’s most amusing is that folks who were known for everything else other than a stable family life like Ms Pooja Bedi used to dish out relationship advice. On second thoughts, it didn’t really matter because you don’t need a PhD in Psychology to answer, “I love a girl, but she married my best friend. What should I do?” Unless you want to tell the guy to murder her husband. No, seriously, what are the options when someone says, “My ex is getting married. Should I confess that I still love her?”
In a moment of pointless Bollywood abandon, “I suggest you wait till the wedding day. Hide behind the bushes and wait for the radiant bride to walk out with a garland in her hand. Wait for her to sit demurely with the groom. Wait for a few rounds around the fire. And just when she is about to begin the final round, come out in the open and say, “I still love you.” All will be well. Swear by Tanu weds Manu.

It is not difficult to understand why agony aunt columns are dying a slow death. In a world of instant gratification and banned two minute noodles, the idea of mailing your problem and waiting for a month for it to appear in print sounds silly, when you have your answers at the click of a button. Above all, who reads magazines? The last I picked one was at my dentists. I flipped pages but didn’t feel like reading at all. Who wants to read a magazine when the dentist is about to drill both - your tooth and your pocket?


So, if humor can soften the blows of life 'Seriously Cyrus' is just the right column where Uncle Cyrus tells us to laugh at problems. Most problems in life, they say are because of two reasons: we act without thinking or we keep thinking without acting. Read this.
YYY: I work for an American BPO. My boyfriend doesn't like me coming close to him; he says I cant control myself. Please help.
Uncle Cyrus: Wait, did you say you work for a BPO or you have BO (body odour)? See, the apple fell on Isaacbhai Newton ji's head. His head did not rise and hit the apple. If it did, it would be Reverse Law of Gravity.By now you must have deduced that your boyfriend is the problem and not you. So,tell him to grow up or go back to playing with toy trains.

 Ha! Easy! This is fun. I want to do this too. As long as I am not called an Agony aunt. How about a 'Relationship Expert'? 

28 comments:

  1. I think we have yet to let go of our Agony Aunt. It's either a friend or an anonymous stranger of we know will not judge.

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    1. A heart to heart with a sensible friend always works.

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  2. I think the Agony Aunt was replaced by Yahoo questiona and now Quora. Some of the 'agony' questions are hilarious there.

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    1. Exactly, they are more of humor columns.

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  3. The most hilarious ones were in Bangalore Mirror. All the questions were based on sex and all of them were contrived. :) I remember that in Manorama or Grihashobha in Hindi, there used to be a column of Agony aunt. The Hindi words used there made me giggle uncontrollably.

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    1. Ha ha, yeah those two and even Women's Era and Femina had many such columns.

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    2. What about 'Sarita' and 'Mukta'. I quite enjoyed reading the agony columns of those magazines too.

      Imagine, our whole generation seems to have received its sex education from these Agony Aunts. Quite a public service, that.

      Loved this Alka. It would never have occurred to me to muse thus. You are amazing!

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  4. Ha! AND I wrote a post called "Agony Aunt" about 'Love Marriage or Arranged marriage', being fully qualified to do so (a la Pooja Bedi) since I am a bachelor :)

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    1. You can perhaps see many things from a vantage point that others can't.

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  5. Good one :D I like Cyrus' answer though. He makes sense while being funny!

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  6. This was so so interesting ! And it is true about magazine columns that talked openly about sex problems :D

    Yes I'd like that job too.. May be I could be your assistant agony ...errr..nono not aunt, please. Assistant Relationship Consultant sounds good ;-)

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  7. haha..I used to think how silly people are asking questions with obvious answers :D

    But we all have our agony aunts or maybe even sounding boards in one form or the other

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    1. We need sounding boards. With more and more parents becoming friends it is much easier now.

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  8. I don't know why, I used to love the agony aunts columns as a kid. What surprises me is that people would trust film stars and page three regulars to resolve their issues. It just made me laugh !

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    1. I read Cyrus's column for its humor quotient.
      It's hilarious.

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  9. Gimme Cyrus anyday. I feel many of the intimate saga spelled out in the magazine are all imaginary and fiction to sell them..remember reading in one of the Debonair issue how someone had an intimate relationship with her guide inside the room. The way it was concocted showed that it was all made up. I was laughing reading the story. Too many relationship gurus nowadays claiming to know everything, right from marriage, sex and break up, what's not!

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    1. I enjoy reading Cyrus too. But only as a humor column.

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  10. Agony Aunt columns were enlightening in a way. I haven't read Cyrus's column :( Guess the problems today are way too much and varied for the aunts and uncles to keep up with.

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  11. I loved reading this post and the memories of reading such pieces in teens-today came rushing back to me. What fun it was to drown in other people's problems :P

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    1. Exactly, more so when the problems are silly.

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  12. hehehe.....I so love these kind of posts from you, Alka. I can so relate to this. I was like that too...reading magazines secretly in between books and when mom was out...lol...Like the Dr you mentioned, there was this Dr.Samaram. He would answer questions in a weekly magazine and lo....man..I can't even tell you the kind of questions ppl asked. I was just talking the same topic with friends at work the other day and burst into laughter. The one liner abt Pooja Bedi...hehee..seriously. And Tanu weds Manu I just saw the movie last wknd as friends said watch it before you watch the part two. Faltu movie yaar..hey, btw, make me your asst. no? plss :D

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    1. Done deal Prudhvi. Whenever I start my start my career as a relationship adviser, you will be on board.

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