I've shepherded a lot of friends through relationship issues. And I'm sorry to say that before I met the Drift Memsaab, I handed out all kinds of villainously bad advice.
Once my Shahid Kapur-like friend from school days called me up.
"Bawa, yaar" he said "What should do I do about this woman I met? She's six years older than me. She's divorced. She's had multiple partners in Bollywood. She's from a different community. And you know my Dad - he's the self-appointed gatekeeper of our community gene pool"
"Hmmm" I thought for a while "Have you slept with her yet?"
"Yes! In fact we've been going at it like rabbits since"
"You should marry her" I told Shahid "Physical chemistry rocks!"
This precipated a major chapter full of stress in Shahid's life. It all climaxed with a seven page letter sent by Shahid's Dad that contained a passionate discourse on how picking up a less than pure strain of genes and mixing it with dubious character can produced deranged kids. (The irony of this was that Shahid is one of my most deranged friends - thus making me suspicious of Uncleji).
This letter - over much rona dhona on the phone - was then faxed to me. I had to issue a para by para rebuttal to shore up Shahid's nerves. Fortunately I had the good sense to convince Shahid to not rupture his relationship with his parents at any point.
Shahid is happily married and Party Girl is adored by her in-laws. But none of this is thanks to me.
A year later a friend at work - let's call him Chiranjeevi - stopped by and leaned on my cube.
"Yaar" he said "My parents are pre-screening girls for my marriage. What should I tell them to look for?"
"What do you like in a woman?" I asked, feeling proud of myself for coming up with that question.
This was a mistake. Because Chiranjeevi then bored me to tears with a one hour discourse on the many qualities of a woman that mattered to him. He even assigned wieghts to each quality hoping I could derive some magic formula for him. I had to down three chais just to stay awake.
When Chiranjeevi finished, I was pissed enough to say. "You should ask your parents to look for girls with awesome hair. Great hair rocks!"
For some strange reason Chiranjeevi actually followed this advice. A fortnight later he stopped by my desk all red in the face and slammed three glossy head shots on my desk.
"Look at this!" he hollered close to tears.
I looked at the pictures - each one framed a good looking woman putting forward her best smile.
"These chicks look great!" I said. "What's wrong with you?!"
"But none of them have great hair! They don't even have LONG hair. I gave my parents specific instructions but they are out to ruin my life!" Chiranjeevi wailed.
I don't know what happened to Chiranjeevi, but years later another friend Mammooty was looking at women to get married to. He was down to the last two when he called me.
"Aspi" he said excitedly "I met Priya today. She was so casual - pants and blouse. But we went to her terrace and talked for four hours straight! It felt like she was my best friend already."
Two days later he called again.
"I met Revathy today. Man, I just couldn't connect with her because she was so shy. But she was so nice and traditional and homely. She wore a yellow Saree and covered her head and everything. She reminded me of my mother!"
At this point I interrupted Mammooty. "You should marry Priya!" I declared.
For sure I thought, this was great advice - a chance to redeem myself. But two weeks later Mammooty was engaged to Revathy. I was beyond puzzled.
Mammooty and Revathi are happily married and have two kids. As far as I can tell they both seem to have a good relationship. So in this case, I'm probably glad Mammooty didn't follow my advice.