How (Not) to Flirt – What Every Roadside Romeo Should Know


It’s very easy to feel irresistibly beautiful in India. Just walk down the main road.

I blame it on the Bollywood movies. All those stories where the okay-looking guy (with a paunch, sometimes) invariably lands up with the fabulous looking girl (no paunches allowed here), usually thanks to his irresistible wit. Well, if you hear the exact same line three times, it’s usually enough to help you resist the charm a little better each time.

Life is easier for a guy in India. I notice that guys in other countries have to actually come up with their own pickup lines; Indians have to go through none of this. Why think of them yourself when you can have a professional do it for you? The pickup lines for a roadside Romeo in India are usually provided by Bollywood scriptwriters. Just croon a few lines of a song from the latest Bollywood hit, and the girl should be swooning, right?
Fortunately or unfortunately, not quite.

There’s a very fine line between sentimental and cheesy, and popular Bollywood songs are well aware of this distinction. They are very careful to always fall on the cheesy side of the line. And strangely, it sounds even cheesier when translated from Hindi into English. To illustrate my point, I’ll show you a few examples.

  • So alluring are your eyes that I have become a lover of them.
  • The moment your eyes met mine, I went crazy, the world has gone crazy, even God seems crazy to me now.
  • I am no poet, but the sight of your face is all by itself a poem.

They don’t even bother with singing the whole song. They usually pick the first two lines and harp them over and over, out of tune and out of context, until the girl is out of earshot. (And very often out of patience.)

It must be pretty discouraging to spout all these romantic sentiments at a girl and get absolutely no response, right? But apparently not.

In India, a pickup line is only part of the job description of the self-respecting roadside Romeo. Far more annoying than the line is the approach that accompanies it.

  • The Fixated Stare: The Indian roadside Romeo does not believe in subtleties. If the girl doesn’t know that he’s looking at her, what’s the point?
  • The Swagger: The macho metropolitan man does not allow his hands to be visible. In pockets. At all times. Then a slow swagger, preferably in the opposite direction to the one the girl is taking, to aid better execution of the former rule.
  • The Song: As soon as one is within a foot of the girl, one starts humming. The girl is expected to recognise the song and the lyrics that go with it, and the message they convey. The more ardent Romeo, however, will go the whole mile and sing the lyrics.
  • The Satisfied Grin: Once the girl is past, the song is sung, our macho man will smile triumphantly all to himself: a job well done, a duty towards manliness accomplished.

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