Qarib Qarib Singlle And other Anecdotes

Wearing a blue checked shirt, this young man with rectangular-framed spectacles, neatly combed hair that resembled the bristles of a brush, pulled his chair and sat silently. Mr A forced a smile. (All names have been changed. Because I don’t actually remember any of their names now)

After a casual monosyllabic greeting, he sat there quietly. He was upright and rigid like he was part of the National Day Parade contingent. This casual meet-up was planned after chatting for a week or so. It was the crucial week of FIFA world cup 2014 tournament and during our online chats, we were mainly discussing the different teams and countries. Even though our conversations were more like a football forum and commentary, it was still quite fun.

He ordered cappuccino and I ordered latte. He had a functioning pulse- that was the only thing I could make out from his posture, which revealed flashes of blankness behind his phlegmatic demeanour. There was silence. The sound decibel surrounding the two-feet table that separated Mr A and me, was lower and weaker, weaker than Singapore’s hopes to make it to the world cup one day.  I felt like an oral examiner waiting for a response from an unprepared candidate.

Me: hey…so…did you watch the match yesterday?
He: no I slept early.

Me: oh…ok. *continued to narrate what I saw, what I felt about the match*
Me: do you play football?
He: not really. I only watch.

On an oral exam band descriptor sheet, the last (band 4), states – ‘offers hardly any personal response with very little or no development. Finds it difficult to maintain any sustained interaction, even with repeated promoting.’

Me: So what sport do you play?
He: golf
Me: golf?
He: ah…golf.

I, in an attempt to make him think that I was funny, blurted, “Golf is not a sport unless a mad cow chases you.” and dissolved into a puddle of laughter. I burst into a loud harsh cackle of laughter, slapping my hands on my knees. My outburst of laughter was quickly brought under control, upon seeing his frown. I adjusted my watch strap and rubbed my left palm on my right wrist, pretending nothing happened in the last 30 seconds. The joke failed miserably. It was as miserable as Tiger woods’ marital life.

Silence prevails again. The barista served our coffee and latte. Droplets of thick and heavy silence spun into a kaleidoscopic jumble, shifted infinitesimally, and fell into an incredible new pattern. I was very much following the pattern to see what might happen at the end.

I sipped my latte and looked at him. He was still breathing. He looked around to observe the ambience, hoping that he might ask some random questions about the interior design at the coffee shop, I slipped into #waitTime mode. An unfaltering vapidity. A torpid tedium. The air around us was cursed with a listless apathy. Time flowed like cement.

Me: so what do you think about this MH370 incident? (So I wished that would trigger him since he told he was working as an aircraft engineer.)

Suddenly, his eyes widened with excitement. He glowed from the inside out. He spoke. He spoke at length. Willingly. Passionately. I saw an adrenaline-fuelled warrior. The excitement wired his body like he was plugged into the mains. He felt like his brain was on fast-forward and there was no off switch. He drew imaginary lines in the air with his fingers to explain about unmanned flying machines, flight simulation, propulsion systems, composite materials and operations of various aircraft systems.

He was slowly moving up to band 2 which was a good score- ‘engages with examiners in a sustained discussion by responding well to the prompts but may not show initiative.’

It was a 30-minute lecture on aircraft engineering module 101. I was the college student who used to run to the $3 chicken chop shop during physics lectures. Now, I had nowhere to escape from the  writhing mass of humanity at somerset 313.

Lecture ended. Sipped the last ounce of latte. I checked my watch. It showed – ‘enough of wasting me’

Me: alright, A. I got to go.

He took out a 5 dollar note, a 50-cent coin, 20-cent coin and a 5-cent coin and placed it over the receipt, the exact amount of his share. I placed a $10 note on the table contemplating if I should just pay for both of us.

He checked the bill one more time. And took away the 25 cents from the table.

He: it’s only 5.50. I calculated wrongly.
Mind voice: ok maths Olympiad.

After splitting the bill, we parted ways. They say goodbyes are hard. This was probably the easiest and happiest goodbye in my life.


When I was watching Qarib Qarib singlle, recollections of so many encounters with unintentionally funny chaps flashed across my mind, and that made the film , a fun-filled exhilarating nostalgic ride down the memory lane. Qarib Qarib Singlle (QSS) is a happy confluence of many moments besides an absolutely entrancing, candid and un-self-conscious Irrfan Khan who makes acting seem utterly easy and effortless. Parvathy, as Jaya, makes everything fresh, earthy, believable and un-heroine like air. Movies make more sense only when they bring us characters we know in ways that we never knew that actually we knew them. Right from the scene where they meet for the first time and order cups of latte to instances where Irrfan Khan asks infuriating questions and recites poems, QSS is a bundle of immense freshness, fun and aplomb that it leaves you smiling all the way.

“This is the kind of film where nothing happens while everything is happening.”


The tinder app lovingly sent its dove, signalling that there was a new message from Mr V. The conversation started with polite and boringly mandatory questions about how the day went, the weather, the traffic, the meals.

Me: so where do you work?
V: at mbfc
Me: what’s mbfc? Sorry, I am bad with abbreviations.
V: hey, you Singaporean or what?

Rumbles of thunder. Vexing of the soul. Swelling of the veins waiting to explode. Rushing of blood to the head. I was going to screech him with every ounce of breath that dwelled in my lungs. My rage held all the power of a wildfire, I could practically see the flames roaring in my eyes, ready to ignite anything that I came in contact with.

Me: Yes, I am.
V: then how come you don’t know what is mbfc.
V: I don’t think you are Singaporean.

These are the pompous jerks who think their fart smell of lavender. Get an empty bottle, fill it up with your lavender-tantalizing fart and spray it on your body when you go to work at mbfc.

Me: You have yet to tell me what is mbfc.


I did a quick google research to find out mbfc stands for marina bay financial centre. Oh so money really talks shit sometimes.

Me:  So you work at the marina bay financial centre?
V: yea yea.
V: so where do you work?
Me: I work at THTA
V: what is that?
Me: *blocked his profile*

And I just made that up- THTA.

Your soul shall never rest in peace, without knowing what THTA is. God bless you, my son.
Upon further thinking, it can also stand for Taming Hormonal Teenagers Academy.


What I thought was thought-provoking in QSS, was that Jaya’s character had so much emotional space for her to tell her tale, from her perspective- her job, her insecurities, her confidence, her friends, her failed dates, her trips with Yogi without showing any flashbacks of how she became her a widow. We were told that she was a widow in the start itself. There wasn’t any cliché scene to evoke sympathy towards Jaya or make comparisons between her late husband and Yogi. And the same goes for Yogi’s character development. These plot threads are interwoven together seamlessly. And the only question that these characters were trying to explore- What if you could re-write the script that life has handed you and create something much more beautiful?


He was a chubby, cute-looking, North Indian boy. We decided to watch ‘2 states’ and go for dinner at the Thai restaurant at Shaw Towers Beach Road. I’ve already looked at the menu, mentally ordered a few items, imagined myself dipping that thai pandan wrapped chicken in hot chilli sauce. Movie and food are the best combo on earth. And it was an interesting coincidence that the film happen to be a story between a south indian girl and a north indian boy. Thosai and butter chicken are a deadly combo too.

After the movie, he suggested, “Gaya. My throat hurts a lot today. Can we not eat thai food today?
My world collapsed. My dreams shattered. My soul ripped. My mind shut. My heart stopped. I thought this was God’s way of punishing me for making fun of golf that day.

Like a puppy, fully drenched in a heavy downpour, I whimpered, “ok. Then. What do you want to eat?”

The next moment, we were queuing up at Subway. I turned around to ask him something only to realise that he was not there. I panicked. I called him. He didn’t pick his call. It was my turn to order, but I kept looking around for him. He was nowhere to be seen. Bought a chicken teriyaki sandwich, sat at a corner, and concluded that this day was another failure- just like Alia Bhatt’s Tamil diction in 2 states. Just as I was pondering why Alia Bhatt playing the role of a south indian girl took no effort to articulate the Tamil words perfectly, he came running to the place where I was seated.

He was panting “hey sorry la. Went to withdraw money.”

“Why didn’t you tell me then?”

“Sorry sorry…”

“ok never mind. Go buy your food.”

He came back with a cup of coffee.

“Hey, you not eating anything else?”

“No. throat is bad.”

I continued to stuff the chicken teriyaki sandwich in my mouth. We spent the next few minutes dissecting the film. Finally, something was going well. I like it even though I missed eating thai pandan chicken. After which the conversation became serious as he narrated his unrelentingly miserable life of how he was constantly tormented by his parents’ high expectations and more about his dysfunctional family.

After an hour or so, I initiated, “hey ok la. It’s getting late. Shall we go?”

He, “hey sure sure. Thanks for listening to me.”

“hey no problem. You must take care ok? Don’t let people ruin your life.”

“So when are we meeting next?”

I smiled. I have become a master of bidding the easiest and happiest goodbyes.


The ability of good cinema is to unlock our secret wounds, mirror our loneliness and insecurities. To let us feel passion, anger. To get us to laugh at others and ourselves, to let go. What makes QSS enjoyable is that it is funny, enlightening and heart wrenching. It is about us and who we are, figuring out all our lives  the choices we made and the paths we relinquished. QSS, ultimately becomes a mirror, by looking into which, you can judge your own past and present.