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So in the last week, I’d been in a bit of a bit of a tizzy. Of course, not without good reason- it was the MAMI time of the year again!  Being an avid movie watcher and actually having the luxury of time to be able to spend at the festival this time around, I decided to spend the week going cinema to cinema and catching some really good films. In hindsight though, I probably should’ve stuck to one cinema instead of bouncing about the whole city- would’ve saved myself a lot of fuel and headaches. Ah well, next year I’ll strategize more effectively. The festival was very well organized to say the least. Of course, the usual glitches made appearances with technical difficulties and cancelled screenings but nothing we Indians aren’t used to- am I right or am I right? All in all, MAMI was sugar and spice and everything nice but I’m going to save the finer details for another day. Instead, I’m going to talk about a particularly irksome incident which transpired one of those days.

You know the kind of people who can spend so much time by themselves that you land up questioning their sanity? Well, to put it out there, I’m one of those people. The thrill I get out of ‘alone time’ is quite inexplicable. And movies are an experience I love having all by myself. So I ceased the opportunity and did exactly that. I had a particularly long gap of 3 hours between my two evening films. After roaming up and down the streets of Colaba ogling at trinkets and cute firangs alike, I decided to get some dinner. And I know things in India are difficult for single women but I really couldn’t believe getting dinner alone would be such a troublesome affair. Most places I visited were packed to the rafters and definitely didn’t cater to standalone diners. I enquired anyway and was told, not unkindly, I’d have to wait a while- fair enough though; even large groups were out waiting on the footpath. I made my way farther and after a fair bit of hunting around, I finally found one place which seemed to been accommodating. However, I was told they did not have tables to seat singles. They could give me a chair, though. I was dumbfounded. I wanted to scream but I also wanted to laugh. If I wanted a chair, I’d gate-crash a crowded wedding for heaven’s sake. I wasn’t exactly looking to perform a balancing act with a plate on my lap and a glass in my hand in the middle of a restaurant. I’m not quite the juggler- yet. I held my head high and walked out of the place thankful for the fact that I don’t get humiliated or angry all that easily. Whoever knew that asking to for a place to eat dinner alone would amount to wishful thinking? When I recounted this particular incident to a close friend, she told me that I should’ve said I was expecting someone and asked for a table for two. And later pretend that I got stood up. Maybe I’d even have gotten some free sympathy desert out of it. Well, it actually was a pretty neat idea. But these good ideas have a peculiar way of avoiding you when you’re especially in need of them- like those good comebacks in an argument which only strike you three days after you’ve already lost. Eventually though, I did manage to find a place which wasn’t bursting at its seams, got a beautiful piece of grilled chicken and had a great date with my Kindle. And caught the Aligarh premier after. The evening wasn’t half bad. Ananya- 1, Restaurants-0.

So my question this time around, as you might have guessed already, is why is wanting to spend time alone viewed in such a negative light? We see people sitting alone in a cafe and involuntarily feel a pang of sympathy for them. If someone has gone shopping alone, we presume they’ve just been through a breakup. If they’re home alone on a Saturday night, they don’t have friends. We are such preposterous creatures, aren’t we? Have we ever paused to think, for once, that this person might be more than happy to spend some time by themselves? Wait, is that even possible? Who enjoys being alone? Bloody loners, aren’t they? Think again. ‘Alone’ and ‘lonely’ have vastly different meanings..

The thing is, people like spending time alone. I have a slightly egoistic and self-centred belief when it comes to myself. I think I’m awesome. I believe my company is second to none. Which I love spending time with myself. Since man is a social animal, I am obligated to bestow my company upon others (the world should be glad, shouldn’t it?). But once in a way, I deserve to enjoy my own company, don’t I? I deserve to listen to my own thoughts and see what the rest of the world sees in me. I can entertain myself better than 10 of the world’s best artists put together. That’s the thing about me. And people like me everywhere. We love being alone. And yes, it’s possible to want to be alone. Often, we choose it over hanging out with other people. We like to do things alone. Looking at the sunset from a boat alone and with someone else- they’re both completely different experiences. And sometimes, we just like doing it alone. It’s nothing personal. Well, sometimes, it might be. But usually, there’s just a lot of self-love that is involved. Which is easily the best kind of love.

It might be a little difficult for some of you to understand this need to spend so much time alone. Everyone isn’t made this way. And it’s completely okay. We’re not judging you. All we ask is that the next time you see one of us eating alone, shopping alone or catching a movie alone, please don’t waste your energy judging us. Let us be. Also, please, please don’t try to approach us in an attempt to keep us company. If we want to talk to you, we will approach you. We’re quite unfazed like that. And to end this on a less harsh note, go try spending some time alone. If you have these many people who love spending time with you, I’m sure you’re really interesting. Spare you some time with yourself too.

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