Crazy Stupid Love
Reaching our photographer’s studio after a solid climb, the scene I walk into is rather refreshing. Nargis Fakhri, looking like a very pretty peppermint candy cane, is bounding around with goofy energy. Don’t get me wrong; she’s a complete professional – we get our looks with no fuss whatsoever.
It is when we sit down after the shoot for our chat that I discover her super-niceness, forgive the gushing, first-hand. She’s changed into a pair of jeans, with sloppily tied-up boots and a ratty grey T-shirt that looks well-loved – suffice it to say, you’re not getting a monologue about shopping sprees from this one. She proceeds to wipe off all her make-up before digging into a wrap – so no beauty must-haves either. I give her a few minutes to scarf down her meal while I run through what we know about her.
You’ve been living under a rock if you haven’t heard about her turn as the object of Jordan’s heartbreak in the box-office phenomenon that was Rockstar. She had a completely different role later in Madras Cafe, where she delivered a commendable performance as a British Asian war journalist. And, the former model from New York has never been dishonest about her age, just making us like her even more – for even in the harshly critical Indian film industry, we’ve heard nothing salubrious about her.
As she starts talking, Fakhri’s eyes gleam and her cheeks flush with the excitement and passion she projects as we really dig into the ideas of love, relationships and independence, punctuated with sudden guffaws and girl-from-Queens hand gestures. Forget just understanding why my most serious male friends get effusive about her ‘hot’ factor, she’s so warm and fun to talk with that I have a terrible girl crush on her about five minutes in. Read on for the kind of straight talk you can have with your best friend, in Fakhri’s own words….
“LOVE YOURSELF FIRST.”
In India, most girls are really lucky because they are sheltered and they have very close-knit families, which is a beautiful thing. Even when they get married, they usually stay with their husbands’ families. That’s not something I am used to. I am very independent and I come from a place where we leave home at 15. You get a job, you go to school, you drop out of school sometimes and you work. So I just learnt to be independent and that no matter what, the most important thing is to love yourself first. You can’t love anyone else, whether it’s family, friends or a significant other, if you don’t love yourself first. And that’s a really hard thing to understand for many people.
I travelled the world on my own and met new people along the way. I did feel that I needed to have a partner in my life and that it could be depressing without one. Sometimes you go to great lengths to keep someone close, even if you know that your relationship isn’t healthy, and I learnt that it’s terrible for you and that it is really okay to be alone. We can find someone to truly be our soulmate only when we know and understand ourselves. Young girls and boys here seem like they need a little more guidance – maybe their parents don’t talk enough about relationships and sex and what it’s really like.
“YOU NEED TO LET PEOPLE GO.”
All my relationships have been with wonderful people – I’ve picked pretty good guys, I’ve been blessed that way. But people grow and change. They don’t have the same dreams as you do so even though you love that person you might have to break up, because your lives are on completely different paths. Not because they were bad to you or did something wrong, but just because you grew apart. You need to let people go, and to know it’s fine if they don’t come back. I say this because a lot of people, when they think about relationships and love, only think of a boyfriend or husband or lover, but that’s not the case. Relationships are with any human being – one of my best friends and I grew apart and chose divergent paths, but we met years later and loved each other again.
If you are lucky, you find an amazing man and you know he’s the one and that’s great. My Mom always said that a good marriage is like winning a lottery. It’s never going to be perfect, and we should take the time out to figure who we are first, to make our goals in life and accomplish them so that we don’t regret anything. You fulfil your desires as a human and then find another person who also got to live his life fully. I think only through experiencing many things, do we grow and flourish and understand what true love really is. People have this mistaken impression of what true love is – bells are ringing and you just know, like, oh my God, he’s The One!
I studied psychology and human behaviour and I love watching TED talks and there are a couple of human behaviorists and psychologists there who talk about how and why humans fall in love. We have these animal instincts and urges where you do feel you are in love. It’s actually lust, and all the chemicals kick in because that’s Mother Nature setting us up to procreate. Sometimes you have a really good male friend and everyone thinks he’s great for you – he treats you so well, he’s such a good guy, he’s got a good job, but you are just not attracted to each other because, well, you know something’s not working. In our society everybody wants their kid to do well and have everything that they didn’t have so they look at that when arranging a marriage. Many couples are together because they need each other in some way – financially and maybe emotionally, so we might push away that actual animal instinct to be with someone that is the right genetic pool, to be with the person who is a better match for society.
“WE NEED TO TRUST OUR INSTINCTS MORE.”
Sometimes I don’t listen to my gut feeling and then I pay the price, and so I’ve learnt through all of that to trust myself because I am always right! I think we need to trust our instincts more. A lot of people made me feel bad growing up because I chose not to have friendships with certain people after feeling that things weren’t quite right, but I’ve always felt vindicated in the end.
I believe that being aware and conscious of my surroundings, when someone is near me, is very important. I’m sure we have all experienced something like that. You know, when something’s not right, but damn, he’s hot. So you disregard your instincts and intuition, because you’re having a good time, until you find out that he has some crazy secret! It’s from experience that we develop these abilities as well and unfortunately human beings can be very predictable if you are in tune and you actually pay attention.
I want to say that it’s both male and female responsibility but unfortunately guys somehow seem to get away with a lot of stuff and as women we need to educate ourselves, be a little bit smarter, if we don’t want to be hurt. You just don’t know who you are getting involved with and it doesn’t only matter about the guy, it matters about the whole family. You almost have to do background checks and snoop around and play investigator.
“YOU CAN BE IN A RELATIONSHIP AND STILL FEEL LONELY.”
A lot of people are very open with me, until they become too open because I am very emotional and I don’t want to hear it. I get very angry or sad. But then I have to remember that it’s okay, it’s not my issue, but I can be loving and kind to the people I meet and maybe that’s what they need. I have strangers tell me things – I smile at people and then they feel warm and start a conversation, then they just tell me about their problems, and I’m thinking ‘What the hell! What am I? The Guru of Random People?’
We don’t trust ourselves enough. Just stay alone until you meet the right person. If you have a weird feeling about someone, just wait. If there’s a situation where you can’t make up your mind, the best decision is to just wait and not make a decision. It might take you a whole year but who cares, just wait.
Sometimes it gets lonely being self-reliant and I cry and then I get over it. But you can be in a relationship and still feel lonely and that’s the saddest thing ever. You can have a group of friends and still feel lonely. I find it easy to cry. I don’t hold back my emotions. Occasionally I wish that I could be coldhearted, because it is a hard life, and sure you might think, ‘What’s she talking about? She has such a fabulous, glamorous life.’
“I ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY EMOTIONS.”
Nobody knows the whole story. I came here out of nowhere and it’s only been a short amount of time, it’s a new place for me, a lot of adjusting without a support system or someone to tell me how it all works. There’s no manual. It gets lonely, but there’s no other human being who can fill the loneliness for good. Everything is temporary so when you understand that your emotions are the same, you’ll be fine. I just put on my computer and watch Russell Peters and I laugh. You must remember that when something does not sit right with you, it’s because of a feeling in your own life. I always know that when I grow angry, I catch myself with ‘Why are you saying this? Why are you behaving like this?’ And the answer is ‘because you are afraid. Or because you feel sad.’
And it works. Then I accept responsibility for my emotions and then the strange feeling eases out. People are robots these days and we need to learn to be more mindful. If you want to be intimate with someone in a relationship you should take time.
“HUMAN BEINGS ARE NOT MEANT TO BE SINGLE.”
I am not going to say for sure that I won’t fall in love at first sight! Of course that’s happened, and that turned into something horrible. It was just a disaster, but you learn from those mistakes and then you go onto the next relationship and understand where you made mistakes. And if you feel the same excitement that you felt for the other person, that turned you upside down, you say, ‘Okay, wait a minute. Let me think about why I am feeling that.’ Actually you start seeing a similarity between those two people. So, you realise if you feel that, you should just take a step back to evaluate this person. You take your time, find out dirt, and then you’re thankful you didn’t get involved again. I think dating is important, having relationships with a boyfriend, living together is important. Because you are experiencing what it is actually like to be married. It’s a great learning experience. You get to understand what the hell goes on inside a house with someone but you are not legally bound together yet.
Having said all that, human beings are not meant to be single. We need our significant other. Just be a whole person first, don’t be half of a person! Get two whole people to come together and then life will be very different. If I meet someone wonderful, of course I want to be with him and spend time with him. That’s the best part of life! You know, especially finding someone that you can laugh with, talk to, be their best friend and also who you can be intimate with. They make you feel better, you work together. That’s the ultimate dream for any human, male or female! We actually all are looking for that special person. I wear jeans, sneakers, my hair’s not brushed, and I don’t wear any make-up. And I would like a guy to meet me like this, and get to know me as being so plain with nothing special, just my personality. Beauty comes from the inside and then shines on the outside. I have seen the most beautiful girls, with a personality that makes them so ugly to me.
“PERSONALITY GOES FURTHER THAN LOOKS.”
Of course, everyone sees someone initially and thinks ‘Ooooh, beautiful!’’ But personality goes way further than looks. One day you are going to be older, your breasts will sag, you will grow a moustache that was previously nonexistent, and we deteriorate, it is the natural process of life.
But when you have a partner with a great personality and sense of humour, you are going to be laughing till the day you die. And what better life is there than to always laugh and have a good time?! That’s the life I would choose. You can lose everything, all the money, but you have a partner that has a good spirit, positivity and is very funny. You guys could be sharing a plate of dal and rice and still have a great time. That is what a relationship is and a real love is.
“WHAT IS MARRIAGE?”
It is a piece of paper, some court of law has said ‘Okay, now you two are married so if anything happens, you have to take care of her. If she divorces you, she gets half of your money’ or something like that! I understand when two people who love each other live together. I know more gay couples that stay together in a wonderful loving relationship than the heterosexual couples. But they live together, they work together, they provide for each other, they adopt. And they have a wonderful, functioning, loving relationship.
As for the big party, you can have a big party anytime of the year. Have a freaking party to celebrate your love. Valentine’s Day, it’s a day to celebrate your love, for not just the person you are intimate with, but all your friends and family. Why not make Valentine’s Day every day?
“WHY DO YOU HAVE TO GET MARRIED?”
Some people don’t even want children. Why would you get married then if you don’t want children? I am asking questions I wish someone could give me answers to. I would like to hear. We shouldn’t make young girls worry. We should encourage them to get an education, travel the world, experience new things, to grow and develop, to be the best human being they can be. I am all about empowerment for women.
“WE ALL WANT TO LOVE”.
There is something special about being female. If given the opportunity we grow into something beautiful. We all want to be loved and we all want to love. We should just do that instead of all the bullshit that comes along with it. I have had moments where I was totally single, and moments where I had people in my life, and my life will continue that way. If I am lucky enough to get married, I am not going to say no – I want to try everything in life, and I want to try it at least twice!
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