BY ARPIT PARASHAR
“Mahaul bhi toh banna chahiye (The mood needs to be set),” Sidharth says, enthused by the dark clouds visible from the balcony of his small apartment.
After weeks of hot, dry weather, it is finally raining heavily in Delhi. Sidharth is all set for an “outing” in the evening.
As we drive through the inner circle of Connaught Place some hours later, he switches off one of his two phones and stows it in the glove box. “It has no use till tomorrow.”
This is the number on which his family and friends contact him.
The number that is switched on is only known to a select group, and this is the one that rings as we approach Rajiv Chowk metro station.
The couple he picks up have come in from Gurugram. After a few drinks at a restaurant, Harry*, a retired colonel, gets nostalgic for his days in the “mighty Indian army”. Even as Sheena* asks after Sidharth’s health, family, and work and remains absorbed with him, Harry begins to vent his frustration with the poor handling of the monsoon in Gurugram.
“We in the army are experts at handling even the worst kind of flood in the country and these people can’t manage even the drains in the city after a few hours of rain.” Harry now runs a company that manufactures industrial tools for factories in the National Capital Region (NCR), but says he would have preferred to stay in the army had the circumstances been better at the time.
Sheena offers no opinion. She is insisting to Sidharth that he needs more exercise to “reduce some more fat” and build stamina. The conversation meanders through fashion trends to gossip about their circle of friends. It appears Harry and Sheena meet these couples often, and Sidharth, now single, is present at almost every gathering.
At last, Sheena decides it’s time to leave. Harry gets a few drinks packaged in disposable glasses. Sheena and Sidharth talk softly among themselves through the hour-long drive home. Harry, who is sitting behind Sidharth, sips on his straw, silently staring out of the window. He gets through three glasses before we reach his double-storey residence. It is nearly midnight.
Harry arranges for more drinks from his bar cabinet, which is hidden behind a curtained wall by the car park. The gate is locked for the night, and the watchman closets himself in a small outhouse. Sheena hurries into the house while the men pour more drinks. After an awkward silence that lasts through the first round, Harry asks, “Does she want me around?”
“I don’t think so. But you should ask her,” replies Sidharth. Before he can finish, Harry interjects, “Have fun then. Be good.” Sheena comes back and exchanges a significant look with Harry, and then walks into the house with Sidharth.
As I watch them, Harry asks, “You’re not married, are you?”
“No I’m not.”
“Good for you.”
“Well, because you still have the choice.” He pauses and then adds in a burst, “To marry the person with whom you fall in love and who in turn falls in love with you. Then you will, at least, have enough reason to blame each other for your faults. Mujhe dekho (Look at me), I can only adjust, as I have after being ‘happily married’ for ten years. But I’m glad I found Sidharth. At least I have saved my family now. Cheers to that.”
Sidharth is a gigolo, more politely a male escort, more brutally a man whore. He gets Rs. 20,000-Rs. 40,000 a night to have sex with the women who hire him. He must ensure that the woman is “satisfied” before he is paid—and, of course, to ensure he’ll be called in again. Sheena is his client for the night, seemingly with Harry’s approval. In fact, it was Harry who contacted Sidharth after getting his number from an acquaintance a few years ago. After several meetings, first man-to-man and then with Sheena in the loop, the couple decided he was their best option.
“In most cases the couple has to trust you and you have to build an understanding with them. They must be sure you mean no harm, you’re just doing it for the money, and in the end everybody should go away satisfied. It isn’t a street deal as in the case of prostitutes,” says Sidharth. He prefers to call himself a “sexual service provider”.
“She bought me clothes, footwear, what not and even deposited huge sums of money in my account before I met my friends or when I had to make a trip to Delhi for a few days.” To earn his keep, he would have to keep her sexually satisfied.
Sidharth’s entry into this profession is rife with drama—a failed love affair, a chance conversation, a broken marriage that ended in a court case which he is still fighting, all played a part.
He used to be an outgoing child, he says. But his parents moved to Noida with his two siblings, leaving him with an aunt. This made him “emotionally vulnerable”. His father, a senior officer in the Uttar Pradesh Police, insisted on Sidharth staying in a boarding school with a strict routine. He was soon enrolled in Sherwood College, Nainital.
He did quite well at school, until Class XI. At the time, his grades began to plunge, which led to tensions with his father. He would be beaten “mercilessly”, he says. Things between him and his father got so bad that he would not stay at home when his father was in town. At 18, while studying for his graduation through a correspondence course from Delhi University, he had taken up a part-time job at a cyber cafe. He would either sleep at the cafe or at a friend’s place. He did live in the Noida flat when his father was away, but was financially independent, he says.
Around this time, he got addicted to online chatting and found it “fun” chatting with women. He says he found “love” too—apparently, women who were in love with him sent him money to visit Philippines and UK, which he duly did. However, none of these affairs worked out, and the woman with whom he fell in love was from closer home—Vadodara in Gujarat. Their romance transitioned from the virtual to the physical realm when he made a trip to Vadodara. He stayed in a hotel, where the woman met him and they “confessed their love for each other”. He made a second trip too.
“She was from a wealthy business family and told me her parents would not approve of our alliance. And one day she said her marriage had been arranged with an NRI from the US and that she would be married off within a few months. That is when I decided I had to bring her to Noida with me. We were both adults and had the right to make our own decisions.”
He reached Vadodara and waited at the railway station until she snuck out of home late at night. They boarded a train to Delhi and reached Noida the next day. His shocked mother admonished him for “forcing” the girl to elope although she wanted to marry him. “My father came home and beat me to pulp with his police belt the next day. I had to stay [at home] since I could not have her roaming the streets with me all night. Eventually he realised I could be married to her legally and told me to find a decent job soon so that I did not cause trouble for my family. He also informed the Vadodara police and her parents came home a few days later with the police team.”
After the discussions, a compromise was reached and the girl’s parents consented to the alliance and asked Sidharth to get a job within a month so that the marriage could be arranged. They took their daughter back to Vadodara. But she would not return his calls. His father told him she must have come to her senses, and he must move on too.
“After almost ten years we connected through Facebook again. She is in the US, married to the same NRI, who does not know what happened between us. She says she was beaten up and forced to stay indoors for months, after which she had no choice but to marry as per her parents’ wish. We still talk sometimes and she has promised to meet me when she visits India next.”
The incident left a deep scar and he decided to take charge of his life. “Money is everything. If you don’t have money you can’t do anything in this world. I worked harder and got into the real estate business with shady men from the hinterland. At times I got into trouble, but managed to keep earning.” He took up a year-long course in animation and graphic design at a high-end institute in South Delhi. He funded it himself.
He then moved to Mumbai where an old school friend was based, and worked as an assistant animation artist for someone who- he says is an acquaintance of Bollywood film director Mahesh Bhatt. “I even met Mahesh Bhatt once at his office,” he claims. Mumbai introduced him to the concept of a gigolo. When the cost of living in Mumbai threatened to overwhelm him, his friend came up with an idea to supplement his meagre income. The friend, Sidharth discovered, was a gigolo too.
“At first he told me you just have to stand at Juhu beach with a red handkerchief hanging out of your pocket in the evenings and someone will pick you up.” It’s a technique used by gigolos in Delhi and NCR too.
“When it didn’t work out, initially he fixed me a deal with a woman who picked me up from the beach and took me to her flat nearby. That was when I saw what life really can get you if you’re game for whatever comes your way.” The woman’s husband worked for a shipping company and was home only for 4-6 months a year; his wife was alone, and her husband earned the big bucks, which he sent home. “She was young, barely 30 at the time. She had a big circle of friends and was a big party person.”
His failed love story earned him her sympathy and his affable nature won her trust. The woman had almost adopted him and for the next few months he didn’t stay with his friend but was at her house. “She bought me clothes, footwear, what not and even deposited huge sums of money in my account before I met my friends or when I had to make a trip to Delhi for a few days.” To earn his keep, he would have to keep her sexually satisfied. “I thought it was the best deal in the world.” She often called her friends over and many even took him to their houses to spend a night or two with them.
Sidharth began to shirk at his day job, and was soon unemployed. This wasn’t a hindrance until his lover’s husband was due to return home.
“She told me she would send money every month but that I should find another house and concentrate on my work. She was clear on her priorities but always assured me of help and never backed off. I realised I was just being used.” He stayed on in Mumbai for a few months, but eventually returned to Delhi, where he found a job at a BPO, and rented a flat so that he wouldn’t have to move in with his parents. The money his patron from Mumbai sent him came in handy.
This was around when he met Manpreet, the daughter of a Sikh NRI who had studied in Delhi and worked in the human resources department of the company where he was also employed. He says initially he didn’t chat her up, since she was “not good looking”, but grew close to her since she was also deeply religious, like his mother.
“For a sinner like me to find such a girl felt like I had been blessed or my mother’s prayers had been answered for me. She proposed to me within a year and I had no doubt that I wanted to leave my past behind and begin a new life with her.”
But his mother did not approve. “There were altercations and my father said she had ‘hit a jackpot’ in me and that I was only falling for her because she was wealthy.”
Manpreet’s parents too were against the marriage at first, but relented and even bought her a flat in the Sahibabad area in Ghaziabad. Sidharth’s family, however, had all but disowned him. “My mother said she would always speak to me and meet me, as did my sister, but that I was not allowed in the house ever again.”
While life was moving smoothly for Sidharth at the new flat with a decent job to sustain the couple, Manpreet was getting disillusioned with the life she was leading, having left her family back in London. Many of her relatives had stopped talking to her. “She wanted me to find a job in the UK and I was willing, but the recession hit in 2009 and there were no jobs.” He lost his job in the travel industry as well and the couple was low on funds. Her family offered to put them up in London and promised to take care of their expenses till they found jobs. But Sidharth refused. “I was already indebted to them since they had bought the flat and didn’t want to move to London and do odd jobs just to sustain myself. Her family began to feed her a lot of stuff against me and she got panicky; she was more abusive by the day.” They eventually divorced as he stood his ground, but Manpreet filed cases against him in Delhi, including domestic violence. He claims he never hit her and that “it was beyond him” but she has stayed on in Delhi, found a good job and appears at every hearing at the Tees Hazari courts in Delhi. She refused to speak over the phone or in person despite repeated requests.
That was when he found the one-room flat in Noida where he now lives and works for some online travel industry firms. “But it is barely enough to sustain myself, leave alone the expenses of the lawyer, whom I have already paid close to Rs. 4 lakh.” That is the reason, he says, he decided to become a professional gigolo.
Like the thousands of newspaper ads every day offering “massage services” as a euphemism for escort services, gigolos too have their fronts. But they don’t need to be as discreet as their women counterparts, because male prostitution is not, strictly speaking, against the law. In fact, there is no mention of men in the laws governing prostitution—it is as if it was beyond the lawmakers of the time to envision the prospect. Solicitation for prostitution, however, is a crime. Certain sections of the Indian Penal Code like those dealing with public nuisance and indecency can also be applied, but are rarely used in cases of high-end male prostitution.
A Google search throws up a host of websites offering gigolo services, including “hardcore” men. Facebook and LinkedIn have detailed profiles of professional gigolos, whose fees range from Rs. 3,000-Rs. 20,000. Some profiles show pictures. Most have details of physical attributes, including the sizes of their penises.
Rohit Chaudhary, who is from a village on the outskirts of neighbouring Ghaziabad has a Masters in mass communication from a private college in Meerut. But he was always more interested in body building. “Most of the guys in my village either want to join the armed forces or police; or they wanted to be body builders and muscle men accompanying politicians or local leaders. I couldn’t escape it and I’m glad that I went into it,” he says. His village is Jat dominated—most of its menfolk are good-looking and have broader frames than average, he says.
Rohit, though, was an object of ridicule—despite standing at 6’2”, he says he looked frail in school. “I was also interested in studies and was good at languages, both Hindi and English, which is why I took up the arts stream and then studied mass communication for five years.”
He interned at a news channel while completing his Master’s degree, but left disillusioned.
“The pay is a scandal and the workload immense. More than your talent, it is the stupid errands you run for your seniors that get you a raise. I lost interest.
By then he had taken up body building at a gym funded by the village panchayat. Within a year he had a strong upper body and impressive biceps. Soon enough, a cousin who had been working for years as a bouncer at a high-end discotheque in Gurugram found him a job at the same club. “The pay was decent, and the work only for a few hours, after which you got free drinks and dinner.”
At this discotheque, he met a woman who he says was in her late 30s and very rich. “She came with a few male friends. They seemed to have some sort of altercation—she started screaming and making a scene. The men left within a few minutes—they must have been afraid they would be blamed for her state.” He says the woman was so drunk she could barely walk. The boss decided to have her escorted home in a taxi, and sent Rohit to see her back safely.
“He probably knew her from before and even gave me her address.” By the time they reached the farmhouse on the outskirts of Gurugram, she had nearly sobered up. She offered him a drink and something to eat. “She thanked me at first, but then kept saying how lonely she was. She then said she wanted to have sex with me, which alarmed me. Drunken state mein kuch ho jaata aur baad mein police case ban jaata toh meri toh zindagi barbaad ho jaati (Had something happened in her drunken state and later there would have been a police case my life would have been ruined).”
But Rohit could not resist. He had never had sex before. He had never had a girlfriend either. “She also made me feel extremely comfortable, took me in for a shower with her and we had sex all night. I felt like I had fallen in love. When I was leaving in the morning she quietly put Rs. 5000 in my pocket and told me to buy some new clothes; she said we would meet again.”
Rohit would wait for her to call or for her to show up at the discotheque with her friends, expecting to go to her place later that night. “And it always happened, almost.” She would get drunk or even feign it and ask that he be relieved of duty for the night so that he could drop her home. His co-workers were supportive since they all had their exclusive “clients” to whom they were escorts, in more than one sense of the word. “Everybody earned well through such deals but I had been thinking that I would marry that woman one day or at least have a long affair with her. Mujhe toh pyaar hi dikhta thha bas (I could only feel love).”
That was until she called in another man to join them for a night out.
“I was so shocked that I started crying and wanted to leave. But she consoled me and made me gulp a few drinks. She said she wanted me to prove that I was better than everyone else and especially the other guy. The guy fell asleep after just one round in the shower, during which she made us do some really dirty things, while I worked like a maniac all night. I could not even walk properly by the morning but got paid Rs. 10,000. That was the day I realised I was just a prostitute. She had the money and she needed men with good build and large penises; as simple as that.”
She continued to visit the club, and Rohit continued to get paid to be with her. He still recalls her as his first real ‘love’. “Jaise ek ladki ka pehla sex partner special hota hai mera bhi thha (Like a girl’s first sexual encounter is special, mine was too).” But he didn’t remain exclusive for long. His client recommended him to her friends. He would get a call in the afternoon and be picked up at night. Sometimes he was treated badly, he says. The attitude of some women is not unlike those of the men who treat prostitutes like filth.
“Women would take me to shabby hotel rooms, offer me cheap whisky and ask me to ‘get it up quickly’. It was mostly just mechanical. They wanted pleasure, and I had the tool for it. I got used to it. I would vent my anger in the way I went through the act, and they loved it. In fact, some women asked to be strangled or hit during sex. I just had to try to be aggressive and violent all the time and they would tell me how much of it was enough.” Masochistic clients were preferable to the sadistic ones. On many occasions, says Rohit, women want the man tied up, and then use physical torture to make him aggressive and angry. Some women like to use hot wax on the men’s bodies, while others use rods or handcuffs to hurt the men during sex.
Rohit earns Rs. 30,000-Rs. 60,000 a month apart from the Rs. 30,000 he gets from his present employer. He got married about a year ago, and is expecting his first child. Getting married was not an easy decision, he says, but he was happy that his parents were so excited at the prospect. “And when I met [my future wife], I felt an instant connection. I could see my own self in her outlook. She is a romantic and an ambitious girl. She used to teach in a school in Ghaziabad (and still does) and wanted a happy marriage, but also wanted to follow her own goals.” Rohit decided not to give up moonlighting. He would be able to support his family better.
“Morals do not matter in this big bad urban space. In my village and for my family what matters is that I earn good money and take good care of my family. All men are cursed; they have been sent into the world with the responsibility of earning money. That is the way it is and I am doing that.”
He visits his family only during the weekdays. They understand that the majority of the work at discotheques is on the weekends. He lives in a single room flat in Karawal Nagar in Delhi where he only goes “to sleep”. His wife doesn’t know about his secret profession, and he intends to keep it that way. “Sometimes it’s difficult to be in bed with her because I don’t feel the love anymore. I’m used to behaving the way the woman wants me to. But then I fake it; if I can fake being violent or kinky, I can surely fake making love to my wife. She is all I have. She is my future. She is the only person who will still be around when I can’t ‘get it up’ anymore.”
Getting an erection becomes difficult for most gigolos after a few years. Many use medications or steroids that ensure an erection for a few hours. Over time, though, they suffer from side-effects like depression, anxiety and in extreme cases impotency. Most common among the tricks to get a prolonged erection is cocaine. Sukanya Kumar, a volunteer at one of the leading rehabilitation centres in Delhi, says there have been many cases of gigolos getting addicted to cocaine over the last few years.
“These men, even after recovering, go into depression since they feel their families will not accept them because of the profession. Such cases pose a stiff challenge since recovery from addiction is not the solution. In some cases they relapse since they can’t find other means to earn money and they believe cocaine is essential [for what they do],” she says. The men are first introduced to cocaine through friends who are in the same profession, or through the agents who initiated them into the gigolo business. Agents handle the websites and groups that receive ‘orders’ for men online. Exploitation of the men takes place once they become reliant on money as their source of income through the gigolo profession. Rohit says that if a gigolo does not have his own contacts and circle through which he receives orders or calls for one-nighters, there is a chance that the agents keep up to 50 per cent of the money that the client pays. Greed drives them to make promises that cannot be met without performance enhancers.
To a query on “well-built, sociable and English-speaking boy” on the social media site LinkedIn, one such agent replied, “We guarantee a full-night erection from the boy along with complete satisfaction for the client”.
Kumar says this is only possible through the use of cocaine or other addictive tablets with various side-effects.
Many gigolos have contracted AIDS from women clients who insist that he not wear a condom. The risk exists with gay male clients too, but Kumar says such instances are extremely rare, since gigolos only assent to gay sex when they are in desperate need of money.
Unlike Rohit, Sidharth is not among the gigolos who advertise themselves. He is not part of an organised “sexual service providing” group either. He works in a circle of friends who may or may not be gigolos themselves, but know each other to be part of a social group that does not look at gigolos from the prism of prostitution.
Two of his friends from this circle were at a get-together in his Noida apartment. They have financially secure jobs, but offer their services for a higher rate. “Like [some people] would prefer to call in a foreigner, (mostly white women from central Asian countries who travel to India for a few months every year) the demand of both the client and the gigolo matters,” says Vikas Bhandari. Vikas quit when he got married last year.
“I couldn’t lie to my wife. Earlier I did it for the fun and the money which we[my friends and I] would spend on discos or travel. But now my wife and I earn and spend our money together. Life has changed.” Many of the calls he now gets are diverted to Sidharth, who himself turns down offers he finds suspicious or not “exciting enough”.
“Sometimes a couple just wants to talk about it and is not sure whether they want to go for it. At other times they have strange kinky fantasies they want to experience together. In such cases we take a call on whether to refuse or go ahead with it. In many cases they view us suspiciously, too, which makes it uncomfortable and so we refuse.”
The fantasies vary. Many women demand a strip dance or an orgy where other men are also called in and women treat them as slaves, tying them up and fiddling with their penises and testicles. At other times they demand “unnatural” sex—which makes it risky for both the man and the woman. “Basically, the one who has the penis decides what he can or cannot offer. The women cannot dangle the money and make me do whatever they want. A certain level of decency has to be attached to it. That is why we are service providers and ‘special friends’ to our clients, and not man whores,” says Sidharth.
They claim the services they provide have saved many marriages. Sidharth often visits a couple in Faridabad, who run a garment business together. Foreplay consists of drink and “dirty talk” between Sidharth and the wife, with the husband taking an active part. Then, they discuss and decide how the night will play out. The wife works on Sidharth until he gets an erection. The husband watches them have sex, but does not join them.. “Sometimes he masturbates when he sees his wife enjoying and moaning. He says it is difficult for him to get an erection since he was diagnosed with diabetes some years back and gradually lost his drive for sex.” The couple have not had a robust sexual relationship since. Such issues are not discussed in their family or social circle, explains Sidharth, and adds that they are religiously inclined people who organise Amarnath Yatra for poor pilgrims every year.
“And going to a doctor for treatment for him is too risky and taboo according to them. That is where I come in. They pay me Rs. 40,000 for every visit and always treat me well. The added bonus is that the woman is good looking and great in bed, which keeps me going too.” The couple has saved their marriage, their family is happy and their only child, a son, has a home that is unbroken.
The husband spoke over the phone on the condition that his name not be revealed. He said he and his wife have developed a deeper understanding now—earlier there were frequent fights and drunken brawls at home. His wife had threatened to divorce him.
“Our business has flourished since we decided to call Sidharth in and we have travelled more than half the world together,” he says, “Earlier, it had just been the honeymoon to Europe and nothing after. It is a harsh reality but if the sexual relationship is not healthy everything else gets affected in a family, especially in a case like this, since both of us are well-educated and expect to have our desires fulfilled equally. I cannot expect her to only take care of my sexual needs when I am not able to satisfy her.”
Such couples are known as “cuckold couples” in Sidharth’s circle. They can have awkward demands at times. A man in his late thirties, whom Sidharth visits in Noida every few months to offer services for his wife, insists that he watch the act but that his wife should not know.
“He seems to get some kind of pleasure or is just insecure about what goes on and so he sometimes asks me to leave the door unlatched so that he can peep in. Sometimes he hides in the balcony of the room and asks me to make sure the curtain is half-open.” Sidharth says he does it so that his client’s demands are met.
“The man claims that his wife has a high libido and that he is not able to satisfy her. He says that sometimes she insists on having sex many times a night and every night for almost a week, which becomes too hard for him, especially since he works in the IT sector and is mentally exhausted after work most of the time. The man feared that his wife would end up taking a wrong step.”
Sidharth believes the wife is “of dubious character”. He says she mumbles “the dirtiest of things” into his ear about her husband while asking him to meet her alone some times.
“I am not going to do that (meet her alone). His parents live in the same colony and for me to visit her in his absence will be risky as well as a breach of trust. I feel bad for the poor guy who earns well and has given his wife a lavish lifestyle. He has also had the understanding to kill his ego and make sure she is sexually satisfied.” He appears to understand why the husband wants to keep an eye on the bedroom.
While Sidharth is a “special friend” to many couples and single women, in some cases he does get emotionally attached. One woman, who he claims is a close family member of the chief minister of one of the biggest north Indian states, is “almost” his girlfriend. She is married to a businessman and lives in a posh New Delhi locality. She met him with a couple at a common “outing” like the one in Connaught Place and called him for a few more meetings before taking him home for a night.
“Once we got talking, it spilled over to messaging and WhatsApp and frequent calls. Then she started organising trips to various tourist places where we would stay in honeymoon suites like a couple. For her it was the romance that her husband was probably not interested in. We are a full-fledged couple while she is ‘happily married’ to someone else,” he says with a chuckle. It was all paid for by her, in addition to the money she gives him from time to time.
Later, the woman introduced Sidharth to her husband as a distant cousin on her mother’s side. “Since her mother is no more, there was no way for him to cross-check it either.” Now Sidharth regularly visits their house and the three drink together late into the night. She has been to his flat too, when her husband is in town and it is not possible for them to “be a couple” at her house. Sidharth has developed an emotional bond with her and says that he doesn’t take money from her unless he is in dire need of it.
His profession doesn’t allow him to feel lonely, but the “minister ki beti (Minister’s daughter)” appears to be his soul mate.
“I don’t intend to marry her or trouble her life. But we are very close and have decided to keep our relationship alive as long as we can.” Now 30, he says he can only hope to earn well for the next 6-7 years and so takes as many calls as he can, after consulting his friends and weighing them himself. “Workload has been consistently increasing,” he says. “Sometimes it gets difficult to go on so consistently, but I do take care of my health and nutrition so that physical fatigue does not kick in…because mentally I am used to it now.”
Gigolos seem to have a good support system. Sidharth’s circle of friends involved in the business organise meetings to share their experiences, which he says plays an important role in keeping their motivation high. “Since the men keep themselves fit and observe and experience the changes in demands or trends in the business, I too learn new things or just interact and have a good laugh about some experiences, mine or someone else’s.” The groups organise their own private meetings separately; but every few months, through by-invitation-only groups on LinkedIn, Facebook or WhatsApp, the larger community of professional gigolos is informed of the gathering, usually an overnight party at a neutral location. “At times a farmhouse is booked and everybody is informed on what their contribution will be. The organiser pays an advance sum and is later reimbursed. The only condition is that no female partners or friends are allowed.” The party this winter, Sidharth says, will be in Rajasthan and at least a hundred professional gigolos will attend it.
As the night wears on, Harry relaxes into a long chat. Having enquired about my journalistic credentials and running through conversation on the Indian Army, Narendra Modi, Pakistan and Kashmir, he returns to his personal life.
The decision to retire early was made because his family would have disintegrated, he says.
“My two kids (both daughters, aged 8 and 5 now) are sleeping upstairs. When they were younger, my wife was having affairs. Some years back, when my [older] daughter was barely 5, she called me and said ‘mumma is not opening the door’. I was posted near Jaipur at the time and drove back immediately that night.”
He opened the door of Sheena’s room with a duplicate key and found her fast asleep with another man. “They were both drunk and naked. I took my daughter upstairs where the younger one was sleeping.” He spent the night in their room.
“I like him because he is not sophisticated. There is no element of show-off in him. And he understands my situation. I vent my frustrations in front of him quite often, and he always behaves like a good friend.”
His wife only discovered him the next morning, and was shocked to find him at home.
“I slapped her the moment I saw her.” He sinks into deep silence, and it is only after gulping two more drinks and chain-smoking for a good while that he is able to continue his story.
“We fought for many days. I took leave for a month and stayed home, sometimes threatening that I would kill every man who ever showed up to meet her. I started suspecting even the security guard and the cook. I had gone mad in rage. She stayed mum throughout, conceding that she had indeed cheated on me but that she found nothing wrong in it.”
Then one day the couple decided to drink together and talk it all out. “She made it clear that she would walk out of the marriage and not even demand custody of the kids. She was not sexually satisfied. She told me I had a small penis and that she preferred men with bigger ones.” He claimed Sheena had had many affairs during her college days and had been extremely sexually active before marriage. “She even told me she had sex with multiple men at times from the gym where she used to work out. She was adventurous wasn’t she?”
After a few more drinks, there’s a look of disgust on his face. “Brother, had I known this I would obviously never have married her. But our fathers were both in the army and are close friends to date. It was the obvious choice since I went into the army at a young age and had known her since we were kids.”
Harry now had to weigh his betrayal against the future of his marriage, his kids, his image among his army mates, and the relationship between the two families. He was inclined to choose the latter. But he had to solve Sheena’s problem. He got to know about ‘high-end’ gigolos.
“It would be civil and there would be no feeling of filth or guilt attached to it since you can meet the person beforehand and converse too.” He reached an agreement with Sheena that he would quit the army, set up a business and find gigolos for her. “We spent a year talking about the family, our girls, our future and she supported me, although she bought sex toys to tide her through the phase when I was still struggling to find a foothold in the business.”
Then, Sidharth entered their lives.
“I like him because he is not sophisticated. There is no element of show-off in him. And he understands my situation. I vent my frustrations in front of him quite often, and he always behaves like a good friend.”
The first light of dawn is showing signs of breaking when Sidharth walks out and asks for a stiff drink. He tells Harry that Sheena is asleep. Harry, face down, pays Sidharth, hands over a half-full bottle of whisky “for the drive back home”. Sidharth and Harry hug each other for a good minute before we leave. Harry goes back into the house.
“How was it?”
“Usual, man. Regular stuff.”
(*Names have been changed to protect identities.)
Arpit Parashar is a freelance journalist based in Delhi.