Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Watch You Smoke.

It is all peer pressure, she said dismissively, with all the happy confidence of one who has had her opinions gifted to her shrinkwrapped, for easy consumption / long shelflife.

She said, Cigarettes are Dangerous and Smelly and Dirty, how could they possibly be sexy.

I don't really know if I like the smell of cigarette smoke.. I've never had the luxury of choice, my sinuses have been making their opinion obvious for as long back as I can remember. I cough and I sneeze, repeatedly and embarassingly, around anyone who chooses to light up anywhere close to me. For every five minutes that I spend in an elevator with a smoker, I sneeze four days. Quite understandably, I try not to linger.

But I look at smokers, that doesn't hurt. I watch them gather in straggling groups around paan shops and outside the highway dhabas, and walking along the railway tracks, and sneaking behind the city hotels, and very rarely, braving the danger of their hostel balconies, standing facelessly in the scary opaque blackness of winter nights, the tips of their fingers lit up faintly by the smouldering ends of their fags. I look at them and for every ten fumbling idiots puffing away at their stubs, there's definitely one sexy smoker.

There are those smokers who clutch their cigarettes gracelessly with three stubby fingers, puffing on them jerkily with a sort of sullen singlemindedness. They smoke furiously, right till the filter, with the urgency of asthmatics with inhalers. Sometimes they pound their fags into their little plastic dip-tea cups, stubbing them out until there's a papery, grey-brown sludge at the bottom of the glass. Sometimes they belabour themselves into doing party tricks and force out a marching parade of stiff, unhappy looking white rings, looking pleased with themselves. These smokers and their silly, pouty, ring-producing mouths are a pain to watch. I don't like these smokers.

I like the other ones.

The ones that inhale slowly, absentmindedly, with their elbows up on the table and their fingers completely relaxed, the cigarette between them barely an afterthought. They inhale, and you see nothing for two seconds, and then they breathe out gently, in faint white tendrils. Their lips barely move as they smoke, the act of smoking itself just an accessory to the whole thinking, talking, laughing performance.

The ones in whose long, tapering fingers the cigarette stays suspended almost miraculously, as they move their hands around while talking. The thing dangles carelessly between middle and ring finger, and they flick the ash away from them in that pretty wrist-flick that they don't even notice they do. It dances dangerously, threatening to fly from between their fingers when they start waving their hands around as they talk excitedly, and pushing their hair away from their faces. They never notice. It never falls.

Then the smouldering tip begins to fade, and they stub it out halfheartedly in their cups, and they leave.

I walked into a dhaba once, on the Madras-Pondicherry highway, to buy chocolate. I saw a girl with long, shiny, messy hair, mile-long fingers and a beautiful mouth smoke a Djarum Black while talking angrily into her phone. To this day I am not sure whether I bought a Dairy Milk or a Gems, but the tableau of that girl and the beautiful long black cigarette dancing angrily at the end of her beautiful, skinny fingers is burned into my mind, like one of those pretentious black-and-white photographs they call 'high art' these days. But this picture is not black and white, of course. Dark brown gold hair, freckled brown fingers, black cigarette, pale gold band. The colour is only too alive.

Smokers should quit. If they can't, they should learn to be sexy smokers.

I mean, if you're doing something that is going to stain your skin, kill your breath, block your blood vessels, collapse your lungs and stop your heart, the least you can do for yourself is look hot while doing it.



shreya said...

ahh man i love sexy smokers too,especially the dark broody ones. you know its a way of bonding for people, smoking and stoning. damn peer pressure gets to me.. aaaaarggghhh

Vishal said...

Not nice. Tempting ex-smokers is decidedly not nice...more after i light up

Pratik Stephen said...

I don't smoke... I can't stand second hand smoke, and I won't go near a puffing girls lips unless she brushes and chews gum.

But... I admit... there is something sexy about some smokers...

Its that air of complete self satisfaction with that little paper stick, needing nothing else in the world...

I'd be a sexy smoker too... if only my beloved hookah was more portable!
: )

indiegurl said...

@shreya - i love em too.. from a distance. Far enough for me to not smell em but still be able to look at them. :D

@vishal - as long as you do it sexily, there are no problems no? ;)

@pratik stephen - i don't do the proximity thing well either. I'm talking sexy as a purely visual phenomenon.

Divya said...

And that other hot female smoker you told me about in hans.. yeah it looks totally hot sometimes.. and sure if ur gonna kill urself slowly and torturously anyway, might as well look good doing it.. its the same theory as wanting to be wearing sexy lingerie when you die in that road accident rather than your old granny panties.. right?

Divya said...

and the smell and smoke have grown on me.. who'd have thunk?

Serendipity said...

Oh my, i generally Hate all smokers...but this is so..well written should I say? I'm almost fantasizing about meeting one of these myself!!

Seriously though, awesomely written..

indiegurl said...

@divya - yeah, that one too :) to a lesser extent though. The smell has not and can never grow on me, sadly, so im going to have to observe from afar.

@serendipity - watch penelope cruz in vicky cristina barcelona.

Divya said...

never say never girl.. i thought so too once

Anurag said...

Well,I never come across any Humphrey Bogart/Penelope Cruz type smokers.
The kind that I come across does it out of joblessness and supposed coolness.I have a sardarji friend who smokes.But I don't think it looks sexy when he does. :P

PLEASE PLEASE watch Thank You for Smoking if you haven't seen it already.It's so witty and never preaches,never takes an anti-smoking stand and lets the viewer make his own mind.

BTW,do you still buy gems? :D

Anonymous said...


indiegurl said...

@divya - what, you want me to have wheezy attack and die, eh?

@anurag - arey everyone does it out of joblessness. Some just do it better than others. ;) I've watched thank you for smoking.. very superawesome movie. :) ANNND yes - of COURSE i buy gems! everyday.

@anon - thenkyew muchly.

Anonymous said...


Look what I found.

``... But now, tho I'm not a gud riter,
I certainly am a fierse dictarer'
And everibudee has to rite like me
Or they cannot pass their CBSE.
... The teecher who corrected my speling...
... for the past fifteen hours,
has been standing up against a wall.
He has to stand there till he can spel
Frosclepmomdidooyin the rite way,
I think he will stand ther for ever;
I just invented that wurd today.''

I didnt know you were a seventh grade poet prodigy.

Suki said...

You just voiced one of my unacknowledged thoughts :). I'd never, ever admit it on my own, but damn - you made me!

I get tempted by those calming tendrils of smoke really often. And then the next time I'm with my smoker buddies I end up stinking of smoke for 3 days - YUCK. Is there any way to create something healthy that looks as good as smoke? No? Blast it :(.

indiegurl said...

@anon - i've always been a genius poet. I'm on a sabbatical of undecided length, as of now. So far it's been seven good years. :D

@suki - it's all visual, as far as i'm concerned. I find the smell particularly repulsive. :D

Anonymous said...

What's with the stupid self-praise?

Take this Kanjivaram.

[i]Youngsters today (I am sixteen) are intelligent.[/i]


But I'll have to admit even in your mouthshut days you wrote well.

indiegurl said...

@anon - where's the complimentary part of this comment...where's the complimentary part of this comment... looking... still looking.... ooh HERE it is:

"in your mouthshut days you wrote well."

aw thanks, anon! *blush*

how much i love that you googled me just so i would benefit from your cutting and superior critique! i prostrate myself in effusive thanks at your lotus feet.

Arnold said...

Yup, I always thought there were sexy smokers and non-sexy smokers. I, quite obviously, focused my observation on women. My motto has always been - "I prefer a girl who smokes, but ONLY if she smokes well."

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Vedang said...

all right, I'm heading out for a smoke. Damn! that's well written!

Unfortunately for me, I don't know any chicks who qualify as "sexy smokers". Most of my female friends look clumsy, awkward and scared of being caught when they are smoking.