Eternally Confused & Eager For Love’s Ray is no stranger to women in urban India. Shy and awkward, Ray’s superpower is putting his foot in his mouth. He is guilty of violating what many women consider the beginner’s rules of dating – he ghosts, tells little white lies, says he won’t make the first move and then proceeds to do so, doesn’t carry condoms to dates, and sleeps with the girl he’s not interested in. He’s a hot mess, burning those who cross his path. But… he means well.
Played by Vihaan Samat, Ray is a 24-year-old with zero tact with women.
The only person Ray has candid conversations with is Wiz (brought to life by Jim Sarbh’s voice), an inanimate superhero he’s been lugging around since the age of five. Wiz is his self-deprecating inner voice but with reason. It is the side of eternally confused men that we don’t get to hear or see, and IMHO, Wiz is the real protagonist of the show. As women, we only get to witness the fumbling, conflicting, hot and cold of men like Ray, seldom ever the inner voice that tells them they’re not good enough.
In a first, Rahul Nair’s series sheds light on how men cope with a sense of inadequacy.
You know that guy who is otherwise confident, but fumbles in front of his crush? That’s Ray. Or the one who is super chatty on text messages but fails to make eye contact in person? Also, Ray. The guy who ghosts but if you do manage to meet him in a non-romantic setting, he’s super charming and nice? Ray. That guy who sees your signals, but doesn’t know how to reciprocate? Yep, that’s Ray.
When Ray is set up with Pari, an attractive family friend, he chickens out and stands her up. He texts her he can’t make it after she shows up for dinner. Yes, real d*$k move. Al this while, he’s standing outside the restaurant freaking out about how he’s not good enough for him. In another incident, Naina, a friend’s friend is giving him all the signs and while he picks up on these, he doesn’t know what to do. He gets awkward and steps away, avoiding her like a teenager.
Now, of course, there is no excuse for Ray’s childish behaviour.
But it is the reality of many anxiety-ridden men we come across in Indian metropolis. And might I add, this is most men thanks to the bombardment of daily stressors, expectations, and poorly developed coping mechanisms.
Many anxious men try to hide behind a calm exterior because that’s what men are told is expected of them – to be unemotional. But when their inner voice is unsure about how they should act, or feels pressured to be a certain way, they don’t know what to do with it. Because men are also supposed to know it all, or so they think. They don’t know how to talk about their confusion or anxiety, and tend to brush it off. In a desperate attempt to hide their “flaws”, some men may act cocky or overconfident, in the process, putting others off.
Ray – or Wiz – gives voice the anxious side of these men.
Ray is both endearing and annoying at once. He doesn’t want to hurt women, but still ends up making them feel unsafe. This contradiction highlights the problem with gender discourse today – men are given a long list of ‘Don’ts’ for their dealings with women.
- Don’t touch women without consent.
- Don’t hit women.
- Don’t slut shame women.
- Don’t stalk women. So on and so forth…
But in the absence of a list of ‘Dos’, many men find themselves lost and confused.
While talking about what he does to make women feel safe, Ray explains that when he is walking behind a woman, he picks up pace to overtake her so she doesn’t feel he’s stalking her. Of course, this strategy gets him in trouble as one woman he tries to overtake thinks (rightly so) that he’s coming for her, and files a complaint against him. It’s hilarious but also sad, and makes you wonder about other well-meant moves by men that are misconstrued because we live in a society that leaves women on guard at all times.
Anyway, I digress. The point is only this – men like Ray need to stop trying to be cool and collected, or Mr. Know-It-Alls. If you’re nervous, just say it. If you think your date is out of your league, tell her. If you feel hurt or confused, talk about it. If you’re wondering how to make women feel safe or loved, just ask, okay? We don’t bite.
I write. I read. I do yoga. I hula hoop. I love cats and dogs in equal measure. I'd say the same for wine. My zen motto: "Eat kale for the body, cake for the soul." Find me on IG: @prachigangwani87