Paloma Sharma tells you just how.
Ask and any psychiatrist will tell you that love is one of the most dangerous mental disorders in the world.
What makes it so risky is not as much its seasonal contagiousness or its tendency to attack the entire left hemisphere of the brain, as it is the habit of Bollywood -- obsessed young persons to wrongly self-diagnose and even more wrongly self-medicate.
For the longest time, insomnia, restlessness and a lack of appetite have been associated with falling in love, thanks to popular media.
But recent studies have shown that these are merely the symptoms of Wi-Fi dependency, a disorder due to which, in its last stages, a person turns into a human burrito.
Love has been known to creep up on its unsuspecting victims and turn them into gibberish -- speaking balls of pink putty, without them realising it.
Unlike other cancers, love is most dangerous in its earliest stages.
It can be all consuming, especially when it latches its diabolic tentacles on to those who are less experienced in the ways of the world.
You too, dear reader, could be suffering from this abominable illness!
And you may not even know it yet!
But fear not. Those of us who have braved their way through its scorching deserts have come to your rescue.
If you are experiencing any of the below mentioned symptoms in any combination at all, please visit your local hospital/wine shop/babaji ki jhopdi immediately.
Without further ado, we present to you the symptoms of this sinister sickness.
You should know you are in love when...
1. You turn into the ultimate optimist:
Ordinarily, there are three kinds of people:
- The Pessimists: Those who believe that the glass is half empty
- The Optimists: Those who believe that the glass is half full
- The Realists: Those who check if the glass has become jhootha, before they drink the water
But when in love, a new fourth type of person emerges: The Ultimate Optimist.
While your average optimist might subscribe to the above mentioned belief, The Ultimate Optimist goes a step further.
Not only do Ulti-Oppies, as they will now be referred to as, believe that the glass is half full, they also curl up in bed -- in their cat printed pyjamas and pink, furry bunny slippers -- and dream of the day when said glass will be delivered to their bleak little cubicles in a silver platter by a suited-up Keanu Reeves.
Now, to apply this principal to a practical situation:
So your crush has, by some bizarre turn of events, asked for your number.
However, 53 days have passed and you've managed to get two-inch thick glasses from staring at your phone screen 24x7, in anticipation of their call.
To anyone who has watched He's Just Not That Into You or has a functioning brain, for that matter, the situation is pretty clear.
If they haven't called back by now, then they probably don't intend to.
But if you're still staring at that phone screen on the 54th day, like a typical Ulti-Oppy, thinking 'Maybe they've forgotten that they have my number ', 'Maybe they've locked their phone and don't remember the password', 'Maybe they've lost their phone' or 'Maybe they've had their hands and feet amputated in a freak accident and haven't mastered typing with their tongue yet', then you, my friend, need help.
Oh, and you're also in love.
(Cue: Forever Alones sniggering in the background)
You're going to need it.
2. You go from barely literate to being a linguistic expert:
Let's go back to that sepia-toned world of our second grade dictation exams for a moment.
Remember how 'tongue' was spelt 'tounge'?
Around seventh grade, we graduated to spelling 'counsellor' as 'consiller', and eventually we moved on to bigger things, which is when 'Onomatopoeia' became 'Anomatopiya'.
There was no hope for us.
Our teachers had already torn their hair out over our notebooks.
Even MS Word gave up on our 'it's', 'its' and 'is'nt'.
The red and green lines under our words soon slithered away and hid in the game of Snake that the kid on the PC next to us was playing.
After a while everybody seemed to make peace with the fact that we are like this only.
However, every now and then, there emerge extraordinary individuals from amongst us -- individuals who have mastered the ancient tongues overnight -- who will tell you the meaning and root of a name as soon as they hear it.
If you are one of these newly enlightened souls, you very well know that this knowledge was not acquired from penance under the Bodhi tree.
If you are not, I'll let you in on a little secret: these linguistic luminaries have been spending time going through baby names for their unborn children (who, they hope, will have half the genetic composition of their crush).
If you're already compiling a scrapbook of wedding venues and dream homes (boys, this applies to you too), then you are already one step ahead of the crowd.
While one step ahead may not necessarily take you one step closer to your beloved, it certainly does take you closer to going down the deep, dark ravine called love.
It would be wise to expect a rough landing.
As Aerosmith famously sang: falling in love is, indeed, hard on the knees.
3. You master the poker face:
Whoever decided that red was the colour of love probably did so because they, when they were newly affected, often suffered the humiliation of their face being mistaken for a tomato.
Legend has it that the above mentioned person -- Bunty was his name, they say -- was just hangin' in the mohalla with his peeps and blushing upon being teased about a certain person, when your friendly neighbourhood aunty came up to the friend standing next to Bunty (or was it Sunny?) and asked him, "Bhaiya, kaise diya?"
Therefore, to further avoid being confused with any more fruits and vegetables with high lycopene content, Bunty/Sunny (or Montu, perhaps?) paved the path of the poker face for generations to come.
The poker face is an effective tool against more than just nosy middle aged trolls or wild, screeching mini-Neanderthals.
Newly affected persons will often associate everything in the world with their beloved, be it a person who has the same name as their crush or a dusty rock which is the same colour as the rickshaw that was in front of the green scooter that splashed mucky water on their crush's new white shirt.
Now, there's nothing wrong with association, per say.
But one cannot ignore the fact that association brings with it that familiar facial redness, which is why those in love will activate that mutated gene passed down to them by the Buntys and Sunnys and Montus who came before them, causing their faces to become rock hard, with no traces of emotion -- much like they've just been injected with Botox.
If you too find that you've become increasingly stone faced these days, then you're probably in love.
But don't worry about the possibility of heartache.
Your newly developed defence mechanism will ensure that you win any game of Bluff, because even Lady Gaga won't be read your poker face.
4. You actually bother to comb your hair:
Have you recently become preoccupied with your appearance?
Does that pimple on your nose -- or the other 35 on your forehead -- bother you?
Have you lately been in accidents because you stopped to adjust your 'look' in the reflective glass of a car or a bike while wading through traffic?
These symptoms can be a little tricky.
Much like fever, vanity is found to manifest along with several other sicknesses -- be it the desire to win a beauty pageant (Insert customary shudder here) or the desire to attract a mate.
To know whether this newfound mantra of your body being a temple is love related, please follow these steps:
- Get a new haircut.
- Go up to your crush.
- Don't stammer, puke or pee your pants. Blushing is allowed, though.
- Talk to them for 15 minutes but do not broach the subject of the haircut.
- Walk away.
If your crush notices your new haircut, congratulations (but be cautioned, you may have to ask that barber for a refund).
However, if they don't notice it and it only puts another dent in your already achy-breaky heart or causes you to wolf down a large, extra-cheese pizza by yourself because what's the point anyway, then your vanity is love related.
This is no reason to despair, though
While I cannot guarantee whether you will still be single this coming Valentine's or not, I can tell you with great confidence that if you channel this vanity in the right direction, Kim K will soon be jealous of your butt-fies.
5. Your petrol tank is always empty, and so is your wallet:
Somebody spend money like water.
Others spend it like it grows on trees.
But if you're spending money on petrol like your daddy's name is Mukesh, then maybe it's time to take a closer look.
As the countless corny love songs you stay up listening to all night will tell you, distance can be the Amrish Puri of any love story.
Hence travel becomes a necessity.
Speaking of travel, when mummy sends you to buy vegetables, you drive all the way to Dadar or Vasai to buy vegetables, only to remember that your crush lives there.
What a coincidence, no?
The next time your friends want vada pav, you suddenly remember a little shack that sells the best vada pav in the world.
"It's only 40 km away from here," you tell your friends and forget to add that it is 0 km away from your crush's home.
If you've stopped cribbing about having to run errands and are even doing so for all the nice ladies in the neighbourhood just so you can drive to Dadar/Vasai to buy groceries, then you should probably think of investing in Tatas's new air car project, or get yourself into a carpool at the very least.
If you keep going this way, I don't know if you'll ever find your true love, but you certainly might end up driving around in circles.
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Image used for representational purposes only.
Photograph: Joey Yee/Creative Commons