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Want To Ask Someone Out? Here’s A Guide On How To Do It (And When To Back Off)

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Every now and then, we hear about a scandal where a well-known man is accused of sexual harassment and defends himself by saying that his intentions were good. Recently, TVF founder Arunabh Kumar currently accused by 50 separate complainants of sexual harassment said, “I am a heterosexual, single man and when I find a woman sexy, I tell her she’s sexy—but this is only done in my personal capacity. I compliment women in my personal space and not at the workplace. Is that wrong?”

After reading news such as the one around Arunabh Kumar, do you feel sorry for yourself as a heterosexual male and say to yourself: Nowadays there is no space for romance in the world? Does this mean everything I do makes me a creep?

We sympathize with the difficulties of ishq-seekers, so let us help you seek ishq without seeking chappal/angry hisses/contempt/handcuffs bole toh.

Kumar also said that he is open to investigation, so we decided to investigate the matter—in Agents of Ishq style—which is, help you figure out how to ishq farmao without being a creep.

Want to make a move? No need to feel scared or get viral fever. We will help you.

Here are 6 simple steps to help you figure it out.

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Stage 1: SHOULD YOU?

You just about met a woman and you’re pretty much on a formal level.

You find her too beautiful and want to tell her so. This is the most important stage where you can prevent yourself and the other party any unnecessary damage if you ask yourself the following questions.

1.  Are you in a professional setting? This could be work, an after-office gathering, a conference. Even your house can be considered a professional setting if you have people working, offering services out of your home.

If the answer is ‘yes’ we would highly recommend stepping carefully and avoid making a move, verbal or otherwise.

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At this point you are probably saying, “I spend my whole day and life at office. If I don’t make a move on attractive people at the office, I will be a brahmachari.” Good point, but hold on and keep reading.

2. Are you the other person’s boss? If the answer is yes, just don’t do it. Don’t do it now. Don’t do it in a ‘weak moment’ or ‘strong feelings moment’. Don’t.

Even if you are not the other person’s direct boss, do you have any control in decisions about their employment? If the answer is yes, then don’t do it.

More scenarios

3.  Do you have any part to play in the future of the other person’s organisation? (As an investor, auditor, major customer, advisor and so on) Then don’t.

4.  Are you an influential person in your industry and the other person is several rungs below you? For instance, you are a professor who is often called to conduct viva for M.Phil students. Is the other person an MA or M.Phil student? If the answer is yes, you know what to do. Smile politely and swallow any feelings you are currently experiencing.

5. Are you in a college? If yes, is the other party over 18? Alright, but is the other party your student? Then the answer is NO. Is the other party your classmate or senior? Then the answer is YES, skip ahead to Stage 2.

6. Are you colleagues at the same level with no particular power over each other’s future? If the answer is yes, you can skip ahead to Stage 2.

7. Are you at a wedding, a party or a friend’s house? If the answer is yes, you can skip ahead to Stage 2.

8. Are you on Tinder/OkCupid or another dating app? Skip to Stage 2.

9.  Is the person drunk? Then you know the answer: NO.

10. Is the person asleep or half asleep? Then: NO,

11. Is she in a crisis? Missed her last bus home, lost her purse, injured, unwell, lost the elections, worried about her mother’s heart attack? Please yaar, mat kar.

12. Has the bijli gone? If you are a total stranger please keep quiet and look for candles. Don’t leap just because you can’t look. If you are not total strangers light the candles and move to Stage 2.

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Why make izzat ka falooda when you can learn from other people’s faloodas? We have below a handy list of the most hopeless (bole toh creepy) ways to make a move on the other person.

  • Giving her a heart attack by touching her hair/face/body when she is asleep in a bus next to you.
  • Telling her that you are interested in the psychology of women with big breasts.
  • Telling her that you have heard that women are very lonely after divorce.
  • Telling her that you have heard that women from her college raped the milkman.
  • Telling her that you have heard that women in her industry/profession/college are very forward, sorry, free-spirited.
  • Telling her a ‘non-vegetarian’ joke and then asking her why she is not laughing.
  • Showing someone unsolicited porn.
  • Wondering aloud what would happen if the buttons of her shirt popped.giphy (17)
  • Asking her if her kurta is feeling very tight.
  • Telling her that you’ve heard that women from her caste are very hot/sweet/bold/beautiful/free.
  • You have heard she is a lesbian. Or she has told you she is a lesbian. But you insist on telling her that your love will change her.
  • Telling her that you knew from that one time you spoke about cricket or found that you both liked simla mirchis so you are meant to be together. (If you both like karela then maybe… actually no, not even then, ok?)
  • Telling her that you can help her advance in her career or improve her future. Please, no need.
  • Telling her that a girl who wears clothes like she does, obviously wants it.
  • Telling her you just want to protect her from creeps because she is innocent.
  • Telling her that she is beautiful despite her age/weight/height/skin colour.
  • Telling her that you know she is broad-minded/bohemian. Why is this a problem? Frankly boss, this sounds like you are hinting big hints that you have formed a judgment on her sex life. Don’t do it. She may be bohemian but she may not want to be bohemian with you and you will sound very off.

Stage 3: HOW TO DO IT

Are you feeling tension now? Do you feel like you can never open your mouth again? Don’t do drama, yaar. Here are some simple tips.

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Is this the first time you are ever speaking to the object of your admiration?

Then you might want to just introduce yourself to begin with and start a conversation before you compliment her. For instance:

1. Instead of telling her that you knew from that one time you spoke about cricket and that you were meant to be together, you might say this: “I noticed you know a lot about T-20 cricket.” Showing that you observed something cool about the other person is a great way of making a connection which gives her some space.

2. You could establish a common interest. Tell her that you also starve on the days the college mess makes tinda. Just like her.

3. You can tell her the colour of her kurta is beautiful and she looks good in it. But say it without a Shakti Kapoor-Ranjit stare.

4. If you know she likes Shah Rukh Khan you can ask her if she’s already seen Raees, and should you go?

See? It’s simple to be non-creepy. But in the coming weeks, we will have a full primer on this. So stay tuned.


Now that you’ve done the deed, what next? It all depends on her response.

Sometimes you will get a clear response.

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  • Has she stayed silent and looked away without a smile?
  • Has she got up and left?
  • Has she told you that she is not interested in you?
  • Has she told you that she is not looking for romance?
  • Has she told you she is only interested in her career/studies right now?
  • Has she told you her parents are looking for a groom for her right now or that she has a boyfriend?

If her responses are any of the above skip to Stage 5

But what if her response is a bit more confusing? (Oh, ISHQ, teri ambiguity ne mara, but look there is no chara, you’ll have to learn to read signs).

  • Has she responded to you with something emphasising the age difference or professional difference between you such as: “You are like a father to me/My favourite uncle used to say the same thing/Even when I was a child I used to admire your work/I feel you could be a great mentor to me.”
  • If yes, then she is reminding you of what she thinks is the appropriate relationship between you. Skip to Stage 5.
  • Has she responded to you with anger and outrage? Has she threatened to call your mother/boss/professor/anti-sexual harassment committee/the police?

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Two possibilities lie here. You have either really made a mess and said something terrible. Else, what you thought was only mildly flirtatious has far exceeded her cultural comfort zone. Either way, she has the right to be angry. Apologise and skip to Stage 5. Giving her gaalis and calling her a prude (even if she is one) means you should change your name to Shri Creep Cumar. We all come with different backgrounds around the world, mistakes happen.

  • Has she smiled but in a tight, quick way? She is uncomfortable but does not want to be rude to you. Back off politely.
  • Is her body stiff? She is uncomfortable but does not want to be rude to you. Back off politely.
  • Did she laugh a little and go back to whatever she was doing immediately. She is uncomfortable. You know what to do. Back off politely. What’s there?
  • Has she replied to your question/remark in a calm and friendly manner? Is she making easy eye contact and smiling? Is she asking you questions that show interest in you and your opinion? Brother, you may have hit gold, or well at least met someone who thinks you’re interesting. Go to Stage 6.


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1. She has said no either directly or indirectly. You are probably feeling upset. But this is a very important moment in establishing yourself as a decent person or a villain.

2. If her response was a direct no or a tactful, roundabout no-wala smile along with a change of subject, you can end the conversation politely and leave.

3. If her response was outrage and anger, apologize, end the conversation and leave. DO NOT hang around trying to defend yourself. Even later on, she is likely to never want to come back to this incident, so do not bring it up ever again unless she does.

4 . If you are colleagues/classmates/neighbors and generally see the object of your affection frequently, it gets tricky. You might feel terrible but it is your job to be polite and continue as if nothing has happened. In a while, you will feel less bad, but in the meanwhile, you have to manage your struggle internally because that’s what adults do. This is quicksand territory and you can still end up being a creep if you act on your feelings of rejection and dejection, by ignoring her or being rude. Remind yourself it is NOT her fault that she doesn’t return your feelings.

5. Remind yourself you are not a loser if she doesn’t like you “that way”. It happens. It’s a matter of chance. Life is not kabhi khushi kabhi gham only, but kabhi haan kabhi na also.


The object of your affection seems to be responding to your overtures. You are feeling good. Enjoy the moment. But remember the moment is just what it is. It doesn’t mean she is thinking of what dish to manao your mother with nor is she about to run and book the next available train to Goa with you or secretly start looking for rooms on Stay Uncle.

If she does that, that is another moment. So wait for it to happen or be invited.

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Ishq is hard but why be a big baby and stamp your feet and cry and say, “I want everything now only”? Grown-up fun comes from growing up. So ishq farmaofy, but slowly slowly, one step at a time.

Vishesh Tippani: You might be feeling annoyed that all this useful info is only if you are a man wanting to hit on a woman. What if you are a woman wanting to hit on a man without being creepy? Or a woman seeking womanly ishq? Or a man pursuing a man? Hang in there, more ishq tuitions coming soon.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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