ZENOBIA SHROFF

 

WHAT? I HAVE TO PUT ON MY FACE FOR THIS!

At thirty four I decided enough was enough! The gods had taken it upon themselves to collectively doom my love life and I was not going to take it anymore. Armed with a good friend and my best summer look, I enrolled in a dating service offered at a local coffee shop. Doing something of this nature was not something I had imagined for my self at this age, or for that matter at any age. Raised the youngest of three girls in a liberal upper middle class household in Bombay, India, I had your standard schoolgirl fantasy (or for some, reality) that I would be married with two kids, the house and the dog by the time I was thirty. I however chose a different path and ass a result found myself still single in the city at thirty four. This was my choice. I did not have any regrets but the proverbial biological clock was ticking. I love children. I hadn’t met anyone with whom I wanted to have them. So I decided to do something about it.

My good friend Lauren told me about the coffee shop. The atmosphere was decidedly “Friends” like, with over stuffed couches, magazines and giant coffee mugs.You had to go through books of profiles, pick men you were interested in and if they were interested in you too, you met at the coffee shop for a chat and hopefully more. I was sure it wouldn’t be that hard. After all these years of being single my “man-dar” (man plus radar, a term I proudly coined myself) would surely not let me down, right? Ha! Think again! I picked three guys. Since I had a background in psychology and was at the time working in a psychiatric program as my day job, I started off with Paul, a psychiatric intern. The second guy was Matthew, a talent agent. Being an actress I saw definite potential there. The third was a self-described Michael J.Fox type. I chose him for that fact.

So let’s start with Paul. It was a particularly hot summer evening. He hobbled in twenty minutes late, apologizing and sweating profusely. I said no matter. The delay he informed me was due to the length of his session with his therapist. It went long. Not a good sign. Over the next half hour we discussed the pressures of working in psychiatry. I ask him how he deals. He says, poker faced “Oh, I just punch my fist through the wall” I swallow hard, and flee shortly after, visions of my face being used as a punching bag swirling through my over active imagination. Still I tell my self, one bad apple does not spoil the bunch. In that spirit I meet Matthew. Matthew has described himself as “Very cute, 5’6 inches”. I leap up to greet him. We’re shoulder to shoulder. I’m 5’2’’. You do the math. As for ‘very cute’, I’m not going to touch that. Let me just say I was raised a lady. “Michael J. Fox’’ does not respond to my request to meet him. Thus ends round one.

I am slightly deflated. Down but not out. A few weeks later I get a call saying there are four men wanting to meet me. I am newly buoyed. I go down to the cafe, check out the profiles and agree to meet all four. Profiles, ladies are very deceptive. If profiles were to be believed there would be not one unhappy woman on the planet. We would all be bathed in love, happy, rich and multi orgasmic! And gentlemen: love you all, but a helpful hint here- please tell it like it is. Don’t pretend to look like a movie star and live like a king. If you are a personal assistant to a banker don’t put investment banker under occupation. We will find out eventually. And then it’s just ugly. Case in point, Dick. The first of the four, an actor. I consider this a good starting point. Now Dick you must understand has described himself as a Richard Gere look alike. Richard Gere is one of my most favorite movie stars. So naturally I am curious. Slightly cynical, but curious. We meet. Throughout the meeting I sat and silently scrutinized his face, wondering, what part of it he was referring to as the Richard Gere factor. He meanwhile is prattling on endlessly and cluelessly. Finally he says, “So how do I measure up to my profile?” and it’s like, honey you don’t!!! Not to mention that he was an out of work actor, with all the requisite bitterness and whining that goes with it. (Not that I would know anything about that!)

So clearly this plan had holes. I needed to come up with a new plan. I needed to be ruthless, much as it was against my nature. Sitting there for one hour listening to them drone on was too much. I’d give them half an hour. Prove yourself buddy, or I’m outta here! But apart from that I had to have an out. A tag line. This then is what it boiled down to “Excuse me, I have to make a phone call” The phone call inevitably border lined on an ‘’emergency”, and I would beat a hasty retreat. This did work a few times after, though good, god- fearing girl that I am, I was consumed with guilt by my deception. Yet it had to be done. My only hope was that they would not follow me because they would have found me at the neighborhood Barnes and Noble frantically looking through Feng shui books on how to redeem this mess! What should I buy? Crystals? Hearts? A pair of sitting ducks? Fortified with newly bought and unnecessarily spent on feng-shui energy, I return to the scene of the crime a week later. This time I am to meet Alex. Alex was a working class New York type; slicked back hair, heavy aftershave, rings, New York accent. He sat there and looked me up and down, nodding approvingly " Not bad, not bad, you have a whole Gina Gershon thing going." Other gems like did I wear a bikini followed (remember it was summer) as though from nowhere someone said ‘Excuse me I have to make a phone call’

Worn out, discouraged, but ever the performer, I decide the show must go on. So a few days later I meet Adam. Sweet deluded Adam. Adam was shall we say very much in touch with his feminine side. He took ballet, sipped peach tea, loved his plants and wore excessive jewelry. I wanted so badly to say Adam honey, may I guide you to the men looking for men section. Instead of course I said "Excuse me I have to make a phone call." Next I encountered a dilemma straight out of dating etiquette 101. I was at the coffee shop one summer evening to meet Matthew. He was running late. While waiting on the over sized friends-style couch I noticed a fairly good-looking Jude Law type on the couch next to me. JL, as I now refer to him starts chatting me up. In conversation he claims to have nothing to do with this desperate meat market. He was above the fray of the romantically challenged. He was simply here for some coffee while he worked on his computer. He laptops away between snippets of conversation. I tell him I am waiting for someone. Finally Matthew arrives. (Matthew had described himself as having blue eyes and brown hair. In my opinion he had brown eyes and no hair! Another fun-filled wonder. Not to mention profuse sweating due to the enduring summer heat. Gentlemen, wipe off before you present yourself to us! ) Shortly after he excuses himself to go to the bathroom. Using Matthews’s departure as an opportunity JL sidles up to me and in a low, slimy voice suggests we meet back here next week. Several thoughts spin through my mind simultaneously; One: it is in poor taste to chat with one guy when actually there for another. Two:what if Matthew springs from the bathroom as I say yes. Three: do I want to say yes? Not really. He seems borderline creepy. Four : most important – didn’t he claim not even fifteen minutes ago that he had no interest in using the cafe as a dating ground and was not a member? Finally I say, eye ever vigilant on the bathroom door- ‘Why don’t you give me your card, and I will call you” I admit I had no intentions of doing so. About a week passes. The cafe calls me. Says Jeff would like to meet you. I inquire about Jeff. Turns out surprise, surprise it is Mr. I- don’t- need- a-service- to- find- myself- a- girl- JL. I say but he isn’t a member. They say oh but he is! I could not tell the nice girl on the other end of the line “Excuse me I have to make a phone call” because I was on a phone call. That too with a mere innocent. Needless to say...

Listen, I’m no Emily Post or Dr.Ruth or Dr.Phil, but there are a few things I’ve learned and would like to share. I want to preface this by saying this is not a male bash – clearly I like men or I wouldn’t be here telling you this- but boys, wipe the sweat off your brows and other body parts before you greet us. Don’t drip on us. Also please don’t tell us about your therapist on the first date. Or ask us if we wear a bikini. (This actually guarantees you will never see us in one!) Don’t lie about your height, your male-pattern baldness and please, please when filling out your profile don’t tell us you are a tiger in the sack. (This actually guarantees you will never see us naked!)

Any way, by now I had given up. I was not going to pursue this any more. Like my enthusiasm, the summer too was drawing to a close. Weeks pass. The phone rings. They say Bob would like to meet me. I say why not? I meet Bob. Bob is late, he is shy, he doesn’t make a very good first impression, but he is NORMAL! At this point regular, ordinary, normal is so good. At least there would be no psych. wards, bikinis, and hidden sexuality. No misrepresentation of height and hair follicles. So we talked. He was dull but still...knowing that I was an actress; he asked the standard what are your favorite movie- stars question. I actually dislike that question because there are so many unknown talented actors who would be on that list if only one knew about them. Still I answered as enthusiastically as I could. On our second date- yes, we had one- he asked me who my favorite movie stars were. On our third date (don’t ask why) he asked me who my favorite movie stars were. So I treated him to an afternoon matinee about two people breaking up and felt certain he understood what I was trying to say.

I retreated. Years passed. I dated a little, actually met a few half decent guys, got my heart broken once or twice, heard my clock ticking and decided to dive in again. But this time I was going to be smart, right? I was going to get to know them first. See what they had to say. Even see what they looked like. Then meet them. By this time internet dating had become the norm. In this spirit, I joined a local Internet service for a trial of a month. I began my search. Every evening I would sit at my computer and scroll through literally hundreds of applicants. I decided to start small. Multitasking has always been hard for me, so multi-dating seemed over whelming Three men caught my eye. All three were attractive to me (ladies – rule #1 of internet dating: photographs are deceptive, especially if you post one that’s ten years old!) Guy #1 was a nice all-American boy. We began a very decent correspondence. He was a dance instructor, lived in the city and worked on Long island. He was polite, built nicely on everything I wrote about, and seemed very cool. After a week or so he suggested we meet. So we did. One of those high-end places in Soho, where a cucumber soup is fifteen dollars. He was a genuinely sweet guy. I was feeling zip. Nothing. Nada. No chemistry. But I told myself to give him a chance. I need not have. Two days later he wrote me saying he found me beautiful, sweet, talented, smart, but no-thank you he’ll pass. That response has now taken its due place in my rejection hall of fame, along with its- not- you- its- me and other classics. Guy #2 seemed a bit too eager. He happened to catch me online one evening and proceeded to frantically IM me. Where was I, where did I live, he was going to the gym right now -could we meet on his way there? I wrote back as politely as I could saying slow down and why don’t we get to know each other through the Internet a little and then meet. He wrote back an incomprehensible diatribe included in which was this sentence ‘My politics and fanaticisms are none of your concern” and it’s like, you’re right. They are not my concern. Not this minute anyway. Right now all I want to know is maybe your name! I never responded to that attack. A few weeks later he catches me on line again. He IM’s frantically again ‘Is it you? Should we talk? Am I bothering you? Did I offend you should I leave the room? I’m leaving the room. I’ve left the room.’ Whew! Thank god! I never thank fully heard from him again. Upon review I did not contact guy #3. He said that he was really good looking and so he wanted his partner to be really good looking because when they entered a room all eyes would be upon him and if she wasn’t up to snuff he did not want her to feel bad. Aaaw! The consideration! He went onto say that really he wasn’t superficial, but he really did need someone who was at least 5’4’’, in good shape. He said he was not that fussy that he would insist on a particular hair color (he was willing to let that go) Again, so considerate!

Thus run the details of my intrepid adventures in dating. The interesting thing about Internet dating is that after sufficient scrolling you can categorize the men quite efficiently. So you have the mushy guys, (‘when we kiss our lips will be one’’) the arrogant guys, (reference guy #3) the borderline - threatening guys (‘you better click on me’’) and the clearly romantically clueless. (‘My pee turns green when I eat asparagus’) My favorite will always remain the man who said ‘I dare you to contact me’ I mean isn’t that why you have posted yourself there? Needless to say, I’m done. DONE. Of course I keep wondering about the Michael J. Fox guy. Maybe he is my destiny. It is a cruel twist of karmic fate! Of course knowing my luck he’d land up looking like Little Richard!

COPYRIGHT@ZENOBIA SHROFF 2000

 

SEX AND THE CITY: 2 MUCH TO BEAR

On the surface I quite enjoyed SATC2. There were some clever puns, Patricia Fields’ wildly creative costumes really appealed to me and the cinematography and production values were top notch. But over the last few days as I thought about it more and more my anger and disgust at this over tired franchise grew.

Never mind that the plot lines were nonexistent, the three other girls besides Sarah Jessica had no story line and one kiss under the arches does not a love triangle make! I could even have stomached that. What I can’t stomach is what this once fun adventure of 4 Manhattan girls’ love life has been reduced to. Carrie and Big have settled into Upper East Side domesticity, the economy having absolutely no negative effect on this Wall Street man and his writer wife, they are living even better than ever! She whines incessantly that they have become too married and don’t go out enough. When your biggest problem is not liking take out, you need to shut up. She whines even more as he watches TV in bed and whines more than that when he ignores her. Her “trauma” leads here to kiss Aiden when she miraculously (and ridiculously unrealistically) finds him in the middle of Abu Dhabi! The talented Cynthia Nixon is given virtually nothing to do and in the one good scene she has with the Episcopalian princess Charlotte she asks that they raise their glasses to toast all the women who do motherhood without nannies. Note to Miranda and Charlotte and of course Michael Patrick King, writer of this delusion: that would be MOST American women!!!! It is patronizing and ignorant remarks like this that make you want to leap from your seat and throttle these spoiled, vapid, materialistic women! Samantha (a delightful Kim Catrall) has no sex drive left. Ironically this is a real problem since Samantha’s primary identity is that of an over-sexed cougar. Therefore, in a strange turn of events her story becomes the most real, if indeed any of it can qualify as that.

Perhaps it is because I just had a semi- milestone birthday .Or perhaps it is because we are all coping with stringent economic times. But as I look around me at my fabulous group of 30, 40 and 50 something girlfriends, I simply cannot relate to these women. My group of girls at mid life have different things on their minds. They are mothers and wives and girlfriends granted, but their lives don’t hinge on the latest Birken bag. They are mothers whose children don’t need them anymore and wives stuck in stale marriages; they are career women experiencing ageism and sexism and glass ceilings everywhere. They are parents with difficult children, children with disabilities, they are friends still hope ful for Mr. Right, they are women coping with divorce and yes sadly right now they are even some battling the big C. Listen up Carrie and company- life is not all Manalo’s and martinis and camel rides in the desert. Life, joyful as it can be, is messy and hard and yes sometimes frankly it sucks. But we are resilient and strong. We persevere and endure and keep it all together. Because we are adults. We are grown- ups. And that is what grown-ups do. Carrie and her friends need to do just that. It would do them a world of good. The paper today said the movie only made 32 million in its opening weekend as opposed to 57 million on the first one. That’s a good sign. Perhaps American women are not as stupid and shallow as Michael Patrick King would have us believe.

SJP and MPK need to turn the lights out on this dog and pony show. We're all sexed out.

COPYRIGHT @ ZENOBIA SHROFF 2008

 

SPAWN-DASHIAN

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West had a baby girl. They named her North West! They plan to call her Nori. She’s fucked! Super-duper fucked! Not just because of her name, but because she is the unfortunate spawn of two self-absorbed narcissists, so madly in love with themselves that they forgot to fall in love with each other. Let’s hope they remember to fall in love with her. Nori will surely grow up to be rich, entitled and vapid, a la mama. Yet she may decide to actually do something better with her life, like educate herself. Go to college. She might apply to Northwestern. What’s your name kid? North West. Where do you go to school? Northwestern. More fucked-ness! But no worries, she won’t get there, her sex tape will get in the way. Her evil Houdini grandmother Kris will make sure of that. Also getting in the way- her Playboy cover shoot. Hefner will be in his grave by then, but Jenner on her fifth face lift by now, the left side of her face now a good 3 inches higher than her right, (currently its two inches) will make sure the deal goes through. She will stand to the side at the photo shoot just like she did with Kim and shout, just like she did with Kim" you look beautiful, Nori!" It will be a cold day in hell before my mother stands to the side on a set and tells me if am beautiful naked. She'd smack me and hand me bathrobe. And i am glad for that.

Bruce Jenner meanwhile, on his 17th face lift would have become so unrecognizable, the IOC would have called and asked for his gold medal back. Sister Khloe and husband Lamar Odom would finally have the baby they desperately (plot-line wise of course! They will run out of story lines by then) want. Only problem is no one would be able to tell if it’s a boy or girl! Ouch, low blow, Zen .

Kourtney will finally marry Scott, whom i refer to as Scoot, in the hope that he goes away. He calls himself Lord Disick, making her Lady Disick. Except a title does not a lady make! Youngest spawns Kendall and Kylie will grow up to marry black ball players, after family traditions are so important. They will name their spawn South West and East West respectively. Bruce will rejoice, except we won’t be able to tell!

Somewhere Robert Kardashian just sat up in his grave and thought, damn this is worse than when I repped O.J.!!!

COPYRIGHT@ZENOBIA SHROFF 2013

 


 

I DON’T WANT TO CRUSH THE CANDY…

The whole ALS ice bucket challenge has got me riled up. I have ranted on face book about it. This is what I said:
‘People need to stop with this ice bucket nonsense. Half the people doing this are not even die hard hard ALS supporters; they are simply doing this because of the ingenuity of the idea. If you care so much donate quietly, otherwise stop wasting water. Ironically as with the cause de jour, helping one group is seriously harming another- are people aware how many go without water each day?’
Ironically and tragically the young man who started this challenge drowned. Fate? Divinity? Who knows…
His idea was good no doubt. Make it fun and people will follow. And they have. In fully soaked idiocy.
I do not want to dump ice water on my head. I also do not want to crush the candy or take a million selfies at dinner with my friends or family. I want to enjoy their company and revel in our humanity. I am not interested in pinning, instagraming, tumblring or face booking my chicken.
I would also like to stop receiving emails from girlfriends asking me to send this and that along to eight other friends or else… or else what??? Who asked you to do this? I cherish my girlfriends more than anything but when grown educated women ask you to validate them by ‘sending it along’ it’s a head scratcher. Please delete me from all such emails. Let’s chat and meet and talk and connect- that I love.
We live in a world where I just signed a petition to save Daniza the bear from being separated from her cubs. 80,000 others signed it. But for 89 year old Ethel who has her meals delivered in Queens, only 343 of us have signed.
It’s a world gone mad, let’s not add to it
Ben Affleck passed on his ALS challenge to good pal Matt Damon. Matt Damon is the head of a clean water initiative. Let’s hope he does the math…

COPYRIGHT@ZENOBIA SHROFF 2014


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'You may have the pregnancy story line but i got two emmys. Aw, snap!!!" Zenobia Shroff



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Zenobia Shroff has been an actress for twenty years, she got her start in Mumbai under the mentor-ship of the legendary Pearl Padamsee. With Padamsee’s encouragement, she came to study acting at New York’s Circle in the Square theatre school. Soon after she honed her craft at the off Broadway theatre Castillo, where she played several and diverse roles such as Nora in Ibsen’s ‘ A Dolls house’ to German avant-gardist Heiner Muller.

She also performed in Mario Frattis “Erotic adventures in Venice” at the famed La Mama and Milan Kunderas “Jacques and his master”.

She has taught drama and movement extensively throughout the new York city area, primarily for inner city and low income children. She continues to tutor privately

Most recently she was in Sooni Taraporevalas “Little Zizou”, presented by Mira Nair. For that role she was nominated as best actress at the Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council film festival in 2008. Nest she was seen  ‘When Harry tries to Marry’, an independent film. Most recently she was in her first Bollywood film,"Ek main aur ekk tu" with Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan.

Zenobia is an accomplished Bharat Natyam dancer and writes and performs sketch comedy. Her one woman show,"Exotic Observations'', a humorous look at being a south Asian in New York City is available for performance.Her writing can be viewed on this website and www.theajnabee.com

Her acting reel and clips from ''ExoticObservations'' can be seen on this website and also on

www.youtube.com/zrshroff

 

REVIEWS

But the scene-stealer of the film is Zenobia Shroff she offers myriad shades to the role with her husband, with Zizou, with her daughter or her mother she's spectacular. MUMBAI MID-DAY

Of the cast, Zenobia Shroff is outstanding as the harrowed mother, wife and daughter. At no time during her entire time on screen does one get the sense that her character Roxanne is not a real person. REDIFF.COM

 

Zenobia Shroff is fabulous as the Parsi mother—she’s another one who seems like she’s unaware of the presence of a camera LIVEMINT.COM AND THE WALLSTREET JOURNAL