By Nilanjana Nag (MUMBAI MIRROR; April 11, 2010)

In India, what water is to milk, women are to Arjun Rampal. Now don’t draw your own inferences; it’s just that the two blend well. Having had his fair share of relationships with women, this National Award winner has managed to stay friends with a lot of his exes (Freud must be turning in his grave).

“Back in school, I used to think girls are the enemies,” says Arjun, “Always out to harm you. Until in eighth standard, my mother decided to shift me to the Kodaikanal International School. Ours was a typical lower middle class family in a small town called Jabalpur. So my mother took up a teaching job in the same school; or else funding my education would’ve been impossible. Suddenly, I was exposed to a new world of ideas, opportunities. This proved to be a turning point of sorts that changed my outlook towards women and men and most importantly, my relationships with them.”

Class difference

The Kodai School transfer was more of an eye-opener for Arjun and the timid, quiet, insecure boy in him started opening up to others around him. “This school had no uniforms,” says Arjun, “So the students wore what they wanted. I would turn up in a t-shirt and a pair of shorts.” Didn’t the clothes make class distinctions more apparent amongst students? Arjun disagrees, “It just made us more comfortable with ourselves because our backgrounds didn’t matter. Each of us now had a locker to keep his things in. Before this, I felt such a world existed only in Archies comics.”

Arjun lauds the physical education teachers in the school, who have a unique way of grading students according to their height and weight. So, an eighth standard kid then, Arjun was allowed to compete with twelfth standard boys as tall as him. Thus winning his first 400-metre race was life-altering for obvious reasons.

Sex no bar

These little victories added up and proved to be a tremendous confidence booster for Arjun. Which is why, opening up to girls didn’t take much time and the transition was surprisingly smooth. “I was changing into a far more liberal person now,” says Arjun, “Women didn’t belong to Venus anymore. Respecting them and interacting with them was fun all of a sudden. We would go for prom nights together and dance the night away.” Arjun boasts of a number of friendships that he shares with women even today. As an aside though, he still calls them complicated. But that’s not rocket science for you anymore, is it Arjun?

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