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Indian Men Are Willing to Pay Hundreds of Dollars to Learn How to Talk to Women

Kshitij Sehrawat is among the PUA-inspired entrepreneurs tapping the market.

by Parthshri Arora
22 January 2019, 12:51am

Shoes to get “South Delhi 10s”. Image: Parthshri Arora

This article originally appeared on VICE India

“I always knew pick-up was creepy. But what is more creepy is not knowing pick-up, and going, ‘Hey girl, can I buy you a drink?’” 26-year-old Kshitij Sehrawat told me. “People judge me, then go on Tinder, where they objectify others only on the basis of their looks,” he added.

Sehrawat is the founder of the Iron Man Lifestyle, a technique “to get better with women and lead a fulfilling lifestyle”, one where he sells the possibility of sex to men. A radical shift from selling stationery to schools which was what he used to do. The popularity of an “in-field pick up” video he posted on YouTube in 2016, convinced him to monetise his ostensible ability to talk to women. One of his recent videos, features him in a wheelchair pretending to be disabled as he is wheeled around Connaught Place chatting up random women. Most of the women in the video seem frozen in politeness.

GIF from Sehrawat's "Picking Up Girls In A Wheelchair" video

Sehrawat hosts Bootcamps in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore every month, clearing nearly Rs 2,00,000 in a year. At these three-day bootcamps, men are taught how to approach women in public spaces, get their numbers or Instagram handles, and even make out or go home with them.

There’s a lot written about Pick-Up-Artists and The Game has pretty much entered social parlance to the point where admitting to knowing Real Social Dynamics results is much cringe. And yet, there is a thriving community in India and Sehrawat has tapped into the urban male’s greatest anxiety, how to speak to women. His website never explicitly states that he’s a pick up artist despite using much of the same rhetoric but he did admit that “Pick-up artist who focuses on communication, sense of humour, being a high-value person and not being a social retard.” Essentially PUA couched in the language of motivation.

Pick up as therapy?
Debdutta Sarkar* flew from Kolkata for one bootcamp and ended up spending approximately 30 thousand rupees including the flight and Sehrawat’s fees for the chance to use the same opening with every girl in a 20 minute window, “Hi, this colour (depending on her top) looks great on you”. He said this again and again in a muffled, barely-audible high-pitched whisper with gigantic hopeful eyes.

The core tenet seems to be at odds with itself. One can’t talk to women without confidence, but confidence is only earned from chatting up women.

“See how he keeps his hands nervously to the side of his hips as he walks up. He seems needy, creates no value for the girl to stay interested,” Sehrawat’s quasi-assistant Rahul* told me. We were in the middle of Select City Walk, a posh mall in South Delhi, as it has, according to Sehrawat, “The largest volume of hottest girls.”

“I had massive social anxiety. If I went out for sambar and wanted another serving, I couldn’t even bring myself up to ask for it,” Sarkar told me. “Now I’m talking to all these girls,” he added. Each of these conversations I witnessed seemed to last under a minute.

Sarkar did such drills over three days, along with 22-year-old Mohit Kapoor* and 24-year-old Anil Malik*, who were on higher levels of ‘Game’ than Sarkar.

As Sehrawat observed during one debriefing, Kapoor was brought up in an affluent West Delhi family, went to a great school and has no problems with self-confidence i.e. ‘Inner game’. He just has to be able to communicate this properly. “[Sarkar] will have to be rebuilt from the ground up, Mohit just needs some backing,” Sehrawat later told me.

The core tenet seems to be at odds with itself. One can’t talk to women without confidence, but confidence is only earned from chatting up women.

Malik seemed to be the prize pupil. However, I was told he always tried to wrap up quickly and get an Instagram handle. In pickup parlance, he pre-ejectulated.

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Kshitij Sehrawat poses for the camera at the beginning of the bootcamp. Image: Parthshri Arora

The debriefing sessions also saw an odd camaraderie built up between these men who wouldn’t seem to share the same social circles otherwise. There was talk of which city and mall was the best in terms of choices and gym talk.

The boys didn’t fare much better at a bar where they were instructed to be more more direct, but they were rapt at stories of Sehrawat and his students “Fingering girls while dancing at Summerhouse (a popular bar in South Delhi), even having bathroom sex”.

In wake of the Toronto attack, there’s been much talk of Incel culture (Involuntary celibates--men who resent women for not sleeping with them), and ways in which toxic masculinity affects male interaction with women. If there’s one thing that comes through in my conversations with the men who pay for Sehrawat’s classes is that they aren’t as interested in sleeping with women as much as learning how to talk to them, or finding a girlfriend.

Who knew there were cheat codes for booty and your local Zara had them?

Do Clothes Maketh Man?
Sehrawat ushered us into a Zara store, stressing that “If you’re fat, not working on your career, your body, and you don’t know about communication, psychology” there was little chance we’d land a “Super hot 10”.

Seduction has a uniform apparently. Tight black tees, blue jeans with short hemlines to prevent fraying and above all, white sneakers. “The easiest way to get shoes for a South Delhi 10 are these,” he said holding up a pair that cost over Rs 3000. “Crop the hair on the side, use wax to keep it straight. “Loreal ki 600 ki aati hai, saara saal chalti hai aur Philips ka blow dryer 1,000 ka aata hai, (Loreal has one for Rs 600 and lasts year round, and a Philips blow dryer is only 1000)” he proudly proclaimed. Who knew there were cheat codes for booty and your local Zara had them?

I eyed a white linen shirt, but he dissuaded me. The shirt, he said, would crumble when I sat, defeating the very purpose of being neat on the eyes. Ain’t no comfort in the pickup game.

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One-size too short plain black tee, the weapon of PUA choice in Delhi. Image: Parthshri Arora

“If you keep doing what you’re doing, you will get what you get,” Sehrawat said channeling his inner Shiv Kera. Sarkar definitely exceeded his budget of 30k.

Cult of personality
Interestingly enough, some of these men weren’t as interested in impressing women as they were Sehrawat. Aryan Khandelwal*, a student of his told me why he felt nervous hitting on girls, “Sehrawat is such an expert, I want to impress him. I have to improve my inner game even further”. Two college students came simply to hang-out with us, as they didn’t have enough money for the bootcamp.

A former classmate of Sehrawat from St Georges, Mussoorie, considered Sehrawat’s approach as harassment. Arjun Ranganathan*, Sehrawat’s junior from St Columba’s told me he remembers him as a “Chuthiya type dude”. Sehrawat’s dismissed the criticism as jealousy.

A friend of Sehrawat’s from Delhi University, told me that when she cut her hair, he told her that her, “Short hair and good butt” was sexy. Sehrawat denies this on the grounds that “That’s too risky, even for me.”

Sehrawat admitted that his relationship with his mothers affected his self-esteem. His dad, a private detective, divorced his birth mother, and married again. Sehrawat hasn’t spoken to his step-mother in two years. I asked him how many women he’d “picked up”. He said he didn't remember or keep score. His last relationship was in college and lasted under a year.

Risk lene mein hi sab kuchh hai, (Nothing gained without risk)” Sehrawat’s told me. One hopes rejection is taken with as much grace. And maybe someday, Sarkar will be able to ask for that second helping of sambar.

*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

Follow Parthshri Arora on Twitter.

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