My Time on The Bachelor India
“My name is Nirvana. I am 26 years old, and I am here to find the love of my life.”
This is a sentence I never in my craziest nightmares thought I would say, but then I found myself on The Bachelor India. Shit.
After graduating from uni four years ago, I was stuck in a job that I despised. I had studied accounting because employment was secure, and I needed a way to fund my MDMA habit.
When I first started working at a swanky corporate firm, I dreamt of drinking martinis every evening surrounded by sexy men in crisp suits, laughing obnoxiously as we looked down at the peasants in the bar from our VIP lounge.
The reality was a bit different. I clung to any form of distraction from my horrid job. Two workplace booty-calls made Mondays ten times worse. I found myself in the darkest holes of YouTube, watching humans breast-feeding baby animals and a seven-part series about how Facebook was part of the Illuminati. I took regular breaks to cry or masturbate in the bathroom.
The last straw came right before Christmas 2017. I had been working at the firm so long I scoffed at young people and their “dreams”. My VIP martini days turned into drinking straight gin in dark alleyways. My hair started to fall out.
I was frantically trying to cover up how far behind I was on deadlines due to my unhealthy YouTube habit. On the morning of 21st December, as I sat sweating at my desk at 9:30am, coming down from being up for 24 hours straight on the weekend, I lost the plot. I tore off my silk Zara blouse, and went on a profound rant.
“Don’t you robots see how the system is eating our souls! We all hate each other and this fucking place! What are we doing? Waiting to die? I can’t live like this anymore!”
That’s what I said in my head. In reality, I just quit my job by email, and returned the faulty shirt to Zara.
I knew I had to take a long hard look at myself. After a week of heavy partying I sat down to reflect on how I could end my quarter-life crisis and change my life. Sure, I lived in the most liveable city on planet Earth and had the money and freedom to do whatever I liked, but I was in such a dark place.
As I watched Eat Pray Love the answer came to me like how I imagine Beyonce would tell me that I slay at life. I knew my salvation would come if I moved to India and became yet another Western yoga teacher. I bought bindis at Ishka, watched Slumdog Millionaire and was ready for my journey.
I arrived in Goa for my 500-hour yoga teacher training, and it was gorgeous. Everywhere I looked I saw Europeans with golden tans and serenity sparkling in their eyes. It was funny that the only Indians I saw were working at the restaurants and bars, but talking to them was such an authentic experience. I was becoming a less selfish person, always giving money to the children begging on the streets. Although research shows that westerners doing this increases the likelihood of children being kidnapped by organised crime cartels, I felt that I was really making a difference.
During the day I would do a few hours of yoga, flirt with hot Dutch and French guys, eat gourmet burgers, take psychedelics and dance until the morning at beach raves. It was a beautiful life.
One day, at the organic food store I saw a poster advertising The Bachelor India. They were seeking applications from gorgeous international women. The poster said that we would be living in a mansion in a secret location, vying for the attention of one of India’s most eligible bachelors, and be getting paid.
It was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I filled in the online application form and uploaded pictures of myself in bikinis. A week later I got an email saying I had been accepted. Shooting would begin next week, and I needed to fly to New Delhi as soon as possible.
I was thrilled at the adventure waiting for me. I was a secret fan of The Bachelor in Australia, and couldn’t wait to drink champagne 24/7, and live in a mansion. In India!
The show was completely different from anything I had seen on TV. They called it The Bachelor Extreme and it was a social experiment to test how two people could fall in love under the most difficult circumstances. The director was planning to submit it to independent film festivals, and it wouldn’t even be shown on TV.
There were only seven girls on the show, including me. Four were American, one was Russian and the other Japanese. Some of them seemed to have known that it would be like this, which I found insane because I would never sign up for such a fucked-up concept knowingly. I tried to leave, but it was too late. I had already signed the contract and the producers said that nothing they were doing was illegal.
Delhi was the worst place I had ever travelled to. Cows rummaging through the rubbish on every street corner, people constantly trying to sell me shit and enough pollution to knock out a bird species. We weren’t living in a mansion. During six weeks of shooting, we spent the first two weeks at a commune, two weeks in an ashram, and two weeks with host families in slums.
For all my whinging, things changed drastically when we met The Bachelor: Ashish. Ashish was the most stunning man I had ever seen. He was a half British-half Indian model and Bollywood actor with smouldering green eyes and a six pack.
Ashish told us why this show was so important to him:
“The girl of my dreams needs to have a kind heart and spirit. I want a woman who cares about poverty, loves children and embraces my country. I dated too many international models in the last ten years who were all addicted to social media and cocaine. I’m looking for something more real now. I’m looking to meet my future wife.”
How could I not fall for this sex god with a heart of gold? He made my heart flutter and my undies wet with just one look. I knew he was husband material, and I was willing to do some crazy shit on screen to win his heart.
There was a lot of drama during shooting, because you just can’t make good reality television without someone drunk crying and walking off set. One of the contestants quit because she met a “child of the universe” at the commune, and they started a permaculture project and tantric massage course together. I heard a few months later that they had gotten married naked in the mountains in Ladakh. Good on them.
In the ashram, a massive fight broke out between one of the contestants and a priest. She wore denim shorts to a morning prayer and the priest stopped the ceremony to ask her to leave. She started yelling about how he was slut-shaming her and that he was a hypocrite for pretending that he was woke. Ashish was not impressed at all and she was sent home at the next Samosa Ceremony.
When we were staying in the slums, one of the contestants was found using the seven children of the family she stayed with as backup dancers for her YouTube music video. As the story unravelled, we found out that she also got the children to source counterfeit designer bags for her. It was the biggest controversy to hit The Bachelor India.
One of the hardest challenges for me were the cooking lessons to make traditional Indian food. Ashish picked who stayed on the show based on the five-course meal we each cooked for him. We slaved away in the kitchen for three hours while he sat watching Netflix in the other room. I hate cooking and it was a miracle I somehow made it through. When Ashish called my name during the Samosa Ceremony, he whispered in my ear, “Your dosa was too salty, but your lips are too sweet.”
Needless to say, Niagara Falls unleashed itself in my undies, and we made out ferociously as soon as we were out of sight of the cameras.
I made it into the top three, and I was confident I would win. For the final dates, the producers picked activities that would “throw both the Bachelor and the contestants out of their comfort zones, testing their endurance during the most difficult situations”.
My final date was fucked up. I had to cut up an Indian flag in the middle of Connaught Place in Delhi while shouting slogans and holding posters about the atrocities the Indian government had committed, how countries divide people and that we all belong to the human race.
I was terrified I would get arrested or assaulted. Ashish had no idea the producers put me up to this. He came to meet me for the date to find this spectacle in procession.
The goal here was to test if Ashish could put aside his own nationalism and attitudes to see that past the symbolic shredding of the flag, the points I was making were true and some radical activism. The producers wanted to see if in a relationship we would be able to communicate effectively during heightened conflict.
I did not receive a samosa. I fucking cut up an Indian flag all for nothing. The Russian girl won, with Ashish proposing with a diamond ring atop a cushion atop an elephant in front of all his family and friends, and I guess they’ll live happily ever after. I went north to Manali and smoked a lot of marijuana to forget all the crazy shit I had done.
Author’s Note: The above piece is completely fictional, but I would sign up for the experience in a heartbeat and even pay good money for it. #FindAshish
Cover by Dharm Singh