Not That Girl.

In class tenth I bought a notebook. We all did. It was the ‘slam’ diary; blank pages meant to be filled by people who knew you or those whose opinion you cared about—mainly your crush.

This notebook of mine was passed around and almost everybody I knew wrote in it. If I did a word search, the most common would be ‘cool’ and ‘attitude’. Neither complements the other. They appear separately. The kind of thing you’d say as a euphemism for ‘I respect you but you’re a bit much.’

I did not mind it. I was the cool girl. I was the girl who knew more about cars but who also knew about fashion. I knew Eminem and Enrique. I had more friends buried in words than in real life. The only romance and love I got was from printed words. And that was okay. People who claimed to have crushes on me never confessed. “You’re intimidating,” they said.  I have never had a man confess his undying love to me and I doubt I ever will.

I have been in relationships. I have been in love. I have performed romantic gestures that would make Karan Johar cry and Nicholas Sparks weep into his wife’s lace handkerchief. I have songs for all stages of love by bands as obscure as Neptune’s fifth moon. Never has any of that happened to me. I have given my all yet have never had a man sweep me off my feet. One explanation I got for this was, “you’re cool.” Thanks mate.

I am simply not that girl.

I get the respect. I get the admiration. I get to hear the bro talk. I get them laughing. I get the debates.

I am not the one the guy sings the cheesy songs for or the one which makes Archies and Hallmark a success. I do not get teddy bears. I am not the girl a man will stare at, his worries and time forgotten. I will not make him feel manly, the delicate woman in need of protection. I do not look delicate and I cannot make him feel like a man. I am not prone to hysterics, so I won’t need your rationality. I will ask you questions about yourself, your emotions, your thoughts; questions that will be uncomfortable because they will make you think. I will never make you feel needed because I simply do not need you. I’ll want you but you will have to too.

And this will make you leave. Because to love me, you’ll have to bend too. And it is so much easier finding a woman who is easier to love. Someone who will make you happy and that alone. No one falls in love with ‘Ms. Attitude’ or ‘Ms. Sarcasm.’

They have said it. Saying and staying-after-saying are two very different things.  I am not the girl you’ll profess your love for at first sight or in the throes of infatuation.

But on most days it feels okay because someday someone – will not fall – but slowly walk towards loving me. You’ll say it with the earnestness of a child reciting the alphabet for the first time to a room full of elders. Measured and knowing. The words will be said confidently. They will be warm like the blanket you’ll let me hog on a cold winter night. We will appreciate what we have and recognise it to be the foundation on which lasting love is built on. I do not say this with pseudo stoicism.

I say this with dratted hope.

Dressing Rooms.

A lot can be told about a man if one observes his behaviour outside a dressing room. A lot more is told by observing how he reacts when the door opens.

A woman takes to the dressing room three types of clothes:

1. Clothes she knows she will fit in and hence buy

2. Clothes she hopes she will fit in but probably won’t

3. Clothes she thinks will make her look sexy but she cannot pull them off

These are regular women. Women who see rolls of imaginary flab, a few extra pounds and maybe  phantom limbs and an extra head. They see freckles and pimples on their skin, an extra grey hair and wrinkles formed because of worrying. Some see perfection, some.

The man sits/stands outside.

The clothes are tried on. The layers stripped bare. The new outfit worn. A twirl, a sideways glance, a pout followed by a sneaky selfie. The first category of clothes is winnowed by price, usability and repeatability.

The man browses the internet. Or was that ‘2048’, the game?

Round 2 begins. This is tricky. There is a thin line between thinking ‘you-can-fit-in-without-tearing-it’ and ‘stop-omg-it-is-torn’. The woman obviously believes the latter. Prevention is better than a furore. This pile is discarded as hastily as determined plans for weight loss are hatched.

The man taps his foot, yawns and looks up from the screen hoping to see the door opening.

Time for type 3. The dress fits. It looks stunningly good. Or does it? Of course it doesn’t? But, it does! At that one party where the lights are dim or maybe for the next date? Is it expensive? Holy fuck, it is. Let’s leave it. Second opinion? Important decisions are made not just in court rooms but dressing rooms as well.

The door opens. The man looks up. His opinion is needed?

This is when you observe.

The man may not know the difference between colours, prints and materials but he should know better than to give a cursory glance, mumble a non-committal response and admire his reflection in the mirror you spent minutes agonising in front of.

Sympathy and brownie points for accompanying you be damned.

Feminist, be one.

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F E M I N I S T

The word glittered in a gigantic storey high font on the VMA stage.  Before it stood Beyonce; sexy and confident. The very embodiment of femininity proclaimed to be a proud feminist too.

She sang ‘Flawless’ with the word blazing behind her, 14 million viewers sat watching.

The word blacked out, but its vision remained imprinted. She owned the word on stage that night.

Beyonce’s performance did more than just entertain, it made girls and women across the globe think.  She defined feminist using Nigerian author Ngozi Adichie’s words: “someone who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes”.

No doubts, no ambiguity.

This performance is culturally significant. When the world’s third most popular artist goes on stage and says something, a message is delivered. Beyonce at least told the world what feminism really is. She sold the idea to the ones who need it the most.

Yes, the females.

People across the globe have distorted the meaning of the word feminism. It has alarmingly become a symbol for women hating men. A quick perusal of memes, blogs and various sites shows misinterpretation by many because of misunderstanding.

Many women seem to recoil from the thought of being labelled a feminist. Men seem to associate a lack of femininity with a feminist. 

Why so?

The train of thought that a woman does not need a man is not what governs this social movement. A quick Google search on “I am not a feminist” shows a million results in 20 seconds and this is without having to feel lucky. The reasons range from “But I love men,” to “because of the Bible.”

Feminism has, in recent times, been associated to angry, discontent and uncouth women who carelessly fling this word around to get what they want. They want to be treated fairly and thus sneer at the very thought of chivalry. Feminists shall pay their share of the bill and don’t need men to open doors for them. Feminists do not need men. Period.

This is not so.

Do you believe in allowing women to be what they want to be? Do you believe in paying men and women equally for the same job? Do you believe in letting women go out at night? Do you believe in equality of all? Well, congratulations, you are a feminist.

A girl is taught how to behave like a lady. She is taught manners, she is allowed to study and excel but her ambition is snipped when it overshadows her duties as a wife or as a mother.

Things are changing. Society has certainly become more accepting. We do find men who stay at home and take care of the child. These are cases where feminism has won. We need more.

In a world where we still rape our women, kill our daughters in the womb and report heinous crimes against women, we need feminism. For every girl who is told to quit her job for the sake of her marriage, for each woman who is told to keep her opinion to herself, for each female who is constantly judged by society for the choices she makes; we need feminism.

Let women be;let them choose, let them decide.

Certain sections have now started calling themselves ‘humanitarian’. Call it what you may, the idea of equality is fundamental to this social movement. Equality of both the sexes without distorting it with woman-centric, male degenerating agenda is what this movement is about.

It shall take many Beyonce- like performances and education for true feminism to be achieved, but each step counts.

We do need men.

A feminist shall add only this to that statement, “We need women just as much”.

She Asked For It.

My mother returned from school at 4 PM today. I asked  about her day and she began the narrative. The monologue started from an incident about finding two 17-year-old students kissing on the usually empty third floor and would have ended peacefully at her being horrified on seeing a young couple eat each other’s mouth in the car at the red light, had I not interrupted.

The monologue on her day’s activities, you see had taken a turn for the worse. It became an impassioned speech on how girls these days were asking for it. Yes, that is what she said. The rest of the one-sided conversation was about how girls these days shamelessly kissed their boyfriend/husband/male companion publicly thereby emitting some sort of “rape me” signal to men. I tried to stay calm. She is my mother after all. Respect had to be maintained. This is India.

My pointing out the Nirbhaya tragedy ( a mistake on my part) led to a vehement support of the statement again.

“Why’d she get on THAT bus?”

“Why was she out so late in a place like Delhi?”

My insides were cringing in shame.

There is a quote in Hindi, “aaurat hee aaurat ki sabse badi dushman hoti hai”. It means a woman is another woman’s biggest enemy. How very true.

Now I get this is India; the land of lecherous men and potential rapists. It is the land of a society that is steeped in patriarchal values to the sub-conscious level. How is the media or education or anybody  ever going to remove these abhorring ideas from the psyche of our men when the women themselves believe in them?    Not only belief, they pass them on and spread them like disease.

Telling your daughter to be careful and worrying about her safety is not the same as saying that girls get raped because they asked for it. Is my mother lacking education? No. Is she not a “strong modern woman “? She is. Is she not “cool”? Well, she is.

Then why is the belief system of not just my mother, but countless women like herself so absolutely rotten? Safety can never be an excuse for the occurrence of rape. Teach your daughters self-defense, teach them etiquette, tell them the realities of this horrible world and its horrible ways but for the love of your own gender, don’t say that someone was asking for it. Teach your daughter to behave well but teach your sons the very same.

A woman is not a wireless connection or a cell phone tower giving off signals to all and sundry. Statements blaming a woman, not only said by women but staunchly believed by women are a setback to any progress that could happen. Going out in the streets carrying candles does not bring light to the dark recesses of your mind which harbors such  thoughts.

The nation was collectively outraged on the morning of 17th December. Collectively and publicly. Public being the operative here because once inside your home and mind, you will tell your daughter that she asked for it. You will defend your statement by saying that you are worried about your own off spring. Worry is no shield for misplaced blame.

Tragedies cannot be avoided once they have already occurred. What can be avoided is the continual belief in the woman’s fault and her many mistakes. We can only teach our daughters smartness and defense and hope that the sons out there have been taught respect too.

No woman ever asks for it.

Cuss In The Times Of Culture-la.

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A woman should be the embodiment of genteel-ness, a sculpture of sophistication wrapped in many layers of elegance while radiating beauty like the UV rays of the sun.

I call BS.

So, I am reasonably good-looking, have my manners intact and my elders are generally satisfied with the way I fool them with my charm. I am out going when I feel like and timid and shy , again, when I feel like. Also, I cuss. Now while I am aware that it ain’t pretty but does that make me wrong? Does it give people, more importantly men, the right to pass high-handed judgments about me based on this one display or lack of display of acceptable behavior?

If a girl chooses to use certain colorful words as a part of her expressions, what part of her behavior suggests that she is “open” or “loose”?  How does a girl’s diction choices affect the way you speak to one? The hypocrisy of it all amazes me. Mind you, I do not support the usage of foul language any and everywhere.

Yes, this post is a rant based on true life events where I was told that maybe my “comfort” in using cuss words open gateways for men to use them on me. Seriously?

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An F word here, an F word there does not make a woman any less socially or morally aware.

When Evil Strikes Too Close.

I live in a Defense Cantonment area.  I never knew this place too was defenseless against evil. Why and how you say?

Across my house a one year old baby girl got violently raped.

One year old.

The police came, inquiries were made and the next day the culprit was caught. The baby died in the hospital.

One year old.

She was the daughter of the officer’s domestic help. The mother of the victim was working inside when the officer’s personal male helper sneaked to their house and brutally raped the sleeping child. Forty minutes later the mother returned to her house and found her child wailing and bleeding. She went to her employer, seeking help and got nothing. Desperate, she asked her neighbors for help who then took the child to a nearby hospital.

One reads cases of rape too often these days. Sitting at home, reading the newspaper does evoke some amount of sympathy and bedroom outrage but that is all. Realistically speaking what can one really do? This time things were not that easy. It was right across my street, in my block, in front of me. The shock was too close to home. The evil was too close.

Disgust is too mild a word to express what I had felt on hearing the news. The officer’s wife can at best be described as a sorry excuse for a woman. On returning from the hospital the parents of the deceased baby were cruelly evicted from their quarters. It was unreal. The support and love they received from others restored my faith in general humanity.

What chance does a baby girl have against a sick minded man? None. Was she provocative? Did she seduce? She did nothing other than being born a girl. I have always dreamed of having a girl when I have children. Now, I am not so sure. How does one ensure the safety of a baby girl at all times from everybody? The bus conductor at school, the driver, the domestic help, the doctor, the priest, the cousins, the friends;  a girl is safe from no-one.

No one.

Auto-matic Thieving.

"I am here to rob you, heeeee heeeeee."
“I am here to rob you, heeeee heeeeee.”

 

Have you seen movies or cool shows?

Is that a yes?

Okay.

Have you seen the sequence where the character

gets into a random cab/auto-rickshaw and

commands the driver to follow another vehicle?

Is that an affirmative?

Good.

Well for all of us Delhites that ain’t happening. EVER.

Why, you ask?

Let me explain.

As you all know I travel around in buses mostly. Sometimes when I feel too lazy or tired or rich I take an auto-rickshaw, more commonly know as an “auto”. The general protocol of hailing an auto is to wave your arms like the windshield wiper of a car, pray that the driver saw your moves and stops. The driver shall ask you “Where do you want to go?” and depending on his wisdom and whim he shall either let you sit or dismiss you and rattle off.

It is a lucky day if the auto driver agrees to take you to your destination.

Getting the driver to agree is Stage 1 of Mission Auto-ride. Stage 2 is the price and fare. How much are you willing to give?

7 out of 10 drivers will state a price so exorbitantly high that it makes me want to switch professions and take this job. The remaining three, I assume, are law-abiding men who charge according to the government rates. Bless these men. Now since it is most likely that you found a looting thief, you stand there and argue.

“Go according to the meter.”

“No, it’s too far away”

“It’s too cold.”

“I won’t get any passenger from there.”

“What will I earn?”

“Do you want to go or not?”

“I am an idiot who will rob you because I can sniff desperation in the air. Pay up!”

Some-days I cave in, some-days I tell them to F off. The latter is rare.

According to the law, an auto driver cannot refuse you and has to go by the meter to ANY destination you want within the city. Does this happen? Of course not!

The driver knows you want him, you know you want him and end up paying more money for the convenience. Is it their fault that you crave this luxury so much? I don’t think so. The Delhi government has a complaint cell for errant drivers. One threat of a complaint and no driver dares to cross you. Does the average citizen do this? No. Why? No one wants the hassle, that’s why. It’s a vicious cycle. The customer’s want feeds the driver’s greed.

The auto driver is aware of the fact that if you aren’t desperate enough or late enough to cough up his exaggerated price; someone else is. He knows that you neither have the time nor the inclination to register a complaint against him. He knows the customer and plays on the psyche.

Stupid customers.

Stupid me. Sometimes.

I am guilty of wasting a LOT of money only because I did not want to fight. There are many others like me. It’s the likes of us that let these people get away with their lawless, thieving and surprisingly dominating ways. It shouldn’t be so. I have promised myself that I shall not get into an auto-rickshaw till the time the meter is not on.

Needless to say, my dreams of ever chasing someone on the roads are dead for now.

 

 

 

This was published here!

http://universitybeats.in/2014/03/25/auto-matic-thieving/