Amusing Kissa of Dad, Hair and Ice-cream!!

Standard

On father’s day, I was on a memory trail about the incidences with my beloved Dad. There are so many noteworthy of but I came up with this rather amusing memory till date. Hope you have fun reading this!!

I have always wondered why should my emotions be so inextricably tied to my HAIR, I don’t know but it is a fact that a good haircut can uplift my spirits for a month, while a terrible one has left me in tears so many times.

And the reaction is instant. Serve me a bad meal and I can somehow suffer through it, making appreciative noises as I go. Take me out on the mother of all disaster shopping trips and I will still thank you for a lovely evening and promise to give you a company next time around. I am the master of the easy let-down. But cut my hair in a way I don’t approve, and my reaction to it is completely physical. My face gets red, my throat chokes up, tears flood my eyes and I start breathing heavily . It’s always been this way. 😦

When I was seven, my mother persuaded me to get a “bob-cut”. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the code for what you might recognize today as the ala Mandira-Bedi-haircut. That was a time when there was just no access to a talented hairstylist. Short and extremely unfussy, was IN then and my in-all-directions-heading-curls had to be toned down because they warranted a hell lot of attention. The only people who ever complimented me on the results of that disastrous trip to the salon where my mother, the nice Chinese lady who had followed my mother’s instructions against her own better judgment, and a teacher of mine who sported that exact same boxy cut.

I never appreciated looking like a middle aged schoolteacher whilst still in the second grade. I ended up throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of the salon, whereupon my mother ordered an emergency pedicure for herself and banished me to the reception area where I spent the next forty five minutes cooling my heels, seething in fury, and frightening the rest of the clientele with my panting rage while tugging fiercely at my hair in an effort to make it come out of my head a little faster. 😐

Before you think I was some kind of special-needs-child, the alarmed receptionist definitely thought so. I should say that I already knew that particular effort wasn’t going to work. It was just another example of my once-ungovernable temper driving me to do things that were the limits of my stupidity. 😐

But the roots of my hair-related rage go back a long way. It all started, I suppose, when my Ajji decided that the time had come to get the baby shiny-cover should be shaved off my head. I rewarded her by screaming like anything. And hence the bowl of black noodle-like-hair grew and grew, curling into loose ringlets that charmed my mother so much, she forgot I was a baby and not her doll. 🙂

I don’t know why she stuck my dad with the job though. Maybe she felt it would be a waste of money to take me with her to the ladies salon where they had things like proper lighting? Maybe my dad offered like the responsible parent he is? Who knows! But I ended up accompanying my dad to the barbershop he frequented. My first memory of getting a haircut is of a smiling man with a neat beard and Daddy sitting next to me, telling me “Not To Move An Inch”. To this day, I can’t relax and get all chatty with a hairstylist because my entire brain is hardwired with my father’s voice telling me “Not To Move An Inch”. And so I won’t by God!

Since my dad is a generous specie (unlike mom) our routine was first the haircut and next came the ice cream. In my memory, the barbershop had blue colored walls, the color of a government office. The ice cream shop, on the other hand, resembled an Old West Saloon, complete with wood paneling and rustic furniture as well as a noisy air conditioner at Churchgate called as Rustoms. And for some reason this was next to the petrol pump. Because that is a perfectly logical place to build an eatery. Chocolate ice cream with carbon monoxide topping. Yummmmmmmmmzzzzzzzzzz!!!! 😛

I remember the inside of this fine establishment as a crowded and rather dingy place, which means it must have been tiny indeed given my toddler’s perspective. Anyway, as soon as we got in the door, Dad would head straight for the glass counter and ask me for my preference. I was three, my nose barely reached the part where the metal ended and the glass began. I couldn’t see a thing but I did enjoy breathing on the tiny bit of cool glass that my face could reach, and looking thoughtful. Eventually, I would place my order Strawberry!!! And Dad would place his Vanilla!!! If he was feeling adventurous, he would switch it up to chocolate but I think that only happened once or something.

I don’t even know how we decided I was a strawberry aficionado. For all I know, my dad marched in there and growled, “What do little girls like to eat?” At which point the terrified man behind the counter probably said, “Strawberry!” because it was all pink and girly and he was afraid to say he didn’t know. Voila! I liked strawberry. And since it never occurred to Dad to pick me up and show me the various options, I didn’t even know there were more than three flavors of ice cream until I was about 14, which is when I learned about the glories of the mighty pistachio. 😀

That was the summer when my second cousin came back from Dubai and showed us a fancy parlor that both manufactured and sold ice cream that you could order and consume curbside in the luxury of your very own car. My auntie took me there one night and introduced me to my first falooda. And my life was never the same again. 😀 But that is to fast forward. Back in our Old West Ice Cream Parlor, we were being served ice cream. Not scoops or scones, but slabs of it. There’s a small part of me that still thinks of waffle cones as exotic because my lizard brain thinks ice cream is naturally served as slabs on cheap white porcelain plates. Good times though!

We would sit there solemnly consuming our ice cream, until Dad had scraped his plate clean and I was still sitting there with half of mine on my plate. My mother was bringing me up to share so I always asked him if he’d like some of mine. My father, meanwhile, was bringing me up to not share eatables with him so he always refused. He would then sit in silence, watching me make heroic attempts to finish the entire plate before taking pity on me when I was about three-quarters through and proposing we leave. It was powerful magic, for an undemonstrative man and his willful daughter.

And like all magic, it was contained to that moment in time. These days, I tell my dad he should get a pedicure and take him out for coffee. That is our thing now, I push him to try and move an inch while he lets me order unfamiliar items off the menu. It’s a different kind of magic but one thing remains the same: we have a standing date anytime either one of us cuts our hair.

Advertisements

GROWING UP!!! Part – III

Standard

When I was a little kid all I read was Enid Blytons and Nancy Drews. My school’s library would overflow with them. Whenever I would get angry at my parents I would sit in my room and think about ways to make them feel sorry for whatever crime they had just committed. It was stuff like going on a hunger strike or crying till my eyes had swollen or refusing to come out of the room.

 None of these plans came to fruition ever 😦 , because I love myself way too much. Also, I can’t cry for that long. I love to eat, especially when my mother is cooking. And she would make sure she made her-bests whenever I was angry so that I could never say a NO. 🙂

So then I would plan on running away. I was never sure where I would go, to the neighbor’s house?!?! Well they had good chocolates. To my BFF’s house?!?! It would be the world’s longest slumber because the kids in Enid Blyton’s novels were planning to join a circus and while I liked animals then, I was told by Tahir that all opening jobs in the circus involved cleaning the **** and there was no way I was going to do that. 😦 

So one day my parents finally went too far, I don’t remember now what they actually did but they probably refused to buy me a fairy frock or something equally heinous coz that’s what passes for mean and nasty around the Tonde household, and I decided it’s about time!!!

I took with me a torch for if it ever got dark, my sweatshirt, a book, saved pocket money of Rs. 20 and two bars of 5-star. I left one 5-star behind for my sister who had not done anything to piss me off in the last 3 days and thus deserved it. By the way I am a very generous person. 🙂

Thus burdened, I made it all the way across Sunita Market, within the sight of the main gates of Navy Nagar. I realized the only thing I was supposed to do was walk, but how long?!?!?

Reading so much of English Novels, the thing that came to my mind then was, every important scene in Pride and Prejudice involved Elizabeth and Darcy walking in some way, she finds out about his treachery while walking in the woods and returns home to tell him to go away, then they meet again while she’s walking around his estate, and finally the confession of their feelings for each other happens when they’re on a walk. Together!!!

That’s just an example from the great works of romance 🙂 think of anybody else you like, from Tolkien to Shakespeare to J.K.Rowling. Englishmen and Englishwomen novelists will eventually arrive at a point in the story when nothing will do for them but to take a walk. Think over it!!

 As for little Indian me, I made my way over to my favorite BPT gardens in one of the inner blocks of Colaba and settled myself with my book, ate my chocolates and went back home to be greeted with good-natured scolding and cries of relief.

Win… 🙂

Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently!!!! 😉

GROWING UP!!! Part-II

Standard

Here’s what happens when your parents let you join a Book Club at the age 12. 😐

Stranger at the Club: What are you reading?
Child Heena: Gone with the Wind. Have you read this?
Stranger at the Club: What?!
Child Heena: I don’ understand all of it but I think it’s good. The drama is really out of this world. I think I’m addicted to it. In fact, I’m going to watch the movie.
Stranger at the Club: Stop it immediately or else you’ll lose your childish innocence soon!
Child Heena: 😦 When I grow up, nobody’s going to tell me what I can read and what I cannot.

 

Teacher: What are you reading?
Child Heena: The Giant Book of Murder. It’s superb.
Teacher: What?!
Child Heena: See, it has sections for axe murderers, serial killers and prisoners. I am totally loving it for the information that I will introduce into my English school essays to blow out my competition!!
Teacher: Stop it now! Or you will grow up into a psychopath.
Child Heena: *groans* When I grow up, nobody will tell me what I can read.
 
 
 
Preeti: What are you reading?
Teen Heena: The Wheel of Time. It is super splendid!
Preeti: What?!
Teen Heena: Yeah, I’m really “into” fantasy fiction! It’s like science fiction but better! There are parallel universes and alternate realities and magic and strange creatures and ..
Preeti: Stop!
Teen Heena: Why?
Preeti: It sounds stupid and I’ve never read any. Here, read Mills and Boonlike everybody else.
Teen Heena: 😦 When I grow up, nobody’s going to tell me what I can read and what I cannot.
 
 
 
Lynnet: What are you reading?
Present Day Heena: Young Adult fiction. It’s awesome.
Lynnet: What?!
Present Day Heena: I was too busy reading regular adult stuff when I was a kid but now I find that there’s a lot of Young Adult fiction that is really good. So now I’m catching up with it.
Lynnet: Thats awful, have some shame. You’re reading stuff meant for children.
Present Day Heena: 😦 When I grow up…
 
 

Am I suppose to feel inferior about it? Or should I cover  The Hunger Games with a newspaper the way some women who read sexy romances on the train do? What about graphic novels? Are those ubercool? Or is everybody nosing at me for choosing to read a comic like a little baby?

If only I read much less and monitored the reactions of random strangers to my choice of reading more, I bet I’d have the answers to all those questions.

 

 

GROWING UP!!! Part – I

Standard

I am very strict when it comes to my own younger sis. Many a times she has to undergo the brunt of my conservatism. I admit, m fairly conservative when it comes to things like children and their upbringing. I don’t have any but this doesn’t stop me from having opinions. It’s the last remnant of my conservative childhood and I hang on to it, because nothing I’ve seen out there has really challenged it or made me even come close to changing my mind. 😉

In my early teens, I wanted to get my eyes brows plucked the moment I saw a classmate sashay down the corridor in her short skirt and that arched eye-look at age thirteen. I had the skirt, but I wanted those eyes courtesy eyebrow-plucking. Those clean face and big eyes that looked so very adult. 🙂

“I think m ready!!” I told my mum as she got her pedicure done at the salon. 🙂

“Girls are doing it very early these days” said the chinky lady who usually did hers. My mum looked at me and laughed and laughed. When she finally caught her breath, she said: “Cheeee!!!!” EOD. 😦

I had graduated high school much before my mom would let me pluck anything at all. And when I got my eyebrows done for the first time at age eighteen for my cousin’s wedding, it was a family affair with one of my Kakis standing over the poor parlor assistant’s shoulder and whispering “Don’t cry, don’t cry!!!” as my eyes watered. 😦

Of course, my mum being a good mother, we did have talks about personal grooming. From manicure to pedicures, cosmetics to accessories, the best part of growing up with a mom and a hoard of aunts is that there’s no dearth of advice on anything, and everything from acne treatments to what is the correct way to apply an eye liner. 🙂

And we eventually talked about growing up – but the emphasis was always on hygiene, not sexuality. In our house, grooming wasn’t just about being attractive. Every summer my Ajji (my mum’s grand mom) would repeatedly remind me that good grooming is about having pride in oneself. You take care of yourself because you deserve it, not to impress other people.

“This is not the way for good girls to walk around the house before the evening lamp is lit” my Ajji would say “You should first wash your face, then powder, put on a kajal-bindi, comb and tie your hair neatly, change into freshly pressed clothes, and then come to the DEVARA to see the lamp. That’s what a gharachi-mulgi does”.

There was a time in my teens, when I totally refused to comb my hair, and become a Scary Spice (I totally adored Spice Girls), nobody pulled me down and forcibly combed my hair or oiled my hair, nor did anyone force me to change my style. At the time, I thought it a victory over the Establishment 😉 Later I was quite puzzled because the Establishment at our home is quite capable of breaking the backs of ‘little guerrilla’ efforts like that. 😦

It took me years before I realized that part of the lesson my Ajji and mom were trying to teach me was that, self-worth is something only you can determine for yourself. If they’d forced me to look presentable according to their stringent standards, as they well could have at the time, it would only have appeased their sense of worth, their image of a family member, not mine.

They had let me be ME. More importantly they instilled the values of “self-confidence” much before the invention of such classes around my house. My Ajji is not with me today, but I miss her immensely. She never got down to bashing us up and making us understand. She always had her ways of making us learn life’s lessons.

My poor-yet-to-be-born-kids, will have an Infantry-Drill with me around for sure 😉

 

 

Mumbai Yatayat…

Standard

I have been travelling a lot these days.. yes i have been.. in the local trains.. in ricks.. in buses.. that sums up the quintessential life i have been living off late.. anyways the point is I have been enjoying the ride more than anything else.. yes more than even the lectures at my MBA college.. know how!!!!

1. I get to dry my hair without using the dryer which had started ruining my hair. Sit in the rick for the medium dry hair look and then tie it up else for the totally rock-star look trains r the best. But then this works for my curls.. you can fuh-get it if you are used to blow drying.

2. I finish reading 2-3 books in just 3 days down..all thanx to the Andheri traffic and sometimes the ever so fast trains.

3. I get the latest on-going gossip and songs in the ladies dabba.. that saves the gruesome task of reading Mumbai Mirror and downloading not-so-happening songs from the net.

4. If you are an atheist.. try having a conversation with the woman next to you in the bus/train who’s reading a Hanuman Chalisa.. chances are you will start doing the “upwas” from the next day.

5. If you ever wanted to lose weight without the crash diet and sauna belts.. trains are for you!! Fuh-get about a seat , if you get to stand without being squeezed, “Hari-Vitthal”.

6. If you ever wanted to do charity, the ever so beggars and ahem-ahem will give you the reason to blow your money off.

7. If you ever wanted to shop and had no time on hand..all thanx to the college schedule, slow trains will faithfully grant your wish. From veggies to jhinkas (prawns), from cosmetics to trinkets, from ear buds to wallets, from handicrafts to clothes to rags .. everythings is available at ur service.

8. If you have too much money and time on hand (like my super rich friend) try calling Baba Bangali(rem the posters in train compartments).. chances are that an exceptionally seductive representative would entertain you till the crowd throws you out at your destination station.

9. If you ever had a mom like mine, who would call up for the last minute grocery and provision shopping get in a rick at Andheri at 7pm.. the snails pace at which the rick moves you can buy all this and make your mom feel proud of having a child like you. 🙂

10. If you ever wanted to feel the state of NIRVANA, stand next to 2 arguing ladies, with Avril Lavigne playing in your ears and the vibrating effect of the train. Chances are you might even attain MOKSHA under expert’s guidance  😛

Having said that, i never realised all this when i used to travel from Churchgate to Andheri.. but Andheri-Mumbai Central rocks!!!!

Here’s a small trivia for all of you who love travelling by Local Trains.. guess the stations (WR-CR-Harbour Line)-

1. Fair village

2. Raja ka chakkar

3. Place in darkness

4. Education resides here

5. Your head is in curd

A WALK TO REMEMBER..

Standard

The woods were lovely dark and deep. Walking slowly beside her, in the damp mud road, was her husband whom she barely knew. He was very relaxed, happily watching a group of kids play at a distance. Her “mehndi” was still dark and smelling fresh, reminding of the excitements and tension 2 days back. “It cant work this way mom… please stop this”, she kept telling her mother till the last moment,who wouldnt listen but carry on with beautifying her. She had been crying all night and her make-up had to be patched up twice or thrice to hide her awkwardly swollen face.

It was too late now. She had to get married “NOW” to the guy. The guy whom she had seen once and talked thrice. The guy about whom she knew nothing at all but for his name and work. Everything happened in a hurry and everything was over before she could breathe again… here was she with this guy, all alone in this hill station… how can anybody send their daughter such a long distance with a stranger???

“Hey look at that….!!!” he shouted in excitement. She shrugged and looked where his finger pointed… Bright colored balloons dotted the sky. Children were jumping in joy and he seemed to be completely absorbed into it… colors are always exciting… but not now. She was not with her friends, not with her team mates, not even with her parents. This was not a 3 day tour or team building trip. This was her life and she has been forced to start off with this person.

Loneliness and discomfort with this stranger was sickening. She looked at him in wonder. Does he even realize that he has married me? Does he understand that he has to love me, protect me, care for me, a new girl, a stranger, all his life?

The marriage morning started like a daylight nightmare for her. The first time in life she felt she should have fallen in love and then married somebody. Some man who she would have felt more comfortable with, someone whom she could call by name and introduce to friends, someone whom she could trust. But marriage morning was obviously not the time to think all this. Her parents would never have said “no” if she had declared that she was in love. But she was not emotionally attached to anybody she met,especially guys. She was very friendly,playing,teasing, but never had second thoughts for any man around her. That brought the entire responsibility of looking for a groom on her parents’ shoulders. Her parents had a very bad time with this entire process. They started their groom search with unending “&” operation. The concatenation of  “Horoscope matching” & “Decent family” & “Good looking” & “Good pay” & “same cast” & so on… that always gave 0 output. Now after all that 8 months hunt,they were not ready to hear her “ifs” and “buts” for this ‘good guy’. She had explained to her father. She does not feel anything for this person. He is nothing more to me than any other software professional. Like list of names she sees in the chat rooms. Distant and usual…Her father asked her to talk to him and even meet him and discuss their likes and dislikes.

That meeting started like the induction programme self introduction and ended like a 3 hour seminar.She was waiting to get away from that place.”So did you talk to him?”. “Yes”. “Was he polite and decent”. “Yes”. “Oh he got that special flavoured tri-color icecream…!!!”. OK. All her family and relatives discussed… She was given the chance to “understand her life partner” and that they have understood each other “well” and she is ready for the marriage now.

All arrangements geared up and it was 24 days after her first meeting that she was getting married to her man… perfect match as everybody else described. Marriage hall was full with excited people, kids got the chance to play, ladies got the chance to wear the silk saree. The smell of rose and jasmine filled the hall. Different poses for the photographer and atrificial smiles for the videos. The moment he had tied the sacred thread was unexplainable vaccum in the head. It was over. She was his wife. Accepted by the society and law. Her proud parents were relaxed. This was their duty they had been planning to fulfill since she was born. All this crowd will fade away, leaving her to explore her new world…

He pulled her hand gently to sit on the stone bench. The bench was wet and the chillness was indeed enjoyable. “So what are you thinking about?”… that was an unexpected ball. Should she reply? Should she be silent? She remembered the two hour presentation she had taken last month. Bold and confident, she kept answering all the queries with a broad smile. Now she remained silent. “Do you know honey… I was not for this marriage too…”  Oh my God… what did i hear??? Did HE tell that or did i think aloud? What does he mean? Didn’t he like me? Was he forced into this? He must have noticed the quizzical look on my face…with a gentle smile he continued… “I wanted to look for a girl myself, buy her everything, care for her, argue with her, laugh and cry with her, then get married to her… Anything otherwise would be a drama. Traditional drama!! and i was not for it anytime. But my love for my work and also my stress would not give me time and mind to search that girl…When your parents talked to me 2 weeks before our marriage, about your fear of getting married, to a stranger, i could completely understand your mind. I could see myself in you and that was the moment i decided i will marry you. There was no time to prove myself to you, make you trust me, everything happened in a hurry. But there was this entire life before me, to please you, to love you, to make you trust me. This is no less than what i had dreamt, the girl i was waiting for, is you. Now tell me… will you love me???”  Tears came down her cheek. Her parents had done more than their duty. They had found her the perfect guy. Thank you Mom!!! Thank you Dad!!! His question remained unanswered yet both knew the answer…

Mistakes

Standard

In one of the jobs i ever took I was wrongly informed and hired. Since I don’t take lying so well i revolted. The end result was someone not liking it at the top level and hence making sure I don’t like it at my level too.

I was NOT qualified for this kind of job which I had to stick to, to pay for myself. Another superior here took a big leap of faith to hire me anyways.

I knew I was not qualified, and I acted as such. I avoided making mistakes at all costs, and tried to control everything because mistakes would be less likely.

One day My superior called me into his desk and said “Hey, I want you to make sizeable mistakes, as many times a week for a period of next month or so.”

I was shocked at first, and then liberated next.

My creativity, initiative, and energy were unleashed. My superior was brilliant, he knew that the fear of making mistakes was holding me back.

Stop punishing people for mistakes, celebrate the mistakes as learning experiences.

Agree ?

Love like that….

Standard

You never demanded anything and it took me a while to get used to it,

To loving someone who never asked for more than how he felt,

It reflects on how we love that we’re conditioned to think it hurts,

And it does – of course it does.

But more than the times you’re hurt , you’re filled with a sense of awe,

For all the times that make you feel that your heart can’t contain the love you feel,

For all the times you lock your eyes with him and it feels that you two are alone.

For all the times your hand fins his and you never want to leave-

It took me a while to realise that this kind of love exist,

The kind that doesn’t demand that you give up loving yourself for you to love him ❣️

It is written!

Standard

Keep fighting or accept what’s destined?

Sometimes…no matter what we do, what we wish or seek or what we work hard towards…what happens is different. Maybe what is written. what is meant to be. what is destined.

So shouldn’t we then stop fighting, change our goals and adapt. Shouldn’t we just accept what that present is offering? And work with it.

We all experience things not going as per our plan. Not seeing results. Then wouldn’t it be wise to Pause. Pause, analyze and rework our goals. Because, sometimes when we stop fighting and accept what is meant to be, we get focus. We can then channelize our time and energy and work with what present is offering.

Adapting is better than giving up, feeling disheartened and losing hope.

So, I hope for all who are trying very hard but seeing no results.. to pause, to re-evaluate, to adapt and keep going.

Advice to my younger self

Standard

1. Avoid negative people, they have a problem for every solution.

2. Parents are a blessing. Time with them is precious.

3.  Hard work always pays off in the end. Tiredness is much better than disappointed.

4. Travel more. Try new experiences.

5. Life is good. Enjoy good moments, let bad ones be teachers.

6. Loyalty is beautiful. Hang on tight to loyal friends and co-workers.

7. Read and write more.

8. Standing up for what’s right can be difficult. Even more difficult is looking at yourself in the mirror when you don’t.

9. “Be good but don’t waste any time proving it.”

10. Accept yourself just as God made you.

11. Solve harder problems.

12. Life is too short to work somewhere where your hard work and loyalty are not appreciated.

Build me up..

Standard

Brick by brick, build me up boss.

Make me feel valued,

Make me win this toss.

Ask me what I think,

Let that warm feeling sink,

Catch me doing right,

I will know I’m alright.

When I mess up,

Which I sometimes will,

Sit me down and tell me how to do it better,

Build me up boss, I will be a trendsetter.

When the road is rough and things get tough,

I will hold your hand just as you held mine,

Build me up boss, I want to be ready for that time.

Don’t cut me to size,

Don’t make me feel small,

Don’t attack my dignity,

For even the mighty fall.

Build me up boss, make me stand tall,

Teach me, challenge me, question me, show me,

Make me break that wall.

If only you knew,

My needs few,

To be nurtured, to be valued, to be respected, to be developed;

I would respect you, follow you and support you.

Build me up boss,

I am yours to mould,

That my boss built me and I built him back,

Is how our story will be told.

Dear Friend Who Knows Me Too Well,

Standard

My father once told me that words are easy to be shared because they seldom carry meaning in today’s world. It is the silence we share with people that speaks volumes about our comfort.

There are people in my life who I see, talk to and share time with, each and every day without fail.

They know my coffee habits and remember the sound of my walk too well. But they don’t come even close to the intimacy I share with you.

Many people may be around for me, but it is your inbox that has veiled my weakest moments for me. I don’t have to worry about making small talk regarding the rains and the sunshine with you, because all my storms unfurl for you to calm.

We don’t have to catch up every night over phone. We don’t need to have a thousand pictures of each other on our phones. We might not know the other person’s routine by heart.

But every time you hurt, you will find me around to talk to. Each time I take a leap of faith, I need you to nudge me one step forward. I know the tremble in your voice, as you can see the love in my eyes.

And when people ask me why this is the best relationship to have, I don’t know what to say. Would our friendship be stronger if we spent more time around?

I don’t know.

I do miss you at odd moments, but the fact that you are always a call away is hope enough.

With you, I find home. It doesn’t matter if I am away for too long. I know it’ll feel the same.

Yours,

No Judgement Call

Why ‘no’ doesn’t feel right?

Standard

In the last year, we’ve seen so much of retaliation the world over around sexual harassment at the workplace and elsewhere too. Here in India, we’ve also been very socially vocal about the #MeToo campaign and taken up the “No Means No” movement that Brazilians have during their world-renowned carnival. While resonance with the issue has clearly left its mark on society, what’s intrigued me most is the ‘why’ in this whole equation. Why is such a simple statement/command misunderstood the world over and why is it so difficult to understand and more importantly believe that no truly means no?

I’ve found the Ariel advertisement in their campaign ‘Share the load’ to be quite apt here – it so clearly emphasises the genesis of this problem. Society has in fact instituted this mind-set within the female community before we’ve even reached an age where we can differentiate between genders. Not to sound too clichéd, but we’re honed into believing thatpink is for girls and blue is for boys from the time we were born. More so is the way most children are conditioned from an early age, where males are given more prominence over females even at home. We have brought up our girls to occupy lesser space than themselves and our boys to be bigger than they actually are! In fact, most wives are tentative about calling  their own husbands by name, referring to them as ‘Tinku Ki Papa’ (Tinku’s dad) for instance, given that he is supposedly the protector and the revered figure at home. So much so that even if the so called protector turns attacker, women are conditioned to stay silent!

When Radio City’s very own RJ Ginnie came across a contest winner who wanted to use the prize money to buy her son a bike and the team went over to award her the prize, they were shocked at her state. She was really emotional, and they were very angry at the state they found her in, with bruises on her face. At the onset, she was not only reluctant to divulge who was behind the assault, but in denial about it. Once they were able to coax her to reveal what had happened, she said that it was her boss who was responsible and slapped and hit her any time she bungled up. What was most concerning though, is that she believed that it was okay for him to act this way, as she always saw women as second-class citizens and thought it acceptable for men to have their way, and treat them as they please. This mind-set we’d say, could be due to her background as she did not belong to a very educated family.

But is it really?

Equally to blame is the way the start of a romantic relationship is portrayed in 90% of Bollywood films. The boy pursues; the girl is coy and reluctant; the boy becomes more aggressive and the girl shyly gives in! Is she willing and diffident or is she genuinely disinterested? The difference is unclear. No wonder NO is often perceived as MAYBE!

On a relevant note, Corporate India has been taking strides to correct the mind-set within its realm, brought about by the Companies Act 2012 which mandated a rather thorough Vigil mechanism – processes and policies and more importantly training thrown in. I believe the training of what is acceptable and what is not, is one of the most important parts of the POSH, since change needs to resonate much deeper in our conscience to effect behaviour positively irrespective of where we are.

We need to instil in the community a higher sense of discernment, which emphasises  gender equality; not only in words, but most importantly through action. Let us not continue to let our girl children be nurtured to believe that they are secondary in any way that it inevitably destroys their self-esteem. From an early age, women should see and feel that their opinions, thoughts and views are at par with men; so, they believe they are equal. And when we say NO to ANYTHING – we should know that it’s alright and so should the men!