Kadambari, Priti and I have been the thickest of friends since college. Ever since we graduated, we went on our own individual life paths, spanning different careers, cities and even countries. But, that never came in the way of our friendship. In fact, the bond only continues to grow stronger even as we make new friends along the way.
There have been phases when we never communicated at all and each one of us understood. Our love for one another is true and the best part is that it is not demanding, seeks clarification or motivated by benefits. There are many more such beautiful aspects in our relationship. One of them is that we are completely non-judgemental. Amongst the three of us, we have shared the most bizarre stories with no prejudiced notions and judgement involved. Yes, we´ve voiced our opinions and concerns but never judged the other for their choices. Touchwood, it´s been a wonderful journey so far.
Around the first week of August this year, Kadambari calls up from Delhi and informs us that she´ll be visiting Hyderabad. Priti and I are based in Hyderabad and we were glad to meet up as a group and relive our college days again. We marked that whole Saturday for ourselves from lunch till the wee hours of the morning. Yes, an all girls night out at the pub was on the agenda. Kadambari was apprehensive if the plan would work out considering we had kids at home. But, Priti´s family and mine pitched in to take care of the kids and the plan was on.
The meeting was absolutely amazing. We were giggling college girls all over again despite being in our thirties. And, I don´t think that will ever change even when we catch up in our 90´s as well. We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, went window shopping, had frozen yoghurt, dolled up to go to the pub, drank beer, bid goodbye and headed back home around 1.00am. I loved how Priti´s MIL complimented me in my navy blue dress saying that I looked beautiful. It was refreshing to hear this from a lady from the older generation. Back home, my MIL loves to see me in dresses apart from my daughter of course. I was happy to note this strong woman solidarity happening in our respective families.
Now, this is not a big deal abroad but it is HUGE in India especially in the middle class belt. I recalled a similar incident where an Indian married girlfriend went on an all girls night-out in London after the birth of her two sons ö the elder 5 years and the younger under 1. Their husbands gladly took care of the kids while their wives were out until the wee hours of the morning. But, this is abroad where there is no taboo over women hitting the streets out at night.
Regardless of your marital status, venturing out in the night to party is taboo and attached with a negative stigma. The stigma of being a bad girl! Especially in countries like India!
This makes me question why are men not judged on a similar yardstick? Besides, is there anything such as a good girl and a bad girl? Can anyone be entirely good or bad? I think the recent trial of Ram Rahim Singh is a good case study of this whole good and bad image perception. Applying the same logic, haven´t we seen enough wolves and she-wolves in sheep´s clothing prowling in broad day light? I’ve seen enough ‘chaalu’ manipulative types in sarees and salwars and ‘seedhi-saadhi’ straightforward types in the shorts and skirts. Why is this tag of ´good´and ´bad´ so loosely thrown at women especially?
I honestly feel more women should come out and take over the streets at night. More women should claim the roads as their own. Be who they are and not be holed up in their homes as tijori (treasure chest). And please, stop this whole comparison of bold women to ´Khuli Tijori (open treasure chest to be ransacked). This comparison stems from a sick perverse mindset.
My brother who stayed in Finland for over 8 years and is currently residing in Sweden says that walking into a bar or pub is like walking into a coffee shop. There is no taboo whatsoever attached to women who wants to grab a drink at any time. That´s fairness and equality in my eyes.
In the West, it is commonplace to see women walking on the streets in shorts, whether they are 5 or 85 years and there is no shaming them. I have an aunt in her late 60´s or early 70´s who came from Canada to visit us and she roamed the city of Hyderabad in her shorts and tee.
I want to see a similar norm in India especially when it comes to women that I see abroad. I see that already happening here amongst peer circles. Recently, one brave married Indian woman went on a solo trip all the way to Ladakh and I couldn´t be more proud. Our country needs more free and responsible women like her.
We don´t mind sending our girls and boys to schools to get an education but somehow shy away from giving the same rights to both the genders when they are adults.
We, women, ain´t no tijoris or maal or Cinderellas who ought to be escorted or return home before the clock strikes 12 Ó´clock!
Yes! Girls too wanna have fun! And, why not!
Leaving you with a few snapshots of that memorable night of loitering into the wee hours of morning.