Saturday night

‘I’ll be walking on the flyover. Just pick me up from here.’ I tell my gigantic friend. We are meeting after ages, a few years ago we would bump into each other at the gym, almost everyday, till he joined another place to workout. He insisted I should too but one is a creature of habit. Same flyover, same gym, same house, same bag…one constantly longs for familiarity.

Asking someone to meet you on a flyover, is inviting trouble, of course! As soon as I open the door to sit in his car, the cops appear. ‘Kyaa ho raha he?’ asks the Sikh cop. ‘Ma’am ko gadee mein bitha raha hu!’ replies my young friend. Yes, I am ma’am not only to the students but apparently have become so ancient, that this twenty something year old addresses me, as that. I think that just throws off the cop so he rides away, into the night. We drive around Defence Colony, grab rolls at Arabian Delight and argue about money. I threaten to never meet him again, which ends the ‘who is paying the bill’ argument’. I thought all this ended, with our generation, where the men insisted on picking the tab. Apparently, not!

We talk about everything under the sun, from work, to family, tinder ( which I got tips on), to the locker room conversations at the gym. There’s such a natural ease that I feel around the opposite sex, which is the exact opposite of how I am around my own gender, mostly uncomfortable and fidgety. The thing with gender is, I know I’m born a girl, like I can see it but in my head, I identify as this super butch, homosexual man.

We sit on a pavement, close to the metro station chatting non stop and of course the cops arrive again. ‘ Kyaa ho raha he?’ asks a middle aged man. Now I am pissed, my friend is sharing some personal stuff, there are rickshaw puller’s standing around listening to our conversation and they are wondering, what we are doing. SB just starts off , ‘ you people take money from guys who drink on the flyover, take a cut from the prostitution; you see us talking and you’re wondering what is happening. What is happening? You’ve all gone crazy with all the bribes you’re given. That’s what’s happening!’ SB looses her shit, on authority and uniforms. ‘ Madam, madam it’s not a nice area that’s why we are asking!’ he’s taken aback by my yelling. My friend tries to calm me down but I ignore what he’s saying. ‘ Aap logo ne to banaya he aisa!’ I reply as I storm off and sit in the car.

We drive around before I pick up my car. Men are parking their cars on both sides of the flyovers. The transgenders, the third sex and the women are lined up, on either side, negotiating their price. Ironically, the men are masked, the one’s providing the services aren’t. I guess we are all creatures of habits, we all want what we want and we don’t care about the price we’ll have to pay for that.

The times we live in

I think we are looking at a year, before things return to ‘normal’. Honestly, other than no photography ( since I can’t travel and I am not allowing anyone to enter the studio), which is problematic, my life as of now, has reverted to being quite regular. Like I said to a friend, ‘I’ve maintained social distance my entire life, this is just an excuse for me to not meet anyone.’ But a lot of people struggle at the moment, not just physically or financially but psychologically, as well. For an extrovert, this must seem like the end of the world. Hope God grants everyone the strength to deal with it.

The authorities become strict sporadically. Today, as well, there are restrictions in place at the border of Noida. One manages, like one manages most things, by not understanding the word ‘no’. Ironically, love is the only area where this stubbornness fails miserably. Love reminds me, how terrible a time this is for all singles. I hear countries where there’s a culture of ‘go get drunk and get laid’, people are terribly depressed and there the suicide rates are rising. Ha, inflated dolls and robots, don’t look like that bad an option, now do they?

But seriously, this whole model of independence that we have aped from the west, really needs to be re-examined by us. For all things necessary we need people close to us-when a child is born, when we need to leave it to go for work, when we are sick, when someone dies. I’m not saying the joint family is the ideal scenario but there should be like an in between scenario, a group of people from whom you can derive your strength, for basic survival.

The sexual frustration levels must be severe for the number of cars that stop, to check if I am a hooker, walking up and down the flyover, famous for the deed. Once, in a while I find, a woman of the night, lurking around in the darkness. I wonder what kind of men would risk it right, now and then remind myself to not be so judgmental. We all have our own needs and our own trips. I also, wonder how these women and the third sex would be generating an income, in these times? Tough. We really need to organise the prostitution sector and provide them with benefits.

Relative

As I wait for Mr Bhaskar to return, my mind drifts back to a certain conversation, I had with a friend yesterday. It made me realise something-I thought I should keep here, as a reminder. That’s the purpose of maintaining this blog, to be able to go back and check out learnings and remind myself, where I was and where I need to be.

Last evening, my friend was saying how people are amazed that we travel alone and I said, well, ‘any woman who works these days travels!’. My 66 year old aunt, who was associated with an NGO , (where they take care of thalassemic patients) travels all over the world by herself, for conferences, where she presents papers. I think recently that she has taken up the role of a top administrator at a hospital has her travelling reduced. I was teaching a female student who went to Ladakh on a bike. I can’t do that.

Some people do feel amazed that I travel alone but I choose not to pay attention to those people because I know that there are more than enough women in this world, who are more than I will ever be. Have you realised how, smart, cool, intelligent, hard working or just plain crazy you think you are depends on who you compare yourself to? Honestly, my trip was that I used to think I am nuttiest person in the room ( barring when my mum was in it) to only realise that people are just better at hiding their madness, that’s all. I just might be slightly more open about it.

This is a reminder, which I mostly follow but incase I forget. If you are the coolest or smartest (whatever your trip is) person in the room, you are definitely in the wrong room. When people tell me I am so brave, I am always amazed. When I was little, I was taught by Sheel aunty, who had polio. She was really brave because she would get up every morning and try to be the best she could under those circumstances. One has met women who have lost their kids, been shot, raped, are acid attack victims, all kinds of very brave women from all walks of life. After doing that, I can assess myself relatively, well. But our love or respect for one’s self can’t come from comparing our IQ, EQ or our cool quotient. It has to come from knowing, one tries everyday to be better.

Dream No 1

Amma,

So, the deed is done. We have apparently settled all that belonged to you. The stuff you saved for me, I’ve kept, the rest of it I have given to your husband. SB wants to whack the shit out of SC for indulging the misogyny but there are more important things on my mind. It’s funny how once we die, only the ‘value’ of things matter and not the sentiment with which they were collected. You’re the sweetest. I promise to atleast make the effort to wear something, sometime.

Grapevine has it I’m eloping, with the one you insisted I should marry. As sweet as he is and I really don’t give a rat’s ass about his class (which is something I got from you) or education, the relatives don’t know that it’s the last thing on my mind. If it didn’t piss the shit out of me, I would be rather amused. Can you imagine their conversations? This one is ALL wrong according to their criteria-1) Muslim ( it’s still apparently scandalous in 2020) 2) No money ( they are having a field day with that one) 3) 12th pass ( oh my God! What will people think?) Well, if I ain’t doing someone, I’m definitely not marrying them. Just for the cheap thrills of how scandalous this is ( which suddenly makes it sooo tempting) I should definitely check out if I am missing out on some action. Uff, wait karna padega. But alas! my rabbit is better at it than all men.

What a pity, if somewhere down the line, I actually did end up with this one. Not for any other reason but only because I would always wish, you were alive to see it. But alas the heart loves what it loves and mine is still stuck somewhere a decade ago…torn. I’m snapping out of it real soon, that’s mission no 1.

Anyway, enough of my ranting. Dream no 1 is not to get laid but to start the Jaswin & Deepika Kochar Foundation, soon. There needs to be some good I should do, with the privileges that I have. Have to make it happen, sooner than later. Once it’s a legal entity, it can be a part of my will. Planning…..planning…planning is happening right, now.