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Gokarna ->This way

Never Sit in the Backseat

It was supposed to be a solo trip. Few days before leaving, I felt like an overheated CPU, in dire need of cooling. Summer had just taken over Bengaluru and instead I was experiencing heating issues, mentally and emotionally. A beach was the necessity! A trip to Goa had already been a successful undertaking before, so the next never-visited destination that flashed in my mind was Gokarna.

All excuses and no company, hence ho! Girl on solo trip! Though I must admit I was much apprehensive about it. The new destination, the search for peace but then Indian men have always been surprising women. So I got a company of a good friend. Bus tickets were booked and one good evening I excitedly boarded the pick-up bus to Seabird Tourists . My excitement turned to embarrassment when a newly wedded couple got hold of the last seat, at the far end of the window, opposite to where I sat. Not long after the pick-up bus began moving that the kissi-pissi started and all sorts of nasty sounds made it really the most uncomfortable 45 minutes for me, until the main bus stand. Oh God, Their co-passengers are going to have a tough time, I thought.

The main bus stand was lined up with crowded Travel Agencies, that had set up their small offices in the most cramped and spooky places, so much so that all the Goras (foreign travelers) waiting for their buses, thought and discussed repeatedly among themselves, whether to go in, at that time of night, for an enquiry or not.

I was there for an hour and a half, sitting in a cramped path; waiting for my bus, while the other passengers walked passed me, often brushing themselves against moss-filled, chipping-walls to the enquiry office. I strangely felt good to be among strangers, who, as if encapsulated in a time along with me, were waiting for their vehicles to take them ahead. There was an aura of impatience but a hint of eagerness for the coming time, in that WAIT.

The Places that should be left Undiscovered

By this time, two girls came to sit beside me on either side, waiting for their bus, trapped in the wait-time capsule, like me. Something triggered a conversation and they asked me where I was travelling to. While we were getting acquainted, I felt a sudden urge to go to the toilet. I asked the people there for directions and they directed me to the most filthy travel agency toilets. Just when I was about to enter, a MAN came out, of a Ladies’ Toilet?! When few people told me go further in and that there was a ladies toilet inside, I was left wondering with a blank mind and a question mark on my face. With my nostrils all shut to the pungent smell, I made a face of sheer disgust and entered.

The door to the ladies washroom was inside the men’s loo! WTF!

With no other way out, I relieved myself and just as I was about to open the door, guess what? I heard the presence of a man, outside, through means that you might have probably guessed by now. The most disgusting feeling that crept inside me, told me to get the hell out of there!

In the most gentle and polite tone out of my heightened endurance, I spoke to ‘the Man’ through the door, ‘Bhaiya, aap bahar jaa sakte hai (Brother, can you go out?)’

Though I didn’t get a reply, I heard the other door open and shut. I slowly opened the door and thankfully there was nobody standing and peeing just outside the women’s toilet.

I rushed out, and went straight to my new acquaintances, to tell them what just happened. My conscience was pacified with wide-eyed responses and curses to the travel agencies. To be careful next time, Don’t opt for Seabird Tourists, the reasons I will share later.

Happy Journey!

Post that, we chatted for a couple of more minutes and it was great to know their purpose of travel, out of all excuses, was to escape from life. We discussed our lives and it felt great to know those two complete strangers for that brief period. When the Wait was over and their buses arrived, I bade them goodbye and merrily wished them a happy journey. Though we discussed so much about our daily life in such short span, that bounty of time was refreshing and welcoming.

For the next half hour, before my bus arrived, I sat there, alone but not lonely because my mind was already buzzing with the coming of an excitement that had already started.

gokarna

A Vast, Wide Escape

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Not to be a Lady!

I was often told that I walk with my legs a bit too apart and in opposite directions even while walking normally. Wonder to call it normal, because so many people have pointed this out that at some point of time I did think of myself having some defect or disorder.

You walk as if you are coming to hit someone, they would say.

And the ‘They’ include my friends, my colleagues and even my mother who obviously has to take care of how I look, dress up, talk and walk! Even while I struggled painfully in the only heels I got for my graduation day, she persuaded me to buy more.

The people, who taught me dancing recently, said I had a ‘different’ style of dancing. I took different as bad because I was the one who had to work a lot harder in my group.  Another dance group that I joined went on to say I need to get the feminism in my dance. Though I get to hear a lot from my mom, who wants me to behave like a girl, dress up like one and carry the politeness of a lady, I again felt indifferent to it when I heard that again.

I envied their tucked in stomachs out of the dancing and working out, but not my style. I had my own. Thus a little or no attention was my response to it though I worked hard on my dancing steps, trying to make them perfect. Loose shirts and tops during the practice hours was told to be mandatory, to catch up exact moves of the body and make them perfect. I love superheroes shirts and I still buy them to wear for practice.

A lot of time passed and one fine day my best friend’s roommate pointed it out saying you walk a little weirdly.

Spine straight and chest out, that was how she made me stand. No don’t thrust your chest out, straight spine would do it, she said articulating my posture and making me walk. Feet close to each other and walk straight she said, there! A little change and you look like a lady!

Uff! I am a female; I still think if walking in a way makes my gender get an extra oomph, if yes, do I necessarily need to do that? If yes again, then WHY?

I tried with the practice honestly saying, I would get conscious, thinking what others might be thinking of me, watching me walk like a Yeti towards them. I was a female after all and knowingly or unknowingly we do get jitters if we don’t portray ourselves as good as up to our satisfaction in public.

But these days I just think a little less.

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Ms Free Willy

2LittleMoment :  Ms Free Willy


This story begins with the time when I was doing my summer internship at Ghaziabad, UP. Daily up and down from Faridabad to Ghaziabad station included my routine for six long weeks. Hectic it was the three hour journey but equally interesting, as I love to travel alone. One of these long summer days, I boarded the local shuttle from Faridabad station at 7 in morning. Hustling through the crowd to grab a seat, I ended up at a corner at the end of the ladies bogie. People while travelling usually pass their time, chit-chatting or singing prayers and folk songs. That day was no different as a bunch of ladies just in front of my seat were singing devotional songs one after the other. With closed eyes, folded hands engaged in regular clapping as they sang in unison, seemed more like a dedicated and devotional prayer to their God. The chanting and singing continued for the next one hour as the crowd shrank with the upcoming stations, until only 4 ladies remained their singing reducing to talking now.

One of the ladies got up suddenly and went to the bogie door. She leaned across the pole that supported the door and lit a  ‘beedi’ ( local tobacco).  Once she sucked in a long puff and hung outside the door like men usually do and breathed out the smoke that flew across her face as the train speeded. She continued hanging until her station arrived and got down from the still running train hopping onto the station. The other ladies back on their seats looked in astonishment and whispered to each other, while I marveled at her courage.

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Thru My Mind:


 

Ms FreeWilly, nothing seemed apt to title this instance. I know you feel the women did something unimaginable, something that contrasted her characteristic of Godly devotion. I won’t point out on her deeds rather I would like your thoughts to jump onto another perspective.

Khaled Hosseini, in his famous novel ‘ A Thousand Splendid Suns’ , mentioned in one of the character’s dialogue-“Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.”

Your first impression of those ladies would have been devotional, having good character, devoted wives and sisters. A splash of surprise spread in your mind when you read on further. Well, she did spend some time to remember God, but then carried on with her own life as she wishes to be, as all men wish. I saw her giving herself freedom and equality. I saw a free lady, master of her own will and courageous to carry out her deeds without thinking of the world around.

What did you think?