Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Beat On...

Scene : Morning.

Action : Get up.

Decide whether to rush to class sans breakfast or get late after having some breakfast. Because let’s face it, you are never going to have the best of both worlds. At least not I. Not in this life.

Once you miss breakfast, all sorts of cravings start sprouting within you. Although half your mind is on your rumbling empty tummy, it is still better to attend the class and procure some attendance, especially when it’s a strict prof you are dealing with.

Come the first break and you start piling on junk, starting with maggi, and moving on to eclairs, patties, hotdogs, mouth-watering samosas and what not. By lunchtime, you are full of stuff that hasn’t sated you and yet, you are hungry.

So, my first chhote kadam towards health was…yes, having breakfast.

Although it was a Herculean decision to part with sleep, a little tweaking, a little extra prep at night (setting my bag, clothes and doing all those things I used to dutifully do while in school), a little will power (which is strangely difficult to summon at such times) allowed me to somehow create a semblance of jentacular balance.

The second effort was not an effort for me at all. I don’t particularly like elevators, being a big fan of open spaces. So, choosing stairs over elevators came naturally to me.     

The biggest challenge though was eating better. If there is something I can’t compromise on, it’s delectable mouth-watering junk food.

I discovered a little workaround. And it’s on the very lines of the above paragraph.

Eat at the mess. Even if the gravy seems full of water. Even if the chappati looks shapeless. Even if pizzas equate to heaven. 
Have the mess food. Choose health more often. Reduce a lot of eating out. I know it’s easier said than done. I haven’t been able to manage it either. I am not proud to admit that. But trying does count, right?

There is something though that I did manage. It was to have meals on time. You see, skipping is a sin. 

Skip rope, not your meals.  

Now we come to the king of hearts. 
:drum roll: 
The Happiness Quotient. How much is yours?

You know people have ample stuff to say about happiness. They talk about it, discuss it and search for it everywhere. But happiness is not a shirt button that has rolled under the bed. This is something I remember reading a long time ago.

Happiness is really being okay with everything. Those tales of it being a state of being are actually true. You know the oil drops theory, right? Take care of the drops of oil while touring the mansion. To make it clear, just chill. Whatever happens, all is well. It will always be. Or at least that’s my mantra.

And if you wish to make your heart go on and on, just like that famous Titanic song, then you must must must find your own ways to revamp your lifestyle. 

If I can find these teeny tiny ways, you, my genius friend, can surely come up with better ideas and ways of being active, healthy and happy.

Dear heart, keep beating on...

~I am joining the Saffolalife #ChhoteKadam initiative in association with BlogAdda and follow these small steps for a healthy heart.~

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Travel Tales

Some would say that I have gone crazy over autorickshaws while some might go so far as to purport that I want to do a Ph.D. in the subject. But I feel that sometimes plain and unhindered observation gives you a profundity of knowledge and insight that even a degree would only theoretically claim to do. Add to the fact that there are such a multitude of vehicles flitting about on the roads ( even on the pavements as a matter of fact ) that I couldn't help but enumerate and curate the kind of autorickshaws that most arrested my attention. Here goes my list :

The Bride

The Bride is not a regular sight and I consider myself fortunate to have taken a ride in this chariot of an auto. Well bedecked with sparkly lights such as those lit on Diwali, its ceiling and walls are bedizened with white and fluorescent bulbs in intricate patterns, some of which arabesque and some depicting birds. This auto is best ridden at night when one can see it in its full splendor. I actually requested the driver for pictures and managed to click a few for my albums.


The Posterboy

This is the most common auto that nearly everyone, except those who have never stepped into an auto, ( do such people even exist?! ) must have seen or ridden in. This auto has its walls covered with posters of actors, most of them belonging to Bollywood beauties. I guess they are meant to be eye candy for the driver if not the passengers.


The Rapper

One day, my brother and I were running late for an appointment and started quarreling with each other. As if on cue, an auto appeared and without another thought, we hailed it and got in immediately, determined to reach our destination the soonest possible. Just as the man revved up the engine, music began blaring from the speakers. That’s not the wondrous part. Every driver listens to music; that is a given. But the astonishing aspect of this one was the ambience. It was not just the speakers that were effective (although the music was booming as if in a recording studio) but the choice of music itself that most took me aback. I had expected regional songs or old Bollywood numbers (of the time of one's grandparents') or at best, recent Bollywood songs, but never did I expect him to play the latest US top 50! My brother and I looked at each other, our mouths hanging open in surprise. All through the ride, we sat enraptured, singing the raps of Eminem and Snoop Dogg in our heads.

The Reader

This may not come as a shock, for many people are spotted steeped into the pages of the daily papers but what was bewildering was that the driver was reading an English daily and that too none other than the Hindu! My respect for him instantly skyrocketed. 

But then, considering the amazing stories of a rickshawwallah's daughter cracking CA or an autowallah's son being enrolled in the civil services, this should not come as that huge a surprise.

The Superman

It was one of those days when I had taken a seat in a shared auto and had prepared myself to sleep. Hardly had I slept a wink when a jerk jolted me awake. The auto I was in was whizzing past cars, trucks and bikes. My eyes opened up a little wider. All the vehicles were mired in heavy unyielding traffic and could only take tiny steps forward but our Superman was weaving through the narrow passages between automobiles, making ways where none existed. He went right and left, and right and left, zigzagging and swerving with ease while we rocked on our seats, holding on to the handles for dear life. At one point, I actually pleaded him to go slow, citing the cliched phrase-’better late than never’. But the man was on a roll. 


He gave me a funny look as if the word 'slow' didn't exist in his dictionary and continued with his stunts (probably inspired by action flicks). I think there was a certain moment when I was led to wonder if I was part of a fast-paced action movie while praying fervently to the gods to help me reach safely, even if an hour late. As if he had read my mind, the superdriver made a dashing halt, almost with elan, nearly throwing me out of the auto, kind of signalling that it was time for me to get out. I paid the money and quickly crossed the road. I didn't want to be in Mad Max's way.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Dance Trails

Tap your right foot. Now your left. Right again. Left. Right. Left. Left. Left.
But I seemed to have only left feet. My first dance class was a lesson in coming out of my shell. My dance teacher was an unbelievably patient woman. But she had no idea how unbelievably shy I was. She started with the simplest steps. Easy footwork. Easier than march past, I would wager. And yet, every step seemed heavier than the last. A week went by and a month. I had started staying back after the regular dance class to wait for mom who would pick me up. Meanwhile, my dance teacher would tell me stories. Mythological tales, stories related to the dances we performed, and any other stories she may have told her kids when they were my age. That was the part I loved the most. I would later develop a mad obsession for stories and books. But right then, I liked to listen to her and think and imagine. Soon, she had started telling me a story related to every dance. You see, every dance we performed had some significance. They were mostly Krishna Radha tales or Meera Bai songs or old fables and the like. Once I had been inducted into the story, the song seemed to come naturally to me. Suddenly I was not so conscious of myself anymore. Much to my surprise, I discovered that I had lost sense of my body and knew not and cared not how I looked while I moved. I moved the way the song beckoned. My dear dance teacher had finally made a little dancer of me.

So, when she went away to settle in another city, I was sorely heartbroken. I knew then that no other teacher could ever teach me the way she did. No one would tell me stories or painstakingly position my arms to get the postures just right. I was on my own now.
But I didn’t want to give up on it just yet. While in secondary school, I joined another class. While making my way through the swampy waters of class X and XII, I left dance again. Then I got myself enrolled in engineering. And almost immediately after, got back to dance. After my regular college classes, I would attend the dance class for an hour and a half and then head home. The arrangement drained me of energy but enthused me with a mad passion. I achieved Visharad in Kathak dance form as I finished my graduation in computer engineering. Pretty coordinated that.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
Although my introversion persists oxymoronically with my freewheeling dance fantasies, I have discovered a latent desire for classical dance in me. Something about the elegance of Indian classical dances enthralls me. I have never really gotten over my dance teacher’s stories or her graceful moves. The desire to emulate her and perform as gracefully and beautifully has remained and persisted.

Yes, that's me.
The architecture of ancient buildings and the murals and paintings on old monuments make me wonder about the movements of the yesteryears. I am literally gravitated to the past. I feel the need to discover the most ancient dance forms of India. I wish to capture them as precisely and fully as I can. I want to visit the various gharaanas of Kathak, the temples of Bhartanatyam and the multifarious places in India where the classical dance forms originated. I wish to see the various forms in action. I want to bring to life the most antediluvian Indian dances possible and collate them in my blog.
In profile

“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.”
― Rumi

Dance represents a zeitgeist, a revolution. Representing the spirit of the times, it takes one to an entirely different era where every movement mirrors an ideology of the society. Dance is expression and innovation combined. It is the largest and the most accurate mirror of one’s culture. Dance is love and life in action.

As Voltaire said, “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

I am blogging about my dreams and passions for the Club Mahindra#DreamTrails activity at BlogAdda. You can get a Club Mahindra Membership to own your holidays!

Monday, 25 July 2016

How to keep the Sleep Virus at bay

10 ways to avoid the Snooze drug

  • Coffee. Tea. Yes, some of those well tried-and-tested stuff before classes. They work like a charm.
  • Eat. Yes, eat. Keep some biscuits and snacks handy and stuff them into your mouth the moment you feel your control slipping.
  • Drink. Water. Like every five minutes.
  • Talk. Chat. Keep blabbering. It’s rare to find people falling asleep while in the midst of a conversation.
  • I saw a fellow friend wet her handkerchief with water and dab her eyes with it. Have never tried it but seems like a good idea.
  • One way to find out if you are drunk, sorry, sleepy is to write. Work your pen on paper. If you find yourself inventing vocabulary, making strange connections or anthills and going past well-defined lines, you know your zombie mode is on.
  • Use your five sense organs as far and as much as possible. Touch, smell, taste, see and hear. Any of the faculties stops responding, you know it’s the sleep drug at work.
  • Sit on a blunt nail. It might scratch your ass off but you are less likely to sleep your way to oblivion.
  • Pinch, punch, hit. Do whatever to distract yourself. Remember the sleep mistress is sly and easily inviting. She is sexier than you and has the upper hand. But you got to keep yourself from succumbing to her evil clutches, right? So be the Sati Savitri of Indian mythology and bring your Satyawaan back.
  • Take a pen and stick the pointy end into your palm. Just take care not to create a hitting rhythm that might lull you off to further sleep.

Some victims and their complaints/comments:

“The visions merge so seamlessly from one form to another that it becomes impossible to distinguish between sleeping and waking hours. Until obviously someone clicks an embarrassing picture of your tongue lolling out of your mouth and your head thrown back in some weird posture of slack.”

“Sleep is a bitch. Whether you sleep for six hours or one, eight hours or none, nothing can ever stop you from dozing off in classes. I wonder why people bother with sleeping pills. They should just enroll for some course and attend classes again.”

Look out for other 'sleep special' posts ahead!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

ITR Bloopers

~ (One of the winners of the #TaxPledge Activity at BlogAdda)

So, I had this really crappy knack of skipping mails I didn’t like. Those that seemed unfamiliar, strange or out of the world were instantly sent to the trashcan with a single click. The habit persisted. Well, till the day Kanu called me for ITR.


Kanu and I had studied from the same college. Since we had started working, we barely got time to talk to each other. We were not exactly bosom friends, but we were on good talking terms. However, with the hectic schedule, different projects, separate teams and diverse managers to report to, our first year of work life was a tough rope to tread. We met up occasionally on lunches and went for brief walks but the free spirit in us had been clamped to some extent.

“Do we have to mail it as well after filing it?”
Kanu asked, calling me on my office number.

I was sorely tempted to ignore her question and tell her I had no idea. But then something stopped me. I didn’t want to sound like a complete daft. After all, what is it that Kanu knows and I don’t?

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“IT returns…form 16…income tax…what else!”

The words buzzed about in my head for a while. A frisson of panic started creeping up. Why hadn’t I known this before?
Before I could say another word, she continued, “See the mails sent on 27th of last month. And the ones before that, where they ask you to file your income tax returns.”

Oops. Where were those mails? Gosh! I hadn’t sent them all to the bin, had I?
I couldn’t have been more stupid!

“But they came under a heading that seemed pretty much like those health care mails sent by the company!”  I protested feebly.

“Either ways, you should always check the content before deleting anything.”

Her voice was reprimanding but her words were too true to be refuted.
Somehow the arduous task of going through the mails seemed gargantuan to me. Nonetheless, now it had to be done and now I had no mails to read since I had deleted them already.

“Just send me the mail, will you?”
“Right away. Fill it today. It’s the last date.”
“And what if we don’t?”
“They ask you for it during your visa application process. It is also required in loans and the like…It’s important, bro.”

That must have been the final nail. I was suddenly in a flutter. The returns were supposed to be filed by EOD. Throwing caution to the winds, I abandoned what I was doing at that point and went into overdrive. I quickly sifted through my ‘trash folder’.

My form 16 stared back at me.

“Really simple. Just fill in the details now.” The guy in the next cubicle advised me.

Well, I am not the best form filler on earth. In fact, I am quite the lazy type. And the congestion on the site made it worse.

“What do I do? The site takes ages to load!”
“Well, you shouldn’t have waited till the last day.” My colleague shrugged and went away.

I had started sweating now. The site stayed stubborn, unloadable.

And then, I found it. H&R Block. Cropped up in a hasty Google search. It said you could simply upload your form 16 and get the whole thing done and over with.
I swallowed in relief.

I had managed things at the last moment, thanks to H&R Block. My ITR blooper just fell short of becoming a full-blown one. That day, I pledged to file ITR on time. And well, H&R is always 'handy and ready' to help!

 I’m taking the #TaxPledge to file IT returns with the easy Income Tax efiling option from H&R Block at BlogAdda.

Friday, 3 June 2016

The White Kerchief

Manu could not help but see her. Nandita's face was turned towards the class window, sunlight lighting up her brown hair giving it a golden sheen. He thought she looked beautiful. Since the day he had seen her at the debate, he had fallen for her hook, line and sinker. Soon, however, he realized she was already taken. As most girls are. A boulder-like something had descended to the place where his heart seemed to be.

He took his favorite second last bench in class and dumped his bag on the seat. There was about half an hour till the first class of the day. Manu flicked through the timetable. Math. Phew! Since he had landed in standard 9, he had barely seen any other subject save Math in the first period. Well, so be it…life was only going to get harder…

A muffled sob caught his attention. He looked towards Nandita, who had hurriedly got up, her face red as a beetroot and stumbled towards the door. Dismayed, he realized that she was crying.

“Hey…what-” Manu reached her before he could stop himself.

Nandita looked at him as if he had just read her personal diary. By the looks of it, he had. Her face was a diary of sorts.

“What happened? You all right?” Manu had never had truck with girls before, much less sobbing teenagers. And the stricken look on her red face (if it could get any redder) made him feel awfully sheepish.


“Here, take this.” He said, not knowing what else to say and offered her his handkerchief.
In the very next moment, he regretted it. Not because she refused or ran away- Manu later wished she had-but because he realized an instant too late that it was his white handkerchief, which was no longer white, but had motley patches of yellow, red and blue.

He hoped fervently that she would not see it while wiping her eyes, but that was wishful thinking. He wondered if he should take it back. But that would be bad manners, right? Defeated, he just stood there, hoping for the earth to swallow him as her tears splotched his already stained hanky.

“You have a funny hanky, you know,” she said in a thick just-cried voice. “So insanely large-” Yes, men’s hankies were always large. Hadn’t she ever seen her boyfriend’s hanky? By the by, where was her boyfriend? “-and so patched!”

Manu shifted uneasily, wondering what to say. But then, she giggled. He looked up uncertainly.

“Why is it so spotted and with such varied colors? Did you spill paint all over it?” She giggled all over again. Although it relieved him to hear her back to her usual self, but he was at his wits’ end.

“Umm…actually you see…umm…I washed it with all those colored clothes and umm…some of them might have thrown away their color. One of my white shirts got spoiled as well.” He blabbered apologetically.

Instead of laughing as he had expected her to, Nandita stared at Manu for some length of time, making him uncomfortable.

“I like colored kerchiefs, you know,” she said suddenly and giggled.


Ten years later at a get-together:

“Nanditaaa!” Maria squealed and gestured to her husband. “Rakesh come! Meet Nandita and Manu! Remember I told you about their story?”

Rakesh scratched his head for a moment. “The…err…”

“The white hanky story! I told you last night!”
“Oh yeah! I remember! Manu, pleased to meet you! Nandita can’t stop raving about you and how cute you guys are!”
“Pleasure is all mine!” Manu said with a smile.

He still couldn’t believe how on that fateful day when Nandita’s ex-boyfriend had left her broken and in need of a friend, he had found her. And soon, they had matured into lovers and all for what? The white kerchief, no less! He still thanked his father for teaching him since the day he entered adolescence,

A real man shares the load. 

And lad, you must learn to do your own chores. Household work is a collective responsibility. And remember, no work is exclusively men’s or women’s work."

The work had come to him easy enough. He had always seen his father doing the laundry, while mother hung up the clothes. Nandita though had found it new and surprising since her family had well-defined gender roles. Soon, the two kids fell for each other. And their love story came to be known among their friends as ‘The Story of the White Kerchief.’   



I am taking part in the #ShareTheLoad Challenge with Ariel and Akshara at BlogAdda.~

Wednesday, 1 June 2016



Every so often, we come across events and happenings. Something or the other is always up in Delhi. Meets and fests, weddings and parties, lunches and launches… 
Here is a brief account of something that needs to be ‘spotlight’ed. Yes, it is a book launch. Readomania has come up with this innovative novel set to grab eyeballs. Every day, we see, hear and read mediapersons on TV, internet and in print. But not every day do we hear the story of a journo. On 17 June, 2016, you will hear one at the launch of :

That’s News to Me! 
by Manjula Lal

Dogs can be trained to fetch newspapers for their masters. Should a journalist be treated as a retriever of news by his masters? Told with verve and wit, this is the story of Manush, a talented, independent-minded journalist who tries to stick to the core values of his profession while keeping body and soul together. Out in the field, he enjoys the adrenaline rush of getting scoops and the challenge of solving real-life mysteries. Back in the office, he has to tackle toxic bosses who don’t give a toss about talent and are insecure about their own jobs. And at home, there is emotional distress from a marriage only in name. As the action shifts from a magazine in Noida to a newspaper in Delhi to a website in Gurgaon, the world around Manush changes while he continues his dogged pursuit of career goals and fascinating women. Will forces out of his control make him go into a free fall? Will friends and family give him the respect he deserves? Or will he realise redemption lies elsewhere?

About the Author

Manjula Lal currently works as Deputy Editor with Tehelka. In a career spanning 30 years, she has worked for Economic Times, Pioneer, The Times of India, Indian Express and a host of smaller banners.

Born in Ballia, a remote village of Uttar Pradesh where her father was a district magistrate, the author spent 11 years in a convent boarding school in the hill station of Nainital. After attending college in Lucknow and getting her master’s in political science from Jawaharlal Nehru University, she went to Pennsylvania State University as a teaching assistant. Her stint as the first columnist of foreign origin for the local newspaper gave her a taste of celebrity that made her impatient to return to New Delhi and plunge into journalism.

With a 'punny' title, That’s News to Me! is all set to hit the stands. Don’t miss it!

~This post has been written in association with Readomania as a part of its book pre-launch activity~ 

Saturday, 30 April 2016

My Internship Story

(Winner of the #MyInternTheory Activity at BlogAdda)

I have often found myself leaning towards lionization. Lionizing events, people, life in general. I think it’s a stupid thing to do. Not all events are grand nor all parties marvelous or all times dripping with uncountable moments honeyed with joy and celebration. Days are mostly just days, untinted by sepia-toned happiness. That's why I have decided to caption this post simply. My internship story was just such a story. Simple. Unadorned. Full of those large terms of corporate life you come to hear often. Work, productivity, deliverables...

There is always a haggle for internships especially in the second year of engineering. Everyone takes up some project, digs up some contacts, makes his/her way into some famously named corporation and so on. There is a lot of fondness for big names and bigger titles. Besides, internships are time for gyaan by seniors, frantic hunts for good projects and sweating it out at the height of summer or shivering your way to work in the depths of winter, for a taste of that which you call ‘work experience’. Sweet term, isn’t it?

But some people of my ilk preferred the sweetness of slumber to the tedium of toil and so, two summers of my B.Tech. flashed past in blissful holiday-making and vacation. But when the third year loomed large, I began to sweat. An internship had to be had this time.
As good fortune would have it (as it usually has in stories and anecdotes), one of our alumni came to the campus to get some fresh talent from our batch. They crafted a test and handed it out to all of us. As it happened, much to my surprise, out of the six students selected for internship from our batch, I was one. The only girl, to be sure. I did draw some stares that time. My peers wondered if my flukes had hit home somehow. But thankfully, for the time being, I had clinched an internship!

And therein began my two-month long chapter. We were to work at a start-up which makes Android applications keeping in mind the needs of the rural sections of the society in addition to the innovations in the industry and the like. I had till then worked only on a couple of languages like C, C++, Java. I am not much of a techie and Android was new to me. I didn’t even have an Android phone at the time. But Android I did learn. On the job as they say. We used to start working at 10 in the morning and till about 6, we hacked at codes and ran tests. I was given an app all to myself. To be honest, I was more interested in designing the user interface and the logo and even coming up with dumb one-liners to append to the app title than coding the actual thing.

Although anyone who knows me would tell you that I am no great a fan of coding, I am well-acquainted with the madness that takes hold of you when a semicolon is amiss, when everything reduces to the flashing screen before you, when your fingers talk code, when an unsuccessful execution causes your heart to sink, when a particularly stubborn code snippet causes you utter frustration, when you press F9 and experience wild joy on seeing it all execute. Those two months sealed these feelings deeper within me.

By the time we were done with our internships and had our letters in hand, I had discovered a latent love for technology somewhere in me. I have no idea whether the app I made was ever released in the market, but since then, every time I glanced at its interface, I thought it looked beautiful, much like a poem.  

And if apps can be poems, can’t internships be stories as well?

I’m sharing my first internship experience for the #MyInternTheory activity at BlogAdda in association with Intern Theory.

It's Your Day

*This year, on mom's birthday, I was not at my creative best. But a birthday is always special and so, I somehow bunched up a few lines for her. It's your day, mom :)*
A scarcely blinking light
Throws into shadow 
Your face otherwise lit
By a thousand deeds of the days past.
The shadow lifts at dawn, 
Slow and sure,
But unreckoning, unseeming,
Unknowing of the varied selves
And the number of lives you lead within it.
The dawn breaks 
Like an orange peeled open,
Its juices pouring forth.
The light. The light leaking,
Leaking out in bits and spurts.
And finally shaping into a halo around your head. 
The morning sees you worship it, 
You with your ever open arms,
Your tired and expectant hands.  
With a prayer on your lips.
A prayer for the old and the new.
The old folks and the new times.
It's a new dawn. 
A new day.
Your day.

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Revolution She Was...

"...And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free." 

Happy Birthday Maya Angelou...
Dedicated to the phenomenal woman...
The birth of a thought,
The dawn of an era,
The lines of a woman,
A phenomenal woman.
Freeing a caged bird
From the clutches of prejudice,
Defining love and loss
On her own terms
A life so glorious
As to move the dumbest stone to soul-stirring speech.
Ideas so powerful
As to turn a flickering flame of light
To roaring fires of creation,
Stark simplicity dripping with wisdom
Denser than the densest metal.
Wielding the pen with finesse and feeling,
She stands tall in the hearts of people,
The halls of power,
The gardens of love...
Revolution she was,

Inspiration she is.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Dear Cinderella...

~Published as my contribution on gender stereotyping on Incredible Women of India for the 6th Women Scream Art and Poetry festival, Kolkata Chapter~

The clock has barely struck eight when her phone starts singing a mad tune. Rakhi glances at her phone screen and sighs.

“I got to go, Megha…”
“But it is barely eight!”
“I know…but you know as well…”
Both the girls sigh in an implicit understanding and Rakhi turns to go.

Where you ask? Why, to home sweet home! The curfew has struck. Cinderella needs to be back or in this shadowland of crime and grime, she would not just lose her impressive attire but her life itself.

As the moon ascends in the purple sky, we see gals hurrying away, their family frantically waiting to usher them home, even as guys order another round of beer. When I was a kid, I kept hoping to grow up, thinking that adulthood was the license to stay late. I couldn’t be more wrong.  

To validate my statement, just plan a trip with a couple of your girlfriends. If you get an instant nod from all family members, then please inform me. I would like to meet the great souls. At least once such a question or one of its variants might come up- “An all girls’ trip? I hope there would be at least one man with you people?” As if that one man would be some kind of Hulk or Hanuman. I agree the security issues are huge especially in the country we reside in, but my na├»ve mind wonders if hemming all women in by a certain time of the evening is a really good idea? Doesn’t it steadily give rise to an all-men night? What a weird dystopian thought!

The curfew timings for girls may vary and in some cases, might not even exist. But in most parts of the country, women today do have such a time. I call it the Cinderella time. What is your Cinderella time, if I may ask?

If you are a Y chromosome, you might not have heard of this phenomenon before. But then you might surely have accompanied a Curfew-ridden Cinderella back home or at least offered to do so? Well, isn’t that what a knight-in-shining-armor supposed to do? Or for that matter, a chivalrous prince? Hold the delicate hands of the dainty princess and walk her down the aisle. Or lay down your life for your lady love. It does sound so wonderfully Victorian era-ish, doesn’t it?

But what if the knight doesn’t feel strong enough? Or the damsel is not really in distress? Do they still need to play their god-ordained, or shall we say society-ordained, roles? For the sake of romanticism perhaps. Or for saving face in front of the policing ‘society’ which has nothing better to do than pass judgments and provide unwanted critiques. The very same society which rushes to call a man effete who doesn’t feel up to some ‘manly’ task and which deigns to look at a woman who is way too good for its liking. The questions just keep coming…why is it such a pain to put up with a more successful woman? Why cannot we readily find examples of hypergamy among men?  

Talking about stereotypes, how many of you have cringed at the thought of being driven about by a woman? Or marveled at a gal steering an SUV? Somehow the idea just doesn’t seem to stick. We still feel the need to respond extraordinarily when we see such otherwise pretty ordinary happenings. Add to that, the preconceived ideas of women considered inept for certain roles leading to biases against female managers or women in top roles. No doubt, the likes of Chanda Kochhar and Mary Barra are storming male bastions but the examples are few and far between.    

Oh but let us not forget the famous Indian dilemma! The moment a girl reaches adulthood or turns into a lady, before greying hair can give her the news of her age, her family does the honors. How you ask?

Like job offers, marriage proposals pour in from all conceivable corners. Guys can wait, but a woman unmarried at say, 30 must surely be an old maid!

‘What’s wrong with her?’ people will whisper. ‘Facing too many rejections perhaps!’ they venture. And the poor parents rush around begging for decent in-laws. Sigh!

I agree the biological clock is ticking. But why do we have fairness creams and age-defying gels directed primarily at women but no brand yet claiming to keep a man young? We will drool over George Clooney (okay I admit I do so too) calling older men sexy but see an ageing woman as a crone?

There are just too many Cinderella moments in women’s life. Sometimes the curfew time, some times, the biological clock. Oh dear Cinderella! What a race! Running and always running…

“Oh, that clock! Old killjoy. I hear you. Come on, get up, you say, Time to start another day. Even he orders me around. Well, there's one thing. They can't order me to stop dreaming.” (Cinderella)