From the Man of the House to the Madam in the Mall,comedian Neeti Palta dissects the urban Indian woman
Maa tujhe salaam are the words that come screaming,though in a pleasant non-raspy sort of voice,into our heads the moment we think of the quintessential Indian woman.
Just for fun,lets toss the old image of the Indian woman from some suitable vantage point and examine the fascinating variety that springs forth from the shattered pieces. Ignore the odd broken-hearted lose er lover who insists on saying that were all the same.
We are not.
Im da man
Go getters from the word go. Offer these ladies your seat in a metro only if you enjoy getting your head chewed off in public. Remember the lady who cut across your car more aggressively than a testosterone driven teenager? Yup. Thats them. On their shoulders rests the onerous task of seeking and destroying all stereotypes related to women. They are more equal to men than men are to them (Ok yes,maths is still not our strong point). It is this constant,not always unnecessary but exhausting striving for equality that leads to these ladies overcompensating at work and earning them unimaginative titles like Queen B*** or Ice Queen (Ha! But Queen nonetheless!). Youd actually prefer Freddie from A Nightmare on Elm Street being your boss than them. These ladies are amply capable of bringing home the bacon,provided their husband cooks it in an I worship my wife apron.
Beware the dot
These are women with a cause but more often than not,no humour. Often seen in a no-nonsense cotton FabIndia ensemble,they are characterised by the big red bindi on their foreheads that seems to shout out stop or else . Youd think they accomplish things due to the sheer power of their personality,but the low human threshold for pain helps too. On a positive note,they are our best bet at changing the social fabric in favour of the prettier sex (cant say fairer or weaker in good faith),for the adopted children theyll raise would have been whipped into shape by that principled umbilical cord.
With their straightened hair and mall tan,this variety is often spotted in oh-so-casually (not!) thrown-on Juicy Couture velvet tracks. Yes,mysteriously enough the Juicy branding always adorns the posterior area. And if those ridiculously narrow hips have managed to spring forth an offspring,you can take it for granted that the maid and child sitting separately in the restaurant belong to them. But heck its not easy being a trophy wife and going home to a husband who looks more pregnant than you did in your last trimester.
While the others of our gender struggle to uphold the rights of womankind in their own inimitable ways,this kind is cajoled out of sleep at noon with a reminder of their spa appointment. Perpetually holding that proverbial silver spoon in their mouth can be tiring after all. You can spot them from a distance in their glittery T-shirts tucked into drain-pipe jeans valiantly held up by a white belt and the ever visible LV bag hanging off their twiggy arms. Or pick them out in a crowd through their anglicised draggy nasal bhaiyyyaaaaa These ladies are the vestigial organs of society. They might have served a purpose once but no one can quite remember what it used to be. With the Swarovski studded bebe emblazoned across their ample bosom hypnotising all and sundry by going be be be be alternately with every step,they are the reason men find it hard to maintain eye contact with woman-kind.
I kill my own food
This adventurous lot is the kind who couldve walked out of a Woodland ad open jeep (who cares what it does to the hair or skin),sporty clothes and thin,but in a healthy way (why God why?). As a biff on the nose of the conventional ladies who flush public toilets while they pee to cover up unseemly sounds,these ladies are quite content going in a hole in the ground and covering it with limestone and sand after. Untapped market for cosmetic brands,theyre not averse to getting a little dirt under their chipped nails,so you might need to think twice before you ask them to pass you a roti or slice of bread (or uncooked pig intestine theres no accounting for taste).
Bai with an eye
Lest you think Im only focused on the haves,let me talk about the have-nots who are more like the I-cant-believe-you-had-that kind. Indeed,its the maids in our houses who turn up their noses at the hand-me-downs of their Madams with the same air of Theres no way Im wearing that that the madams teenaged daughters have. Theyve seen it,they want it and theyd probably not work for you if you dont have it! Its the same hierarchy that exists between drivers of luxury cars and drivers of box cars.
For the sake of stereotypes that have painstakingly been built over so long,Ill admit that as expected of a woman,I have focused a tad on the negatives. Of course,there are inspiring women out there going into space or writing award winning books or gracing the cover of Forbes. But then they are so much harder to laugh at,arent they?
Neeti Palta is a Delhi-based stand-up comedian who runs her own comedy outfit called Loony Goons