The Secret Lives of Women

Trina Talukdar

The pound is worth Rs. 70 now, but I have just been hit by the realization that the development of the United Kingdom is a big fat lie.
So I’m sitting sipping gin and tonic with Laura and I casually ask her, “What are u doing your Ph.D. on?” Tipping her glass into her mouth she replied she was researching why so many more men take up the sciences and math in the British education system than women. “The ratio of men to women studying the sciences at graduation level is 15:1.” I nearly choked on my gin. Why did she sound like she was talking about India?
“Why? The girls can’t…” my voice trailed away as I noticed two middle-aged men giving us condemning looks across the room, and one of them shook their head and frowned as Laura lit a cigarette and replied.
“Oh no! Of course they can legally. But a girl just isn’t comfortable walking into a class of 30 boys. She feels intimidated. Not because she would be molested or eve-teased, but… I don’t know, you’re from a different culture. You wouldn’t understand.”
I understood. And I think every Indian girl would understand what it feels like to be in the men’s compartment of a local train, or the only woman on the dance floor of a club. Even if you’re not felt-up or whistled at, you’re waiting with clenched teeth and fists to get out as fast as you can. Yes, I was from a very different culture, but I understood perfectly.
Laura continued, “So many girls are pregnant and have babies before they reach college. And even middle class parents would rather invest in their son’s college education than their daughters because their daughter will get pregnant during college and drop out before she finishes.” Saying that much, Laura swiped down her last drink, kissed me good-bye and rushed to cook a beef casserole for dinner.
I stayed back and ordered another gin and tonic to celebrate my disillusionment. All these years that I had lived out my life in India, getting onto buses with safety pins, angered that my mother had to cook and clean for the house and hold her job when my father only had to do the latter, gulping down protests against being escorted to a village where I work by a man who doesn’t know anything about it, the western world has been my golden ray of hope.
The UK, the US where women were truly emancipated. Where they didn’t have to fight for their right to property or education or to vote, where no one stared at them for smoking on the streets or drinking. And now I find out it is all a myth. A big lie? I felt betrayed!
So there is no hope for women? May it be different countries, different cultures, different hemispheres, the experiences of women stay essentially the same. Maybe for us the problem is teenage marriage rather than teenage pregnancy, but the consequences are exactly the same. And perhaps its worse in Europe and America because the women are not aware of their oppression as we are here in India. How do you tell a Armani suited finance banker on Wall Street , earning 30 million dollars per annum, that she is oppressed? She champions the myth of emancipation of women not realizing that she has had to work 10 times harder than any man to get where she is.

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"The Secret Lives of Women" by @bongbuzz

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  1. Wow, this really was news to me. I knew there was a long way for us to go, but I didn’t imagine it would be so far fetched!

  2. ‘what it feels like to be in the men’s compartment of a local train’- this is just not a suitable explanation- rather bringing out anything just to back up one’s writing; broaden you views @trina

  3. THere are 2 other men who have read and commented on this article, they evidently haven’t had a problem understanding the explanation u refer to. Oh i’m sorry Amartya. I forgot you were a man of limited experience and understanding. Well, unfortunately that’s not my problem. If you do not know what it feels like to be in a men’s compartment in a local train for a woman I suggest you ask a woman to explain it to you, if you can get any decent woman to willingly have a conversation with you, that is…

  4. dear Trina, have you ever board a local train compartment? And do you have the very minimum knowledge that there is NO men’s compartment in a local train? May be you don’t know because you always prefer to stay confined in you unrealistic Utopian world. you know what, first know yourself, how much knowledge and understanding you have got, and then comment on others, thou it’s true that people like you take more interest in other’s lives than self’s.

  5. @ Amartya: yes i have been on local trains. and ur rite that there’s no men’s compartment, that is, there is no compartment named that. But in practice the general compartment has men in them and the ladies compartment all the women. so when i said “men’s compartment” i was referring to the “men’s compartment” in practice and not its nomenclature. but yes, that is a techinical error on my part.
    And all that about a Utopian world is so ridiculous I’m not even going to dispute it. If you’d seen a tenth of the suffering in this world that I have then you would be a social worker and not an engineer.

  6. ha ha h a hhaaa ha ahhhaa !!! now I can understand that I’ve hit the exact point which made a huge amount of jealousy to ooze out. ha ha ha ha !! And regarding the other thing you have said that social workers only see and feel suffering and serve them, I would ask you not to say his to anyone else, I really don’t know the amount how much people’s gonna laugh at you. A social worker boasting her services ???????????..ha ha ha!! what cheap mentality- telling people that she have seen everything and none else.. uuuf!! God, save these people. PLEASE…..!! And pleae if you don’t know about someone, please don’t comment.

  7. Hey guys cool down and stop fighting over trivial things.

    (Well Trina, normally we agree on most things but I feel you were not quite right to assume that people have to become social workers to prove their humanitarian nature. It’s fine as long as we do what we are best at. :) I’m sure you didn’t mean it…. let’s just not say anything for the sake of argument)

      1. @ nipon.. man the comments were so much more fun to read than the article… plzzz the more the controversy more the buzz.. beteer for BB…
        @ amarya.. yes yes ur right
        @ trina .. yes yes ur right…

        ha ha ha

  8. Jealousy? Oh you really make me laugh… you think I’d ever be jealous of an engineer? That’s the last thing on earth I’d ever want to be. It’s the most cliched and boring profession and its so…what’s the word… gauche.

    When did i say, and i quote you here, “social workers only see and feel suffering and serve them.” First, I do not want to be stereo-typed into tht box of “social workers” coz lately i’ve met too many of them who’re corrupt and don’t know what the hell they’re doing. And second, the worker that i wish to become, i will not only see and feel, i will actually do something about it.

  9. @ Nipon: Amartya has only you to thank that I have stopped pointing out the flaws in his inane English. Sometimes its so incorrect I can’t even figure out the insult he’s heaping on me. But I’m sorry I don’t think the fighting is going to stop anytime soon and I’m sure you realise it’s not me alone who’s responsible for that. And well, I think all the argument keeps things alive.

    I absolutely agree that people don’t have to be social workers to be humanitarian. But here’s the deal… in the past 10 months I have seen more suffering than I have in my whole life. Maybe I wasn’t emotionally prepared to deal with it. Seeing everything I have has made me bitter and frustrated about life. I so badly want to change it all and everyday I realise how little is really in my hands and that frustrates me even more. And it is this that drives me to think that if anyone has the heart enough and knows how much suffering is out there, they’d do something about it, you know. I mean…you have to agree with this, that we need a lot more social workers today than engineers, looking at the state of the world.

    You’re right. I shouldn’t judge people. But since its out there, lets put it all on the table now. Tell me, what is the worst experience you’ve ever had?

  10. You know what Trina? You’ve gone crazy and you are just impulsive. To fight with me you are just bringing out anything and everything…uuuf !! Never boast doing some good job for people. Got it? And stop comparing like kids, what you have seen and what I have seen etc. And Engineers, doctors, socialites, social workers, scientists, researchers, players, actors, singers… all are substandard, bad, rotten… okkk ??? Trina is the best. Now please give me and others a break…

  11. Shit Amartya…are u having a nervous breakdown… ur comment certainly sounds like it.
    Anyway, ur rite. I’m sorta getting tired of this bickering. Shall we settle for a cease-fire?

  12. ha ha ha !! settlement? with you? not in my weirdest dream also. You know what you are suffering from narcissism.. and if you are having the guts then don’t use ****, write it.

  13. oh shit…Nipon has done something to the site… all swear words are become asterixes…damn it!
    narcissist?? huh?

  14. Ooops sorry! I forgot to tell you people there is a swear words filter I have applied to the comment system sometime back. I was experimenting actually ;)

  15. Hehhe…read this after so long…forgot how much fun it had been. Why is Amartya so absent from the BB scene these days? No fun without him and his gf backing him up! And yes Nipon playing Daniel does make things boring doens’t it?
    @Pranab: That you in your avatar pic? Oh god…scary! It’s too dark for the sunglasses and the Salman Khan hairstyle ain’t doing wonders!

    1. Amartya’s US stint is over and he’s back to Nasik where he’s having a busy work schedule. Again as per his doctor’s advice he has to go sleep very early and is seldom online :( But don’t worry people he’ll be back with some cool posts soon!