We live with double standards, applying a different set of norms to men and women. This creates artificial differences and make women vulnerable to the worst forms of exploitation. Over a double omelette breakfast, Harry and Khush call for a change in mind set.
Harry and Khush had just finished their breakfast of double omelettes made to their individual liking. Khush preferred them with cheese and tomatoes while Harry avoided diluting the taste of eggs with add-ons. His was a plain omelette instead, rolled and well done.
Khush: Nice and fulfilling.
Harry: Nice, yes! But fulfilling, with just two eggs? I am sure you can do better.
Khush: Maybe Harry, you seem to know a lot about me.
Harry: Sure I do (seeing another omelette being brought from the kitchen). Don’t worry, this is your kind of omelette, not my type. Ramu knows I don’t go for a second helping.
Khush: Why don’t you join in?
Harry: More than two eggs for me, are you crazy? I am not as young as you.
Khush: Whoever said that? You look younger than me.
Harry (smiling): Well, I still can’t eat more because I need to fit into my trim-fit shirts.
Khush was almost half way through his omelette when he grabbed the chicken sausages that had just arrived. Being health-conscious, Harry kept away from them too.
Remembering an old friend
Harry: I just remembered a Parsi friend from college, Adi Shroff. Have I told you about him before?
Khush: I think you are trying to take a dig at me. I knew Adi Manik, not this guy. Okay, tell me about him.
Harry: Why did you think I was making fun of you? I wasn’t, but something did remind me of a funny incident. We always laughed at Adi’s expense but he didn’t care, he was just amused. This is an impressive trait among Parsis; they even enjoy making fun of themselves.
Khush was enjoying his last bite of omelette with bread and butter. Harry would spread olive oil, not butter, on his whole wheat bread, or sometimes have his omelette with chapattis.
Main course after dessert
Harry: Adi was a great guy like you, but sadly, he is no more, died twenty years ago in California. Once, Adi, I and a few friends, all engineering students, went to a fancy restaurant for dinner. We had an elaborate six-course meal and topped it up with dessert. After a while, Adi asked for mutton biryani and the waiter got it in a jiffy.
What’s this? Adi enquired.
Mutton biryani, replied the waiter.
What?! Adi was shocked to see a carry bag on the table.
Parcel kiya, saab.
Who told you to parcel it? Roared Adi at the waiter.
Saab, aap sab ne khana kha liya. Kitna pet bharke khaya, main dekh raha tha. Baad main aap ne itna cake bhi khaya aur ice cream bhi. Iske baad kaun biryani kha sakta hai? Isliye maine pack kiya.
Kyun pack kiya? Kaun bola? Main kitna bhi khaoon, tumhare baap ka kya hai? Don’t waste my time, jaldi serve karo.
Harry: All of us had a hearty laugh. The poor waiter who looked offended actually had a smile on his face. Adi became famous overnight in the university hostel.
Khush (laughing loudly): Oh! I remind you of Adi.
Harry: In more than one way he was smart-looking, jovial and a good soul like you.
Maid service or the unmaking of man?
Khush (drawing Harry’s attention to the well-endowed maid who was serving them): I think we need to be careful here.
Harry (smiling): I wonder if this is how Shiney Ahuja got enticed.
Khush (reading Harry’s mind): Well, Shiney is not the only one; there are others, who don’t get exposed because they managed to hush up things. They say Shiney just walked into a trap.
Harry: Yes, this is a racket with the support of cops. They plant a sexy maid to lure a man who is alone in the house and then create a scene. The cop land up and extort. If you don’t pay up, you end up like Shiney.
Guilty or Innocent
Khush: When I say this, I don’t mean Shiney is innocent. I don’t know about him. I only know what the media tells us. But I do know about some others who were subjected to extortion.
Harry: The laws have become tougher to protect women and the cops are going to take full use of them. The innocent ones are going to pay the price. You are absolutely right, all the maid has to do is dial a cop and her word will be final. All she has to say that we stripped her naked with our eyes. The new law is going to protect them against everything.
Khush: This is crazy, but hopefully, women are going to be safe after all.
Harry: Bullshit. Nothing is going to stop the hard-core rapist who will resort to hit-and-run tactics.
Legalising prostitution – the only way forward?
Khush: What is the solution? Last time we spoke about this, you said legalising prostitution is the only way out.
Harry: Not just that, people must change their mindsets. It is an age-old universal issue, predominant in conservative countries like ours. This is surfacing now because the rapidly-growing middle class is making a hue and cry about it and the media is supporting them. Down the centuries, women have suffered injustice. They have always been treated as showpieces and meant for producing children. In Victorian times, women going to the washroom would excuse themselves for powdering their nose. Men viewed them only as sexual objects, the thought of them wanting or enjoying sex was not known or even considered.
This was the birth right of the male alone. It’s only in the past fifty years or so, and that too, only in the most affluent societies that women have gradually overcome the guilt of enjoying intercourse imposed on them. Some lucky ones have even experienced climax. This has made men insecure. As is, they need ego boosting all the time. The woman has to fake a climax with all the oohs and aahs to satisfy the male ego.
Why place the burden on women?
Why do women have to bear children? Because, their husbands will not be considered men, otherwise. Why are women more ambitious than men, in general? Because they are brought up like that. They grow up being told they are the inferior sex, incapable of matching men. Because it’s a man’s world. A woman is respected when she bears a male child. The birth of a girl is considered a curse. Their families want to get rid of them before they are conceived. They are married off quickly before puberty. Men are considered men only when they hit upon women. Why isn’t that freedom given to women too? Society is dominated by insecure men. Their EQ is generally lower than that of women.
The damaging impact of media
One of the repercussions of media – especially, TV and social media – is that more youngsters are being attracted to big cities; especially, women. They adopt the morals of the west to rationalise their behaviour. Young girls from middle-class families get mesmerised by the glamour of big cities and many of them end up in dance bars or the flesh trade. In order to justify their actions and fulfil their responsibilities, they send part of their earnings home.
The successful ones get their freedom and status by being the breadwinners of their families. Some of the bright ones even invest wisely or start a new venture and gain respectability sooner or later, abandoning their previous lives completely. The not-so-smart ones have a miserable time once they grow older. For that matter, any profession where looks matter has diminishing returns as you age. Therefore, if you aren’t smart enough to have a parallel income or find a stable companion, you could be in trouble trying to maintain the standard of living you have gotten used to.
Most of the lower middle class girls and boys are so naive and innocent, they need guidance. This is especially so of teenagers who are so influenced by the glamour of media that they run away from their homes in search of freedom and to get what they aspire for. Only the strong-minded ones are able to control themselves and become achievers.
Khush: What happens to the vast majority of them?
Harry: They should be our biggest concern. They are the victims of the vultures in our society.
Khush: What do we do with these sex-perverts?
Harry: We ought to find outlets for them. Legalising prostitution is a solution but only a small one.
Khush: What then?
Harry: We have to create jobs! Make in India and Skill India is a perfect idea.
Khush: But nothing is happening, most of them are losing jobs! Why? What happened to the promises made? Acche din ayenge, where’s that?
Harry: Acche din aate nahin, laaye jaate hain. We all must have faith in the government. Big companies must invest in the Make in India platform.
Khush: Is that the solution for correcting sex perverts?
Harry: Sure. The emotion of sex is a state of mind. Because of ignorance on the subject and improper influences, this state of mind is generally associated with the physical. We need to transmute this energy.
Khush: Wow! Is this true?
Harry: Yes! The desire for sex is the most powerful of human desires. The transformation of these desperadoes to a very skilled and a productive lot is a definite possibility.