What It Means To Be A Woman

On the 8th of March we celebrated International Women’s Day, like we do every year. In college, me and all the other girls in my class were given a packet of chilli power with a message that said, “Spice up the eyes of all those words dare harass you.” Looking at that packet one couldn’t help but think that we live in a society where we actually might have to use this on someone one day or another. We live in a world where some women are still not allowed to venture outside without a male companion by their side. A world that sometimes looks down on you for taking certain decisions or living a certain way of you are a woman. But on other hand, we now live in a world where women are CEOs of muti-nationals and Vice Chancellors of countries. The same world that thought women were incompetent to drive (Read UAE), now thinks we deserve the right to drive if we choose to.

Being a woman in today’s world is a complicated affair. We are constantly processing threats and looking at infinite opportunities all at the same time. It’s not all great for us out in the world, but it’s not all that bad either.

So what exactly does it mean to be a woman in 2018?

I asked a few women and this is what they had to say.

And I’d like to present it to you in a three part photo-series.

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PART I

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Zoya Mateen, 22.

For me, womanhood is simply the art of becoming. It’s an inward journey rather than an outward one. I choose to give very little, or perhaps no importance to what someone might choose to identify me as. Sometimes a Muslim, sometimes a woman, the daunting expectations that come when you combine the two. Add a dash of modernity and a spoonful of arbitrary judgements on what I wear what I eat say or think and I already feel like I’m going crazy!
So no. I refuse to listen to them. I refuse to let them choose for me. My battle is within me.

I’m proud of who I am. my gender, faith or thinking have very little role to play individually in making me feel like that. Womanhood for me is this act of faith in yourself. For whoever I am and whatever I can be. I have the strength to accept myself and in the process learn, learn and keep learning

dsc_0061228821267.jpg Zoya is an artist.

Prashasti Awasthi, 21.

Being a woman is a tiring job especially when you advocate feminism. One is always misunderstood.
Having said that I can’t trade being a woman with anything else. It is the most powerful and amazing feeling. We are endowed with the quality of a nurturer and an empath. I cherish it as much as I cherish my physical growth.
I feel fortunate to be chosen to be a woman.

dsc_0047714435329.jpg Prashasti is a war journalist in the making.

 

 

Well, one thing we can agree on is that ‘womanhood’ cannot be defined. It can be perhaps be perceived in different ways by different people. In the upcoming days I will be showcasing more such women sharing their perceptions on womanhood, and what it is to be a woman in 2018. Stay tuned!

 

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Mumbai

You will find me in a million beating hearts.

In the clutter of the Dadar market,

In the chai -sutta of the rebellious city teen.

In the waves that sweep through the shores of Marine drive.

In the misty coffee houses of Matunga,

In the dingy slums of Dharavi,

In the chic bungalows of Juhu tara.

In the alluring charms of Kamathipura,

In the abusive banter of the fish mongers.

In the first rains that soak the children,

In the humid summers that drench everyone in sweat.

The groovy nights at blue frog,

The blissful prayers at Siddhivinayak.

In the buzzing streets of bandra,

Or the country-side bliss of vasai.

In every heaving-breath of a Virar local,

In the saddened silences of Tata hospital.

In the legendary evenings of Prithvi theatre,

In the infinite aimless games of cricket at the oval maidan.

In the cheers for the Mumbai Indians,

In the masked smiles of the LGBT pride parade.

From the nalli nihari and the salli boti

To the masala dosa and vada pav.

From the pillars of gateway,

To the roads of palm beach .

I’m a heaven for dreamers.

I’m the love child of chaos and tranquility.

I’m the unbreakable spirit.

I’m the euphoric emotion.

I am you .I am me.

I am Mumbai.

Mumbai Diaries: The Most Interesting Cabbie In Town!

“It was destiny that brought me here.” Says Mahesh, a 37 year old cabbie I met just a couple days back. Unlike other cabbies who usually dropped me to my workplace every morning, Mahesh seemed very upbeat and chatty.

But what was very appealing about him was his voice. Deep and husky, like the ones you hear in those sexy deodorant ads.

We got talking right from the minute I took the passenger seat next to him. From demonetization to current movies, to animal behavior in the African deserts, Mahesh had a say on everything. And with that beautiful voice of his, I couldn’t help but gleefully join in the conversation.

Jumping from one topic to the other I asked him how he landed up being a cab driver, because it was very surprising to see a person as well read and aware as him to be riding a cab for a living. He grinned at me and said that he recently lost his job. He told me about his college and how he had a diploma in mechanical engineering which held no value now. How he spent 5 months jumping down media agency to another in a chance to get one break into the voice over, radio industry. How his friends left him one by one when his financial condition deteriorated.

Seeing all the amulets and spiritual “jewelry” on him I asked him what kept him going through all of the tough times? Was it god? “My family is my God. It was my wife and children who made me smile on my worst days. They never made me feel like a failure. They never let me down or made false promises like the world or the so called God did.” “I’ve stopped socializing much, whatever free time I have I spend with my family”.

Behind the tough looking face and buttery deep voice if there was something that shone through was his positivity. Mahesh’s story wasn’t really inspiring or one of a kind. We meet so many others like him. People trying to make it big in the city or dreams Bombay! Of those who fail miserably and end up doing things just to survive this rat race. Dreams and hopes forgotten. Succumbing to the pressures of the city life.

But what was refreshing was his attitude towards everything. He still believes that everything that’s happened has happened for the best. He knows that his dreams of becoming a voice over artist seem bleak but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming about it regardless! His thirst for life and the will to do anything for his loved ones is what made his story better than most of ours. I couldn’t help but ask one last question, ” Can I write about you?” He put on his best smile and told me, “Sure Madam! Would you need a picture too?” As if  to say, this wasn’t the first time someone had asked him to do so 🙂