Hello there, and welcome to Womaning in India!
This newsletter and I share our birthday. I am officially 35 years old – almost to the minute as I type this – so you could call this my literary mid-life crisis.
As I complete three and a half decades of walking this planet in a woman’s body, I have come to two realizations. One, I have wasted way too much of my time here watching TV. And two, half the world’s population, men, have virtually no idea what the everyday life of the other half is like. Even the most woke of men out there would be shocked if they had to walk a mile in women’s shoes. And not just because women’s shoes are approximately as comfortable as kidney stones.
Here is what I believe.
One, people – men and women – are mostly decent and good. And two, stories are power. Together, these two things lead me to believe that sharing stories about lives that are different from ours can make the world a better place for everyone.
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This thought inspired me to start talking to women about their stories. That was two years ago. Since then, whether it was women I met on the internet where we were venting together or women I met at the beauty parlour where we were waxing together – I listened to their stories. I also started asking them to tell me about a chapter of their life that they experienced very differently because of being a woman.
Almost all of them turned around and asked me the same question:
“Where do I begin?”
We always laughed when this question came up because we knew that each one of us could easily fill a few books with such stories from our lives. From walking down the street to taking a bus, from getting married to staying single, from dating to parenting, from cooking dinner to changing bulbs, from interviewing for jobs to quitting jobs – virtually every activity that makes up our lives is lived differently by men and women. And so, my muses struggled to find a starting point in this tapestry of their quilted life experiences.
But once we found that point, girl, did the stories flow!
Why did Mallika’s friend call her late one night, screaming in terror?
What question was Akanksha expected to have answered in her job interview, even though it was never asked?
What keeps Anuradha up at night whenever she visits her in-laws’ house?
Why did Nayana refuse to give IVF a shot after years of trying for a baby?
Why does Sunita prefer living in a slum in Delhi and working as a maid to living in her husband’s palatial family home back in their village?
When Anagha was sent office-hunting by her law firm, what was her top criterion for the search that surprised her partners?
What is the one question that is on top of Shuchita’s mind for a potential partner, and why does she make sure she doesn’t ask it until the third or fourth date?
I cannot express in words the gratitude I feel towards these amazing women who opened the windows of their hearts and allowed me the privilege to take a peek inside.
I am starting this newsletter to share that peek with you.
I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed listening to them.
I hope they make us laugh and cry.
I hope they teach us to be a little kinder to one another.
Most of all, I hope they make a difference.
See you next Friday. And many many Fridays after that!