Diary of a Weekend Puneite: The Dark (& Real) Side of Pink

This week’s column is triggered by two comments that brought back uncomfortable memories, which like most girls/women I would like to keep buried. Taapsee Pannu in an interview before her latest movie – Pink – released said candidly, “I remember an instance during a Gurpurab (Sikh festival), I was walking on the road and there was a big crowd. I had my hands behind my back as I had that intuition that something would happen. Someone tried to touch me and I just held that person’s hand and twisted it without even looking behind.I didn’t have the guts to see who that person was and just kept walking.Today, I think I should have gone back and twisted it so hard that I should have broken his hand so he would never touch a women like that again.”

The other came innocently from the husband. Cajoled to drive out on the last day of Ganapati amidst many idols, he said with much disgust and astonishment, “It’s amazing that parents who otherwise worry about safety and izzat, will allow girls to dance on item numbers with drunk men or allow strangers/ family friends to letch at their daughters dancing in a Ganapati Visarjan procession. Amazing what crowds, pouring rain and the anonymity of gulaal allows people to get away with!”

These two comments coming through on one day make me flinch. Uncovered images of heading to a buzzing dandiya in Pune with my then best friend in college. We were so excited. And an acquaintance then — old enough to be our father — actually told her whilst twirling the sticks, “You have some knockers. Don’t you?!” When she told me mid-way, I couldn’t believe it. What’s worse, I didn’t do anything about it. Because I didn’t know what to do without creating a scene! And I couldn’t because I was ashamed. Have I forgotten? No. Buried it, maybe. Forgiven – definitely not.  Neither him. Nor me. It’s possibly one of the reasons I have never again picked up the Dandiya sticks to cavort on the Navratri beat. Today, much like Taapse, I wish I had raised my voice and created a scene.

It reminds me of why I dislike walks during dusk or dawn. Earlier favourite parts of the day – now a tough moment to negotiate whether in Iceland or in Koregaon Park! Ever had a cyclist grab your breast when you were walking down a quiet Prabhat Road lane? Or have someone bite off your cheek when climbing the Tekdi near Law College because there was nobody around at 6.30 in the morning? I hit some. Missed some. And in some instances of being eve-teased or the day a best friend’s cousin stalked me, I have come back and changed into a salwar-kurta. Almost punishing myself like I had brought on any of this onto myself.

What I don’t have an answer to: Why are we women taught to dress down? Told to learn karate? Learnt not to smile too much at a boy, lest he gets ideas! Why, even as a city, supposed to be as safe as Pune is – every woman – no matter what her age is — will have an instance like this to narrate? Why will we under the garb of festivals and rituals encourage more such? When will women stand up and stop participating and start talking about it?! And I wonder if we have got Tilak’s legacy completely just all wrong!

So as I watch Ganapati Bappa being drowned and friends raise issues about noise, pollution, traffic on their Facebook timelines and spout tweets – I wonder when will we talk about the uncomfortable and the darker side of this supposed auspicious side of gulaal? For now, I am mustering courage to go watch the gut-wrenching Pink!

A Cut Above The Rest
Even as Indian fashion designers make their way across the world – what we love is finally having one of Pune’s own showcasing her wares at a crowded and prestigious exhibit. Ex-model and Pune’s very own fashion designer Hina Madhumal is finally taking the big step to bring her fledgling brand to Dubai’s Design One in October. In its 7th year curated with A-list Indian and Middle Eastern brands, her clothes will rub hangers with industry veterans like Abu Jani, Sandeep Khosla, Monisha Jaising, Verandah, Payal Singhal, Amrapali, Isharya, Outhouse and more. Given textile made for her, her structured lines and classy tour, we are sure Pune’s fashionistas will pick this one off quick.

Not Kidding!
Mom-preneurs Shachi Munot and Vanita Bora host the fourth edition of KidVenture at Westin – a curated showing of 40+ brands. What’s interesting is the workshop zone created for kids, which offers interesting activities like dream catcher viewing, mosaic art, puzzle making, recycled diyas, magazine art, science fun and more, so the mom’s can shop! “Nothing like this was available in Pune,” say the two mom’s. Given they have already got sponsors lining up, we think this is one you shouldn’t miss!

Doing their Bit
MobiTrash said bye to the Bappa in their own way! By collecting 95kg of Nirmalya from various pandals of Kondhwa, Hadapsar and Balewadi in Pune and treating them in their vans. This is one we like!

Nidhi Taparia

Nidhi Taparia

Nidhi Taparia wears many hats -- digital expert, entrepreneur, writer and coffee junkie -- with ease. A weekend Puneite, Nidhi left the city 16 years ago to fall in love with Mumbai – but Pune still is her first crush. The views expressed here are personal. Diary of a Weekend Puneite appears every Saturday.
Nidhi Taparia