The other day, when the car was at a traffic light, I noticed a young couple, a newly-wed couple on bike. They would have looked like any other young couple on a bike except that the girl had her arms full of red bangles. They both were dressed in jeans and Tees. Normally, we don’t mix Western attire with Indian traditional accessories like glass bangles especially with the fear of being labeled behenjis. The only time you see women do so is when they are newly married.

She was clinging to him and they seemed quite unaware of the others around them. The sight brought a smile to my lips and then ensued a soft conversation with the husband. Indeed, the days right after marriage are brushed with magic dust. The newly-wed couple has only eyes for each other — the stolen glances, the not-so-accidental touches, when every joke seems funny and when every tantrum leads to the making up of the best kind. πŸ™‚ And women, they dress to please. They are also happy to flaunt to the world their marital status. I remember I did that.

I remember I had quietly removed my toe rings that hurt badly right on the day I got married. My mother would have gone crazy had I told her. She always wore those silver toe rings and sindoor in her hair parting. Being North Indians, mangalsutra was not a big deal for us till Ekta Kapoor’s serials made them fashionable.

Anyhow, being brought up in Bombay, I was snooty about fashion. Who wears braids and bindis with jeans? Ugh! But here I was after my wedding, flaunting my hennaed hands with those same symbols that I had stayed away from – bangles, mangalsutra and sindoor even with my Westerns.

Luckily, there was no social media back then, and my mind wasn’t reeling with opinions that called these derogatory, demeaning, patriarchal and so on and so forth. In a sense, I had the choice to do what I wanted, what made me feel happy instead of doing something to make a statement.

While we always complain about the judging we all face in real life from neighbors, the dreaded aunties and from relatives, hardly anyone speaks of the judging that the virtual world subjects us to. There are certain known stands on subjects, many times aggressive that are favored by the social media. God help you if you share an opinion to the contrary. You would not know what hit you.

There are only few right/ politically correct opinions about dressing, marriage, premarital sex and so on and so forth. Just witness the hullabaloo that happens every Karwa Chauth, it would feel as if you are the betrayer of the entire womankind because you wanted to fast. I have stopped a few years ago, and when I did do it, it was out of my own free will. But the liberated types would not hesitate to sneer at you. That despite you and they meaning nothing to each other.

So, I am glad that just like I did so many years ago and even now, this girl on the bike chooses to do what makes her happy. Everything in life is not for effect. Some things are done spontaneously without a caring for what others may think.

Pic courtesy:

44 Thoughts on “The woman on the bike

  1. True…I am not sure why people make such a big deal of combining Indian and western dress and desi symbols like Bangles, mangal sutra etc. We are a globally aware nation and fusion is bound to happen. None of the ethos are better or worse than the others.

    And you did took us down the memory lane to those magical newly wed days πŸ™‚

    • You don’t know about the fashionable types, Prasad. They are generally very unforgiving. πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoyed the reminiscing. πŸ™‚

  2. Dekho, when I get married, I am going to be forcing my wife to wear all her “suhaag ki nishaanis”. I have too much respect for Ektaji and the values she has taught us.
    Of course, I will relent if my wife bashes me on my head and tell me to bugger off.

  3. Rickie ji ka comment has me in splits.
    Such a sweet post Rachna. Choice is the key word for me.
    Kindly elaborate on the making up of the best kind. πŸ™‚

    • hahaha Alka. Rickie can do that to any topic, na. Thanks for liking the post. Indeed, for me too. Though it may not have been always earlier. Arre, you want my sanskaari blog to turn X-rated? Isharon ko agar samjho, raaz ko raaz rehne do. πŸ˜‰

  4. You know what – this would make a much better post to ‘describe’ the whole #mychoice thing than the Deepika video.
    Sweet post, Rachna. And yes, people these days seem to go overboard with everything.

    • I am glad you connected with and liked the post, Sid. I sometimes feel sick with all that goes on social media. Perhaps, I am a part of the same game too. But, these days I do try to hold back. It is really silly how much and how often we intrude and pass judgments even on perfect strangers.

  5. I have always done what I felt right, whether it is wearing/sporting any piece of jewelry, style of dress anything. Being married or not married has nothing to do with it. I used to enjoy wearing toe-rings even before marriage and I did wear them as and when I pleased. I have never allowed anyone (least of all any social media or any other media) to dictate my choices in this area. Why should I? I think all this stuff about mixing this or that style is really all about a person’s choice, her/his business. Why should anyone even comment on that? I just don’t understand. Or maybe I am living too far away from the maddening crowd because nobody in my circle ever tells me what I should be wearing or not wearing πŸ™‚ Not even my family!
    This reminds me of something else. When my younger sister was widowed at the age of 25 nobody in the entire extended family even remotely suggested that she needed to give up dressing up or any other makeup or this or that piece of jewelry. My mother in fact encouraged her to do as she pleased, when after a first few weeks she felt a bit awkward wearing bright red dress for some outing. I think ultimately it all boils down to what feels right and true. And that definition can be decided by only the person concerned, the person entitled to make that choice – that is you yourself, or at the most those few people whose opinion matters to you. Because if they really love you they will never ever take away your autonomy. Dressing after all is just that, an outer dressing. The real you is inside you. That’s where all the freedom has to be gained first.

    • I am so glad that you are the person you are but more than that you are surrounded by a wonderful family. I think our immediate family not only makes our core behavior but also influences how we are in our own lives by their behavior. I was lucky to have a very strong father who did not really care about what others said. His own behavior has been the guiding force in my life to stand up for what is true, just and fair. But unfortunately, I have seen a lot of extended relatives and other folks who are still shackled with what will society say. The story you shared of your sister is heartening. It brought back memories of another widow, much older, a relative, who wanted to go to her husband’s funeral. Her wish was shot down by an elderly lady saying women don’t go to funerals. I stood up for her but shock of shocks, this lady’s own daughter told me to lower my voice and show some respect (to a random elderly lady who was stopping her own mother from going to her father’s funeral). Imagine that! I would have thought that a daughter, a married daughter, would understand the pain of her mother. But, it was not to be. I have many such incidents to narrate. Women my age are very finicky about who they invite for religious functions sometimes putting a word beforehand to not bring my widow mil. It makes me sick. Of course, I respect their sensibility but I don’t go myself. So, I guess the freedom is often not for all to take.

  6. I have seen people being shunned for having opinions on social media so often, it is actually scary. “Choice” is a very misused word now a day and even “feminism”. I believe in doing as I please and have always done what I wanted to.

    • While that is one side of coin, Jaibala, shunning people with strong opinions, there is another side of social media bullies who steamroll their opinions everywhere. They have an opinion on everything and everyone especially stuff that really does not concern them. I agree ‘choice’ is a much abused word and it does not exist in isolation. It is always related to someone else’s wishes. I just wish that we stop bending over backwards for every Tom, Dick and Harry and keep our circle of influence small and restricted to those who really matter. I am glad you are your own person. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. “Behenji” and “Aunty” — 2 words that scare most Indian women! πŸ˜€
    I’m quite amused by all this. What’s right and what’s not… it’s all in our minds. Most people are just so conscious about how they look that they rarely ever notice how the others look. I see very few Indians actually doing what they want to do, be it their choice of career, or their choice of attire or their choice of life partner. Kudos to you for refusing to become a cookie from the cutter!

    • Yes, we have to break this vicious cycle of worrying about what others think of us. Once we do that, we can live freely and happily. Thanks for coming by.

  8. This took me down the memory lane too. I loved wearing chura after marriage with sindoor, toe rings etc. It is a beautiful and a magical phase of life, actually πŸ˜€ Thank God we didnt had too many judgmental people breathing down our necks, then. The absence of social media did not let our acquaintances and the long lost friends pry too deeply in our lives. But the amount of intolerance and aggression that is seen on social media now-a-days is scary!

    • So true, Shilpa. Especially what you said about acquaintances, nosy distant relatives and random people judging us for everything we do. I guess sharing our lives on social media has its own hazards. It is scary I agree, the intolerance, anger, even abuse I see on social media.

  9. You nailed it. Whether we do something or stop doing it, it is our choice. No one else can make decisions for us. People talk, there is nothing we can do about it, but we can make sure that the talks dont bother us.

    • Thanks, Ashwini. Yes developing a thick skin and also knowing which people’s opinions to worry about makes a huge difference to our own happiness and freedom.

  10. Lovely post Rachna.
    I got married 2 years back so could easily relate to it.
    Reading it bought a smile on my face specially the first part.

  11. Applause for – we did what made us happy and not to make a statement.

    Feel free to have an opinion but respect choices other people make has become a forgotten art.

  12. Oh! absolutely wonderful, Rachna!
    What a great thought and post!
    I couldn’t agree more:)

  13. Rachna, your post aptly conveys the message ‘Live life as you wish, be true to yourself ‘. If you like to wear a chura or a bindi with a jeans so be it.

  14. Happy days – that’s what the couple are in at present πŸ˜€ It is not so strict here that we have to wear so many bangles after wedding as it is in the North. But I have always loved those red and white bangles πŸ™‚

    • Yes, they are. πŸ˜€ I do love the red bangles, actually I love a lot of glass bangles. But I do only wear them mostly with saris. πŸ™‚

  15. Those magical days. Sadly, I didn’t do any of it. Just be and do whatever you want to – should be our only mantra.

    • Yes, it should be. But I guess every family and its circumstances are different. People’s obsession to conform to others’ wishes is what I find puzzling. You just can’t please all.

  16. rama on May 16, 2015 at 4:18 pm said:

    Even I stopped doing certain things long time back. I felt so liberated after giving them up. Some things which I do, may shock many people, but I don’t care. It is my life, and my beliefs that matters to me. Wearing anklets and toe rings look so nice, but they are also so irritating.
    And regarding riding Motor cycles, I used to have two female students in my aerobics class who used to ride motor cycles very well. Many times I have sat behind them, and I felt so proud of them.
    I like people who shed their stereo type roles and do what they want to do without a care in this world.

    • I would love to know how to ride a bike. Riding pillion I’ve done very often. Absolutely, more of us need to live our lives instead of just trying to please all and sundry.

  17. You nailed it, Rachna. The social media craze, criticizing each step and sneering at every comment as if one has no right to do anything just for the sake of her/his own pleasure. I remember some posts on Mother’s Day where people were actually sniggering at the abundance of status updates about mothers!

    • Yes, it is sickening at times. Seriously, it is just filling me with a deep revulsion for social media. The constant sniggering as you mentioned. We seem to have become quite intolerant and ill mannered as well.

  18. Oye…I do wear my bindi on jeans, saris, skirts, dresses any kind of western wear you name it. And I am judgmental….admit it shamelessly. Hehe…but I never say it on their face though. keep my opinion to myself. I know almost everybody does it..big deal. Do what you please, why even bother what ppl think?

    • So you know how many people are considering you behenji. πŸ™‚ Of course, we all judge. I do it all the time. My only point is that we must keep those opinions yo ourselves. It will spread less negativity. As for each of us, do what we want so long as it does not trample on the happiness of our loved ones.

      • Hahaha…ask my colleagues about it. They are tired of teaching me fashion. And you know, it doesn’t look that odd with bhindi and all these dresses πŸ˜›

        • Hehe It is very common in the South this bindi thing. Personally I wouldn’t do it. But if you like doing it, by all means. Who cares what others think?

  19. Own happiness as long as it does not interfere with others lives is most important:)

  20. What a sweet post and I relate completely! It is all about choices, like you said. We are quick to judge sometimes. We had gone to the Panchayat office to get our marriage certificate, when we saw this newly wedded couple and the girl was wearing jeans and tee and wearing all the gold ornaments from her wedding day – like, a couple of big gold necklaces, a dozen gold bangles on each hand, huge gold earrings…hubby and I found it very amusing. And I actually had to put in an effort to not laugh out loud and seem rude. Now when I think of it after reading your post…well, choices! πŸ™‚

  21. And yes, some strange phenomenon is stopping blogger from letting me know about your blogposts..! What could it be, I am not getting any new post updates. My dashboard tells me Manhood or machismo stereotypes was your last post. :-/

  22. aww the sweet couple. I loved those moments of wearing bangles and sindoor and mehendi and how every day the bangles would break while doing the dishes πŸ˜›
    I judge people on the way they talk. I don’t say it but if I dislike something in my mind I would be pyscho analysing to the roots as to what went wrong with them.
    Back in India I had to explain that Karwa Chauth is not even in my culture, why should I fast… they would go “You are lucky”. I could only ask – Then why are u even doing it.

    • I get you. I do the psychoanalysis bit myself. I guess it is human to judge. What I am against is blatantly expressing one’s opinion especially a negative one to another.

Do not leave without commenting. I love a good conversation :).

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