It has always pricked my mind to ride a car to college all by myself. For someone trying to be considerate about one’s impact on the environment, avoiding this selfish, fuel-guzzling mode of travel seems like the least one could do. But when circumstances forced that to be the only feasible mode of transport for me, I started exploring options to car pool, so that we are at least sharing the load on poor mother earth. While this might make me come off as overly clingy (doesn’t she have other friends!), or a little psychopathic tending towards a sex offender (Cmon! Who offers a car ride without some ulterior motive, right?), I was doing it purely to share the ride with another.
And so, Tooti and I drove back from college together. She is a peppy kid pursuing her undergraduate course in bio-technology, and a great bharatnatyam dancer. I’ve noticed her before for her quirky whatsapp status messages and that’s exactly what got the conversation going today. “You reveal more than me and yet I’m always criticized. Why? A distressed crop-top asked a saree“
There began our ride talk and it went from the culture stereotype that a saree brings in, to even the 9 yard revealing more than what it should, to teachers always having to confine to the stereotype of being saree clad for being taken seriously. This was some ten minutes into the ride and I completely lost track of time or the flow of thoughta after that.
We spoke about sex education in schools, or the lack of it entirely. It seems that even now, the tenth graders get a gist of sex education, through a gruesome video that is cringe-worthy. We commented about our mutual disbelief at how little our parents are ready to talk to us about sex, and how most girls learn about sex from their friends or cousins, or the all-knowing porn industry.
We realized that the problem was worse with men, who are barely given information about menstruation and the associated problems. Most men see their mothers, sisters and even wives go through it and yet it’s a topic of utmost taboo to talk about. Imagine the quality of life of a married couple, where an entire perspective of the wife is unknown to the man, and they choose to not even talk about it.
“All my friends are making out for at least 40 minutes every day“, she said, wondering aloud if she did a mistake by breaking up with her boyfriend of three years. That led us to talking about pop culture and peer pressure and how it drives our relationships these days. Girls flaunt the ‘bases’ that they progressed with their partner, like a baseball trophy to be proud of. This peer and media-induced pressure is making girls like Tooti wonder if they were wrong by holding their ground and not putting out. “What if it was really love, and I should have allowed him to experiment?“, she questions herself.
We laughed at our parents and how unsure they are about talking to us about these sensitive topics. While her generation seems to have progressed and her father was okay about her watching a kissing scene on TV, I only remember awkward side-glances when someone on TV got cost when I was growing up.
All this talk made me realize that a major gap in Indian education system is the lack of awareness given about these real-world issues. What if each school had an S, for the Tootis and others in the school to go and ask their doubts to, and get answers alone – not judgements? What if the counselors in schools are able to build such a rapport with the students that they are able to have such ride talks, and walk out with a smile and a ‘we definitely have to talk some more’? What if the education system broke all stereotypes in the society and let children be children?
“Deep, man! I’m just gonna lie here while you rant about sex ed and what not. Poor lasses like me don’t have to worry about such things.
For us, the struggle is more real: like will I get 1 egg for lunch or 2.” Scotch