Tuesday, November 27, 2012

“Eiee Didi, Dey Na!”

Glad2bawoman an online media company, is a community for women who care. With over 69000 members, they promise to become even bigger and better. Presenting this very interesting anecdote by Rituparna Mukherjee, editor glad2bawoman.com.

That’s Bengali for “Give it to me, won’t you?” Sounds suspicious, doesn't it? Well it would have sounded infinitely more dodgy had you been in my place on a crowded Garia-BBD mini bus, fighting claustrophobia while trying to ignore the enthusiastic clapping of three boys-dressed-as-girls.

Trams have been my saviour. They are empty, relatively quick and comfy. But today I had to take a bus. It always gets extremely crowded post Jeevan Deep and this is where three thin, dark, promiscuously dressed androgynous individuals leapt onto the moving bus cackling with laughter, screaming and shouting. At first I thought them to be boisterous girls - I have been around today’s teens for a good two years during my tenure as a teacher and trust me they are all about exhibitionism. Most of them at least. They have no qualms about yelling in a public place, attracting attention with their revealing clothing and generally creating a commotion. But then, once these people were right in front of me, I could see they were eunuchs, or pretending to be to make a quick buck- one never knows these days.

They immediately established that they were going to make money off the people in the bus. Started clapping and gyrating in front of the passengers, using terribly foul language, touching them etc. The usual. And since I was in the first seat next to the window, I was the first to be targeted, of course. They targeted the man next to me first. Clapping in his face, touching his hair, poking at his shirt, they made loud comments about how he was wearing a nice shirt etc. Told him if he didn't give them money they would do the unmentionable. Harrassed him to no end till he gave them 30 Rupees- for the three of them.

I usually ignore them. Sometimes that works. When it doesn't I get rid of them with a tenner. I don't want to be flashed or harassed - hence I think it is far better I give them a token amount and they go their way. I was doing a pretty good job of ignoring them by staring out of the window when one of them touched my arm. I looked at him/her and something made me smile. I didn't feel anger or annoyance...I looked at the very boyish face painted with lipstick and dark smears of eyeliner and I felt a mixture of sympathy and glee. Glee isn't the right word. What I mean is I found them funny so I smiled. The girl/boy was taken aback - and returning my smile asked very politely for money. "Eiee didi, dey na!"

“Eiee Didi, Dey Na!”

This, after the rude words and clapping meted out to the other passengers, was interesting to say the least. Still smiling politely and in chaste polite Bengali I told him/her "I’m sorry, I only had the bus fare. I have one rupee left but how can I give you just that?”

Look I am a Gemini, I can sound extremely convincing while rolling my eyes inwardly, which is what I was doing. My sympathy for them had been turned into irritation - I am not a patient person and I was in a noisy crowded place with a headache. My sympathy has its limits. However, my saccharine sweet exterior worked. The boy/girl looked at me and raised a pencilled brow, saying in rough Bengali, "Eiee Didi, I know you are lying. Fine, let it be – hey your bag is very pretty – I like it!”

I smiled again and looked out of the window. Soon a great commotion began behind me, a woman had tried to stand up for herself and upon being refused, the boys/girls had predicted her first child would be born dead. Sigh.

So amidst frantic yells of "Who do you think you are? God?" and "I will bash your face in with my fist” and other expletives and foul language, I decided I had enough and got up to leave. These individuals had now cleverly blocked the exit and were swearing away to glory - in Bengali and I found the situation most unbearable. Everyone in the bus would get that treatment, they declared, no one would be allowed to leave.

I was wondering how to get off the bus, simultaneously fighting a wave of panic at being blocked in by so many people who were yelling and screaming as well as three nut jobs who were clapping to add to the din when one thought crossed my mind- that my very proper boyfriend – who hates swearing of any kind, especially in the vernacular, would have died a slow death had he been with me. Like most men in India, he is also terrified of eunuchs and loathes their very existence with a passion. And I smiled for a second imagining his horror at the filthy Bengali, the crowd and the boys/girls. And Yay! The boy/girl right in front of me saw me smile, thought it was for him/her, smiled back and said - "Oh you want to get off the bus – hey move, move! Let her off! Eiee Didi, I really like your bag!”

I ignored him/ her. But now, now I was really smiling - a very broad smile - as I jumped off the bus that had slowed down considerably. A smile had really saved the day-twice! I am going to smile more from now on - it evidently is a good way to get things done. With my smile and my cheap purple cheap jhola, I avoided being harassed and threatened with Bengali cuss words thrown in for good measure. If i had reacted with angry words and attitude, I would have been treated the same way as the other passengers. Instead, I had been let off the bus. A smile goes a long way. ‘Tis true!

Courtesy - Google Images




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31 comments:

  1. I don't know why but I loved this post. A simple nondescript incident but with a smiling message.
    My own multiple experiences have been harrowing, to say the least. Now all that rant cannot go in a comment and calls for a post. :)

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  2. Indeed a smile goes a long way. Loved how you have put down a simple incident above and it came with a message.

    I know one fact for sure, all fights come to an end with a simple real smile!

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  3. Well the smile saved the day...I guess they are also looking for somebody to look them as humans and not just some body to be taken pity or be scared of.

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  4. I always say SMILE and the world smiles with you ..

    Bikram's

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  5. Engagingly narrated experience, Rituparna, one that must have been much more irksome to the others in the bus than we can imagine. Thanks, Purba, for introducing her and for the info on glad2bawoman.

    Eunuchs use the loathing that they evoke to their advantage. If you can overcome that and enter into a state where you see them as human beings who are trapped in a peculiar situation, even if they are fakes, it becomes easier to deal with them. The curses have to be seen in perspective, and for a lot of people, the way out of those curses or the loathsome embarrassment is to pay up quietly. If you are clear that you do not want to give in to this form of extortion, without being judgemental or loathing them, and you are okay with any curses that may be sent your way, they actually turn out to be very human, very sad, but very human.

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  6. Yes, in the most unpredictable of places you find yourself smiling and the smiles working the right way. They always do.
    A wonderful post, rightly communicating what it is supposed to.

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  7. Here in chennai, We do have several encounters like this in electric trains... They are actually polite except for clapping and speaking in a high voice... Our batch students went to Goa as a tour this semester and on the way from Mangalore to Goa in train, we encountered a horrendous one who let loose her tongue. All sorts of rubbish words flew from her mouth.. That too in Tamil (She found out we were all Tamilians)... It was a horrible experience... And I am glad they let you go coz of a smile.. Indeed smile is a powerful tool...

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  8. Rituparna,

    Very true. Smile works wonders but only if it is from fair gender to them but if a male does it he had it. Lucky you are to be spared without any harassment. Take care

    Purba,

    Thanks for introducing her. Take care

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    Replies
    1. You are probably right, men should probably just hand them a note and politely ignore them. Then again, who knows, they might start harassing him for more money

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  9. Very well narrated Rituparna. Smiles are infectious for sure.

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  10. A positive attitude makes all the difference. Besides, how much does it hurt for us to smile?
    Kiran

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  11. They also want us to smile so that they continue their business smoothly. I think most of them are male and pretend to be like that for quick money. Their collection business is very huge and well supported by police. In Bangalore I have witnessed few times police collecting money from them. I can't smile properly in front of them,may be because I find it very difficult to make the air hostess kind of smile. I just ignore them and few times they tried to touch my hand and on that I just stared at them and said "pointing one finger at them, haath nahi lagane ka. jo karna hai karo, par haath nahi lagane ka" and it really works for me :)

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  12. Many times I feel,thank god. It's over. I passed them. Luckily, I haven't been harassed by them. But, why didn't the bus driver make them get away when they were making nuisance? You are right, a smile can go a long way. Sometimes, it works, sometimes, it may not.

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    Replies
    1. Nope, he stood and stared and didn't make a move to help. Neither did all the Bangali Babus didn't lift a finger to help the woman who was being harassed - Sigh, Kolkata!

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    2. Nothing unusual, be it Kolkata, Delhi or Mumbai. No one interferes, it is between the harasser and harassee, you see. People are the same everywhere.

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  13. I feel sorry for them. They don't have much of a life otherwise! I guess they felt nice to be on the receiving end of a rare smile!!

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  15. Smile does go a long way in any situation of perceived conflict or conflict. Well narrated, Rituparna.

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  16. Thanks everyone! Smiles are such powerful things wouldn't you agree? :) Rituparna

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  17. A smile can do what several words cannot. Lovely post.

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  18. "Glee" is definitely not the right word! I always get scared by their look, especially from the possibility of what u say "unmentionable" :). Once two such eunuchs threatened me to push me off the local train in Howrah-kharagpur line as I denied to pay anything.

    U did a Great Job :)

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  19. First sight at your post title.....with the bong flavouring,I confused 'Didi' to be the national sister holding this nation to ransom.The first paragraph lifted the hood off the misconception.However, both are equally intimidating in manner and demeanor. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Haha! I like the subtlety of your comment :)

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  20. Nice message there--smile your way through hiccups !!

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  21. Thanks, all of you, for appreciating my anecdote and thank you Purba for publishing the post :) Smiles for everyone! :)

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  22. Wow!! I wonder how you managed to smile at them... i usually ignore them when they approach me in the train or hand out a note when they touch my hair or face or hands. It is worse if they come when you are in a rickshaw!! I am absolutely terrified of them.

    Maybe one of them loved your smile!!

    But the fact is they make themselves even more outcast when they behave like this!! Or predict bad stuff for people.

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  23. your website is good, but always try to improve it or innovate and it’ll be even better.Take it as a Suggestion.

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  24. I don't know why, but I found it to be a LOL moment.
    :D. Also, I a lesson in dealing with eunuchs :)

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