Saturday, March 2, 2013

Being a 'Mahila'...

Do I see the third generation athlete in the family??? Anasuya Devi on her sport's day ...

                Being a ‘mahila’…
Let’s start with being a ‘mahila’ at the two Mumbai airports first. Domestic and International.For some entirely illogical reason,there are separate lines for women at the security gates, and trust me, they are often longer than the several lanes reserved for men. This arrangement is obviously based on an assumption that far fewer women than men travel by air. And that one queue reserved exclusively for women, ought to facilitate easy movement for all passengers. Clearly , the mighty authorities have forgotten to remove their puraana  blinkers . Hello? Wake up! Have you not noticed the number of women on the move these days? Try taking any morning flight out of  Mumbai and you’ll see a serpentine line of long suffering mahilas, often with babies in their arms, waiting to clear the bottleneck without actually collapsing. Picture their plight : One newborn in their arms ( after a maiike trip to deliver the baby), another toddler  tugging the mother’s dupatta, not to forget a stroller brimming over with nappies, bottles, toys and other baby stuff, along with a back pack with more bachcha paraphernalia, plus a laptop bag. Also, waiting impatiently in the same endless line are our fierce corporate women dressed in no nonsense business suits and high heels. They are all set to rush to a meeting straight from the airport and rush right back at night. The queue has stayed frozen for over fifteen minutes. The conveyor belt leading to the x-ray machine is clogged with gigantic handbags ( look… women need their stuff, okay?). The person manning the machine is taking a chai break. The female cops in the screening area are taking their gossip break. Meanwhile, there are several babies screaming in one voice. All the men who had checked in at exactly the same time, have  finished negotiating their far shorter and rapidly moving lines , and are striding off to grab a coffee before boarding the aircraft. But we are still stuck in the blessed queue waiting for bodies to budge from the exact same spot .
 Is this fair? We don’t need those special made-for-mahilas concessions in such a scenario.Thank you, Finance Minister, we really don't need banks for women... .W e need more loos! We are good with regular mixed queues that actually move efficiently. That’s how it works all over the world. One queue fits all. Except in the Middle East. This is how it should be at our airports , too. If  jostle we must, let’s do it in a more equal way. I have watched foreign ladies shaking their heads in disbelief when they have been firmly told to go stand at the back of the line meant for women after they have waited for half an hour and made it to the front of   the men’s section. If these separate queues are designed to protect our modesty, it’s a sweet but essentially silly attempt. I get shoved around far more by aggressive women in a tearing hurry to rush past everybody else, than those poor guys behaving themselves in the other lines would ever dream of doing.  The clumsy  manner in which this system is working at present, makes zero sense. And amounts to reverse discrimination. Plus, we are at the receiving end of pretty rude stares and comments from men who mistakenly think we are in some amazingly advantageous situation. Relax, guys. Try crashing that line and find out for yourselves.

During peak hours ( and these days, every hour qualifies as ‘peak’), a harried airline staffer generally shows up out of nowhere and requests some of the women to go ahead and place their bags on the ‘other’ belt. Women push past one another to the freshly formed, shorter queue. Guess what? This is a totally dumb plan, because even if the bags slide smoothly through the x-ray machine, you still have to go back to the ‘mahila’ queue for the body search! There has to be a sensible way out of this annoying rigmarole. Why not more screening booths for women? And two or three x-ray machines instead of one? If discriminate we must, let’s do it intelligently. More and more women are travelling by air these days. Female traffic at airports is bound to double and treble in the coming years. Let’s factor that in and increase those wretched lanes to accommodate  additional numbers, or else us ‘mahilas’ will be left holding the baby… as usual.


Akansha Sirohi said...

hello admin,
you post has been very enlightening and full of learning...
I've been greatly motivated by your post....i m a new blogger and would greatly appreciate you advice and important tips regarding blogging
thank you :)

Pooja Rathore said...

nice to see the girl is Avantikka's Daughter or Radhika's...good pics and adds freshness to the blog i felt nice.
i hope the mahila greviances are taken into account and there is a change.... happy journey!

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Revathy Radhakrishnan said...

Shoba madam..This problem is same as our MTC Buses in Chennai.. There are exclusive seats for women... Interestingly other seats are occuppied by only men, as if they were entitled to it, when we question, the bus conductor laughs at us...As you say, we dont want special considerations, we want equality ...When guys working with pull the door for me, I wait and open it myself... :)

sriram said...

Hi, I went through your article in "The Week". Though very realistic and inspiring, it seems a bit vulgar and straight. Its a fact that women are not totally safe in the present context, still there are instances of fault and negligence initiated from their side, which ultimately leads to unpleasant situations. For example, the attire and appearance of present day women sometimes seems so provocative that chances of crime becomes potential. Just felt to share something from my perspective, if anything is there you wanna revert with, you can do so by contacting me at Thank you (Sriram Gade).

Aditya said...

Nice Post
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