A Bouncer By Night And A Homemaker By Day, Ranjana Teaches Us To Hustle Sans Complaining
- IWB Post
- November 8, 2018
Diwali is almost here and so are the society’s boundaries that they have set for women only. This festive season, as we go by the tradition of driving away the darkness by lighting up diyas, why not we also do away with these gender stereotypes that restrict our women?
The culture magazine, The Swaddle, has recently released an exciting documentary podcast series called ‘The Night Shift.’ Created by journalist Kunal Purohit, it is a series which follows four amazing women — a bar dancer, taxi driver, Home Guard constable, and nightclub bouncer. These revolutionary women are defying societal constraints and patriarchal mindsets each night when they go to work.
Inspired by their stories, Indian Women Blog had a candid chat with Ranjana, who works overnight as a bouncer in a Mumbai club and at 34, is the youngest bouncer at her workplace. “I started as a home guard then got promoted to a security officer, and have been serving as a bouncer of 6 years now,” she tells me, exuding her happy-go-lucky charm.
In India, being a working woman is like living two lives at once. The work never stops, the expectations never end, and of course, time never waits. When I ask how she balances the two worlds, she very candidly replies, “It’s not easy. I hardly get 4-5 hours of sleep every day.”
Sharing the details, she further adds, “I get back from my duty around 6 in the morning, following which I have to quickly prepare the breakfast and Tiffin for my kids who have to leave for school at 8 every day. I also need to help my kids get ready as they are quite young right now (her daughter is 6 and her son is 4).”
She adds, “Once they have left for school, I have to tidy the house and prepare lunch. Thus, it is only after all the household chores that I finally get to catch a little bit of sleep. Then I wake up around 5:50, prepare dinner, and then get ready for my duty. I need to reach work by 8 every night.”
To add to it, she tells me that there are hardly any leaves. In fact, the festive season when most of us celebrate at home, the management at her club gives all the employees strict orders of not taking any leaves. “Diwali and December being the festive and holiday seasons are off limits when it comes to taking leaves. It has been two years that we have been to a family vacation because I never get leaves at the time of my children’s off days.”
“But you do get a leave on Diwali, right,” I ask apprehensively. Ranjana laughs at the tension in my voice, as she says, “No, I don’t. My duty is the only Diwali tradition that I follow. There is hardly any time to make any sweets at home so we get everything from the market, even for rangoli we have stuck ready-made paper stickers.”
But managing time is not the only challenge that Ranjana faces. She is a true blue Gujarati and the place where she comes from, the cultural scruples constantly resist women even going out of the home to work, forget about working at night.
Ranjana shares, “It took me a while to make them understand the nature of my job and understand it. My sister-in-law is still mad at the fact that I chose to work after marriage.”
However, it is her work place that posits the biggest of the challenges for Ranjana. “We have to constantly fight an array of challenges and problems,” she says. She is however glad with the fact that our country is finally opening up to the idea of letting its women work on their own terms.
Giving her own example, she says, “It wasn’t easy in the beginning but my husband’s encouragement and his confidence in my abilities gave me the support that I needed. He is never over-protective and knows that agar meri biwi ko galti se kisi ne cheda toh ek do ko peet kar pakka thaane lekar jaegi woh. (laughs)”
She adds, “Thus, it is very important that we support our women and invest the kind of trust in them that boosts their confidence and helps them achieve all that they aspire to.”
Despite the drudgery of a dual life, nothing about Ranjana gives the idea that she might be tired or exhausted. She is as full of life as one can be, and her laughter is so infectious that you wish it never changes. With her happy spirits and her love for her work and life, Ranjana is certainly a woman to look up to and learn a thing or two about life.
This Diwali let’s not just celebrate these women who are breaking the mold but also the ones who work through the festival season so that we can take an off and enjoy it to the core. IWB salutes the spirit of these women!
You can watch the promo of the podcast here:
For Indian women, going out alone in the dark has always been off-limits. The night is a Lakshman Rekha, the line that they must not cross if they want to be safe. So, what happens when women cross this boundary?