Chai-Shy: JWB Chats With Jaipur Men At Chai Thadi
- IWB Post
- December 17, 2015
If there’s one thing all Indian households are familiar with; it’s gotta be ‘tea’ or as we like to call it, chai. We Indians sure love our chai! And seriously, what is better than hot tea on a cold winter afternoon?
So, how could we dare miss out on the opportunity to do something amazingly awesome on International Tea Day?! (It was on 15th December, FYI)
We at JWB thought, why not try to bring some change through chai? Chai is, after all, known to provide comfort in tough times, bring people together, encourage hearty conversations, and helps meet new people!
Hence, we turned some gears, polished the ol’ stirrup, and got set to launch our campaign “Chai-Shy”, at a thadi. Through ‘Chai-Shy’, the JWB team wanted to indulge in some healthy discussions and light conversations with the common men, over tea and biscuits. The subject for the day circled the various notions of ‘Women Empowerment’.
But, hold on to your hats! We were not alone. The common men got the opportunity to debate on a range of diverse topics with some of the most influential and outstanding women of Jaipur. Prof. Beena Agarwal (VC RUWA), Alka Batra (Chairperson FLO Jaipur), Apra Kuchhal (ex-Chairperson FLO Jaipur), Sumati Bishnoi (Advocate), Dr. Indu Arora (renowned eye-Surgeon) and Bakul Mahesh (Journalist) promptly joined us at the thadi quietly tucked in a corner, at Vaniki Marg in C-scheme.
The afternoon got kicked off by Ms. Apra Kuchhal, who put the campaign into its first gear.
We shared our ideas and our biscuits with a huge number of men, throughout the day. Catch some of the most fascinating and humbling snippets from the talks down below:
Apra: If women are seen at tea-stalls, the men would think that they’re gossiping. But, men at tea-stall are viewed as some English Lords discussing politics, business, life and what not. Why is that?
Rakesh Parnami: Yes, I agree that women are quite misunderstood. A man’s perception of a woman is very limited. But, I think we’re slowly changing.
Bharat Kishan: Madamji, to be honest, my wife gossips all the time!
Prakash Shivnandani: Yes, women chit-chat quite often, but men gossip too. I think the world is trying to change its views regarding women, only the speed needs to be increased.
Kailash Jain: In some sense, there is not a lot of difference between men and women.
Apra: Let’s talk about Dowry for a second. Where do you stand upon it?
Hari Lal: I will never give or take dowry.
Rajesh Mehra: I, too, am against dowry, but I have a daughter who is unable to find a man because all suitable grooms have unspeakably high demands. Now I might have to give what they want for the sake of my daughter’s happiness.
Krishna Kumar: In a practical world, if a man is a father to a boy and a girl, and if he was forced to give dowry at his daughter’s wedding, there is a 99% chance that he will ask for dowry when his son gets married. This is a cycle. So, yes, one family has the power to affect the different family.
Karan Bala: We want to see the change in others, but not in self. In the future times, when there will be a dearth of women in the country, the groom’s family will be forced to give dowry to the girl’s family!
Sunil Meena: I feel that families that have a business background tend to ask for a dowry, instead of those whose children have a professional line. The latter knows how hard it is to earn money in today’s times when you don’t have a successful business house.
Dr. Sudhir Sharma: Did you know when Chetan Bhagat’s wife was heavily involved in her career; he decided to leave his job to take care of their baby, to support her. Would you ever do that?
Rohit Tyagi: Honestly, if it were upon me, I would do it. But, my parents and our society would not accept it.
Many expressed their agreement in unison.
Lavanya: What exactly is society? Society is made up by people like you and me. If we change our thinking, won’t the ‘society’ change as well?
Sahas Rana: Ma’am, our society has changed a lot in these years. The change is coming, only not at the speed that we want.
Prem Shah: Change is currently riding a cycle when we all want it to ride a bullet train.
Dr. Sudhir Sharma: Okay, let’s take an easy example. Your wife would not hesitate to massage your feet when you’re tired. Do you do the same for her?
The answer to this question was evident on their faces.
Krishna Bal: I will never massage my wife’s feet because I’m afraid of what others might think. It’s difficult for me.
Sumati: You know what, I think that women have succeeded in evolving over the years while men are still stagnant. This mentality just points towards that! What power does a woman hold in your family?
Sharad Jain: My elder brother considers his wife as the “economist” of the family. He takes her advice when it comes to economizing a certain thing, but he thinks that women should not be a part of the decision-making process. He thinks they just complicate things by providing a lot of alternatives!
Sumati: But, isn’t that a good thing? Her alternatives might save a lot of money and time!
One of the onlookers chips in.
Rahul Mehta: Women just say the opposite that we do.
Gopi Daag: Exactly! If I take her out, she complains that we go out too much. If I don’t take her out, she complains that we never go out. If I try to hold her hand in public, she doesn’t let me. If I don’t, she would think I am not romantic. What is a man supposed to do?
Dr. Indu: Men need to find balance! Either they do too much, or nothing at all. Now, what in your view is an empowered woman?
Sharad Jain: An empowered woman has the freedom to make her choices. You know what, I went out and bought my wife a pair of jeans because she wanted to try one. She’s in her 50s!
A man with sunglasses perched high and gold chains around his neck joins in.
Shashi Mahajan: Only man can empower a woman. After all, men are superior to women in every way. God has made the man like that.
His views shook us up, to say the least. We all disagreed in unison.
Ram Sharma: It is important that men forget that they’re “men” in the first place. Most of our problems will get solved if this thinking gets altered.
Sumati: I want to raise another issue. Men want their girlfriends to be all modern and cool. But they expect their wives to be wrapped in traditional attires and be meek. Why?
Om Prakash: I think after marriage, a sense of ownership creeps in.
Sumati: In other words, you get the ability to control her.
The eerie silence got broken upon the prompt arrival of Ms. Alka Batra and Prof. Beena Agarwal. More men came, relished some more biscuits while chai kept flowing like a river.
This time around, the group of men sitting in front of us was quite different. They were Law interns. These were the most interesting replies.
Alka: So, young men, what are your views on the idea of gender equality at home? What makes men take dowry?
Harshit: When my mother got married, she suffered a lot because of dowry issues. So, I don’t know about the rest of the men; I would never take dowry. As far as gender equality at home is concerned, I think there is gender inequality in my case! I wake up before my girlfriend does, make us breakfast, and pack her lunch for her. And I don’t mind doing it at all!
Beena: And why is that Harshit? How come you don’t mind sharing the chores?
Harshit: Because I was raised like that. I think these ideas should be inculcated from a very young age. That men and women are, in fact, equal!
In the end, we saw many facets of a ‘common man’ while indulging in a variety of heart to heart conversations. They put up their points; we put up ours, and chai kept the conversation flowing. We tried to understand their side, and they attempted to comprehend ours. Change is only inevitable now! Well, we’d like to think that.
Dear men, don’t be Chai-SHY. Don’t hesitate to talk about these global issues with your fellow mates. Who knows, maybe your thinking can help light a lamp of wisdom in someone else’s mind, making it a step towards a brighter future for all.
Men and women both. #HeForShe
P.S. Mr. Sudhir Mathur dropped in by the end of the activity. He was driving by when caught us debating in the streets. We had a happy and warm conversation with this noble gentleman.