Beyond Spaghetti Tops, Sling bags and Dangles


When you are feeling low or depressed, what do you do?

Stick to that slim screen? Or browse through the idiot box? Check out WhatsApp statuses? Hide under your pillow and blanket? Lock yourself up in the washroom? Make a frantic call to a friend? Scroll through your timeline? That would be lethal, I tell you.

As much as our lives have become concentrated within the slim screens of the multiple gadgets we own, our minds too are becoming closed and haunted. Secularism, capitalism, feminism, patriotism, socialism, combined with debates on tolerance-intolerance, national and anti-national, this and that, him and her. You will not know how and when you get sucked within this whirlpool of power and politics. Only to realize that you have none.

Put that tiny bugger on silent and board a metro train with a one-way ticket. Best being the women’s compartment in the Delhi Metro. Observe people. Concentrate. Listen to the little sounds that join together to create that annoying noisy atmosphere. Phones beeping, pinging and ringing continuously. Turn this way or that way, hands-frees and selfies take prominence. Whispers, normal conversations and some screaming at the top of their voices. Romance, saas-bahu, breakups and make-ups, group study, fraandship calls, crush-waala discussions, bunk-waala plans. The mediators. The breaking news agents who have taken the oath to not let even a single soul unaware of the secret. The counsellors, the recipe books and the know-it-all’s. Cacophony all along.

And then the bags. The shiny shimmering ones to the badly torn ones. Gucci, to Vero Moda, to Saada Sarojini da Maal. Janpath ka sling bags to Shani bazaar waale shoulder bags. Red, Green, Purple, Mauve, Pinkish Purple, Orangish Yellow, Greenish brown, Bluish Green and the bland black or maroon ones like the ones yours truly carries around. Even the cream-coloured slightly torn ones sponsored by Rajat Basmati Chawal or Mugli Ghutti Paanch Sau Pachpan or Patanjali Aata Noodles or Nevla Chhap. If you are lucky to have boarded the train just before a long weekend, you would be privileged to witness a wrestling bout between a VIP and an American Tourister or a Samsonite and a Delsey. And the fancy backpacks with tiny colourful key chains hanging from every zip lock makes you miss your army green pittoo waala bag that you dragged from standard seventh till standard twelfth. This, irrespective of the years repeated in every class. Not to forget the good old aluminium briefcase that you took to Raju Monty Public School in Tilak Nagar with a slate and chalks inside.

Just when you try and escape an eye that caught you staring for long, you’ll again get distracted by the hanging earrings. Studs to dew drops, jhumkis to chandeliers, hoops to plugs, peacocks to owls, saddles to quills. Each one is absolutely marvellous. And each one a gem in itself. Not to miss the single anklets and the bracelets or bangles. Choose any colour on the palette and you’ll get it right here. No racial discrimination!

But what amuses most is the fragrance that emanates from the amalgamation of Lancome, Dior, Calvin Klein, Burberry, Versace, mixed with Yardley, Ponds Dreamflower, Nycil and Shower to Shower and a perfect pinch of sweat. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll find a fusion concoction of Nihar Shanti Amla, Neeli Bringadi, Bakson’s Herbal Hair Oil, Khadi Henna and Rosemary and Himani Naratna Thanda Cool. As it gets into your system, slowly but surely, climbing up the stairs to choke your nose all the way up to your brain cells, you cannot help but say a prayer for yourself.

Some faces are covered by a USMLE or a TOEFL or Complete Reference on Java. Some others hidden behind a Nicholas Sparks or a Haruki Murakami or a Jhumpa Lahiri or a Durjoy Datta. A few have booklets open. A Hanuman Chalisa or the Complete Word of God. A few don’t mind showing off an Economic Times or the Hindu, even if they are holding it upside down. Grihshobha, and Meri Saheli outdo Femina and Glamour any day.

And then the clothing. Georgette, polyester, silk, cotton, nylon, rayon or jute. You name it and you find it. Sarees or suits. Kurtas or Kurtis. Off-shoulders or halter necks. Knee-length or stiletto kurtas. Spaghetti-straps or strapless. Bells or bishops. And the veils. We are pretty accommodative!

This is not what they are.

If you look deeply, if you try to look beyond the superficial skin, you’ll find an individual. A single woman who is craving for a companion to share her everyday stories. A mother who is thinking of saving up for a bright future for her children. A sister who has fought with her brother to be allowed to attend college. A senior citizen who is struggling with sarkari babus for her pension proceedings. An ailing wife who wants to help her loving husband and children by wishing for an early death. A divorced parent waiting for the next hearing for the custody of her child. A super-cop in civilian clothes or an undercover agent. A grandma chanting Hanuman Chalisa or Durga Chalisa to ward off all evils from her family’s miserable life. A legal assistant who is going to fight her first ever case. A student who is worried how her parents will react to her below average marks in a certain subject because of change in pattern. Underneath the veil or the dupatta may be a young girl forced to marry against her wishes.

And this goes the same for all, irrespective of gender, socio-economic status or religion.

Each one is fighting a battle. Each one is looking for acceptance. Each one wants to love and be loved. Be kind. Be empathetic. Be compassionate. Do not let other person’s bitterness steal your sweetness. Agree to disagree firmly but graciously because not every fight is worth fighting. Life is not always about winning.

And by the end of this journey if you are still not feeling good about yourself, take a return ticket please!

This post was first published at World of Moms.



9 Replies to “Beyond Spaghetti Tops, Sling bags and Dangles”

  1. Oh this was such a beautiful read! I sat with you all through the Metro ride, savouring the sights, being overwhelmed by the intoxicating perfumes and watching those people who wanted someone to talk to. Lovely, descriptive, free flowing writing, Rekha. Absolutely lovely!

  2. You took me along the ride, Rekha… Like you said every battle is not meant to be won and some don’t even need to be fought. There is so much to concentrate on already that we must not let bitterness or bitter people ruin our peace of mind

  3. That was a beautiful ride. I have never been to a metro ride. Waiting for it one day.
    And like you said, “Each one is fighting a battle.”… lucky those who understands that and life live like that.

  4. This post reminds me of all my metro rides I have taken in Delhi. I was able to visualize every colour and description you gave and besides I also added random faces to those characters, faces and characters whose faded outlines popped out of my mind. And, yes the important message is to choose one’s own battles. Every battle is not worth fighting for. Similarly it is not required to get swept away with the negative tidal waves served by the news and various other media.

  5. I’m aware that you probably didn’t start this as an ‘exercise’ of sorts, but this is good example (at least I think so, for whatever little it’s worth!) of free and flowing descriptive writing. We were all there on the metro with you – even those of us who’ve never been on the metro 🙂
    And that’s saying something.

  6. I absolutely enjoyed this journey of people, thoughts and emotions. You know I love to people watch. If there were a Metro here, l would take it most often. But on those rare occasions when l take the bus or fly, l observe people. There is so much to learn and absorb and so many life lessons out there.

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