It was almost dinner time and these five women were at a Sev puri laari. Sev puri is definitely one of the most endearing dishes in Ahmedabad. Everyone comes with their own taste and preferences. Some want it spicy, some want medium spicy, others want more onion and some want it Jain. These women were eating with two 10-year-old kids, roaming around playfully. They opted for super spicy dishes. It’s only when you are two (puris) down, that you realise that it’s a little over the limit. But it’s generally too late to regret. While breathing heavily because of the extra spice, these women with a heavy rural Gujarati accent, they began contemplating about the next food place.
Janki: So what do we want to now? Let’s finish the Manchurian on the opposite side, while these people (the husbands) go and have their egg bhurji at their favourite place close by.
Draupadi: Wouldn’t it be easier that we too go with them? Rohan (her kid) has not had it since a lot of days.
Janki: No. I don’t think they’ll let us go with them. Gopal (her husband) said that women generally don’t go there.
Draupadi: Hmmm. But I went with a friend from the society, just last week. It seemed fine.
Rohan, who’s the naughtier kid of the two, and more of a talker, slips in and very playfully asks his mom, “Mumma, am I man? Will they take me along?”
Mumma and the aunties burst into an instant laughter.
Draupadi: Well, I guess you’re a man for egg bhurji, at least.
Rohan: But am I the man for the PLACE to eat egg bhurji?
Meanwhile, Gopal enters the picture.
Gopal: What’s happening, ladies? What’s the discussion about?
Janki: Well, we were thinking, how about we come with you guys for egg bhurji?
Gopal: I told you, darling, women don’t go there.
Janki looked at Draupadi for backup.
Draupadi: I was telling this to Janki. I just went there a week back and it was okay.
Gopal: Which one did you go to? There’s one near the crossroad next and there’s one near the city hall. The one closer doesn’t allow women. The one near city hall we can go but do you know how the system works there? They serve you in plates and they stock them at one place when you are done. Then dogs come, licks those plates…and..
Everyone’s face was put off by this description. Urmila was the most disgusted of the description.
Urmila: Omg! He’s right. Let’s just go to the Manchurian place, it’s right here. I don’t want to eat on the plates licked by dogs.
By this time, Janki and Draupadi had begun to nod in agreement.
Rohan: Uncle, Mumma said I am a man. Will you take me? Riya (the other kiddo) can go with the dalies.
Draupadi: The word is “ladies”, beta.
Rohan: Yes, yes, ladies. Uncle?
Rohan looks at Gopal Uncle with hopes.
Gopal (perplexed): Beta, you must be with Riya. She’ll feel alone no?!
This got Rohan confused. He did not want to
Ahalya: Wait. What do you mean that it doesn’t allow women? Is it written there?
Gopal: I mean it is not a family place.
Ahalya: We are in a dry state, Gopal Bhai, isn’t every place a “family place”!
All the women laughed. Gopal gave out a fake laughter but looked discomforted.
Gopal: Areee, I am telling you, you’ll all feel uncomfortable there. There will be no women!
Draupadi: We are already four women. We might as well motivate other women passersby/wives to join in, just by being there. Plus we have with us, our kids and our husbands.
That hit the last nail to the coffin.
Gopal (now restraining his anger): I wouldn’t recommend that but anyway. (He pauses.) You make the choice. The choice is yours.
Ahalya: Great. Let’s go then.
Gopal was done with his best arguments. It didn’t seem wise to continue. He had to take the final word and deliver the news to the other husbands. Their faces dropped. There are important reasons why ladies must not go to certain places. But how to explain them!