Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Shoe Bite and Walking Light

Someone stole my walking shoes last week. I am no Imelda Marcos. I owned just one sturdy pair. The Nike pair had supported me all through my arduous journey of knocking off a few pounds. I loved them. They had witnessed my agony and the pain in my calves as I increased my speed and then the distance and then the duration of my brisk walks. They didn't bite me either. They gave me my space. Toe room, to be precise. I was distressed. Who could have stolen a weathered, well-worn pair of shoes, on the eve of the New Year? As far as I knew, it certainly wasn't any of my neighbours. Most of them have fancier pairs. Our building boasts of tight security. So, it couldn't be an outsider. "Was it someone with a fetish for women's shoes?" my wild imagination asked. Whosoever it was, the shoe thief managed to make me more resolute about re-starting my walking regimen, which had been truncated a few months back, because of fresh domestic challenges.
I discovered the theft on December 30. First, I looked frantically for my stolen pair in all the places that I may have left them (I still couldn't come to terms with the fact that someone had stolen my lifeline). Once I was convinced that there had indeed been a thief on the prowl, I sat silently and mourned for my departed pal. The bigger issue was that starting my walking regimen from the first day of the New Year was my topmost resolution and it was broken even before I attempted to honour it. People walk—in chappals, sandals, stilettos, wedges and all types of footwear. They are the brave ones. I need my shoes. For spinal and moral support. I was mortified that I wouldn't find the time to buy a new pair before January 2012 arrived. My worst fears were confirmed, when I reached home from work, way past 9.30 pm. on the 31st. Woe was me! But, I was determined that I would be out at the crack of dawn, 5.30 am to be precise, and walk, come what may. I examined the four pairs of footwear I own. Though they are sensible, functional pairs, they didn't look like they'd last the assault on their being of a 50-minute brisk, purposeful walk. I needed a pair of walking shoes urgently.
As I racked my brain to think of a source, I saw my daughter's er... soiled pair sitting desolately on the shoe shelf. It had obviously not seen the outdoors for a long time. That we wear the same shoe size was a blessing. Never have I exulted at the sight of a pair of shoes, not even at annual sales that sell the best of designer brands for half the price, as I did then.
At the crack of dawn, when the world slept and the rest nursed a hangover, I walked for a good hour in borrowed shoes. It felt awkward at first. As if my feet didn't belong in them. Then, the nip in the air grazed my skin lightly. I shivered a bit but. Fresh air hit my nostrils. It felt good. I had begun the New Year on a rejuvenating note. But, my woes were not over. While the walk revved up my blood circulation and added roses to my cheeks, the shoes were unfriendly. They bit my toes with a vengeance and were decidedly uncooperative, as much as they could be on knowing that a stranger was wearing them. I still have the shoe-bites on my toes but now, I have a bright new pair of Reeboks, in white and lime green.
They are a snug fit. I haven't walked in them yet, but something tells me that they will share my new journey towards fitness. Also, I'm taking no chances with them. They are hidden away in a dark corner of the lowest shelf in the shoe cabinet. Away from prying eyes. I'm sure nobody will make the effort to bend down to fish them out. For now, I'm set. With Bandaid, a soft pair of socks and some grit. I love the lightness of being coming my way.

From South Mumbai to Virar, the mini rages

My response to the outrageous article in First Post:

If a person from Virar shifts to Bandra, will there be a paradigm shift in his outlook? What is appropriate or right is surely relative, born out of conditioning, the way we are brought up, the mores in the type of social set-up in which we move? Is the author then suggesting that a girl in a mini-skirt is more likely to be raped in Virar than in South Mumbai, because the outrage generates lust? Should she stick to wearing mini-skirts only in South Mumbai? Also, is the male libido more in control in South Mumbai than it is in Jogeshwari? Do we have statistics to support that supposition? What happens if a potential rapist from, say, Jogeshwari East travels to South Mumbai? Will his mindset change just because he's in a place where minis are a norm? Is it kosher for such a man to unleash his libido on a mini-skirt sporting girl on his home-ground? Do we then conclude that because wearing mini-skirts is scandalous in these god-knows-why-they've-been-chosen-as-examples suburbs, the chances of rape in these areas will be high and even justified? Are incidences of rape actually higher in 'such' areas? Statistics, someone? Should women who want to wear miniskirts shift to South Mumbai and assume that men from Jogeshwari will not follow suit? What should be the desirable length of the mini-skirt? How many inches above the knee will the Jogeshwari resident find appropriate? Do all Jogeshwari residents think alike? Or will there be differences among them regarding the length of the skirt and its appropriateness? How about our very traditional Indian sari worn five inches below the navel, with a blouse that exposes almost all of the back? Is that not provocative, because it's traditional and Indian? So, do Indian men from the suburbs think of women in western clothes as objects and therefore, fit for rape?  I think the author should walk the by-lanes of Jogeshwari and Virar and see for himself the huge number of women sporting the sari in a bold avatar. Is the author from South Mumbai or Virar? I ask because his own reaction will depend upon where he lives, right? Are education, awareness and a broadening of outlook are unheard of? Does the writer have a dress code for men too, both from South Mumbai and Virar? Is it okay for a Virar guy to wear a 'banian' and shorts in public? It must be. After all, women are not given to prescribing dress codes for men. They have better things to do. And they wouldn't dream of raping the man, whatever he wears. So, it's not the mini that needs to be restrained, it is the wild, uncouth male libido and the objectification of women—whether we are in South Mumbai or Virar. Get it? 

And the afterthought: Did you need a picture of a girl in a mini skirt to illustrate this obnoxious piece of writing? Where was this picture taken? Virar or South Mumbai? People, react according to the place you live in. Will this photograph be seen by men in Virar too? Tsk...tsk... Now what?

Really, how ridiculous can people get?