Friday, April 25, 2008

Paying the Price

On Wednesday, A and I took a walk on the wild side. We left office early and walked into a new and happening pub in Andheri. I had, in the following sequential order - one mojito, one strawberry daiquiri, one pina colada, half a pina colada (A didn't like hers), one more strawberry daiquiri, one more mojito, and just to make sure that this wasn't an anagram of a drinking pattern, a mug of draft beer. We chomped on many nacho chips and impoverished chicken wings. Any guesses on the bill?
It was a trick question. It was all free.
Three cheers for ladies night!
As I struggled through the next day with my Bacardi White Rum induced hangover (it was for free - cocktails made with the "house pour") I was pouring over a full bench decision of the Bombay High Court wanting to sock it to the Chief Justice for his verbal diarrhoea when a strong pang rumbled in my stomach. I continued to read, distractedly, for the next ten minutes when it dawned upon me that it was time.
To pay the price for ladies' night.
Every month, this becomes the routine. I'll pick up my bag and walk out of the Office, the office peons will joke about how madam was leaving early, madam informs them that she'll be right back. I go to the ground floor to the pharmacy below my office and bark out my order.
The deja vu continues, I walk in and don't give a second look to the people teeming around me, a lot of them just talking to the Gujju boys who run the pharmacy and watching the greenish tinted TV for whatever cricket match is playing. I name my brand, the boy hops on the table to reach for the sanitary pads which are kept in the highest glass doored cupboard. The door is slid open and then the directions begin "no, not that one... no the blue one... not that blue, THAT blue, wait, does that one have wings? (the packet is tossed to me) No, I want the one without wings. Yes yes." The young man's acrobatics have successfully got me my purchase, he hops down and bills it. He looks at me hesitatingly because he knows I'm not done but he's too embarrassed with the situation to say it in a "would you like fries with that" tone.
I make his life easier.
"One strip of Spasmol Proxyvon, please?"
Spasmol Proxyvon has been banned in most countries, and I'm guessing they are all patriarchal nightmare regimes who want women to suffer in pain month after month after month. Nothing beats the cramps like the SP.
The old man who sits at the cash counter (in family businesses the oldest relative will sit at the cash counter. Its OK if he can't see or can't walk, but he's the only one authorized to return change.) gave me my change and a strange look, a very "i know what you did last summer" look. Puzzled, I recounted my change and then I remembered that I had come here 2 weeks ago to buy a Pill 72 for poor old Pooh to stop her from recounting the gory details of her not so safe encounter of the previous night. It was a look of "congratulations, it worked".
The pharmacy is populated by a family of identical looking kutchi boys who certainly have an information overload when it comes to me, at least. They know when I menstruate, the shampoo I use, when I have an embarrassing rash, my preferred brand of deodorant, when I 'forgot' to use protection and when I have a bad stomach. Of course they are sweet enough to be non judgmental about it all and act as if they've never seen me before in my life. Or maybe I encounter a different brother every time.

In the meanwhile the kutchi boy is busy wrapping my packet of sanitary napkins in newspaper. I've noticed this right since my early days. The packet is wrapped tightly in several layers of newspaper, and then put in a plastic bag - not just any plastic bag - but a black plastic bag. So when you are walking around, so one will look at the elongated newspaper wrapped package in the black bag and ever mistake it for a packet of sanitary napkins, right? It would save a lot of time if Johnson and Johnson just gave up on the birds and dancing women on the packaging and stuck to camouflaged packaging.

Personally I don't give a shit about hiding the fact (actually I did earlier, but one day I had the entire investigation team of an arms haul distracted by the bright blue packet which was peeping out from my bag, and from then on I decided that it was pointless to really angst about it from now on) and so I asked the guy to stop wrapping, to not give me the plastic bag (another routine which gets repeated every month) and I stuffed the packet and the pills in my bag and trudged up to office.

Growing up in a confused-brahminical-hangover household, where only one generation ago women were made to sit separately from the rest of the family when religious festivities coincided with that time of the month and clean their sitting area with cowdung, I was often warned that proper decorum demanded that men never found out that you were "down". My mother's father apparently never found out until she was well into her post-teens, that that too he was informed only when he asked (I never claimed to come from the sharpest family in Goa, did I?). This was what was curtly informed to me when, despite having been adequately warned about the possibility, I screamed when I discovered that I was, well, bleeding like an animal. That was also the point of time where I realized that I would never make it in the medical profession. In a 500 sq ft. Mumbai Law Firm Office, it seems a little impossible - right from excusing yourself to go to the bathroom, carrying you entire bag along with you, coming out with a small ball (again newspaper wrapped) clenched tightly in your fist, politely requesting the office peon to move away from the pantry sink so I can stoop down, open the cupboard door and chuck. The new office peon, a 17 year old sprightly boy, looks away in polite embarrassment, if there can be such a term, and continues looking away until I leave the pantry room. We don't have a trashcan in the bathroom - which I don't crib about, because things would just be more obvious then, wouldn't it, with the evidence "on display"?

Those 4, 5, or in the case of a dear friend, 11 days (her conciliation was that it only happens 11 times a year for her) are just the pits - you're emotionally challenged, your face is an oil slick, your back is busted, sex life screwed, tempers flying, you're bloated, dogs follow you around (at least street dogs. I swear this is true.) and even God considers you as non existent. So I shall have my free drinks and chicken wings and fuck all of you who think that it's a little excessive for being born without the Y chromosome. :)


Contra Bonos Mores said...

while on the topic...please read (if you haven't already)... - an all time favourite, even if it is a bit depressing:-)

Anonymous said...

Sheesh.. this is what I call TMI - Too Much Information :) The personal hygeine situation in your women's restroom is shocking.

If something bleeds for 5 days but doesn't die, I hear you've to be real careful dealing with it.

Ruma said...

CBM: I know, I know. It would be funnier if it wasn't so true.

Anon: I'm glad you realized that. :)