Like every good Mumbaiker, I would spend about an hour and half commuting to work each morning. Once I got in, I’d perch on my chair, waiting for my colleague to arrive. She’d walk in about 10 minutes later, switch on her computer, rearrange her desk and give me a little nod in the direction of the door. And we’d get up in unison and leave.
I’ve heard about this from several amused (and puzzled) men. We call it ‘The Loo Community’. The question is,
Why do women go to the loo in groups?
I suspect the real question is,
“What on earth do they do in there???!!!”
It is a good question.
So what do we do when we ‘go’ in groups? Well….we talk. We giggle. We compare notes on men (boss, colleague, client, boyfriend, husband, friend). The sneaky suspicion men have, that women are having a good laugh at their expense in the loo, is correct. The washroom is a great place for female bonding. After all, that really is the only place the men can’t interrupt our thoughts or conversations. (Down with the unisex!!)
Frantic damage control can be administered and strategies discussed. Ever heard of the following? If it’s familiar, you’re probably female.
“I got an oil stain on my dress!!!”
“Here….use some talcum powder on it! It’s great for matting away all kinds of oils – facial or vegetable!”
And there are questions of earth-shattering importance which need privacy and seclusion to be dissected and pondered over. Such as…
“What if he calls here and wants to talk?”
“Say “Oops, I hear my boss calling!” and hang up!”
Sample the following titbits from real lootime conversations:
I tried some crunches yesterday & got a cramp. I hate these damn tyres!
Hee hee…bet he loves those love-handles though!
Yes well, and we play the fool sometimes too. One time we went out for a drink, the women went to the washroom together (of course!). There we discussed who was drinking what, who was sloshed, who could be lulled into saying something interesting in the present state of drunkeness. We giggled over some of the things the men were saying. Then we looked at the mirror together and appraised ourselves. One of them said
“Security guard is a bloody letcher…did you notice?”
I put in,
“Bully for him, there’s a bevy of beauties passing by after all.”
Rightttttt… she retorted,
“We look more like Charlie’s angels!!”
A minute later a sturdy matron in a grey salwar-kameez walked in on the three ‘beauties’ posing like Charlie’s angels and trying to photograph the mirror (without the camera showing).
Though coming back to the point, this loo community is really obvious at work. All the guys smoke and there’s tremendous bonding happening over a shared cigarette. Strangers walk by and ask my male colleagues if they could share a light and then chat like they’ve been friends for years. My cubicle neighbor (who is male and smokes) has the in on the office gossip practically seconds after it happens. When he gleefully accounts something that he’s apparently known for ages and ages and I ask him how he knows, the answer always lies in smoketime conversations. A few of the women smoke but somehow they are never included in this camaraderie.
But I don’t worry. We have our own version of the office grapevine. I’ve managed to get to know most women in the office, across floors and departments simply because we share the bathroom mirror in the mornings. Great friendships are born from that small-but-useful tip over how to get rid of pimples. Intellectual conversations start from a discussion on the best way to hide a hickey (horrors!…giggle giggle). An unexpected ally may be made from that emergency safety-pin passed over the toilet stall wall.
Female-bonding is a good way to start and end the day.
Here are my stereotypes of the men I seem to keep coming against:
The Bangalore guy: Ah, this one is my favorite by far. He’s not as snazzy as the Dilli chappy, not as driven as the Mumbaiker and way too laid back to be the staid Chennai-ite. He seems to give off the air of enjoying being dominated, which I as a Mumbai girl, excel at. On the other hand, one of my dear friends from Bangalore described Rahul Dravid as
The typical Bengaluru boy….goodlooking and so duhhhh
I don’t know if that is true but ah well, I like them anyway. Maybe I’m chauvinistic.
The Chennai boy: Very polite and courteous but he doesn’t open doors or pull out chairs for me…he doesn’t seem to realize that’s what passes for chivalry in some places. He also apologizes each time a friend of his mentions alcohol or meat. And then after a long conversation with this Mumbai girl, he figures he should treat her like one of the guys so he lets me in on the secrets of his booze binges and parties, cooking chicken in buckets behind the hostels. I finds all of that very funny but I’m not in the least bit amused to know that he thinks of me as the wild, wanton Mumbai girl….and tells his family (and soon my family) that.
Mumbaiker: I wanted to call this an alliteration-ical ‘Mumbaicha mulga‘ but I realize that this species cannot be called a boy. These are the babies born with wheels on their feet. I loves this city and its mad men alike but I wish that they would have some time to think about things other than work and success. I get along well with this type, obviously since I am their female counterpart. Still, birds of a feather do not flock together always….and I am rather bored by these men inhabiting the same self-centered islands that I do, believe that the sun rises and sets on Mumbai.
Dilliwallas: Aaaarrrggggghhh….I loathe this type and not just because the worst of my exes was one of these. Objectively speaking, look for the smoothest shaven cheeks, the suavest talker….the one who knows all the right moves and how to charm you (Mumbaiker would reduce all that faff to the functional ‘patao-tactics’). The reason I do not like this type is that they’re so blatantly MCP and that for all their polished English and modern clothes, I get the sneaky suspicion he admires my figure more than my intellect, that when he compliments my hairstyle, he’s just imagining that its easier to drag me by the hair into the bushes. I do have a few friends of this variety but the reason they stay friends is that they have not tried the above tactics on me…..which brings me to the conclusion that Dilliwallas are very focused when it comes to women and don’t waste their time (and charm) on leads going nowhere.
The all-over-the-place: For whatever reason, I haven’t been in a relationship with anyone who fits this type. But I am enormously fascinated by them. I think they’re very lucky for the multi exposure that they have. I find that they are usually easy to get along with, quieter with no burning need to express their opinions. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t dated them as yet.
The non-metros: Some of my close friends are from the non-Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai places. Several from cities and towns which are nonetheless not metros. I like them but I wish sometimes that they wouldn’t try so hard to prove they’re like me…..it really isn’t such a great thing to be a citizen of the metros. Easy for you to say…one of them said. But he’s the one who saw poetry in the high-rises here while I could only see concrete jungles…..in my mind that makes him a higher order human being than me. Oh, if only he understood!
What’s missing? Kolkata….ah….I have never visited this city or dated anyone from here. But updates will be up, when applicable! I don’t t know too many people from places other than the ones mentioned here so inputs would be much appreciated!