These middle-aged Indian men...
It seems that off late most of my blog entries are emerging from my flight experiences. On deeper thought I feel the reason is that this is the only time when I sit in one place for so long and am almost forced to observe and think as a result. Otherwise I have comfortably slipped into the habit of being almost always on the move, given what a hopelessly restless spirit I am.
Okay, so this happened on the last weekend when I had two longish air journeys to endure. The first one was theatrical because of the way I reached reeeaaallly late, was denied check-in and then miraculously allowed to board. But it was the second one that caught me by surprise. What happened was that I had this big bag to carry and I was struggling with it everywhere. When I could not keep it in the overhead bin after repeated trials, an uncle standing close-by offered to help, and I was only too grateful.
That over and done, I was assured that someone similarly generous would come to my rescue after landing as well. Once our flight landed, I stood up and looked for that uncle but failed to recognize him among the mass. In that process I saw two other men staring at the attempts of a woman in the next row as she tried to take down her laptop. Some passengers seemed to have kept their own laptops on hers and the poor woman struggled to offload them and take hers from the heap. When she finally succeeded in doing so after a good five minutes, the men looked at each other, grinned and exchanged sarcastic expressions.
My bag was kept far away from where I stood and I failed to reach it even after stretching far enough. Next to me stood a girl and next to her was another man/uncle who happened to actually stand right under my bag. I looked at him and I don't know why but I asked him if he could bring it down for me.
He had an outright 'no' on his face and still he looked at the bag and said, "This one? No, I surely can't." I was quite numb because I never knew people could say no for a simple help. From the corner of my eyes, I saw those two same men looking at me now. I told him to move so that I could take it standing where he was now. He willingly obliged. I started the arduous task but soon realized that the bag was badly stuck somewhere. This polite man volunteered, "Why don't you wait for the doors to open and crowd to start moving?" Already knowing that I was failing at it, I agreed and infact sat down.
When the door opened, I started my struggle yet again only to stop the crowd behind me as the bag was too big and too stuck somewhere for me to take it. Meanwhile three or four men stood behind me with irritated expressions. From the middle of the crowd, then, I saw a tall man darting out, and pulling out my luggage with quiet ease and putting it on the floor for me to pull. I saw it was a handsome 'firangi' (as I like to call them), dressed to kill, the sorts we girls ogle at. I managed a meek thanks as the crowd got moving again.
It is really surprising and disgusting in some ways when you think about the mentality of so many Indian men. It seems that they want to avenge the rise of women. And it seems to be mostly among the middle-aged ones. They seem to be extremely self-conscious when faced with situations where they are with women other than their wives, and they do not know how to behave, leave aside showing chivalry. They do not know if they are supposed to help/be kind/show superiority/be scornful/look down upon/act jealous/be sensitive etc. This was especially evident because the foreign guy seemed completely at ease with the expectations out of him when a girl needed a little physical help, even though a lot of us associate them with being callous men who have no respect for the fairer sex. On many similar occasions I have noticed just the opposite.
By the way, while I was struggling with my gigantic bag, holding back a mob, I saw the two staring men pick up the laptops. So it was they who had placed theirs comfortably on that lady's one.