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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thumkas at Dusk


My friend Happy has recently had a close encounter of the third kind. At a wedding, he found a eunuch being ostracized by everyone, and being the wonderful human being that he is, Appy not only stood up for the person, but also danced with him on the dance floor. I read about this in his blog, where he refers to the person not as a eunuch but as a transgender (Happy is nothing if not politically correct, although he is not as observant in regard to biological accuracy.)

Albeit on a much more mundane plane, I too had an interesting encounter on my way home from office last Saturday, when a group of four young prostitutes got on my bus. How do I know they were prostitutes? Well, for one thing, that’s exactly what they were calling each other (rand, not prostitute).For another, one of them kept grabbing & lunging at another one’s breasts, amidst raucous laughter and unrepeatable obscenities from the other two, Then there were these glittery bindi-like things they were wearing all over their faces…

In all of my two and a half decades, I’ve never really seen a prostitute up close. I had imagined them, from various literary sources, to look old and weary, half-eaten by diseases and by the wickedness of their world. But these girls were young, quite healthy, and if I ignored the horribly gaudy make-up, two of them were rather pretty. And here I was, sitting in the same bus as them. Boy was I thrilled! My age-old wish had finally come true.

Once I got used to all the noise they were making, I began to notice the reactions of all the other passengers. Two middle aged ladies sat with faces so frosty that I involuntarily drew my jacket up close. The gentlemen too kept their eyes averted, but sneaked a glance or two occasionally. A young office-going girl next to me shrank physically in her seat, trying her best not to attract their attention. The bus driver kept up a lively flirtation with them, smacking them with the back of his hand, and getting thumkas in return. The conductor, however, was not so indulgent. He kept grinding his teeth and threatening to have them thrown off the bus. The offending party, however, was not a bit intimidated. When the conductor demanded they pay their fare, they sang back at him “raat ko ghar aake kiraya le jaaiyo” (Come get your fare from us tonight)
As the bus approached my stop, I got up to go to the door. The girls, standing very near me, obviously thought I was vacating my seat for them. This brought on a volley of loud and happy approvals, “Thanku! Thanku! Thanku!!”, and one of the girls gave me a thumka on the hip, while the others blew kisses at me. I beamed back at them, but I don’t think they could tell (my face was covered and I was wearing shades).

As I walked towards the connecting bus, my head was still whirling. I had been thumka-ed and air-kissed by a bunch of sex workers. Not bad for one day!

Ps- Anik claims they were probably not prostitutes, as prostitutes rarely drew so much attention to themselves in public places. I say that’s exactly what they were, young prostitutes going out to a movie on a Saturday afternoon, showing the world a finger for what it thought of them. You decide and tell me what you think.



Amritorupa Kanjilal also writes at Rivers I Have Known: Books, Reviews, and More. Please visit her there!  

19 paper boats came floating back to me:

sawan said...

well, i have to agree with Anik.. maybe cos i havnt seen any prostitutes seeking so much of public attention, that too in a bus..!! how wus ur day after that?? at many places a glimpse of a prostitute is considered to be a good omen before you start an important journey! i wonder why!!

Yayaver said...

I do not know what to say on this write up.I have read two different encounters with prostitutes on same day by you and my close friend.Both of you have different experince of their life. sawan His experince is very different and must read by you..

Yayaver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yayaver said...

I am not personally saying for sawan but for the owner of the blog and fellow readers go through the link given in previos blog.In last comment, the link of his experince is misntyped as sawan.I am sorry for that.

laddu said...

i dunno wat 2 say..have never encountered with any so cant tell wat it feels....

bluesugarpoet said...

thanks for dropping by my blog - I love what you are writing here! I especially like the way you think - observant, humorous and insightful...

as for the encounter on the bus...girls like that where I live are usually only out at night. But there are *many* girls here, unfortunately, who could pass as sex workers even though they are not. it's very sad.

jana aka bluesugarpoet @ postmediocre

musafir said...

Prostitutes are not born..circumstances force them to choose..either their close-one are not caring enough..or force them to be one for selfish motives..but the truth is they also have heart and right to live and love...the day they find their true love..they would not go back to it..there will also be scenarios where like addiction..money and feel of it gets them high.. such group will never return to base until they realize that body is lost in the race to time.. and then wish they had pledge their heart to someone than their body to so many!!..its akin to valence electron in an atom..which acquires energy and moves to higher orbits..and when it looses energy..it goes back to its original shell where the energy is equillibrium..mind is like these electrons..that gets attracted by these energies..public attention and care a hoot attitude..simply shows that they have broken off the barrier..like a khuni..feeling that ek khun ke liya yohi saza..soow khun ke li ye bhi yohi..to kya farakh.. but I believe in all bandits there is one sage waiting to be awakened..I love the little heartthrob..what I have and want to take care of it..

Minko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Minko said...

Interesting! Life is so myriad at times even with the tinge of baffling surreality,no?

To me, this incident seems like the trivial celebrations of life, not in my way perhaps. But that doesnot demean the essential force of celebration in a tainted survival.

Life is actually a fashion parade of colourful funerals...that's about it.

Pradiptaa said...

Well, it's a very difficult subject to talk, as I'll always end up having a debate, so, to save the effort, I think, as individuals we can do a very little, in order to change, we can only change ourselves...

Life always finds a way... But the way may be not so called approved by society, but if it can bring peace to certain soul... The effort is not wasted...

Shubhajit said...

Wow! That seems straight out of a B-movie. Joking of course. Very well written and delightfully humorous - that's the kind of stuff I love to read. Whether they were prostitutes or not is a different question (prostitutes can be quite loud allright, pimps are the ones who talk in whispers), the important thing is that there's beauty even in crassness. And I'm sure, a lady "grabbing & lunging at another one’s breasts" in a public transport, must have been quite a sight. ;)

As for Musafir, I'm sure he's in the wrong bus. Kindly disembark asap.

Quaint Murmur said...

If they were, I say good for them.
And I think they were- after all, they did invite the conductor over...
besides, I would no see no reason to shrink away from them- i believe it's a livelihood they chose for themselves- like the conductor and the driver, and the office-going lady.
so why should they be judged by our standards of right or wrong anyway.

Little Girl Lost said...

@ sawan, well, i got a window seat in the next bus... :)
@ yayavar, i'll definately have a look
@ laddu, well well well, aren't WE all high and virtuous,,,
@blue sugar poet, thank you so much, that means a lot, coming from you...
@ musafir, dude i really have no idea what you are talking about. maybe you should start your own blog and explain whatever you are trying to say there.

Little Girl Lost said...

@anirvan, that's what it felt like, a celebration of life... yeah, and the "part of whole" thing too...
@Pradipta, i agree, common perception can make or ruin many a soul.
@ shubhajit, i know what you mean by beauty in crassness. the important thing is not to turn your eye away from it...
@QM, i have a feeling their life & work is much tougher than that of other professionals, but this is all the more to give them their due place and respect

Leatherdykeuk said...

What a fabulous tale. What ever these women were, it was delightful that they were happy.

Jennifer said...

What an interesting post for my first visit! (Thanks again for visiting my site earlier!)

I love this: "showing the world a finger for what it thought of them"

Whatever they were, they seemed to revel in stepping outside of their "acceptable" role. If they were in fact prostitutes, they likely have difficult lives where they are looked down upon by others, so this show of a fighting spirit is, to me, positive. It means they haven't been broken.

buno mainak said...

i completely agree with anik.i went a thousand times in premchand boral and sonagachhi locality but never seen such a public flaunt in daytime.may be they r drunk,or....i dont know.but it's very unusual in kolkata.i dont know how it is in rajasthan.
but if they r truly rands,they should do what they did.this 'suchibayugrosto'society needs to be shown a middle finger.

ShantanuDas said...

You know what LGL? I am envious of Anik! He is lucky to have you!!

You have such a good observatory power of life around you and also the power to describe it so well and yet not making it boring by describing too much details (yes I also read the other post on Prostitutes by the other chap linked by a comment here- and I di not like his post for various reasons....let me not discuss that here!).

Reading your posts actually transports me to those scenes everytime and here too I could visualise in my mind those Rajasthni "Raands" cheerfully noisy and giggling and scaring the buggers on the bus. those who pretend to be prude and yet leer at such girls from the corner of their eyes.. and drool and mayb go back home to M**E!!

I liked your 'frost' thing.. haha- Ohh u have the humour of a Wodehouse!! haha!!

I think they were what you said they were. We cannot compare Kolkata with Delhi or Delhi with Chennai or Chennai with Mumbai and so on.. and debate that Prostitts do not reveal their IDs.. we need to imagine the LOCATIONAL difference! Buno Mainak seems to have accepted this difference in his comment. We cannot stereotype people or groups.

We need to first understand the difference in mind set. Eg we see Tamuilans here so very timid and respectful and god fearing and wearing decent clothes- which are less fashioable than Delhi -- in Delhi we will see revealing clothes and people are more outgoing and men always seem to run after women .. So do we conclude that hey Delhi people are more sexually oriented and have more sex than Tamilians? Yes we tend to do that.But it is not so Tamilians are probably more so.. if not equally so.. So one image cannot be mapped on to another to argue that they were NOT "raaands" !!

See you have to experience people in their origial habitats! I have experienced santhals at Bolpur (drank Hariya with them once under the moonlight.. siggh... what a beautiful experience it was~~~ )..so I know how simple they are.. and what they do.. likewise..

I have also experienced rajasthani people's -- Love for life.. and innocence. & also sheer honesty and helpfulness (ya ya Jaipur may have its eve teasers.. city after all and times change and after all lot of external influences ruin the innocence of people) . ... We have to know how rajasthani people basically are.. I have always seen Rajasthani people to be very free and simple and love life like. I was searching for my photo of a Rajasthani Girl-- a mere 19-20 maybe.. at a Brahmakumaris Place in Rajasthan I was taking photos.. she was in the utensils cleaning section she saw me and just came to me with a wide smile and asked me to take her Photo! I shot and shower her.. she saw and went away.. just.. baas! I am sorry I lost that photo! Thot it was posted on my blog-- anybody finding it can tell me please.. but i cld not find. it if I cld show you that face u wld have understood how these people are!

Unless you see the people, and YOU are seeing them so you may know what I am saying, you will not realise how free their minds are from city like inhibitions.. it was like a dancing deer that came to me.. took a bite from my hand and just went away dancing again.. So when basically they are like this why not? they can also be prostitutes- the basic nature does not change.. the environment there in their lives may be different than the envionment in a dark gully or whatever that other guy has depicted in his blog.[Incidentally Kolkata does have its share of "Dancing Colleges" actually fronting as Prostitute Centres.. at least it had once when I too got caught -- frankly I too went to learn dancing and I did not go to any dark or shady place.. that chap was inexperienced so did not recognise the signs! But I went to a place near camac Street a big house in a good locality.. and just asked a man outside where is the dancing class? and he turned into a Police man who said ahhh dancing class come I will show you!! Now when a man is bent on taking money from me! what else to do! Poor me!! Shit! Sala!]

But coming back to your post.. I have also experienced Prostitutes.. in a different way...so can comment here and which is why my comment is probably becoming bigger than your post!! LOL! . and I know some are really beautiful...lovely figures too.. and I am not even talking of High Paid Callgirls (who for those who do not know are also Prostitutes) you will want to marry them if you saw them in daylight.. Once I had developed a friendship with one.. [of course not a pretty one like that but normal like you see on the roads of Calcutta] at Calcutta and used to pick her up and talk to her..she used to wait for me only.. first time when i picked her she said 100/- and was getting ready for the assignment!! .. but when she realised my intention she naturally was surprised.. I just wanted a friend to talk to.. and thought of buying myself a friend.. LOL!! LOL!! Anyway I dont want to go into my reasons et al .. but I paid her sure.. gave her a bottle to drink also and a smoke also..but spent time with her talking and crying and sharing sadness.. and she too shared.her life with me. they are perfectly normal people.. capable of being like us.. [Ha.. I too THINK Musafir should leave the BUS!! Tcha!] and have sadness like us.. and happiness like us.. so what is so difficult to understand that ON THAT DAY ON THAT BUS they were just being THEMSELVES? --- And also accepting the fact that they were working for their livelihood!! And in the process tease a few men IN THE BUS !.. I am CERTAIN they Knew the effect they were Creating and Were enjoying it! I am imaginging through ur post and am enjoying too!! :-)))


Thumkas! Thumkaoed!! Air Kissed! eehhh??!! Hah! I wld have loved to be their friend!! Hah!

Thnx LGL.. for sharing this POST of LIFE!! True Living- people who enjoy living!

ShantanuDas said...

I did not mention this last time bcs i cld not recall the name so i asked and am here now.. This is to say that there are experiences in life that we need to live or hear or read about bfr closing our minds and concluding by stereotyping..

There is a place called PEDDAPURAM in AndhraPradesh 20 kms from Rajamundhry..

There are lines of houses .. very normal looking village, people working smiling. . You walk down you will feel as if walking in any other village.

You can walk into any house..and with a wide smile you will be accepcted in..welcomed.. you will feel at home.. you will be made to fel at home..usual Village Politeness- the one that is lost from cities..

In fact you will be treated like their sons-in-laws.. literally..

you will be given food.. bath, bed.. and even their ladies/ daughters..

yes
this is a village for that!
And they also have a tradition ..anyone who deflowers a girl.. will get lifetime right on that girl free whenever he visits..

[I have not gone there..but my local friends tell me this.. this too exists! Not just the dingy narrow streets and dark rooms.. that we think of!!]