Kanya Kumari to Kolkatta
Come December and Goa used to be thronged by the ‘Hippies’, a popular term which Indian aunties have described the western folk who ‘‘bared all’ on the golden beaches. Look at her, someone would nudge at the temple, pointing to a girl in a mini skirt with a huge backpack. She looked only sixteen. ‘’Their parents leave them alone and then they do these vulgar things’’. I didn’t’ bother listening to the remarks. For the seven year old me, the girls were awesome, travelling alone in a foreign land.
In fact there may be so many Indian ladies young and old consumed by the wanderlust and yet whose dreams are shunned. Why? They are women.
How will my Beti go alone? The question parents ask so often has broken many a dreams.
School in faraway place? No.
College in different town? No, will she be safe? Will get into bad habits.
Job in different town? Nahi… koi baharwala ladka mil gaya toh.
Achha, sasural in different town? Hesitation. Pata nahi kaise log honge!
I agree safety is a concern but overprotection is yet another. Today education for girls is no longer a debate but I appeal to the new age parents of today – let your daughter roam freely in her own city, let her commute late hours from work, take that week long education trip, go for a hike in sahyadris, stay in a camp with boys and girls and travel to different parts of the world by herself.
The more you let your daughter roam about freely, others will follow suit and the society will be not surprised to see women walking confidently at 12 midnight. For those who can afford, give your daughter a travel gift as she turns 16, let her go solo or in a group or an exchange program. No, it does not have to be ‘phoren’ , there are so many beautiful places to see in India itself. Let the girl from Sikkim know the ways of Marathi household and Tamil enjoy eating dhoklas as much as idli sambars. Imagine how much this will be contribute to national integration ! Yet we refuse to send our Kanya Kumari all by herself to Kolkatta !! We are sadly not assured of safety in our own motherland.
You are buying her gold for her birthday? Create a travel investment fund along with her education plan instead. She will certainly glitter on her wedding day, enriched with her experiences from travel and what a graceful bride she would be having interacted and mingled with different cultures.
Am I going the movie ‘Queen’ way, you may ask? Somewhere around, perhaps reinforcing it. I did not strike 100% chord with the movie, maybe because I have encouraging parents and I have travelled in groups and bit on my own. But I did hit a note when ‘Rani’ stays in a hostel with boys. I have good friends who are boys and after many ‘zordaar’ planned trips and subsequent drop out in numbers, my dreams of Zanskaar in Ladakh or attending a concert in Bangalore have flopped .
I could have gone ahead with those trips but I would be the only girl !! ‘’ Come na, whats the problem?’’, ‘’Areeyyy’’’ and I would give some excuse… What a touchy subject to bring up at home! Although my parents knew who the ‘’boys’’ were, I could never get myself to ask them about it. Well, we have a long way to go….
Why am I advocating travel for girls? Karan ‘Mulgi Phirli, Pragati Zali’.
6 July 2014