But, man, you hate single women. From my limited observations, you're entirely different around single men, with them you adopt a cheek pulling, hair tousling, boys-will-be-boys attitude, invite them over for dinner, guard your teenage daughters, but still look out for them with a parental twinkling eye. Bachelors have carte blanche in their flats, they can have women over, have noisy parties, and still be invited downstairs to the landlord's house for a meal, or something. You see pieces of writing about Delhi, where the single male writer is going on a rhapsody about their single male writer life. And while I'm not complaining (I got lucky enough to find one of the few flats in Delhi without an owner attached to the ground floor) I do think that as a single woman, I get a bit of a short shrift.
This blog post is triggered off by the fact that it is Sunday afternoon, and I just tried, very unsuccessfully, to order lunch. I called three places and was told my order was "too little". I am a small person, I eat small portions. They have a "single sized" serving on their menus, and all I wanted was to get one of those single sized things to my doorstep, rather than have leftovers lying in my fridge for weeks. Waste not, want not, isn't that the rule? I can't order a whole bunch of other things, and yes, I do think this is a girl-only problem, because I think a dude would be able to eat a lot more than just a single serving of something. (I'm generalising, but this is from watching a lot of boys eat a lot more than I would.) Finally, one restaurant took pity on me, and decided to send me lunch, but usually, it's a whole lot of, "Yeah, no, we can't send that, it's too little."
And then, this got me thinking about other ways being a single lady in a city not equipped for single ladies had gotten me down. I touched briefly upon it in this piece I did for the Sunday Guardian on moving, but allow me to quote some of the things potential landlords said to me as I was househunting:
"The door is locked after 11 pm, you can call if you want to be in later, but you won't be later."
"Here is the barsaati, here is the bathroom, our grandson comes to visit often, he's going to want to use your loo."
"I only rent to young women, but I'm concerned you'll be *ahem* lonely, all by yourself in that big flat."
And, of course, the classic, the what-we've-all-heard:
"Absolutely no male company." "But.. but.. I have male friends." "You have male friends! Harlot!" (Okay, slight exaggeration, but only slight.)
Then, of course, if one is having sex (which I'm not confirming or denying here, just sayin') then everyone hates you. PDA = Not Allowed, but this we already knew, being a conservative country and adopting the opposite of the motto "the whole world loves a lover" and turning it into "keep it in your pants, goddamnit, because we never think about sex, oh no, the reason we're overpopulated is because pretty fairies come in at night and bless us with children." The whole country, Bollywood included, loves a male lover, again the head shaking, eye twinkling, boys-will-be-boys thing, but as a woman, you keep your knees together and your protests loud. And even then, you must have done something in order to interest a boy in the first place. Harlot Part Two! Overnight male guests get tea in the morning, but I get the stink eye from everyone, including the help and random neighbours. Men have "male desires", but single women have to be either a) married or b) sad virgins. When I was younger (and this is a true story), and I happened to be in a car with a member of the opposite sex, within five minutes, there'd be cops surrounding us, threatening to call our parents if we didn't give them some money. TRUE STORY. Is it any wonder that the iPill, a morning after, emergency contraceptive only, is flying off the shelves? Another true story: in my entire life, I have only bought condoms ONCE, and even then, blushing with shame, mumbling a request, and keeping my eyes downcast the entire time, so the shopkeeper wouldn't think I was actually *gasp* having sexual relations. I imagine (I've never actually witnessed this) that when men buy condoms, there are balloons and high fives and woot! score!
And, that's the end of my Sunday afternoon rant, brought to you by my lack of lunch.