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One of the country's most famous women bloggers, Meenakshi has always been writing about life as a young, single woman in India. Refreshingly candid about her life and detailing everything from drinking and smoking to sexual escapades, she has won an audience that loves her bold style and can relate to her experiences.
As part of an ongoing series, we have featured extracts from both the first and second chapters of her new book, You Are Here. Presented below is an excerpt from Chapter 3:
IT WAS HOT, VERY hot. Actually 'hot' is probably not the right word to describe that day. It was muggy, the way only Delhi [Images] can be muggy, weighed down by the kind of oppressive sultriness that makes your clothes stick to your skin and no matter how many times you bathe a fine film of sweat gathers in your armpits and your cleavage and at your neck, and everyone and everything becomes unbearable.
Our flat was not air conditioned so I had bathed and stretched out under the fan for a bit to cool off and feel the water evaporating gently from my body. I still hadn't decided what to wear to the pool party Fardeen was taking us to later that night. It was about seven p.m., the sky just turning into twilight pink and shades of purple, and we had agreed to go for the party around nine. It was early for a party, but Fardeen had a morning flight the next day, so we'd have to leave the party latest by one in the morning.
I got off the floor to consider my clothing options again. I tried on my pink halter top in front of the mirror, standing in profile and raising my arms so my stomach looked semi-flat. The top was beautiful, except that I didn't have a basic cotton strapless bra to go with it. I have to be in the right mood to wear the right underwear and since I wasn't in 'party' mode I didn't want to bother wearing a particularly pretty bra, all cleavage and lace.
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Men believe in the myth that women wear all sorts of lace-and-wire underwear all the time, that their panties are always either thongs or g-strings or pretty little briefs with bikini straps. That is so not true. If any of the men I've dated saw me on a regular work day, when I knew there was no chance of any action, they'd be quite surprised. Normally I save the really sexy underwear -- of which I have perhaps two or three pairs -- for a night out or a date or some special occasion. Otherwise it's old, holey Jockeys, with the waist rolled down so you can't see them over the waistband of my jeans, and regular cotton bras with no underwire or lace. Underwire bras chafe at my chest when it's hot and I've worn them for a while and there's always an angry red line around my boobs when I take them off. And then of course if you don't wash underwire bras properly or you squeeze the water out too hard the whole damn cup gets bent out of shape. Half my underwire bras have little holes in them where I have snipped the stitches and pulled out the crescent-shaped plastic, which makes my breasts look somewhat lopsided -- one side all perky and in your face, and the other, well, almost there. Luckily, so far I've almost always known when I was going to get some, so I've had on my silk and satin feminine ones on all the right days. Cheeto did get to see me in my holey Jockeys and an ancient bra with a pink stain from an old T-shirt on one strap in uneven blotches once or twice, but I was so comfortable with him that it hardly mattered.
Sometimes I think that the 'comfort' thing is the basic problem with all adult relationships. When we stop acting like we're unique from our partners, the opposite sex I mean, then the enigma vanishes and we become regular people, the girl next door, a cousin, the girl who sat behind you in class. Who really wants to be that, and lose all the allure of being an unfathomable, extraordinary woman? It's feminism of a different brand, I guess. It was so much simpler when we were younger, in the in-between years, just beginning to realize that we were different from them. I remember how terribly tongue-tied I was around boys when I was in school, but it wasn't such a big deal because all of us girls were, really, as were the boys around us. We girls were still coming to terms with being 'young women' and the fact that our classmates, whom we had previously played with and shared lunch with and screwed up our noses at for being sweaty or loud, were now creatures to impress. During the first couple of mixed outings we had, I could never eat around them no matter how often I'd eaten from their tiffin boxes before. Heaven forbid they thought of me as unfeminine or, worse, a hog. So, suddenly, as they stuffed their faces, got pizza cheese on their chins and gave each other high-fives with every loud burp, we girls concentrated on looking pretty and smelling lovely and being inaccessible divas on our squeaky-clean pedestals. It all sounds very The Rules-y, but if you think about it those relationships were so much more functional, perhaps because we were keeping the mystery alive and growing.
My friends were the same way. One never brushed her hair in front of boys, the other shone her lips with gloss every three minutes and constantly adjusted the straps of her newly acquired training bra, and the third wept for a good forty-five minutes when she accidentally stained her school uniform. Being unused as we were to being 'women' or, actually, even girls, distinguishable by things other than the obvious, menstruation was a big pain in the ass, even more than it is now. Oh, sure it allowed the girls who got it first to lord over the girls who still hadn't by putting on big-girl airs but, as active twelve or thirteen-year-olds, what with sports and homework and all that, we always forgot to change the bulky sanitary towels on time anyway. Luckily enough, our school uniforms were a darkish colour and we covered up the unfortunate stains by pretending we had sat on ink, or, if it was winter, wearing our maroon pullovers tied around our waists.
'My life is like a bra that's been put on wrong'
'Having sex with someone doesn't mean you're connected'
Excerpted from You Are Here by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan with the publisher's permission. The book is 257 pages long and priced at Rs 199; it is being launched on August 15 by Penguin India.
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