MIDWAY: Gender talk

At the outset, let me confess I am as confused as the Martian who lands on earth, eavesdrops fascinatedly on us earthlings chattering away, then nudges its partner and whispers, “Hey, is this what John Gary meant when he said that men are from Mars and women from Venus?”

I mean, why in God’s name do women natter away about men’s eccentricities, babies’ burps, relationships, jewellery, clothes and stuff? While those ‘eccentric’ males speak about Ronaldo’s genius, Mike’s muscle, politics, Scotch and Shobha De. Why does it take two women to discuss bringing up a baby, and two men to fantasise about stripping a beautiful girl? Why not the other way round? What baffles me are these clearly defined compartments.

My self-image takes a beating too. Here I am, patting myself as the adventurous woman, a liberal thinker, liberated from saris and old wives’ tales, who airily says, “There are no gender differences. Men and women are the same,”...blah blah. Yet, I can’t suppress that sense of enchantment when we’re at the Thapas. There, the 65-year-old grandma springs up energetically to switch on the TV because no force on earth can make her miss the Italy vs France World Cup football final. All along, she maintains a running commentary on the soccer techniques, the fine artistry of Maldini and Donadoni.

Likewise, I am zapped with delight when a friend, Mahesh, whose photography skills match his culinary ones, takes me step-by-step through a recipe. So, if I’m so open-minded, why am I surprised when I learn that women do speak football, and men do share recipes? Simply because these experiences are as rare as the Kohinoor. The real test of these theories lies in our future rather than in the past. Hypothetically, if we closed our eyes and listened to sexless voices talking, we would know for sure which were female and which male?

To me, grandma and Mahesh are signs that the future is already here. Besides, though it began with the womb and the muscle, in this over-populated world where brawn doesn’t count as much as brain, there’s going to be ample scope for both sexes to gabble nineteen-to-the-dozen on every topic under the sun and beyond it! And, no, I’m not talking through my hat.