So the other day I stumbled upon an ad on T.V wherein an Indian mom gets worried when her husband tells her that the son is bringing home a surprise. Assuming that it’s a girl, she asks as to whether he has any idea about her. He uses the adjectives modern and stylish to describe her and lo and behold, the mother spontaneously retorts “Aur agar tez nikli toh!”. That the ad turns out to be that of a motor bike ad is another story, but it certainly got me thinking. India is ‘fast’ changing, ‘fast’ evolving, ‘fast’ developing at the speed of a ‘Fast and Furious’ mean machine. The evolving India compels us to lead ‘fast’ paced lives and be in a ‘fast’forward mode all the time. Ironically, the only thing that India is still averse to is a ‘fast’ girl as a wife or daughter-in-law. Now what on earth is a fast girl?? I’ve ever so often heard men (sadly also women) say “Agar tez nikli”.
It is most definitely my most hated pet peeve ever! “Tez”, a very wise woman once very conspiratorially told me. And No, it doesn’t mean PT Usha type fast or the ever effecient day ‘Quick Gun Murgan’ of a woman who multitasks efficiently and is in a fast forward mode the whole day, from home to day care to board room to the grocery store so on and so forth, to please and cater to all and sundry. Fast or Tez here means a woman who has a mind of her own, a tez one at that and has no qualm using the tez mind and speaking it, unabashedly with her tez tongue! You get the drift. A modern, intelligent, smart, confident, strong, sometimes outspoken woman, who’s not exactly as cunning, clever, evil, selfish, demanding, bitchy and ‘tez’ as she’s made to be. She doesn’t necessarily have to be an urban woman. Even rural India uses the tez tag rather commonly. Such a pity that women have to dumb themselves down and hide their brains to be attractive to men, and accepted by their families. Not that tez women do not appeal to men, they do hang out with them, date them, propose them but sadly demonstrate a clearly different approach to mate selection.
What appalls (rather worries) me is the attitude and perspective of the young educated males, even the ones staying in tez paced oops urban India. Conventional wisdom would suggest that education (that enables us to think rationally) and growing up in a urban environment (that provides us with more exposure) should make our thinking more global and progressive, especially in our treatment of women. But here we have no qualms calling them tez, not so tez, based on the mileage of their brain perhaps. And just what do men mean by tez nikli? Tez nikalti toh girls would have outnumbered boys, atleast with respect to India’s population! Wahan toh tum tez nikle boss, isn’t it?!
India Kare Tez Se Parhez
It’s the 21st century. And for the Indian woman, it is a time of liberation. Women are standing shoulder to shoulder with men and yet, when it comes to things like finalising a bride for marriage, the most important thing on a guy’s mind (and his father’s and mother’s and aunt’s and sister’s)is “agar woh tez nikli toh”. I once heard an aunty say “Tez ladkiyon se karna chahiye parhez. Tez toh sirf gaadi (car) ya mirchi hi achi lagti hai”. My tez (instant) reply to her; “Times are changing tez, we want to ape the angrez but if a girl has a mind of her own and a tongue to speak that mind, she’s labelled tez. Why Oh Why?” Who had to run tez after having blurted this out is nobody’s guess!
Tez nikli is a stereotypical mould of sorts, used ‘only’ in context of the female of the species. It is a label, a judgement, a Have you ever heard someone say“Tez nikla”?! The Tez tag and women are such inseparable buddies that even automobiles like cars and bikes are “tez nikli” and not “nikla”. Perhaps men should steer clear of those too! Bicycles, dear guys, would be good for both; your health as well as ego!
The bitter truth is that a large percentage of guys from the best of schools and universities (both Indian and foreign) have attitude worse than 18th century chauvinists. Most working women I know have come across at least half a dozen guys at their current or past workplaces who were clearly ill at ease with a smart, equally (or more) educated woman. But, hey, I am sick of meeting confused wannabe guys (read: well-educated, having more exposure than parents, hero in their family for their achievements) look for an equally smart and educated wife but with a caveat – ‘an extrovert trophy wife in front of friends and a docile bahu at home in front of one’s folks ’. Heights of hypocrisy!! Even parents of guys want ‘convent educated’, working girls who are tez at academics, tez at working, earning money at super tez speed too, but not tez in general. Tez intimidates men and their families. Not being tez doesn’t really mean dumb. It just means that girl is selectively smart. Smart to look at, smart at her job, smart to talk to, strong enough to handle life’s curve balls, strong enough to endure tantrums/demands etc. but submissive, timid and meek in front of her guy and ofcourse his family. Also one who prioritizes her life in a way that is compatible with the guy’s priorities. One who doesn’t have a say in the life of others and perhaps not even her own.
I guess upbringing has a lot of role to play in the formation of such personalities. Accustomed to seeing their mollycoddling mothers as all-giving, submissive, docile creatures, many Indian men just aren’t emotionally equipped to accept and welcome the change in times. Actually, times have nothing to do with it. Tez has been a woman bashing label, judgement, generalisation, tag used across times and generations. Just that now it is used more often. You can’t blame us girls. We are just keeping up with the tez times.
If girls who are strong headed and vocal are tez, let us tell you dear opposite sex, that you need to grow up, rather evolve… and may we ask you to do so at tez speed please! We hope that is not asking for too much! And all you tez women, slow down.. slow down on sharing responsibilities, earning and churning so much, and I bet the guys will beg you to be tez! I rest my case!