Story of a lost journalist

March 14, 2011

Coffeeing at little shops

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cris @ 22:24

Going to work without my morning coffee the past one week has been killing me. There just had to be coffee today! With about five minutes to spare I popped into the nearest tea shop I saw. A minute after entering, I became aware of it being ‘unusual’ for girls to pop into tiny tea shops in little corners of the streets of Kochi. I could feel the stares sizing me up from top to bottom. I could also spot the smile my order-taker was trying to hide. “Sure you don’t want anything else?”
“No, nothing”.

I might make speeches about this not having to bother me one bit. But it did it did! I am not sure which I despise more – the stares or the fact that I could be bothered. All I had in mind was drinking that coffee asap and getting the hell outta there.

I wonder why these little things don’t change. Women are anywhere and everywhere. But when it comes to breaking certain taken-for-granted little norms like ‘men of any status can be seen in any tea shop big or small, women regardless of their stature, just do not enter these spots’, we are big-time losers.

This is not about having to make a point that women can do it too. This is just a question of how such norms came to exist and how they continue to do so. They have broken rich-poor gaps, low class-high class differences, black-white horrors, but not man-woman. Never man-woman. Not in tea-shops, not in tea-untotalling.



  1. that reminded me of college days. Tired of the hostel food, a bunch of us decided to go out to the nearest lil eatery n grab some grub. And this silly Paalaakkaari raajakumari asks us to get something packed for her because #1. it is not right for ‘honourable girls’ to go to a place like that #2. it would devastate her boyfriend (a senior) if any of his friends sees her in there!

    n that was not just it. This girl was the walking rule book of what honourable girls should be doing and what they shouldn’t be doing.

    This was about a decade back and I thought we were through with this stuff. Looks like we are not. :/

    Comment by usha — March 16, 2011 @ 14:41 | Reply

  2. cris, u r soooo rigghhttt…

    Comment by asha nair — March 17, 2011 @ 01:31 | Reply

  3. bcos this is you i’m pretty sure they were staring at the bathroom towel still wrapped around your head or the weird hat-skirt-chappals combo or the fact that you were singing and talking to yourself! 😛

    Comment by don — March 17, 2011 @ 12:11 | Reply

  4. We used to have a mini lunch hut next to our college. Many a time i have asked friends (guys) to take me there. They will give back stares with expression…really why?? Inspite of all the threats did make an attempt one time, the food being fab – but the horrible exp of some 100 eyes on you, that was the first n last time made it to that place.

    Comment by Viji Venu — March 18, 2011 @ 03:44 | Reply

  5. It is because you hadn’t thought about it seriously.Things have changed.There were times when women would just sit at home,and couldn’t go anywhere else on their own.Women travel freely and work now.This is all because of the efforts of many great women who fought for the rights.If you see something farther now,it is because you stand on some great shoulders.The shoulders of some great mothers and grandmothers.
    They never refused you tea.And no one said anything.The truth is You felt out of place yourself.Isnt it?

    Comment by dr.antony — March 19, 2011 @ 18:32 | Reply

    • @dr.antony: if I did, I should never have entered the place. No, I never felt odd until the stares came. No one would refuse me tea, no. And today when I am hunting apartments and am refused one because I am a girl, I realise the coffee-episode was nothing!

      Comment by Cris — April 15, 2011 @ 01:36 | Reply

  6. i agree partly with dr antony. i started breaking this unwritten law by walking into the tiny rly canteen in changanasserry. if course rly canteens, by virtue of being one, issue a special license to women.
    then simply becos it irritated me the way it irratated you, cris(and also cos i desperately wanted a quick cup of tea), i once walked into a small chayakada in kochin. i did get a few stares despite not being very young.i mentioned this to a few of my friends who decided that we’ll go in a large group – and we did. you should have see the expression on the employees faces. and of course there were comments galore from the male customers by way of loud conversation audible to all in the tea shop.there was some talk of the camel and the arab.there were grins, stares , comments, guffaws.
    well we made a statement all right but i dont think we were interested in an encore.
    well, who enjoys being a gorilla in the zoo?
    nevertheless, i’ll not behelpless for lack of a cup of tea if there are chayakadas in my vicinity.

    Comment by kochuthresiamma p j — March 23, 2011 @ 12:25 | Reply

  7. Dr.Antony has written what comment I had on this. They were all smiling because you just brightened up their day Cris! 😀

    Comment by Anand — April 10, 2011 @ 21:24 | Reply

    • @Anand: Hmm I will try believe that

      Comment by Cris — April 15, 2011 @ 01:34 | Reply

  8. Once I happend to take my sister to one of these chayakada when she said she wanted to have a tea, the place was Alapuzha (My mother’s Birth place) we entered a tea stall near the highway.. Everyone gave a stare, but it was rather a stare of surprise.. A Lady in the Tea stall !! Then the person in the cash counter came down.. Wiped one chair clean and asked my sister to take that chair, gave us tea in extra clean Glasses.. There were smiles but with all due respect to a woman.. It was 5 years back.. Don’t know whether the world has changed a lot since then..

    Comment by Javed Miandad — December 23, 2011 @ 04:38 | Reply

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