Urban Dictionary defines phattu as someone who is easily frightened. They also go ahead to say it’s someone who has miniscule or no balls, but apart from being supposedly offensive that’s also completely riling up the feminist in me. So I’m just going to let that one go.
Also, my original title for this piece was ‘Indians are raised to be phattus’, but frankly I was scared I’d get blacklisted for saying anything against the citizens of my country (like that doesn’t happen all the time here). Also, if being a millennial teaches you anything, it’s to not generalise things, right?
Right. So coming back to me. (Duh, my blog). Now, I was raised in a family with highly logical people. Logical to the extent, that every situation of our lives is first analysed in our heads, every worst case scenario thought of, and only then do we make our decision. Optimists? Pffttt. Of course not. This makes us realists at best, pessimists more often than not. Mostly with good reason – we’ve been through enough shit that now we all have our shit radars up – all the damned time. I mean, of course you can go ahead and quote The Secret to me about how positive thinking will get positive things to you, but really, when you end up with jaundice on your wedding (ask my sis), or chicken pox in Europe (yours truly), you tend to start overthinking things quite naturally. In fact, I’m almost convinced that if we trace our lineage back a few generations, we might find Mr. Murphy was my great grand uncle or something. (Murphy’s law? Really? You have no clue what I’m talking about? How young are you?!)
Ever since I remember, I’ve been warned about things around me. The food, the environment, the people. In some ways this is perfectly fine, I mean I’ve spent most of my life in Delhi, with extreme weather conditions and extreme human behaviour. If you aren’t careful, well, our family doesn’t like to depend on our luck you know. It’s how you survive.
Except this sticks to you your entire life. I can’t have a pani-puri today without saying a little prayer that I don’t end up sick after it. My Uber ride details are ALWAYS shared. I’m constantly in touch if I’m out at night. I drink enough water to fill a water tank on most days. When I hang upside down in yoga, I’m calculating all the ways in which things can go wrong. I also still run back to my room after switching off lights in the house, because, you know, we’ve all seen too many horror movies, and you always see a ghost when it’s dark.
And then recently I told my parents about a bit of a solo trip I’ve planned. And of course there are concerns. And yes, I’ve gone through my teenage phase of rebelling against what my parents want – but I’m telling you guys, it sticks to your bones, and the older you get, the more it starts mattering what your parents think. I almost miss my teenage years when I wouldn’t have thought twice because it’s something I believe in. So now I’m sitting with a sinking fear inside me. Because, you know, the world out there is a big bad place, and I’m about to travel alone in it.
So what if the whole world does it, including more than enough women I know (my closest friend does it so often that I shouldn’t even be thinking twice about it). So what if I’ve spent my life in Delhi & Mumbai – which don’t exactly have the best crime statistics. So what if I’ve actually lived alone for quite some bit of my life. Guys, now I’m scared.
But, everything is booked, so, worst case, you’ll find me cowering in my hostel in a foreign country, too scared to go out.
But then I’ll probably remember the movie Hostel.
Yup, I’m doomed.
P.S. I was generalising this to Indians from a recent discussion I had with my cousins in New York. About how everyone around them would take off for a weekend to ‘get away from it all’ to a nondescript tiny farmhouse in the middle of absolutely nowhere. But to all of us, it just sounded like the starting plot of every Ram Gopal Verma film ever. But then again, maybe it’s just a family thing, you know?