Yesterday we finally gave up pretending we lived in a home that had internet connectivity. A couple of calls got us a Beetel franchisee promising to send over an engineer with a new modem to replace our ageing one.
The engineer arrived. Promised it was a quick, `do minute ka kaam‘. Struggled with the two minute job..for ten minutes,, …fifteen minutes. Failed. Called back-office for help. Found none forthcoming. Fiddled around. Commandeered my fifteen year old hovering around to do useful stuff like connecting the cable, entering the password when told to. Wore a patronising air until it became clear that the job at hand was not as easy as it seemed. Talked nineteen to the dozen. Finally everything fell into place. We were once again connected to the universe. What had done the trick remained a puzzle. To all of us.
So what’s new you say? Nothing. Except…. rewind ….
So yesterday, when a Beetel franchisee sent over someone to install a new modem at home, I said..hello.. absentmindedly. I heard a Hello! in return. And I looked up..just to make sure I hadn’t imagined the chirpy, very very female voice. I saw that the voice was indeed coming from a girl cheerfully shrugging off a huge haversack.
Have you ever had a woman engineer come to your home for a service/maintenance call? In all these years of running a home with multiple gadgets that at some point or the other need attention I haven’t.
I was pleasantly surprised. Happy .. for her.. and for woman-kind in general. Here she was – educated, confident, articulate, as competent as the next guy, independent, in a job that is overwhelmingly male-territory. I was fresh from reading Infidel and cringing at the world Ayaan Hirsi Ali described. Of repressive, narrow-minded, violent beliefs and practices. And here was this girl. Her name indicated that she was Muslim. I basked in a warm feeling that our country, our society was not like that. That our society had made ..her, this confident, independent Muslim girl… possible.
Gulping down a glass of water while leaving, she said… I am in a hurry. I have another call to do today.. And it is going to take me an hour to get there in this traffic.
..And I thought of her.. going to that next call..late evening.. in an unknown neighbourhood.. ringing the doorbell .. the door being opened by a stranger.. the door closing behind her as she walked deeper into the house to where the computer was. What if there was no one else in the house? What if there were many people in the house but .. What if …
A cold finger of dread clutched at my heart. The warmth of a moment before vanished. Was she courageous or being foolhardy in doing a job like this? Dis she know how to defend herself? Did she have a pepper spray? Was it right for her organisation to put her in such situations? Does that mean some roles should always be closed for women? Is that fair?
I am mired in conflicting thoughts. What do you think?