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New Bride In The City: How Indore Became My Favourite

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A week before the big day.

As the morning sun in May disturbed my world of thoughts, I cursed myself for again sacrificing my beauty sleep. According to ‘parlour-wali aunty‘, nothing else can add charm to your bridal look like eight hours of peaceful sleep. I wondered how any girl could be peaceful just days before her marriage. Soon, every part of her world was going to change.

I had left my city the previous night and here I was in the city which was supposed to be my marital home. My train of thoughts was again disturbed by a man who was shouting and waking up every other person, “Kahan utroge bhaiya (Where will you get off, brother)? Rajendra Nagar? Choithram mandi? Bhavarkua? Dhakkan Wala Kua?” I gave a grinning look to my dad and asked him, “Kaun se kue mein utarna hai (Which well do you want to get off at)?”

So now I was waiting for my destination and faced a group of auto drivers waiting at the station. On my first visit to Indore, I found it amusing how they bid for their passengers. They stood at the main door and as we tried to leave the bus, they started shouting, “Woh green shirt wale bhaiya mere hai (That brother in green shirt is mine).” “Woh blue t-shirt wala hero  mera hai (That hero wearing a blue t-shirt is mine).” “Aao madamji, kahan jaoge (Come madam, where do you want to go)?”

They picked up their passengers as per their will and by the time we got our luggage out of the bus, we had already been booked as passengers. There wasn’t much of an option to bargain with the auto drivers then. Some of them cursed themselves for bidding on the wrong passengers who took a car or taxi instead.

I found their strategy quite impressive as they provided availability, as well as bargaining options to their customers. It was also quite early in the morning, unlike my city where the auto stand is deserted even at 8 am and if you find an auto driver, you can’t bargain as you’ll not find another. So here I was in the city where I needed to adjust in and live happily ever after.

Three months since that day.

I still remember how glad my cousins and uncles were when they realised that one more girl from their house was going to settle in Indore. All their love for the city was due to the grand menu the city offered. I’m in awe of how much people love even the regular snacks here. When my uncle visited Indore, he never had lunch: “These pohe, I never get these anywhere else and I’m never done with one plate.” Every morning started with two plates of pohe accompanied with jalebi.

That’s the reason I’d put on 10 additional kilos in the first three months itself. If I was missing my parents or my home, or just upset with something, my husband made it customary to take me out and improve my intake of carbohydrates, through “chappan”, “sarafa”, the“sawariya pede”, or the wide variety of namkeen.

The love for sev – including the GF sev – here is such that it becomes an ingredient in any given food, including the desi pizzas and burgers. Tea is probably the only thing Indoris don’t add sev to.

And if I ever complain about gaining weight, my husband says “Girls go thin when they go to their marital home, you are giving them an example of how it should be.” And of course, I was happy and I got my first reason to love the city. Good food keeps you happy even in sasural. So you visit here and the city guarantees that your taste buds would always be satisfied, whether you prefer khatta (bitter), meetha (sweet) or namkeen (salty). What else do you want when they offer a menu for the panipuri water, including the hing flavour.

Six months from the day.

Women in the locality have become familiar to me. From their initially-startled faces, I’ve started noticing smiles, and with smiles come conversations. I realised that many people in my locality were Marathi speakers.

I’ve spent the first 20 years of my life in Maharashtra. I think we get attached to every little thing in the city we grow up in and we realise our love for it only when we are away. And it happened to me when I started speaking Marathi.

My mother-in-law noticed how I was beaming when I was chatting with someone in Marathi. I love speaking the language and I am thankful to the Maratha Holkar dynasty which ruled the place during British Raj. I am being grateful to history for helping me maintain touch with my second language.

Talking about language, the way people here speak Hindi with an accent is astonishing. If you’re new here, you’ll need to make efforts to remember the names of localities. Whenever I’m leaving the city by bus, I keep asking my husband questions like, “Why this place is called Dhakkan Wala Kua?” and he gives me the look which means ‘stop asking silly questions’. I faced that look even when I asked him if it was Bartan Bazaar for bartan (utensils) and Dawa Bazaar for dawa (medicines). I wondered what one found in Maal Ganj. I wondered what it would be like to state in an university report card that someone lives in Jabran colony or Tejpur Gadbadi.

Indore has now been my marital home for three years and I can say it’s a place worth missing when you are away.

One, I’d obviously miss the place where the love of my life resides and second, I’d miss the city’s uniqueness and its own Indori swag.

In these three years, I too have accepted the versatile Hindi spoken in the region, including the regional nomenclature used to refer to a man of any age – “bhiayoo”. There is a tendency to add “iya” to every word which when heard by those who aren’t from Indore is found to be amusing. They often keep imitating them. But if the accent is worth imitating then it is interesting.

Initially, for me, it was a place to adjust to – one where I had to find a home – and in these three years, the city has accepted me with open arms. I’ve started to know the city from scratch and it’s been really interesting.

Being a homemaker, I’m also impressed by the wide array of options to shop, whether its clothes or grocery. From Shopper’s Stop to Rajwada and from Mega more to Maruthiya, one finds all brands here at minimum costs. That has put me into a bad habit of comparing prices for every household item stating, “Yeh toh Rajwada pe saste mai mil jaaegi (I’ll find this for cheaper rates at Rajwada).”

So the city not only offers you places to travel but staying and learning to live here is an education in itself.

My respect for the city has grown even more after noticing the efforts of Nagar Nigam to keep the city clean for our PM’s “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan”. My husband woke up late one day and when I asked him why, he said that the “Swachh Bharat” vehicle had arrived late that morning. So this vehicle which makes efforts to distinguish between geela (wet) and sukha (dry) kachra (garbage) has become like an alarm clock for many and has successfully inculcated a sense of responsibility among citizens.

Their song goes, “Chalo bhiyaaoo, hum sabhko apna kartavya nibhana hai, Indore ko swachh aur sundar banana hai (Come brothers, we all have to fulfill our responsibilities, we have to keep Indore clean and beautiful).” I literally witnessed this song being played in a baarat here. People, as well as food here, are versatile in their own great Indori flavour.

So here I am, a proud Indori bride who has gladly adjusted to the city where “I’ll live happily ever after!”

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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