Pink drinks and bling. Mushy novels and tearjerkers. Boyfriends and hubbies. Sugar and spice and everything nice.
If you love your girls like that, take a deep breath, look around and do a reality check. Women all around you are shedding stereotypes, flaunting a hint of the devil – and having fun. And boy, are they loving it!
“The best thing about not having men at our parties is we can wear boxers and get away with it,” laughs 20-something Damayanti Ghosh, an IT professional. So what’s her girl gang like? It has Adrija and Srijita, both techies, Ipsita, an architect and Jagriti, a would-be PhD. And they aren’t the only ones. Around the city, women are getting together – for trips, night-outs, gym sessions, shopping – to create a special ‘we space’.
On this trendwagon are women like Shimana Gupta Chawla, a finance professional in her mid-30s. “We hang out together after work on Wednesdays and Fridays. On Sundays, we girls go for a swim at Tolly Club or Saturday Club. It’s usually a drinks-moviedinner or movie-drinks-dinner routine for our group,” she says.
We asked actor Parno Mittra – a member of a trio that likes to get away on short trips – if it’s better without men in tow. “Sometimes we love talking about inane, redundant things that men may not like. But it’s not that we’re always giggling; there’s lots else we talk about. We feel this connect that’s therapeutic,” she asserts. Dipika, Parno points out, is the ‘man’ of the group. “On our recent trip to Darjeeling, Trisha and I would be constantly fussing about what to eat and where to shop and she’d be the one disapprovingly nodding her head with an ‘Ah, these girls…’ expression on her face!”
Content writer Priyanka Roy Chowdhury feels girl gangs are a comfort zone. “We think alike and that’s a plus. Basically, we don’t need men to figure us out.” When she’s not working Priyanka chills out with her brood that calls itself the Sunday Trippers. “We day-trip to nearby places on Sundays. Our group has Munmun, a doctor, Mekhala, an entrepreneur and another Priyanka who’s still studying and is also a dancer,” she says.
We get the camaraderie bit, but what keeps them together? That’s what we asked model Pooja, who was partying with friends Tina, Nibedita and Satarupa, all beautiful and successful young women. “We usually meet up after work. We are quite comfortable dancing together and frankly, don’t need guys,” she says, to which Satarupa, one of the younger girls, adds, “We never discuss work. The group consists of like-minded people.”
Tina is the one who does all the planning for holidays. “We recently went to Goa and had a blast,” Pooja says. The words that keep coming around are comfort, trust, bonding. Debjani, Debarati, Meghna and Payel – all of them in the aviation sector – often go out drinking together. “We indulge in a lot of girl talk. I’m sure guys won’t enjoy that. We gossip, bitch about our partners as well. There’s a lot of confidence and trust that holds us together. We recently went to Mumbai for a trip and had great fun,” said Debjani.
Shimana’s group spans three generations and that’s the secret to their bonding. “Sanjukta is a lawyer and Vanita an insurance professional – both in their 40s. Saloni, a banker, is 36 and Vibha, a corporate trainer, is 50. At 35, I’m the youngest! Despite the age difference we treat each other like classmates. I can relate to Vibha, who’s the oldest and she can freely talk to me about menopause though I’m 15 years her junior!”
The motley crew of Debadrita and her friends are from different professions. While Debadrita is a public relations professional, her friend Rishika is into events and Rijita is a singer. “We drink a lot and go to choicest of the places. We have more fun without the guys. We got drunk and visited a dance bar once. There, we drank cheap whisky and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Could we have done that had there been guys with us?” she laughs.
They might not want men playing vigilante but it’s not that these girls are male-bashers in disguise. “Our husbands and partners are cool with us doing all kinds of silly things,” says Shimana, adding, “And no, we just don’t discuss our love lives, spouses and in-laws. We don’t always think of shopping. We do talk a lot about our professions; about being more successful and aspirational.”
So, is romance not an option for these women? It’s not as simple as that. “At this stage in life, we can do everything we want to and don’t have to have guys hanging out with us. We spend money on ourselves, we party together. Romance is not a priority all the time,” says Ranjabati, a banker. Her friends, models Priyanka and Pamela, agree. “We all work and have our own cars. We like to go out on long drives. We go shopping together and it’s a great help having your girlfriends around you rather than guys,” adds Priyanka.
( First published in Times of India)