I don’t know about others, but for me, the contents of what Hardik Pandya (cricketer) said is the least surprising thing in this whole Hardik-Koffee with Karan controversy. What he said is how (most of) boys talk about girls. Objectifying girls based on their physical appearance is the language every boy is very well acquainted. And those who are feigning surprise with Mr. Pandya’s thinking, are the biggest self-deluded hypocrites of our country.
Hardik Pandya is not an exception in his thought process.
Not long back, when I was in a pub, one of my friends bragged about sleeping with many girls. “The trick to sleeping with many girls,” he revealed in his drunken voice, “is gaining their trust. Once they trust you, they would do anything for you.” A couple of others nodded their heads in agreement and laughed. I noticed that he said all this with pride. He saw himself as the alpha male saying all this. I also noticed all this while he kept on staring on the table to our left. A group of girls was sitting there. With alcohol easing his table manners, he couldn’t stop himself from ogling at those girls.
I was not surprised. Born and brought up in Delhi, I am well aware about the concept of ogling. Having lived in six states in India, I have realized that men can’t help but steal a glance when they find themselves around smart girls. But the Delhi men have taken ogling at the next level. During my school days, when I used to board DTC bus to the coaching center, I saw even old men with grey hair, testing the limit of rotation of their necks just to get one more moment of look at that girl!
Delhi is notorious for much worse things than just staring. But it was the surprisingly quaint town of Pantnagar (Uttarakhand) where I saw the rowdiness of the worst kind.
I was returning to my home from office. Fifty feet away from me, I saw two men on bike slowing down and as they passed a girl, the one sitting on the back shoved his hand on her chest. It all happened in a second. The girl couldn’t even shout and before she could react, the boys sped away. I kept on standing and staring as a helpless bystander. The girl remained in her place for a couple of moments. Then continued to walk forward, with her head down now.
Such behavior is rampant throughout the country. But what surprises me are the views on the issue of eve-teasing. Even the most educated of the boys still says that the girls invite trouble by dressing provocatively.
So yes, I’m not surprised by what Pandya said. If anything, how he behaved on the show is a reflection of how we (boys) are in our country.
But what does surprise me is the boldness with which Hardik Pandya said all this. Especially on a show that has a nationwide reach. It was not a slip of the tongue which often happens in such programs. Rather it was a blatant display of the kind of thinking Hardik Pandya must have developed over time. What he said is a true reflection of how he must be in real life. (Maybe I’m judging, but what the heck, he has given all the reasons to be judged.)
But why Hardik said all this?
Maybe he just lacks the common sense to distinguish the difference between talking with friends in a pub, vis a vis, appearing on a talk show which millions of people are watching. Or maybe it is the typical case of the success entering into the head of a boy from the humble origins who now see his newfound stardom as a license to say whatever he wants.
I don’t know what is the real reason. With BCCI taking cognizant of his frivolous behavior, and social media rampant with comments against him, he is in soup, at least for now. But we all know in this age of social media, the epitaph “this shall too pass” has found real practical meaning. Soon this will be forgotten, and Hardik Pandya will resume winning hearts with his play on the field.
The only good thing that can come out of all this is that the next time the men in India do something similar, they remember this incident. And hopefully, seeing a part of him in our behavior, we’ll get embarrassed and refrain from making an innocent uncomfortable.