This is India. Women of India function with two great tools, Jugaad and Adjust. I guess if you give Jugaad a good hard look it turns out to be the cousin of Adjust. As a woman one encounters Adjust often enough. Somehow women are viewed as brainless and malleable. We are stuff to be moulded, and if we protest, then we are suppressed strongly.
So what is Adjust? It is something a girl child learns very early in life. I learnt it when I was six and was trying to stand on my head with my legs waving in the air. My frock was around my tummy and my panties were in full view. My shocked mother ran out of the house and hauled me indoors for a lecture. I was a girl and I had to adjust. I could not behave like my brother and cousins. Ma said, “Little girls have to be tamed so that they can grow into good women.” That is also the first memory I have of jugaad. I implemented it. I started wearing my brother’s shorts.
Jugaad as per urban dictionary :To arrange for something that will help accomplish a particular task.
Hindi: Yaar woh website ka login chaheye, kuch jugad lagao!
English: I need a login to that website, do some jugad
As per Wikipedia “Jugaad” is also a colloquial Hindi word that can mean an innovative fix, sometimes pejoratively used for solutions that bend rules, or a resource that can be used as such or a person who can solve a vexatious issue.
As I grew up, I started encountering “Adjust” in all spheres of life. I could not fly kites, play football or cricket, even marbles and gilli danda. These were games I loved. I hated hop scotch, cowries and other girly games. But I had to adjust, I was a girl. Jugaad came to my rescue. I went out with the girls but then slipped away to play boys’ games. Curfew was set at 6 p.m. for me, I learnt how to climb walls and jump in from windows or climb up to the roof.
Marriage happened, and I still continued to be … well, me! In-laws screamed at me, got husband to scream at me too. I was a daughter in law and could not wear jeans, sleep late, had to cook their meals or wash their clothes, (all this prior to reaching the school I taught in early in the morning). I hired cooks and servants as jugaad. Sigh, in-laws love to preach but don’t like to practice. I hired, they fired and the slanging match continued. Then they wanted me to give up my job. I did the ultimate jugaad. I chose to live separately. What can I say? That did not work either. I had too many issues by then, and he thought he was doing me a big favor by granting me the permission of setting up my own home.
Well “Adjust” only works if both sides adjust. Otherwise it is just a pretty name for suppression. The moment someone says “Adjust” I hear sirens of ambulances or fire engines. My mind starts working overtime, looking for a suitable jugaad.
I have a question I’d like to ask every person who has asked his spouse to adjust or tried to get a high spirited daughter to adjust. Why do we educate girls, empower them to think for themselves, earn and compete with boys if we want them to be tethered to outdated customs? Why do we give them half-freedom? We tantalize them with a whiff of fresh outside air, and then say, “No, you can’t take a touring job”, or (as in my case) “You can go to work, but you will have to cook breakfast and pack lunches for every one, including your stay-at-home mother in law, and the two dogs, before you go to school at 7 a.m.”
Other strictures of the ‘adjust” kind include, “You have to cover your head in front of male members of the house”, “You have to wait until every one has eaten and then eat”, “You have to turn in all the money you earn” etc etc.
And then they say that women are sly. You made us compete with boys, you made us believe we are equal (of course we are!) and then you tell us ADJUST!
Of course we are sly! We have had to lie, manipulate, coerce, use wiles to even breathe that fresh air that you of the previous generation tantalized us with.
This post won the second prize in the Women’s Web Contest.
Thanks Women’s Web!