It is true that there can never be a moment when you can say that you ‘know it all’ for every day there is something new to learn and imbibe. Then there are days when you think there is nothing more that will shock you as you’ve seen or heard it all… But Wham! Something jolts you out of your reverie and you wonder if you have been thrown back to living in the dark ages.

I am quite ‘shockproof’ that way… A rough hide and all that… But yesterday, was one of those moments that stunned me for a bit and it took me quite a few seconds to grasp what I was hearing and recover from it…my open-mouth, wide eyes, raised eyebrows and shell-shocked expression took even longer to get back to normalcy.

My faithful domestic help and I have these regular morning chats about ‘life’ in general. I am always amazed by her simplicity and considerable knowledge and wisdom of the ways of the world which is often tinged by innocence. She told me that she had free time on her hands that morning and would like to make ‘aloo parathas’ for me as a treat. Her sinfully delicious parathas are reluctantly kept to a sheer once a month kind of indulgence as one always tends to lose count of the number of parathas being wolfed down.

On questioning her if her temporary new job in cooking for a person while the lady of the house was away on vacation with the kids had come to an end… She nodded with a nay and said that she had another ten days to go but apparently the ‘rule of the house’ was that the man would not eat food cooked by any lady having her periods!! And since she was menstruating she wouldn’t be cooking for the next few days. Well well well… These are things that rile me up and I looked at her blankly with a “Are you kidding me??” kind of expression.

So what does this ‘man’ do at such times I asked aloud and I was told that he either cooked for himself or ate at his office cafeteria. The sarcasm in me at moments like this is stinging and I thought to myself on whether this bigot had hidden cameras in the caterer’s kitchen to know if the food for him has been cooked under a ‘purity’ stamp that he sought? Shame also on the women of such households that allowed these archaic customs to thrive in this day and age.

It doesn’t stop at this… She was also told that she was never to taste the food that she cooked there or eat on their plates or drink from their glasses. And that she had been ticked off on a few occasions because the cucumber in the salad had been bitter. So how was she responsible for this ‘grave’ blunder when she had been just following orders of not tasting anything? I cannot fathom how anyone is allowed the right to be sanctimonious enough to decide who is to be given a stature of being superior or weaker just because of their social background or the fact that they are rich or poor?

The bottom line is that we are all equal and have to treat each other with respect… Is that so difficult to swallow? Those of us who have been brought up with the belief that we are all equal have no such qualms in accepting and understanding this but those who haven’t… Well, it is never too late to learn.

Why are such Stone Age taboos still being followed and why are we as a society allowing it to thrive? These are questions that need answering and they also need to be sorted out rather than brushed under the carpet.