83/100. Work. Meeting. And then a relaxed evening with an old friend that included a quick trip to New Market to bag winter-special cold cuts, a leisurely walk from New Market to Park Street, breathing in the feel of second-hand book stores and record shops, rueing the inevitable breaking down of some buildings that still stand tall in our collective Kolkata memories and dinner at a landmark Kolkata restaurant.

That day was defined by a sense of nostalgia. What added to the sepia tones and the feeling of having stepped back in time was the fact that my friend is a thorough gentleman. In the dictionary sense of the word. His interactions with women are what some might call quaintly old-fashioned. He will open car doors for you, take your packages and carry them for you, pull out your chair out for you, rise when you enter a room and ensure he’s on the traffic side when you’re on the sidewalk or
crossing a busy road.

And it does not bother me a bit to admit that it felt nice. In fact, it made me wonder why chivalry or just simply courtesy towards a woman because she is a woman is often thought to be in contradiction to female independence or self-reliance…

Of course, I am capable of earning my bread, butter and Nutella, too. I can change my car tires and I could easily get a job as a porter, seeing the history I have of lifting heavy stuff. But, it feels nice to be at the receiving end of these courtesies. Because it made me feel like a lady. Not a damsel in distress, mind you. But a lady.

And what was this lady wearing that day? Another crepe, teal this time, in a print and style that I remember seeing on sarees my mothers and aunts used to wear. Not only was the saree another tick-mark on the nostalgia checklist, it allowed me to elegantly (I hope) swish my saree in as I settled into the car seat or the chair at the restaurant. And because it does not crease or crumple, it lent me (again. I hope) a look of unruffled poise.

We never did get down to taking a photograph that day, though we joked about posing against those iconic New Market pillars or finding a curlicue to stand under. I guess that day was so much like the olden days when we did not have a camera handy 24/7, we actually forgot to take any.

So, a selfie it has to be again. Or, in keeping with the story, a self-portrait, should we say? 😊

The photograph does not do justice to the saree and the associations it holds. Neither does it do justice to lovely day it was. But, maybe, the lack of a photograph is the most fitting expression of the day. 😊

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