Rainbow colours, delicate features, sleep-swollen eyes, vivid dresses:
Salvar suits, chunris, ear rings, bangles, toe rings, bindis and stringed jasmine
And -- since it is raining -- variously coloured parasols and raincoats.
A bored voice on public address says there’s a Ladies Special Train passing by
Men, If you dare enter you risk being beaten, abused, it’s a Ladies’ Special Train
A whirl of colour, thunder of wheels, bursts of happy, determined faces, smiles
Knitting, mending, food smells and talks of disobedient children and declining education.
Children are pressurized, burdened, you know, we don’t know what they teach
They are making them into idiots, unoriginal thinkers, teaching them to conform
Our children will have the best; nonetheless, we will slog to work so they prosper
This corrupt political-business nexus, you know, has corrupted the education system.
It’s the happiest hour of the day, freedom from housework, while work waits
The times are bad, vegetable prices are high, groceries, oil and spices, too
Discounts are available in local malls and bulk purchases are advised
Careful, there are predatory men on platform, staring, whistling and cat calling.
There’s work in the office, corporate politics, a little time to exchange recipes
The bosses are increasingly intolerant and lewd, they make indecent remarks
They expect us to manage emails, make worksheets, presentations in no time
When we don’t have time to have lunch, even apply nail polish and makeup.
The morning Ladies Special Train is our special refuge, our peace haven, our space
From the cares of this world, from the stupid ogling men and their indecent gestures
This train may pass on bridges, through rain, violent storms, torrid heat
But inside the Ladies Special Train we know we are secure from the mad world outside.
(This is the poem I read at the event "100 Thousand Poets for Change" on 24th September 2011.)