We are off to Delhi for a week tomorrow. Everyone knows what Delhi means. It means proper winters (not just a chill that could be passed off for the air-conditioner turned on a little longer than usual), PVR/Priya and all the loafers who loaf there, burger and Paaaapsi combos consumed by designer dudded dudes, the barely-political Delhi University, wide roads/flyovers/subways that are not dug up, the concept of enjoyable rains, eve-teasers...and more
Well, no. For me all Delhi means today is a two-hour long flight. Two hours, just counting the flying time that is. Door-to-door it is probably close to five. FIVE hours in which we need to entertain a baby that has the attention span of a goldfish, change diapers with no simplifying facilities, clean spit up off his clothes and ours and change him innumerable times (he renders bibs obsolete) and we need to feed him. Adi is exclusively breastfed so it should be the simplest thing in the world to feed him. At least, that is taken care of.
Na, na, naaah.
If I need to feed my child, I need to go look for a 'private place'. Now, if we were to get into semantics, a public place is precisely that. That being the case, how in the world do I find a private cabin in that vast and decidedly public airport? Actually, the problem does not begin at the airport, I am not even supposed to do that in the privacy of my own car, thanks (or not) to the prying eyes of every single motorist on the way. Even in the aircraft, if I need to feed Adi, I hide under a hot and uncomfortable shawl (and even this should be attempted only in the relative privacy of business class such that exposure is limited...like most things in life, bf has been made elitist, how nice. Paradoxically, I have seen many more women from the lower SECs in Indian breastfeeding than the more affluent ones.)
I know that I am not the first mother to feel victimized thus. Why, Facebook has only recently banned a mother's account because she dared to put bf pictures of herself up on her page. Apparently, FB is comfortable only with members posting Fun Wall posts and poking each other. How about some virtual therapy to be sent FB's way?
BF is an intensely private experience. No mother needs to hide behind a shawl or sari pallu or dupatta to keep it that way, if only people would just leave her alone.
I am not aware of the Indian laws on bf and though I did try to google it, nothing satisfactory came up. I plan to read up. If you have some suggestions, leave them in my comments and I will definitely check them out.
I haven't become an activist overnight. I am a very low-energy person who is very content not ever rising to the bait (it expends stamina) but right now, I am SO BLOODY PISSED OFF. The paradox is just evil. It is perfectly acceptable to showcase a woman's breasts to sell every goddamn product on earth (except, perhaps breast pumps) but try putting them to the sole motive they were meant for and suddenly you are a ripe candidate for obscene behaviour in public and therefore a threat to the overall good of the society.
Let us be a little solution-oriented for a minute. What can I possibly do to change this situation? Should I send a petition to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare or some such? Say, a miracle takes place tomorrow and a law was passed to protect my rights to breastfeed in public (if it doesn't already), how will that change the cultural ethos that makes every pervert in this country look at a breastfeeding mother with emotions that do not count as plain platonic?
Maybe I am just asking for a simpler world. Never an easy one.
I liked this http://www.leagueofmaternaljustice.com/. What do you think?
I need to go and express milk that flight tomorrow. The funnies will be back tomorrow. Today, I am just plain sad(denned).