What a day it was! The restaurants were teeming with groups of women, some were as large as 20 members or more enjoying and having noisy fun while some comprised of just a couple of friends enjoying a quiet lunch watching with amused delight the revelry around. They were all there to make use of yet another opportunity to have fun during the comfortable afternoon hours before they get back to the daily grind of a woman’s life. They were celebrating International Women’s Day. Can’t say there is much to celebrate except that women are made like that. Their whole world may be chaotic but even if two women meet, they find a way to enjoy themselves. And, add to that the various corporates and offices allowing women to have their afternoon off, paying for their lunch and, also giving them a small gift, in many cases as elaborate as a bar of chocolate. Women despite themselves do feel special on Women’s Day. Many may even believe all the madness for a while, and truly think the world cares. Wonder when this whole concept of a special day designated to various genders and causes begin? There are days celebrating friendship, love, kisses, sleep and even earth (thank god there’s at least one day of eulogising earth before we continue the plunder). Besides the larger purpose of any special day, leaving alone the fact that not much gets for the cause anyway, be it women, children, animals or earth or sleep or environment… what makes these special days mention-worthy is the way the marketing world has embraced them all with such passion. Take Women’s Day for example; from sanitary pads to world tours women are offered everything under the sun at a discount. Suddenly, all the companies remember how they have truly saved the world by giving employment to women, govt goes about trumpeting its commitment to women never mind if there are hardly any women running the government. From food to cosmetics, cars to aeroplanes, medicines to alcohol, everything is sold by squeezing it through the Women’s Day window. It is a repetition of the melee one sees on February 14; the day of love when even pizzas are sold in the shape of a heart in the name of love. Everything around turns to hues of red – the colour of romance. Father’s Day is slowing gaining traction and surely getting there. In urban markets, it is fairly easy to peg marketing strategies on these designated ‘Days’ and then there are so many of them; what happens in rural markets? In rural India, especially in the two Telugu states, there is an interesting trend that surfaces from time to time. Suddenly, out of the blue, random news spreads – that it is an auspicious time and one should gift new clothes to daughters for their wellbeing or that it is important for the general wellbeing of the family to gift new clothes and bangles to sisters-in-law in the family. And this news spreads like a wildfire, and people from near and far rush to buy new clothes, and almost everyone ends up buying. Imagine the amount of sale a sari shop manages at such times – evidently, it is the off-season that turns out to be the ideal time to gift clothes to each other. But of course, the purchases are limited to clothes and it will be sometime till the rural market gets the wind of ‘Day’ mania and then all will be well.
First published on https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Sunday-Hans/2019-03-10/A-Days-story/510669