Red Letter Day

30 Apr


Dear Men,

If the thought of bleeding uteruses (uteri?), especially in the women you know and love like say your mother, makes you feel a) nauseous b) faint c) excited, you might want to skip this post.



So, ladies! Explain to me this mystery: do you all really keep count of your monthly cycles?

I understand it’s like wearing nice panties in case you get run over by a bus – you want to have it on you just in case, so you can leave a good impression on the coroner (or nurse / doctor / mother – if anybody else asks you, by the way, tell them to fuck off. Unless it’s your best friend, who is required by law to accept you as is, with torn underwear and a late period, thus you can tell her whatever you like).

But while I have no problems finding clean underwear, keeping track of my period is entirely another matter.

I know how long it lasts and I can always tell when I’m about to begin. I don’t think I’ve left bloodstains on anything since my early teens even if it was the fashion in high school for girls in the middle of their period to ask their friends to discreetly check out their rear as they passed during “those days”. Ah, India! Where boys hold hands and aren’t ashamed to cry when their feelings are hurt and girls spend a significant portion of their time studying their friends’ behinds. That’s why it’s the Indian century, you know.

Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, as long as I have a general idea of what to expect, I’m all good. It’s bad enough that I have to deal with the water retention and the PMS and the food urges and the aches & pains and the cramps and the cold toes and the blood and the lank hair and the general feeling that I look like crap for a week out of every month – there’s no reason to mark it out in my calendar so I can stare at it in passing and know that the red scourge cometh. I can feel it in my bones already.

And I don’t want to program my phone so it can remind me – what if it gets stolen? Some creep won’t just have the numbers of everyone I know, he could also calculate when I’m about to ovulate. Okay, so that sounds a bit paranoid but stranger things have happened. Besides, anyone crazy enough to steal my base model, no-frills, no-extras, just-barely-good-enough-to-place-a-call phone has to be a pervert of some kind.

I suppose I could sign up to that internet reminder service that sends you an email when your period is due, but period spam is the last thing I need. “Dear Amrita, tomorrow you will be doubled over in pain and want to kill everything that comes near you. Congratulations on being a woman, the sacred vessel of life!” Hooray!

That said, I guess there are times when it comes in handy to know beforehand – if you have a special event to attend or you’re planning to go to the beach or to the doctor’s office or if you’re trying to have a baby, etc.

But that’s not what the doctor recommends, is it? They tell you to keep track all the time. Presumably that’s for a reason (to screw with your head?). Therefore, somebody must be following that advice – if that person is you, tell me all about it.

Oh, and if any of the male readers have made it this far – I don’t suppose you’d want to ask the lady in your life about it, would you?

“Mom / Honey / Aunty-ji, there is this girl on a website and she wants to know…”

Now that would make my life.


Posted by on April 30, 2009 in Life, Personal


31 responses to “Red Letter Day

  1. M

    April 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Boy, you sure worry about some “interesting” things huh? ๐Ÿ™‚ Loved the memory of checking out female friends/schoolmates’ behinds! How about flipping up the back of your skirt/kurta when you sat, so you didn’t stain it…of course, this was also the era (for me, at least) of “belted pads” ai ai ai…

    My gran used to mark the dates of all female members of the household on the calendar – including the maid. Her aim seemed to be detecting pregnancies, or ferreting out random “modern” members of the family who tried to move away from the seclusion thing ๐Ÿ™‚ Practically, dates were used when planning poojas/weddings etc.

    I can see women tracking their dates for wardrobe decisions (don’t wear white pants maybe?), pruse planning (needing to carry femine-hygiene products means using a larger purse? :-)) stuff like that. I know that signs of menopause can be slight and tracked by the period schedule, it is also useful to know your schedule before you try to get pregnant – that way you should have a decent idea of ovulation days etc.


  2. maxdavinci

    April 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    I could ask around…..

  3. Sands

    April 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    A reminder service. Now that I didn’t know about. Wow!! I am one of those that just remembers this kind of details thanks to my skill for retaining random stuff.

  4. Sakshi

    April 30, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    You can either just track your monthly cycles or get reminders for either ovulation or periods. Its a pretty nifty tool to keep track of “those” days.

  5. sraboneyghose

    April 30, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    I agree with M – you do have a lot of things swirling around in your head…

  6. Vinz

    May 1, 2009 at 1:43 am

    ๐Ÿ™‚ Came over here randomly..

    ur post made me remember those early childhood days of mine where my grandmother’s{yeah was in a join family..} used to note everyone’s menstrual time… They were nt then supposed to go to our family temple nor they were allowed to enter the kitchen..They were not allowed to be touched nor they were allowed to be having food together.. And i used to wonder why all these..?

    Anyways, in touch with ur topic in the post, let me check with my girl..

  7. Banno

    May 1, 2009 at 1:59 am

    ๐Ÿ™‚ that is hilarious.

  8. Prasanth

    May 1, 2009 at 2:04 am

    “Ah India! Where boys hold hands and aren’t ashamed to cry when the feelings are hurt and girls spend a significant potion of their time studying their friend’s behind”…I am looking forward to your novel!

    Unfortunately, a lot of the things Vinz talked about still happen and that too in households where women are pretty well educated and work(including my own). So that’s India too!

  9. Mamma Mia! Me a Mamma?!?

    May 1, 2009 at 3:39 am

    I studied in a co-ed and in summers we used to have swimming classes. Normally after lunch. So during lunch, the instructors would do a round of the class to take a head count of who’d be going and who’d not. You can imagine our embarrassment and the boys’ merriment whenever we had to put up our hands and say, “Not going today, because uh, er, cough, cough, I’m sick.”

    Tried with the calendar thing and it just screwed with my head. Besides, my hormones kick in and make me a quivering mass of tears and fears anyways, so I’m good. Not to mention the abnormal bloating! Blech!

  10. Mudra

    May 1, 2009 at 4:22 am

    Can anyone keep count?! Like you, I know how long it lasts and when it’s about to begin. If it’s late, I realise. (Damn, why isn’t the dreaded week of pain, bloating, bad skin and bad hair, here yet?! Why?! What if there’s something suddenly wrong with my uterus?! Yes, I’m paranoid.)

  11. Mudra

    May 1, 2009 at 4:22 am

    Oh and love the new header. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Shivani

    May 1, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Ahh, story of my life! When I first got my period, I was staying with my granny & so was the recipient of all menstrual-gyaan from her. Of all of it, her ‘keep-note-of-monthly-cycle-else-you’ll-be-very-sorry’ diktat was the most prominent. 12 years later, I’m yet to even come close to keeping track ๐Ÿ˜›
    What is to be gained in doing so, I feel? Mine’s usually like clockwork so if I’m late, either I’m pregnant or something wrong with the uterus – either way, a visit to the doctor is called for. Why then should I worry about the phone beeping like a pest telling me I’m late??
    Btw I’ve seen those ovulation apps on a friends phone & was creeped out. They send out reminders like ” The following week is an ideal one to conceive” ๐Ÿ˜€
    And I second Mamma-Mia: Chum time in a co-ed school is much fun. Poor, blighted desi teenage boys!! Their mommies don’t tell them ANYTHING & leave them at the mercy of female classmates!

  13. memsaab

    May 1, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Even if I WANTED to keep track (and I don’t, mostly for the reasons you quote: I don’t need to, I know very well when I’m about to get hit) I couldn’t, mine are so irregular. It would just make me paranoid. If I could have found a surgeon who would give me a complete hysterectomy, I would have gotten it done when I was 25. I remember my first one when I was 10 (yes! 10)—I was so depressed at the thought of putting up with it for the next 40+ years (my mom told me I should feel happy and proud about being “a woman” but I wasn’t buying it).

    I love these “girl talk” posts, Amrita. You are hilarious.

  14. Mom Gone Mad

    May 1, 2009 at 10:56 am

    GMT could set its freakin’ clock by me ( to my dismay):-( But on the upside, when the Ob gyn asks how “far along” I am, I can tell him pretty much down to the nanosecond. Yeah, not so sexy that either!

    But how can you NOT know? Doesn’t everyone get to their cuckoo best around that time? Plus skin and hair woes??

    BTW, do you have a take on the “morning after pill”? I LOVE it that the usually taciturn, euphemistic pharmaceutical/medical industry (whos to know what Emidextrin is for??? really?) actually came out and called this particular spade a bloody shovel:-) Classic stuff!

  15. deej

    May 1, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Ams, you nutter!

  16. sachita

    May 1, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    I dont have to keep track like how others have mentioned, there are enough early indications and mine is like a clock work. But even otherwise, i dont keep track of anything else in my life so to expect me to keep track of this little too extreme:)

  17. Amey

    May 1, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I read the warning and went to read the news about how Rakhi Sawant got 12500 proposals for her marriality show. Didn’t know the chances people had to do that just to get married.

  18. Amrita

    May 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Argh! You regular people drive me crazy! I’m as irregular as they come but I can still see it coming, y’know? So it’s all about the grandmothers, huh? ๐Ÿ˜€

    M & Bones – hey, I’m just thinking out loud what everybody’s thinking at the back of their minds! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Max & Vinz – LOL!! Tell me how the conversation went! I’m a lot more interested in that!

    Memsaab – well snap! I got them a little before I turned 10 too and man, was it depressing!

    MGM – what about them? do you mean the ads?

    Amey – 12,500? DAMN! and not a single one of them reads this blog ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I need an inhouse spy!

  19. Mom Gone Mad

    May 1, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Dear God, there’s an ad and I haven’t seen it? *feverishly youtube-ing morning after pill ad*

    Nah, merely referring to the fact that its straight out called just that….doesn’t exactly leave much room for being coy.

    But now there’s an ad… gah!

  20. M

    May 2, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Amrita and Memsaab,

    add one more to the 10 year old club…..and yes it was depressing as hell, particularly because I had intense cramps and would faint with monotonous regularity during my period – and all the doctors made soothing noises about it being all right after I had babies! It’s another matter that they were right, but the thought of facing those cramps every month for the next 35 years made me want a sex change stat!


  21. pitu

    May 2, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I use my calendar. Mark it with a ‘P’ in red marker. Really helps esp when you need to plan vacations and parties. For eg, I know which week next month is *not* a good time to rent a cabin in Wisconsin. Unless I want to spend it Midol’ed up. So I will rent the weekend before or after ๐Ÿ˜€ I don’t think I can deal with ‘not knowing’ or being able to ‘predict’, that would SUCK!

  22. Nandini Vishwanath

    May 3, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I loved this post. My husband treats me like a Chinese porcelain figurine ๐Ÿ˜€ he is mortally scared of my mood swings I think, but strangely not disgusted!

    Anyway – I never keep track. I just know it. ๐Ÿ˜› Its a woman’s intuition ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. dipali

    May 4, 2009 at 7:05 am

    I am happy and delighted to say that i no longer have the bloody periods to keep track of! All good things must come to an end:)
    Poor guys are generally so clueless. It takes a girlfriend or a wife to educate the poor chaps. mostly.

  24. Amrita

    May 4, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    MGM – I’m pretty sure Apu or someone wrote a post about it. I seem to remember a woman (a married woman but of course) waking up literally the morning after with an Oh No I Got Knocked Up look on her face and then poof! it’s all good. So much better than abortion is the tagline I think ๐Ÿ˜€

    M – Oh great, now I need to go through childbirth to take care of it? Stupid men, why can’t they get periods instead?

    Pitu – hahahaha! I knew you’d be that person! But I hear you about the planned vacations. I went to the beach this weekend coz I was eated up with envy about your maitai ways and of course! I had cramps and came back home covered in flop sweat. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Nandini – you’ve trained him well I see! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Dipali – yeah my mom and aunts never fail to tell me how much worse they had it than me when they had their periods (cloth?! seriously?) and how happy they are they don’t have to deal with it. Which is just mean when I’m clutching my abdomen and groaning with pain!

  25. dipali

    May 4, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Yes, even I actually started with cloth, which was also washed and reused. Yuck. The memory of the smell is overpowering:(
    Then homemade pads with cotton and gauze- a rather tedious process.
    Buying packets of Comfit was almost heaven!

  26. firstfloorman

    May 5, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Ah to be a male and do nothing but donate a sperm in the larger evolutionary perspective….Tra la la ! Tra la la !
    Damn it feels good to belong to the m. of the s.! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Honestly I cant think of the slightest thing in retort to this from the male perspective ( “Oh ya? So you think you have it tough? You dont hear us complaining about shaving cuts do you ? *Well then!! Hey put down the knife will you…” )

    * Again in all fairness shaving cuts happen to both the sexes

    We feel your pain ( ok not really ) and if you let us know in advance we can plan our escap..err..stay out of the way. And we are smart enough to know that “You are cranky…probably you are PMSing…” is NOT a valid repartee unless one wants to be kicked in one’s unmentionables. ( Even though that’s mostly an accurate diagnosis. How else can one explain a friend crying over Kal Ho Na Ho and not being affected by The Bicycle Thief? Women! I tell you…)

  27. Re(a)d Black and White?

    May 5, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    (It’s a fantastic children’s book by David Macaulay, author of Why the Chicken Crossed the Road.)

    While readers elsewhere are busy oh-so-responsibly decrying the fact that there may not be enough blockbuster bildungsromans to “educate” our “oppressed female children” this summer, yours are such delightfully devil-may-care, chilled-out Irresponsibles (as opposed to, um, Incredibles), no? ๐Ÿ˜€

    I so love the “As long as our little (poor you, Amrita, Memsaab…<10 is rough, as my much-more-mature-than-me-for-more-reasons-than-just-this-one baby sister — who’s recently labeled me The Lost Cause for reasons not too hard to guess — would readily attest to) and not-so-little girls today have a plethora of no-strings-attached “pads” to pick from (No more “cloths” from those dark ages AND no more spuriously named — “Carefree”? Yeah right; I’ve heard they were/are anything but! — abominations that leave not just the napkin but also your navel streaked in red — and as if you actually needed some goddamn “string” to remind you that you’re supposed to be sequestered during “those” days! — though, in its defense, Carefree was leagues ahead of its “cloth and cotton-wad” counterpart, but no thank you; today’s girls much prefer to “stay” free!), all’s well with the world” vibe I’m getting here.

    Oh BTW, the para above is a nod to a good friend of mine, one Mr. USA, (hey Ms. IQ, you can decipher anagrams, no? for, a name-dropper I am not! ๐Ÿ˜€ ), who is prominent by his absence here only because of his anathema for all things “period,” by which I ONLY mean that he loves long (life?) sentences. (I didn’t say “cue Caramel” did I? So there!)

  28. Re(a)d Black and White?

    May 5, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    oopsie – looks like i forgot to close italics on that book name in line one!

  29. Re(a)d Black and White?

    May 5, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    P.S: Speaking of Why the Chicken Crossed the Road, here’s a funny that had me fall off my chair laughing (particularly the Jerry Falwell response)!

  30. Amrita

    May 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Dipali – you just HAD to share the grisly details didn’t you? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I has a sad now.

    Firstfloorman – you just reminded me of THE most annoying thing a (ex, obviously) boyfriend ever said to me: “it must be your chocolate days”. Never, ever be cute about that time of month if you value your life. Free tip from me to you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    RBW – “navel streaked in red”? EEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!! Yech. I’m beginning to look upon tampons more favorably by the minute. I remember hearing something about a string pad – didn’t they have adhesive back then? Or maybe they all just went commando? Ok, I’m grossing myself out.
    Who’s “one mr. usa?” Your enamours? Whoever he is, he’s smart!
    thanks for the link!

  31. pitu

    May 6, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    A vampire went to a cafe and asked for some hot water.
    He supplied the ‘tea’bag himself >:)

    Wot??? Others have been gross too ๐Ÿ˜€

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