Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Just how tall are you?

Going by Indian standards, I am tall for a girl. At least for my generation. Aaaaah, I feel a sharp pain to admit that I belong to an older generation. But when there are people who are walking the earth for the first time, 25 years after you did, it is time to accept that you are growing old. Anyways, mez always been tall for a girl.

I dont know exactly when, like in the Complan ads, I became a growing girl and started shooting up. I think it was around the time I was living in Calcutta. I like to blame my height on the enriched Ganga water in Calcutta. Whether the Ganga-jal washed away my sins or not, it did a great job in making me taaallll. I was soon too tall for my age. Some impertinent people even had the audacity to ask if I had flunked a couple of classes when they found that I was not studying in as high a grade as they had expected looking at my height. Hmph!

Anyways, when I returned to Chennai, I was invariably the tallest girl in all of my classes. Not that I minded too much - being tall meant that you couldn't be asked to sit in the front of the class and I happily stuck to the back-benches. However, when everyone around you is shorter than you, you kinda start sticking out like a sore thumb. So there was this phase when I used to try to withdraw my head into my neck like a tortoise hoping to look shorter.

And then all these Miss.World and Miss.Universe contests happened with our own Indian beauties winning the prizes. And, all these beauty queens were taller than me and suddenly it was cool to be a tall Indian girl. Not that it changed the height of the people around me. But at least I did not feel quite so odd about my height any more.

Then it was time to go to college. I had only been in all-girls schools right from fifth grade. My college was co-ed and I thought, finally, many of my classmates (the guys) would be taller than me. Surprise, surprise. Turns out that the average height of the Indian male wasn't as high as I thought! Sigh! So while I was no longer the tallest in my class, I was still well above the height average. I finally settled down to being referred to as the "tall" one throughout my life.

Then two things happened. My cousins started growing up. And growing up. And Growing Up! All of my younger boy cousins have long since towered past my height while my girl cousins are not far behind. Now, when I almost get a neck-sprain while looking up and talking to some of them, I wish I was taller.

The second thing that happened was my arrival in the US. Here, far from being considered tall, I am just about near the average height. Note, I am not talking about the East Asians here. When in a crowd of pucca Americans, I sometimes even feel tiny - heheheh!

Hmm, why did all this suddenly pop into my head? Well, the other day, while at work, I was walking down a corridor and was just about to turn a corner. One of my American colleagues, G, came around the corner, reading something. So he did not notice me and though I had stopped, I was pretty sure that he would walk into me. So I instinctively put my hands in front my face to avoid a total collision. Fortunately he too stopped on time and there was no collision. As I walked past G, I thought about my reaction. Normally, to avoid a collision, I put my hands in front of my body and not my face. Then why did I shield my face this time? The answer struck me. It was because right in front my face was where G's torso was. I only came up to G's neck. Bye-bye, tall girl! Welcome, shortie!

p.s. I have purposely not mentioned my actual height in the post. Height is relative :-).


Saranya Kishore said...


Once again, nice post out of a totally random topic.

So how tall _are_ you? I was supposed to be tall for my age too, I think, though here I am just average height. :))

prasanna said...

Good one!

>Aaaaah, I feel a sharp pain to admit that I belong to an older generation.

Now, I have to share a similar story on growing old. My niece who is younger than me by 2 yrs had given birth to a boy and she was pulling my leg by asking her son.."inga paaru ..unna paaka ..un thaatha vanthirukaaru.."

For a moment, my heart just burst like a transformer (as in Tamil movies). I literally couldn~t digest the fact that I had turned a grand-father [GF] at 25+. Geez.

So, my other cousin, who has a daughter, 6 yr old, consoled me saying.."don~t worry that you have become a GF at such an age..look at my daughter..she has become an aunt at 6 yrs".. I couldn't control my laughter on hearing the irony..umm..such is life in esp.. a big family setup.

coming back, to guess how tall you might be..[if the stats are right..]

You should be 5' 7" (or) 5' 8".

I think i read in CNN that the average height of U.S. male is 5' 10" while that of a women is 5' 6" [i can pass the blame to my short memory if the stat is marginally in-correct].

Rahul Obla said...

This is a topic of much interest for me too !!. I still regret that I stopped just short of 6 foot :(. From what I've seen, guys like tall girls but get intimidated if they are taller than them .... hmmmm, food for thought ;).

Ginkgo said...

so u were/are Ms.India Ms.World material, eh :-)

Point noted ;-P

Archana said...

Prasanna, smart guess about the height :-)! Please to explain how you arrived at your conclusion! Tell me about becoming grandmother, chitti, athai etc. etc. The first time some kid called me "aunty" I looked behind me to see whom it was addressing! My heart almost broke when I realized I was "aunty" :-(!

Saranya, you got your answer from Prasanna :-)! Hmm, you were considered tall too - how tall are you :-)?

Rahul, ah, you see my point. Since average height for Indian guys is not that high, to be considered tall, Indian girls don't have to be *actually* tall!

Gingko - LOL :-D! I never thought of that interpretation! Ah, it does feel nice to think of myself as Ms.World material - :-))!

Archana Bahuguna said...

Archana, its only fair to ask a woman her height ... :-) but here goes someone giving away her age for her more "secret" statistic :-) (mine is weight, i am too thin :-) ...) all through your writing, i was looking for some numbers ... till in the end you clarified that you had no intentions of sharing them ...U know,I say I am tall when I am 5'4'' ... maybe that helps you open up a bit ;-)

And yes, am in India, having fun and eating a lot ... will probably strat writing more regularly only in jan when I am back :-)

Archana said...

Hey Archana, good to see you again :-)! Oh, I don't mind revealing my height - I have been doing it ever since I became too tall for my age :-). I am 5'7" like Prasanna correctly guessed.

Thanu said...

I can relate 100% to this post. I used to be the tall one in my class. I'm 5.7. Above all that I have really big feet. It is Impossible to get shoes/sandals to fit my feet in India. I wear size 10 (for women) footware.

Archana said...

Thanu, my comrade in height :-D!! Totally agree with you about not being able to find big-sized shoes in India. I wear a size 8.5 and in India the only footwear (if at all available) of that size mostly used to be ugly and dowdy :-((!