Monday, November 28, 2011

0 Fearry Rides

There are some fears that you can never get over with, partly because you are vulnerable, a women or a human being - makes you capable of being irrational.

This tiny insect has enough power to make me leap like a frog and howl like I have seen a ghost. My parents have got used to this scene but I am yet to give a respectable glance to this creature. I have been tortured by nightmares where I am in a room full of cockroaches or am being chased by one. The other day one of them emerged from the clothes and I ran into my room at lightening speed - God save my soul!
Yesterday I killed a small one (the size of my little finger nail) - one side of me was happy because of the accomplishment; the other side guilty of the murder instinct.
What is it that scares me - I have tried to logically tell my brain that it is but an insect. But the mere thought of its wings and flight and my brain tells me, he can approach and conquer you in an instinct. Hmmm.. finally recognized that it is their unpredictable flight combined with the desire to attack me. Same goes for the grass hopper.. they have joined the gang too.

Talking to a stranger is not acceptable but helping people on the road is a huge yes. And mostly people who seek help are strangers? The other day, a man appeared in a bike out of nowhere and started pleading for money - all in excellent English. His plead was that he did not have petrol in the bike and he has to go far. If I could just give him some change, he can manage. Now the mind goes like this - Is this an act or am I getting over-worked? After all some money, why dont I just give it? Wont I feel guilty if I dont help? I decided to hand him some change - traded money for guilt - and decided to walk away. Suddenly he started asking me weird questions. Do you live here? Are you a punjabi - you look like one. What is you name? Blah Blah. I realized I had made a mistake giving the money and quickly walked away. Luckily, my house was a step away. The mind likes to imagine the worst - is he trying to dupe you? Kidnap you? Observing you?
I decided the next time a stranger approaches and if I am alone I am not going to help. It is too risky. The victim of my decision was an old man yesterday - I refused to him five rupees when I was alone in the bus stand. Guilty or not.

Chennai autowalas are famous - but there are good and bad ones. All the stories that you read in newspapers seem to enhance an auto ride when it gets dark and sometimes the drivers decide to take you through short-cuts which are isolated. The mind comes under fear again - lonely, dark - dangerous. I start praying and offering bribes to god;-). But the other day, I got into an auto whose driver spoke excellent impeccable English. He was could talk on a wide array of topics - politics, traffic, policemen and the arguments were pretty good. I wondered as to why this guy was in an auto?But I was warned(by my mind) not to trust him and to stop talking too much.

Fear drives a lot of our decisions - Do you exercise because you are afraid that you will fall ill, dont want to be ridiculed as round or because you want to stay positive and healthy? Fear smiles when you pick that costly deo, that tasty fiber biscuits, pray to god willingly or unwillingly, go by car, get Pediasure and when you want to kill insects.

Friday, November 25, 2011

0 Kids, marriage and curiosity

Some incidents you cant forget. These moments always brings a smile on my face - either the embarrassment, the genuineness or the innocence.

One time when I was in Delhi, I was chatting with my 6 year old cousin. Her mom had told me that she is not concentrating on studies and getting low grades. I was speaking to her about school and the subjects that she likes, the teachers she adored et all. We came to the grades part. I am not the one who believes that a child has to do well in studies to manage in life - so I was not going to advice her with a lie. When I asked her what was the reason that she had no interest in three of the subjects, this was the reply "Akka, whats the use of studying what I dont like? Anyways whatever I study, earn, do at last I need to get married and settle down with my husband". ;-)

Years back, 4 of us, cousins, were huddled together - 2 of around 10 years age, me and my another male cousin of 17years - discussing some astrological signs. Suddenly, the 10 year old asks - "What is a virgin?". We look at each other and tell her "A person born in the virgo sign is a virgin". She says no, that is not what I meant. I read in all these books about being a virgin. Again, there is a strange silence. My male cousin looks at me and tells her "She will explain to you later" with a huge smile!

When I was a kid, my mom's explanation to me about making babies was "Guy and Girl get married.As soon as marriage is over - you get a baby". Sweet and Simple. So in all movies, my idea of happy ending was marriage and the baby!

Another time, my cousin and I, who were about the same age of 12, were discussing secretly about sex. After making some absurd conclusions, my cousin asked me "I dont understand one thing. Cant an older woman have sex with a younger man?". Me, trying to tap all my intelligence, replied vehemently "Ya ya. It should be possible." Then she asks me "Why do they stress that we should get married to an older man? I should ask mom" . ;-). Great thought process. Now, she is married to a person a year younger to her.

All you moms out there will be having a great time with your kids and their ideas. I wonder how these explanations have evolved now:) ? Do you manage to get embarrassed or give a satisfactory answer to them?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

0 My car driving stints

I decided that I should know to drive the car before my professional life started. There was this long vacation between completion of engineering and the time to start work - about 5 months.5 months break sounds like paradise on earth now :-(. I joined a class based on my friend's recommendation. The class was excellent.

How much people manage to scare you before the test - they will make you perform an 8, go round and round, drive near a bus and maybe perform some gymnastics! I imagined the worst and got into the car.
While giving the demo to the traffic inspector, the vehicle conked off. I was all tense. But the inspector was extremely nice:). He just waited for me to start it again and proceed with the drive. He asked me whether we have a car at home and I answered in negative. So his question was - why are you learning - are you planning to drive your neighbor's car?!!! I got my liscence successfully. That was back in 2004.

After a long hiatus, I touched a friend's car in 2006 and it was a total mess. My friend was sitting next to me on the drive and I almost managed to hit a lorry head-on. Somehow, when I was turning the corner, the car wheels refused to move to the side of the road. And I ended up in the middle with the lorry guy wondering if I was a lunatic.

I ventured boldly again into the car driving world in 2008. This time for a second class:-). By then I had completely forgotten which was the accelerator, brake or the clutch. For this, I had to drag myself out of bed early at 6:30. I kept promising my sleep that I would compensate by sleeping more once I learn driving. The dream was to sleep more, get up late, leave late to office and come back early - all this was held back by my car-handicap. But I managed to learn driving yet again.

And managed to fall out of touch yet again. The year was 2009 now. It was high time. So I forced my dad to teach me. Lets look at out time-tables. My dad wanted this early in the morning - means 6 am. For me, this was almost impossible. For every other reason, our cancelled classes continued. One fine morning I got up unusually at 6.  Gulp! My dad was not happy - danger itself was approaching his car. [He was terrified because once my bro had taken the car for practice and collided into a stationary bus..guess it runs in the blood:-) But he is a great driver now]

But still, the mandatory condition had been met. He could not avoid it. We decided to practice on the beach road. This road is 4 km from my place and what do you expect to find on the roads so early. But my dad would not have any of this. He would drive me to this place and I can drive ONLY on the beach road. Agreed. When we reached there, I took control and rode happily for 2 minutes. But the happiness was short-lived. We had to take a left turn and soon there was a traffic signal. I could see that dad was extremely careful and every second doling out a benevolent warning - 'theres a cyclist', 'theres a women,'ohh.. signal is approaching', 'hold the brake. hold the brake'. That day I realised I am an 'epitome of patience'! A bus approached and was waiting next to the car in the signal. And thats it - my dad had had enough. His face was all pink and struck with fear - all my brothers doing! He got down and flew to my drivers window and exchanged the seats. We managed a 30 minutes drive with my practice restricted to 2 minutes. Phew!

Now its 2011 and almost 2012 - I travel on my Scooty or office bus or in the famous Chennai autos. No more attempts as of now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

0 When you use the electric switch

You are in need of a hot water bath. You switch on the heater and let it over-heat for an hour. Afterall it has a thermostat and the geyser wont get spoit. How does it matter?
You are in your room and mom is calling you for dinner. You leave the lights and AC on when you step out. .How does it matter - you can pay the bills when they arrive.
Washing you clothes? There is the wonderful machine. But you leave the power cord connected to the socket when done. Should you bother? This is convenient for the next usage. Otherwise next time, you need to again lift the plug and fit into the socket. Huge work.

Everything that we do is electricity - its a currency for everything.  Name it and electricity comes to the rescue - the stairs, washing, calling your friend, commute, work, movie...

Imagine a world without this power - how will you manage? Its impossible.
Then why dont we treat it as a precious commodity? There is a finite amount of gold but the same goes for Coal too which is main reason for India's electricity. According to the International Energy Agency(IEA), worldwide coal usage has doubled in the past 30 years an would keep increasing. This usage is propelled by developing nations with China leading the pack. But India is not too far behind.

And there are side-effects too - 60% of carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions come from the energy(electricity) sector. The clean power delivered at home which comes in colorful cables is not so adorable to make. You are directly causing waste of power + more carbon-di-oxide. Are you a nature-lover? You cant be if you waste electricity.

There have been numerous movements, demonstrations and videos portraying how Global warming would bring the wrath upon us. Given our usage, a 6 degree Celsius rise in temperature is predicted for this century. This would mean death of several species, rise in water levels, huge climatic changes -  we are soon wiping ourselves out of earth.

Ultimately it is not about which country consumes more or which country is developing - when we see the disastrous results its going to affect the entire world. Ultimately its up to individuals.
Next time when you step out, try to switch off those lights and tell your family members to do so.
Next time you want a hot bath, use your geyser for only 10 minutes
And when you are done using a gadget, disconnect the power cord from the socket. There is static electricity that gets wasted.
Biggest change would be when children inculcate these habits from their parents.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

0 Safe(ci)ty for women

From the place where I board the office bus to my house, its hardly a 2 minute walk. Its a very busy road and it is a challenge to cross over when needed. One of the days, a young boy who must be around 16 years tried to grapple me when I was entering my house gate. Somehow I managed to wriggle out but my screaming was totally dampened by the traffic. There was so much anger that I wished that I had at least slapped him or kicked him. But it happened so fast that I had no time to react! From then on I am quite anxious when a motorcycle or a cyclist comes too near.

I have heard this from friends that Chennai is comparatively a safer city than Delhi and Bangalore.
But is this safety measured only on the number of rapes? Do women feel unsafe only because of rape? What about the stares that we get, the attitude with which men address you and the work culture at office? What about the innumerable instances when you feel helpless and wish you had some supernatural power to attack or curse a man?

I know that Delhi is pretty unsafe but when it comes to Bangalore its not so. I have lived in Bangalore and not had too many unpleasent experiences. I can dress the way I want and not too many people stare at me. There have been instances where men have misbehaved. But when it comes to Chennai, even if I am covered head to toe (extra toppings like duppatta are also added), men find enough reasons to make me feel that I am not covered at all.

There was this taxi guy who used to call out names everyday. He used to stop in front of the bus stand (I used to be all alone in the stop at that time) and lower the car windows and just look at me. I ignored this for another 2 months. But it gave me quite a scare when one day he got down from the car. That is when I informed my parents and my dad had to become my savior for the next few days. Its nothing embarrassing but I hate the fact that we need men to protect us from other men. When I am totally independent this thought arouses some kind of inadequacy.

Then there is office itself. You will find that women have to take pride in covering up. Women who dress in western formals or sleeveless are pulled by managers and advised on how to dress in a better manner. This is what they mean: As a women you are supposed to analyze your breasts and accordingly fold your dupatta in the right size and in a v-shape. This should be put across the shoulders and held using safety pins lest they expose your precious stuff. And if you dont do this you are giving permission to each and every man to ogle at them.It is their privilege since they are men. And you are being provocative.

I noticed the cafeteria lady today. She is using her dupatta like a pallu of a saree - going from the right shoulder onto her hips - similar to how you tie a dupatta during dance practice. But here she is just distributing tokens.

Throughout, the illusion of 'Safety' is provided because you use safety pins, dupattas and have men who accompany you everywhere. Despite all this, if something goes wrong, definitely its because of the woman who is careless in dressing and miss the daily dose of safety pins.

Monday, November 14, 2011

0 Gender-equality: a word with no Indian meaning

Sunday morning newspaper and the first headline snippet reads "The Unsafe sex".
As I read more, the story of the some Indian women and rape victims were creating some kind of helplessness in me. The state of women in India is disgusting, sad and hopeless.

In a rape case, the accused gives his justifications to the rape as "She used to talk on her phone about private matters in front of me. I felt if she's doing that, then she's become mine (Woh meri apni ho gayi)."
So Men actually OWN a women, it means you can sexually enjoy her without her consent . Its like owning a dog or better a toy that does not have any choices in life.
What private matters - what max could the girl have talked outside her place and what a decent value to eavesdrop on others and think they are stimulating?

And then we come to the family and the society support part - our Indian society, the culture, values and the family system protects us right?  Sure. That is why the blame game also finds the victim as the perpetrator of the crime - because she is too liberated and she has invited it all on herself. Parents are more bothered about the shame on the family and what to do with their daughter.

"Women have become more assertive and men are not able to accept that and use heinous ways to punish them.". Why have men suddenly become the justice-bearers especially in women issues?

It is also shocking that rapists have been known to the victims in 97% of the cases (reported ones). Women trust and this is the price they pay.

Another statistic shows that even though overall Indian economic wellness has increased that of women taken separately has reduced. The number is lesser than even countries like Pakistan. We are worse off than Afghanistan in representation of women in governments.  

What worsens the problem? Our most talked women problems.
Seeing marriage as the destination for women
Seeing women as Parent's burden and responsibility
Treating women as an object rather than a human being

The solution involves a turnover of mindset of lot of Indian men and women too. It has to start at home where boys and girls are treated equally, taught that house work needs to be shared and parents are equal responsibility. Kids can be caught early. There are books where the plot does suggest gender-neutral roles. Why not have a hour each month at school about gender-issues- based on some activities and real examples children can go a long way in teaching and correcting others at home too.  

Many corporates have mandatory training on Gender equality and sexual harassment. There are mailers sent on these but are these paid heed to? It would be great if corporates have appraisals linked to regular courses on gender-equality not only at workplace but also at home. After all, the wife at home is an employee somewhere. The husband needs to respect that and learn to balance the work-home equation.

Most bloggers would be aware of child abuse but have we taken the step to educate our children clearly about child abuse  - there are some special videos on You tube for this. Why not conduct a simple session for the neighborhood kids too - their parents might not be too aware or are too busy?

There is a lack of compassion and empathy in our minds towards women. Especially when it comes to women victims. Most of us feel that will never be 'Me'. Most of us do not take action unless we are the victims ourselves. Our small steps might help someone in the future to treat women right.

Friday, November 11, 2011

4 The "Cute and Innocent" reality

Reality shows have become a part of life with the entertainment industry banking on them completely for revenues. Any time of the day you can find people dancing, singing, cooking, debating - some with sense, some senseless - but definitely TRPs are soaring high.

Some participants have managed to become stars. Others have made their careers. They are a good avenues for talent search but not the only one. Stars and careers - shouldn't these words be associated with adult or max the teen phase - why childhood? Shows that involve children are nice to watch - lets say "Cute" (the most often word in these shows). But do these shows let the children participating and those watching it remain cute and innocent?

What do children gain and what do they lose? We can talk about a lot of positives - Children open up, gain confidence, become popular, start earning money. All of these qualities are admirable but are reality shows the only path. They are also learning that competing is good, very good. They need to be a winner no matter what. Winner here is only when you get the title. At that age, you cannot expect the child to be level-headed when parents themselves are out of tune. In the name of support, this is what happens.
Yesterday they showed a girl who was not selected and she ran out apparently upset with herself. Her entire family was there to support (really?) her outside. A minute passed and the camera zooms in on this family - her mom is screaming at her - "What is this aeeee.. aeee singing? I told you dont do it that way.. Look at what has happened" and the child clings to her dad even tighter. The level of maturity in the child seemed to be greater than the mother. Of course, the mother would have put a lot of effort into training and supporting her but is this the way to treat her when she herself is feeling let down?

How does the rejection play in the child's mind? Are we bothered?
 And who gave the network permission to amplify the emotions of a mother and child? Why should they play on this emotional spectacle? The manipulation and use of emotions - Is it any better than a saas-bahu story.

My cousin, who is all of 11 years old, already has it drilled down his brain that he must enter IIT. He is not allowed extra-curricular activities that are un-related. But he loves to attend CV Raman science institute classes twice a week. His parents are extremely proud becuase in these classes he gets to learn 9th class problems while he is in 5th. I dont understand what he will learn when he is in 9th - maybe some IIT course. Yes - parents are doing this because they want a good life for their child and want the best for him. Is joining IIT the best for him? According to society - a resounding YES. Why not a marine biologist or a doctor or an artist?

Ultimately, the shows and the child's career are a refection of what the parents want rather than what the child wants.

Would you force your child to participate in such shows?
Would you allow your child to do it because he wants to? How will you handle if the child is really dejected because of this - it requires an understanding between the child and parents. The child needs clear signals that his winning or not winning does not make a difference to you.

Parents of children who were not selected should pose in front of the camera and say "I am proud of her". Pride does not have anything to do with winning. Children do not owe it the parents to make them proud.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

4 Making sense of society-approved marriages

Discriminations that percolate our lives are countless. Common ones when it comes to marriages are caste, religion, money, skin color and the Gender. These dividing factors hide behind the facade of religion, culture and even some scientific reasons like men are physically stronger than women. But such marriages are loved by our society - after all only because of their unabated approval do they thrive.

1.Forced marriage into wealthy family - with total parental approval 
Wealth makes this family highly-respected . You will realize that many of the conditions are dropped. Wealth overpowers caste and regional differences.

The girl(G) was in love with another guy for 6 years. The boy from this wealthy family notices her at some marriage and decides that she is the one. Goes back to his mom and the family decides to pock her as the DIL. Wait - it is more of a demand to the Girl's parents. But our G's parents are one with typical Indian values (Does Indian value tell you to ditch a person you love and get married to another?) Never mind. She is forced to give up on her love and agree to this marriage. She has a kid now and seems to be very happy. Recently when spotted in a wedding we couldn't differentiate between the gold and her:-).  

Is this a 'love at first sight' marriage? Atleast for the guy - physical love or maybe it was intuition or 'purva janma bandhan' at work.But lets dig a little deeper into the highly-respected family's relationships (conditions are totally relaxed.) The MIL has two husbands. So now, our G has 2 FILs. How lucky:). There is nothing wrong with polyandry- when men have so many wives and also mistresses at least the MIL has the audacity to legally marry both of them. But if this had been a love marriage scenario - can you even imagine the opposition that G would have faced. Here the only game-changer has been Money.

2. Arranged to finish parent's responsibilities
S got married at 23 not because she wanted to but her parent's wanted their duties to be done. Pakka arranged marriage. Now, she is 25 with a baby in hand. For the past 2 years, she has hardly spoken to any of her friends or family - even her own mom. She has restricted access to the outside world be it the internet or the telephone - her MIL is constantly monitoring. (Does't it sound like she has some health condition or is in Jail?). She confides to her friend last week that there are too many problems. Worst is her FIL misbehaving with her. And she has been strictly instructed by him that she should not share this with anyone. And who is going to believe her anyways - her MIL or her husband? They will be too concerned about preserving the family honor lest this issue leaks out. This is another kind of highly respected family.

3. Arranged but struggling to stay married
I have written about C in this post. She is pregnant now but with her husband having extra-marital affair and exchanging messages throughout the night. She will stay put there - the baby is due anytime. And its the rule that women have to adjust always.

Even in an choice marriages(Arranged/Love) these situations are possible but support sources are stronger. Either the lady has supportive parents (because they were in the right mind to let her choose) or best she has a supportive husband. Parents often say "If you marry according to our norms, we will always be there to support you" - what can parents do in these scenarios?
In these life snapshots, what is the Indian culture that we are upholding? What is it that irks people about a choice marriage? Why should elders decide everything - from the sex muhurtham to when to molest a DIL?

What is the use of family if women have to sacrifice everything - time, money, self-respect, love - to keep it in place?

Monday, November 7, 2011

4 The uncalled match-makers

I recently attended a wedding because someone had to accompany my mom. I usually avoid social gatherings especially marriage scenarios where I feel that I have been put on the showcase. Most people I met dint know me but were anxious to know about my marital status. And my toes are the most prized possessions during this quest - people expect you to wear the metti (toe ring) if you are married.

After my toe is scrutinized, I can see that they are facing some difficulty examining my neck. This is a huge task - after all the same group expects me to be wrapped in cloth head to toe. Second, the neck is covered by ornaments. The result is that the black beads or Golden mangalsutru is camouflaged. Finally, they see none of the wedlock indications. Still, this has to be verified thoroughly.

Person: Hello. How are you doing?
Me: I am doing good Uncle. How are you? (Not even in my dreams do I know this person. Nor am I interested! Excited "I am related to you" tone. Not good.)
Person: Good Good. So you are the bride's paternal Grand-mom's cousin's grand-daughter? You look so much like your mom.
Me: (Tired trying to understand the relation.. nevertheless trying to make my brain connect the dots. And this was really the relationship at this wedding!) Hmmmm
Person: So, what are you doing? Still studying?
Me: (Little happy - Do I look like I am still studying.Great I am looking younger. Yippee! Brakes... you know what this question is leading to) No Uncle. I work in an MNC doing "you cannot understand the work" job.
Person: Oh.. thats nice. My niece works in the same company. Do you know her? She works in Area5 in Chennai.
Me: (My company has a strength of 1 lakh +.. and how does it even matter? The conversation is entering the danger zone) No. I dont know her.
Person: Are you married?
Me: (So blatant.. who the f*** does he think he is, acting as a mediator or saviour to help poor me from singledom) No
Person: Are your parents looking for someone?
Me: (Can I say No? what does he expect? I am going to marry someone - you have a problem?) Yes
Person: We are looking for one of my nephews - He is blah blah. What is you birth year?
Me: 83. (Loved this part)
Person: (Trying hard to calculate my age.. after done his expression becomes a little tense.Oh! 83?
Me: We are leaving. Take care. (Abruptly I leave my seat and find one somewhere else)

The entire attitude of the couple changed. His wife joined in giving me a stare and in wondering why has the girl not yet been married? How can he ask a personal question in a crowd. Is this being decent? Who gave him the authority to question about my age? Society makes you feel inadequate and answerable for your intensely personal decisions.

I dint escape with one such conversation that day - there were 2 more which I deftly avoided. Most women get married because of this pressure and to avoid situations such as these. Most Indians cannot draw the line between a personal and a public issue. A marriage is a joint public decision - a long as it remains that way we can see a lot more volunteers plundering the system and its relationships.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

0 If I can frame the Society's rules ulta-pulta

The title of the post is reminiscent of kid's essay topics like "If I were the Prime Minister" or "If I were the President of USA":). Days when you could run wild and your imagination can take your lead.

How different would the world be if rules were framed keeping women in mind or better advantageous to them? Here are some samples.
  • A girl is born: Its celebration time.Girls should be treated like a Queen the moment they are born.
  • Maturity: When women menstruate, men should be secluded in the room and provided meals when required. They should just isolate themselves and stop annoying women in the household. Women can definitely take care of themselves during this period not bothered about how to satisfy every man's need.
  • When a guy ogles at a girl: Do you think this will be possible at all? But if at all it happens, women have every right to embarrass the guy. She can scream, slap right across his face and demand that he pay her in dollars. If not demand whatever she wants if caught. Its rule of the land that men cant escape - they have to pay back.
  • When there is a rape: Again, do you think this can happen? But there will be exceptions. So here, if found guilty the women can right away kill the person if she wants it. The decision lies with the lady.
  • Marriage: The girl gets to choose between staying with her family or independently. There is a huge amount of dowry involved when marrying an educated and 'lots of attitude' girl. This had to be paid by the grrom and conditions are set by the bride's family. "You need to get 3 sets of diamond necklaces for our daughter. 4 cars of the latest model should do. And make sure that your son knows to cook paneer sabzi and Aloo Bindi. She like them a lot." (Are we too far from such conversations?)
  • Pregnancy: Husbands, you have a tough 10 months ahead. You need to go to office and take care at home - completely. Maybe, you should opt for work-from-home option.
  • Children: Offices should have nurseries where men can take care of their children. The wife can choose to leave her child with the husband and just roam around or take care of her work.
If these were the rules, this is how daily life would be:

Ads in Matrimonial Column reads:
"Wanted groom for a Girl 5 ft 8, 28 yrs, Highly educated and independent. Groom should be a good cook, attended courses on emotional intelligence (EQ), should have mother/sisters/cousin sisters - highly educated and working moms, willing to work-at-home when needed"

Times Now Headlines reads:

Politics: Reservation Bill to be passed today by the house
The Progress party (Congress seems to be a con. Since women are in power they would have changed it to a pro) and the BMP (Bharatiya Mahila party) have voted in favor of the reservation bill. This will allow men to show restricted participation in running the country ('Restricted' is better than 'Equal').Over the period of 20 years, the dwindling population of men and their misbehavior has ensured that very few have reached the peak in politics. This was closed in by the law passed during the Progress party tenure which states "An MP should have basic qualifications (degree in law, education, medicine, social service or experience in any relevant field)" - Since most men are not encouraged by parents to study, many have not reached this level. The Bill aims to reserve 20% of the seats for eligible male citizens who are really interested in building the nation.

National: Sex Ratio in Uttar Pradesh
7th billion baby 'Nargis Vinita' was born today in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh to proud parents Vinita and Ajay. The nation is overjoyed by the fact that this number has been associated with the female child which represents the power of India. Over the years, mothers have ensured that their children are born equally and hence deserve life equally. This is seen from the numbers in UP's sex ratio. It has improved considerably from 899:1000(M:F) to the current figure of 968:1000 (M:F).

Careers: Men are worried about Bottle Casings
A recent research reveals that in the corporate world, women outnumber men in key positions. The representation of men in the board is a meager 10% in the Fortune 500 companies. Ever since the realization that women are better at decision making, handling complexity and emotional situations their rise to the top has been phenomenal. On the other hand, the popular notion about men has been that they worry too much about competing rather that working together, rely on numbers rather than intuition and are incapable of juggling between home life and work. Their constant struggle to climb the corporate ladder has been constricted by the Bottle Casing. Lots of men work at lower level (inside the bottle) but are unable to prove their worth to be at the top to make it big in the outside world.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

6 When are you tying the knot?

The famous question.. and while I am uttering "Not yet" I am mentally answering "It does not concern you" or "Right now, I dont want to get married".

This must be the most frequently asked question that I encounter and if Life was on Facebook, I would have pressed "Unlike" 1000 times! Every second person who meets a girl who is of sane mind and marriageable age (difficult to mention a number here.. In India for a women this could be from 5 - ? .. I don't have a problem with the ? but with the 5!) has to be
1. A match maker 2. a well-wisher who is concerned 3.knows a 'fair, tall, handsome, working in MNC groom' who would just fit the bill.
Now, this question has gone beyond just being mentioned during meetings to even over the mails and on social sites. People are really interested in my life. I guess I am a celebrity.

Its plain embarrassing when 2 mamis (ladies) meet and start talking about a bright groom from Stanford living in the USA but with traditional values. About how their parents are in India searching for a suitable homely bride with high qualifications (means an MBA or PhD) who is rooted to the Indian culture and respects elders and should come from a highly-respected family. NO one knows what high-respected family means here. Its one of those words that is subjective and confusing. These mamis are very confident that  since the parents are religious and cultural, the progeny follows the same. Somewhere during our evolution from childhood to an adult, when we learn to grow independent, the values of parents differs from ours. Here the Progeny become a Congeny ;-) for the parents.

But our mamis are oblivious to this.

There are no second thoughts - If you are single you need to be married immediately. Its their duty. What if I am committed, despise arranged marriages, or simply want to stay single and happy? Why should I sacrifice my career and move to the USA?

Ultimately, girls and their parents are made to beleive that marriage is an essential stage to be happy and successful in life. Atleast, once married these questions will not arise - "Is something wrong with your daughter", "Is she impure", "Is she planning to run away"? Harsh. But true.

So parents heave a sigh of relief when the occasion happens. But, we are women - the inquisitiveness over our life does not stop here.  
The next stage is "Any good news?", "When will I become a grand-mother?". My sister-in-law faces this every other day.  This question is never posed to married men. Making babies is the woman's business.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

0 Smells that carry you away

My evening bus journey takes me through a narrow street dotted with small tea shops, cycle repair centers, and all things crowded . Yesterday, one whiff of air and I was transformed to the place where I had bhajjis the last time. Smells, especially one associated with close friends and thus packed with emotions, have a strong way of tugging at the heart.

There are fragrances that make the wheel turn back and for a moment you wish it will stay that way forever. Yesterday it was Mulagai (Chilli) Bhajji at the tea stall combining effortlessly with the pouring rain. And you would imagine relaxing in your huge balcony sipping nice warm masala tea with the bhajji.. hmmmm.. heaven. Or the local vendor who packages the bajji with Podi (a traditional bread) and you share it with a friend near a jetty.

Another strong catalyst for "feel-good" is Coffee. The images are Baristas and CCDs and the special coffee chocolate that my brother brought. Its synonymous with the comfort of my gang, those late night outs with the guitar in barista (none of us knew how to play it though) and the subsequent gliding on Bangalore roads in the crisp chill air.

The smell of "just blessed with rain" mud and grass doesn't spare me either specifically when I look at the rain enveloping a wide grass field. It pulls me to another wonderful life stage when I graduated. Rampant rains that used to pamper nature for most part of the year, the rivers, the beaches, the boats. The time when four of us were drenched with surprise rain but thoroughly enjoyed, and we had nowhere to run because we were in the middle of nowhere. It would be just a strong breeze one second and the next you could see that you are being being approached by a curtain of water.

And that favorite old shirt or sweater that smells just that - favorite. Its warmth is unprecedented by any fancy new wear. You don't want to give it away. Its almost like your identity - they seem to define you and your memories.

What are your cherished fragrances? You don't need a time machine to remember. The humble nose does the job in an excellent manner.
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