Thursday, December 29, 2011

0 Beauty heavens

I visit the parlor once every 45 days to get basic services done - waxing and sometimes pedicure. I really dont have the patience to go there - I just wish it was sophisticated for women to have hair in the hand like men and eyebrows as unruly as a pony. Alas.. times have changed and you are expected to follow some basic routines. All these parlors expect you to book an appointment and also ask for your preferred service personnel - I never ask for one. I expect all of them to have some basic knowledge. And waxing is basic.

At Chennai, I struggled initially to find a service that would suit me. I am quite finicky when it comes to donating my body for the plucking experience - I expect a separate room, undisturbed and calm, clean sheets, well-spoken,efficient & aware staff AND a relaxed approach.

'Not relaxed' is when you are made to feel you are a wooden piece that needs to be cut and polished by carpenters who have to grind 1000 pieces in the next few hours. The lady provides me with a change of dress and rushes back in a minute. Usually, there are two women who simultaneously set out on the task of honing my skin. There seems to a lot of time crunch. Fata-fat - Apply powder, the wax (sometimes ridiculously hot!), place the tissue and pull. and Pull. Apply and PULL. Just PULL. My skin is treated like a product - not like a human being's skin.

In the middle of it, when you are gloriously sitting half-exposed and feigning to read a magazine while wincing in pain, there are other ladies who keep interrupting - 'Give me the wax, the powder and tweazer'.  
Give me a break - I am not yet ready to expose to everyone and appear as a sensational cover piece.
To top it all, they keep talking in languages I don't understand - Are they saying "Oh look, how fat she is", "Look at the legs, they are like pillars", "Just be done fast, she will not give us more business", "Lets sell more, Try the dupe strategy". It might not be so bad but I find it rude when they chit-chat most of the time oblivious to my presence - again exactly like I am senseless furniture.

There are others who are incredibly slow - either because they are amateurs, scared to hurt you or simply want to please you. You can be assured that waxing will take an hour and what is left is half-mowed hands. These ladies either try to act knowledgeable or don't know anything about the product that they use on me. They are inadequately trained on the benefits and cannot answer if asked about the difference in price or time. Coming to the 'Acting I am a beautician' types - they try to put maska saying 'your hair is nice but ... ', 'the skin is so soft but...'. And after the but is the sales pitch. If you ask them further questions they are caught.

There is a definite difference in attitude when you spend or appear classy. You are given the most-experienced hair dresser, clean towels and meted out superior treatments.

But I also wonder how much these women earn and how do they feel when pretentious women squander their money?Some beauty treatments might cost half of their month's salary. Are they jealous?
Its like catering to a queen's wish - sitting on a pedestal, pampering your legs, removing the dirt. Do they find it demeaning? Ofcourse, if they had chosen the profession by choice, the question of self-respect will not arise. But still envying, comparing, fantasizing is women's nature, at least a wee bit.

I have been parlor-hopping for quite a while - but have settled on one that is less torturous. For the other folks out there, hope you have found that perfect place where you dream of relaxing when they work on you. For those of you who have found that lady or house that lets you sit back and enjoy - I am jealous.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

0 Dear Mr. Prime Minister

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

Hope you are on your way to Delhi and creating as much excitement as the one on your visit to Chennai.  I cannot thank you enough for making yesterday a memorable day for me - actually for many Chennaites.

I can completely understand the police engrossed only with ensuring that we do not cross roads illegally and not reach office on time - the time spent on our glazed roads is very much appreciated.

The prolonged relaxation on the roads brought out the best in people - No one was reticent in showing their street-picked behavior to fellow men. There was free cacaphonous music exchanged between all, overthrowing the margazhi season songs - you could hear cribbing, screaming, teasing, warning and threats as the machines (men included) tried to be the first to blend into another packed set of vehicles caged by a set of policemen who were of course being sincere about their duty. The gridlocked arrangement of cars, autos and vans encouraged people to drive on pavements - again an invention for creating more travel space.

If you had observed the income graphs of autos during this time, you would have noticed that it peaked, almost double the normal levels - how thoughtful of you to keep in mind the aam-auto aadmi. Chennai autowalas struggle with low-income and the measly amounts that passengers pay for a walking distances. You directly addressed a voting lot. Somehow, my auto managed to meander through an alley and reach some place from where I could catch a private mode of transport.   Since I am with you in solving auto-wala's problems, I empathetically parted with twice the normal amount to reach a place where my office bus does not bother a pick-up.

And here too it was "Surprise! Surprise!". The road looked so clean and empty - I have never seen this particular road like this and the sight was overwhelming. I cannot attempt to describe the deafening silence only interrupted by occasional cribbing by a bystander on his inability to reach office - I fail to understand why he could not appreciate the beauty of Chennai in broad daylight and was wasting his time in complaining when such a beautiful visual was in place - I tell you, some people are thankless.

Anyway, as I chose to stand and look around, I realized that I need a train ride to reach another part of town which seemed to have the normal daily life and connectedness to office - another 300 rs spend for one more autowala. I travelled with 2 total strangers so as to share the measly spend among us.

You have made me grow as a person and Indian citizen. To be patient, to be ignorant, to meticulously plan spend and be generous to others - Invaluable lessons. If anyone can teach all this in the mere 3 travel hours (instead of the boring hours journey I would have had on my bus), it can only be bureaucrats such as you.

We welcome more VVIPs and aristrocrats to teach us how to spend our time productively in Chennai.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

4 Ordinary vs Sexual touch - How do you know?

Child abuse is common - but so is women abuse. It is difficult to trace child abuse because children either do not understand the touch or fail to communicate out of fear or shame. Women abuse is confusing and subtle - even for a well-informed women. It is a way of life for women but it still leaves a stain.

Once when I went for a Hair spa (an exception), and since it was an unisex spa, a male hair dresser was assigned to the task of placating my hair. It was expensive but the guy did a good job of massaging the head and the shoulders. But when it came to the shoulders and the back, I was extremely uncomfortable. Even though, I wanted to think that it was ok, it was not ok for me to let some random male touch me even under required circumstances. Some conflicting thoughts due to cultural conditioning. Add to it the fact that this guy was smiling at another guy periodically - as if to say "See .. I am touching her". I decided for all my modern thoughts about men-women, I am not going to get a massage done by a guy again.

My paati (paternal grand-mom) had seven children all of whom were delivered with the help of a male doctor. She talks about this doctor in a reverent manner - she still wishes that he is alive so that she can solve her ailments in a second.(Do we have doctors like this anymore?). In the US, I have heard that male gynaes do an excellent job. But how do I trust - I have equally heard of horror stories of doctors capturing patients in hidden cameras. I also have a doctor friend who told me that one of his acquaintances (a dermatologist) asks patients to remove clothes to examine even small complains - just to feel them. He had openly admitted this but not much could be done. He warns me against going to any male doctor.

On a visit to Delhi to my maternal grand-parent's home, I had a severe skin infection on my breasts. We went to well-known female doc and she referred us to a male dermatologist just to check that this was just eczema and not a symptom of breast cancer.(Yes. Breat cancer can also start with a skin infection on the top layer). I had no way out but to get examined by this person. He was a middle-aged man but I made sure that my aunt stayed in the room when he performed the analysis. It was really embarrassing but we got through it fast. I had some trust because I trusted the other doctor who had referred us.

And for all the men who are 'Ladies tailors', whenever they start measuring the breasts I become all tense. Some exploit at this stage - they touch the breast or the side or the hips. Can I just start screaming right there? No I cant. Was it intentional - I will never know.

I have written about My car driving stints here. This is when I attended the classes for the second time in Bangalore. I chose a guy instructor because lady instructors did not train on weekends and on Santro. The first few classes were good. When I was learning the reverse drive I could not get the vehicle to move in the right space. This guy steers the car suddenly and the problem is there is not too much space between the steering and me! He touches me and I know its intentional - but I did not want to create a scene. I just made sure I dont go driving with him after that. But the incident was already past.

Some questions
1. How many of you are completely comfortable getting styling services from men?
2. How do you know that a man is not exploiting you when providing any service?
3. Are you comfortable going to a male gynecologist and letting them guide you during the pregnancy?

Monday, December 12, 2011

0 Marriage Market - Harnessing Parent's fear

Advertisements always address the emotional need of the audience. It is not enough to merely talk that Complan is a great, nutritious drink - it is not enough if you just say that it contains Vitamin A, B, C, D, E, K, M (yet to discover) and all the minerals. All these letters do not connect to the common man. But when it shows that your child feels inferior because of his height AND because the other child is taller because he drinks Complan - it connects to you - it hits hard on your brain that your child is feeling bad and you need to compensate immediately with Complan - Call for action.

This is the Call-for-action to parents who have children in Marriageable age
Commercial for a matrimonial website. A dad sees his daughter leave with a guy on bike and he immediately loses it. [The guy is shown with unruly long hair which translates into not from a good family]. He discusses this with the mom who both blame each other for not finding a quick match for the daughter. They have no doubts in their mind that she is planning to elope and marry this guy. Ahh.. and look at those relaxed faces when they discover the website - a quick way of being/making  a bakra.

Lesson 1:
Try to find a groom for your daughter as soon as you think she is ready for marriage - this can be from 14 years to 25. If you do not do that, she is going to run away and marry a crazy man definitely. She cannot make a good choice with the priority being family tradition and culture.
Lesson 2:
You daughter cannot travel with other men on bike. Definitely these are not her friends. How can she have genuine guy friends? We are telling you, she is tricking your clan. Be careful.

While waiting at the train station at 4'o clock in the morning. Most people around are drowsy and falling off their seats trying to catch some interrupted sleep. You hear this screeching voice "Muhurtha pattu" - Bridal 7. And the ad keeps repeating 100 times. I am left wondering as to who in this crowd is so interested to look at sarees at this time of the day. There is so much emphasis on the wedding day and its rituals and when you are someone who has dared to step out of the madness you will be made to feel wasted.
Lesson 3: 
Sarees and gold make daughters do crazy things. They will agree to even get married to "whom so ever" of your choice and perform all the rituals to get the mad bonding done.

Another Saree commercial:
Here the bride herself explains the seven part marriage. You can clearly see she represents the majority of Indian women - prides in going the arranged marriage way with her parent's blessings (!), follows all traditions and finally believes in a fairy-tale wedding and am sure expects life to be like that too.
Lesson 4: Its a reinforcement of Lesson 3. Dont you still get it? Hurry up.

The ads are a reflection of the MAT.
Marriage age Threshold (MAT): Applicable only for women and set by the marriage market. Girl's worth in the market is indirectly proportional to her age.
5 - 18 - Highly suitable for marriage and other activities too
18-24 - Ripe time for marriage and to start producing lineage
>25 years -  Not yet married? Shady character, less worthy because genitals are old. Higher dowry for compensation.
> 30 - Forget it unless the girl is another name for dollars

[Edited to add this video of a really funny arranged marriage setting. Wish girls had the liberty to make guys perform different acts and choose given sufficient time. Sad part is even now in India, its the other way round. Girls perform all tricks to impress guy's parents. Note it: Not necessarily to impress the guy]

Friday, December 2, 2011

2 Religion - To each its own brand

Recently, Coke came out with a winter edition of its cola cans - Coca-cola in red fonts in a white background. Here is the link to see the cans - I like the polar bears on it.

This was the consumer's reaction
1. The coke in the white can tasted different from the original red can [Is there any logic here, or people consider themselves stupid enough to beleive this?]
2. Consumers got confused with the diet coke cans [One genuine reason. Coke should have thought about this a bit earlier]
3. People just thought the idea was ridiculous and unacceptable.[How humans cite reasons when there is no reason at all]

Somehow this episode resonates with what is happening in my life right now - the arguments, logic, rituals, god, temples, women slavery, pati-parameshwar - features of the grand brand/product called Religion. Any change or comment is exactly perceived in the same way as if I was condemning Coke.

Is Religion is a product? Each product is identified by its needs or creating needs in the market.
Here is how the concept called "Religion" developed into a "Product"
  • Generate fear in human minds
  • Answer all questions that arise out of fear in a mysterious way
  • Unexplained phenomenon that was solved using science but was against religion will always be suppressed. Scientists had been ostracized, murdered and their ideas killed.
  • Create a lot of confusing features - rules, rituals, traditions
  • Identify target segments - species with weak minds, money-deprived, peace-deprived, money-cunning, power-thirsty
  • Build accessible stores for sales, creating a social community [Facebook is so copying this idea!] 
  • Step on anyone who challenges the rules and label them 'Offensive'. You will find the meaning here.

 And look at the excellent brand management. We should be given marketing classes based on this.
  • High brand loyalty - Look at the number of followers
  • Clear brand differentiation - Do you have any confusion between the different brands. Are you allowed to have any?
  • Murderous competition among brands  - Anyone heard about Honor killings? Did I also hear it right - that peace was supposed to a feature?
  • High brand value for all its ambassadors: Being religious has great value in the community. So, you would want to associate with the fashionable brand.
  • High switching costs between brands - Can you take up your neighbor's religion? In all possibility, your family will abandon you. Tried an inter-faith marriage?
Has Religion kept up to its Brand promise?
Even if God created religion, any change of rules is considered blasphemous. It should be followed the way it was interpreted by men to suit their needs.  
Humans started believing in the brand promise and will continue to do so.

I rest my case.
1. Human beings are highly irrational
2. Even after the brand promise of each individual religion has failed, the brand becomes stronger each living day
3. You better stick to a brand, otherwise you will end up with no brand at all!

[Note: I respect people with other beliefs/opinions and as much expect others to do the same. This post does not intend to condemn any particular religion but rather bring out the idiosyncrasies of the idea itself.]

Thursday, December 1, 2011

0 Undermining my "Education credentials"

What is Sin90?
1/2 ?

What is cot (theta)/Tan (theta)?
1, 2, nothing, infinity?

How many toes does a cat have in its paws? (Me: Was I ever taught about this??)
4 or 5 ?

Do you remember the joules law? (Remember the term from somewhere)
I definitely remember Newtons third law - For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. (And for asking these questions, you are going be slapped by me)

What is the Fibonacci series?
Trying hard. I toiled hard on this for CAT - not very long back!

Hmmmm.. I studied all this for 16 years and more. Studied hard, wrote exams, and created all drama in between (for passing!). There has been excitement, fun, disappointment, friends, canteen, crush, assignments, hostel, bus rides and plenty. When we narrow down to what was actually the objective (which was obviously studies and marks), I seemed to have scored well too.

But trying to reason why they gave me the scores, Priceless. I dont know whether to blame my memory, my teachers, the education system or myself.
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