Category Archives: Culture

How Independent Are the Independent Women of Our Independent Country?

Debolena Bose speculates about the notion of independence conferred upon contemporary Indian women!

Independent woman

“Ma, I’m leaving”, shouts out Tarun to his mom.

“Okay but don’t be late”, replies his mom.

“Fine”, says Tarun and he leaves.

“Ma, I’m going out with friends”, says Tarun’s sister, Hrishita.

“Oh! You, too, are leaving…alright…but when will you be back”, asks Mrs. Bhatt.

“In about 3 hours”, answers Hrishita.

“THREE HOURS! What will you do for such a long time?”

“Going for a movie, Ma. Please understand! The movie will take at least 2.5 hours. It will take us 15 minutes to reach the theatre and the same time to come back. That makes it 3 hours!”

“Do you really need to go for the movie? Why can’t you simply invite your friends over? All of you can sit around and chit-chat! That’s also a fun thing to do. Don’t you think so?

“Ma, it’s Friday evening! I don’t wish to sit at home. We chit-chat every day. Any way, I will be out for just 3 hours!”

“Listen, you have to be home before dusk. Do you understand? I don’t want you to be out in the night. And what kind of clothes are you wearing? The neck is so deep! How many times have I told you that capris don’t really suit you! Put on your black jeans.”

“Ma, enough now! I’m going! You’ve already delayed me by 20 minutes. In case I am late, it will be all your doing; not mine!”

“Rishu, I’m not allowing you to step out of home in these clothes. Go and CHANGE. Right now!”

“FINE!”

(After a while) Hrishita comes back wearing jeans and a different top. “Does this make you happy?”

“Ya, this is alright! Now listen to me very carefully – don’t look at any boys in the neighbourhood. If anyone tries to speak to you, or even make an eye contact, don’t utter a word. Just move on. If you hear someone making catcalls, don’t retaliate. Also, if some passerby car stops by you to ask for an address, ignore that person and move along. Make sure the auto driver does not take you through those small alleys. Always take the road which remains crowded. Most importantly, how many of you are going? Are there any boys accompanying you?”

“No Ma! Sujata, Priya, Poonam and I – four of us are going for the movie.”

“Four girls ALL ALONE”!!!

“Ma, be reasonable. How can four girls be alone? We are four of us and we can take care of each other. Don’t worry!”

“Abhinav and Hritik could have accompanied you. Had you informed me about your plans earlier, I would have asked you brother to drop you off to the theatre! Any way, one more important thing – don’t befriend strangers in the movie hall. In case, someone offers you popcorn, politely refuse. And yes, COME HOME EARLY!”

“Yes Ma, thanks for the advice-cum-lecture. Now, if you are done, can I leave?”

So, how many of you have gone through this routine? Raise your hands! I’m sure all of you have! I guess this has now become a part of our cultural heritage. Just like we brag about our ancient monuments, art and culture, so can we boast about the number of Hrishitas and Mrs. Bhatts our country has created.

When I was 6 years old, my mom warned me about strangers for the first time. “Don’t talk to strangers”. “Don’t accept chocolates from them”. “Keep your eyes open, always”. By the time I turned 10, strange questions poured in – “Why do you have to smile at everyone beta? A familiar face does not mean that you have to smile brightly. You are inviting trouble. When you grow up, you need to have such a personality that people are afraid to approach you.”

Such questions and remarks are a part ‘n parcel of every girl’s life in India, starting from the prominent metro cities to the small towns. A girl has to be chaperoned wherever she goes, otherwise some invisible hands will grasp at her and tug at her virtue or pull it off completely. And, of course, since the family’s honor rests on their female’s virtue, it has to be guarded with utmost care!

India became independent 66 years ago. Yet, half the country is still under the throes of bondage! Yes, bondage it is! The captivity of half the population of the country is not represented by heavy iron chains or handcuffs, but something more subtle, therefore, more powerful and long-lasting – lustful eyes, a picture of unbridled animalistic instincts. In the largest democracy of the world, half the population of India can’t move about freely, whenever they want to, in whichever way they wish to, wearing whatever they feel like! If this is not a gross failure of democracy, human rights and civil liberties, then what is it!

girl childWhat I fail to understand is that in a country where female deities are more revered than their male counterparts, how can such brazen acts of irreverence happen towards women? What are we doing about these acts? Most importantly, can we really solve this problem? Or, may be, we can pray to God for our safety every time we step out of the lakshman rekha of our home. If we are able to come back home with only a few catcalls and some lewd gazes, we can consider ourselves lucky! If not, probably we are paying for the sins committed in our previous birth!

If I am able to reach the age of 70 unharmed, perhaps I will go on some grand pilgrimage to thank God for keeping me safe!

Oh shit! Recently, there was some news about a 70-year old woman being raped by a neighbor! Ok, maybe I will pay my regards to God only when I have a tete-a-tete with him after death!

The Great Indian (Before) Marriage Tamasha – Part 4

By  Shwetha Kalyanasundaram

arranged-marriage-597x400

The last blog post (in this series) ended with the following question “So what happens if the horoscope matches?!?” Read on…

If the horoscopes match at both ends, one moves onto a phase where you try to get to know each other!! This is done to see if they are compatible with each other. Well, in most cases, the two people involved are always going to be at their best behaviour, giving stereotypical answers, in an attempt to impress the other person.

Questions are asked on a variety of topics and hypothetical situations are drawn and one is gauged on the answers given and the level of compatibility is measured based on these answers!! Practically speaking, people tend to behave in a completely different manner, when faced with the actual situation. And one’s thought process is going to change as you mature and one is going to act according to the situation at that point of time. Given this, how will you know you are choosing the right person as your life partner?!?

Pondering over this question, I finally drew my own conclusion and here it is: (mind you, the next few portions can be serious!)

There’s always the pending fear and anxiety of things going wrong. The person you are trying to match needn’t necessarily portray their true nature. The whole act might be pre-mediated in an effort to create impression. Even assuming that the true nature is always portrayed, human character is still amenable to change with growing years.
It’s hard to judge a person based on a finite set of questions however hypothetical it may be.

I would like to draw a similarity with that of a job interview. If 3 people were being interviewed for one position and all of them seemed technically strong with good credentials, then it’s a tough call right? In that situation I would go for the one with that extra zeal, motivation and rapport. (Psst…Behavioural reasoning would help me weed through this.)

You make a choice based on your essential needs and requirements which absolutely cannot be compromised – your core values. How do you gauge that this person isn’t pretending to possess those? You observe how they behave in their surroundings and with their surroundings. You follow their journey to the current destination which should usually serve as a predictor to where things will proceed. But remember that there will always be forces beyond your control that can cause disruptions and distress.

That would explain why horoscopes are so heavily relied on. By placing your faith and fate on an astrologer you are essentially alleviating the anxiety levels and creating self-assurance on a secure future. Hell, I have seen things go wrong even with horoscope match.  Remember, humans are innately good. It’s how each person reacts to different circumstances that define their character.

Hence proof that I m a thorough Human Resources professional! *chuckle*

After years of the groom hunt, I finally found my man. And yes, I did have my share of “flashing bulbs” and “ringing bells” moments that I believe are supposed to happen when you come across your soul mate. And a definite proof that it takes just over two and half minutes to decide your soul mate!! (A recent research quotes this!)

I now truly believe in destiny!

And as every fairy tale ends, we live happily ever after!!!

Ms. Rose Chasm: The Cross Who Double Crossed Us

the cross that double crossed us

Continuing her crusade in India’s defence, Shwetha Kalyanasundaram, brings to you more evidence of why she thinks this entire Ms. Chasm story is a campaign to malign India. A must read. 

A chance comment posted under my article on CNN iReport titled “My India: The Mistaken Story – An Indian Woman’s Perspective” (first published on Mission Sharing Knowledge) caught my attention.

Quoting the person under the pseudonym ‘moonboat’ – “Michela Cross posted a number of videos on YouTube during her trip, including one that gives quite a different account of the Ganesha festival incident she related. In the video, she gushes on about how she loved all the attention and photos being taken of her. In the current circumstances, where her story is being taken as gospel and this story has gone viral, I find the videos are appalling. She also shows herself to be ignorant and disrespectful of Indian culture.”

And this had a bunch of us looking at the videos posted by Ms. Cross on her channel in YouTube. Boy! Weren’t they interesting! And we realized that some of her statements were in total contradiction to her article “India: The Story You Never Wanted to Hear”.

Here’s how…

Her video published on September 29, 2012, where she talks about her experiences at the Ganesha festival

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPu2GmF4Y44

Quoting Ms. Cross from the video

  • “We were grabbed by a bunch of GIRLS who started dancing with us, flashing paint on our faces, which was COOL”
  • “Taking loads of photos of us, I felt like a CELEBRITY. If you wanna feel like a celebrity, be a WHITE person and GO TO INDIA”
  • “We danced for 12 more hours to Bollywood music and we were given lots of food. It was super cool. I felt like I was in a movie”
  • “Fun facts – The Ganesha festival which ended today is…ummm…Ganesha is the God who is prayed to for the start of journeys and travels. I consider it GOOD LUCK”

Wow Ms.Cross! This is so contradictory to what you had put up in your story about the Ganesha festival!!!

Quoting from her article “I was prepared to follow the University of Chicago’s advice to women, to dress conservatively, to not smile in the streets.” However, your video titled “Whipping Boy” published on October 2, 2012 has you saying that your roommate and her friend embarked on an adventure and smiled at the people on the streets!

Didn’t you just break the rules?!? And you say you weren’t prepared for all the stares/glares that sliced away bits of you piece by piece! You brought it on upon yourself – you purposefully drew the locals’ attention on you! And you blame us?!? Preposterous is the word (that would just be an understatement actually!).

There are 6 videos that have been put up by Ms. Cross on YouTube with reference to her India trip – especially her three months of stay in Pune. Surprisingly, none of her videos show signs of struggle or trauma. And you are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) now?!? I’m no psychiatrist Ms. Cross – but all I can say is you are suffering from a serious bout of “Attention Deficit Disorder”.

Ms. Cross, now I’m really starting to wonder if your whole article “India:  The Story You Never Wanted to Hear” was a sham to tarnish the image of my beautiful country. You’ve taken the entire nation for a highly emotional ride. Your article drew in a lot of support from my fellow compatriots and this pretence of an article is like a slap on their faces. Deplorable act I must say!!

P.S: @Moonboat – whoever you are, thanks a lot for bringing this to our notice. We owe this article to you!

Fashion & Flirting (With Men Of Course)

By Tahira

Alpha-Male

I have always been a gourmet. Good food turns me on and wait! Let me be more precise – it has to be a non-vegetarian delicacy – either chicken or sea food. However, at times I do prefer indulging in other activities that makes life much more happening for a young woman – like fashion, shopping for the latest Prada handbag or a Giovanni Dress or a pair of stilettos from Jimmy Choo — what more to make life exciting? Hmm… well you guessed it right… MEN!!!

So three things… food, fashion and flirt (with Men obviously!) that can make a life much better! What say?

Sitting idle on a Saturday, I was flipping through a women’s magazine. Though am not much the kinds who would spend hours over the latest issue of Vogue or discussing the latest pair of lingerie launched – but such occasional deviations were definitely welcoming. My eyes suddenly fell on a perfume ad. It goes without saying that it featured a male model with the perfect six pack abs on which possibly every woman would dream of.

The uber-cool model posing shirtless (or should I say topless) staring seductively at the camera made me drool for a fraction of a second. How I wish my boyfriend would at least smell like (if not look like) the fragrance; exuding masculinity and passion at its best from every nook and corner. I must confess, the charm of the ad was too irresistible to ignore!

So, all you ladies out there, how would you like your boyfriends to be?

Who’s your kind of man???

Come up with all your ideas, opinions, fantasies

छियासठ ने किया सफाचट

(FILES)In this picture taken 15 August 2

By सतीश तहलान 

छियासठ बरस की आज़ादी,
हैं छियासठ की ही सोनिया।
छियासठ के भाव प्याज हो गया,
गिरा छियासठ तलक ही रूपया।
इस छियासठ ने किया सफाचट,
मुल्क की डूबा दी नईया।
देखो कहीं कोने सुबक रही,
मेरी बेबस भारती मईया।
हर 15 अगस्त जहाँ उड़ती हैं
बस वादों की हवा-हैवईंयाँ।
उस लाल किले चढ़ बन जाता,
गूँगा भी कुशल गवईया।

        

Greed Becomes Indistinguishable From Human Life

greed

Sarvesh Mehrotra in this classic writes how greed is the new God. Read on

I was reading an article today about how technology is the new religion. It explored how people gather at Apple conferences with a sense of anticipation and euphoria at a new product launch, and how a shared world of technology that was common between everyone created a sort of tribe that celebrated the “god” and worshipped together. I believe that is because in today’s world, two fundamental beliefs form the basis of our world-view and lifestyle: first is that there is no continuity to our existence beyond birth and death.  We are born, we die, and that’s it. The second one, which actually in some ways follows from the first, is that only what is experienced through the senses is important and real. Everything else is either overrated, or unimportant, or at least dispensable.

These two fundamental beliefs give rise to the next set of beliefs, some of which are: a human being starts his/her life as a blank slate, and must achieve or become something to make their life a success; a successful life is one in which there are signs of material prosperity and a relatively large ability to possess material things; the aim of life is to make it successful in this manner; problems in life must be resolved through application of the mind; any course of action of decision taken in life can be evaluated through its impact on one’s ability to possess material things; every right/good thing, person, or decision can, must, and should be measured in material terms; failure is a decrease in the ability to possess material things; all available time must be utilized; and so on.

This structure of beliefs then gives rise to a value system, in which we categorize things, situations, decisions, and people as right/wrong, good/bad, etc. which then becomes the basis of our decision-making in everyday life. Examples of thoughts that form this value system are: the creation and consumption of material things is a great way to fill the time available in life; increase in the ability to acquire material things is good and decrease is bad, unless it can later help take a decision that leads to an increase; the best way to solve problems in life is to use the mind’s logical and analytical abilities; anything not perceived by the senses is most likely a hoax or hallucination and therefore not to be trusted; success is good and failure is bad; time spent not working to increase one’s ability to acquire material things is time wasted; and so on.

Living in a world where the belief and value system described above is commonly shared, it is natural that things become our saviours from the uncertainties of life, and anyone who creates great things becomes a hero or god, which is where Apple and Steve Jobs (and a host of others) currently are in popular mindset. And while it is true that things have resolved problems humans have faced for survival on the physical plane, I believe we’ve taken the fascination with things too far at this point because anything that’s not a thing isn’t important anymore. In today’s world for an artist to matter, their art must sell; for a sportsperson to matter, they must win; for a worker to matter, they must bring the greatest profits to their employer; for a parent to matter, they must leave the greatest inheritance for their child; for a partner to matter, they must bring the ability to earn money to the relationship; for a forest to matter, it must be attractive to tourists; for a tree to matter, it must provide wood or fruit or leaves or pulp or sap which can be sold; for an animal to matter, it must be eatable, or have the ability to be a pet, or an attraction in a circus, zoo, or a wildlife sanctuary; for the rain to matter, it must increase the yield  of our farms; for the air to matter, it must provide ventilation in our homes and offices and electricity in our windmills; and for the planet to matter, it must fulfil the unending and ever-increasing greed of its human inhabitants.

Because greed is so common today and percolates and suffuses the entire mental, emotional, and social experience of human existence, it has become indistinguishable from human life. In today’s world, to be human is to be greedy. To be a good human is to be greedy with a little bit of conscience. In today’s philosophy, greed is good and is our saviour. Greed is the definition of modern and the new model of idealness.

However, the negative impact of greed is all around us. Increase in crime, breakdown of relationships, pollution of the planet, ecological disasters like floods and famines, increase in stress and obesity-linked health problems, and poverty are all related to the increase in greed. Ralph Waldo Emerson had once said “Things are in the saddle, and riding mankind”. His prediction has direly come true and is evident in front of us. The solution to the world’s problems lie not in complex technological solutions, but a simple change of human emotional orientation – away from greed and towards compassion as the model of life.

प्यार या आकर्षण?

love or attraction

शीला चित्रवंशि कि कलम से

प्यार है या फिर मात्र छलावा
भ्रम है या फिर दिखावा
युगों से लोग इसमें फंसते चले आ रहे हैं
ऋषि-मुनि भी तो कहाँ बच पाये हैं?
किवंदंतियां भी सदियों से चली आ रही हैं
इस युग में भी तो भरमार है

प्यार है या एक आकर्षण,
पहले तो कुछ सच्चाई भी नज़र आती थी
पर आज तो इसका रूप ही बदल गया है
प्यार एक आकर्षण मात्र ही रह गया है
न ही कोई सच्चाई न ही स्थिरता है
बस बुराइयों का ढेर बनता चला जा रहा है
यह कहाँ कोई समझ पा रहा है
युगों से तो प्यार की गरिमा व ठहराव की चर्चा भी चली आ रही है
उसके भी उदहारण हैं बहुत
पर कहाँ किसी को दिखाई देती है?
सच्चाई की प्रतिबिम्ब की झलक अंत तक दिखाई देती है
खुशबू बिखेरती है, चारों तरफ़ हवा का रुख फैलाती है
उसकी गरिमा को जानिए, गहराइयों तक पहुँचिये,
निष्ठा, गरिमा, व स्थिरता का सच्चा स्वरूप नज़र आता है
पर झूठा आकर्षण, झूठ का आधार जीवन को नकारात्मक बना देता है

कहाँ गया वह युग, कहाँ गए वो लोग,
जिनका ज़रा भी इस ओर ध्यान नहीं जाता
बदलाव आते हैं हर युग में,
पर आप कितने पानी में हैं यह सबको समझ में आता है
झाँक कर देखो तो प्यार में निष्ठां, प्रतिष्ठा,
स्थिरता एवं एक अटूट सम्बन्ध का कितना अच्छा सुखद एहसास नज़र आता है
जो लोग समझना चाहते नहीं हैं,
और बिगड़े हुए रूपों की ओर निरंतर भाग रहे हैं
यह छलावा नहीं तो और क्या है?
भ्रम नहीं तो और क्या है?