Category Archives: India

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!

Exploring Goa – XXV – Sunny Palolem Once Again

Flashback – Kartik’s in Sunny Palolem so far and the adventure begins now. To read his other articles on what to explore in Goa, Click here.

When the sun comes out, you are the best judge to decide, whether you douse yourself in oil and layback on a beach bed, or to explore where the curve of the beach takes you to! I loved the hills in the background, and decided to walk along!

image001I walked along the curve of the beach, and increased my pace by walking along the wetter part of the beach. It’s a good base for your crocs to make you walk a tad faster.

image002Never Far away from the constant chatter of the boatmen and their plans to get a load of people to see Dolphins.

image003Given the heat building up, we mid way decided to walk inside the forest in the shade of the trees. The Blue and Green looked lovely.

image004

Conflicts for a New Mommy

Antara Roy debunks some popular myths about motherhood.

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So finally, he arrived!! After the 9 months long drill, I couldn’t wait to take him in my arms… It was different, he was red like a tomato, eyes tightly shut by the heavy eyelids; felt like a little mountain baby in my very eastern bong hands. I was a first-time mom, and it was the first time I held such a tiny creature. I was beyond elated and blissfully unaware of the days and nights ahead!! But that story of how I embraced motherhood is for my journals to bear. Here I am more interested in bawling around how a new age mommy deals with her baby, her house, her hubby and her work… oh!! Did I forget to write Indian?? Let me reframe then; ‘I am more interested in bawling around how a new age Indian mommy deals with her baby, her house, her hubby and her work.’

Why such emphasis on Indian, you ask? Simply, because we have got it too easy; it’s too easy to outsource and delegate. Baby Bathing-outsourced, cooking-outsourced, baby massage- outsourced; you name it and it can get outsourced. Where else in this whole wide world can you find this luxury? But again, luxury ensures a cost. Our traditional society has designs for a new mommy already made. And thus it is the tryst of this modern mommy to understand, embrace and somewhat rebel (ah, the best) these designs…

Myth: eat limited after delivery, especially water as it leads to obesity…

Really, and then what… Drink ghee and full fat milk which will keep you lean?? Eating moderate helps, but not limited. Eat what you have eaten all your life. Do not restrict. If you are breastfeeding you need a lot of strength from proteins and stamina from carbs. No point shying away from it. Pictures are evidence enough that even Aishwarya Rai didn’t!!

Myth: beer and wine helps in lactation…

How much so ever I wanna scream ‘it’s true and I love it’, sadly it isn’t true!! Though one glass in a couple of weeks won’t kill anyone, yet ensure you breast feed after a couple of hours of drinking it. Let your body get enough time to absorb and break alcohol, before it reaches the baby.

Myth: no rotis/chapattis/breads of any sort for 40 days after delivery

This is one of my favourites that I heard of. Apparently wheat is not good as it will lengthen the time taken for one to heal from delivery. Come on people, use logic to your limited knowledge of science. Whole-wheat is the best kind of carb you should subject your body to for the first few weeks after delivery. It is one magic ingredient that will heal your body as well as give stamina for you to do the onerous task of feeding and caring for a newborn.

Myth: post-partum depression is for the weak hearted.

And the weak hearted can be easily sorted out because they have 2 noses??!! Baby blues happen and you are bound to feel it one way or other. One stray comment on skin colour or the shape of nose can put you off or lift you up. Trust me, better days are up ahead. And there is no shame in owning up and doing the right thing.

Saving the best for the last…

Myth: baby boys put in disposable diapers turn out to be eunuchs.

Oh goodness!! I feel like taking a bat to run after these so called educated people suggesting these in a cosmo city like Mumbai. Where did our education system fail? How come people are so blissfully unaware of biology of our bodies?? Though using disposables will blow out a huge hole in your pocket and ozone layer, but u will surely get grandkids to put on cloth diapers!! :-p

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Having mentioned about cloth diapers, if you are a mommy and you read till this point, you might wanna try out these amazingly innovative products afloat in the markets of today. It’s a completely washable diaper, designed to leave kids dry on skin, while soaking up the pee and poop and keeping it in without visible accidents. It’s leak-proof, adorable to look at and very cost effective in the long run!! If you need more info about these, write in a comment and I will get back to you!!

Eat well, stay loved and spread care. Cheers!!

The Great Indian (Before) Marriage Tamasha – Part 4

By  Shwetha Kalyanasundaram

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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!!!

Exploring Goa – XXIV – The Palolem Beach Journey Continues

By Kartik Kannan

image011As you set out to walk further, The morning rays are just making its inroads into the sands, and the filtered light through the trees is just slowly neutralizing the morning haze and chill.

image012And if you thought you could head straight into the sea for a morning dunk, you’d have to brave a little chill in the Arabian Sea!

image013And you’d also realize that while the Sun is out, the Bikinis are yet to come on!

image014It takes a little more than a couple of hours of the sun, to inject life into Palolem, to get the Lifeguards at their position!

Exploring Goa – XXIII – It’s About the Palolem Beach-lings Now!

By Kartik Kannan

image006It’s tough to  not notice the colorful cottages along the beach stretch. While you catch a beer with the folks who run the shacks,  they will tell you that it costs them about 100,000 INR to set up 4 shacks. Since Goa has a rule of no permanent structures on the beach, these shacks are built every year in October, and are pulled out and stored in a nearby warehouse in April-before the monsoons. So the shacks that have a median price of 300-1000 normally, peaks upto 2500-4000 closer to the Christmas/New Year season.

image007When you sleep over, and wake up the next morning, you would realize that mornings make for some nice peaceful walks to explore Palolem, in all the colour and splendour of the Goan boats, when the rest of the beach is yet to wake up!

image010The Goan shack owners obviously care for their higher revenue segment customers from the west, so they adequately instruct early birds, to not disturb ‘the sleepy people’.

image008While you wander early in the morning, there are no cafes open to serve breakfast. Once I’ve had my bath, I usually start feeling ravenously hungry, and I realize I have very few options. The best option is to get into town on your 2 wheeler, and get some Misaal Paav’s for breakfast!

image009Sometimes, when a café is open, you’d have to just set your gaze on the Salt and Pepper bottles on the table, or the sea that’s out of focus in the background, since your Omlette or Tea is being prepared in the Sussegaad Goan way. But one of the special mentions I’d have is for ‘Ma-Rita’ café, whose French Toast and Potato Cheese Soup are brilliant!

Exploring Goa – XXII – The Palolem Beach

By Kartik Kannan

image001When in Palolem, get your hand on a canoe, and check on Kayaking into the sunset. You would be the center of attraction for all the people on the beach trying to zoom into the golden waters.

image002Do  ear marked a couple of islands to visit the next morning early! That little island in the silhouette, by the way is the Canacona or Butterfly island, accessible by foot only during low tides or accessible by a boat. What that means is when the high tides come, your land becomes an island with no way to get to the mainland, until you swim your way against the tide!

image003If you feel, the sunset is better enjoyed by taking a dip in the waters, do remember to keep an eye out for the life guards who are posted all over Palolem beach.

image004While the sun’s golden rays make the water having a Midas touch, it doesn’t quite leave the beach huts! The beach huts too are illuminated. If you’ve checked into a resort a mile away from the beach, try to check out and book yourself a beach hut on the beach! That’s when sunsets are best served!

image005If you are staying on the beach, you’d soon realize that watching the waves weave patterns on the wet sands can be quite an interesting thing to bet on!