Questions of identity…

The elections have just concluded. Much discussion has transpired on the various things politicians said to get votes and seats, from free laptops, to Activas at half price. But, for some reason, one election promise hasn’t been discussed in the mainstream as much as I would like: that of giving primacy to Tamilians in Tamil Nadu. This election slogan of “Tamil Nadu is for Tamilians”  is neither new, nor entirely unexpected. What is, however, disheartening is the number of educated and seemingly sensible people who seem to think this attitude is acceptable.

I do not quite understand how someone can be so determinedly nationalist in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. I do not understand how nationalism and exclusionism is not a negative quantity in a world where most products we routinely consume are produced outside of the geography that we occupy. How can someone who boasts an Apple iPhone, a Fossil watch and a Ford car think that only people who “originally” belong to a state/region have the right to live there? How can anyone, in the same breath speak with great pride of Satya Nadella and Indra Nooyi, while simultaneously wishing to deport all non-Tamils from Tamil Nadu? What does nationalism or regional pride even mean in today’s world?

Questions of identity are extremely complex and difficult to resolve. This questions is one of special personal importance to me, as I have spent the better part of my life trying to give myself a single identity. And failed. Am I Kannadiga, when my knowledge of the language is limited to the dialect I speak at home, and that of the state limited to my few visits to Bangalore? Or am I a Tamilian, when my mother tongue is a language other than Tamil? Who exactly am I and what is my relationship with this place I call home?

When someone asks me where I am from, the first answer I give is, “Chennai”. Because, it is true. I am from Chennai and this is home. I certainly do not speak Tamil as a first language or mother tongue. I belong to a tiny community of Kannada-speaking people who migrated into this state several centuries ago. I am married to a member of an even tinier community of Marathi-speaking people who also migrated several centuries ago. If someone asked us to go back where we belong, where do we go? To Karnataka, whose language and people are so alien to me that I return from each short trip to Bangalore with the joy of pup returning home? Or to Maharashtra, which I have barely visited except for a few times for official reasons? For me, home is Chennai. Even if I were to go a few generations back to trace my origins, they would go no further than Coimbatore and Theni. Then, who am I?

If mastery of a language is the criteria for qualifying as a “Tamilian”, then would millions of my co-inhabitants of Tamil Nadu qualify? How many native speakers of Tamil actually know the language they call their mother tongue? How about this generation of urban youth, which is more comfortable in English than in their mother tongue?

These are questions that are extremely hard to resolve, or even attempt a resolution at. Yet, we do not hesitate to call someone an “outsider” just because we feel entitled. Can we try, at least, to build a more equitable world? A world that, in Tagore’s immortal words, has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls? Try?

The problem with body image

I realised this very late in life. Love your own body and you’ll be a happier person. Growing up in a normal, middle class family in Chennai, I always had body image issues. I hated the way I looked. Too dark, too fat, too clumsy and too much of a slob. This was what I was always told by friends and family. Cousins made it worse by telling me that fair is beautiful, which I was admittedly not.
At 14, I discovered the secret world of crushes and boys. And what did I find? That I could never peacefully have a crush on someone without being relentlessly teased. Sometimes the teasing was baseless. About a crush that was actually non existent. Since then, I’ve always been circumspect. Losing two close male friends to such juvenile teasing did not help. Especially not when one of them told me upfront that he did not want to be my friend because being teased with a fat slob troubled him. Maybe this is why I don’t quite keep in touch with school friends any more. They are reminders of an unpleasant time in my life I’d much rather forget.
But, coming back to body image. I always thought I was too dark and too fat to be beautiful. The obsession with being fair goes a long way back. I was advised not to venture out in the sun, to use sunscreen and haldi and all sorts of assorted creams and lot . The rebel that I was, I still did exactly as I pleased.
Then came the obsession with weight loss. I starved myself, skipped breakfast, ate fruit. But no matter what I did, I could never slim down to the size I wanted to be. I was conscious of my weight and tried to cover up the layers in clothes that are better called pillowcases.
As I hit my late teens there was an additional problem. Blemishes and body hair. There was nothing I could do about it. So I did what I knew best. Cover up rather than flaunt. This reluctance to dress my age continued right through college and university.
And then something changed. I went to France for my masters. Suddenly, I discovered a world of possibilities. I discovered that women were proud of their bodies and flaunted them. I discovered that for a woman to be beautiful, she must first love herself. I saw women who were twice my size carry off short skirts and dresses with an elegance that I could only hope to match some day.
Gradually,I told myself I was beautiful. I convinced myself that weight, complexion and body hair notwithstanding, I had the right to flaunt. If I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror, nobody else was going to.
And there has been no looking back. With every passing year, I find myself dressing bolder and bolder. I find myself picking out clothes when shopping that I wouldn’t have dared look at when I was 14. Crossing 30 was an important moment because at that moment, I realised I no longer cared when men thought of me. I realised that I only cared what I thought of myself.
Now, I realise that all it took for others to find me attractive was the courage to accept my own body for what it is. That acceptance is never easy to get. But it’s essential for me to be happy with who I am. The other day, someone told me that very few people can look elegant with no makeup on and I am one of them. I acknowledged that with a quiet sense of pride in who I have become.
When I look back at my teenage years, I tell myself that I will never let this happen to anyone else if I can help it. Maybe this is why I felt the need to write this blogpost.
Beauty is the way you treat yourself rather than in the colour of your skin or in the inches around your waist. If you love yourself, everyone else will love you as well.

Of love, art and Greek mythology

Looking around the Musee d’Orsay on Saturday last, I came across several works of art based on various Greek myths. I’m not really surprised given that most Greek myths centre around the theme of love and beauty. And who doesn’t like to talk of these two?

Of all the myths I’ve read, I find the Judgement of Paris the most fascinating. Haven’t heard of the story? Let me tell you.

One day, three Greek goddesses had an argument on who was the most beautiful of them all. Hera, the Goddess of Wealth and the wife of Zeus, Nike, the Goddess of Victory and Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Unable to agree upon a judgement, they invited Paris, the most handsome man in the the world to judge. These women, being women, each offered Paris a bribe to judge her the most beautiful. Hera offered him all the wealth of the world. Nike offered to make him the invincible ruler of the world. But Aphrodite, offered him the love of the world’s most beautiful woman, Helen of Troy.

Paris, being a normal man of course, accepted Aphrodite’s gift and judged her the most beautiful. And thus started one of the most destructive wars in history: the Trojan War. For wasn’t Helen’s the face that launched a thousand ships?

Love has been a powerful theme in art throughout its history. Who doesn’t love a good love story? And if it involves lust, intrigue, murder and war, even better.

What makes love such a powerful emotion? What makes people do things for love that they would never otherwise do? What makes them forget the rules of right and wrong, of social mores and of moral values and pursue something to the end of their lives? Is it really love? Or is it something more basic? Lust perhaps? Or perhaps it is a need for validation. Or maybe it’s none of the above. Maybe it’s just what the heart wants.

Did Paris really believe that by abducting the wife of another there would be no repercussion? Or did he not care about the repercussions? Did the love of Helen really mean so much that was willing to put his country, his family and his own life on the line?

We can never get completely satisfying answers to any of these questions. But, we are human and therefore not infallible. If there is one thing that makes us weak like no other, it is love, especially the forbidden kind. But great love is also great art. As is great tragedy. And by loving without reservations, we open our souls out to great achievement. And perhaps heartbreak as well. But, that’s really part of the game isn’t it?

The art of sari-draping…

I am strongly convinced that the art of sari-draping is dying a slow death. Why else would someone be willing to pay 6000 rupees to a random stranger to teach them to drape a sari perfectly. In case you are wondering what I am going on about, you should probably read this article from Wall Street Journal.

The story talks of Kalpana Shah, a freelance sari-draper who offers “basic and advanced sari draping courses” for a fee in Mumbai. On top of that she gets invited to conduct group sessions on sari-draping. Wait a second! I am missing something here. Someone actually makes a living from this kind of thing? And others pay for it? Now, that’s a lovely business idea, ain’t it? Maybe I should consider this an alternative career. Now, sari-draping is one thing I do reasonably well. And, so many women seem to think it’s an art that I should perhaps make use of the opportunity. Making hay and all that you see…

However, I can’t help but lament the fact that the sari is slowly becoming a garment to be worn only for wedding and special occasions. Not that I am a prolific sari-wearer, but the day I do end up in a sari to work, people look at me rather strangely. Just yesterday, I was dressed in a sari and was accosted almost the second I entered office by an enthusiastic soul who asked me almost accusingly, “So Amrutha, what’s special? Sari and all…” I was so taken aback by the tone of the question that I just stammered that there was nothing special.

I find the slow disappearance of the sari quite unfortunate. After all, a well-worn sari actually makes a woman look lovely. There is something about the sari that lends elegance and beauty to the woman in question. And, it doesn’t necessarily have to take hours to drape. I truly appreciate women who take the effort to wear saris regularly despite the obvious conveniences of kurtas and jeans. I only wish I could be more regular in wearing saris to work and elsewhere.

Maybe this should be a new year resolution: Wear the saris in my wardrobe at least once a year! What say? 😉

When you begin to say, it’s enough!

This is the first post of 2013 and also the 300th post on this blog. At this juncture, I expected to be writing about something rather more pleasant, but some things need to be said. And now. The whole world and its dog has just exhausted its energy crying itself hoarse about the need for change in anti-rape legislation and justice for the murdered 23-year old physiotherapy student. Demands for justice ranged from the sane and sensible calls for societal change in attitudes and stricter law enforcement to some knee-jerk demands of hanging, chemical castration and even physical castration for the accused. However, what really struck me in this whole drama was that every other protester spoke of how the increasing incidence of sexual violence against women went against Indian culture that respected and worshipped its women since time immemorial.

Now, I do agree that many of those who spoke of an irreproachable Indian culture  were young men and women barely out of school. But this just goes to prove how much we are brainwashed into believing that everything Indian and traditional is good and great. We truly believe that the root cause of the increasing rate of crimes against women is western decadence, even if we are too diplomatic to say it in as many words. But really! Enough is enough. Enough of blaming the pub culture, western influence, mini-skirts, Facebook and Bollywood for rape. Let’s face it! Indian culture has traditionally treated its women no better than any other culture.

In case anyone forgets, we are talking about the same Indian culture that shows, covertly or overtly, a distinct preference for sons, that teaches its girls to be submissive, that kills off baby girls for the crime of being…girls. It is the same Indian culture where thousands of young women lose their lives for the crime of not bringing enough dowry. It is also the same culture that refuses to acknowledge a woman’s identity as distinct from that of her husband and where it is still a crime to survive the death of a partner. Rapists and sexual offenders are not made in a day. They grow up with a sense of entitlement and cannot fathom why a woman would say no to them. In fact, they do not even realize that a no really means a NO, simply because they have never been denied a thing. We are talking of an Indian culture where a parent will deny their daughter three full meals a day to fulfill every whim of their son. Just because some of us are lucky enough to grow up in a healthy and gender-equal environment, it doesn’t mean that Indian culture is all good.

If we really want to change things, we need to demand societal change. And, this doesn’t come with amending laws or naming a new anti-rape legislation after the unfortunate 23-year old. It comes from within. Holding candlelight vigils and chanting slogans against misogyny will not help. If we are so concerned about change, we must not hesitate to change ourselves. Let’s stop praying for a male child because that will take us to heaven, stop treating our sons differently from our daughters, refuse to buckle under the societal pressure to kill off our baby girls. Let us also refuse to pay a dowry to secure a “good match” for our daughters and instead look for men who respect them enough to keep them happy. Let’s stop using the B-word to insult women we do not like or worse, call misogynistic men b*****ds. Let’s remember that when we do that, are not insulting them, but their mothers. If we really want things to change, let’s BE the change we so crave to see.

But, while we are at it, let’s also remember that change does not come easy. It may not even be visible for the next 20 years, but there will come a day when we will be able to turn out a better class of human beings for a better future. This may not be as satisfying as hanging the rapists or castrating them, but will surely be more effective. And this solution will take time. After all, Rome was not built in a day.

Of shame and outrage…

The Delhi gang rape case has brought to the fore so many different issues that I do not know where to start. The incident, which has shocked the collective conscience of the nation, has triggered a wide range of responses, from outrage to blaming. With every minute, the drama gets more sordid, what with protests, violence, teargassing of protesters, water canons, a chief minister who cries on camera, an invertebrate Prime Minister…the list seems endless.

The latest addition to this list seems to be the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Botla Satyanarayana. In a statement earlier today, he offered his expert assessment of the situation saying, “We say we got freedom at midnight but doesn’t mean we can roam around freely at midnight.” Frankly, I have stopped expecting much more from our politicians, irrespective of political colour. He is simply the latest in the long list of politicians, starting from an ineffectual and spineless Prime Minister who took a whole week to address an outraged and angered nation.

First things first, we need to understand a fundamental truth about crimes against women. Sexual violence against women is never about sex. I have said it before and will say it again. Rape is not a sex crime. It is about power. It is about humiliation and about making a woman feel inferior to the perpetrator. Rape is simply a violent expression of the more general treatment of women’s bodies as a property of others. In the case of “Amanat”, as the 23-year old victim has been identified (not her real name), as in that of millions of other women who are victims of such crimes, the perpetrators considered her fair game simply because she was out on the streets after sunset. The rapists were not looking for pleasure, they were looking for control. It was about feeling good about being able to control another human being, who they consider a lesser mortal because of her gender. More importantly, it is about the knowledge that they will most probably get away with it. And, they would have, had this crime not so shocked the nation due to the sheer bestiality of the act.

Another disappointing facet of this whole issue is the way our politicians, irrespective of political affiliation reacted. For the ruling Congress, it was about saving their skin. Sheila Dixit cried on camera hoping to garner sympathy. The Prime Minister delivered a belated, and extremely unconvincing speech a whole 7 days after the incident. Sushma Swaraj, for all her fiery speeches against the government, spoke of a fate “worse than death” for the victim. And to top it all, the APCC chief tells us we should not expect security if we want to wander about alone at midnight. He tells us that freedom at midnight was won, literally and metaphorically, only for the men.

I have a problem with each of these statements. As a concerned citizen, I expect the Chief Minister of a state to act against the perpetrators of the crime and not just cry on camera in the hope that we will excuse her inaction. We do not want to know how bad you feel about the crime. We want to know what you are doing to bring the perpetrators to book and to prevent this from happening again. We want action Ms. Dixit, not your fake tears. I also expect the Prime Minister to step out of his bullet-proofed car and address the nation when he is needed to. I want him to, for once in his life, do the job he was elected to do. At this point, I feel like telling the APCC chief to take his moralising elsewhere, because we have no need or use of it. It is the business of the government to ensure that I am safe in my city, irrespective of what I am wearing, of whether I drink, of how I dress and who I am with. It is not the government’s business to judge my character. I refuse to allow that. And finally, I have a problem with the assessment that the victim faces a fate worse than death. This implies that what she has lost, her virginity and honour, are more important than life. It is up to her to decide what she wants to do with her life. I hope she recovers well enough to lead a normal life. And even if she does not, we have no right to decide what is good for her. She has the right to do that herself.

And finally, a word about the protesters. I completely agree that as citizens, we must demand action. Action against the perpetrators of a crime too horrendous to describe. But, I do not agree with the demand for capital punishment for the criminals. It is not capital punishment that will act as an effective deterrent against rape. It is the knowledge that they cannot get away with such a crime. It is the certainty of punishment, rather than the quantum that is a more effective deterrent. There is no point in making rape a capital offense if the conviction rate remains as dismal as it is today. There is no point in talking about chemical castration if the courts are going to acquit criminals citing the character of the victim. At this point, we do not need stronger laws. What we need is more effective enforcement.

A school to teach women to be good…

Yeah…you read that right. There is a school in Madhya Pradesh that teaches women to be good. And pray, what do we mean by good? It teaches them to be submissive wives, obedient daughters-in-law and ideal bharatiya naris. While we are at it, could someone please start a school that teaches men to pick up after themselves, help their wives in cooking and cleaning and be polite with their mothers and sisters? And yeah, maybe it could also teach men that they are now adults and quite capable of fetching that cup of coffee or making the bed they slept on.

This school teaches women bharatiya sanskar, a.k.a touching husband’s/random in-laws’ feet, “serving husband and winning laurels”, and “adjusting” to their new home. Right! Very essential, I agree. Could we also have a school that teaches mothers-in-law to stop pampering their darling sons and dissing their daughters-in-law no matter how good she is? And also teach the husband that his wife’s family is now his too? Wait…what else does this school do? It teaches women religious scriptures, naturopathy and domestic chores. I wouldn’t mind having a husband who knows his religion, naturopathy and cooking either. Anyone up for designing such a course for men? Drop me a line please!

Actually, I love the idea! I think I am going to make out a project proposal for such a school and try and get sponsorship from a willing soul. Anyone out there who can help? Please contact me!!

Children and “traditional values”

I have been meaning to write this since Sunday when I first came across this article in The Hindu via @calamur. Something kept coming up and I kept postponing the post, until I saw this blogpost, which addresses pretty much the same issue. Our children seem to be bombarded every single day with television soaps, cartoons, and even ads that reinforce age-old stereotypes.

Take the first article for instance. Latika Gupta cites three television soaps that reinforce the idea of the docile and obedient bride. I have personally never seen any of the three soaps mentioned, but let me tell you; any soap that reinforces and promotes unconditional and blind obedience is bad. When Latika Gupta talks about the little girl refusing to meet her eye and behaving like a conventional “nayee bahu”, it’s deeply saddening. This might be a one-off incident, certainly. But, it is still distressing to see little girls wrapped up in “ghunghats” and veils, pretending to be coy and docile.

I remember protesting at D calling me innocent. But, you know what’s worse than innocent? Being obedient. Why is obedience such a virtue? IHM mentioned in a comment to an earlier post that she hated the word obedience. I totally get her point. Why are we, living in the 21st Century, teaching our girls to be submissive and docile? Why are we insisting on blind obedience even in this day and age? Would it not be more advisable to teach a girl to think for herself and take the best possible decision, given the circumstances? Would it not be better if we could teach our daughters to be courageous rather than docile? Who knows what challenges lie ahead? Aren’t boldness and courage desirable attributes in a human being, irrespective of gender?

Soaps like “Baalika Vadhu” and “Sajan Ghar Jana Hai” make me want to puke. What values are we teaching our children by not only allowing them to watch soaps that reinforce and perpetrate archaic and completely unacceptable ideals of “Patni Dharma”, but also actively encouraging them to emulate those examples? I simply cannot ignore the gender perspective in this issue. While, as Latika Gupta puts it, little boys grow up wanting to become doctors, engineers, pilots and lawyers, little girls grow up wanting to be nothing more than perfectly traditional, docile, obedient wives? What is wrong with us? Why are approving of this?

Cartoons, aimed specifically at children and playing on channels such as Pogo seem no better than these soaps in television. As Aishwarya says on her blogpost (linked above), the show (Chhota Bheem) has only one major female character in Chutki, who is feminine, docile (useful isn’t it?) and does a lot of art work and housework. Indumati is the second character in the cartoon series that Aishwarya doesn’t mention. It is interesting, and infuriating to read the description of the said characters on the series’ official site. While Chutki is homely, docile, feminine, loves to cook and clean and feed Bheem, Indu is the quintessential damsel in distress. Bheem seems to keep saving her from some danger or the other. What’s worse? Chutki and Indu are rivals in their attempts to win over Bheem’s affections! For goodness’ sake, stop it! The two female characters’ lives revolve around our beloved hero. Whatever happened to their lives? Do they even live it? Or does everything depend on our hero’s approval?

Perhaps the most distressing aspect of such social conditioning via the media is the fact that most parents seem to approve. They seem to think these serials teach them traditional values, never mind if those values are actually stuck somewhere in the 17th Century. Will this ever change?

Therukoothu – spontaneous street performance?

The September 21 issue of Outlook carries an article by Shruti Ravindran titled Life’s A Proscenium. If you can read this article, and not take offense, then it means one of two things. Either you have an inordinate amount of tolerance for bullshit, or you have no clue what Therukoothu is all about. In the latter case, Shruti is even more responsible for having created an entirely wrong impression of Therukoothu. Before I go on, check out this justifiably angry piece by Sriram.

Sriram quotes a few lines from Shruti’s article that infuriate and disgust.

“Urban denizens who’ve actually heard of this art form often mistake it for its disreputable half-cousin ‘Therukuttu’ (street performance), unpractised, spontaneous roadside performances that take place during temple festivals—and indeed, the word Therukuttu has also come to mean “making a disgraceful spectacle of oneself in public.”

Several things about this sentence infuriate. First, calling an art form a disreputable half-cousin of another is entirely uncalled for. Secondly, Therukoothu, as the name suggests, is indeed played out on the road. In fact, it is at the origins of the three Tamils (Iyal, Isai, Natakam) and is performed on crossroads (naarchandi in Tamil). The fact that an art form is performed on the street does not demean its worth in any way.

In fact, Bharatanatyam, the much-revered classical dance form of Tamil Nadu has its origins in what was called Sadir Attam or Dasiattam – the dance of the Devadasis. This is precisely why dance as an art form was considered demeaning for a woman from a good family to practice until its popularization by Rukmini Devi Arundale. Devadasis, for a certain period were nothing but courtesans (prostitutes to be blunt), and maintained by the Saraboji Rajas of Tanjavur. Does this mean that all Bharatanatyam dancers today are not worth respecting? Also, Therukoothu is by no means unpractised. Practice sessions for Therukoothu stretch over several days, sometimes weeks or months.

If Therukoothu were indeed the disreputable half-cousin Shruti claims it to be, why would there be organized groups, as Sriram so rightly points out, working tirelessly to promote the dying art? For those who need the stamp of “international recognition”, there is even a course on Therukoothu offered by the Singapore National Arts Council. What more do you need?

This article by Shruti Ravindran is nothing more than a piece of shoddy journalism at best. It simply proves, once again, that journalistic standards are at rock bottom today. If Outlook can allow publication of such an article without editing or verification, it makes me wonder what kind of media we have today. I suggest Shruti look for an alternative career, that has nothing to do with either journalism, art or even writing.

Ram – the perfect man?

Mahabharata from a woman’s perspective…the conversation with S yesterday set me thinking. I am not familiar enough with the Mahabharata to comment, but the Ramayana? When I first read the Ramayana at the age of 8, I was quite impressed. A dutiful son, a benevolent king, a handsome prince. A perfect man. I was probably way too young to wonder what kind of a man he really was. But, even at that age, I found myself wondering why a prince should give up creature comfort and go to the forest just because his senile and invertebrate old father wanted him to. Obedience is not a virtue for me. It has never been. Discretion however, is a different matter altogether.

When I re-read the epic ten years later, I was less impressed. But unsullied as I was with feminist ideals and ideas of equality, I still did not question the logic behind the epic. But, at 27, it is a different question altogether. Ram, to me, is no longer the dutiful son. He just obeyed his father without bothering to question the logic behind the order. A lack of discretion on his part. How will a man, incapable of analyzing the whys and wherefores of a decision, prove himself capable of ruling a country?

Later in the epic, Ram chases a mirage, the deceptively beautiful deer. He comes back to find his wife missing. She is abducted. Like any other husband, he sets out to get her back. He hunts Ravan down, kills him and liberates his wife. But wait! Something is wrong. Hasn’t the woman spent a good 12 years (Edit: 12 months, not years…) away from him? How does he know she is still chaste and untouched? Sita, like Caesar’s wife, must be above suspicion, mustn’t she? Ram makes her undergo a trial by fire. If she is consumed by the flames, she is impure. If she gets out unscathed, she is chaste and virginal. Like most Indian women, Sita does it. For her chauvinist of a husband! But, let me ask you something. Did Ram not spend 12 years away from his wife too? (Edit: Dad says it’s 12 months…) Does chastity and purity mean nothing for a man? Or is promiscuity and infidelity excused because Ram is a man. What is sauce for the goose is most definitely not sauce for the gander.

To add insult to the injury, Ram is portrayed as asking for a trial by fire for the people of his country. Just who are the people of the country to ask a queen to prove her chastity? A husband is supposed to protect and cherish. A king is supposed to listen, explain and convince. Ram fails as both. He brings Sita back to Ayodhya, after the trial by fire. Again, questions are raised about her chastity. Is she pure? Is she chaste? Untouched? By now, she is pregnant. Ram, being the perfect king, exiles his wife, pregnant with twins, to the forest. After all, what is more important for a king that the wish of his people? Here, Ram fails again. As a husband.

It really gets my goat when people call Ram the perfect man. He is an average man. An average Indian male, who neither respects nor particularly cares for the woman in his life. An average Indian male who has been pampered all his life by grandmothers, aunts, his mother, his wife and other assorted female relatives. An average Indian man who will never understand, or even try to understand what a woman goes through at the various stages of her life. To me, Ram is not perfect.