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!!

Sorry Mr. Sanghvi, I am not a journalist…

…but does that mean I must not express my views, criticize the media or cry foul over its dirty games? If we were to go by what Mr. Vir Sanghvi, Editorial Director of Hindustan Times says, I am one of those “pseudonymous bloggers”, who sits in a darkened room in my ivory tower and disses all that the mainstream media does and says. He says I am part of a “blogging elite”. Well, let’s not discuss either the “pseudonymous” or the “elite” bit, but I certainly am a blogger. Even assuming I sit in a darkened room in my ivory tower and criticize, what’s wrong with that? Don’t you have armchair critics all over the world? Before I go on, check out these brilliant rebuttals by Amit Varma, Rohit, Patrix and Lekhni. Each of them has fisked, very effectively, Sanghvi’s pointless and rather incoherent rant against bloggers and tweeters. Oh yeah! Forgot to mention here that he’s done this in the form of a blogpost rather than on a column in his newspaper!!

In dissing bloggers and tweeters and categorizing them all as elitist and out of touch with reality, Sanghvi conveniently sidesteps one major issue. What exactly is the role of the traditional media? Playing to the galleries and ensuring maximum TRPs? He painstakingly explains how TRPs and circulation are calculated and says programmes with maximum TRPs on television are the ones having maximum viewership. Right! I agree. But since when did the media start pandering to the will of the majority? Isn’t it the very same media that dissects election results and criticizes the decision of the majority? And even assuming that the traditional media reflects the sentiments of the majority, is that its real role? I thought the role of the media was to shape public opinion. Oh! I beg your pardon! I never realized that somewhere along the way, news channels became entertainment channels and newspapers tabloids a long time ago.

No Mr. Sanghvi. In criticizing the traditional media, I do not, as Lekhni so rightly puts it, claim to represent anyone but myself. Anything I say in my blog, is my opinion. Others are free to agree or disagree with what I have to say. I run this blog, I pay for it and I maintain it. Unlike HT or other major newspapers, I do not claim to be the most popular, the most intelligent or the most widely-read blogger in history. I leave calculating TRPs and readership to the likes of Mr. Sanghvi. I have better things to do with my life, especially since my livelihood doesn’t depend on how many people read my blog.

Finally, in the unlikely event that you are reading this, Mr. Sanghvi, let me tell you this. I care a damn about octogenarian N D Tiwari’s sex life. Nor do I care about Mika kissing Rakhi Sawant or wild speculations about Arushi Talwar’s murder. I am concerned even less about whether Michael Douglas uses Viagra (yes…it figures on HT’s homepage today!). If your newspaper can give me real news, it’s fine. Otherwise, there’s always Google News! Clean up your stables before dissing us Mr. Sanghvi. That’s all I ask!

Why I write…

I don’t know where to start if I must answer this question. But, wait a minute? Why am I even asking myself this? Mainly because I read this post, and it triggered off a whole range of emotions and thoughts. Goofy Mumma wants to know if I would approach a well-known blogger in public. I don’t know. But, would I mind being approached? Certainly not. Goofy Mumma, like many other popular bloggers I regularly read, blogs anonymously. I certainly wouldn’t be able to recognize someone I have not seen in person. But, my thoughts at this point are somewhat different. When I started this blog, I had a choice: to choose an interesting pseudonym, or to blog under my own real name. Strangely, I never realized I had this choice in the first place until my blog had accumulated a fair number of readers, and until I started following popular bloggers, many of whom chose to remain anonymous.

Sometimes, I wish I had reflected a bit more before jumping into the fray. There have been times when I have felt like giving up blogging altogether. I have been slandered, called un-religious, characterless, and many other things for speaking my mind. I have been bogged down by these comments, felt like quitting. The fact that my parents and relatives, in addition to my Facebook friends and friends elsewhere read my blog makes it worse. There is always this nagging feeling that I am going to be judged on what I say by someone I know. Sometimes, I wonder why I chose to blog under my real name. Sometimes I feel I should just take down everything that I have written because it reveals too much of me to complete strangers. But then, I stop myself before it’s too late. I stop myself because I stand by every word I have ever written. Each word reflects a part of me, my opinions, my feelings and my reactions at a given point. Maybe being so open is a problem. This society refuses to acknowledge or accept that a woman can have such strong opinions or speak her mind about things as sensitive. But I would rather face censure for what I have to say on my blog than have to hide and lead an existence of hypocrisy. I’d much rather reveal myself to the world and be what I want to be, than pretend to be someone I am not, just to make someone else happy. Am I wrong? Am I being foolishly outspoken? Only time will tell.

What’s with this bra colour business?

There’s a meme doing the rounds on Facebook, ostensibly to spread awareness on breast cancer. I have received at least 5 messages since Friday, asking me to put up the colour of my bra as my status message. Forgive me if I am being conservative or orthodox, but I would rather not lend fodder to the already overactive imagination of my male friends on FB, by telling them what colour I wear.

That apart, how exactly does revealing the colour contribute to awareness on breast cancer? The bra is an essential garment, of course! It gives shape to the body and is worn for purely practical reasons. But the rest of the hoopla surrounding it is largely social in nature. The bra, at one point, symbolized oppression and a denial of rights to women. The corset, worn during the better part of the 18th and 19th Century, was so restrictive that women could not even bend to pick something up from the ground. The famous and violent bra-burning campaigns that defined early 20th Century feminism were a fallout of this social conditioning that the bra was oppressive. We have come a long way from that point. But, I still fail to see the connection between bra and cancer.

This campaign is a classic example of how modern day social media is being misused for pointless and completely over-the-top campaigns like this one. Check out this post by Kiran Manral. Food for thought, this! How do I know this is not, as Kiran puts it, “some clever chap’s great idea to get his five minutes of voyeuristic joy imagining women of different sizes and shapes in different coloured bras?” on the whole, I find this entire campaign pure, unadulterated crap! I will probably get a lot of brickbats for saying this, but I find that women who blindly follow the trend, and men too although not in this case, are refusing to use their brains to ask why they are doing something. Just why should I reveal something as personal as the colour of my undergarments just because some random person tells me to? I don’t get it at all! If you do, please feel free to enlighten me!

It’s another year!

It’s that time of the year, when each of us looks back at the previous in retrospect and introspection. I, for one, have come across quite a few posts on these lines. But, I will not look back into the year that just passed and analyse how things went wrong and why. I prefer looking into the future and making the most of what is still left.

It was a difficult conversation. I was telling someone the other day that life is too short and too wonderful to be spent with regrets. I have none; I will never have any. Because I honestly believe that every experience, every friendship, every acquaintance, every heartbreak and every opportunity has taught me something invaluable. Today, I am not what I was a year ago. I will never be the same again. But, so what? After all, what is life but a string of moments made memorable by those who mean something to us? We miss those moments and we never get them back again. I am perhaps being completely incoherent right now. But frankly, I don’t care. Right now, the only philosophy that appeals is the Epicurean: carpe diem. Seize the day! Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie! Long live Ronsard! It requires plenty of courage to be able to say that, and live life that way. Today, I am saying it. I don’t really know if I have the courage to live life that way, but I am trying.

Here we are, at the beginning of a new year. A new year to me signifies hope. Hope that tomorrow will be better. Hope that this too will pass. Hope that one day, I will look back on my life and consider it well-lived. With all these million thoughts clogging my brain, I re-read this poem by Robert Frost.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

I hope I will be able to say the same. At every turn, life gives you a choice. It asks you to choose between what is easy and what is right. At every point, I have chosen to do what felt right then. Of course! Some of those decisions have gone terribly wrong. Others have done me good beyond my wildest dreams. But as a human being, I can guarantee the process, not the result. I will continue to do what appears to be right at any given point. It is at such times that Tagore’s poem seems to sum up my state of mind best.

“This is my prayer to thee, my lord- strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength to bear lightly my joys and sorrows.
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might-
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifle.
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.”

God! Give me the strength!