Love to hate

Unlike most other festivals, which I either hate or love, Karva Chauth is a festival that evokes rather ambivalent  feelings. I think it is a festival that I love to hate. I quite like the air of festivity that in any case is all pervasive in the month of October. The Karva Chauth special goes on to add to this mayhem- ladies going ballistic in the markets , mehendi on hands , plethora of small small customs (sargi) and finally decked up in all bridal fineries in the evening. Honestly I still get mehendi put on my hands even though I bid adieu to the fast years ago. Yet, as the RSS sanctioned Desi Valentine’s Day approaches every year, I’m forced to rethink the ideology time and over again. 

Finally I’ve realised that what irks me about this festival the most is the hypocrisy it reeks of. When those very women, who oppose yet another manifestation of this patriarchal set up that forbids women from entering  religious places during their periods , fast with a halo over their heads, it irks me ; when women who are shattering glass ceilings at work succumb to the tyranny of glass bangles only because they don’t want to rock the boat and create a controversy at home, it upsets me ;and when the very generation that spearheads movements like “pinjra tod” fasts for their boyfriends , I am truly disappointed. Of course explanations and reasons are plenty….from “it’s my choice and no one is forcing me” to “it’s a way of showing my love” to “it’s a good way to detox” but the bottom line is hypocrisy in which we Indians excel. How about an honest ” I don’t believe my husband is god incarnate but I fast nevertheless ” or “I just like the air of festivity ” or “I rather fast than become the black sheep of the family” or “I just like to pamper myself” or “I haven’t given it a thought. .I just do what’s being done” ?  And while you do fast,  please be sincere enough to spare the feministic rant. 

Considering the all pervasive double standards and hypocrisy that we are born and brought up in , asking for some honest introspection is just asking for too much. So while “unpativrata”women like me eat , drink and make merry , let the pious and loving ones fast and may all be blessed with long happy years of companionship. 

O Womaniya….

woman silhouette, sea, sun 189434

O Womaniya…do you still need a special day to celebrate yourself? From the confines of domesticity to making your mark in the wide, wild world; from being told to “sit” and behave like a lady to redefining the whole idea of femininity and womanhood; from suppressing your sexuality to flaunting, exploring and playing  with it; from being relegated to a secondary status to holding your own in a “man’s world”- you’ve come a long way. Yes, being a woman today is a whole lot different from the bra burning generation who were the torchbearers and paved the way.

Yet, you refuse to break out of the archaic revolutionary mind set. For some unfathomable reason the dichotomy of “us vs. them”, the thinking that you have to be “equal” to men refuses to leave you. If it’s a matter of civil rights and such legal and constitutional equalities, it’s a battle fought and won long ago. If it’s a question of certain special rights, safeguards and privileges, every government has done and is still trying to do the best they can. The real fight is for changing the mindset and not only is it a long fight but also one that cannot be won by long speeches and equally long marches.

How about starting this change by changing yourself and your own mind set first? Why does everything, especially when it concerns men, have to be a strife, a fight? Where it is required, yes you have to raise your voice, be heard and, if need be, fight. But choose your battles wisely. You demand equality and respect- learn to give the same and most of all to yourself. Learn to value and cherish your individuality, your uniqueness instead of joining the mob mentality demand for equality. Your own two hands are not mathematically equal- equally valuable yes but at the same time different. Why are you losing your unique identity and individuality in this mad rush in the name of equality?

A lot has been accomplished for your lot, a lot yet remains. It is time to take a deep breath, pause and reflect, as the remainder has to come from within, a change most difficult to accomplish. And as you celebrate this Women’s Day, maybe with lectures, protests and marches, take out the time to celebrate yourself- the unique you that is not less or more than any other human being but is just “you”. And while doing so, celebrate the men in your life too – fathers, brothers, husbands, sons, friends. Different as we are in our gender, united we stand in our individuality. Let us respect and celebrate that together…

Reflections on Mr Chetan Bhagat’s “Five things women need to change about themselves”

                           I’m disappointed. Writers, those who attain a particular stature at least, would, to my mind, think out of the box. There isn’t much point in serving old wine in new bottle is there? And that is pretty much what I found in Mr Chetan Bhagat’s post on Women’s day..platitudes, clichés and still some more of those. What was there in his post that we haven’t heard before? Male egos, male bashing, women’s rights and all that women should stand up against. Really now! We already have enough of the Bra burners  doing pretty much the same and in the process harming their cause. Do we need more people, men and women alike, to join them?

                        The first of these five things that women need to change about themselves as per Mr Bhagat is “the constant desire to judge other women”. Are we to believe only women do that? Don’t men judge each other? May be the parameters are different but yes we all judge, irrespective of sex. What he seems to be saying is that in a male dominated world, women should stand by each other. How about saying that in a world rapidly losing its sense of right and wrong, let us all stand by what is right. A woman who misuses her sexual or legal power deserves to face the consequences just as any man who misuses his power.

                       Second , “faking needs to end”.  What – the fake orgasms or the fake feminism? Carrying the same argument ahead, it would seem it’s okay for men to lead fake lives. Or is he implying that women fake more? Has he not seen men trying to impress women?  

                           Third, he says , women should stand up for their property rights. So should we all- for all rights forget property rights. But the other side of the same coin is “responsibility”. Are we human beings up to shouldering the responsibility that comes with demanding rights? Yes it is every woman’s right to be respected at home and work as it is of every man, of every child. Anyone who violates it, needs to be made answerable.

                         Fourth – dream bigger, be more ambitious. And who is he or any outsider to define what ambition means to any one? Does ambition lie merely in breaking the glass ceiling? What is wrong in wanting to be “just” a mother or a wife? Bottom line- don’t define ambition for women. Let each woman and man decide what he wants from life and then go and get it.

                            Fifth- “don’t be trapped in drama of relationships”. What is he trying to say here? That the relationship with the self is important for women alone? Relationship with the self need to go beyond narcissism.. let us all develop that and without trampling on others.

                    Life cannot be quantified- neither its mistakes ( 3 Mistakes of My Life) nor its achievements ( Five Point Someone). It needs to be lived and seen from a very humane perspective, not male or female perspective. It’s so convenient to become a champion of women’s cause because that is the latest trend. What about the rights of men? Or in today’s emotionally charged pro -women society, they don’t have any ?How about a new take on this whole “Liberate Women- Empower Women” phenomena? Why are we promoting this man vs woman dichotomy? Is it a battle in which one side has to lose? If we see it thus, there is something basically wrong with us. And as long as we continue to see it so, there is no end to this see saw fight for power.

          How refreshing it would have been if Mr Bhagat had urged all mankind to be just human instead of churning 5 or 6 or 10 platitudes for women and women alone? How about addressing all mankind, irrespective of caste, creed, sex or nationality ? We as women today love to bash up men. How about refraining from such blanket judgements and statements? And how about valuing every human being in your life be it a man or a woman?

                    E M Forster put it all very succinctly with two words- “Only Connect”. If we would only connect our heart with our brain and connect with each other ! Neither would there be any need for 5 things that women need to change nor any need to quantify the mistakes we’ve made in our life.






The changes that Mr bhagat advocates are not specific to women..those are the changes we need to bring about in all human beings. Don’t we run down each other, judge each other all the time? Is that something endemic to women?