Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spinster bratz and shopping day

I always promise not to accompany people for shopping. I am a disgrace to my own gender when it comes to shopping. Clothes are last on my priority list and I buy what I like. I never bother if its out of fashion, too common. I really don't know how things come in and go out of fashion. I always made it a point I wear what I liked and not what some media dictated.

Well things were different with the person I was accompanying. She was an elephant on stampede when it came to clothes. She put me to shame by telling the names of all sorts of fabrics.Tusker or Jaipur silk is just silk to me.She asked me questions too confusing that after 45 minutes I gave up.I ended up in a corner observing the women ranting and panting ( leaving the men folk with them chanting). The colours around and music help me survive. I know I am hopeless, I don't believe any clothing above 5oo bucks is worth. I would not know how costly a fabric is so I thought people were fools too. I was proved wrong by experts who sniffed the air around and said we are nearing Nallis and thats Pothys.

Well my friend the heroine of the story is getting married ( may her soul rest in peace) and she was buying stuff she thinks would look decent after wedding. I cant imagine myself doing it. They would have to hold me at gunpoint to make me do that. ( No rather threaten to burn my books- then I might shop dead) :) .

I enjoyed seeing eyebrows twitch and worry how their would be's , existing be's and non existential be's would see them :)

I think they should think about doing research on companion's stress while accompanying shopaholics deciding greys and blues.

Marvellous industry for mad men/women out here.

But I had a day-out seeing a spinster brat retiring and worrying about her presentations in future and all I do was visualise her like a soldier on field through my neverland glasses :) yelling "charge"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Perverts, perverts everywhere … Not a single voice protests

Well when I tell people I find lot of perverts around when I travel many disagree. Some say I invite it by travelling alone – (wow what an experience to ask for!) Despite reading scandals, harassments, people think half of the cases are sensationalised and others are fictional. Many even say it never happens coz it never happened to me. Then the regular prescriptions. Prescriptions come in two kinds. One is from the conservatives who says wear full covered dresses, pin up dupatta, avoid jeans or anything that reveals the body parts that provocate men( in short a piece of 1.5 m cloth in front of your chest makes it less provocative- should confirm with a pervert) , also avoid travelling alone, late night, odd hours. Also if possible stay home. A recent study by an organisation fighting against harassments involved asking women who have been abused and harassed to send the garment they wore that particular day and it was not tube tops, jeans and mini skirts. It had saris, salwars and lot of full covered attires. When you got filth inside your mind what is worn does not matter.

Second groups are the defenders. They prescribe studying martial arts, carrying pepper spray, a blade and hauling verbal abuses as best strategies. I like them to an extent coz they prescribe prevention in a practical sense.

When I did my graduation we had to rely on public transport buses which would be jammed at peak hours with men of assorted nature. It would be difficult to find out from where hands crept on to your body. They just came! So some seniors suggested this. “take a blade break it to half and hide it between two finger and when you feel a hand pull it and slit rather bothering to find our who the guy is:. Well a friend of mine tried this strategy once. I rely on verbal abuse because sight of blood disgusts me.

The recent Tantrik and father rape case in Maharashtra has upset me. The head lines newspapers use is also upsetting. “Daughter wants Rapist father and tantric hanged”. But after a long time I saw a discussion initiated among my friends. But what amazed me was when one said thank god it doesn’t not happen in our state. Such things happen only in the North. And another smart fella asked instantaneously where did this happen Kerala? He somehow believes Kerala is the land of perverts and Northies are better. Then the regular statement all this happens in the lower class not with people likes us.

These were myths I countered when I conducting a workshop for kids in 7th std on - who are victims and who are perpetrators. It amazes me that there are people at the age of 25 who still pamper such myths and we say media is over flooding us with information’s we know.

Well what’s my take I really don’t know? definitely not happy about rape laws but don’t even know if capital punishment should be prescribed. I am sad about lack of awareness and perpetuated myths. The conservative advices pain me. I believe people should voice out rather feel crushed by the watchdogs of society who tell you not to report such incidents because of the disgrace.

I have seen men leer at school girls wearing skirts and even pushing them around in buses. I would rather teach the girls to speak out rather prescribe them to wear salwars. But after all is that allowed Wont I go to some hell if my mouth opens for protest in front of the divine sex of human species?
As if this isn’t hell enough :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Incredible India through my eyes- The Cobbler

This is my tenth year in India and it has never ceased to amaze me. My understanding of India was built through the Indian cinema, newspapers, photographs and stories told by my parents. Definitely the diaspora abroad is very distinct. But for the people NRI’s from Gulf are nearer to Indian culture as in they feel Gulf is more or less in Kerala or India ( Kerala because there is a general perception that Gulf is flooded with mallus):) . So when I say I lived abroad its like I was always here. I felt the same too but such experiences made me understand how far I was. Two movies I watched recently drew my attention to these real heroes. Welcome to Sajjanpur which talks of a letter writer who makes a living in a village writing letters in this internet era was one of them. Delhi six which showed a glimpse of Delhi from an NRI’s eyes was another. Both brought back my glimpses of India. So here are some sights which marveled me.
What I describe would be something common to most of you but for me they were delightful, indescribable experiences I ever had.
India rocks!

The cobbler

To think of it this country is as much his as yours and mine. He makes our varied heritage even colorful .The enthusiasm with which he prescribes you solutions to patch, mend and transform your chappals, shoes and sandals for 10 rs would mesmerize you. He is our favorite mochi, cheripukuthi, cobbler whatever you can call him. If you are not one of those who would throw away a chappal for one missing stitch here is your doctor. Where I grew up this luxury was not available hence if you bought foot wear today and it tore the next day its fate was the dust bin. When I was first asked to go to a cobbler my eyes grew wide. To me it was a term I read in stories. More than getting my foot wear repaired I was excited to meet one of my story characters in real. To me he was a real hero. And ever since he is my mentor. There isn’t a problem he has no solution for and to think he has not learnt the foot wear technology.

It might sound unbelievable that a guy earns his living this way in this globalised world. But in his world he is the KING. As Paramu a cobbler in Broadway told me once “this shop has seen them all politicians, college students, call centre executives, policemen, trade unionists, priests. My shop is very secular and democratic and I am one person who can make them all wait, make them all stand awkwardly. You must see the postures they take when one foot wear is mended or polished. After all what would they do with just one pair of foot wear?”

India never ceased to amaze me :)

A note to anonymous followers

I am happy that you guys are following the blog. Which means you want to know what nonsense I will write in future. But I would be delighted if you could reveal yourselves, give me some feedback rather than just be silent spectators. Hope that is not too much.

Well folks Its my 60th blog, well some are my favorite readings and if I take the one's not commented as unpopular then I don't think 60 is correct.

New followers please go to older posts too. And those of you who mail me about your likes and comments why don't you post it here?

Thanks for reading.... promise to continue the series of Spinster bratz as some of you asked for more and wait for the new series on Incredible India.



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Tribute to you my dear

For those unheard voices stifled in dark rooms,
For those enslaved in their world of nothingness,
For those missing laughters drowned in the sea of sedatives,
For those tired eyes longing to see their loved ones,
For those muffled cries that never reach their near ones,
For those dear departed- dear yet departed,
For those sores chained to mind and body,
For those helpless who can’t see the light of any day
And all those who will never wake from their deep sleep
To all those far away from this world- This is my tribute to you.

Mentally unstable – the words stung hard.I looked across the table, those eyes hardly recognised me. Those eyes which spoke a lot without words seemed dead. Why do all my tales fill with woe? I really don’t know. As the doctors’ voice slurred in my brain like a metal crusher on road I looked out side the window. The morning dew had melted long back, the same petunias and roses looked colourless to me. It was like a de javu I knew this was going to happen, I sensed uneasiness when I started this journey today morning. Your family has to be really strong. The patient has to be left here. That grasp on my hand and nails digging in did not make me wince then. I was too dazed, maybe I was the one intoxicated. I did not protest when they took away my soul. The protest, those black iron bars which separates the sane from insane still haunts me. Those cries in the corridor and dark, ill ventilated rooms still choke me.
I know I betrayed you and you died then.

Mentally unstable – the words stung hard. It still does when people accidentally stumble upon those trodden wounds and ask casually did I hurt you ?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spinster bratz- Fundaes on Love

Its 11.45 p.m, that’s when our day begins......., I was lying drowsy.... 'T' was heating chutney on our electric heater and that's when 'F' said she had something important to say.
Let me guess I said covering my face with a book to avoid the light- if this is about your cat fights in lab I won’t counsel, if it's about missing your family talk it out with 'T'. If it’s about bouts of depression check the calendar maybe your blue dates are nearing. There was a silence.

'F' then said - “I think I am in love". “Thud “- that was me falling from bed. You know something “T said,”your head is as messed up as your room” .
Honey ! Inflation, terrorism, sadomasochism, quantum mechanics, u name it I am willing to listen and understand, But this – this I can’t. How can you do something ….. Something so …something so….. Macabre? T added. No not macabre, something so…. Something self destructive. It’s like a suicide bomb your love crap. Shut up your feminism Simon de Beauvoir “F” said.

But at least guess who? “F” said. I got up and sat wondering who that prey could be. Well hope it's not that bozo who troubled you last semester? NO ………..we said in unison – poor choice. My eyes grew wider - Not that dumbo who hit upon me- I'll slaughter you if you set your eyes on him. He is my victim .Nope, she said with a smile – he already suffered under you. Anyone on my hit list? I asked. Nope, she said. Ok then I don’t care, I said lying flat on the ground. Well it's ... it’s him. Ok, thank god! I said, I don't know him, but why are we even discussing this at midnight?

Well I don't think he knows and I don't think he loves me said “F”. Well... thank god that solves half the problem I said scrambling on top of the bed. Do you think it will work asked “F”? Well gimme a paper I said. Lets work the possibilities after all researchers should work out logically. “T” finished heating the chutney and joined.

So u loves him - his part you don't know. Options for the future are

1) You tell him - he accepts - u marry – that’s gonna be horrifying: P
2) You tell him- he rejects - u marry some one else - that’s gonna be like those hindi movies
3) You tell him- he is confused - u both mess up life – that’s gonna give me a topic to write
4) You tell him - u both reach a consensus families object – that’s dead end
5) You don't tell him- you love him alone- you screw your life
6) You both love each other both don't reveal - both screw lives

So what do I do? - asked “F” hopefully. Well… I took my serious posture chewing the pencil as if I was solving a problem of life and death.
Close the chapter and let's eat said “T”. I agree, I said , maintaining the serious posture.

We got better things to think over remember? I said. Better things like what- asked “F”? Well you know our Feminine party resolution not to love anyone from this campus? The - anti valentine’s lunch, learning martial arts. “T” gave me a shrug – any better ideas Ms Snot faced feminist? No actually shopping and having a girls day out is not bad either, though its against my ideal hmmm. Well we could learn painting and music, dance too that's nothing feminist, I added on. We could watch movies. That’s way interesting than hearing guys yell at you and roaming around listening to their success stories and pacifying male egos. “T” stared again. Can’t we give her a Non feminist discourse?

Well dear we don’t want you to get hurt for any dumbo and we don’t want to lose you. “T” nodded assuring I was right this time. Look I am bad at this but I know life is not worth this at the moment. So cheer up.“F” looked at “T” and then me. We all started smiled together and burst out laughing. I whispered to “T”- I hope she is normal. She seems to have bought our solution she said.

Well I got something else to tell you guys, "F" said. “T’ looked at me anxiously. Is the topic of similar nature, “T” asked. Sort of “F” said. And you want our suggestion right, I asked? Yeah obviously.

How about I break your neck for forcing us to listen to this crap at midnight? I asked.

Food is always delicious after midnight “F” said and so is Feminism. We smiled and agreed . The night has just begun I sang.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

From " I do" to " I owe you"

This is a market. Procedures as simple as buying cars or even toothpaste. Advertisements more or less the same. Now Just read this

“ Seeking a girl from UK, US . Fair, obedient , disciplined and loving. From a good family with values. Any qualification”.

And now read this :

“ Want a cow , fair, disciplined, loving. Well bred. Preferable from surrounding neighbourhood i.e UK,US .”

Only difference is you don’t need to pay dowry for selling a cow .

When mom decided to venture for this adventure I decided to document some funny incidents.

Case 1

Dear Teena,

The prospective groom is working in an MNC. He is a qualified engineer can support a family. We seek for a beautiful , educated girl. However the boy had mumps at age 5 because of which chances of infertility is high. But this is curable with medical facilities today. Please let us know your views.


A parent

I don’t know how to react, I was even dumbstruck as to if this is true. When I probed about this I came to know it was a spam from this guys id. Don’t ask me if spam of this sort can be generated.

Case 2

Dear Teena,

I am a handsome , young guy from Kottayam. I am doing business. Aapko business walon pasand ho to mujhe contact karo.

I humbly replied no.

He replied again.

Edi nale njan Ambani aakumbol nine kandolam. It roughly translates as

( Tommorow when I become Ambani I will see you)

God that was hilarious.

Case 3

Dear Teena,

I am a handsome, young energetic fellow. I am 36 years old( I fainted over that) . I got some acres of rubber plantation and two, three shops. I am open minded and fashionable. You are beautiful , marry me. We got so many PhD’s at home so don’t frighten me with your qualifications.

I am still confused if it’s a threat or a proposal.

Case 4

This is a telephonic conversation.

Our son has so many proposals lined. So even if we talk to you we will screen all those and only then get back to you. Let us clear all that. People are willing to pay any amount we ask. How financially sound are you?

I can imagine mom’s face after this so I didn’t dare ask her the rest.

This comedy show is on run when it completes 100th episode I will treat myself after all I am the cause for this comedy :) .

Monday, March 9, 2009

Diary entry of a case worker

Some write for peace, some to preserve their sanity, others to suit their vanity and some of us for survival. This was the speech I delivered to my fellow social workers as we parted for our field work that semester. Our targets were never ending. In bulleted points they read
 Study micro credit programme
 Increase number of groups and their thrift, and their loan.
 Start micro enterprises
 conduct balasabhas and training programmes.

I have never hated a semester like that. I realised I could not work bound by time and for tasks that were mechanical and done for the sake of it. And if you think it ends there it doesn’t. We were also expected to do
 5 Case works
 3 Group works
 1 monograph (whatever that meant)
 A mini research too

So while explaining to the local women about rabbit rearing and palm disk making my eyes searched for potential cases on which I could indoctrinate and inflict my case work principles.

Days passed sorting cat fights and dealing split groups who were dominated by their husbands. Many fights began on disagreements over what microenterprises their husbands suggested were profitable. Amidst all this chaos I pondered about how I would manage 5 different cases for case studies.

I met her by chance. You would never notice her because she lived alienated. Her house if you could call it one was just scraps of tin sheets with tarpaulin to make a roof. There was no water supply in the vicinity, no latrine and when I stepped inside I saw no rations either.
She had asked for a doctor or medical help to discuss some issues and one of the women in the neighbourhood group thought I could help her out.

As we started talking she told me her husband and father in law were demented – No that’s not how she said it , she said they were possessed by spirits of their ancestors and they spoke to spirits. She was not burdened by this but she had to support her family. Her husband’s brother was a drug addict and would try to harm her husband at night so she was also the protector. I was dumbstruck as to how she combat all this when she told me the rest. “ I don’t stay here during 10 days , when I am menstruating that is- evil spirits attack women then so my husband asks me to leave to my place and when I come back the house is a mess the spirits do all this” . At this statement I stopped writing, my casework Performa did not matter anymore, I did not even feel like making it a case, I could not fool with her, by making her case an inquisitive delicacy at my field work viva. I didn’t care about breaking the social work principle which taught me never to empathise.

Throughout the conversation I was aware of her son a 4 year old sitting alone in the corner. I could see he was talking to someone but I saw no one in the vicinity. “I am just worried about him, madam she said. Brilliant boy but does not socialise”. I tried to talk to him but he behaved aloof.
She left me with the boy. And I sat observing him. He was indeed talking to someone and when I asked he pointed no where and said he saw someone. I felt miserable. Was he hallucinating? “By the way the doctors gave some medicines for my husband though I told them it’s the spirits she said. They checked my son too god knows why, my boy looks healthy doesn’t he” ? I was not listening to her anymore .I opened the green card with the verdict inside, which I already knew. I scrolled down to read her husband’s fate written in bold letters stamped forever “SCHIZOPHRENIA”. Is my husband very ill? And will you be able to find a school for my son? I said I will, I had no heart to tell her what schizophrenia meant, I could not understand the spirits she knew and her son was not normal either. I had failed in a real life case work and I broke my code of ethics- I acted Human – I cried.

Sometimes in life people we meet teach us more than our texts and syllabus and their problems make us ashamed . Make us ashamed of how little we know and how little we can do with the weight of the jargons indoctrinated into our heads.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Giant wheels

Forty years or so ago a family lived in Nigeria. A father, mother and three angelic children. Youngest of the kids was a boy. His father loved him dearly. The father was the sole bread winner and life in African countries those day weren’t that easy( it isn’t even today, I believe). Engineers were paid well but amenities still weren’t great. One day the father and son decided to go to a local carnival. Carnivals are always a relief to kids and in an arid land with few entertainment facilities it definitely would have been a life saver to many( ask me if u don’t believe). The boy was happy roaming around the stalls and buying toys and sweets when he spotted the giant wheel. The next is imaginable, the boy requested the father to permit him to have a ride. Father was hesitant as he feared giant wheels. Whining the son won the permission and got on to the Giant wheel. The father stayed back watching his son smiling as the wheel went up and down. As the wheel was taking the last round there was a lot of commotion and the father turned around to see children screaming from the immobile giant wheel. His own son was way up screaming for help. Power failure people screamed and children frightened began wailing. The son stood in his seat and yelled ‘papa’. Perhaps out of fear that his son would fall and get hurt the father yelled back asking him to sit there. But perhaps father was too scared that his son was hurt he screamed so loudly that he hit the ground with an attack of cardiac arrest.

A family lost their entire support in a foreign land, the mother was left to manage her children and realised she could not in a foreign and left for India. The body had to be buried in the foreign land because transferring it to India was not easy those days. The four year old boy lived with the guilt of having killed his father because of a little desire of his.

Years later the mother passed away wishing she could see her husband’s grave once before she dies. The son lived haunted all his life with the burden of guilt , making him paranoid, seeking an answer to a 5 year old's mind“ Did I Kill my father” ? " Did I deny my family what I have given my children and wife ?". He lived with one desire his whole life to go once to that land where he lost his dad. He finally managed to go with his wife after 45 years . He had no memories of the land he lived 45 years ago, things had changed but the cemetery was still the same and he found the deserted grave of his father with the help of an old family friend.

He broke down there and said what he wanted to since he was 5 year old… “ I did not do it dad, I did not do it”.

{I intend to write humour always because I have been told people prefer reading humour. But, I happen to stumble upon topics that might seem sad, and emotional. But I often feel they deserve to be told. Many of them are not my own experiences, they are stories retold, and they have real authors who lived it. I find people very interesting and their stories even more. So bear with me another living account.

I worked for a year in a funding agency for the Ministry of Rural Development. Meetings to decide funding of projects were common those days. In one such meeting I encountered a lady. A very knowledgeable woman. We were the only women in the meeting and I was thrilled to speak in my mother tongue after a long time. (I worked in North Karnataka)

We decided to have a brisk walk in the busiest part of Bangalore city the roads in between the Kempegowda bus stand and Bangalore railway station. After watching peddlers sell fruits, Bombay mithai and smuggled electronic items, we decided to have a cup of tea. We did not speak for long anything personal. We discussed prospective careers in development sectors and attitude of youth to social work profession.
She then told me a story, her husband’s story. Which is what you have read above}