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The Pot October 11, 2008

Posted by K in Fiction, Gender.
3 comments

The earthen pot was in the middle, and they all squatted around it. Five women, two unmarried. The sun warmed the soil beneath them, but their hardened feet thirstily sucked up the heat.

She had a pallu covering her face. She had a spot on her nose. She, she and she fought their biology with rags infested with disease.

They sat there and watched the pot.

In the distance, Manu called out his wares. Billoo stubbed his toe. Ram Babu struck cheap gold at the madiralay. The village fly went from house to house, finishing its afternoon round by evening.

The sun began to set on the pot; the women watched shadows play on its natural body. Shanta’s husband’s cows mooed. Lakshman’s mother’s bull swished its tail. The muezzin called the faithful to prayer.

Dusk turned into night, but the women came prepared. Each one pulled out a diya from the folds of their pallu, and passed the oil around. As one, they lit the flame, and watched it burn the pot into visibility.

The sounds of the darkness imperceptibly took over the nameless, maybe timeless, place. Five houses stood more silent than the rest.

The women watched the pot.

The diyas were refuelled periodically until, suddenly, a stone rang out of nowhere and pierced the neck of the pot. The diyas flickered, and five pairs of eyes watched the cracks spreading across its body. A slow, unbroken movement, until there was no more pot to hold its progress.

The shattered remnants lay around the spot, as one by one, they collectively watched it no more.

As the darkness continued to veil the surroundings, all that remained were five, flickering, intermittent bursts of light.

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Opinions, the Manu Smriti, etc. August 9, 2008

Posted by K in Gender, Politics, Recent reads-and my comments, Reviews/Rants.
16 comments

What a pity we are all entitled to our own opinions.

(It is. Really. Because it then means that it is okay for a person to hold discriminatory opinions. It is okay to believe that a joke which goes like-there are three problems in the world, email, gmail and female-is funny. That believeing the Manu Smriti doesn’t spew venom against Shudras is ok.<–I was challenged to read the Manu Smriti and find out for myself whether the quotes used by Dalit Rights activists do actually figure in the ‘seminal’ text. I did; last night. I read 44 of the 274 pages, and then used the search feature to read every-tenet?- pertaining to Shudras. I will attach the link*, and the specific points that merit special reading, especially for those who still believe that the likes of Dr. Ambedkar were fools, and ranting out of context.)

(Somethings are just wrong. I won’t spend any energy trying to ‘compromise’/see the other side.)

*http://www.esnips.com/doc/133237a9-b9bd-4823-b37e-9555e3d0f707/Manu-Smriti—Sanskrit-Text-with-English-Translation

Leave a comment if you want me to mail you the particularly obnoxious-article?-numbers.

Bombay, theatres, and gender in educational spaces July 22, 2008

Posted by K in contemporary, Gender, Politics, Reviews/Rants.
17 comments

Maybe I need to go on a Saattvik diet or something (if I were to believe HT Brunch), but I HATE watching movies in theatres in Bombay! I resent the imposition of the national anthem on me, and I resent the arm-twisting of every theatre goer into standing up for the anthem. Just what is achieved by the exercise escapes me. I wonder if people rebel against it… or is the social pressure too strong for that. I know when I was late in standing up, I heard a voice say, rudely, ‘khare ho’. ‘Stand up’. I stood, because I was the only one not standing, around me. I succumbed to the ‘air’ around me. I felt threatened, as if I would get branded ‘anti-national’ or something. In ordinary situations, such a tag wouldn’t bother me. But in a strange city, amongst strangers, I’m not that brave. I suddenly realise, ever so often these days, what it is like, being the minority.

This automatically leads me to question how I became the minority. Was I, and people who think similarly, ever the majority? Or did the privileged space that I called my college lead me to believe in, and expect, a different reality.

I’ve often thought about the space and place of all-girls institutions. I was mostly against it. Incomplete education, unfair to the boys, unnecessary and bla bla. But Pallavi pointed out something that I had never considered. We are who we are, largely because we studied in an all-girls institution. And by that, I mean, we grew into people who are confident of their, our, ability. In several co-ed colleges, one sees that very few girls ever occupy union positions. If they do at all, they are elected into positions that are traditionally seen as a female domain-cultural representatives, literary representatives. Seldom will one find a girl sports representative. Very few girls are allowed to get their hands ‘dirty’ by running from pillar to post, arranging for sponsorships. In things like theatre productions, seldom do girls get to carry the heavier props, if there are boys around. I’m not making a very coherent article, but what I am trying to say, is that it is only in a girls college (I shall not speak about school at this point…) that girls do everything that goes into the making of college life, from administration, to running around, to doing a hell lot of ‘dirty work’, to you name it. Perhaps that is why students who pass out of such institutions gather such infamy as ‘feminists’. The lack of a need to depend on the other gender, or a need to protest against gender violence, verbal, physical and psychological, seems to ‘de-feminise’ the female. Having a mind of one’s own, and caring about things like how gender is portrayed and dealt with, automatically constructs a forbidding image.

How little the world has changed!

Found this is an old notebook. February 11, 2008

Posted by K in From The Attic, Gender, Poem.
1 comment so far

A haunting tune

Runs my ears

A ghostly voice

Singing aloud

 

Who is she

That sings so long?

A part of me,

Extended to the world.

 

A silence in the dark

Shimmering with stillness

A lone leaf shaking

In the breeze that is blowing

 

A footfall

That stops

A footfall

That stalks.

 

The haunting tune

Spinning wool

A thousand years

Of preying eyes.

 

It’s today

Womens’ Day.

January 26, 2008

Posted by K in contemporary, Diary, Gender, Recent reads-and my comments, Reviews/Rants.
Tags: , , , , ,
11 comments

Hindustan Times has a new obnoxious writer: Vinod Nair(Damn, and I thought all Mallus were nice). I don’t know what his column profile officially is, but it ends up being a space where he unleashes his misogyny. The first column I read of his was about Indian women and their inner wear , and the second one I read, today, was about inner wear again, and though he tried (or did he…?) to make it about both genders, he managed to produce schpiel about how women like displaying bra straps and underwear bands, but get offended if men stare. Now the problematics of him not seeing a problem with lecherous men apart, I wonder why he writes such shit. Does he get paid by the scale of nastiness? It’s HT City, hence quite possible (though I admit I quite like Under Honey’s Hat: the fictionalized gossip column).

Maybe the issues raised by him are pertinent, if not to me, then somebody else; but why does he deal with his subject matter with such female body related venom? Why does he objectify women with his very male gaze, and more importantly, why is he allowed to??

In other matters, I attended a placement presentation by a company called Star Magna. Now I don’t know what the company actually is like, but the representative who presented the company sure didn’t create a very good image of it. And considering that this company deals with brand management it seems a trifle amusing that they couldn’t build their own brand in front of wee college students.

The problem was not so much with the nature of their work-brand management. I might not be a fan of the luxury segment but that doesn’t mean I go about, fangs bared, looking to bite all such companies. I had a problem with what she said. They were looking for PR (Press Relations) agents who would talk to the media regarding whatever company they were handling. She went on to qualify ‘media’: we, ofcourse, don’t call the likes of Punjab Kesari and Jain TV, she said. My head went !!! immediately. One of the first things she said was that at the end of the day, what the clients want is money. And managing brands ought to be about maximising profits. So I asked her if she thought readers of Punjab Kesari and watchers of  Jain TV either were all poor and/or did not desire brand-y things. She seemed too think not. Her answer made it evident that either she wasn’t doing a good job presenting the company, or that the company was disgustingly wannabe and wannabe-elitist.

A part of the presentation spoke about how the company also deals with model management and promotion of artisans and craftsmen of India. So when Question Time came, I asked her how the elitism was reconciled to this NGO work, how one company could on one hand, only want to deal with the likes of E-News and not the ‘masses’ that presumably patronised the likes of said Punjab Kesari and Jain TV, and at the same time look to give visibilty to the artists who come from such ‘masses’. She, ofcourse, felt the question was irrelevant, that the NGO was just something the owner did as a hobby (why put it on the COMPANY profile, then? And even so, the incongruity/hypocrisy stands)  and that I was asking it just for the sake of arguing, and that she didn’t get my question anyway. I was much amused by now, and conveyed to her that I, however, had got the answer.

The woman was rude when others asked less-controversial questions, and had come to recruit without an idea about the package she would be offering. She snapped at people, was ill-informed ( “We would prefer post-graduate students here”… “How many first and second years are here”…”Doesn’t your college offer post-graduate studies?”), and didn’t know she had earlier conveyed to the Placement Cell that the recruitment process would include a GD followed by an interview.

And then she has the gall to say “I mean, aren’t you guys, like, a little, like, whatever” Rude, I think she wanted to say.

I mean,like, yeah I want a, like, a jawb, but please don’t insult my intelligence, and don’t think you can bully me just because I’m a wee student. Sheesh.

August 20, 2007

Posted by K in Gender.
4 comments

Strange things have been happening. The Delhi Police have taken out a handbook for northeast students (girls, mainly) that essentially tells them what to do to ‘fit in’. An example- don’t cook smelly food (I’m not kidding, it’s there).

And ofcourse, it advises the women on what not to do in order to NOT be raped. Don’t dress scantily (because that provokes men, duh), don’t dress scantily, don’t dress scantily.

The Hindu had a great edit page(I think) article about this ridiculous handbook. I can’t locate the link, but the article ended with a set of instructions for women-

Don’t go without clothes (It provokes men)

Don’t go with clothes (because some clothes provoke some men)

Avoid childhood (because children excite some men)

Avoid old age (because it excites some men)

etc. etc. It was a good piece.

Why do I go on and on and on about women and women’s issues? I don’t want to, but lately it has been hitting me more and more. This is yet another reason for my liking Chak De- I liked how they turned the stereotypes on their head, and mocked them, and mocked them singularly well for Bollywood.

And, I do admit, I lived vicariously through the McDonald’s scene 🙂

August 14, 2007

Posted by K in Friends, Gender.
8 comments

Sometime back I wrote about how ‘liberated’ I felt when two friends and I took a bus back at 9:30 at night.

This is connected to that.

Miss Delhi

Sexy Boy- A Shrishti Production August 3, 2007

Posted by K in Action, contemporary, Gender.
2 comments

This video was sent to me by a friend. Watch it. I liked it very much. I don’t know what it was meant to communicate, but to me, it was about women and sexual harassment. It’s called ‘Sexy Boy’. (I debated whether to include the name of the video, because for the past few weeks I’ve been getting too many hits from people searching for ‘nude women’ etc, all of who are getting routed to me because of the PETA post. However, I decided I shall not let pervs-on-the-net bully me and my blog.)

It is a Shrishti (School of Design, Bangalore) production. Enjoy and ruminate:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=BeOPnCtbGFU

July 6, 2007

Posted by K in Action, Bus rides, contemporary, Gender.
21 comments

This happened a week ago, but I guess I’m still so kicked about it that I found it post-worthy 🙂

I am a female, right? I am (by virtue of my gender, and the country I live in) a potential rape-victim, right? I should therefore Take Precautions, right? Meaning, take the lighted road, or better still…take NO road when the requirement for lights become inevitable…right? I ought to keep-to-public-places-not-meet-strange-men-not-go-alone-to-new-places-keep-my-phone-handy-etc etc…right?

Well, last Sunday, I took a bus with two friends at 9:30 PM at night. We became Night-Time commuters.

I felt a sense of liberation. I felt as if the tethers binding me to my gender were snapping.

Nothing had changed. I was still in Delhi. I was still a potential rape victim. But you know what? It felt good.
I was under no illusion…I am aware of the horror stories. But it was time to decide that my life couldn’t be one big Precaution.

I wish people spent less time trying to prevent rapes (and by this, I mean the many million conjunctions and restrictions put on the rape-able gender) and more time figuring out what to do post-rape.

AFTER somebody is raped you may well tell them it was not your fault, poor girl, etc etc, but the point is a) You’re probably crying your eyes out while you say all this, leading the person to wonder why exactly it is that you are crying (Lost virginity? Loss of face in society? Fear that *I* won’t recover? Shouldn’t that apprehension be left to *me*, the victim? Shouldn’t your job be to tell me that *I* will indeed recover?) and b)How is someone supposed to swallow that? All her life she has been cautioned, warned, and made afraid of an event that has finally come to pass. And now you expect her to believe that it is actually nothing, not her fault, move on ,child?

Why can’t rape be treated as a violent crime, and just that? Why must we create extra- hoo-haa about it? It rubs off on the victims, doesn’t it? We are ingrained to see it as Different. Hence our reaction becomes different.

Why can’t we, as a society, work at building a non-sexual image of it? It ISN”T sexual(and here I define sexual to mean anything to do with sexuality and sexual intercourse, and by my definition, both these things would be primarily about the individual in question)….the victim never had anything to do with it! The body is violated, just as it is when someone knifes your neck or breaks your jaw, only this could probably be treated as the most violent crime, second only to murder.

It is time to stop making a victim of the victim. Or a potential victim of a potential victim. Or is it?

The Big Fight May 19, 2007

Posted by K in contemporary, Gender.
14 comments

The Big Fight had quite a topic today- Where is The Indian Woman Headed. A handful in the best of times…and with the jury they had…

There was a Shiv Sena representative, the something editor from TOI, the irrepressible Rakhi Sawant, Diya Mirza, a fashion designer…all women. I missed most of it, just caught the closing comments and the audience questions before that.

From what little I saw, it seemed to me that nobody really tackled the issue. Vikram Chandra was rude to Sawant, as were some other panelists. The audience questions weren’t sizzling, but then it’s difficult saying something intelligent when you have but a few seconds.

Did anybody watch it? If so, can they please share their views on it?

Did they tacle the question of the definition of ‘The Indian Woman’, beyond the dividing the poor woman into the ‘Rakhi Sawant type’ and the ‘Smrithi Irani type’?

I remember one inane comment by a panelist who said that the new Indian woman wanted the face of Aishwarya Rai, the brains of Indra Nooyi, and the body of…I forget, but something equally inane.

What did they have to say on the question of the body? Sawant said that Indian men reserve the same gaze for all women, no matter what they wear. I could gather that the others disagreed but I didnt quite get why…Fashion Designer(or was it TOI editor?) said something about body language determining the gaze…urgh! I’m confused! I apologise for this rambling ranty post, but I would really appreciate it if somebody could illuminate me about this particular ‘Big Fight’

Much thanks is given in advance.

All my love,

sporadicblogger

PS- I must end with my two paisa bit,ofcourse 🙂 I think Rajdeep Sardesai did a better job with the show.