Until next March 8th

Can Women have some dignity…?

We have so many popular slogans and campaigns running, every Rotary club and any other club worth its salt is talking Women’s Day let’s not forget the feminist seminars and public debates, RJ’s screaming at the highest pitch that their voice about the greatness of women, lets look at ground reality through the eyes of  the PM’s banega swach bharat,

There are settlements where people can be forced to build toilets.

The group I am talking about is the labour force the woman working out in the fields, building your roads and houses, they work about 8hrs a day, having to leave their homes earlier than that, during the day they need to ease themselves, can we allow them the dignity of doing so?  people have offered to give them mobile toilets but labour contractors don’t want to take it on, people living on the flats and houses where these construction work is going on, look at these mobile toilets as contamination of their turf.

Then the women who work with garbage sorting, the non-biodegradable used sanitary towels are handled by them, rendering them open to infection, can we provide them safety?

Go to any women’s toilet most of them are dirty, with sanitary towels strewn and menstrual discharge around… it looks like the toilet came alive and regurgitated all over the floor and walls, the putrid water still trickling from the bowl.

We can talk about women’s rights, and dignity but where is it? unless we recognize that each individual is unique and valuable by the virtue of simply being conceived human, we cannot really talk human rights, this includes the right to be born, as  many of us have, and many have not just because they were female, the accidental attributes we acquire, maybe our colour, intelligence, our physical and mental abilities, these should not be a barrier to our dignity.

So thanks for the women’s day’s saccharine messages but no thank you.

 

Taming the Shrew…

De-fanging the Goddess,

Its woman’s day and the day begins with a whole hoard of simpering celebrate womanhood message, which is not only annoying it is demeaning and a colossal lie.

Starting from Sita, Valmiki’s Sita is not very aggressive, but she is assertive, but by the time it came to Tulasidas, who has displaced the non-judgemental story we have a Sita who suffers with her husband, conveniently the Urmila who  is abandoned for 14yrs of her life is totally forgotten, some stray mention of her here and there in some feminist conference. We are so busy inflating Draupadi, who to me actually represents the psyche of a woman, through her aging we do not talk about it.

Sita was a Kshatriya woman, if the women of Brahman cal households grew up scholars, daughters, and wives of teachers, women of Kshatriya houses grew up as warriors, warfare was part of their learning, caring of horses, political and statecraft was something that they grew up with. So defending herself from Ravenna should have come spontaneously in her… and why draw a Lakshman Rekha (this incidentally appears from Tulasidas onwards)  why not empower her to protect herself? Of course the doyens of patriarchy and Neo-Hinduism will talk about destiny, and her role in the larger event of things, but honestly there is something that we are not acknowledging here.

The visible proof of kshatriya women being trained in warfare comes with Kaikayi being Dasharatha’s charioteer, and then nursing him back from a war wound. Kausalya’s knowledge of statecraft is amazing.

Savitri’s powerful feminine energy is put down to the “sati-savitri” syndrome without understanding that she was a woman, who choose to marry a man who was doomed to die in a year, she brings him back from death, not because he is her husband and it was her wifely duty but because she choose to exercise her choice and manifest her power. We fail to acknowledge that and glorify that fact that she was a wife.

Somewhere I think these stories were re-rendered to fit into the pattern of patriarchy and neo-Hinduism.

Majorly because the textual stories which are considered authentic are written by men, many of them bachelors or definitely estranged marital status, so women and their role goes unacknowledged. The folk renderings are more natural where the woman takes her place.

Shakespeare could much lauded, and everyone might say that it was in the lighter vein but “taming of the shrew” is one of the most insulting plays to women.

When it comes to post colonial India, there is a strong change of concepts that are constantly being bombarded through the media that is the woman is weak, she has to be protected, she should not earn more than her husband, she should not be more educated than her husband oh! We assume that more educated means more knowledgeable… even if she is she should not voice that is patriarchy is being drummed in systematically.

Let’s not go very far, look at the 2014 election clippings of Priyanaka Gandhi we have a fiery woman, who takes on Narendra Modi, lashing out… look at this article by Thampu he has reinvented her into for the current election, the fiery woman has been clothed in a more demure garment of being low profile, choosing a modest college, dedicating herself to noble causes and coming into the political arena reluctantly to bail her brother out, thus defanging another powerful goddess, between you and me, I no great Priyanka or any Gandhi-Nehru fan, I definitely will not vote her to represent me, but none the less, I think her fiery nature should be acknowledged, if she wants to be a political power why not?

Just look at the rubbish that gets telecasted as television shows, demure girls with their heads covered, I wish the world would realize that being a biologic girl does not automatically put a girl into the cook, and clean slot. If she can go out and earn the man can jolly well cook and clean. He is not doing his wife a favour.

When I read Anandamath I realize the all potent mother goddess, who wild and energizing is restrained and constrained to become the domesticated Gauri, even when she reclaims her power she can only become a jagjanani and not a jagadhatri.

 

A Room Ay One’s Own

Today is A Room of One’s Own Day it was quite ridiculous I thought if we are talking about non-communication, sectarian and this is making it worse.

But somewhere at the back of my mind a whisper emerged, remember Virginia Wolfe, and a Room of one’s own?

“my marriage is bad, I need a place where I can walk in, without questions being asked.”

“I love kids but I do not want to have kids, the pressure from my parents, and in-laws is killing me,”

‘i don’t like to cook’

“I don’t like housekeeping”

Each time these whispers gathered strength other voices drowned them with “So, Sania when do plan to settle down?”

“Indira, I don’t care if you head pepsico , we need milk in the house, and I can’t ask my son-in-law to get milk.”

“Your daughter should learn how to cook, else her husband will have trouble.”

“oh! Meena can focus on her career she has two maids at her beck and call”

Voices were many, shutting the door seemed a great way to keep the din, out, but what does one with suffocation of a stifled voice, one needs a room of one’s own to voice it. Virginia wolfe says any woman who wants to be a fiction writer should have a room one’s own and money, I think it goes for any woman.

No I am not being a feminist her, in the room of my own, labels are not allowed the voices you hear are voices of human beings who happen to biologically female.

Do you see this beautiful piece of decor in the other’s room, yes, the one that does the laundry, cooks, picks and drops the kids to school, and goes to work every morning at nine? Well in a Room of one’s own she morph’s she comes to her own. She is at the ledge knowing that the wings are just emerging and she is at the moment a fledging, she is poised to fly.

A Room of one’s own is where so many women have lived after they died and were burnt at the Ghats of Varanasi, the words that went unheard during their life time sometimes being heard like that whisper.

Some women do manage a room of one’s own where they share their narratives, with other women their daughters and their sons, the sons then take this narrative into a Room where the narrative now becomes the narrative of the son’s mother, or the man’s wife,  the woman’s joy, and sorrow her triumph or failure narrated only through the narrative of the accepted.

Her truth gets washed away with laundry she does, or trapped in the  dust trapped corners of the house, maybe even burns as fuel in the food she cooks.

A Room of one’s own…. I am still looking for it.

 

Discovering Woman Power In Kerala

ranjitha-1I went on work to Kochi,

The work output was disastrous which more a material for a soul searching blog.

But it also meant I was out of work earlier than schedule, just as I was figuring out something to do, I wanted to go to Mattancherry the Jewish quarter,  there was a rather loud alteration going on, I do know Malayalam is kind of louder than Kannada, yet one does not anticipate an auto-rickshaw at a place like the Crowne plaza and still less loud voices.

It turned out, that the auto-driver was someone who came in regularly to drop people and this time round there were two foreigners who were intrigued and wanted to converse with the driver and that kind of offended the gate man.

The driver intrigued me too.

The smart young man at the travel desk was quick on the uptake, he figured my interest too.  he signaled a mutual settlement, spoke to the auto driver and told me, I could get into the auto just outside the gate.

Now if you are wondering what is so amazing about this driver she was woman.

She told me she would charge me 200/- for the morning, she would take me round the Kochi spice market, then to  another site, after which she said she would take me to the Thevada folklore museum, and pick me up after two hours since, ”madama..rendu…hour..nokaano..” I assumed that it was Malayalam to tell me I would need 2hrs to see the museum.

To me she was very intriguing, and we had a conversation, me speaking a mixture of Tulu-Tamil-English, and she a mixture of Malayalam-Tamil-English, we had chai at the “cutting chaya” picked up “aluve-varthakai” .(banana halwa and chips)

Ranjita that was her name had the rather familiar story of being cheated after couple of marriage. Her husband told her he was going to the gulf and she never saw him again, to bring her two children up, she decided to drive the auto, initially she said she did only school trips because the income was steady and she felt respectable.

That kind of hurt, she said, somehow being a driver for hire it was a huge challenge for the mentally, one day she said, she talked to a woman who was working as domestic help, it then struck to her that the domestic help was also hired, so did not have to feel polluted she was actually in a better position because she had an investment to her name that is her auto, she owned a vehicle.

She says office going women, hire her on monthly basis then there were two elderly ladies who she would take to doctor on weekly basis.

She was proud of children who went to school and studied, that they did well in their exams, Ranjita’s daughter is very proud of the fact that Ranjita dared to be different.

The day was really fruitful, and Ranjita dropped me to the folklore museum where I discovered another wonderful woman.

 

 

No Girl Left Behind

Today is the international girl child day,

I am looking back, when we grew up gender was never an issue, so to me lot of this stuff that media throws up is strange, yet last year a fellow blogger had put in a question, about girls changing name, I found it idiotic, I still do.

When BlogAdda requested us to blog for the India Today India summit I wrote my next blog before which out of curiosity I asked the 2nd year BBA girls about what do they want out life, and the answers just jolted me out. Most of the girls were from the army settlement with their father serving in the Indian army, they were sent to do graduation because it improves their marriage market, and BBA is because there are no exams, arts se business management behetar hai..

Coming to the point what did the girls want, well they wanted to be allowed to rest on Sunday’s like their brothers did, they wanted to be allowed to do their assignment like their brothers were, in short they wanted to be treated equal to their brothers, fair enough.

I eat the humble pie and acknowledge there are communities were gender inequality does exist.

The global theme of “No girl left behind”  my question is very simple, child marriages are not right I totally agreed, it could lead to young mothers, premature motherhood…well maybe but biologic motherhood happens only when the body is right, and emotional maturity is independent of the biologic age. I do find it very obnoxious that the western world keeps its teenage pregnancy under the wraps and goes to Africa and Asia with a missionary zeal.

It is not just Asia and Africa, look the US election Hillary is being held accountable for her husband’s misbehavior while Trump refuses to take on the onus of his own. When women speak they quote Michelle Obama or Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Reagan but quotes from Lincoln are used a little less.

I remember that my grandparents decided to educate a niece who stayed home after standard 12, to cook and clean. She was academically not performing well, that was put down to her shaky early education, but she went into depression, it turned out she did not want to go to college study and make a career, she happy with her cooking , cleaning and embroidery my grandparents of course gave up clucking and were very upset. But couple of years  later she got married and in her married home she was acquired fame for her embroidery skills which eventually became an economic venture for her.Today she trains people and sells her work.

Maybe we can resolve not leave the girl child behind, we can resolve to give her the choice of destination and the route to reach there, but we also need to give our sons the choice of staying behind.

http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/girl-child

Beauty Academy

lipstick 3About 15yrs back I decided to write  for a Goan magazine, the editor, looked at me I have always been an woman of substance, sari clad, a neat chignon at my nape, not to mention the nose ring and the bindi, she was quite skeptic until opened my mouth. She did wonder if I could handle English.

Lets be frank at the moment I was brand housewife. Whether we like it or not we do create a brand image, our dressing, a speaking manner everything adds to this and our non-verbal presentation of ourselves comes a lot from how comfortable we are with ourselves.

Today I am a different person, but the journey was Pygmalion. I had to understand myself, as a brand I was I realized versatility and was blessed by the power of and. I was uncomfortable with the loss of hair thanks to the crab, I was uncomfortable with my scars thanks to the surgery, in short I was uncomfortable with myself.

The journey began with accepting myself it was about being authentic, who am I and what do I really want, my accomplishments, my passions, that understanding had to now be translated into my persona. this included the way I dressed, from sloppy I don’t care I had to translate to I am comfortable, yet I mean business. I mean business subtly meant I respect myself so do not abuse my skill or time. Of course my designer friend helped me translate this into my clothing.

The journey of final branding includes hairstyle, mild use of cosmetics. I find calling it make up a little ridiculous because make up about creating illusions.

This emerging awareness of personal branding along with rapid growth of the visual industry like movies, theater, advertisement has created the need for new set of skill sets, people who facilitate the development of these skill sets, as the profession of beauty and make up.

Being a beauty and make up professional is a space where one gets to exercise great creativity along with helping people accept themselves. To me it is a lot like dentistry that is it is an art and skill. As a profession it must be as challenging as dentistry I mean meeting new people, learning their challenges, then helping them over come it.  one would need to constantly learn, innovate and experiment. The industry has begun to demand trained, qualified and certified professionals.lipstick 1

If we were to look at beauty and make up as a profession then we are talking about hair styling, makeup artistry, nail artistry, beautician, theater and screen make up, bridal make up foot-care so on and so forth.

Of course putting together and choosing is no doubt a challenge. So here is what Harion Tyagi the director of BeauPal.com suggests, that instead of just rushing into the industry, choose your stream of choice, develop your expertise then choose a reputed academy or institute to go ahead. To make things easy www.BeauPal.com offers a great platform. The aim here is provide education that is global standard yet affordable.

lipstick 2IL&FS institute of skills beauty and Makeup situated in New Delhi seems a good option they offer certification after hands on comprehensive training from international trainers. The course options are beautician, hairstylist, bridal make up artist.

The institute is located in Okhla Industrial estate of Delhi. After the training, the options of finding employment or opening your own independent venture is available. The arena of beauty and make up sets, cinema makeup, fashion and stage shows are all open.

What the course helps an individual to acquire skills and dexterity that empowers them to enrich peoples life by using their creativity to help people look and feel good.

For more check  https://www.beaupal.com/en/center/ilfs-institute-of-skills-beauty-makeup-academy/index.htm

images courtesy google images.

Second Time Round

amma-aunty
Dr.Kasturi Nayak who saved my baby.

Miracles do happen, and Grandmothers, are the guardian angels of their grand-daughters.

If my second daughter is all popular young lady today, I have my gynaecologist Dr.Kasturi Nayak to thank, I had gone for my monthly check up just before we left for the parking slot, she said let me listen to my grandbaby and she heard the foetal beats drop,  it was an emergency she had me wheeled to the labour theatre and helped my little brat to emerge.

The seventh month was rather amusing, because the baby within, would begin to kick precisely at 12.15 and continue to do so until she heard the older child’s voice. And she would flip in the exact direction from which my older daughter spoke.

One day I heard a serious conversation between my four year old and my friends five year old, both of us were expecting our second kids, my daughter had her Barbie in carry bag, with a vacuum cleaner tube inserted , she was explaining to my friends daughter how the baby was eating.

When I had a second baby, my older one was quite comfortable, as she wanted a sibling. She had decided a name, for a brother and a name for a sister.

Over the years, I have learnt some truths, about bringing up more than one child.

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Siblings Now I love her Now I don’t
  1. Love for the second child is not as much as the first definitely not; the second child is just as precious as the first born.
  2. The love for the first diminishes – well this does not happen though the power of expression might be less. Somewhere the first child has not seen the parent’s lover him/her so the impression of being less loved does come. I always made it a point to tell my daughter her antics.
  3. Your work will double—myth the work load increases multi-fold, not only are we dealing with two different sets of need three different food tracks, three sleep patterns, mountain of wash load catnaps and hot doas are history.
  4. With the second we are more experienced… hello have you heard of individuality. Try asking the kids for a menu, they will give the exact opposite of one another. Each child has their own milestone and their own way of easing their way into life. Comparisons do happen, and it is great to share it with the older one, that way the older child feels part of the family.
  5. I developed one sensor with the first child and the second one with the second child.
  6. We thought we would have fewer pictures of the younger one, but interestingly we landed up more pictures of the younger one, of course, there albums of pictures of both my pretty daughters.
  7. We do play favourites; the favourite of the day is the one who makes that day easier.
  8. Siblings are rivals and playmates rolled in one, with first we become parents with the second we become referees. They cannot do with each other, neither can do without.
bio-oil
image courtesy google images.

Being a mother is not about birthing a child into the world, rather it is about repeatedly birthing into the child’ a steady sense of their inestimable worth, a prized understanding of their authentic self, a conviction that the impossible is largely the stuff of myth and an utterly unwavering belief that cold actions of men never represent the warm heart of God. It is the relentless act of birthing these things into the inner most soul of a thirsty child that makes a woman a mother.

“I’m writing about my wonderful journey of pregnancy for the#YummyMummy blogging activity at BlogAdda in association with Marico Bio Oil.”