Monthly Archives: January 2013
Rape of the Gitanjali
Chitto jetha bhayashunyo (where the mind is without fear) was the first line that Rabindranath Tagore wrote in his 35th poem of the Gitanjali that carried his vision for our great country. He read this out in the English version, (then titled Indian Prayer) at the Indian National Congress session in Calcutta in 1917.
Today, Tagore would be weeping inconsolably.
Where the mind is without fear
The gang-rape incident in Delhi has left women in India shrouded in a sense of hopelessness. Helplessness.
I am a woman and I am scared. I know there are many more women out there who feel the same.
If I am late at work, I am apprehensive about hailing a taxi or an auto. Should I take this bus? Who are these other passengers? Are they men of morality or beasts in sheep’s skin? Should I walk down this lane? Who are these men standing at the corner of the road?
Are our daughters safe? Should we impose curfew time on our children?
When my child is delayed returning home, how should I console my heart and mind? My heart beats in panic and my mouth runs dry…while my mind conjures up unwanted images. I do not want to tell my child to suspect everyone around. But, I am scared. How do I protect my child?
Earlier, I thought our daughters were safe if they were with friends. Today, I am not sure at all.
I cannot stop thinking about Nirbhaya’s mother. The dreams she wove around her beautiful daughter – the apple of her eye. She would have watched with glistening eyes her daughter grow into a beautiful young woman. She would have whispered words of wisdom to her adolescent daughter, to gently caution her against the growing up pains of womanhood. I am sure the growing up pains about which she forewarned her child did not definitely include the brutal invasion of her young, fragile body by six beasts. The beasts mutilated her daughter’s body that she had so lovingly nurtured for 23 years. She had mildly warned her daughter of the perils of womanhood. But, this?
Does Nirbhaya’s mother sleep? What is she thinking? Does she have questions? Will she find the answers?
Now on, will any mother tell her child, “live without fear”, “walk with your head held high”, “square your shoulders”?
Every mother will want to hold her child close to her bosom, away from the eyes of the world. Because, who knows what is lurking along the path that her dainty feet walk on.
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Can mothers breathe easy when their little princesses go down to play in the garden? What if deathly tentacles stretch out from behind the rose bushes towards their angels?
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Can the dignity of a woman flourish in a society where self-proclaimed religious gurus propagate warped reasoning? Where so called leaders rape women in their minds? Where blasphemous tongues whiplash womanhood?
All this is happening in a nation that supposedly laments the dwindling population of women.
Into that abysmal hell, my Father, my country has awoken.
Chowmein and libido
The sight of “Chaineej corner” shanties down the road leading to my home trigger panic in me. Thanks to the enlightenment from Haryana Khap leader Jitender Chhatar. “Chowmein leads to rape,” says the learned leader.
This finding is second only to the invention of the zero by Aryabhata. Even Ming’s secrets were humbled by this disclosure. It is not for nothing that we proudly claim Mera Bharat Mahaan.
As a die-hard fan of Chinese cuisine, I felt terribly let down by the Peter & Wangs, China Dragons, and Liu’s Kitchens of the world. I decided to plunge into some research. I swear by all the Manchurians and spring rolls I have devoured, I was aghast at my narrow escape, many times over.
Why, just the other day, I hosted a dinner for a client delegation. Chinese got the unanimous thumbs-up as we short-listed restaurants. While a delicious spread from the numerous provinces of China found their way to our table, I distinctly recall this gentleman, portly and well-groomed, and the leader of the delegation, order a generous portion of Chowmein.
A shiver goes down my spine as I think of all the things that could have happened that night.
“Chowmein creates hormonal imbalance,” Chhatar says.
No wonder then that Mr Chowmein stumbled as he rose from dinner that night! So what if he is 70 years old and could have a dysfunctional knee?
Aha! N.D Tewari must be one helluva Chowmein fan.
As I mentioned earlier, I plunged into research. I emerged with these conclusions.
Taken in moderate doses, Chowmein is a tastier and a more glamorous replacement for Shilajit.
China’s answer to America’s Viagra is Chowmein. (Hush…China still doesn’t know. India knows.)
For longer libido, cut vegetables into thin long slices. For a quickie, use finely chopped veggies.
For sustained and slow pleasure, eat with chopsticks, noodle by noodle.
For a great performing c..k, toss the Chowmein in a wok.
A word of caution is imperative here.
Government should grant permits for the sale of Chowmein.
Only adults (18 years and above) should be allowed to indulge in the pleasures of the Chowmein. Cho mean say the minors.
I searched high and low for the effect of Chowmein on women. To my surprise, Google rudely said “no results found”.
Aha! What Google doesn’t have, we have, in the Khap leader.
I found myself at the doorstep of Mr Jitender Chhatar. I needed to know from the enlightened soul the effects of Chowmein on women.
“He is out for lunch,” replied the man who answered the door. “He’s close by, you can meet him at the restaurant,” he offered.
“Where?” I asked.
“Straight down the road at “Chaineej Corner. He is eating Chowmein,” he said.
Remember what it was like to be a kid, running around without a care in the world? Well, stop reminiscing and start embracing your inner child! This Children’s Day, come with me on a journey into fav childhood memories.
When we were kids, we thought 10.00 was late bedtime, now I only wish I could go to bed at this kind of time!
Remember the time we used to get on the computer just for paint? The brighter kids played Solitaire.
When I was young and it rained, I used to watch two drops of water roll down the window and pretend they were racing.
When I was a kid, my social network was called ‘outside’. We played with real friends, and not with weird machines on play stations.
Birthdays meant making cards at home with crayons and brushes.
Remember skipping home along with the postman to hear the good tidings he brought?
When I was a kid, I used to think the moon followed me everywhere.
Amar Chitra Kathas were the next best thing to Grandma’s stories.
Remember when getting high meant swinging on the playground? When protection meant a helmet? Dad’s shoulders were the highest place in on earth and mom was our hero? Your worst enemies were your siblings? Race issues were about who ran the fastest? Monopoly was only a card game? The only drug you knew was cough medicine? The only thing that hurt you were skinned knees from climbing trees? And goodbyes only meant for tomorrow?
I mean, remember when we were kids, and we couldn’t wait to grow up…what the hell were we thinking?
Remember waiting behind a door to scare someone, then leaving because they took too long to come out?
I miss the days when all it took to make me feel better was my teddy bear.
When I was little, I used to sing in the shower. Now? I make life decisions in there.
As Brian W Aldiss says, “When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults and they enter society, one of the politer names for hell. That is why we dread children, even if we love them, they show us the state of our decay.”
But, you know what, it is never too late to have a happy childhood. The truth is, if we carry our childhood with us, we will never become older.
So bring out the child in you. Happy Children’s Day!!!
A lesser known day celebrated the world over is Husbands’ Day. I am not sure about the date…some say it’s October 15, while others say it’s April 15. Irrelevant! Any day could be Husbands’ Day. So, in this short piece, I dedicate my thoughts and words to the uneasiness of the head that wears the crown of husband.
Wicked things have been said about husbands. “Husbands are like fires. They go out when unattended.” This is the warning that most mothers whisper to their daughters on their wedding day.
How wrong! Look at it from the man’s perspective. “A woman who takes her husband about with her everywhere is like a cat that goes on playing with a mouse long after she’s killed it.”
Who is a husband? A premature baby in a big man’s body – is how a friend describes her husband.
I beg to differ.
A husband is one who waits patiently on his wife outside store trial rooms as she struts in front of him in ridiculous-looking garments. He is almost colour blind, doesn’t have the slightest idea of what a mega sleeve is, and doesn’t care a hoot for pin-tucks. Yet, he politely comments, knowing very well that the outfit he rejects will soon make its way home.
A husband is an eternal optimist. He fondles the TV remote, his thumb furtively caressing the mute button, his heart achingly longing for it to work equally well on his rambling and ranting wife.
A husband is one who doesn’t learn from years of experience that on return from work when he asks his wife, “how was your day?” he has prised open a Pandora’s box.
A husband is one who is blissfully unaware that when he buys his wife a bunch of flowers for no reason, she knows there is a reason.
A husband is adept at using four levels of listening – the first level is ignoring, the second is pretending. The third and the fourth levels are round two of the first and the second.
All said and done, I love husbands, particularly mine. As I pen off, I quote from one of my favourite authors, Erma Bombeck. “People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.”
I know it is not September 5, or Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s birthday, also celebrated as Teachers’ Day in India. Just encountered a couple of teachers. The interaction left me holding up my pince-nez and
scrutinising the noble profession…
Undoubtedly, school years were the best years of our lives. And, teachers occupied a huge chunk of this mind space. Some, for their endearing idiosyncrasies, and others for their stern preaching. Teachers were known to practise what they preached. So, we were in awe of them, and stored them indelibly in our minds. We were blessed.
Can’t say the same for GenX. Woody Allen’s barb sums it up: “My education was dismal. I went to a series of schools for mentally disturbed teachers.”
Schools then had glorious reputations. Today notorious. As Lenny Bruce says, “I won’t say ours was a tough school. But we had our own coroner. We used to write essays like: What I’m going to be if I grow up.”
Many of us grew up with the philosophy that teaching is a work of the heart and that the teacher is the child’s third parent. But, today’s kids forget teachers like yesterday’s fashion fads.
Were teachers of the yesteryears made of different mettle? What did they bring to the class that stayed with us long after our school years?
The missing link is perhaps the wisdom of experience.
I recently overhead a teenager cheekily say, “The secret of teaching is to appear to have known all your life what you learned this afternoon.”
Teaching has become the next best thing to do after home-making. Every Rekha, Jaya and Sushma is turning to teaching.
Today, there are three good reasons to become a teacher: May, June and July!!
There goes the nobility of the profession!
News headlines scream out the horrendous atrocities inflicted on students by some perverted teachers. It’s almost like they’re saying, “I’m a teacher. How’s that for super power?”
There goes the humility of the profession!
As I pen off, I recall the sense of responsibility in the words of Christa McAuliffe, an American teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, and one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, 1986.
“I touch the future. I teach.”
Women and Equality
The cry for equality of the genders is age-old. I have grown up on the battle cry of women’s organisations hollering to get their due attention. However, most of these cries touched peripheral areas, leaving the core unattended. They revolved around equality that stressed on physicality, appearances, reservations, and so on.
For me, equality means equality of respect.
Culturally, our norms and practices have eclipsed a woman’s need for self-respect. Her self-esteem has always been an adjunct to the self-esteem of her men folk – her father, brother or husband.
Equality of respect could mean many things – respecting the needs and aspirations of a girl child who desires to go to school, respecting the needs and aspirations of a young woman who wishes to pursue a career, or respecting the decision of a woman to postpone motherhood.
The right to be respected is the epitome of human dignity. When this dignity is snatched away from a woman or worse still, taken for granted, how can there ever be equality?
Government legislation cannot do much. The attitude for self-respect has to be ingrained in women themselves. A woman has to feel that she is worthy of her own respect. She has to cultivate an attitude for feeling that she is important, and that she is entitled to have her opinion heard, her aspirations fulfilled. She has to feel secure that her voice will be heard and respected by those around her.
We have to rewrite our mythology.
Lord Ram rebukes the commoner who points an accusing finger at Sita. Lord Ram announces in a crowded courtroom that he has complete faith in his wife, and so she will NOT go through the agnipariksha. Sita’s self-respect is celebrated throughout the Kingdom of God.
Then, we can truly say men and women are equal. Then, equality will reign supreme.
The theme this time is Family. Come join me on a romp
through family idiosyncrasies.
Let’s start by defining ‘family’ in our modern times.
A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold. It is a social unit where the father is concerned with parking space, the children with outer space, and the mother with closet space. Everyone in today’s family is craving for ‘their’ space!
All families usually consist of two entities – parents and their outcomes. First we are children to our parents, then parents to our children, then parents to our parents, then children to our children.
People lament the vanquished joint family. I disagree that we no longer have extended families. The basic extended family today includes your ex-husband or –wife, your ex’s new mate, your new mate, possibly your new mate’s ex and any new mate that your new mate’s ex has acquired. We are indeed one big happy family!
The family is one of nature’s masterpieces. Think about it. Incredible things can happen in a family. As Robert Brault says, “If minutes were kept of a family gathering, they would show that ‘members not present’ and ‘subjects discussed’ are one and the same!
It is true that you cannot choose your family. The fact is that the essence of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you. Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.
As George Burns said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
All families have accidents, even the most perfect ones. In fact, as I read somewhere, “A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.”
A family is often born of blood, but it doesn’t depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.
In effect, the family is that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quit escape, nor, in our innermost hearts, ever quite wish to.
Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted.
Today, go back to a great loving family!