Category Archives: Culture
It breaks my heart to read about the Guwahati incident on the news. Then I follow the outcry over it, reading all I can and realize, the men are silent. I am not one to get on a soap box for the usual petty issues but calling Sexual Harassment petty is again something we have been trained to do. We are taught to turn our faces from stark, evil realities – the reason being that we can not do much about it. Sorry uncle, but not anymore.
This is my India. This is my country. No matter how vile and corrupt you claim it to be, I love it still and wont take abuse against her anymore. We call India, our motherland, the earth is dhartimaa, the Ganges Ganga maa and then our politicians fight about which city is the rape capital of the country. We reserve seats for women, in buses, in trains, in colleges making them inferior on the one hand and superior on the other. Women are finally getting their place in the limelight and we push them down. We laud a female astronaut of Indian origin, using her to show an example of the woman of India. Then you go and strip a girl in public on caamera, showing the true colors of the Indian man.
I have objectified women, I accept it. Through school and 4 years of engineering when women were demarcated as a different species, I have ogled at them. Bangalore changed that for me, the freedom to interact with them, to sit with them without drawing stares, to drive them home without being the object of questions, to contest them face to face in debates and arguments, to enjoy silences together and to make the right kind of noises. This also happens in India. This is the India I love, no matter how much you call it an influence of westerners.
Now Guwahati has just ripped to shreds what little was left of the Male Indian Hero, let us get over the shitstorm of media that will discuss everything but what needs to be addressed. We need strong laws and stronger policing. Castrate the bastards that are guilty of rape, not after years of courthouse drama but immediately. If a woman is felt up in your view, raise a voice. Make them, as Amit states here, carry a stone. I live in an Arab country and see women covered up and protected. They live a secluded life behind Abayas, their lives controlled by one man. I think of India and feel proud but now I wonder.
With Guwahati, we have outdone ourselves. We have taken India to the next level of lawlessness. Mothers, sisters please stay at home. Men, go grow some balls or as they say in Hindi “chudiyaan pehen lo”. As for the f***ers on cam, I am not likely to visit Assam anytime soon, but if ever our paths cross – I have a punch with ur faces on it.
Ok Enough ! I have read, heard and seen enough laments about how women loose everything after a marriage. The men are often portrayed as evil, conniving sons of b*****s who have nothing better to do but make a woman’s life hell. This here is our side of the story, the average Indian guy.
Lets see, the average Indian boy, is born into a middle class family by some wicked twist of fate and biology. Our parents are all evil and dont abort as often as is propagated (abortions are usually due to medical issues not after screening the gender).
We are usually sent to school where we get our asses kicked by girls in terms of everything academic, and by bigger, meaner boys in terms of everything sporty. We are often nicknamed here, and that carries on well thru adulthood until the grave (Note: The name need not be one we like, but we get used to it). Our parents usually get really pissed when we get beaten by anyone, but more often than not its a girl, hence the phrase ” You got beaten by a girl.” This usually is the only phase where we hate girls. And we make it pretty evident by pulling your hair, fighting with you, throwing things at you etc. But by the time we grow out of those ugly shorts, we have learned to restrain ourselves.
Then we go to college, that most magical of lands. We often get our first heartbreak here. Women who rule our hearts and turn our minds into mulch, don’t seem to be aware of our existence. We learn to drink and smoke here. Mostly from conniving friends and seniors who just want some fun (it is kind of a tradition, one we learn to appreciate). Here some of us get lucky and find a girl who seems to think being with someone like us is not such a bad deal. Most of these end after college, as the women chase bigger dreams. Before you say that is because we dont compromise: We are willing to compromise, if we have any clue where we were headed. Our futures are pretty hazy at this juncture and that hard found job cant be thrown away. All the women here are well remembered, most wistfully, some lovingly and we sometimes name our girls with one of the names from this past.
We are raised, trained, to be the bread earners. We are ashamed when a woman has to pay, because we learn its not the chivalrous thing to do, not because we think woman shouldnt. Most of us know how to cook. We have lived away from family and have had to enter the kitchen more than once. Our menu is not limited to toast, eggs and maggi. We just dont like admitting it. We save it for a surprise for a woman we woo. A home cooked candle light dinner is something we consider the best of all dates. Most of us dont ever have one.
Then comes career. We have no issues with a female boss or a colleague. We often appreciate the fact that a woman adds a different side to our arguments. We also love it that we get to see a person of the other sex around. Yes, we like both the intellect and the presence of a body that smells like sunshine. We are awkward in our interactions, because mainly we just dont know where to draw a line. We dont know what is ok and what is not. And we dont want to lose our jobs on some insane charges of sexual harrasment. We just go along, trodding the well worn boring path, saving money for a car, a flat, and many other invisible somethings in the future. Women who we come across are completely appreciated for that added dash of color they bring to our lives.
Then comes marriage. Ok Lets be honest. We are not the best of the lot. The only criteria we are judged on is usually some invisible reputation that our forefathers left behind and the package we earn. We also face the unrelenting aunts and nosy uncles who make us feel impotent because we arent married. We are constantly questioned about our choices, our dressing sense, our next salary hike/job change, our plans for the future, our drinking habits, our account balances. Any woman who through some stroke of fortune considered us good enough to be friends with disappear here. After a lot of third degree questioning, they find someone they think is a perfect match. By now, most men have no clue what they want. So much psychological wear and tear plus emotional blackmail happens that we leave everything in the hands of our makers. Our parents cant be wrong can they?
Finally a girl, luckily or unluckily gets approved. Please note, we understand the rejections. We also have been rejected. Then comes the whole band, baaja, baaraat. The girl gets to dress up as an angel while we get a new suit. We dont complain. We consider ourselves lucky that a woman gets decked out with so much effort for us. That probably is the only thing we notice. All other times we are just smiling our jaws off and trying to figure out how much the wedding has cost us. We hold big bachelor bashes coz married life is supposed to make us responsible. Because that might be the only night we can black out and sleep on a friends couch with no worries about whos at home.
Yes, we worry. We arent experienced in dealing with women. The ones we have dealt with seemed pretty capable of taking care of themselves. We would love it if you also had a job. We dont mind doing the dishes. We will happily do grocery shopping. The only problem is we have no clue how to. Our dishes were done by a maid that often went absent for days. We shopped only on the nights we cooked and often forgot something and invented new combinations in the kitchen. We do clean our houses, we just dont do it as often as women do. If you also dont mind a mess, let it be. If you need a patient listener when you come home from work, let us know. We dont sense that something is wrong as well as women do, mostly because we dont knw the body language. When you cry, it breaks our hearts but we often dont know what to do.
We arent color blind but we dont know what color matches you. You always look beautiful to us. We hate shopping for exactly this reason. We dont know curtains, we never needed them (we often covered our windows with bedsheets). We seriously dont notice when you put on a kilo here and there. We are often busy trying to hide the fact that our pants dont fit anymore. We dont mind you having friends who are men. We are often a lil jealous coz we arent that cool. We hope against hope that you wont mind us drinking. That male bonding to us is like shopping to women. Stress release. We would love it if you can share a drink. We just havent seen many women drink. So dont be surprised if we gape when you say yes to a shot.
In finality. Men dont take you for granted. We do seek your approval but we dont know how to express it. We love you in a million ways but just dont know how to show it. We often dont notice new earrings or jewellery coz we were never taught to look. We are also just learning, bear with us. We really do appreciate that you put up with the crap that our parents sometimes dish out. We get angry often for no fault of yours. Its ourselves we are cursing internally.
PS: If i missed anything thats coz I am a total idiot. Also, please note that i have wonderful female friends who drink with me, dance with me and are just the same to me as men are. But the above situation is the more common Indian man, before I saw Bangalore. If the above doesnt meet your stereotype that is because, we are not noticed. If you differ to something, leave a comment. If you think I need to explain myself somewhere, I wont.
Update: I just realize this is going to get a lot more attention than earlier expected. But please think about it before reacting. Its true if you are willing to open your eyes to it. ” According to your faith, let it be to You” ( I am an atheist but cant help quoting something so apt here)
When did being born become a crime ?
When did an education become a privilege ?
Who said love is punishable by death ?
Why does getting married to the person you love seem such a bad idea?
If divorces are allowed by law, why are people so afraid of the idea ?
Crazy and unbelievable as they may seem, this is reality. This is India. Welcome
Here, babies are killed, thrown into the gutter or a waste bin just because they were born female. Here, children, right from the moment they are able to walk start hard manual labour, making everything from match sticks to fire crackers, from washing dishes to watering plants, to feed themselves and their families. Education isnt an option for them. Oh yes, they have reservation, which often helps the already well off to save more money in sending their kids to the best colleges without any merit. Here, lovers are killed in the name of honour, often entire families coming together to massacre two poor souls who didnt nothing more than love each other. Here, marraiges are arranged, often like cricket matches are fixed, based on caste, status and bank balance of the families than on common interests or passions that might give the marraige a chance. Here divorcees are always at fault, blamed for bringing a bad mark to the family name, which somehow was untarnished by anything in ages. Here, women on the lowest strata of society are more likely to raise their voices against oppression than their richer sisters who were brought up to be submissive, bharatiya naris. Here engineering and MBBS are the only career options you have. Humanities and arts are for someone else. This is where our elected official watch porn in the assembly, while their cronies are throwing chairs at each other for legislation that never sees the light of day. The biggest bridges, the tallest towers are all made of second quality material, standing tall more on hope and prayers than any real, measurable quality. This is where such a rant can possibly ban my blog if Kapil Sibal has his way. But its still my country and I love it.
I love it because I am awesome friends with at least 4 women who left their husbands and are happy on their own. I love it because I have friends who chose alternate careers and are fledgling stars in various fields, I love it because even now in spite of reservation merit shines through and gets what it deserves, I love it because love marriages do happen and both the bride and groom survive, I love it because I have beautiful nieces by blood and by ties that are stronger who will grow up to see a better India, I love it because my friendly police man takes old photocopies from our hostel for his son to study, I love it because in spite of all of this there are voices that raise concern, there are blogs that still stand strong, there are people who care.
I have always hated stereotypes from the first ones in school (the foreign return, the english punter, the math guru) to the ones in college (the mallu gang, the football player),from the ones at work (the go to guy, the party animal, the player) to the everyday variety (Malabari, Saala Madrasi, etc etc..) While on hindsight some were pretty accurate (was a football guy all thru school and college in a cricket crazy nation, still can do math in my mind) I hated them coz they limited me. Being born to a passionate communist father helped in creating a belief system that everything can be challenged and the divisions are all crappy. Later realising that the same person also had kind of stopped fighting about it was disheartening. Now, residing in the Middle East, the divisions are stark. The country is divided on the basis of skin color, religion and nationality. The locals obviously are the kings of all creation, with hardly any offenses being punished, the English are accepted as a necessary evil, responsible for creating a fake image of a country that is embracing everything western, the Indians most populous of the expats are considered nothing more than cheap labour and rarely appreciated, the nepalis are completely ignored and the srilankans dont stay long enough to create any issues. The filipinos are used mostly to fill up the malls as sales people and all other arab expats use islam and their neighbourly status to pass off as locals.
The magic of it all is that it seems to be working, everybody seems satisfied in his place. add to that the fact that education is being recognized, talented people get better pay and on the whole language barriers are breaking down – Arabs speak Hindi, Nepalis talk English and the English speaking are learning a smattering of Arabic words. Me, I am waiting in the wings, looking for my next opportunity to pack my bags and move to Bangalore.
The madness of it all is the way people react to it. They dont. They silently sit by earning their two pence, sending it home, building an empty house back in India for no one in particular, educating their children, getting them married and then retiring to a country they left 40 years ago to live out their days with more empty houses for neighbors. I cant think of such a life, such a waste. All the promises of a life ended behind a desk in a foreign country, earning and saving more than Indian standards with no opportunity to spend it, making friends with people who you wouldnt give a second thought about in India because you have no choice and then complaining together about how India is going down the drain.
The marriages are the funniest here, everyone looks at a potential bride / groom based on their employable skills, anything more than that is a bonus. The women who work here as nurses are luckier than most, becoming rich overnight and being courted by hundreds of prospects just because it means a bigger package to send back to India. Which works fine for me, coz i just told my parents i am never marrying a nurse 😀 Leaves me with even more of a single life than is acceptable back in India, much lesser pressure from parents and family, and a lot more free time than is healthy.
Very few festivals cross the boundaries of religion to become a nationwide affair.. And as the surd says in ” Jab We Met” : ‘ Hume to bas bahana chahiye’. We need just the hint of a reason to celebrate, get angry, cry ,laugh.. Basically we are pretty emotional.. Maybe a lil too much as Taare Zameen Par revealed the other day.. But getting back to the topic on hand.. Holi is and i guess will be the most riotous festival of colours in the World ( even the samba has people who come as mere spectators but thats impossible for holi).. Noone is spared, from the oldest granpas to the youngest kids.. A reason to smear your neighbour , even if it is with just a lil color is too tempting a treat i guess…
Now coming to Holi in hyderabad.. I was surprised to see a south indian state celebrating with so much fervour.. The fact that fun was on the cards got me up early enough to escape the colors till i got to my boss’s house( we are supposed to color our elders first before celebrations kick off).. Getting back and then the whole gang assembled in one of those lovely little houses that you sometimes find splattered across an otherwise ugly landscape of towering buildings and a lil too natural looking parks.. The house was well equipped to handle the set of 30 odd hooligans turned corporate honchos who turned up.. The colors first flew , then splashed and finally painted eveeryone around… By midafternoon , after the tired but very satisfied crowd settled down for a round of songs that had no particular order, ranging from songs that dated before my dad could walk till a week agos latest hits.. Singing along to any one is one talent every indian has.. The mostly psychedelic songs made up for whatever was lost in meaning by their sheer volume and the enthusiastic dancing of a few high men( high on alcohol as much as on the colors and the festivities).. From malayalam to punjabi, from bhojpuri to telugu, it was a sight to see and a rucus to hear.. Lunch at 5 (if you can call it lunch) and a lil later, the tired set of crowds headed off to their homes.. A detour to a friends home has no doubt resulted in death warrants being issued in our names( his wife was waiting to see who the guys were who steal her husband every sunday)..
On the whole it was entertaining, happily tiring and very very memorable…