Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I am a woman with a poor sense of humour...

I am privileged to be part of a few male-dominated WhatsApp groups.  Not just any group, mind you! These are groups of serious knowledge bank and money machines (me? Theory of exception should explain!).  In the middle of all the money and knowledge discussion, arrives a meme, which shows woman in poor light.  Nagging wife, girlfriend who is a drain on a man’s money, bad driver, vain and so on and so forth.

Now we all know that both men and women have their faults? Could you tell me how many memes or messages that you see in the social media that show a man in poor light? I would say 1:50 (was going to say 1:100). Now me being-the-bull-in-a-China-shop me, won’t let it slip in the barrage of “meaningful” messages, and raise an objection. And when I do that, I am told that I lack sense of humour, that I have forgotten how to laugh and too uptight.

If you are in my circle and/or reading this, I don’t need to remind you history and reality.  Women had to fight for education, employment, voting rights, opinion and oh, even for an honourable existence. The reality remains that a girl child is fighting inequality even before she is born.  If she is ever born, has to deal with molestation, eve-teasing, objectifying, inequality at work place both in terms of pay and growth opportunity.  “Just married yaar, can’t hire / promote – may soon be in her family way” – sounds familiar? Inclusive much? We also have to deal with what nature and centuries of conditioning have bestowed on us- mother, nurturer, natural caregivers (no less!) and in newer terminology – homemaker.

Whether the laundry gets done daily or thrice a week to Can peanut butter sandwich pass of as a healthy snack for your toddler to Whether to cut wages of an irregular house help or indulge, for you need her to Explaining to the husband (for the 100th time) a hand towel, dishtowel and a swab have different purposes in the kitchen - she does more than her fair share. At home, she is both the traffic cop and a school bus driver – at the same time.

Most men (be it father, brother or husband) think a woman has a lot on her plate (not more than him though, mind you!) and it’s best she remains happy where she is and with what she is good at.  Women break the first glass ceiling at home and get out and pursue what they want to.  Most women take this up as an additional challenge and responsibility and don’t shirk their “homely” duties.

Now that I, as a woman managed to get into a man’s (working) world and crept into “professional” groups, I should learn to guffaw at discriminating jokes – even if the joke is on me? Is that what you are saying, my male friend? Now you want to induct me into your “locker-room”? If I insist I will retain my feminism along with the equality I earned, I am told that after all the opportunities that I have been “given” I still am defensive; that feminism is a fad and over-rated and ugly.

When I object to jokes that border on sexism and gender stereotype, I get questioned.  I am sharing some of the oft-asked questions and my answers:
  1. Where is your sense of humour? I am saving it for a joke. I am not about to giggle if you objectify my clan and calling it a joke doesn’t make sexism more acceptable
  2. Did I create that meme? I say, then why perpetuate it?
  3. Why are you so defensive? Are you a victim of sexism? I say, yes and no. I am married to a man who respects and loves me in equal measure but the society has gender issues that affect me and we (you and I) need to fight it
  4. I am a decent man. I respect women. How could you call me a sexist? I know you are a decent man; otherwise I wont have a conversation with you. However your sense of superiority and the need to throw your masculinity at me amount to sexism. If you don’t fight sexism and objectification, then too you’re a sexist, even if a passive one. I am sorry, my friend, that’s just how it is!
  5. Aren’t there jokes on Sardars?  I ask, did I say racism is better than sexism? 
We need feminism. Women have to fight tough battles – may not be the women in your lives but there are millions out there who are fighting for a mere peaceful and dignified existence (equality comes much later). Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of equality of sexes (dictionary meaning) and we are far from equal. Don’t look at the privileged class – then my feminism may look misplaced. Look at society at large.

My dear man friends, don’t make this struggle, this battle more difficult than it already is! Most of all, please don’t laugh at it…

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Thank you, gentlemen!

Shakti is mythological representation of woman. Shakti also means strength. Women have always been strong, resilient, nurturers, influencers, change agents so on and so forth.  My mother (she would be 84 if she was alive) who was financially completely dependent on my father (and before him, her father) was a strong woman.  She knew her roles and responsibilities well but she also ensured the rest of us took ours seriously.  She was fun but she couldn’t be fooled around with.  She was epitome of kindness but also a force to reckon with. My father, who appeared patriarchal went to her for opinion and advise regularly.  If you looked at them, you would never have guessed that. My point is, women have always been the significant half in their homes and in a way in this world too.

What we (women) want today though is to make this significance more obvious, to gain more freedom, voice and in some cases to be wearing pants.  The way we dress, talk, carry ourselves and assert our rights (rightly so) have changed and changed significantly.  Feminism is the new buzzword.  This metamorphosis is exhilarating and beautiful for us – we look at ourselves in the mirror swelling with pride, the glorious butterflies that we turned into.

For a man though, this is too much too soon.  Alpha women are all too ambitious bordering on aggression; they have their money, jobs, travel and social life (that doesn’t always include her man).  If I were a man, I will suck at coping with this change and its pace.  I see my man and many men around me not just coping with it, but encouraging and facilitating this change.  And you need that man, to love you, cheer you and celebrate your success. As someone beautifully put it, “Feminism is not biological; it is an ideology”. If it took a Katherine to fight gender and race issues, it also needed a Harrison to give her a hand (watch Hidden Figures).

While we haven’t conquered larger issues - sexual harassment, archaic patriarchal norms, female foeticide and such, today let’s focus on men who value and respect women. Today let’s celebrate womanhood and men who make this journey of evolution beautiful.

Here’s to you guys who adopt our madness with gusto!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pause! I am perimenopausing

Two months ago, my daughter’s friend turned 18.  His mother had posted a collage of pictures of his on FB, since his birth  - all happy, growing up pictures.  I have known this boy for the last two years and I am fond of him.  But crying looking at these pictures – blah?

Between wanting to bite off people’s head to being extremely vulnerable – my mood swings wildly, is putting it mildly! No marks for guessing that I am perimenopausal (PM). What a sneak attack in our youth obsessed culture!  Boo hoo!! People don’t talk about it, it's almost like the last taboo in a woman’s life. It is not just me saying it.

My gynec threw me out of her office (ever so gently) asking me to come back if I am bleeding to death or equivalent.  My mother never warned me and I never saw her hyperventilating in her 40s.  My husband exasperatedly tells me (well almost) that I am overdoing the PM bit.  My teenage daughter is busy dealing with her own design issues currently.  My younger female friends don’t want to talk about it (as if it is a disease that they would contract just by talking about it), my older friends and sisters think that I kick up a fuss (whoever said public memory is short, is a genius) and friends of my age tell me to go to hell, while they are dealing with their own miseries. I feel friendless and abandoned – there, you see!

On a more serious note, I tried explaining how wretched I feel some days, to a friend who has a doctorate in Psychology.  She seemed to believe that it is all in our heads.  She went on to add, if a woman felt depressed when she were 30, she couldn’t blame it on PM; deal with it the same way today. Duh! What appalled me even more is her opinion that PM doesn't touch a career woman. I don't understand why?

PM is real and it drives me crazy.  I feel like doing nothing for days on and some days I want to turn the house upside down. I over share on social network and alternate between being too clingy and aloof.  Weep over a little something and sulk for no reason.  I am on an eat-right drive for 3 days but kill that with a chocolate drive for the next three weeks! I go crazy if the kitchen is not in order, get crazier while the kitchen is being put in order - the clank of utensils and clanging of cutlery and crockery, that seems about enough to burst the blood vessels in my brain. Some days I am chasing business like my life depended on it and on others, I find business calls and meetings tedious. Insomnic too and books are not as comforting any more. 

Menopause is not just a happy ending of menstruation cycle, stomach cramps, back aches, PMS and trips to chemist to buy sanitary pads and tampons.  Menopause is preceded by perimenopausal stage, which can be stressful and depressing for women. There is enough and more to read and know about it in the www world.  So I am not about to belabour. 

What would certainly help the situation is an understanding and sensitive partner. A partner married to / living with a perimenopausal woman, unfortunately is also on a roller-coaster of emotions whether he likes it or not.  While you are on a rough ride Mister, remember, there are no ready reckoners or life saving manuals.  I am giving away a few unsolicited pointers, which MAY work as effective shock absorbers ; but hey, nothing is being guaranteed here.  

·        Don’t pretend you understand PM distresses.  Go read and get some hormone enlightenment!
·        Don’t tell your PM wife / partner to calm down – she wishes she could, believe me, you!
·       You find her overreacting and OCD traits heightened. If you want to help, don’t put her in a situation.  Don’t spill your drink or drop your glass or be too glued to your smart phone and START being attentive
·        Don’t crowd her, neglect her neither – Goldilocks treatment, if you know what I mean!
·        Do not intrude in her turf – now more than ever! She is vulnerable as hell; she would either suffer more self-esteem issues or kill you for interfering.  You don’t want to deal with either
·        While every woman suffers PM, at one level, your own insensitivities have come to bite your backside.  Learning the hard way? Pushed to a corner to learn to be sensitive and receptive to your lady? I agree I sound like a feminist; but you sure know there is truth in it! So, learn to pamper her for a few years, even if it is mildly exhausting.
·        You have no uterus, so your opinion is not from personal experience.  Just trust her.

So long!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy to be

I have been too busy living to write; living as in trying, demanding, cribbing, working, chasing, negotiating, differing, postponing and such. As this year draws to a close, thought it is time to do some counting too. Here’s an account of 2011’s blessings:

1. Daughter is growing up to be a sensible teenager; something that I have always wished for. I am blessed to be spending more time with her and we enjoy each other's company more than ever.
2. Family and friends are in tact, a year wiser and closer.
3. In the multiple hospitalizations that my mother-in-law underwent, she came home walking each time.
4. Travel, my passion, has been possible yet again. As always, loved the feeling - liberated, blissful and togetherness!
5. House lease got renewed and we continue to live in a place that we love.
6. Few pounds heavier now than at the start of the year. Any gain (in today’s world) is a happy feeling. But what makes me even happier is how I wear them proudly without complaining.
7. POIESIS is born and growing - and boy, am I glad?
8. Dad was strong, loving and healthy till his end. Blessed to be my parents’ child.
9. Strength that I gained at the end of a frighteningly rocky year – both professionally and personally.
10. I am truly inspired to live, stronger and immensely happy to “be”.

and still counting….

I am ecstatic for some of my loved ones - Pradeep, Karthik, Gita, Neha, Ramya, Krithu, Arvind and Ayushee. They have found new love and more meaning to life making "Collective Happiness Quotient" soar constantly.

Thank you God, I am grateful for life.

Wishing you a blessed 2012!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolution - a solution?

Have you observed toddlers who’ve just learnt to walk? Swaying, unsteady, neck breaking speed and completely mindless. I used to know this child from my neighborhood, who would climb on the cot, start walking and continue to walk even after reaching the edge of the cot. A loud thud, one long wail and in ten minutes he was ready to start all over. I am like this in some ways. Just never learn from my experience, mindless and/or blind.

People, I have a problem getting close to people. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not asocial; it’s actually the opposite. When I get close to someone, I take it to a different plane. I live their lives, up in arms to protect, assume emotional responsibility and become more a mother than a friend. Then as it has happened one too many times, people move – move jobs, move city, get married and get busy with their new lives. Internet has shrunk the world, but it’s not the same as meeting that friend at lunch everyday at work or travelling together in train. An email here, a sms there or “oh, that one’s on my facebook” and truck loads of boring forwards. So much for connectivity!

So many friends, several moved on but I haven’t gotten used to handling this situation. I sulk, sulk and sulk till I get sick of myself. I am the kind who felt depressed at the end of school picnic. After all the fun and games, going home without friends was a dreadful thought. Do you know, what I mean?

Ok, that’s me, not very strong when a relationship loses its intensity. But I could certainly keep myself under check and not get too involved with people, right? It amazes me that I haven’t learnt that either. Just like that mindless boy – run, thud, wail….run, thud, wail…. (only that I take much longer to recover).

Someone told me that sulking in public helps one heal quickly; trying that.

Have a super 2010!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Split personality

I realize there are three parts to my conscious being; heart, head and “me”. Head and heart are mostly adversaries and “me” the referee at times. When my heart and head sing the same tune, it’s blissful. Does this ever happen? Oh yeah! Say I have a budget to shop and I mange to play within the budget AND get what I love! Know what I mean? (Yes, yes, typical girly stuff!)

There are times when my heart is like a troublesome kid, kicking and crying (wailing is more like it) for a toy that just isn’t available or affordable. No amount of reasoning or logic is going to help. How about a tight slap? My head takes charge of the situation and does just that. “Me” in me (sorry if that’s a bit convoluted) feels sorry for the heart, but lets the stronger being (of self) prevail for the sake of orderliness.

There are other instances when my head behaves like a strict matron with complete disregard to small, affordable pleas of my heart. Heart makes a sincere attempt to convince my head that it’s ok to be dressed at my best, on a day when a meeting is scheduled with a “cute” customer. If at situations like these, my head gets unduly strong-headed, my cool heart tells my head to take a hike. Life’s got to be fun at times, “me” says!

Most difficult are times when my head and heart are on long, irresolvable war. Both have their arguments and counter-arguments and just not willing to give in. “Me” confused and struggling between a practical head and an emotional heart. Sometimes, this state of my being goes on for days. “Me” is in no superior state to pass a verdict or unable to detach itself and watch the fun from a distance(like in the above instances). Heart and head are fair in their own ways and a resolve is hard to reach. When it gets out of control and ends me in a headache (or heartache), “me” takes charge and shuts one of its two co-beings and puts an end to the conflict to restore peace within.

Am I turning into a schizophrenic?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Travel and life

Just back from a vacation and feeling happy and energized. Exploring new places is invigorating. Getting used to a new lifestyle (albeit temporary), getting around, attitude of locals, eating joints, fitting the best in your itinerary and such, drill my mind. There is always much more to do than I could manage when am visiting a new place. The art of being able to relax and handle the excitement of loads to do all at once is - well, an art.

This yearly event is exciting right from preparation till much after I return. Once I am back, I talk, talk and talk about it as if the person that I am sharing with, is on a journey with me to the place and living my experience. After a few days I don’t talk about it as much, not so much out of my choice but people around me have had an overdose.

For a long time, memories keep coming and going bringing a smile or frown as I mull over my latest sojourn. My struggle with language, a foolish act, that one breathtaking place, the sunset, seashore, steep mountain walk or just a few hours of being myself – these thoughts live with me. As reality and my daily routine take over, these memories seem to tuck themselves away somewhere at the bottom of my memory pile. When I think of a trip that I took in the not-so-recent past, it feels like it was in another life and I was another person.

These getaways teach me deeper meaning of life. Get high with excitement one week and switching back to routine the next - shows the temporariness of most things in life. Ambition, passion, likes, priorities and favorites are constantly changing as I move on in life. I live life every minute yet don’t realize when the process of metamorphosis happens.

During my recent vacation, I visited a friend who has travelled widely. She has put up a world map in her study and stuck tiny round stickers on the places that she has visited. Isn’t it just that - spots? People, places and memories of our lives remain spots – some bright, some fading and a few painful. They are a part of our lives, making us who we are!

Travel is transition but so is life!