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#SixWordStories: February 13th

Happy anniversary, lover.
Happy anniversary, liar.

roses

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Dedicated To Men

This is an old post so I don’t feel as bad that it’s a few days late. Every word holds as true in 2014 as it did in 2005.

For the men who’ve walked in and out of my life
And trampled all over my heart and demonstrated just how tough it is
For the power struggles and conflicts
And the reshaping of me that came from it
For the betrayals and insults
And the lessons I learnt from them
For the distances and walls
And the strength I saw in myself at those moments
For the apologies and the remorse
And the compassion that I was surprised to feel
For burdens and expectations
And all my victories that were inspired by them
For challenges and opposition
And the direction that they pointed me in
For support and solidarity and belief in me

For the male component of my life
For being….

the father
the brother
the lover
the friend

the mentor
the teacher
the protector
the supporter

the idol
the opponent
the jailor
the other side

For love and tears
and smiles and conversations
and struggles and victories
and relationships and emotions

For completing and complementing me

A very happy Valentine’s day.

Down With Women’s Day!

It has been awhile since my last post. I have let myself get caught up in things I must do and not paid enough heed to things I love to do. So here’s me saying, I’m going to make sure to post at least once a week here at XX Factor! It feels wonderfully appropriate to come back with my spewing self at this time. The barrage of communication, that popular media is bombarding at us about March 8th, can’t have escaped anyone’s notice.

Women’s Day is the new Valentine’s Day. I don’t think this day was ever meant to be more than a manufactured marketing opportunity, much like the 14th of February. By 2012, the blatant commercialization of it is hitting me hard enough to swear off the event.

For starters, the premise of a ‘day that celebrates women’ seems ridiculously parodist. The suggestion is that making a big brouhaha about women on one day, cancels out mistreating them the remaining 364. “Obviously not!” I hear the defenders of Women’s Day retort, “It symbolizes the movement and honours the struggles of women”. Fair enough. But the fact that it stops there is what bothers me.

There is a certain kind of woman who celebrates and is celebrated by ‘Women’s Day’. This is the kind that is well-educated, has access to modern media & other creature comforts and receives gifts of jewelery, clothes or a fancy dinner date. But, well, there are other kinds of women, aren’t there? Let’s not get into rural India, even in the cities, women comprise nearly half the population. The maids, the women constables, the bank clerks, the fisherwomen, the conservative housewives, the daughters & wives of sweepers, taxi drivers and watchmen – they’re all women too. Women’s Day (not belying its all-encompassing name) doesn’t include them.

I think Women’s Day in 2012 is an ugly combination of Valentine’s Day and the Gay Pride movement. Let me explain. The former was created to sell more chocolates, greeting cards & jewelery. The latter has been hijacked by a small but very visible group whose joint agenda appears to be self-promotion rather than actual upliftment of those denied basic human rights. (read this thought-provoking diatribe against the ‘Queer Movement‘).

I had a conversation with a cab-driver the other day. We were stuck at a crowded Bandra signal, rush hour made worse by mismanagement by the traffic police. He pointed to one uniform-clad figure and opened his mouth. I settled back for a minute of co-ranting about the inefficiency of the department & the neglect by BMC. Instead, he said,

“Why are they making that woman direct the traffic? Give her some comfortable job in an air-conditioned office. What would she know about a hard job like this, standing in the middle of dust and fumes & noise?”

I had barely registered the fact that the traffic constable was a woman. I was astonished by the fact that the taxi driver truly believed that he was being supportive of women. Perhaps sensing my discomfiture, he assured me that he was putting his daughter through school and that women were usually more hard-working and honest than men. Further astonishment.

You know, I don’t like being thought of as more hard-working on account of my gender. For one, the pressure that lays on you is unimaginable. And further, it turns a complete blind eye to an obvious fact – women can be just as lazy, incompetent and talentless as men. No more, no less. Setting us up on a pedestal is just as bad as grinding us down under boots – it’s still differential treatment. Why do some people equate deification to empowerment?

Which brings me to yet another thought. I think I’m going to cry if I hear or read another thing about Shakti and a woman being able to take the forms of Lakshmi or Durga as she pleases. Personally, I believe that these archetypes represent values, not gender-based prototypes. But that’s a discussion on religion that I don’t want to get into. Suffice to say, if the only powerful women one can think of are religious icons, how powerful a message is this to the common woman? Really, there’s nothing else that this country can think of, to say to empower women?

I know that I am exactly the target audience of the Women’s Day brouhaha. And I reject it for reasons other than altruism or boredom. I feel it actually demeans me. I don’t want to be treated differently (badly for 364 days, splendidly for 1). Celebration suggests a different form of discrimination. I need no special treatment. Behaving differently on one day of the year is hypocrisy, not empowerment.

It also hasn’t escaped my notice that this year Women’s Day falls on the same day as Holi, another occasion that has been debauched into a cover for unbridled sexual harassment. Now, isn’t that ironic?

Not So Ugly Valentine’s Day Truths

How ironical is it to watch a movie called ‘The Ugly Truth’…censored? Minus the hot scenes, it feels caricatured, artificial and silly. Hmm, just like real life. So my dear children, here are my lessons for today:

  • Love isn’t pretty. Or neat or tidy. It has dirty fingernails (which are jagged), it’s a little less rectangular and more square than you imagined. But square is comforting. It’s surprising.
  • Fighting happens. Bickering happens. And not in the cute romcom way. Clashes happen in hurtful, devastating, ‘I’ll regret this all my life’ ways. You may break up at the end of the day. If you don’t, it’s love. As basic as that.
  • Yes, men are stubborn, egoistic, childish and silly. And women are moody, bitchy, manipulative and silly. Sometimes the adjectives interchange. Anyone who seems like they’re out a fairytale is lying. Bet on it.
  • Valentine’s Day is the annual bonus for retailers, media companies, restaurants and entertainment moguls. It’s a ploy by politicians to gain some publicity (and votes, hopefully). But it is a day that celebrates love.
  • The same guy who can’t find five minutes in the day to speak to you,  will run to the chemist when you sneeze. He’ll crib about having to keep the air-conditioning down when you’re around but he’ll hold you, unflinchingly in the stifling heat when you’re hungover. Men are mind-boggling.
  • The same girl who is too cool for Valentine’s day, who revels in singledom (even after she’s not) and has a 125% booked social calendar would prefer to snuggle up with a blanket and watch ‘Guess who’s coming to dinner’ on a weekend. Okay, women are mind-boggling too.

The truth isn’t ugly. It’s just bigger than you think. Just like love. Don’t let the pink teddies *bleurgggh* make you puke. Don’t go blind on the red hearts and try not to get lynched by a political mob for buying cheesy gifts. It’s just another day in the year; heck, it’s Monday! If you know someone whose smile makes you feel better, speak to them. That’s all Valentine’s day needs to be.

Alternately, you could get out a good book and your favorite comfort food. Love for self comes before all. Have a great day!

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— —

*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram

Pre V-day syndrome

Of all the things to talk about, I never thought we’d be having a pep-talk about not feeling bad about being single on Valentine’s Day. Of all the people, I never thought I would be the one giving it to him.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~ 

Nearing the end of dinner as he puts his napkin down, an arm snakes over his shoulders with a sly look aimed in this direction,

So have the two of you exchanged shaadi.com IDs and stuff?

*CRINGE*

I said,

In all these years of friends, lovers, ex-boyfriends and their current girlfriends, I’ve never been embarassed. So embarassed!

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Last year I had an unexpectedly mush-mush Valentine’s Day complete with chocolate and dinner and wine. And the most surprising thing was that it happened because he wanted to. Actually I quite enjoyed it. Bleh. Every now and then it’s good to do things that that will make you cringe in the future when you think about them.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Yesterday I had a conversation with two semi-strangers. From books and writing styles, the thoughts found their way into paths unexpected and

Do you believe in love at first sight?

My mind goes on auto-pilot when I’m tired. My mind goes on auto-pilot when I’m asked questions like this. I’m on auto-pilot most of the time when it comes to relationships these days. I listened politely as both of them told me why they believed it and how it had happened to them. And I said,

Fair enough. It’s just never happened to me so I don’t believe it happens.

But the fact of the matter is that I just don’t believe that it happens to people like me. And that’s so PostSecret, I’m ashamed.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

I’m really hoping that she comes to her senses before Thursday because I know he’ll take much longer to. I’m standing by though, since I don’t think she will. On the other hand, yesterday did happen. So perhaps miracles do happen.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Oh and if anybody is still reading my rant, all the ‘he’s in this post are different people.

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