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Category: Women (page 1 of 2)

The Flower-Girl

The rains have gone
Making way for the sun

That ball of orange is glad to be back
Where it belongs.

The first rays traipse in, almost
Their homecoming is silent.

Then she looks up once
Then she looks up twice.

Then she looks askance.

And now there is a smile in her glance.

Marigold chains, nine-o-clock blooms
Chameli, tube-roses and gladioli

The yellow roses hidden behind the Reds
The whites, this year, have sprung early.

The lilies stand proud
The club of white, pink and yellow.

The blue-n-pink orchids are drooping
And then she touches them, smiling.

The golden glint makes her warm,
Her small hands caress the blood-red carnations.

She lives among them, happy.
She does.

– LG.
October, 2015.

It’s time to get the Ladies Tailor back. And now!

Last Saturday I was out at the mall. Not because I was pandering to the mall rat syndrome. Or connecting with my brand sl** side (yeah, that’s a term too!). But because convention and circumstances demanded it. And I was merely following the mind.

There’s an office party coming up. And the sole purpose of the visit was to be able to get some snazzy party outfit for the evening.

Alas!

That was not meant to be. After doing the rounds of some SIX stores, I was left with no tangible possession in hand. Instead, what I had in my consciousness were those clothes-not-fitting-me images, the yoga-not-helping-me-at-all moments, irritated attendants and surprised store executives (perhaps they were surprised that I was even trying out stuff that I wasn’t meant to!)

It seems like #AchcheDin for the Size Zero club. And its fanatics. And the industry that it has spun around itself. From diet fads to lifestyle choices to appearance management and wardrobe selection, looks like small (and thin) is beautiful. And bountiful.

The first store that I went to was a disappointment. The zipper of the first dress that I tried got stuck and refused to budge – all this while the attendant gave me a “I told you so” look. The following three dresses – all from their so-called Free Size section – were clearly meant for pre-teens or as they are now called in a fancy shmancy manner, Tweens!

At the second store, the attendant – herself a barely-there 24 inches of waist – looked at me, then at the black floral dress and then back at me again and quipped: “Look at the dress and look at you. You think you will fit?”

I looked into space. The attendant was pretty and petite. She barely weighed 40 kilos. And must have been all of 23. Tact was clearly not something that she had been able to mistress in her life so far.

Dealing with an image-conscious, selfie-driven Generation that lives in the instant meant that she knew every fad was a fashion. And that Saturday in April 2015 it seemed fashionable to be a Size Zero. Else, the world was sure gonna judge you. Which it did.

Else, why would you have store after store retailing similar kind of outfits – similar patterns, figures, material – almost an assembly-line production? And all of them came in the same size! If they weren’t sourced en masse it would have not been possible for all to sport the same range of size-s.

I left the second store, dejected. And while I don’t have an hourglass figure and have never aspired to have one (and don’t think will want to have one), I am what would be called normal and healthy by Indian standards. Having survived a scrawny teen, I know the baggage that used to come with being thin.

But after visiting six stores and trying to try out dresses, I realised that thin is in. And by thin I mean an unnatural thin. For close to three hours that day, I felt close to having a moment which popular culture and Hollywood know as #fatshaming. It seems like the normal Indian woman (whether in her 20s, 30s or 40s) is expected to be a 36-24-36. Any thing away from that is an aberration of sorts. Looking at the mirror and the realising that what you are forced to see are only bulges and tyres does little for your ego, self-esteem and body image.

And there seems to be a whole school of thought perpetuating that myth. Being healthy, fit and fine is one thing. But being a serial dieter with serious body image issues is another. Thankfully, I know where to draw the line.

And I think I have placed the pencil in the right direction: why make brands rich that make me feel poor about the way I am? Instead, I shall patronise the (Ladies) Tailor who shall at least make an effort to follow my word in making me look good.

Cause it’s my body. And I shall have the last word.

Why India Is No Country For Women

The #Uber rape episode has once again raised the issue of safety for women. The safety zone for women is shrinking. Increasingly, I find that very few spaces are left that can be called safe. In the cities, one needs to be careful on the roads, in the lanes, walking in the parks. One needs to think twice before stepping out in a pair of shorts.

Stepping away from the cities, in the villages, too, it’s a depressing story. The misuse of masculine power is rampant and often, it finds representation in violent forms.

This is what I thought on Sunday, when the Uber story first got reported. But managed to articulate it only last night.

Full post here

 

Girl, don’t be a woman soon

Her hair bounced in the air as she took two sprightly steps at a time, climbing down the stairs of a dilapidated, dank building. Confidence tried to make a conversation from each and every pore within. The task of having a family to fend for felt anything but a chore.

Instead, there was joy. There was glee. And there was satisfaction to see familiar faces light up as she handed over the tributes to the family, every month, unfailingly.

Now the world was at her feet. Literally. Ok, it was at her door.

The car outside was her ticket to a better life. A higher life – a life that soared higher than her ghetto-ised existence, gave her moments to cherish, to be her own self and surge ahead. A life that almost fulfilled her own dreams, her parents’ unfulfilled and unspoken ones and gave her the temerity to nurture new fantasises.

She almost felt like breaking out into a whistle. She had learnt the art – not mastered it yet -from a fellow colleague. And the girl in her couldn’t wait to try it out. And see a few shocked faces and stumped jaw-lines!

But crossing over was priority now. As was breaking stereotypes and fixations.

As she was about to cross the threshold, she paused.

And instinctively looked up, for a moment.

A familiar face waved out to her. It was the face she saw every day. And knew all the lines etched on that face, by heart. Her mother tried to catch her eye, fighting a belligerent pallu of her own, fed by the cold winds. And when both did make eye contact, bewilderment swam across the shores of sanity, laced with fear.

She knew that the spell was over.

She felt icy hands around her neck. Cold veins and coarse palms tugged at her from all sides…clawing into her system, warning her of the dangers ahead.

She buckled. Nervousness clawed itself back in, her stomach was rumbling.

Fear had reared its ugly head.

She had gone back to being the regular. The extraordinary in her had cracked.

The bad dream came back to haunt her.

And her mother’s words kept humming:

Girl, don’t be a woman soon…

India is not ready for you, yet!

This post originally appeared here

 

Why Christian Basti is not Guwahati’s shame alone

At 17, life is about chocolates, crushes and (sometimes) career choices. Not in that order, though! It is about getting ready to break out of the gawky teenager mould and getting ready to kiss adulthood. It is about killing time – a year to be precise – before being able to exercise franchise and choosing legislators and law-makers. It is also waiting it out before being able to join the exalted Adult-only club and doing things that come only with the statutory ’18 years of age’ tag.

For this Guwahati girl SEVENTEEN will be her personal annus horibilis. It will be her year of darkness when her faith in the system was shattered. It will be a very, very bad dream for her, and she will be left slaying her demons for a long time to come.

But the 9th July’s horrific incident at Christian Basti is NOT Guwahati’s shame alone. It is a collective shame for the entire country, easily one of the lowest points in recorded public behaviour. Forget “evolved” conduct, we are nowhere close to being called civilised. Instead, we can be easily called a nation of voyeuristic thugs and passive participants who remain indifferent to the plight of others. We are a bunch who are governed by ‘As long as it ain’t hurt me, it’s ok’ dictum.

But it’s high time that we change that attitude.

Not for the sake of this Guwahati girl, whose alleged molesters include a young TV actor, but for the sake of greater, collective good. It is time to instill respect for women in young men as they venture out of homes. It is time for chauvinist and non-chauvinist husbands to stop abusing their wives beyond closed doors and elsewhere. It is time for mothers to tell their sons that a woman can and is more than just an object. It is time for fathers – from Guragon to Guwahati and beyond – to sensitise their sons about acceptable behaviour. It is time for self-appointed moral police (Inspector Dhoble included) to hit the pause button – and do a check on things bigger than enforcing dress codes in colleges.

It is also time for us to accept that this 21st century India is in a period of transition. And bridging the ever-growing, economic Bharat-India divide – which has huge socio-cultural ramifications by itself – is going to be one hell of a task. It’s time for us to realise that a booming mobile telephony market, concrete malls and an increasing urban jungle in the form of high-rises are no indicators of human evolution. We need more than just air-conditioned, glitzy shopping complexes to bear a stamp of of evolved behaviour.

Collective rage notwithstanding, Guwahati’s dark Monday is a lesson for each of us. It is a reminder of the unsafe habitat that we live in and the growing trust deficit that each of us face in an increasingly hostile environment. It chillingly tells us that, after a hard day’s work, there is no guarantee that you may return home to your family in one piece.

They say that the night is always longest before dawn. Hope that Christian Basti’s longest night is over – it’s a new dawn for Guwahati and the rest of India.

This post originally appeared here

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