When I Realised That The Festivities I Cribbed About Were About Celebration & Family

When I Realised That The Festivities I Cribbed About Were About Celebration & Family

When I was a kid I waited eagerly for festivals. More people in the house, pichkari, pathaka, new clothes, cousins, sweets, fun, laughter. What was not to like about it?

But as I grew up, I started hearing things which made me cringe..

5 Women Say Loud & Clear: Mard Ko Dard Hoga, Because Dear Perverts, Your Time Is Up!

5 Women Say Loud & Clear: Mard Ko Dard Hoga, Because Dear Perverts, Your Time Is Up!

Men are afraid now, as the #metoo movement heats up, indulging in a lot of whataboutery and minimising of the claims of the women who are speaking up. 5 strong women counter this in a panel at #blrlitfest.

When Is The Right Time For A Woman To Speak Up

Almost 10 years ago, I was preparing for the Chartered Accountancy exams and looking for tuitions for the same. I had recently moved with my parents to Mumbai following my father’s transfer.

My father had asked his colleagues for an appropriate tuition class for me. I did not want to attend a big coaching class but wanted more personal attention. After asking his colleagues he found out an appropriate person.

The new tutor would be a man in his early 60’s / late 50’s.  A man with ample experience in teaching.  There would be two more students along with me – a boy and a girl. It was on the way from my office to home. My father had accompanied me on the first day. He took me there. Introduced me to the teacher. Met him. Spoke to him. Looked at the place.  Checked out the washroom. Met the other students.  Once he was satisfied that it was all good I started attending classes there.

Since the classes were in the evening after office hours, there were times when all three of us students would not be able to make it.  The other girl had gone on vacation. The other guy would be invariably late.  I would end up alone a lot of times. This tutor would give me a problem to solve.  While I would be working, he would move around the room. He would be singing some cheap song while checking me out.  He would then narrate the most inappropriate stories from his college days. Once he told me about some women who was very beautiful who fainted and how her skirt got lifted up. I don’t remember the rest of the story. It was too disgusting.

When the other girl came back, I told her how weird he was. She agreed. She told me some other incidents where his conduct with her was objectionable too. Our exams were coming up. It would be difficult to find another tutor who would complete the syllabus from where we left off, and be available at that precious one hour where we stopped by after our work, and be located on our way to our home. We both decided that he is an idiot but we cannot afford to leave the classes. And hence we continued. And so did his strange behavior.  I did not even know what to tell my parents so I just stayed silent.

One day, it was full house with all three of us students. The teacher asked me to solve a problem which I could not. He said it was an extremely simple problem.

“I do not know how you cleared the first level exams. If you do not even know this much! How will you pass the final exam, I wonder!!”

This was something he loved to say to us. Tell us how stupid we were and if we did not work hard we would fail. But this time something got to me.

It does not matter what you think. I have a passing certificate.” I replied. The other students looked up from their notebook. The teacher looked horrified.

“What do you mean?’

“I mean that your job is to help us clear the exams. Not to demotivate us. We do not need your certificate on our past achievement. We paid you to teach us for the next exam.”

He was fuming with anger. His face was red.

“How dare you talk to me like this!”

“Shut up!” I replied.  I was shocked at my own anger.

“Get out of my premises! Now”.

The other girl and I quickly packed our bags and left. The guy was a little slow. He was not sure whether he was supposed to leave. Would that mean he is joining our protest? Or should he stay there and express his solidarity with the teacher?

The girl and I were by now “out of his premises”. We both had not said a word to each other until now.

“Tanvi.. he asked for it!”

‘Yes he did!”

“You did not say anything wrong! When you said ‘Shut up’, you should have seen his face!! It was red!”

And then we both laughed. Of course I did not go back there again. The other two students continued till the syllabus got over.

I stayed in touch with the girl. She told me that the other guy felt I should not have said ‘Shut up’ to an elderly person. The teacher said to him that I was rude, uncultured, disrespectful. The student also felt I had unnecessarily been difficult. Of course, he had no idea how much anger had built up inside the girls all this time.

Perverts are everywhere. They come in all ages. They come from trustworthy sources. An elderly, harmless looking man introduced by your parents, someone they have met and verified.

Why didn’t I say ‘Shut up’ when he was singing a cheap song, looking at me from head to toe, stripping me with his eyes?

Why didn’t I say, ‘Shut up, your job is to teach’ when he was narrating that horrible skirt up story?

I don’t have an answer. I am just glad I spoke up when I did. And I would not want to change that.

How My Relationship With Festivities Evolved Over The Years

When I was a kid I waited eagerly for festivals. More people in the house, pichkari, pathaka, new clothes, cousins, sweets, fun, laughter. What was not to like about it?

But as I grew up, I started hearing things which made me cringe..

You are a girl! How come you are not interested in making Rangoli? What is a Diwali without Rangoli!

Do you know how to make any Indian sweets? This cake and all any one can bake…

You don’t observe any fasts!! How come? Sasural mein kya haal hoga!

I would see other women dress up, pray, perform rituals, and prepare special delicacies on these occasions. I started thinking it was unnecessary. I would especially rebel when somebody would say that I should do these things since I am “a girl”.

I hid during Holi, afraid the colors would cause an allergy on my face. Diwali was about complaining about pollution. I visited temples as per my wish as I did not believe in praying as an activity. To me it was something I did alone. Something sacred between me and God.

Last year on Ganesh Chaturthi, my mother had invited many people. I remembered how she had cooked so many things. How there was so much work at home. How I had worn a sari. How I had cribbed to her that there was no need to do so much at this age. How she had responded, “Yeh sab achcha lagta hai. Kuch utsah hota hai.”

This year the festivals came as they do every year. But my mother who keeps Ganpati at her home every year was suffering from a contagious viral infection. I was not supposed to visit her for few weeks. Ganpati Puja was preceded by Teej. Being the first year of my marriage, I was supposed to perform the Puja at my mother’s house. Again, this was also cancelled given my mother’s health.

During those few weeks, I would get up in the morning. Tired. The house helpers would show up at their wish, taking holidays most of the time. Doing the dishes became frequent. I dreaded weekends because it would mean brooming, mopping and laundry. When I was not at home, I would be at work. Another eight hours would be spent in meeting deadlines and working under pressure. The next few hours at home would remind me that few items from the grocery list were still pending. And that the plumber’s timing did not match with my office hours. Hence the leakage in the bathroom would continue….

The monotony of the daily grind was getting to me…

The things that I used to find unnecessary suddenly became a cause for a void in my mundane life. There was nothing to look forward to. I had always taken festivals for granted. I had never thought about what it feels like when you cannot celebrate because your family member is sick.

I was not the only one who missed the festivities at my mother’s house. One of my mother’s young neighbors said to her fondly, “Aunty last year we had such a good time at your place. The sweet you made, was just like my mother used to make! This year was so dull!’ 

And suddenly it all made sense to me. If women like me and her, who go to work, and have a decent number of friends can feel so empty due to lack of festival celebrations, what would it be like for women in previous generations who were confined to the four walls of their homes?

Thankfully, I have another family now. I celebrated the festivals at my in-laws’ place. My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law spent a lot of time cooking, cleaning and procuring supplies for the Puja. At workplace also, it was ‘Ethnic Day’ where all the women decided to wear a sari. It is difficult to wear a sari in office (for inexperienced people like me) but nonetheless it was worth the effort because it made us all feel good and gave us a reason to pose for pictures.

My cook seeing that I was depressed had prayed for my family’s well being. She handed me kumkum with much conviction:

“Madam, I got it for your mother from the temple. Very powerful deity Madam. You give it to her.”

To the absolute shock of my mother, I sent the kumkum to her and repeated the exact words of my cook.

Why do the women in our country put so much effort in following rituals?

If you had asked me this question until some time back I would have told you it is all futile. Most rituals do not even make sense. The feminist side of me feels that most of our traditions reek of misogyny.

Festivals. Rituals. Traditions. They play an important role in the lives of women in India.

I always tried to escape from such stereotypes. But the past month made me understand something. This is an escape in itself for women…

Maybe it is the time we get to look forward to something other than the daily chulha, chauka and bartan.

Maybe it is the only time we get to wear that sari hidden in our wedding suitcase.

Maybe it is about socializing and meeting family members who we otherwise do not get to see.

Maybe it is about a young woman feeling the warmth of her hometown in the food cooked by a neighborhood Aunty.

Maybe it is about appreciating that the elders in our family are still present in our lives to teach us a thing or two…

Maybe being a woman is about not being judgmental. Maybe it is about appreciating that while I may not like to perform Karwa Chauth for my beliefs, for another woman it may be the brightest day of the year.

Maybe each one of us is struggling in our own ways, and we are desperately trying to catch the one tiny little ray of hope and joy. And the least we could do is let everyone decide for themselves what is that ray of hope in their life…

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Andhadhun: Most Fun Watch In A Long Time

After hearing awesome things about this movie, I dared to go for the 10 pm show that too in the second row from the front. The theatre was buzzing with people. Houseful on a week day night show!  This movie is a thriller so I don’t want to spoil it. Just few thoughts:

  • The characters in the movie look ordinary but they end up doing extra ordinary things!
  • The retro songs are very well placed in the movie as one of the characters is a yesteryear actor. They add value to the feel of the movie.
  • Tabu is a delight to watch. She is brilliant! Such a versatile actress. My favourite movie of hers till date is Astitva. There is so much of drama to her character! But this drama comes naturally because of the situations. Bollywood is improving and now there are good roles for older actresses instead of the career getting over once a woman is in her 30s. It is such a breath of fresh air. We are not interested in watching colleges girls fall in love and run around trees.
  • Ayushman is one of his kind in Bollywood. He plays the role of boy next door with so much ease which makes people relate to him. Yet, has the good looks of a ‘hero’ which again makes us like him. Deadly combination!
  • Radhika Apte does justice to her role. So does the rest of the character who are perfectly cast.
  • Editing is crispy. There is no dull moment.
  • The dialogues are hilarious! There is so much going on the movie – murder, adultery, betrayal yet it will make you laugh every now and then.

Was telling my father about the movie, discussing some scenes with excitement. ‘After a long time, you seem to have enjoyed a movie so much.’ He said. That is true.  I don’t like most movies… 

Go for it! This movie is fun to watch.  Don’t miss it!

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Tanushree Dutta: More Power To You

Attended an event by ‘We The Women’ yesterday where Tanushree Dutta spoke about what happened to her.  She was in conversation with Barkha Dutt and Sandhya Menon, the journalist who started a movement similar to MeToo in India where women are being encouraged to write about sexual harassment they have faced at workplace. Here is what Tanushree Dutta said:

  1. She was shooting for a movie wherein she had a solo song. Allegedly Nana Patekar manufactured a scene in that song where he was supposed to feel her. She refused. She was told she does not have a choice. She was bullied. We have all seen the view of her in the car getting attacked. She faced the consequences of saying ‘No’.
  2. Her other allegation was that Vivek Agnihotri said to her “Jao, Kapde utar kar nacho”  in the context of giving cues to Irrfan Khan for another song in another movie. Irrfan Khan supported her by saying, “Mujhe acting aati hai”. Sunil Shetty also added, “Main aaun kya cues dene?”

Some key points to note.

Was it sexual harassment?

Yes. In the first instance, at the workplace she was asked to do something without her consent and she faced consequences for refusing. The second remark was extremely demeaning and offensive. For women wondering if it was not a big deal, imagine how YOU would feel if someone told you “kapde utar ke nacho”.For men, if someone said that to your wife, would you like it? To all the people saying she did so much more in Aashiq Banaya Apne, well, that was consent! What people don’t understand is that just because a woman agrees for something one time, it does not grant a license to anyone to do it again. Consent is required each and every time. What happen to her is as bad as getting molested or raped? No. But does that mean it is not wrong? Should women only speak up when they get bruised and beaten? Why should we women continue to normalize obnoxious and crass behavior? Why can’t men start learning how to behave and talk instead? Is human decency really that difficult?

Why do you believe her?

Whatever she said sounded quite believable. For people who are saying she wanted publicity, Tanushree replied that she could have done the item song, made money, stayed in everyone’s good books and continued her career. Also, she is not coming back after 10 years. She had complained and raised her voice then too. But nobody really cared enough.

People in power dominate and abuse their power. It is the truth.  It is not even a woman vs man thing. But yes, men have been more powerful than women in most cultures.  A woman who may be very weak herself becomes a different person when she becomes a mother-in-law. Why? Power!

Another thing.  Most of the harassment happens alone between two people. There is not much proof. Unless you get raped and go to the hospital immediately. In cases of verbal harassment, groping, touching, feeling, rubbing, getting flashed in the face, there is no proof for the most part. It is the word of the victim against the perpetrator. Or the perpetrator’s word against the victim. I cannot convince anyone to believe her. Neither do I wish to.

But here is my two cents:

To all the women reading this:

Yesterday Barkha Dutt asked women from the audience to come up and share their me too story. One lady, with all due respect went on stage and narrated an incident with much conviction about bullying she faced at workplace.  It had NOTHING to do with sexual harassment. Please do not confuse the movement with getting back at employers who have not treated you right. Please go ahead and complain to your HR regarding your work-related issues.  The metoo movement is for sexual harassment at the workpace. Let us stay focused.

To all the men reading this:

Instead of reacting because of your inflated egos, and crying that not all men are bad, and that poor men are being humiliated in public, please channelize your energy to something constructive.  When your male friends crack sexist jokes, forward demeaning videos of women on that all boys group, comment on the legs of that new intern, do you even make any sound? If the answer is NO, then please continue that for our movement too. You do not speak up when you should so better keep silent now also. Not all men are rapists but many men cover up for each other, protect each other, adding to the damage.

 

 

 

 

Sui Dhaga – Finally A Bollywood Couple With Real Problems

I watched this movie last weekend. Did not get a chance to write about it then. Very quickly, here is what I thought:

  • The movie is to the point. There are no songs in dream sequence, or a flashback on how Anushka and Varun’s characters met. Great editing!
  • Their clothes, their home, Anushka’s hair everything is realistic. They look like they do not have enough money.
  • I felt so bad for the couple as they went through their struggles. The big brands do end up exploiting poor people. I was so inspired that I decided to boycott clothes from the well-known giants and instead buy from those who need more.
  • Little activities in the lives of a middle class family are very well depicted and relatable. Like the mother-in-law is critically ill, hospitalized yet all she is thinking is that the daughter -in-law should go home in time to fill up two buckets of water!
  • I loved the love story of the lead couple. Bollywood is usually very hopeless when it comes to showing a relationship realistically. Couples conveniently fall in love during a dream sequence. Their conflicts revolve around parents’ disapproval or an unconvincing love triangle or an ek tarfa pyaar which is often borderline stalking.. Recently all movies have ample amount of kissing scenes etc to establish two people are in love! Very few movies such as Abhimaan, Saathiya, etc focused on a married couple’s real issues.
  • Sui Dhaga is about a husband and a wife facing life. It is about making decisions about what kind of work you want your spouse to do, taking risks professionally, making poor judgments while taking care of ailing parents and also managing their expectations. There is a moment of blame game after which the couple immediately gets back to supporting each other as a team, and as family. Isn’t that what marriage is all about?

I am glad Bollywood is making such movies. In my view, it is absolutely recommended!

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I have just one word: Inspiring!!

Sorry for the delayed post. There was some issue with Tata Sky and Set TV because of which I was not able to watch the episode on television. Finally watched it on Sony Liv app.

Binita Jain ji won Rs 1 crore. This was one of those moments that gave me immense happiness and joy. As if something good had happened to me personally…

When she saw the 1 crore question, she smiled instantly because she knew the answer. Yet, given the amount she thought about it as she did not want to take a risk. Was she thinking this is too good to be true? I will really win 1 Crore?

Binita ji played beautifully. Loved the way she spoke. So humble. So dignified. Calm. She analysed each and every question. I could not help but notice her supportive family. The camera was focusing on them a lot. Her father, who looked anxious yet confident about his daughter’s capabilities. The brother-in-law who was  looking at her with encouragement and pride. And two adorable kids. Her son was very knowledgeable himself, and helped her with the jodidar lifeline where she won Rs 50 lakh. The son was also very respectful and humble.  I loved her daughter’s expressions too. Very cute!

My heart broke for them…

Imagine having a loved one missing. No closure. You do not know what happened.  You have no answers. You wait. But how long do you wait? Do you just accept the worst one day? Or do you keep hope? What is more damaging?

All I can say is God bless this family. They have suffered enough. Binita Ji is a true inspiration for all of us. Instead of getting depressed and being a victim, she took charge of her life. And did the best she could to give it direction. She completed her studies and she also takes tuition. She is amazing.

I salute you Ma’am!

Supreme Court Quashes The Archaic Adultery Law

The landmark judgment came out some time back. People have already started complaining:

What is happening to this country!

How can adultery be legal!

Poor men! Now what will they do if the wife cheats!

What will happen to our social fabric and sanctity of marriage!

I will make an attempt at clarifying this.

Section 497 read as follows:

Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.

Yes. Read it again.  It means that if a man gets involved with a married woman without the married woman’s husband’s consent, that man can be punished. There was no punishment for the woman. Here is what was wrong with this law:

  1. Wife is the property of husband.
  2. Women have no agency and no role to play in their own “extra marital” relationship.
  3. A man seduces a woman and she is a mere victim.

Clearly this law treated men and women unequally. It was unfair to men because it made them solely responsible for a consensual relationship. It was unfair to women because it treated them as mere property without any individuality or choice of their own.

Therefore, this law has been struck down. Please note that adultery is still very much a ground for divorce.  It is not a criminal offense anymore wherein earlier it was a criminal offense only for the man who got involved with a married woman without the consent of her husband.

First 377. Then 497. Desh badal raha hai…

Some quotes from the judgment that I appreciated:

The wife can’t be treated as chattel and it’s time to say that husband is not the master of woman,”

Any law which affects individual dignity, equity of women in a civilised society invites the wrath of the Constitution.

In case of adultery, criminal law expects people to be loyal which is a command which gets into the realm of privacy

Physicality is an individual choice

Section 497 denudes women of her choice and disregards her sexual choice

Man being the seducer and women being the victim no longer exists

Source:

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/adultery-law-is-arbitrary-says-chief-justice-dents-the-individuality-of-women-1922922

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/supreme-court-verdict-on-150-year-old-adultery-law-soon-1922913

P.S.

If I have missed anything , please let me know in the comments.

 

Six Good Reasons To Watch Stree

Imagine a setting where men are told to stay home after dark as the streets are too unsafe for them. Imagine a husband telling his wife to come home soon because he is scared to be left home alone. Imagine men dressing up as women to avoid getting killed. Imagine a woman luring a man to a secluded place. Imagine men’s clothes being ripped apart…

No this is not my fantasy. This is the premise of the movie, Stree.

Is it possible to make a movie that can make you laugh, scare you, and also pass on a relevant message? This movie deserves an applause for doing just that.

A lot of people find horror amusing. And that works as advantage for Stree being a ‘horror comedy’. They themselves make fun of the Bhoot.

Some more reasons to go for it:

  1. Brilliant acting

I think most of us by now are fans of Rajkumar Rao. I had loved his performance in Bareily Ki Barfi. But in this movie, he is even better. So is the rest of the cast (very aptly selected for their roles) in this sleepy town of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh. Shraddha Kapoor looks beautiful although acting wise she is probably overshadowed in the second half by such better actors. Still, she is mysterious and mesmerizing enough to keep her character engaging.

  1. Consent reinforced!

Bollywood is becoming much more aware. Not aware enough to get rid of item numbers. Nonetheless if you have a Pink that talks about consent, you have a Stree to complement it.

“Wo stree hai, purush nahi jo jabardasti utha le jaye. Wo pehle tumse anumati legi”

  1. People with patriarchal mindset, Beware!

 “Aurat paon ki jooti hoti hai”

If you think like that, then well you deserve to be punished! Ghosts have started targeting patriarchal, chauvinist men who do not give love and respect to women.

  1. Based on a ridiculously, true phenomenon.

Now this one line completely changes my perception of horror movies (in a good way). Probably this is the reason why I like the Conjuring series or the exorcism of Emily Rose.

I tried to google the original “legend” the movie is based on:

As spooky as this may sound, the story takes inspiration from an urban legend that had Bengaluru in its grasp sometime in the 1990s.

Legend says that a witch would come knocking at people’s doors every night and if they opened it for her, she would murder them. Why would people open their doors for a witch? Because she would speak in the voices of their friends or family members.

To ward her away, the town’s residents would write on their walls, “Nale Ba” which means ‘come tomorrow’ in Kannada. The witch would read the inscription on the walls and turn away, only to return the next day and the cycle would continue perennially.

This is all there is on every publication. 1990’s is still quite recent, so I am surprised there isn’t more on it. Anybody reading the article who was in Bengaluru at that time and knew about this, do leave your thoughts in the comments.

  1. Have a good laugh

Oh there are many!  The movie has some lose ends in the plot but still it is very entertaining.

  1. The language

The movie makes use of shuddh as well as colloquial Hindi. From “swayam sevi” to “phalana dhikana” it is indeed a treat to those who are away from their hometown and missing the North Indian flavor in conversations.

The essence of a horror movie lies in its ending. (If I can call this a horror movie). A friend and I are debating on the ending. I do not want to put spoilers in the ending so not getting into it. I read that the sequel is on way so no wonder.

Let me know your thoughts!!

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