The (In)Complete Woman?

As human beings, we need not agree with each other on every topic. Differences of opinion arise and that is only natural. Most definitely, when I disagree with someone, I refrain from making comment, lest it turn into an argument, and I suck at arguments, irrespective of whether I am right or wrong. Because my should-have-been-used-in-that-argument statements come to my mind only three days after the argument!
Hence, when I saw a certain tweet, though I disagreed vehemently, I said nothing about it to the person. Cos what is uglier (and stupider) than a loud public argument? A loud public argument on social media! I do not remember the handle that tweeted it (it was retweeted by someone I used to follow) nor the exact words (and even if I did, I would not post it here without the permission of the said person), but it was along the following lines:

“I do not understand women who do not want to have babies. A woman’s purpose on earth is to have children and without that she is incomplete.”

Now before all of you reading this turn into sword-wielding warriors with your gaalis and your “Saale male chauvinist, teri toh #$^%&^&“, take a step back while I tell you – this was tweeted by a woman. I went something like this:

Pic: Newslaundry.com

But after I got over the initial trauma of reading that tweet and swallowing a lot of anger that came with it, I started wondering if all women thought this way and why is it that a woman is considered complete only if she has a child, whereas a man can get off the hook by simply wearing a Raymond suit.

I do not need to repeat this, but as a country, we are embarrassingly hush-hush about the “activity-that-must-not-be-named.” Despite that, whenever heavy jewellery-laden auntijis meet a newly wedded couple, their first question almost always is, “Did you do the activity-that-must-not-be-named and are you going to carry forward the human race shortly, in say, nine months?” What if the embarrassed couple replies, “We do not want children.” This happens:

www.thebluegrassspecial.com

Once their collective breaths are released, the relatives are quick to blame the woman. She must be career-oriented, she must be barren (what a lovely word!), she must be this-that, he must not love her! And the boy is advised, insensitively, to marry another “homely” girl.What if it was the man’s decision to not have kids? No one asks him and he does not need to bear the brunt of the asshole who refused to take the family name forward. It must be the woman.

Called colorful names by everyone she meets and the husband is portrayed as the victim influenced by this corporate bitch!

Then there are couples who love children and really want to have them. But for whatever reasons, they cannot. This is extremely sad, because as fate would have had it, these are the people who would have made great parents, simply because of their shared love of children. My heart goes out to these couples. But – in situations like this, the only explanation is – the woman is barren. The man in question is irreproachable, faultless, (invincible, even!) with an enviable army; but the woman is probably shooting down the army and winning the war.

Insulted by everyone she meets and the husband is told constantly what a disappointment of a woman he has married.

Are children only a woman’s concern? Must children compulsorily be a concern? Do women have no identity outside of slaving for their kids (without complaining, but getting a truckload in return)? Is a woman only worth the children she bears (though the children take the father’s surname)? Is a woman without children “incomplete” as the lady I mentioned at the beginning of this post pointed out? When a woman declares she does not want to have children, why is the only sound in the vicinity the chirping of a distant sparrow?

Isn’t an individual, whoever he/she is, the one with the liberty to decide what completes them – children, dogs, art, whatever! Why the stigma of “Have kids or remain an adhuri kahani for the rest of your miserable life?”

What I don’t understand is, dear lady whose Twitter handle I don’t remember nor care to, in the over-populated world we live in, that may collapse any time, is choosing to not have children really such a bad idea?

A Conversation With Robert Uttaro, Rape Crisis Counselor and Author of "To The Survivors"

It’s a bad time to be a woman. There’s a cliched understatement! Was there ever a good time to be a woman? Chances are, if you are a woman, especially in India, you were killed while you were in your mother’s womb. If you made it out alive, you were probably drowned by your father or uncle. By some stroke of luck, if they let you live, you’re being severely ostracized by people because, if the golden words of some of our educated lawyers are to be believed, your worth is less than an insect. Those weren’t his exact words, you say? Well, read them again and see how they echo back to you.

Sexual assault is a terrible crime and the worst part of it is, if you are a victim, it eats you up from inside like a cancer – a cancer of the mind. You cannot speak to anyone about it, because everyone is now looking at you with judgmental eyes, or worse – with pity. You don’t need any of that. You were going about your day, doing your daily chores and some pervert decides to take his sickness out on you. But who do you talk to? Who do you trust?

People get uncomfortable when you discuss such subjects with them. Whenever I have spoken about rape, most people look down at their newly polished shoes, and start stammering and blurt out the following question, “Are you, like… um… have you been… you know, like, are you a victim?” Why? Cos being a victim is the only reason I would show support for a cause? Strange. 

Then, there are people like Robert Uttaro. Robert Uttaro is a Rape Crisis Counselor. He helps those who are victims of rape or sexual assault. He has recently authored a book, titled To The Survivors. It contains stories shared by survivors and also his own experiences as a counselor. I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to speak to him about the stories he has to share, his profession and the troubles he has faced, and his book. Below is the transcript of our QA session, where I have highlighted some key points as well:

Robert Uttaro, Rape Crisis Counselor and Author of “To The Survivors”

SD: Let’s talk a bit about your childhood and schooling…  

RU: My parents worked very hard to always provide my four older siblings and I with food, shelter, and education. As a child and throughout my life, I have had a deep love of God, music, and basketball, among other interests. I have always been able to listen to music for hours and hours. When I was a kid, I also used to play basketball all day and night during the summer, and would shovel out the basketball court to play in the snow with gloves during the winter. In terms of schooling, I went to a Catholic school for seven years, a public high school, and graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

SD: When did you decide you want to be a rape crisis counselor?

RU: I made the choice to become a rape crisis counselor when I was a senior in college. I was 22 years old.

SD: Do you feel the victims are open to receiving counseling or do you think the vast majority of victims suffer in silence? When they do approach you, do you feel they’re hesitant to open up?

RU: The vast majority of people who have been raped and sexually assaulted suffer in silence. Some are open to counseling, but many do not tell anyone for years. Some people never tell anyone at all. There are many justified reasons as to why so many people stay silent, but the silence tends to hurt those who have been victimized.
People disclose to me in many different places. Some people are hesitant and even terrified to open up, but they ultimately want to or feel an urge to. Some people never expect to open but end up sharing a part or their entire story while others completely break down. Of course, there are others who will never open up to me. I tried my best to explain in To the Survivors how many women did not want to work with or share a disclosure with me, for examples. At the time, most women did not want to open up to me.
Sometimes people disclose to me in very casual settings where the last thing you would ever expect is a rape disclosure. Examples of this are when people disclose to me at parties or while eating dinner during a relaxing night. These people have clearly felt the urge to speak, and they trusted me enough to share. Many times people will disclose to me once they learn I am a rape crisis counselor. Other times, people just break down. I knew a woman for a couple of years and never once thought that she had been raped, but one day she just broke down to me. Tears poured down her face as she broke the silence and disclosed that she was sexually abused for years when she was a child. Many are hesitant to open up, but many also open up. If people ever choose to open up, I think it’s important for them to open up when they are ready and to someone they trust.

SD: Do you think rape and/or sexual assault is a problem faced by women alone? If not, do men opt for counseling? Do they go through similar trauma as a female victim or do they react differently?

RU: Women, men, and children are raped and sexually assaulted. It is wrong to think only women are raped and sexually assaulted. Some men do receive counseling, but many do not. In fact, there are many men who do not fully understand or even know that they have been sexually abused given the trauma they experience at such young ages. Both men and women can repress memories. If you read To the Survivors, you will read three stories of men who were sexually abused as children. Their stories will show you how the crimes affected them and how counseling and other things have helped them in their healing process. The stories show the damage and growth, and I hope they allow for other men and women to seek help if they need it.
I do not wish to speak for every human being, but in my experiences and my beliefs, there are more similarities between men and women than differences when discussing trauma and their reactions. First and foremost, rape and sexual assault are sexual violations that are traumatic and evil. Regardless of gender, people are sexually violated and suffer as a result of that violation. Silence is silence. Shame is shame. Fear is fear. Depression is depression. Anxiety is anxiety. Rage is rage. Tears are tears. Suicide is suicide. Many women and men experience these.
There are many similarities between men and women, but there are also many false societal teachings that do impact men and boys who are raped and sexually assaulted. For example, many men believe that as a man, they must be able to protect themselves. This is not true because any man can be raped or sexually assaulted, but many believe this. Also, many men are sexually abused as children. No child should ever be sexually abused, nor should any child be expected to always take care of themselves in every single situation. But some, arguably many boys do believe they should protect themselves. This false idea continues within them well into adulthood. This happens to some women as well, but it may be more so in terms of men.
Another false societal teaching is the idea that men should not have certain feelings, or shouldn’t express their feelings. Some believe that only women should be or can be emotional, and men shouldn’t. They believe that they can’t cry or talk about their feelings. They believe they should just get over it. But this is not true, and many men suffer as a result of these false teachings and beliefs.

SD: Do female victims find it uncomfortable to discuss their story with a man? Have you ever felt it?

RU: Some do, and I have felt it. It’s important to note that some men are uncomfortable sharing their story with a man.

SD: Are there many male rape crisis counselors?

RU: No. I hope that changes if men desire it. There are many men who would be great rape crisis counselors if they ever chose to be, but it is their choice. Sadly, many men do not understand how helpful they would be, and some are fearful and nervous. I hope that changes and I believe it can.

SD: Putting survivor stories in a book is extremely brave. Were the survivors open to this idea?

RU: Yes. I told every survivor who is in the book that I wanted their story in the book if they wanted to contribute. There were no surprises. I also gave every survivor a copy of the manuscript before I published. Every survivor in the book gave final approval of their own words prior to publication. I would never publish unless they approved, and ultimately all of the survivors who contributed their stories in To the Survivors did approve.

SD: Have you ever felt extremely emotional (be it anger, disgust, sorrow) during any of your sessions? How do you cope up with such issues? As a counselor, you have to keep emotions at bay; how do you manage to do this?

RU: I have felt extremely emotional during and after every rape disclosure I have ever received. When helping someone in need, I have learned to forget about myself and listen to what that person is saying, or not saying. I would say to others that a listener should try their best to just listen to the one in need. Keeping emotions at bay can be difficult, but it is possible. Forgetting about myself completely allows me to do that. However, there may be times when you do not keep your emotions at bay. This can also be a good thing, because it may help the survivor who is opening up understand that they are not alone and that they aren’t the only ones who get emotional.
In terms of coping with such issues, I have found that prayer, mediation, music, and connecting with people are essential for me. I could not do what I do without God. I could not do what I do without prayer, mediation and music. When discussing how to manage such issues and self-care, one must think about what they love to do and what their heart desires. There are many beautiful gifts in life, so embrace what you love and try things you are interested in. Music, art, dance, prayer, mediation, nature, cooking, reading, writing, exercise, and many others are great forms of self-care and ways to deal with the painful realities of life.

SD: A word of advice to those reading this..?

RU: To the Survivors continues to help women and men who have been raped and sexually assaulted (many as children), significant others, and also individuals who do not know of anyone personally affected. There is a huge focus on rape and sexual assault, but the book deals with many different issues and ideas. I believe it is a valuable read that anyone can benefit from regardless of whether or not you are a survivor. However, it is hard and may be triggering if you are a survivor or know a survivor. Please read To the Survivors at your own pace. You do not have to read this book if it is too hard right now, but I want you to know that there is far more good than bad in it. There is more hope than harm. Certain parts of the book may be very difficult to read, but you can get through it. If you are nervous, anxious or scared, I ask that you go to Amazon.com and read what readers and companies have said about the book. I would never write and publish a book that deals with such serious content if it didn’t help people.

I was cynical enough to believe there’s no hope left. I was harsh enough to believe nearly everyone was a monster and that compassion was dead. It was at such a time that Robert Uttaro’s book was published. Robert Uttaro is a truly compassionate man who has helped so many people and I respect and admire him with all my heart. Frankly, I have not yet read his book, though I have a copy. Like he’s mentioned, there are parts of it that may be too hard to read, and sexual violence is a topic I am extremely sensitive about. I would strongly urge you to get yourself a copy though. If you wish to get in touch with Robert, you can find his details below:

 

In addition to this, if you have any questions for Robert, please mention them in the comments box below, or as I mentioned earlier on Facebook, you may inbox me. 
 
If you wish to buy To The Survivors, here’s the Amazon link.

Over A Few Cupcakes…


Rajappan looked at his brother-in-law with an expression he tried to pass off as a mixture of annoyance and sympathy. But the expression failed to be either as what he truly felt was the kind of sadistic relief one feels when a relative-by-marriage makes a grave mistake. Nevertheless, he tried to hide his true glee by reaching across to the Ramesh Iyer’s chair and placing a consoling hand on his knee. He said, “I hate to be the one to say ‘I told you so’, but had you listened to me then, then at least the money could have been set aside for her dowry.”
Ramesh could hear all the words, but he was not really listening. His mind was numb. He thought about the day when Rajappan had told him there was no point sending a girl to college. “Why, Ramesh? If they become too independent, they will not respect their husbands and in laws. Imagine if your Tulsi does that! You will have no respect in the community.” But Ramesh Iyer had thought otherwise. His daughter was no beauty. In a country obsessed with fair skin, she was brown as a nut. He had replied, “But Rajappan, just look at her. Her complexion – it is so… if she goes to college, at least I can mention her degree on matrimonial sites and later print it on the wedding card. Whether she wants to pursue a job or not will not be my headache. Once she marries, her husband will decide that for her. Mostly he will say ‘no’. Then she will know who the boss is and there will be no question of disrespect.”
Ramesh Iyer did not know that Tulsi had been standing behind the curtain near the sofa where the two men were discussing her.
And now here she was, with a degree in hand, insisting that she wanted to pursue a career before giving marriage a thought. Insisting also that she wanted to go far away from her hometown, to a city, like Chennai, Cochin or Bangalore. And worst of all, according to Ramesh Iyer – she did not want to be a nurse at all. She wanted to start a cupcake bakery. All the money he had invested in her education, without once asking though what it was that she wanted.
“And Appa, one more thing,” she announced before walking off, “if I ever decide to get married, I sure as hell won’t let you print my degree on my wedding card.”
Ramesh Iyer opened his mouth to retaliate, but Tulsi had already turned on her heel and walked away. He couldn’t help thinking, cupcakes! His daughter wanted to cook for strangers! If she wanted to cook, she must do so for her husband, for his parents, for children they would have. Why for strangers in a strange land?
*************
Tulsi sat in her little bakery and thought about her father. They hardly spoke to each other. She knew he must be secretly proud that her cupcake shop was flourishing and she also knew her uncle, Rajappan would probably be dying of envy. Sure, his son followed all the rules and was now a software engineer in Chennai. With a family-oriented, neat and pretty wife who had popped out two kids in quick succession. Unlike Tulsi. Tulsi, the “bad egg”, the “rebel”, the “girl who walked out”, the girl “not worth a husband”. But Tulsi, the girl who dared to live the life she wanted. And as for a husband, yes, that was why she was thinking of her father today.
Tulsi had met Kabir a few months after she had opened her bakery. It had been difficult at first. She did not have a lot to invest in, considering she had only a few savings from the time she had been a trainee nurse, plus a little something she earned by doing night shifts at a non-profit health centre. But she felt her struggle had been worth it, and the reward was her own little bakery.
Kabir had come in one evening, looking a little lost. He had asked for a cookies-and-cream cupcake. He came in the next evening also. And the next. He would always sit at the same table by the door, slowly eat the cupcake and leave. One day his table was occupied by some students. The other table was free, but there were no chairs. Tulsi brought him a chair from inside and he mumbled a “Thank you”. She began a conversation with him. And then there were more conversations. Every evening.
One evening, Kabir announced that he had won an award at work and was allowed to bring a guest to a celebratory dinner. He invited Tulsi. “Me?!” she laughed, “You would be embarrassed with me next to you.”
Kabir looked offended. Tulsi explained to him, hesitantly, about her complex of having always been called dark and ugly. And her need to hide in shadows because of this. Kabir sighed. Then said, “The grass is always greener on the other side! Most Indians think I am albino or I have some other terrible skin disease! How do you think that makes me feel? You, on the other hand, are one of the most beautiful women I have ever met. Your eyes are so bright and your smile is so friendly. You’re funny, and always know the right words to cheer me up. And you make the best cupcakes in the world! So, I am asking you again. Would you please do me the honor of being my guest during Saturday’s dinner?”
Tulsi had agreed. A year later, Kabir proposed to Tulsi. At her bakery, in the presence of other customers. On one knee!
Tulsi said yes.
People applauded.
Now, Tulsi thought how to broach the subject in front of her father.
Persuading her father had been no easy task. For along with her father, was the army of relatives who still insisted of finding a match for her, while disdainfully clicking their tongues saying she was too old (at twenty four!) and too “educated” to find a good husband. A few men even approached her father, some stating they want no dowry, provided she stops “preparing cupcakes” post marriage, while others unabashedly demanded a car or a house, and the end of her career. Tulsi put her foot down and said she was marrying Kabir whether they liked it or not but would appreciate it if her father gave them his blessings.
“She was always the brash and rebellious one, that Tulsi!” Rajappan whispered to anyone who lent an ear.
After a lot of convincing and arguing, coaxing and cajoling, Ramesh Iyer agreed. But there was one more thing Tulsi wanted to do.
“Appa, I want to share the wedding expenses with you.”
Her father was stunned. He tried to explain to her that if he took money from his daughter, he would have to hang his head in shame. He said he was not short of money, and could take care of everything. Besides, even if he couldn’t, there was no way he was going to let his daughter lend him money for her own wedding!
“I am not lending it to you. I do not expect it back. Had I been a son, wouldn’t you have taken money from my salary? Then why not from me? Do I not earn enough or is my money tainted because I am a woman? I know people are calling me a rebel behind my back, Appa. But I hope you would see it that respect is not just serving a husband and in laws. Respect is also earning one’s own money and supporting one’s parents. Why can’t you be proud of that?”
Ramesh Iyer kept quiet. Tulsi said, “Oh, and one last thing, Appa. Dark isn’t ugly.”

Let My Pointing Fingers Be Clean!

We have here in a strange land,
A tired and angry retired man,
Who wakes up each morning with a broom,
To sweep the roads just outside his room.

So strange are the ways in this town
That all those who wander about
Call him senile and quite mad,
It’s okay for those who pee on walls and trees though; they aren’t bad.

Oh, the ones that water the trees and plants
For the environment, they do their little dance;
Mobile phone in one hand telling clients about this wonderful nation,
The other hand bringing up the zipper, after hanging up on the call of nature!

Hanging up, that’s a pun indeed!
So used to them now, no one pays any heed,
Of those piles of garbage and used diapers of so many babies,
I could say worse, but hush! I am a lady!

Hah! You saw me wink just now!
And all you can do is smile a bit hollow,
You know you’ve cursed the litterers,
Only to throw into the growing pile, another chocolate wrapper!

Isn’t that what most of you are trained to do,
Clean your own house and garden, but make a mess in the neighbor’s loo,
Why talk of only the neighbor,
On public transport, you put up an embarrassing display, huh?

A son whose mother insists he uses the restroom
Is instead taught by his father, “Why don’t you check out this crack in the wall; there’s room.”
They say it’s a man’s world, just cos he can pee standing up
And that – wherever he pleases, and then he zips up!

Bitter am I? But he curses when there’s gum stuck on his shoe
On the way to an important meeting, that too!
Turns out the gum was thrown there by his son,
To whom he had once said, “If you can’t find a dustbin, just throw it far and run!”

There you go slapping your forehead for all you care,
Say there’s not a thing you can do but despair,
Maybe instead of pointing fingers, you could start by helping the retired mister,
Instead of calling him crazy, loudly cheer on a public “nature-call-whisperer”!

This poem has been written for http://greatindian.timesofindia.com/
In the year 2009, I moved to Bangalore and lived in a then-peaceful (now unbearably crowded) area called BTM 2nd Stage. There was an old man in my neighborhood, who woke up early in the morning just to sweep the little roads outside his house. All the other neighbors called him crazy, and I always wondered why is a man called crazy in India if he cleans the roads, but considered normal if he makes a mess! He is the inspiration behind the first and last stanza of this poem.

Fearless

Last week, there was a Twitter contest hosted by VoElla.com which is an online magazine for women. The challenge was to write a poem (in 140 characters or less) with the word “Fearless” in it. You can find the poems of all the participants here. Out of all the poems submitted, four were selected for this week, and I am glad that mine was one out of the four. Here’s the poem I wrote:

Darkness thick
Like curling smoke
Grey chill
Of midnight
Let the dark
Keep its demons  
Fearless we stand
To conquer
Nightmares with might.

We live in a world where some of us are still afraid to step out at night. Each day we hear terrible stories about crimes committed against women. My poem is dedicated to all women. We are brave and courageous and not afraid of the weak, narrow-minded, chauvinistic, perverted insects out there.

Please do listen to the podcast. The link is in the tweet below:

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The Douche-baggery Of The “Indian Culture” Gurus


Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers

“Ugghhh! I so don’t wanna celebrate this birthday. Move over, girl.”
I looked up groggily. There was a tired-looking skinny girl sitting on my bed, wearing black leather pants and sporting a punk haircut with the sides of her head shaved. She had tattoos all over her arms, but not very good ones. Woah! Who is she? What’s she doing in my hostel, in my room at – holy hell! It’s midnight!
“Who – who are –,” I stammered.
“Relax, girl, I’m Mother India!” she said with a derisive smile, filled with self mockery and bitterness
Okay, she’s high, I thought to myself. But who in hell is she!
“God! People aren’t even sure if it’s my 67th or 68th birthday! And little girls freak out when they turn 30!”
“Right. You’re Mother India, sure,” I said with barely hidden sarcasm, “You look like a lost teenager. And what’s with the attire? Mother India wore saris.”
“Aww how Indian, babe! Judging a woman by her clothes. Isn’t that the ultimate way to vouch for your Indian-ness.”
“No, I am woman myself. I would never –“
“You just did. Like I gotta be sanskaari all the time?! I said I’m Mother India, not Alok Nath! Jeez,” she cut me off. I was silent after that. My sleep-addled brain was focusing a little bit. I sat cross-legged and looked at her again. She looked sad. Smudged mascara made her look like a raccoon. I put my hand on her arm. I gave her what I thought was a reassuring smile (because by now, I was assured by my instincts she wasn’t out to kill me)
“Well, you don’t look 68. You should feel proud. I guess.”
She gave a bitter laugh. “You should’ve seen me 68 years ago. I looked pretty much the same. They called me a “developing country” then. They call me that still. So yeah, looking young isn’t a compliment, it’s a defect – a drawback.”
“Is that why you got that hairdo and the tattoos? To get over the sameness of things?” I asked keeping a check on my tone, so she did not feel I was being judgmental again.
“Hell, no, girl! That’s not a hairdo. That’s the neighbors mowing my lawn. Pretty soon, I may not have a head. And the tats? Man, Indians spit way too much on me. That’s not ink, that’s paan, gutkha, saliva. Oh and there’s pee and other stuff too.”
I cringed. She folded one leg under her and sat more comfortably on my bed. “Tell me, why do you guys keep yapping about Indian culture, huh? What’s that about? Peeing, spitting, saris, dowry, female foeticide, astrologers, dhongi babas, hating people from other states?? Is that what it’s about? I don’t get it.” She shook her head.
“Well, you’re talking to the wrong girl. I –“
“You do care! Don’t tell me you don’t. You get as irritated as I do when someone uses the words “culture”, “sabhyata”, “sanskriti” and all that. But if a firang comments something anti-Indian on Youtube, and you’re all “Yo mama’s such a cow, that she would be worshipped in my country.”
“Well, I’m more of a cow-eater than a worshipper.” I said, sort of apologetically.
“Relax, girl, I’m not judging. Eat what you want. That’s what your ancestors did too. Don’t know what the culture guys are on about!”
We laughed. She seemed to have not talked to anyone in a long time. She was funny, sarcastic, with a self-deprecatory sense of humor. She was like no one I’d met so far and yet, I knew she was so misunderstood.
She had stories to tell me. She told me about the beauty of the country, about the knowledge and wisdom of the people, the intellect they shared with the world. The literature, the art, the music, the experiments – with truth and more!
“That, sweetheart, is culture! A man asserting his dominance over a woman, a woman covering her head in front of her in laws, a woman forced to cook roti when pizza is just 30 minutes away just cos that’s what a good woman does, going to temples to pray all the time, at the same time wishing to destroy your neighbor’s career, marrying a virgin, judging homosexuals, judging a career-oriented woman, celebrating a telecom company ad just because the wife plays the boss, cos that’s about as much you’re willing to acknowledge the so-called empowerment of women – that isn’t culture. It’s nothing to be proud of. The percentage of Indian scientists in NASA isn’t something to be proud of. There’s probably a reason they chose not to live in this country anymore.”
I nodded. Each word of what she said was true. Yet, I felt so helpless.
“Well, I gotta go now. It’s my birthday, should cut a cake. Wait, no! That’s against Indian culture, cos cakes came from the west. I’m gonna cut some rabri, with diyas lit all around my plate. Or laddus – whatever is sabhyata ke not-khilaaf. Laters, girl!”
And just like that she was gone, leaving me to wonder if I’ll have an encounter like that again.
I couldn’t sleep till dawn.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

 

Welcome To India! Where Everyone Is Discriminated Against!


Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers

If any of you have been following my blog, you would know how much this desi mem rants about this country. Of course, you could ask what am I doing apart from ranting but I can proudly say I am punctual and I have never jumped a queue in my life (so hardcore! I know, right!) But in case you were wondering what irks me about my beloved (?) country, why don’t you click here!
And if those posts weren’t enough to scare you away, why don’t you read further!

In the post “What Annoys You” I have mentioned that what annoys me most about India (among other things, of course) is racism. I have never written elaborately about this topic. Given the number of people who have written about it, and have accomplished nothing more than a few appreciative words on their respective blogs, I don’t think writing more about it is gonna make any difference. But that’s how cynical my thought process is. The north will always hate the south. The south will always wonder why, but hate north in the process too. The north-east will think everyone hates them (despite being the most wonderful and talented people I’ve met so far). And all Indians are gonna suffer massive inferiority complex for all eternity because they think every blond firang is better than them for the simple reason that they’re, well, “fair-complexioned”.

Discrimination will be a part of your life wherever you go, in some form or the other. Generalization is something that’s so ingrained in our DNA that based on the actions or behavior of one person, we label the community he belongs to. Racism in India is so prevalent and so poisonous that it’s practically a habit we live by. We cannot meet a person and not form opinions about him based solely on his surname. That’s just not possible for us.
(As for me, I judge people on the basis of their taste in music, movies and books 😛 (again – so hardcore, right!))
Let’s put a pin in that. There are other annoying habits that Indians have. I am not gonna write paragraphs about each, cos let’s face it, this is a blog post not a book (yes, I have enough content that can fill a book on this topic). I’ll list them out to you:
2) Queue-jumping
3) Spitting out paan on the road
4) “Chaar log” whose only purpose in life is to “think” about you and your activities
5) The attitude that one’s father owns the road one is driving his car on
6) Littering; and then saying “chhod na, yaar” if someone points out a dustbin to them
7) Making fun of people who do not litter and make use of dustbins (cos good habits are a waste of time according to most Indians)
8) Going crazy for international brands, only to be able to show off the prices of random products at a gathering. And yes, Indians remember the price of everything
9) Relatives who suddenly turn into match-makers when a girl of the family turns 20
10) Making fun of unmarried ladies in the family
11) Hugging people like long lost buddies and then bitching about them the minute their backs are turned
12) Fighting on grounds of politics and political parties
13) Forcing your child to take up college courses according to your wishes. (Also, parents who decide careers of their children)
14) Calling a woman “item”, “maal” and other derogatory terms
15) Expressing shock when a woman is doing better professionally than a man.
16) Watching crappy soaps on TV
17) Not respecting other people’s opinions (cos most people think theirs is the only opinion that matters)
18) Relying on astrologers/jyotish/guruji for everything
19) Not using the words “Please”, “Excuse me” and “Sorry” wherever required. People, these three words go a long way
20) Husbands who still feel the need to assert their dominance over their wives
These are just the things off the top of my head (the even 20 is a shocker!). I’ll keep updating this post whenever I think of something else. And that could well be every half an hour!
Here’s the thing; I never felt Indians respond well to criticism. So, I know a brick is about to hit my window as soon as I click Publish. But just in case a brick isn’t handy, and you’re fuming right now, there’s a comment box below that you can use.