Saturday, November 12, 2016

Of women and their money

There are 2 words that have sent shivers down many a spines in the last week -demonetization and Trump. This post is about the former; of course my opinion on demonetization is of little or no consequence. Okay, no consequence. What I did see was about how deeply women felt about the money. Not husband's earning. Money that they've save up.

I've been a stay at home wife for a bit (5 months) and I am open about how I felt. I've been without a bank account too (because I couldn't get one). I've been without my "own" money. The thing is, I've always had my own money. Starting at the age of 7(?) My mother started giving me 5 Rs every month and I had a small purse that I saved money in. I also had a small piggy bank that held cash I often asked from my grandparents. With 4 adults at home, I found quite a few coins in the couch, on the fridge and in pockets. I had a finders keepers rule - my parents actually appreciated it. I remember, one year I ended saving a little over 500 Rs! I gave my mum the coins or she took it added some cash and put it away. When I came of age, she had a spot of cash to put into my SB!

The only reason I didn't feel completely lost in a foreign country was because I had someone who I could bank on. Plus, I had close to 100 something dollars on me at any given point of time. That's not a lot. But if I was ever in trouble, I knew I had some money on me.

Do you know that a lot of women do not have a someone to bank on? Do you know the number of women who have no access to their own cash? Maids who would rather keep the cash with the home they work for than the home they live in? Women who would lie about prices of things just so they can save up what is left? I am not talking lying about a dress from Zara, I am talking about lying about the price of a cabbage.

I am not going to paint men or the government as a villain here. But I understand the desperation that some of these women face. Your average woman is like a duck, calm but busily waddling to stay afloat. That saved up money is why they are at peace. When they shut their eyes at night, they know that in their worst hour, they have something they can summon. Almost like a wizard.

Don't laugh when you read a story about a woman who had a heart attack, dont say "small price to pay", dont make it look like collateral damage. What this kind of conversation leads to is a less empathetic society. One that views all units as the same without ever taking the time to understand. Build your conversations to identify with the person than simply shrugging it off as yet another case. Remember this is a newspaper headline to you, but there is a family out there who is currently going through something very real and irreversible.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The places that men eat at #Blogging

“Yes, my consuming desire to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, bar room regulars--to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording--all is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yet, God, I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night"

I cannot begin to explain this intense frustration. I was talking to a friend who went on a trip 'just like that', neither can I explain how tired of everyone thinks I am a spoiled brat for booking Volvo tickets or 3 tier AC. But here's the thing, what you don't get is that I have had terrible experiences travelling like I want to, I am neither rich not spoiled, what I am is a woman. 

Off late, I am noticing how many places I keep away from. My brain goes into a game of "Is this place shady.." I know people who on a whim go to places like a railway station because the canteen is great. I have no problem with these people, what I do have a problem with is how limited my access to these amazing places is. 

I started going to this place for lunch, its absolutely amazing! Typical dhabba food. I have to say, the only place that I've had dhabba food is a dhabba themed restaurant. My new found love for this lunch place is a constant reminder of a lot of things I do miss out on. I am sure glad to have found my dhabba and some girl friends to eat there. But the first day I went there, i saw just men. I was constantly trying to not bump into people.

This is not just about one dhabba. You know how people take smoke breaks when travelling? I've never even stepped out of a train. Guess what else I've not done, made plans to go out. I've never taken cabs in the night... okay that might be because I lack a social life.

I am not in a complaining mood, I am in a observational mood. I guess stumbling on this  Plath Quote really brought back a bunch of things that I've been noticing. I have over the last year become a lot more assertive of my presence. But I still have a loooooong way to go and I can only go the distance over a period of time, and I can only go the distance over a period of time.

For now, I refuse to be invisible. I am not optional. I am not going to be an afterthought.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Is beauty just for the rich?

Unless you're living under a rock, you've probably heard of the 'Chaiwala'. This really handsome man from Pakistan who has now landed a modelling contract. I get that he looks gorgeous, blue eyes, tall, neat looking. What's not to like, ammrite?

My facebook feed was just Chai wala, chai wala. No identity. No name. Nothing. The hook to every article wasn't a good looking man, but that a good looking man was a tea vendor. Each article could mean one of 2 things, either good looking people can't be poor or poor people can't be good looking. I'm guessing it was the latter. Why is someone's income a hook? Why is the world so surprised? Would it be so shocking if I told you Aishwarya Rai or Sonam Kapoor were beautiful? Apparently not.  It's almost expected of rich people to look good. I remember when Akash Ambani was spotted at one of the MI games, he was overweight and the internet wouldn't stop making fun of him. A few years later when he got fit, damn we wouldn't stop swooning. Seriously. It was like celebrating the fact that he 'finally looked the the part'. Remember how Aishwarya Rai was criticized post pregnancy for weight gain (yes. that happened).

Back to Arshad; I wasn't comfortable sharing any of the posts, I couldn't really put my finger on what about the posts made me so uncomfortable and bam! it hit me. I wasn't uncomfortable because it was people "objectifying" him. It wasn't even that I didn't find him good looking, just that most people thought he was "good looking for a chaiwala". Let's get one thing straight, beauty isn't a rich people thing. That being said the normal working women/men don't have the money to spend on looking good. People don't have the energy to look perfect all the time.

I would be okay if we looked at ordinary people and thought they look beautiful, because why not. But that's not what we do, we're surprised that a 'chaiwala' , a person who wasn't supposed to look good (based on stereotypes), looks like a model.  We're the same people who go around saying "she's dark, but beautiful" as if dark people aren't supposed to be beautiful. We don't think of people as beautiful. Nope. We think of people as stereotypes, she's fat but beautiful, she's thin but , same with Arshad.

To us (the internet) he'll always remain 'dreamy eye tea seller'. Pakistani tea seller, blue eyed tea seller. The hook will forever remain the oddness of his job.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Are you noticing enough?

Because I have nothing else to do on the bus and I travel close to 3 hours per day, I tend to watch people. I can't read (motion sickness). Can't listen to music (cuz earphones are annoying and they tickle my ear). This story is from a couple of days ago, something quite amazing happened while I was on the bus, two people boarded the bus and as usual people were buying tickets, looking at their phone, listening to music, hoping someone will just give up their seat for no real reason.

Okay, back to what happened, 2 people, visually impaired, got on the bus. Nobody noticed as nobody offered their seats. But soon I realised they knew where they wanted to sit. They made their way to the seats reserved for them with a little difficulty. The next few minutes were quite something,  everybody was trying to look at them, some sneaking glances, some others just blatantly staring. I make it a point to not stare because that's just rude so, I went back to looking at the road.

I am not saying you should find anyone inspiring or sympathize even. But looking at those 2 people, I could instantly tell the mood in the bus changed, people became *aware*. It brings me to my post, are we waiting on something or someone for us to start noticing life itself? and if so, What are we noticing? Are we noticing enough and more importantly what are we taking for granted? At some point, we are taking everything for granted, especially that which we've never taken the time to accomplish. Are we taking our friends for granted, our spouse, our parents? We'll these are tough to answer, nobody thinks they are, but fact is have you asked yourself the question?

Moving on to something more personal, are you taking your literacy for granted, your intellect, your dreams for granted. There is no tomorrow. There is an expiry date on everything, including your knowledge (you are at some point going to become irrelevant), are you taking your relevance for granted? I often think speaking in 4 languages is something you put on a resume and that's that, but have you thought of how happy you should be that you can speak, communicate and enjoy conversation with diverse sets of people just because your mind retains random combinations of words?

I am quite amazed at the sheer number things I am not thankful for, some of them I am. Some of them, I didn't realise I needed to be thankful for. The reason we aren't more involved with ourselves, is because we take ourselves for granted, everything we can do, we take for granted because it comes so easily to us. I look at people making fantastic art and all I can do is ogle. Why aren't we more amazed at the things we can do? Not in an arrogant way. But in a mindful, more observant way. Why can't we take 2 seconds of our time and be glad to exist and to exist in a way that's not completely horrible (unless you're a serial killer or thief or you know deserve to be in jail; then you're horrible). 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Do you eat meat? #Day6 #DailyChatter

Since I've started talking about TV and TV shows, I started think about the things I really watch. I wonder if Youtube food channels qualify as "TV". Not really, but for the purposes of this blog lets just say that they are. Anyway, I am a huge Nigella fan, and let's just admit it, you are too. I don't know what I love about that woman, is it the sweet British accent, the richness of a her food or the general simplicity of the food.

Nigella pushed me to write a research paper on her. I've watched most of the Nigella cooking episodes, either on TV or on Youtube and I've been in search of one more presenter who can weave the same magic as her. Nigellas tone is one of the many things that drew me to the show, plush her cutlery. I wanted Nigella's kitchen. Her menu is simple, she is warm and welcoming her food looks basic and you know it looks effortless but really isnt.

One of the things you do get to see when you watch Nigella is slabs of meat she so graceful slits, spices, marinates and cooks, fries or bakes. I am a vegetarian and I still can't pull my eyes away from seeing her cook Turkey and chicken and some other kinds of meat. It brings me to the question, are we watching TV to gain information or because of the story? Well in my case, its mostly because I love looking at food, the colour and the story. I love listening to Nigella about how she doesn't care about putting in time, but gets perfect results. For me it stops being about information when you can tell a story and a really good one at that.

Make me laugh, make me imagine the food, make me think about your show for hours afterwards. Good shows stay. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What would I do instead of write?

I am in one of those moods. I want to write but I am really not finding anything I want to write about, you know what would be perfect? My blanket and a TV show. My TV show obsession is a little new. Especially the constant drone of it in my life. People don't really understand why I would watch a show repeatedly or keep following up with shows, it has become a lifestyle. I wake up early in the morning if I have just so I can watch a show.

This is a heartfelt post on how TV shows have helped me. I don't want to talk about the same things that I have in the past few days, because I am spoilt for choices, I made a list of shows and all of them are special, I can't narrow it down to just a few. So I decided to change it up a bit. I'm going to talk about my favorite bits about sitcoms.

TV shows have really come a long way and brought me along, from watching FRIENDS to watching Modern Family and many other offbeat shows in between, I've realised, I don't care much about the plot as I do about the people. I want my characters to have a heart. I have really come to identify myself with so many characters and put an exact name to a dilemma thanks to these TV shows. They've been a constant in my life, over the last few years.

When you watch a show, do you want to be sad? scared? disturbed? angry or do you want to laugh? I am someone who has zero tolerance for Drama, so I will throw out any show that adds drama I don't need in life. I hate cliffhangers. I cannot stand shows that will disturb me, nope. No 5000 bees flying out of someone's mouth type imagery. I don't care for it. I don't want to be angry either, which is where my insistence on shows not being douchey with obnoxious characters. That's my friends is how I end up watching the shows I do. The new independent shows that actually care about narrative, shows whose episodes I can afford to miss. Shows about every day family life, because showing that and making me laugh, that's the task I assign to my free time entertainment.    

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Drop Dead Amazing. #DailyChatter #Day4

I know I know. I messed up. I haven't written yesterday, but that's because I was sick and slept before I realised the day was actually over. Anyway, moving on to today's post. I take recos for shows I must watch, so if you think there is an amazing show I must see, please tell me. I'll buy you a coffee if I love the show or even otherwise.

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The show I'm currently obsessed with is called 'Drop Dead Diva' a TV show about a model who dies in an accident and by some twist in fate ends up on earth in a lawyers body. Okay, I know what you're thinking, whats so great. There isn't. That's the beauty. If you're one of those people who love Legally Blonde, then you will like this show. Sorority girl meets law school.

Jane's law firm Harisson Parker is the hotbed for fun cases and yes, Jane wins some loses some, but they work out to her advantage. Here's what makes Drop Dead Diva different from legally blonde. Jane is a size 16 and for the model who is in her body, the whole experience is new and different. The only people who know Jane's secret are her best friend and a guardian angel.

I know I am one of those people who judges if I like a show based on female friendships. I love a show that shows women as a nice, non annoying bunch.  Jane's best friend is Stacy and Stacy adores Jane. She knows Jane's life and often offers insight in to the cases that Jane deals with. I am so happy that even though the show is otherwise regular the makes have spent some time researching and coming up with stories that are a little unconventional. The women in the show are shown as confident even when the world around them is obsessed with being thin. The secretary, the competition, the mom, the judge/friend are all recurring characters who offer a great amount of wit. I love how the show does not shy way from fun yet strong and powerful women, even women with a dark side. Because, you must admit, women commit crimes too.

I was introduced to this show by my best friend and I really have grown fond of it over the past few weeks.