Ban Ban Ban..

Since so many things are randomly getting banned in our democratic country, why not fantasize about banning even tiny little annoying things that irk you?

Because larger things like poverty, gender discrimination, child malnutrition, education for all, employment rate, environment protection etc. are not important enough to excite our dear government, so might as well indulge in this harmless time pass.

1. Goatee beard on round-faced men: it. just. annoys. me.
2. Net sarees and dupattas: same as above
3. People who make faces at animals: actually why ban when we can maybe BANish them?
4. Bermudas on round assed men: it looks so hideous that I can’t stop staring. Especially if they are wearing sunglasses and floaters.
5. Men in 40s calling each other ‘BRO’ and ‘DUDE’: It just is.. forget it, just ban it.
6. French manicure: It looks so bizarre- since I don’t understand whats so special about it, let us ban it.
7. Random dick and Harry pretending to be Andaz Apna Apna fan just because its cult value has become mainstream: I am fierce about AAA. And will not allow people with bad sense of humour to claim fandom.
8. Gelled hair on kids: shudder..
9. All buildings with that bluish glass exterior: No, it doesn’t look futuristic unless your idea of future is derives from the Divergent series. It just looks hideous.
10. Gentlemen and ladies who have nothing better to do but twiddle their thumbs as they come up with innovation ban solutions.

There. Today’s list. With more to come as and when fancy strikes me ( read: when I am bored)

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No need to abort female foetuses or drown baby girls: A practical solution from Baba Ramdev and company

Want to be ASHTA PUTRA SAUBHAGYAVATI ? Without aborting the female foetus. Or drowning the newborn baby girls. Or raising them teaching how to be perfect Sati-Savitris?

An army of Hindu fertility experts are coming to rescue you from the misfortune of being mother to a girl.. or gasp… many girls… or gasp gasp… no kids!! Baanz… apshakuni women of holy India- rejoice!!

You can buy a boon, a medicine, a male heir from none other than Baba Ramdev ( Jai ho) that will instantly make you pregnant with a KULDEEPAK.

First they said that every Hindu woman should produce at least 4 kids. Because otherwise Hindus will be a minority in Hindustan. Then they thought 4 is too low. So they made it 10. A nice round figure you know. Dashputra Saubhagyavati Bhav!!

Now you have a 100% guarantee that majority of these ten offsprings to be sons.

All you have to do is pay a few hundred rupees and bear a glorious male child. Or ten of them. Baba Ramdev’s pharmacies bring you the golden elixir that is guaranteed to produce a glorious Hindu army of 56 inch chaati males in our Bharatvarsha.

I have a male dog. So maybe I should call myself ‘EkKutra Saubhagyavati?’

Boss….

Oh I am sure you have already seen and ranted on this ad. It is actually so bad ( one who got what product is being advertised will get a gift of Manchurian Masala), that it is surprising for it to have hit so many nerves.

Perhaps its pseudo-realstic- pretentious progressivism-gone-horribly- wrong is the reason for the mass rants against it. And perhaps the fact that we are smarter in spotting sexism these days.

This is why I am going to link it and proceed to rant about it myself:):)

After years of ‘woman is the CEO/boss of the house’ useless-pat-on-the back trope, we get a ridiculously sexist ad that shows a female boss telling her subordinate-at-workplace husband to stay back to do extra work at office, and then proceeding to go home and cook him a delicious meal and seductively asking him to come back to enjoy the said food.

Lest you think this lady is somewhat cuckoo in her head- because didn’t she ask him to stay back herself? Short term memory a. la. Aamir Khan in Ghajini? Or someone with a split personality like Aparichit? ( Hey, these popular Indian movies are totally accurate in depiction of any mental disorder, OK? Don’t be so snooty).

Noo… you realise she is a good Indian wife, who makes it up to her subordinate-at -work husband by cooking for him. After all, aren’t we all Indian women supposed to do that? Get good grades, earn well, look pretty in short hair and go on to cook perfect meals for our husbands?

Note ladies, that she softly says ‘sorry guys, you will have to just do it’ when her team complains about the timelines. Those of you whose boss said sorry to you, before asking you to stay back after-hours, please stop reading the post now.

OK, now for the rest of the 99% of the mortals who have continued reading this post- note that she looks slightly abashed- especially when she sees the disappointment on her team’s face and even asks her teammate ‘how is it going’, with a kind and considerate tone( we don’t know he is her husband yet.) Because if you want people to like a woman, especially a woman in power, you have to show her ‘soft’ side,lest people call her a bitch.

She looks tranquil in the car. Soft. Pondering. Soft. Sensitive. Soft.

And then she launches into WIFE MODE by asking her husband ‘Rohit’ ( the 21st century default Indian male name that replaced the erstwhile ‘Rahul’ of the 1990s) about what would he like to eat tonight. Because the moment a woman gets a free moment after a gruelling day at work, she likes to think about her husband’s dinner. It is totally natural. All of you, who after a long workday DON’T sprawl on sofa watching your favourite TV show over food cooked by someone else, or at least fantasize about it, please stop reading this post now.

OK, I see 99% of my readers are still reading.

Voila, she twists her hair in a pony at home, ponders about the contents of the fridge philosophically and rustles up a decidedly Udupi looking Chinese meal.

Then Rohit – the same team mate forced to stay back for work gets a call from ‘Wife.’ He sardonically replies ‘ Aaj late hoga. Boss ne bahut jam diya hai.’ ( Biiiiitch!!!)

Wife, who turns out to the said boss( Creative minds!! fantastic idea!!! whatta genius conceptualisation), sends him the video of the meal she lovingly prepared for him.

NOW, NOW, NOW WE GET THE PRODUCT which paid for this ad.

Those who DIDN’T think that the ad was for electrical kitchen appliance or a new brand of Indo-Chinese sauce, please stop reading this post.

OK, now for the rest of the 99% mortals still reading this post. The wife whispers seductively on the phone, ‘Boss ko bolo wife ne ghar bulaya hai’.

Then, the airtel tune starts and you realise that this piece of shit was actually an ad for 3 G connection. You sit quietly contemplating thousands of years of human evolution and how you always hated that Airtel tune and how right you were to pick up Vodafone. (Because how can this brain-dead ‘modern couple’ even compete with a cute pug?)

For all of you who DIDN’T think this woman is quite scary with her short-term memory loss and split personality and Udupi meal, a round of applause. Maybe you haven’t been watching instructive movies like Ghajini and Aparichit.

And a moral of the story for the remaining 99% of mere mortals. Here goes. Quite unintentionally , the ad makers have hit on the exact disorder that our society suffers from. That women are expected to have two distinct personalities: Modern professional woman outside and traditional wife/ mother/ daughter at home. They need to have a short term memory. Wipe out the BOSS identity as soon as you leave office and slip into WIFE identity.

You can be a boss with a corner office, have short hair, wear Sonia Gandhiesque sarees, ride in a chauffeur driven car, earn more money than your husband. But you have to slip into the ideal Indian wife mode as soon as you are in private sphere.

Otherwise, the balance of power just might tilt and patriarchy will shake. SCARY THOUGHT!!!

The ad stupidly celebrates the schizophrenia of our patriarchal society and I won’t even link the garden variety dumb excuses of ‘ WOMEN LIKE TO COOK FOR THEIR HUSBANDS SO WHAT IS WRONG IN SHOWING THE REALITY WHAAAAAA WHAAAA’ thrown by the ad makers and supporters of this ad alike.

But the good news is, that the ad has ruffled many feathers. And people are debating the ad, which has opened up a dialogue about the double shift many Indian women are ‘forced to do’ ( unlike ‘choose to do’ according to defenders of this ad). This is good news that ads like these don’t get a free pass for being covertly sexist. A debate on this ad is especially welcome because,

Because it pretends to be realistic unlike hundreds of ads that show sparkling women talking about detergent or their kids schoolbag as if it was some life-or-death issue.

Because it pretends to be progressive by showing a lady boss and goes on to justify the prevalent sexism in the society by perpetuating the worst and most dangerous stereotypes about women.

Because showing short-haired-lady-boss doesn’t make you a progressive.

Because it refuses to show a powerful woman who doesn’t look guilty in front of her subordinates for doing her job.

Because it reflects the pseudo-equal modern Indian marriage that women are calling out for what it is- a pseudo equal relationship built on age old stereotypes.

Because it champions the ultimate status of modern Indian man as ‘ boss in marriage’ and brushes his insecurities about the rising power of women.

And ALSO because it comes across as advertising CHINGS UDUPI SCHEZWAN CHAUPATI SAUCE and not a 3G CONNECTION.

There.

Supreme Court asks why are mothers ignored?

Thank you Supreme Court!! And thank you Madhav Kant Mishra for stating the obvious:

Mothers hardly match the authority a father commands in official documents necessary to prove a person’s identity. While the father’s name prominently figures in government documents, the mother is usually given the go-by.

And you know what? This bias ties back to my favourite rant. Why do kids, even in today’s day and age always take their father’s last name? Especially, when their mother hasn’t taken her husband’s last name after marriage? 99.99% cases of women I know who haven’t changed their last names after marriage, have given their husband’s last name to kids. Why? why? why? They are usually the ones who take most of the burden of childcare, their lives- physical as well as social- change more dramatically than those of their husbands.

Then why do husbands get to be umbrella identity markers? And please don’t tell me about exceptional cases like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, we are talking of the norm here. Also none of the ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter because last names are just formality/ relics of bygone era’. When majority of children carry their father’s name and not mother’s – it is clearly institutionalised sexism.

Motherhood is all about sacrifice a la Gajar ka halwa!! However, when it comes to real power- mothers can go take a hike. Because from religious rituals to government documents to last names for kids to Bollywood movies to corporate policies, it is the fathers who rule the roost. After all, the word Patriarchy is derived from the all mighty ‘father’.

The petition, filed by journalist Madhav Kant Mishra from Allahabad, says ignoring the parenthood of the mother in government documents is in gross violation of the Fundamental Right to Equality under Article 14 of the Constitution. It sought an ordinance making the mother’s name compulsory in documents.

Why are we asked to name FATHER OR HUSBAND in every frikkin document: from passport to nursery leaving certificates to bank accounts to medical tests to pan card to voter’s card?

Because father ( or husband) is used as a marker of identity.

‘ Whose daughter/ son? ‘
‘This man’s.’

Sort of like when in ancient times a person would be first a part of the community/ caste/ village/ family and then an individual.

It would have seemed quaint has it not been 21st century. And had mother was also used as a marker of a person’s identity.

But it is done rarely. It is not ironical but outright fucked up that while a woman’s femininity is validated the most when she is a mother, her identity as a mother is not good enough to be acknowledged as a marker for her own kid.

She is not good enough to preside over any traditional ceremony, the kids almost always take father’s last name, and she isn’t considered parent enough to be mentioned in any official document concerning her child.

So hope that social, legal, official and cultural norms change to acknowledge mothers’ rights in meaningful manner rather than melodramatic lip service.

Politician performs the last rites of her late Union Minister father

Pankaja Munde performed her father’s last rites yesterday.

I am no fan of the party or the Munde family’s political career. But I applaud Pankaja for presiding over her father’s last rites in a highly publicised funeral. It is a welcome sign that a woman, who is a MLA herself, departed from the tradition of only male heirs putting their family members to rest. The funeral was not just a family affair. Munde was a Union Minister, the Ruling central party’s most important figure from Maharashtra and a massively popular mass leader. Whether you follow the man or his party or not, you need to acknowledge that his death, funeral and political legacy are highly public and politically charged issues.

In a relatively backward area like Beed, the political stronghold of the Munde family, this is a bold gesture. I am not saying that it indicates profound challenge to the patriarchal system, but it is a indication of our society accepting the woman as someone in charge even in most traditional rituals – rituals that are highly respected and sensitive to majority of our people.

No matter how much of relics of bygone past many rituals feel to some of us, the symbolism of the rites indicates power structure in our society. A woman can not be formally in charge of majority of Hindu rituals. Women are often either in supportive roles or subjects of the said rituals. If women loose their husbands, often they are totally excluded from these rituals- be it weddings or funerals or births in the family. This is obviously because a woman is deemed secondary to her male relatives and doesn’t have the right to preside over ceremonies. So much so that if you are survived by only a female child, in traditional society, you would be laid to rest by even a remote male family member but not your daughter.

Like everything else, even these rituals have been going through a massive reform for more than a century now. Pankaja’s move is a welcome change.

Pre- marital sex… chee…. chee

Additional sessions judge Virender Bhat is very very upset. And he wants all women to know that pre-marital sex is not only immoral, because duh, it is pre-marital, but also non-religious. If a woman practices it, naughty girl!!!, then “She must understand that she is engaging in an act which not only is immoral but also against the tenets of every religion. No religion in the world allows pre-marital sex.”

Hmmm, inter-caste/ inter-religion marriages should be banned pronto as they are definitely not sanctioned by religion.

Women should be married before they reach puberty and have sons and shave off their heads when their husbands die. Highly commendable practices blessed by religion and guaranteed to preserve the morality of women which equals morality of the religion/nation/ universe/ heaven/ dadadaadadada….

How about introducing a government sponsored campaign to relaunch Sati?

Mr. Bhat is upholding a very pious task of mixing judiciary with religious vows. I propose we perform an Ashwamedha Yadnya in his honour and slay horses to please the gods. Yeeeyy…

Sacrifice a handful of kids as well while you are at that.

Diplomatic and Domestic

‘It is impossible to get good servants these days’.
‘These people ( maids, drivers, gardeners, nannies) have become too haughty and pricy.’
‘Where have the good old days when servants were family gone?’

How many times have we heard and uttered the variations on the above?

I am not talking about the people who do not let the maids touch drinking water ( yes, I have had one such landlord), or rape , or beat or abuse their domestic help . Such bastards exist and probably are in majority in our country, but I am not talking about them here.

I am not even talking about Devyani Khobragade and the diplomatic immunity scandal here. The incident has triggered an avalanche of anger in Indians, primarily against US government. The maid who complained against Khobragade is virtually wiped out of public discussion.

I am talking about people who think that a fraud committed against domestic help is not an issue when it comes to national pride. I am talking about people in my family, my friends, people I respect. Hell, I am even talking about myself . I am talking about people who are as a rule generous to their friends, colleagues and junior staff. I am talking about people who would, in theory, believe in equality. Who despise caste system. Who might help a needy person unknown to them. Who acknowledge, maybe only in theory, that majority of Indian people are living in horrible conditions and that it ought to change.

Waxing nostalgic about the old aya or maali-kaka, the middle class liberals of my generation yearn for the good old times when servants knew their place and were part of the family, well, as long as they knew their place.

They were ‘good servants’, who offered ‘good service’ and something else- a validation of our own superior stature in the system. They were grateful for an occasional saree, Diwali faraal, kindness to their kids. Occasionally a driver would run away with a Brahmin girl and both were doomed as a disaster, because everyone knew that ‘masters’ and ‘servants’ were two different worlds. Life is not a Hindi movie after all, in real life people know their place and do not cross the ‘laxman rekha’.

None of us feel/felt the need to put the work of our drivers, maids, gardeners, nannies and other people in organised system. Like good dalits, good blacks, good women, they were expected to rise above their ‘destiny’- an euphemism for oppression, with hard work, education and most important- gratitude for the occasional kindness shown to them by their masters.

Even today, the unorganised labour of these workers is at the mercy of their lords and masters. It is feudal system at its worst and a clear indicator that that’s what we are – a brutal feudal society where we do not believe that majority of people deserve basic human rights that we take for granted in our own workplaces.

Most of my friends believe that they are very progressive. They also believe in harsh measures, i.e., not giving Sundays off, cutting money when their help takes holiday, disliking use of bathroom by maids, negotiating about a raise of few hundred rupees. When one points out that we spend a few thousand rs. on starters and drinks, or even Pizza home delivered, they rush to defend themselves. Most of my friends and even relations that I really love claim that no matter how much they are paid- they will always be irresponsible, lazy and ignorant. They claim that alcohol, uneducation and large brood of kids would make sure that ‘these people’ would never go up the ladder, no matter how much better we treat them.

All we can offer is a little kindness based largely on our convenience.

In last ten years of me as an employer, across three metros and a dozen localities that I moved in, none of the 15 domestic helps who worked for me knew that May 1st is a holiday for them. No home they worked for gave them annual raise, annual paid holidays, Sundays off, medical aid.

I am ridiculed as some sort of communist in my friends’ circle. I am envied for the fact that ‘these people’ stick around me.

And hell, I feel so proud for being the generation X of the lords and masters. I am not depriving people who work for me of basic human rights, what a sensitive example of progressive liberal. I feel very happy that I am not like all the others. I almost feel parental about my domestic help.

So how would I react if they start demanding their rights, instead of acknowledging me as one of the few nice Didis and feel gratitude for that?

I am honestly telling you I will be disappointed, a bit. My whole castle of progressive liberalism will crumble, the same castle that made me feel so good about myself.

And this castle needs to crumble ASAP. Attitudes like mine and my friends’ need to be erased ASAP. Organized systems like Gharelu Kamgaar Sangsthan need to be set up ASAP.

Do read this post on Kafila.