Miss(understood) Feminist

This morning I saw a new article trending “I am a Domestically-Challenged Bride; A Proud One!“ and garnering lots of ‘likes’ and ‘thumbs up’.

I earn and help my husband take care of the bills. I am well-read and can hold interesting conversations with him and his friends when we entertain, I can add numbers real quick and if he wants to cross-check any fact, I am the one who can give him the info in a matter of minutes (thanks to Google and a good phone). Am I still a bad wife? A lot of people seem to think so.”

I read this article with over ‘33.3K shares’, and had a good laugh.

I think the people around me are suffering from what I call ‘afsar’ syndrome. Through my stints in a typical Delhi office environment I have observed how the afsars (officer Hindi-fied), the white collared gentry, think that it is not their job to do anything other than ‘work’ which should involve paper/computer/application of mind. Tasks such as washing their own cup, throwing the used paper cup, taking files out of the cupboard, removing the used plate are meant for the blue collared boys in their blue uniforms. I have also heard tales from my acquaintances who take ‘pride’ in the fact that they earn but can’t cook & clean and can afford a cook and a cleaning lady and that such ‘actions’ do not make them a ‘bad’ ‘wife’. No not all… rather such ‘thoughts’ only make you sound like an ‘immature’ ‘person’.

Do we ever take pride in saying ‘I just cant take a bath myself, I have a Man Friday do it for me, and I am proud of it’. Or ‘I just cant brush my teeth, I cant waste my time on such things’ Or how we wish this was true ‘Don’t expect me to do my own exercise in the gym… its too trivial for me to waste my time on this… I get a maid to do that for me’! Ever seen a Westerner boast that he doesn’t do his laundry or cook?

Recently my cook lost her teenage daughter under very tragic circumstances. My neighbour (who has a 7 year old girl) told me that she was ‘shell-shocked’ and told the cook to take ‘her time’ to recover. One day she was at my door at 6.30 am asking me if the cook resumed her job and that she ‘thought’ that the cook started coming to my house. I said no and it was only 4 days since the little girl passed away!

We go to schools and colleges to get educated. However, in the process of getting a degree to make ourselves financially independent, guess we forgot to educate ourselves about complete independence. Learning to cook and keep your house and surroundings clean does not make you a ‘typical Indian aunty’ (the derogatory term we like to call typical homemakers). Rather we are just doing our own jobs. Why is it that there is a lot of emphasis on how ‘well’ we perform at our professional jobs and that doubled with our inability to do our personal chores is received with applause. The fact that men are not expected to do these ‘menial’, ‘trivial’ jobs is another ball game all together.

Not knowing what to eat and when to eat, living in a dirty house and wearing unclean clothes harms only us. The aim is not to be Martha Stewart at housekeeping, but to know the basics and to DO it when the need arises and do not flaunt your ignorance!!

Respect the ‘blue collared boys’. We have our cooks, cleaning ladies, car washing bhaiyyas, etc. and they help us achieve more within the limited time that a day grants us. So when these helpful angels do not come, cut the bullshit and just do your own work! And no none of this is TRIVIAL or NOT WORTH YOUR TIME!

PS: Dear author, I don’t need to be a breadwinner to know how to ‘google’ to check facts or ‘entertain’ guests!

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Inspired to Inspiring

Back in college I used to learn dance at SDIPA. Infact one of my all time personal highs in life was that I was auditioned by ‘THE’ shaimak davar during the peak of his popularity in the mid-2000s and got in 🙂 Fate also gave me the chance to be part of the troupe that went to Melbourne to perform for the closing ceremony for the CWG 2006.

The YAY moment!

                  The YAY moment!

anyway i digress…

During the 2 month long rehearsals, i interacted with a girl (ok lady!) who at that time was married and 32 yrs old. At a time when the average age of the dancers was 20, i was extremely surprised (ok shocked!) that here was a woman who was in her 30s and married and had a regular job and attended the grueling dance routines. We rarely saw her husband or saw her talk to her husband over the phone; to be honest many a times i wondered whether she was in a happy marriage. But she was sorted, calm, composed and wise and we got along very well. Somewhere inside i wished that one day i want to be her. In fact whenever we introduced ourselves to a new set of dancers, I would say ‘she is AP, she is married and 32’ and leave the new dancer spellbound 😀

Now 2 CWGs down and nearly a decade later, my dancing is restricted to the bathroom or when drunk. I needed some entertainment in life and i enrolled myself in a language class. The average age of the students is 20. On my first day, the teacher asked why I wanted to learn the language and i said my husband speaks a foreign language and i want to speak one too. The class was shocked on knowing that I am in my 30s, married and have a regular job. A few classes later a student introduced me to another student saying ‘she is AMJ, she is married and 32’ , leaving the new student spellbound 😀

Random Musings

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Some random thoughts looming over my head these days:

~ I have spent last winter attending weddings. I still have one more to go. Phew! I also have friends around me who haven’t ‘bitten the dust’ yet and are perennially worried about the precarious situation they are stuck in. People around them constantly pestering them about their marital status and the importance of the ‘right’ age, the dangers of ‘higher’ education and the ‘perils’ of an ambitious career for a girl. But is it worth worrying yourself sick about your personal life which doesn’t meet the standards set out by society? Stop living your life to the fullest because you are not married? Or worse, get married for the sake of getting married? Or the worst, beg someone to marry you since you are crumbling under societal pressure? (Hellooo self respect, where have I lost you!)

~ There is baby bloom all around. People around me, including my cook, ask me when will I ‘do’ babies and ‘start’ family. I don’t feel the need or the desire to have one (well for the moment that is). Does that make me selfish? According to the Pope it is and this is coming from a man who doesn’t have any kids of his own! Have I not done a noble thing by sparing a life from coming into this world and joining the rat race? Have I not done a noble thing by sparing humanity from one more rat competing with it for the limited and rapidly depleting resources?

~ a couple of people around me are on a sabbatical. I am proud of such people – the ability to not have your job define you. But then everyone around you seems to be extremely concerned that you don’t have a job, so much so that you will end up spending your sabbatical looking for a new job! Isn’t a break from a job the reason why you took a sabbatical? And shouldn’t Indian firms, which emulate western working culture, take a leaf out of their HR manual and permit sabbaticals for reasons other than pregnancy and sickness.

Don’t let society dictate terms on how you live your life. Get married if you want to but MARRY RIGHT- when your relationship is in trouble, the same society will derive sadistic pleasure listening to your misery. Have kids if you want to but PARENT RIGHT- you are responsible for the life you bring into this world, have expectations, but try to not impose your aspirations and dreams on those rats. Please also train your boys to cook, clean and respect women. Tell your girls that it is not ok for anyone to treat her disrespectfully. Take that sabbatical but PLAN RIGHT- learn a new language, pick up a new skill, volunteer, travel- do all those things which you promised yourself when you were your slogging yourself at your desk!

Live your life and don’t let society get to you.

Highway Treats: White Butter Paradise Part 2

Day 2

The suprisingly adventurous Man said that we should head to Amritsar. So strategically light breakfast later, we were on the road. 1.5 hrs later we were in the holy city. A trip inside the Golden Temple, and a booboo later (where we ate the prasad without offering it inside and this was pointed out by a good hearted admonishing sardarji), we landed at the Langar Hall to have the Guru ka Langar- one of the largest community kitchens of the world.

Jalandhar

(left) Mise en place for the langar                                                (right) Hungry thousands

Have you ever been humbled by the food? The Guru ka langar at Harmandir Sahib (aka Golden Temple) will do that you! Being part of the 1,00,000 odd people being fed that day, watching the amazing sense of crowd control and chivalry by the managers, the selflessness of the sewadars chopping vegetables, making rotis and stirring dals in big cauldrons, eating a simple meal of roti, dal, kheer and watching hordes of volunteers cleaning your plate, fulfilling one of the basic needs of a human being- hunger, without any discrimination of caste, creed, wealth and for no material consideration-This to me is religion done right! There is no menu, no tables waiting to be seated and NO white butter, but this meal reminds you what every dietician propounds for a healthy life- simple, wholesome, nutritious meal J

Guru's langar

                               Guru’s langar

Following this we strolled in Jallianwala Bagh, a reminder of the sacrifices made for our freedom. It makes you wonder whether these sacrifices were made in vain.

(left) Phirnis set out to set  (right) Phirni set out to be gobbled

(left) Phirnis set out to set                          (right) Phirni set out to be gobbled

An argument (which I won obviously) later, the Man and I decided to head to Kesar da Dhaba for its famous lassi. We ordered the lassi, aloo parantha and phirni. The lassi was served in the tallest glass I have seen. We stir the drink, take a sip and guess what??? WHITE BUTTER again! It did live up to its reputation. Then came the aloo parantha in a thali so big that I could literally sit on it. It was expectedly coated with white butter, but Sukhdev paranthas won me over. Lastly came the phirni which was of melt-in-ur-mouth consistency and the Man gobbled up everything and left only 2 spoonfuls for me! The lassi n phirni at Kesar are definitely worth a try.

Lassi n Aloo Parantha

                                                                           Lassi n Aloo Parantha

2 hrs drive and COMA later, we were back at the hotel to witness the Punjabi hot chick wed her golfer beau..ok fine we didn’t watch them wed as the pheras were to happen at 4 am and our systems shut at 2am (old age i tell u)! A fun weekend, some hilarious moments courtesy the alcohol (I think I had a vision of jagjit singh doing flamenco), new friends made, memories with old acquaintances refreshed, we are back in guru ka gaon- tired, sleep deprived but motivated- for another road trip! 😀

Wishing N&M our best!!

Highway Treats: White Butter Paradise Part 1

I was pleasantly surprised when the Man said that he wants to go to Jalandhar to attend his friend’s wedding. It was unbelievable- a workaholic leaving work and travelling 7 hrs by car one way!!- guess the Man really needed a break! It was a road trip after a long time and for me, a car, gps and internet connectivity are sufficient to hit the road! (err…hand sanitiser and tissue paper also :P)

Got ourselves into a cab by 8am and the journey began. The skyscrapers of Gurgaon gave way to the illegal constructions in North Delhi and finally we were on NH1. Sceneries comprising of yellow mustard fields, green cauliflowers, saffron marigolds, creamish sugarcanes and the orange kinnows prevented me from catching up on sleep. Little did I know that I was about to land in white butter paradise, where I would go into a coma after each meal!

First stop: Amrit Sukhdev Dhaba at Murthal

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That’s not yoghurt, its white butter!!

Condiments galore

Condiments galore

Not really a dhaba anymore, its more like haldirams on the highway. Bustling with patrons, we had to stare at people to make them uncomfortable and vacate the table 😛 We ordered mix veg paranthas which came with a big dollop of white butter, served with pickled onions, green chillies, mix veg pickle and a sweet lemon preserve. The paranthas were true to the dhaba style- warm, medium spicy, with the right amount of stuffing and greasy (basically yum!). We ordered tea, which is just the way I like it- milky, sweet, spiced with cinnamon and served in the chaiwala glass- in short Oxford Book Café’s truck driver chai!

COMA

I woke up and it was Ludhiana!! 😀 We stopped for a late lunch at a dhaba called ‘Punjabi Dhaba’ (how unique) Sadly I didn’t take any pics as I was still groggy from the previous butter assault. This time we ordered roti, dal and kadhai paneer. The Man served himself what he thought was a piece of paneer floating in the dal, only to realise that it was a big piece of..u guessed it right…white butter! Special mention abt the staff, who were very exceptionally good hosts. When we could only eat 2 gigantic rotis, the ‘manager’ told us that we hadn’t eaten enough! And when we were leaving he was kind enough to give us a bottle of drinking water, which he had billed by mistake. Such experiences make me realise that some good people still exist in the world… 🙂

COMA

Wake up and we are in Jalandhar to ‘attund wedding’. The Man met his friends, some of them long since his graduation. They are a motley gang of fun people, which unites under the influence of alcohol 😀 It was hilarious dancing to Punjabi pind songs and Honey Singh songs with an Italian, Spaniard, Brit, Chinese, and making new friends on the dance floor- Alcohol, music and dance floor has always done that to me. There was even a clash of Djs, with the local DJ playing hans raj hans and the IITian DJ playing Swedish house mafia, finally the uncles choice for Punjabi songs won the battle. And not to forget, the Spore batch trademark dance to ‘I’ve got a feeling’ was also performed to complete the evening.

Delhi Marathon… Check!

Well almost!…ok fine….i only did the Great Delhi Run! Well that’s all I am capable of right now keeping in mind my fitness scorecard!

I was brought up with the mindset that top 3 ranks in class is all that mattered ultimately in life. I did go to piano, drawing and dance classes, but sports was never the agenda. Then came the brother-in-law, for whom sports is a way of life- not something you did in your childhood, but an activity you carried on in life to help you survive the mundane routine of daily life. He managed to get 2 cows- my sister and me running. When I heard that my Chettan did a half marathon, I was kicked, but always thought that half marathon is for boys and Ethiopian women. Until I signed up for airtel delhi half marathon.

So the great delhi run is a mess, very crowded. You will feel like being stranded on rajiv chowk metro station/stuck in virar fast at peak hour. But the energy of the crowd present makes one forget everything. I was happy that I did the GDR, till I went to the refreshment area. The number of middle aged indian women who completed the 21km run was not small. It was pleasantly surprised at seeing so many women train and complete the half marathon. Extremely humbling and very embarrassing for me, considering the amount I huffed and panted with 6Km.

On the metro back, I saw a women extremely tired after her 21km. During our tete-a-tete she told me that she did the 21k after 14 years; she got tired after 10km but the motivation to reach the finish line was the fact that her 18 year old daughter and 23 year old son were waiting there!!

With the learnings from the 7th edition of the race, I hope to do the 21km soon (I need that finishers medal!!!!!)…who knows may be adhm 2015!! 😉

Till then keep running… 🙂