So guess where am I?

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If this is what I passed on the way… No more than fifteen minutes before reaching here.

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Can you guess?

Do monkeys play cricket?

It seems they do!

1411

1,411 is the number of tigers left alive.

How many tigers did we kill (and how!) to have reached this number?

http://www.savethetigerfund.org/AM/Images/Community/GeneralPublic/photogallery/Cutest_cub.jpgMy cat, sher ka mausa, plays exactly the way this adorable tiger cub is playing 🙂

Created by nature specially for human viewing 🙄

When there were ‘enough’ number of tigers, we could afford to hunt.When there was no immediate risk of ‘nature’s balance’ being disturbed, no food chain worries, and no risk that future human generations might miss out on the joy and beauty of a live tiger (created by nature specially for human viewing) we could kill a tiger. Now we can’t because we might find ourselves inconvenienced if all the tigers die.

We have no doubt that everything in nature is created for human convenience. 🙄

It just doesn’t occur to some of us that tigers/black bucks/all creatures have as much right to this planet as we do. In fact no matter what tall claims we make, pigs, cows, snakes, bees, dogs, cats are no less dear to nature than we are.

I have no hope for the Tiger, but for those who do, here’s what you can do to save the tiger.

If you wish to blog about it like Hitchwriter did, find free, high resolution images here.

Listen to the Tiger’s anthem here.

Instead of bothering about lingerie display…

‘‘Your mannequins should wear sarees, not underwear. From now on, keep all undergarments inside. Show it to the customer when he or she asks for it. Five days from now if undergarments are still hanging outside, we will light a bonfire of the lingerie,’’ Chandra Shekhar threatened.   [Link]

Is it legal to threaten to ‘light a bonfire of’ something we do not want displayed?

And what is their objection to the display of lingerie? Culture is not good enough a reason because Prudery was not a part of ancient Indian tradition or culture, it came to India with the British and the Victorian morality they imposed on us.

The traditional saree, they approve of, was worn without a blouse or a petticoat.

“… Sculptures from the Gandhara, Mathura and Gupta schools (1st-6th century AD) show goddesses and dancers wearing what appears to be a dhoti wrap… a long, decorative drape in front of the legs. No bodices are shown.

In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, it is indeed documented that women from many communities wore only the sari and exposed the upper part of the body till the 20th century. Poetic references from works like Silappadikaram indicate that during the sangam period in ancient Tamil Nadu, a single piece of clothing served as both lower garment and head covering, leaving the bosom and midriff completely uncovered.[3] In Kerala there are many references to women being bare-breasted,[5] including many pictures by Raja Ravi Varma. Even today, women in some rural areas do not wear cholis.” [Link]

It would be better if they left the women’s underwear on window displays alone and focused on things like street sexual harassment. They could follow Italy’s example – ‘Italy Ban On Public Privates-Scratching.’ [ Same news,  another link.]

Or they could focus on this: http://twitpic.com/y6enk [click to see] by Brainstuck. (Thanks for the tweet and the link Poonam). Not as interesting as women’s  lingerie, but if they take interest, they get their free publicity, we get cleaner cities.

[Cartoon from : Communalism Watch, Hindutva attack on lingerie – R Prasad Cartoon in Mail Today. If Communalism Watch or the cartoonist R Prasad or ‘Mail Today’ have any objection to the cartoon being used here, please let me know, I will remove it.]

16Jan10MailToday-RPrasad

Edited to add : Mr Balvinder Singh’s posts are a must read for those who still aren’t convinced that we need no moral policing.

About Konark Temple –

http://balvindersingh.blogspot.com/2009/01/pub-club-or-temple.html

Another one about Nagaland –

http://balvindersingh.blogspot.com/2009/02/journey-continues-to-nagaland.html

Can Dowry be compared to Inheritance?

My father’s sister describes wistfully, a silver Lemon Set her mother gave her when she got married. She  resents  that her mother in law passed the Lemon Set (along with other things) to her husband’s sister in her dowry. This silver Lemon Set had originally been a part of my mother’s dowry.

I ask my mother if she didn’t mind her things being taken away like this, but she says this was very common. A girl’s dowry traditionally belongs to her husband’s family.

There is a custom in some places where the trousseau is critically examined by the in laws and the girls in the new family pick whatever they like from the new bride’s possessions.

This sort of thing does not happen with inheritance. The inheritance belongs to the inheritors, legally and socially.

One hears of comparisons between Inheritance and Dowry.

I feel the biggest difference is one empowers while the other puts the lives of 50% of the population at risk. Right from the moment they are found to be females.

Unlike a Will, the dowry is wealth given away while the parents are still alive, whether or not they can afford it. This makes girl children unwelcome.

Inheritance on the other hand, can be used by the parents to ensure a comfortable old age. It gives them something to bargain with. They have a choice in when, how and to whom they part with it. This empowers them.

A friend once argued that since the girls get their husband’s property, it is balanced. What happens when a girl doesn’t marry? What if she is divorced or widowed? An unmarried, divorced or widowed woman maybe seen as an outsider in her parental home.

Girls who inherit are in a much better position socially. They are not considered a liability. They have the same rights and responsibilities as the male children. (Legally it is mandatory for all children to take care of their parents even now.)

Do you think dowry, jewellery and other gifts on festivals are a fair compensation for disinheriting or disowning a family member?

So how did you go to school?

Some are dropped to school…

Some go running to school…

Some look for a ride…

And find innovative ways to reach school.
(I took these pictures from a moving car. This kid (and many others) ran after a moving bus, some just took a short ride, one managed to reach the roof, all this while the bus was still moving.)
Some can’t even dream of school…
And some carry bags and bottles of other children to school.

Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…

I agree that motherhood is not a favour to the baby.  In fact a society owes every baby and every mother a healthy, welcoming, safe and happy environment. What happens when a society disrespects motherhood?

Unmana blogged about [Link] how Indian Air Force thinks ‘Pregnancy makes women pilots cost-inefficient’.

Nature’s way of life is that you get married, bring up a family… if a lady goes into family way, she is off-duty for 10 out of 12 months.”

I won’t discuss ‘nature’s ways,’ (that’s another post) but are we grudging the mothers their 10 months Maternity Leave?

“… we request you to be happy, be married, but no offsprings.”

Fine. Today in India we don’t seem to need a new generation of citizens. There are too many of us anyway.

Today we feel it’s okay to deprive women of career opportunities if they choose to be mothers.

We think we are doing mothers a favour if we ‘permit’ them self reliance as they  scrub floors, treat tumours, work at construction sites and FLY fighter planes.

Motherhood is being made a luxury for women, let’s say justifiably so.  My question is, would it then be understandable if women gradually start accepting that they have to give up too much to be mothers? This is happening in many parts of the world.

Do some gentlemen think motherhood is a finable offence, or perhaps the real feeling is revealed when they wonder if women are suited for a man’s job like being a fighter pilot…?

Because he also asks,“…psychologically, are we fit?”

This from the nation of Rani Lakshmi Bai.

If I made Baghban.

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When I was fifteen I heard my granddad was going to let my mother return some cash that she had borrowed from him. I thought he should refuse.

My mother said she would have never accepted the money if it wasn’t a loan.  He would not even have offered it because he would need it in the coming years.

My logic: Whenever he needs it, you give him. What’s all this loan and return in a family? Aren’t you his daughter?

My mother: And what if I turn out to be selfish or have my own requirements and find I can’t help him when he needs it? Should he depend on my decency or should he ensure I borrow and return responsibly? And hasn’t he given me an education and ensured I am self reliant?

In ‘Baghban’ Raj Malhotra gives away all his savings to his sons, sure of equal reciprocation. He tells his banker his four sons were his ‘bank balance’. He is disappointed.

The movie should have stressed on planning for one’s old age.

The couple had no real life of their own. Happiness is only found when Raj finds an interest and new friends. Pooja (Hema Malini) his devoted wife remains dependent on him, she would be helpless if he died before her.

In his later years my father often spoke of how glad he was that they had planned well for their old age. He knew his wife would be comfortable if he died first. Every financial decision was planned together so nobody can fool my mother. Dad taught us to talk about death as an unpleasant but unavoidable fact of life.

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His treatment was expensive. He laughed about how much cash he swallowed every morning and how much each day cost him. He could afford to joke about it even if it made us cry. Because he they had planned for it.

A friend’s widowed mother signed papers that allowed the eldest son to sell all property to pay back his unexplained debts. Now they will be moving into a rented apartment. Shouldn’t she have been more aware of their financial situation?

Another friends’ father in law divided all property in his lifetime. His educated, once working wife got a small part. Why did they need everything when they were together but she needed only a small part when she was alone? If the dividing was left to the surviving partner, she would have been able to provide better for herself, and then passed to the children whatever was left. Or the hope for inheritance could have bought her some support.

A society that aborts female babies to avoid dowry expenses should know that we can’t depend on goodness of heart in matters of money.

A friend’s diabetic parents have to request their son to buy them Sugar Free. The son has teenage kids and their career related expenses. My friend is hurt that her parents have to often drink their tea ‘pheeki’ (tasteless). Shouldn’t she and her husband share the responsibility? Some husbands don’t like this, but they are legally and morally responsible too.

In ‘Baghban’ Raj Malhotra and his wife could have been shown turning to a daughter.  Legally daughters have same responsibilities (and rights) even if they have brothers. Some girls’ in-laws may not like it, but this should change. When daughters start taking the responsibility of taking care of their parents hopefully they will stop being seen as a burden.

Also parents who have only daughters seem to plan better for their old age, which seems to indicate that sometimes the expectation of living with sons prevents parents from planning. Not everybody can write a super seller like Raj Malhotra, but everybody can make retirement a time to travel, socialise, shop, swim, play cards and visit their children by planning well.

I didn’t include social work, because I see no reason why old age should be associated with service, and not with fun.

Sindoor, Tali and Mangalsutra.

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On the day of my dad’s funeral, somebody pointed out that it was cold and my mother should have a shawl. I got up to get one. A well meaning relative followed me. I picked a maroon shawl. The well meaning relative muttered, “Red won’t be appropriate, take the beige one.” I assured her maroon would be just fine, knowing I was older than her and my mom was in no state to object.

Later mum mentioned how another acquaintance had pointed out one Mrs S, who was so distraught after her husband died that even a year afterwards; she hardly ate unless someone persuaded her to eat. Perhaps she needed a maid for a while. Join Yoga classes. Get out and meet people, anything to lift her spirits, and help her get on with life. Instead she was used as a subtle example of good widowhood.

A friend who is originally from Nainital lost her dad. She was expected to request some male cousins to perform the funeral rites. She was also expected to watch her relatives take away coloured saris and shawls from her mother’s gorgeous collection. She did neither. Some jaws dropped. She performed all rites and her mother still wears sindoor, and is still complimented for her lovely taste in saris.

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When I visited my mum later, she explained, “If I don’t use lipstick, my lips feel dry…” All her life she drank tea or water before applying lipstick, because (unlike her daughters) she hates leaving lipstick marks on teacups. What made her think she needed to justify her use of lipstick now? I reminded her how as a 68 year old grandmother; she could be a role model for the younger women she interacted with. How proud I was when I told well-meaning relatives, “My 68 year old mother wears sleeveless/lipstick/pretty colours/diamonds… ” etc.  I didn’t even want to mention how dad never cared for such customs.

Old age can be empowering in our culture. Suddenly the same old opinions become respectable.

I love putting sindoor (vermilion) on the forehead and filling the hair parting with it. We even have jokes about how one can intentionally let some of this gorgeous red powder sprinkle on the nose because that indicates a loving husband. But all this is only for parties and occasions. In daily life I don’t even wear a bindi or a nose pin.  Most of my friends don’t either, though some wear mangalsutra inside their shirts. (Inside because they realise that generally these symbols don’t go well with western clothes)

Sometimes a rare well meaning acquaintance would point out ‘bare arms‘ (i.e. no bangles).

Another one once said one should either always wear sindoor or never.

Why?

Because it wasn’t a fashion or a style statement.

No? Then what was it?

Why do women wear sindoor, mangalsutra, bangles, bichia, tali etc? To show they are married. Why do they need to ‘show’ or announce they are married?  (Please don’t bring love into it, because evn the most unhappily married women wear these). And then why are they expected to take these symbols off when their spouse dies? Do they stop being married?

Manusmriti has answers?  But of course! [will link or write another post later]

Bollywood has answers too!

Those who follow this traditionally should know what the symbols imply. For those who wear sindoor and mangalsutra like they wear lipstick and a pretty neckpiece these become what they should remain – just some pretty ethnic adornments.

Ruchi’s husband may not like to live in a Joint Family.

Ruchi’s mother in law tells her that the matar paneer she cooked was good. Ruchi smiles.

Speaking slowly and dramatically Ruchi’s husband confesses that he had something to tell her, which he should have told her earlier…

What’s he going to tell her?  😉

My sister watching with me wondered if he would confess that he cooked the meal. That would have been great. But no such hopes. He tells his wife  she cooks better than his mother.

Their little girl witnesses this most important moment in her mother’s life – her cooking skills being acknowledged by her father, as being better than her grandmother’s. I am sure this is just one of her many lessons in social conditioning.

One must appreciate a good meal. Cooking is an important skill– all men and women should be able to feed themselves.

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But this man never really gave her a compliment; he simply made an unnecessary comparison and attempted to start a competition of which he made himself the judge. They must now go all out to impress him.

He might next judge the best gajar ka halwa, the whitest shirt, the cleanest bathrooms, and who accepts the challenge of keeping his heart safe with Safola Gold.  🙄

He seems to believe that their happiness depends on who he thinks is a good cook the better cook. What else do these women live for?

He takes it for granted that these family members will continue to wish to live in the same house and compete for his compliments.

He will think it’s radical to suggest that the Joint Family system is biased in favour of some citizens.

But he will understand why some of those who support the tradition of Joint Family, do not like to live in joint families if they have to live with their wife’s families.