Radhika's Diaries

I see humor in the mundane.

I’m sick and tired of hearing our Indian Society being called a patriarchal one. And of hearing how our men dominate, suppress and oppress our women.

Google defines ‘Patriarchal society as one in which men call all the shots, so to say…” Come now! Our Society is nowhere close to this definition surely!

If you ask me it’s women all the way. In most homes in our villages, towns and cities it’s the women who crack the whip.

Skeptical? You think I’ve lost it? That I’m talking through my hat? Stay with me guys and if you’re not convinced after this then – I’ll eat that hat!! :/

All I ask you to do is to spare 1/2 an hour of your precious time and watch any of our so-popular serials running on Indian Television! If art imitates life then there you are! In almost every episode running at any given time it’s the women who rule – for that half hour at least! Well ok – 15 minutes to be precise. The sponsors rule for the other 15 minutes, but that’s neither here nor there!

It’s the woman – impeccably and elaborately dressed – who reigns supreme and in her presence the men stand no chance. They’re mere puppets dancing to the tune of the wives, aunts, mothers and mothers-in-law!

It’s kind of like a hierarchy in Indian television serials, get it? Let’s break it up for a clearer picture. Right at the bottom features our female protagonist – the youngest bahu or daughter-in-law – a pious do-gooder, a hot candidate for sainthood! Then come the other female members – in increasing order of all that’s evil and cunning – the other bahus! And there’s always a bua (the father’s elder sister) to add spice to the proceedings. Her presence in the house is something of an enigma actually – whether she’s a widow, unmarried, divorced, separated …… is a never-to-be-revealed mystery! She’s omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent though. Amen!

And sitting royally on top of the hierarchy is the reigning Queen – the Saas or the mother-in-law; who has her kingdom and the cowering subjects wrapped around her bejewelled fingers; and who (I strongly suspect) devours iron nails in her spare time!

The bindi or the red dot on the forehead marks out these Femmes Fatales. The bigger the bindi and the more elaborate the design – the higher the degree of evilness and cunningness. It makes it so much easier for the viewer – one look at the forehead and we know who’s who and what’s what!!

Now for that million dollar question – what about the men? Are there no men in the stories beamed into our living-room 24/5 (weekends are rest days, thank god) through the years, ad infinitum?

Oh, there are, undoubtedly, plenty of men – but what exactly is their role and position in the house, hierarchy or in the story,  is the trillion dollar question!!!

And here’s what I’ve gathered from random viewing of some of our soaps – men are merely part of the furniture – the To-Be-Seen-Not-Heard type. They’re all looks and no sound! One really can’t help feeling sorry for the poor chaps. The Indian man (TV would have us believe) cannot breathe, think, speak or even  ‘ahem‘ 😉 without the permission of The Woman of the house – the one on top of the hierarchy, remember??!! One look from her and he cowers behind his own shadow. And whenever a fiery domestic scene is about to unfold the guys are shown slinking furtively off to some vague ‘important meeting’; leaving behind much sound and fury and fireworks among the womenfolk!!

Sigh! Need I say more?

This then seems to be the pattern running through most of our serials and apparently the public loves it, if TRPs are anything to go by!

So – patriarchal? Or matriarchal?

You tell me! 🙂

 

 

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My older sister and brother and I, we all 3 attended different schools – for reasons best known to the Pops! I’m not complaining though. It ensured that there were no hand-me-downs for any of us. Text books – yes but uniforms – no!

I attended an all-girls school, and in those days our uniform used to be a dull grey number in thickish material; with box pleats down the front and back. And boy! I could dedicate a whole post exclusively for those pleats, I assure you. They were a nightmare as I recall – for me at least, and for anyone (mostly my mom!!) attempting to give my uniform the hot iron treatment.

Looking back, I suspect those pleats must have haunted my mother’s every waking hour and made her Sunday evening a dreaded one – when my uniform would be laid out on the ironing board, pleats and all!!

For some of the girls in my class too – their whole life revolved around those pleats, believe me!! They were quite particular about their pleats! That’s too mild a word – they were paranoid about them and I do not exaggerate. Those pleats had to stand just the way the tailor made them – stiff, firm, crease-less and in place!

So everytime the girls stood up, the process of sitting back down would be an elaborate one. They would reach behind, smooth down the folds, adjust and arrange them and then holding them firmly down, the damsels would slowly and cautiously ease their bottoms on them so that the pleats stayed – just so! Until the next time they stood up that is!

And those sitting behind would watch this ritual indulgently. Girls will be girls, after all! 🙂

And then we had the neck-tie! Oh yes, which school-going child does not have one dangling down his throat, for close to 10 precious years of his life!! This upside down hangman’s noose happens to be an all-purpose invaluable accessory and I’m guessing things haven’t changed much since my school days all those years ago.

Whine all you want about the dratted school tie but in your heart of hearts you would no doubt acknowledge that it does come in handy, in several situations –
– to stem a runny nose.
– to clean a sweaty face after PE.
– to wipe off the extra ketchup around the mouth and on the desk after the snack break.
– to rub off unmentionable scribbles about the teacher, from the blackboard.
– to buy some precious minutes on a hectic school-day morning – with everyone rushing around looking for that elusive piece of cloth while the school van honked downstairs.

Yes. If there’s one thing I most remember from my school days it has to be the tie, definitely! 🙂

All these make for some exciting memories of one’s school days, for most people around the world surely.

But not, I think, for the children studying over at the Elementary School in the Ginza District of Tokyo. Apparently the school authorities roped in Armani to design the uniform for their tiny tots. Yep, you heard right. We’re referring here to the same Italian high end luxury brand Georgio Armani. Heigh ho!!

The parents protested, of course.

They wondered if things were’nt being taken a bit too far. And whether it was really necessary. They complained that the outfit priced at some $730/- was too expensive for children who would outgrow it faster than the time they would take to wear it. Not to mention the cost of dry-cleaning it!!

But apparently to no avail.

Last I heard, the school has appointed security guards to patrol the streets around the school – to protect the children after they were harassed over the expensive designer school kit.

The Armani uniform, FYI, includes a chic hat and a bag.

No mention has been made of either a tie or box pleats!

Disappointing!! 😦

 

Five minutes…..

When you’re bored 5 minutes can seem long, But when you’re having a good time those very 5 minutes can fleet by!!

I had my precious 5 minutes featured in Motivate  Me hosted by Shelley Wilson an author, Blogger and a Coach, in her 5 minutes series where she features interviews with other Bloggers – established ones and struggling ones (like me!! 🙂 )

You can check it out here 

Thank you Shelley!!

 

Man proposes, God disposes.

A powerful proverb thought up by some really wise guy.

Not to be outdone, I’ve come up with an equally powerful one of my own –

Man hoards, Wife disposes!

At this point, I hasten to mention that in some households the other way round also holds true apparently.

However, in our house it’s my dad who hoards. And how! It’s big business with him. Nothing – BUT NOTHING – is discarded in the house without it first going under his scanner, and then carefully put away. It could be just about anything – cells, screws of different sizes, nylon ropes, grocery receipts of over three years, an assortment of pens (some write, some don’t) cardboard cartons, envelopes, postage stamps, locks and keys and more – you name it – he’ll have it!

Whenever any of us needs anything urgently – and this invariably happens late in the evenings or on a holiday when the shops are closed – we ask him hopefully, “Dad, do you think you might have….?”  Nine times out of ten, he does; and he springs into action, to locate the ‘most wanted thing of the moment’ among his collection of odds and ends in the store room or in the cabinets in the spare room. Very soon we have one of those ‘I’m feeling lucky’ moments and dad emerges, triumphantly brandishing the thingummy. But on that one occasion……!

Well, this is where mom steps into the picture. Because, mom disposes!  You see, mom doesn’t like clutter! 🙂

To give her credit, she does it only with things that haven’t been touched for a longish period of time. A thing will be lying around for a couple of years or more (kept there carefully by dad, of course), and one fine day mom will get into her cleaning mode and will prowl around the house armed with a duster and a long cobweb cleaner. While at it, she’ll decide by some intricate calculations, that something has over-shot it’s store-by date and out it goes into the pile in the shed behind the house. It lies there for a few days or weeks until the second-hand scrap collector comes a-calling.  Moments after he’s done piling the stuff into his pick-up and the vehicle turns round the corner, dad potters along looking for that ‘thing’. He’s decided that he needs it right then and is convinced that life is meaningless without it!

While all the furious searching is going on, mom passes by and announces that ‘that thing’ is no longer present in the house. She adds defiantly and with false bravado that she’d seen it lying around doing nothing for the past two years and she didn’t think it could be useful to anyone anymore, so ….. !

And that is precisely when and how World War III begins at home!  Lots of sound and fury! Lasts for a few minutes. Then the Cold War follows! Lasts for a couple of hours. Followed by a tacit cease-fire agreement. Calm prevails. Everybody goes about minding their own business as before.

Days pass by. Summer gives way to the monsoon. Winter follows. Dad hoards. And mom disposes!

🙂

I have a confession to make.

I love Bollywood. I really do! I’m most of the time okay with the extra licence it takes with its audience. I’m not too fussy. I don’t mind if most of our films have very thin or no story lines, over-the-top melodrama, slap-stick comedy or even song and dance sequences bursting upon us without warning!! I don’t even insist that our films should be socially relevant or should carry a message for the audience. As long as it’s a decent and harmless entertainment and is worth the huge bucket of popcorn I normally invest in (it really is huge folks!) I am happy.

If there’s a choice between a Bollywood flick or a Hollywood one, I would go for the former most decidedly. Hollywood skies have anyway gotten over-crowded with too many aliens trying to take over Earth and too many Incredibles and Invincibles and Unmentionables trying to save Earth! 🙂

Having said all this, however, I have to admit here that, in recent times, even the most laid-back, take-it-easy brain can’t help feeling baffled and bemused by the latest trend in Bollywood. The Biopic Mania!! Every Director and Producer seems to be jumping onto the Biopic bandwagon – films on the life and times of sundry characters.

Biographical films are all the craze among our B-town folks and a good many have already been screened to date, with more in the pipeline. Varied persons seem to be getting their 2 and 1/2 hours worth of celluloid fame; finally, as it were – for some long-forgotten, ignored, genuinely deserving personalities. The public gets to know the untold struggles and story behind sports persons, freedom fighters, social entrepreneurs and the like. All very interesting and inspiring!

All …..? Well, I really don’t know about that. I have never really understood the need for and rationale behind a biopic on a match-fixing sportstar, for instance. A colossal waste of time, effort and money in my two-bit opinion!! Similarly I don’t get the rationale behind the soon-to-be released biopic on a current film personality.

Sanju by Rajkumar Hirani on Sanjay Dutt played by Ranbir Kapoor. I know it’s democracy and all that but – a Bollywood film by a Bollywood Director on a Bollywood actor played by another Bollywood actor!!!! Well well well!

Here I was (and most others too I guess) innocently assuming that Biopics ought to be about people who achieve something in their lifetime, enough to educate and inspire others!! By no generous stretch of imagination can that possibly be applied to the colourful and happening life that Sanjay seems to have led.

Filmstars in India are idolised and looked upto like nobody’s business!! A life of any actor indulging in substance abuse early in life, a rampant womaniser (Hirani himself has revealed how Sanjay conned around 308 (!!!!) women into his bed) and his court-proven connection with bomb blasts and AK-56 rifles and subsequent jail time cannot be an inspiring tale to tell surely!!

Just in passing I am interested to know what message Director Hirani wants to convey to the public with this biopic.
– That one shouldn’t be doing all the bad things Sanjay did in his life? Learn from His-tory, maybe ?
–   That our film heroes can have a gaudy personal life and get away with it? In spite of everything, Sanjay has a huge and crazily loyal fan following. Or
–   That the public should follow the policy of forgive and forget and give the bloke a chance? Apparently he’s a family man post his jail days and has tried to mend his ways.

A film Director is much like a lawyer I would think – the outcome of any case depends more or less on how it is presented. So all we have to do is wait for the weekend release of this highly-anticipated and much-awaited (as per claims) movie to see how much the ‘life and times of Sanjay Dutt’ have been glomourised, glorified and justified on screen.

As far as I’m concerned, however, inspite of being a self-confessed Bollywood fan and inspite of a Trailer in which Ranbir Kapoor – for whom I have a soft spot – seems to have surpassed himself with an uncanny portrayal of Sanjay,  I really can’t be bothered to spend my time and money in the theaters this weekend to find out anything about ‘the curious case of Sanju’!

Because dearies, I really don’t care, do you?? 🙂

i-really-dont-care-youth-t-shirt-white-66288-21-0-0-62-138

 

 

 

Pic courtesy – Kids Fashion : Melania Trump-I-really-don’t-care-do-you-Tshirt.

 

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