Category Archives: Womanly talk

Do we truly use all we have and get?

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I remember a discussion after watching Sardar some years ago.  Someone remarked how we don’t really value the freedom we got because we don’t know what it is like to live without it. I remember thinking that was such a typical statement to make.

But when you look around and see how one tends to take everything you have for granted — from expecting the government to do without participating, shrugging and blaming without trying, pulling others down for trying.. all manner of things, I realise maybe we truly don’t realise the vision our leaders had when they fought for freedom.

On a more personal note, even freedom as women today is quite different from our mothers’ times, as is the case with every generation. Discussions I often have with batch mates and friends are often peppered with phrases like — “Thank god we don’t live in the times our mothers did,” or  “We didn’t have to fight for our right to education,” (in most cases these women are  largely urban), we could do what we wanted, marry whom we wanted, when we wanted..and many such “coulds and “haves”.

But what we forget to discuss is do we really know and use this freedom and independence (political and personal)? Did we ever stop to think are we truly free to do what we want? And since I think it is a yes, do we really do what we want..?

Most of the women my life (no surprises) are in my age group and effectively single. But very of them want to actually remain that way. Very few are single  not because they choose to be that way but it’s happened to be such. They are almost always trying to change that. Willfully and consciously or at least in gestures and wishes.

I realise most don’t want to be alone, women included, but we are so conditioned into believing that living alone is equivalent of the worst possible hell that we are expected to do everything in our power to change that status.

Most want to eventually be a part of another whole. While am sure it is somewhere lurking inside me, I notice it has become another level of achievement in our generation of women. Yes, you studied and worked for a few years and had the requisite exciting flings and affairs, but now, come on, how come you aren’t still married!

Oh, you have done this that and the other but how come you aren’t married?

Oh come one, now you are in your 30s, you must settle (for) and get married.

Among the different versions said, one person even said to me.. the only reason everyone always wants you to get married is because they are unhappy that you are not.

It’s so deeply ingrained that party invites from spouses of school friends say, “please feel free to bring your husband”

.. or your seniors who assume you are married say, “..am so sorry I thought you were married..”

But all these tedious lines apart, even everyone my age,  seem to want to come to marriage and stop. That seems to be a finishing line or the medal, something I can’t decide.

Am not entirely sure whether or not I will or wont or do or don’t want to get married but I know it won’t become my life’s goal. I don’t want to go after “eligible men” who are not “divorced” and feel smug that marrying in my 30s has “netted” me such a nice find.

This is not marriage bashing or man bashing but, funnily, about doing what you want, even if it’s not something everyone wants. Why is it so difficult to digest that?

PS This was a nice article I stumbled upon..

Boggles my mind…

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Men are known to use many a uncharitable term for women who don’t put out (I used to think): slut, loose, easy, cock-tease and many such familiar and insulting names.. and I always assumed it was a man who didn’t get his way that elicited such a  response. After all a man wants only one thing we assume and which woman always gives it to him?

But in the last few years I’ve met women who have forced me change this opinion. This is not to completely absolve the man of blame but I realised women can also be really cruel. Maybe unintentionally but like the saying (in all languages am sure), taali eka haathanay wajat nahin or there isn’t a clap with one hand, there is some cause for blame.

In the few people I know and the many that I observe, I’ve come to realise that to not give a guy what he wants, when he wants it (and here I don’t only mean sex) is considered good and acceptable behaviour. To be petulant and demanding, and by turns, sulky is considered normal behaviour for girls.

I encountered this attitude ages ago and thought okay,  so some women are like this and it works for them. Then my friends started talking about wars and battles in the same sentence as men and to give them the benefit of the doubt, I thought ok so some relationships cause more angst than others and some women are more adept to changing for their man..

All this is still subjective and person dependent I realise but I have begun spotting this teasing kind very often. The (child-)woman who employs the ‘come-hither’ looks and reels the men in, only to flick them off, as casually as she would flick an insect off. It’s fascinating to watch, almost like an out-of-body experience. Her eyes, her glances, her body language, the interest flickering in the man’s body language, his making of the move and then alas, he being shunned.

I don’t understand this behaviour. You act coy, play the helpless hapless female and I get all that. All women employ this technique, intentionally or unintentionally. And when you get his attention, you don’t carry it through!? And no this isn’t about sex. I mean if you hooked him, spend some time, talk to him, buy your own drink or let him buy you one and see if he is worth investing time in. He is also doing the same, after all.

But why this pull and shove (to mix my metaphors?). And no it is not flirting. Flirting is fun, snappy and has a rush and sends you back grinning, with blood rushing and perhaps a brand-new crush. I’ve seen this behaviour in all kinds of different settings – in cafes, at work, in book stores, in buses, on beaches, in restaurants, at bars. Some with people I know and some with strangers.

Talking to men I know I realised men are not surprised at this behaviour. “But all women do this!,” one said. Really! How come I missed this behaviour all these years …is what I was thinking. Nobody taught me how to flirt or deal with men or how to keep them interested. No rule book or no gaggle of girl friends.  I can’t get past the irritation. How can women do this? It is teasing. It is implying something and not delivering.

During my stint in Delhi I was always encouraged to seek male company so that I could be picked up and dropped off but I never saw the use. I had my own car and could drive it on my own. (I sometimes needed men to park, albeit.) Though some foolhardy incidents come to mind, I managed fine on my own. If I sought the company of men, it wasn’t to accompany me home. It’s not whether I can or can’t or could or couldn’t do. It’s just that. If I couldn’t reach home on my own, I didn’t go or I stayed over. No tantalising or teasing involved.

Do what you have to. Why waste time? Are you trying to prove you are attractive? Can attract attention? But it isn’t it just as important to sustain that attention? Am told the ‘come-hither-and-I-will-kick-you’ technique is a never-fail one. Pretend you are interested, send him back frustrated and keep doing this for a few months and if you are lucky, you snag the bastard. Poor guy, does he stand a chance?

This seems to be largely the spectrum these days. Women who get post-graduate degress, work in big offices, bring home fat pay checks and are used to making informed decisions, one hopes. These are women who are implicityly told to keep teasing else you will be called those famous names. Does anyone else see a vicious cycle?

Despite the fact that there are just as many educated, emancipated women out there who can use words for what they actually mean. These women won’t understand this behaviour. I fall in this spectrum and while I can live with the fact that such “other” women exist, I can’t deal with the fact that some of the women I know personally, follow this code. Unknowingly, it seems.

It’s not always easy to ask a guy out but it should be easy to go out with a guy once he’s asked you out, especially since you seemed to hankering after that.. or weren’t you? It leads me to a bigger question.. guys may be complicated but by god, no one can hold a candle to women!

Conversation is such a turn on

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I miss my college days when a pair of us stayed awake nights oh-so-often,  and chatted. We always has so much to say. So much to tell each other. Our discussions almost never revolved around girly things and we came to many important conclusions. I loved the night.

On good days, startling clarity is achieved in those wee hours of the morning when a deliciousness steals over you, fueled by coffee, sugar and the knowledge that the next day will go without any rest. And you hoard all you heard and said while revelling in the hoarseness of the throat from having talked so much.

Classmates wondered what I always had to say that filled a night, so frequently and how I went without any sleep. There were days when I wondered too. Did we truly have so much to say and discuss? I thought it was something that I would outgrow with college.

As years passed, work dominated life more and more and there were fewer friends left, with whom I wanted to stay awake  with or even wanted to spend a night talking, in an non-alcoholic stupor.

It was a sad demise, I thought and wondered if that delicious tiredness would ever be felt again. There is nothing that compares to that next morning, when you remember all you discussed and argued over and bared your soul over.

The night is this fantastic blanket, under which you can say anything and nobody thinks differently of you in the morning, but something has still changed implicitly. To give an analogy, it’s like sex: when done under the garb of the night, things seem unchanged in the morning but yet something has altered on a fundamental level. Conversation is like that.

I am happy to announce that side of me is back. I am having the most amazing all-night conversations regularly. What’s even better is every time there are new people which is so much better than talking to people you know.

Chup chup baithe ho, zaroor koi baat hai

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Has anyone noticed two new ads on the telly for sanitary napkins? One urges us to have a happy period with a flower made of sanitary napkins (OMG) and the other is just plain disgusting. I am still trying to figure out what that advertisement is trying to show. It’s a Kotex ad where a girl hides behind objects that fail to completely hide her. That is the parallel drawn to sanitary napkins. Don’t even get me started. It’s sexist, shitty and makes no sense. It’s worse than the ads we were shown when in school.

Even by the ad world’s hallowed standards there is the product sync. I just don’t get the connection and I am, after all, the target audience. Who designs these concepts? Are there any women ever in these teams? World over women seem to hate the campaign (the Whisper one) and its line and one would imagine the company would stop flaunting it again and again.
Then a friend stopped me cold: Can you imaging the same people coming up with ads for tampons?

Now I am truly afraid.

PS Couldn’t find any Youtube links for the new ads.

Whether it’s a battle or a war

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A recent conversation (as is usually the case) triggered a thought process which is still causing me to toss the whole conversation and its resultant threads around like a challenge in my head – it’s bouncing around within the walls of my head. Is it? Can it? Should it? Why is it so?

My only thought: Who are these people who behave so irrationally?

When any of my friends were to be married in the past, few weeks before or even a couple of months before, they would slowly begin to take out more time for their families. It turns out not just my friends but a lot of people, most of whom I don’t know, also do it.

Natural, I would think. Even though you are going to still meet your family after your marriage, moving houses brings with a certain finality and one tends to hoard things, one knows one will soon not have.

So, after running out of other neutral things to ask a soon-to-be-married friend, I asked her if she was going to spend the last month before her marriage with her mother. She currently does not live with her mother.

Her: No. He (the husband-to-be) won’t like it and gets irritable.

This gave me a pause.

Me: He will get irritated if you spend time with your mum?

Her: No, he will get irritated if I am not around.. when he needs me (something to that effect, not her exact words).

Oh.

Me: But won’t you be married in another month? He will have you (SIC) whenever he wants, in another month.

Her: Yes. But he’s particular, even now.

Me: But isn’t that irrational, even as demands go?

Her: I guess. But then men are always irrational, I have realised that.

Me: Sure they may be. But do you have to agree to what they ask, perpetuating this irrational behaviour further?

Her: I don’t mind losing the battle, if it means I will win the war.

War? At this point, I wasn’t sure we were still talking about the same thing. Somewhere later in our conversation, she listed more reasons but this phrase stuck. War.. what war?

I guess she wanted to be the person he wanted. That’s her deal. She knows what she is doing or, at least, is old enough to have to deal with the consequences.

But my bigger grouse is because there are women like her, who will willingly bend to be something they are not, women like me and some of my other friends, find it difficult not to get labelled.

We are modern, brash, rude, independent — take your pick. Mind you, this friend is also independent. But chooses not to exert it by the looks of it.

While trying to talk her out it, (I have no idea why I felt so compelled to) I kept citing my parents as an example. My parents are great as parents but perhaps have aspects in their marriage I don’t agree to, only because I am required to do things my mother agreed to do for my father.

What seem like small habits and start off as trivial, assume mammoth proportions as one grows older. I see it with my parents. My mother doesn’t register it but dinner has a pattern, thanks to my dad. Certain cups of tea just have to be made. With a certain kind of milk.

No, making all is this not the problem. The problem only arises only when one thing doesn’t get follow the pattern it usually does. No exceptions are made. Which is irritating. Assuming my sister or I will run the house in the same fashion my mother does is a mistake. It can lead to huge arguments and usually does. My mother’s logic: Just do it to avoid the hassle. I may even, most times I do. But I even land up telling her that she’s spoilt my father. She encouraged habits and behaviour patterns 30 odd years ago, which now all of us have to do. None of us have such quirks, except my dad.

I have seen a similar behaviour in my neighbour’s house where my friend was the girl in a brother-sister duo. Patterns were formed around her dad when he worked and now, for most times, around the son. It’s again around tea. Or specific items for meals, even if it means that the lady cooking has to make to a different dish for each member. In all fairness, my friend also got her specifications but it still bothered me. I remember telling my friend that if I were her mother, things would be different.

May be her mother didn’t mind. I know my mother doesn’t. But these men are spoil and don’t even know it.

And when I see people in my generation doing it, it pisses me off even more. I would have been happier if she just said she didn’t want to spend time with her mum.