Sunday, February 14, 2016

Flames of inspiration

“A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

One of the most courageous things a person can do is identify who he or she is and follow that path. If there is one person who has proven this for me it’s my mother in law. She was born in a time where women were restricted to home, behind closed doors and mostly in the kitchen.

She never got education of any kind, belonged to a family of limited means but she never let any of that come in her way ever. From an early age, she liked to paint. When she did not have the means to buy colors and paints, she would use anything that was available, including leaves, walls or floors. She painted landscapes, people and objects. She used watercolor or crayons. Nobody knew from where the inspiration was coming, when she dreaming of all those things, where she came to know of all that she painted, but she just went on and on. When I met her, she was forty five and by then she had painted almost two hundred pieces that she kept neatly in her cupboard.

One day, around six months after my marriage, I asked her about her story. She told me that while she was growing up, there were strong biases about women. I asked her if she was talking about the painting, and she said no. I looked at her very surprised.

She told me it was about looks.

A dark woman cannot get a good husband. A woman with short hair is loose. A woman who wants to wear western clothes is too fast.

She said that though it was the 1950s she always wondered why this prejudices existed. Why women could not be seen as things beyond their appearance. Why they had to constantly worry about what they were externally. Women don’t just have to worry about looking presentable, but also have to worry about how they will be perceived. Every outfit carries a subtle message for people who pass judgments, and women are forced to adhere to the image that their appearance creates.

Hearing my mother in law say all of this had a very deep effect on me. I realized that subconsciously I had made my own set of biases about her. The fact that she was middle aged must mean that she was orthodox, the fact that she wore saris must mean that she was backward and the fact that she was a housewife must mean that she was not very intelligent.

That day when I looked at her telling me that beautiful story I realized that that change begins with oneself, biases need to stop with you first and of course more than anything else, appearance is absolutely no parameter to judge anyone. What made her inspiring for me was her flame of inspiration that ignited many hearts in the family, not just women but also men. Since that day not only I encouraged my mother in law to show her paintings to more people, but took it upon myself to educate the young and old boys in my family about the importance of judging a woman by the depth of her personality and not just her looks, by her potential and not just how presentable she is.

You will be surprised by how rampant such stereotypes are. Take a look at these shocking statistics...

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It will be great if you can spread this important message around you, whether you are a man or a woman. Do share any stories you have, stories of being stereotyped into the light by blogging for the #IAmCapable activity at BlogAdda. Let’s remove this disparity from the world around us, stop women from facing judgments based on stereotypes related to their appearance and reach their full potential.

“The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.” – Susan B. Anthony

I’m breaking stereotypes based on appearance by sharing my experience for the #IAmCapable activity at BlogAdda in association with Nihar Naturals.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Saturday evening queues

Jiya quickly looked for the smallest queue and joined it. The tall hefty man in front of her had just one book and she was relieved to see that it would not take much time to bill. She tried to strain neck to see what the young girl ahead of the man had bought. She began counting. There were a total of seventeen items. Jiya frowned. The girl would not be seventeen herself. There were at least five bottles each of moisturizers, shampoos and acne creams. This girl needed a lesson in good shopping. Jiya thought of the days when she was herself in her teens.

She suddenly missed the careless spunky rebellious Jiya. Not that she was any different now. But her morning job as an aerobics instructor at a mass communications college and an evening one at a fitness center did not leave her with much time to exercise her eccentricities off late. She was too proud to ask her parents for money. And they were too disillusioned by her choice of career to care more. They shared a warm relationship which she was glad about and satisfied with.

Now the girl ahead starting humming music. This was just too much. Firsts she buys the entire shops and then she teases people by singing songs. The man ahead seemed nonchalant. He didn’t seem to be bothered by all the time that was going down the shampoo bottles. Jiya looked at her watch. If she had to reach the movie theater in time, she should be sprinting there right now. But she had decided to squeeze in the weekly grocery shopping before the evening plan. It had seemed like such a smart idea at that time. Now it seemed like she had parked her brain somewhere temporarily!

All the instructors at the aerobic studio had decided to spend an evening together because they all genuinely enjoyed each other’s company, but hardly had time to interact while at the studio. So the recent joinees had hatched a movie and drinks plan. Of course it had to be a Saturday because most of them had other jobs on weekdays unlike Jiya, whose weekends were packed with things and weekdays as empty as a desert. But she was frankly looking forward to having a good time. If only this stupid teenager would stop singing songs and move on with her million shampoos.

And miraculously she was done just at that instant. It was the man’s turn and how long could book take to bill. Jiya looked at the watch again. if she finished here in five minutes, she would be home in twenty. Then she could bathe and change up in another twenty. It would take her thirty minutes to get to the theater. She would be there just 5 minutes before the movie starts, though they were all supposed to get there thirty minutes before to catch a cup of coffee. Jiya sighed. This was all based on the fact that she would find no traffic, the geyser would be working at home and the auto guy would be merciful. She sighed again.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.
Image from pixabay

Saturday, February 06, 2016

A special birthday gift

Golu still could not believe that his parents had agreed to his demands for a special birthday gift. When he asked for a pet, he knew that mummy would never agree. She was allergic to cats, dogs, birds and anything that moved other than her own mother. If possible she may have even kicked Golu and his father out of the house but she couldn’t because she knew her husband paid all the bills, rent and for her shopping.

He looked at the cute puppy looking at him in the basket. He wondered how his parents had agreed. It could be because their new fancy neighbors had a pet and mummy wanted to be stylish like them. She had been trying to buy the same saris, sandals and accessories like the neighbor aunty. Papa even looked a little worried at the bills but mummy gave him one stern look and he quietly sat in one corner. 

The puppy seemed sober. Golu wondered if he was hungry or sleepy. There was no way to tell what he wanted because he could not speak. He had spent the whole day asking for pet related advice in school and now he knew a lot but still he felt nervous. Papa was at office and mummy had gone out shopping. The maid servant was busy watching TV as always. She kept watching music shows the whole day and singing along. If the song was peppy enough she would even dance along. Golu thought she was a little mad but mummy liked her so she stayed and did whatever she wanted. On some days she would start singing loudly along with the songs that were playing on the music channels. When she saw Golu looking at her strangely she told him that music as her passion and she wanted to be a playback singer for the film industry. When Golu asked her then why she worked at their house, she said she was saving money to go to Bombay because she needed lots of money for the struggle period. 

The puppy was making little sounds. He wondered what he should do. He decided to open the parcel of food that he had bought on the way home from Malcolm’t pet food store. And he sat down again near the parcel. He opened the first packet and out came the food. He could not understand the names written on the packets. This is what they eat, Malcolm had said. There were many varieties of foods. Golu turned the packets upside down several times before finally keeping them down. 

He opened one of the packets and smelt the food. There was no fragrance. The puppy seemed a little interested though. So Golu took the puppy out of the basket, put it on the floor and spilt some of those little pet biscuits in front of him. Within five minutes he had eaten them all. It was so cute that Golu started clapping his hands in excitement. This was going to be fun.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.