Monday, August 25, 2014

The Indian Woman

So much has been written about the Indian Woman. I am going to add to the foray of words, perceptions and perspectives about the Indian Woman. ‘A Woman of Substance’, ‘The Silent Endurer’ is some of the phrases attributed to her in the articles I have read. So what is the Indian Woman?

To me, she is the body wrapped adequately, sometimes more than needed, who ensures that she is awake before the family is ready for breakfast. She makes breakfast and feeds the family. She packs off her children to school and rushes to work and/or to her daily chores. Come evening, and she is teaching the children, helping them do their homework, cooking dinner for the family. She makes sure her family is fed. She is almost always the last one to sleep. During all this, she does the laundry; she gets the grocery, plans the next day’s meals, and works with the maid to keep the house neat and tidy. And, she does this day after day after day after day till her limbs stop supporting her. There are the Sonia Gandhi’s, Indira Noorie’s of the world, but those are exceptions. What I am trying to say is that the ‘normal’ Indian Woman is not Aiswarya Rai Bachchan, Sonia Gandhi or Sonam Kapoor for that matter whom the world claims to be the Indian Woman. She is the lady you will see at the grocery vendor, the lady behind the counter at a bank, the lady at school managing a group of 50 children, the lady who walks into your house every day, promptly at 7.30am to clean your house, the lady who picks up the garbage from the apartments, the lady who sells fish by the roadside to make a living for her family. She is the Indian Woman and the Woman of Substance.

It has been raining continuously in my part of the world over the past few days. The rain Gods decide to bless us right when children are set to board the bus, people are getting to work or heading out for lunch. How can I miss the getting-back-home time? As I drive back home from work in my air-conditioned car with music playing on my stereo system, probably a Rhim-Jhim-Gire-Saawan, to suit the weather, I see them. One is holding an umbrella in one hand, and in the other hand she has a bag of grocery, her heavy shoulder bag balancing on her shoulder. She is walking fast to catch the bus. There is another one on the bike holding an umbrella, while her husband tries to steer through the traffic, shielded by a raincoat, yet half-soaked. I see her finding her way, balancing her child’s school bag, umbrella, getting wet, yet protecting her child. I see them everywhere, and I realize that I am so privileged to have a car to drive back home, not soaked.

If you travel by the day trains connecting cities, you will find them; some have started from home at 5am, after preparing breakfast, lunch boxes packed. In the evening you will find them cutting vegetables on the train, to save time. She is carrying a load on her head at a construction site, while her child is playing in the gravel heaped on the side of the road. After the day’s work, she builds a makeshift fire on the footpath and cooks food for her family. Everyone on their own paths, their destinies; they have their share of problems, inadequacies, yet they go on.

How many of these women would have to submit to their husband’s physical needs by night.. Yes for the most part of India the woman still submits to the needs of the husband.
I am not a feminist. Men and Women have their own purpose to serve. But I do believe that we, women, are much stronger than men. We see so much, we endure so much, our brains are wired, not one thought is by itself, and yet we s-m-i-l-e. And we are the women of substance… You and I…

What I salute is her spirit to muster the energy to wake up, to each dawn and do what she did yesterday and the day before and the day before that; knowing what is in store for her and yet she does not give up.

PS: Yes, I will write about the Indian Man, next :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy independence day!!

August 15th, the day India succeeded in ending the British regime and established a democracy. A democracy which gave power to every Indian to select and elect people to power to do good for their nation. Most of them were illiterates and were unaware of the ways of the world. They chose people whom they believed would propel the country to prosperity and growth.

Sixty eight years hence people mostly illiterates and unaware of the ways of the world choose people whom they believe will propel the country towards prosperity. There has been some prosperity no doubt but largely the common man still lives with the hope that there will be a better tomorrow. There will be a set of people who will indeed steer the country towards prosperity and growth.. real prosperity and real growth.

Let me define what I exactly mean by prosperity and growth. It is definitely not measured by the number of high rise buildings that this country can build, it is not the number of people who feature on the Forbes list of richest Indians and not by the number of babies that this country produces on a daily basis.
Prosperity will be achieved when every person born in this country can afford three square meals a day; when he can build toilets in is house, when he can have a house to live in and not a shack, when the girls of this country can walk outside safely without the threat of rape.
Prosperity is when the children, all children receive basic education, they don't have to work to feed their family, when every person can do a decent job and earn a livelihood, not clean up sewage waste.

So are we really independent? We are not independent from the perils of society like poverty, hunger, homeless, rape that we have inflicted upon us, so what exactly are we celebrating here? Is it the fact that our forefathers fought like one to establish a democracy sixty eight years ago? Well then my friend it's a thing of the past. The British have moved on and so have our forefathers. But we are holding onto a memory to find an excuse to enjoy a holiday, hoist the tricolor and well up assumed pride at being an Indian.

I may sound a little too obstinate here but my friends in the US or outside the country who have long migrated from India send wishes of independence and a happy one at that. My friend, you are not stuck in the traffic jam every morning, driving to work, you are not waiting for the water to appear in the tap in your kitchen, you are not sweating it out waiting for electricity.. so feel happy about your independence from these pains and enjoy life. We are good without your wishes.

India should stop having any elaborate ceremonies and celebrate independence when the country has ousted poverty, hunger, homelessness and rape.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Behind those...

Somewhere behind those wooden windows
You are holding on to your loved one
There are smiles around
And I lonely, tired, battered
Behind those glass windows
You are sharing a meal
Emotions flowing through words
And I quiet, solitary, silent
Behind those big windows
You are looking out at the cold winter
Feeling the hug and warmth
And I yearning, cold, bare
Behind those small windows
You are lost in your dreams
Of the future, of belonging
And I real, sans dreams, sans hope.
What sorrow lies behind those big eyes
The smile which is there yet not
The loneliness in the crowd
The cold blanketing the warmth that could be
The realisation of the truth
The blind chase
Where do i stand
Where do i stand

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Corridors

This afternoon my friend and I spent some considerable amount of time in the inner corridors of Bhavani building at Technopark. If you stand there for ten minutes, you will witness happiness, anxiousness, solitude, love, fear and so many emotions. I wonder, how many stories, how many people, how many lives and how many emotions, these corridors would have witnessed over the past so many years.

Prior to my onshore stint, I spent about five years at the Nila building in Technopark. It was second home, because I spent a big chunk of my day there. Post onshore, I moved into the Bhavani building which is bigger and better than Nila. 

As you walk into the atrium of Bhavani, you feel its magnanimity. There would be and there are bigger buildings in other cities in India, but this is one of the biggest buildings in my small place call Trivandrum. I feel a positive energy as I walk through those doors day after day. Some days there is a floral carpet or pookalam adorning the floor of the atrium, welcoming someone in the traditional way of Kerala. On some days the atrium is decked up with stalls and party favors, from some organization celebrating a milestone or simply hosting an event. What I like about this place is that its never empty, its so full of people all the time and from one end I can see the entire length and breadth of the building.
What intrigues me more than the architecture of the building are the people and the umpteen number of stories tied to these people playing out simultaneously. 

If you look at floor 6, where all the cafes and eating outlets are located, you will find a group of people chatting, laughing and having a good time. This is probably a group of people, where more commonly there is atleast one resource who is a non team member or an onsite returned person taking the rest of the group for a treat. Then there are groups just walking out of some eatery and enjoying dessert talks. What you would more find in common is someone waiting for someone. A smile erupts at the appearance of the someone on the someone who was waiting. 

Floor 5 has the offices of UST Global, where I work. People are rushing for meetings from one side of the building to the other carrying laptops or notepads. They make a pitstop at the security desk to scan the laptop and move on to their business. Then there are the phone holders rooted at various intervals of the corridor. And boy this is a sight to see. Personal calls mostly with the highlight being koochikooing calls. Some boyfriend calling his outside Technopark girlfriend, some girlfriend talking to her boyfriend on another floor. A wife calling her husband in another part of the world. A friend calling another friend and pouring out her woes. All sorts of conversations in hush hush tones so as to ward off the eavesdroppers passing by. Love.

Floor 4 always has an Airtel or Docomo or Vodafone make-shift stall put up. Guys showing off their company and trying to lure potential customers to buy their product. They spend so much time talking, and the passion each of them holds to sell their product, because their daily bread is probably tied to each sale they make. Passion.

Floor 2 had some plastic chairs lined up today. There were young people, some with their parents beside them. A guy dressed in formals with a tag around his neck comes with a sheet of paper and we see one of those seated girl/guy get up and follow the guy with the tag. Looked like an interview. They had been there in the morning, when I walked into office. This is most likely their first time in Technopark and I cannot help reminisce the first time I walked into those huge gates of Technopark many years ago. I can feel the anticipation, fear, hope that these young people may be going through, because I was on those plastic chairs, once.. waiting to be called. Hope.

Floor 0 is of course the entrances and exits. People getting to work, with laptop bags, lunch bags, some alone, some with a friend or a spouse. Groups of people walking out to grab lunch or make it to some appointment post lunch. 

This place has seen so much, so many people walk in and out of its space. And me a tiny speck in the realm of stories that are played out everyday.