She’s Muslim and Married! God save her

8 Feb

I have been asked time and again, why I predominantly write about religion,(because of my Ramadan blog) and if that has got something to do with my marriage. As in, have I lost my identity after my marriage. Marriage in itself is seen by many as a death sentence to a fun life. That along with being photographed in “hijabs” and “burkhas” adds insult to injury, and becomes decisive in people determining that my marriage has oppressed me, and turned me into a shadow of a Muslim woman. “It’s surprising she still has a Facebook account?”  (Yes, having an active Facebook account somehow is now equated to women’s liberty)

Myth about marriage:  Marriage=chores. A married woman, spends all her waking hours, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and nagging the husband, to get groceries. If she still continues to work, which in itself is a shocker, she must be struggling to make “dabbas”, and packing her husband’s lunch.The minute I mention that I am married, I am inadvertently asked about cooking. So when do you cook? What do you eat? How do you eat at work? What about your husband’s food? As if, I  started eating after marriage. Or as if , by marriage, what my husband  got for himself was an in-house cook. The biggest dilemma or the thing of prime importance in a married woman’s life seems to be food/chores. That we are so consumed by chores, that we have no time for ourselves, and will become fat for sure.

One of my friends, once tried hard to convince me , few weeks before my own marriage, about how women let themselves go, and lose their looks, after marriage. I had to send him a gazillion pictures of my ever gorgeous friends, to tell him, how that isn’t always the case. Not to mention that my own married friends, especially women, always thought that all of my interests starting with books to being good at work, will come to a halt as I get married.

Truth:?

It has to be said that, I can cook a decent meal,  (or throw a party)  and now especially because I have a kitchen, I have the freedom to cook what I enjoy and not have to suffer my office canteen food. I have an option, which has made my life better, not worse. I do not spend every waking moment, doing chores. I don’t bother about laundry for more than 10 mins in a week, and the only hassle I face in getting groceries are in counting my sodexo coupons and struggling with my math. And NO my husband doesn’t spend his weekends doing grocery shopping either.

That being said, marriage has certainly made my life more comfortable. I just have a cleaner, bigger and a complete home. I spend most of my time, with someone I like, and am not stuck in a room with girls I do not know. I have a fridge, TV, microwave, all these are luxuries when you  have spent quite some time in a hostel with none of the above. I have an intelligent study partner at my beck and call, and I have read more books in my first year after my marriage, than I have in the past three years.  All these things have, as it should, made my life better and more interesting .

Faith and writing about religion

Myth: You just can’t be fun, if you are a Muslim. You especially can’t be fun or have a life, if you are practicing Muslim woman, who covers up.

My faith does determine a whole lot about me. It means a lot to me, and forms a vital part of who I am, and how I behave. However, the fact that I belong to a religion, which has sadly been equated to being oppressive to women and is probably the most misinterpreted religion in the world doesn’t help.

Also, I have been a practicing Muslim, since the time I was 8 years old. I have prayed and fasted all my life. That was ages before I ever met my husband.  I wasn’t forced or oppressed into it, (most Muslims aren’t) . I was more steadfast in prayers, than most adults in my family. That’s just the environment I grew up in and the brilliant teachers who taught me. Other than the fact that I pull out a prayer rug, once every two hours at work, and that you might see my foot in the sink, in the office restroom.(Read the link where Khalid Latif, who seems to have the same dilemma as me, explains the foot in the sink) My practicing prayer life, doesn’t take away any fun from my life. It doesn’t mean that the only thing I do is pray, it doesn’t mean that I am “too” religious that I can’t be living my life

It just means that I am more at peace, and don’t panic and worry about every other thing. It means that I am more confident, because I believe in a super power. It makes me more disciplined, and makes me a Believer, in all things good. And none of these should in effect make me boring or oppressed. I am extremely excited when Rima Kallingal starts following me on twitter or when Fahd Faasil replies to my tweets. I  jump up and down when Brody is exposed in HomeLand, and  Callie and Arizona of Grey’s Anatomy are my favorite TV couple. I am a normal person, who likes everything everyone else likes, but who also believes in the power of prayer.

Clothing

Myth: If you are modestly dressed means: you are not stylish or modern or logical or educated, and is definitely being oppressed. That poor thing!

Dressing sense is good sense. And as a woman, I duly note, woman and their dress sense. It does showcase a lot of qualities. Your aesthetic sense for one, your class, your grooming skills. That being said, I do know, very interesting and attractive people, who are just OK in their dressing sense and vice versa.

India is sadly a country, where it’s pretty tough to be stylish, while being modest. You walk into a mall, and all you can see is sleeveless clothes, and short skirts. However, with a keen eye, you can marry modesty to fashion in India. Though it’s tougher than probably in Pakistan, or in the middle east. ( I have plenty of Pakistani friends and spent my childhood in the middle east). And being modestly dressed doesn’t make any of us less of a style icon (if done correctly).

Most importantly it doesn’t mean oppression.  It could mean respect to the culture we are in, it could mean, finding clothing that suits your body type as against going with the latest fashion trends. It could also mean, that skin show, needn’t always equate to being fashionable. And you can be wearing the latest fashion fad, and still be oppressed, just that the world wouldn’t know. A dress or a piece of clothing doesn’t determine oppression. It just determines your sense of fashion, and that’s all there is to it.

What is FUN?

Now that Facebook, (and not someone’s eyes), is considered a window into a person’s soul. It remains to be asked, what makes any of us interesting? What makes us want to go over and over another person’s profile, till we know they are interesting (or boring) .Does our updates/profile pictures determine our happiness? Facebook does  showcase a lot of our lives, it shows the places we visited, what we like, who are our best friends (hopefully), where we work, what our professional qualification is, how do we celebrate birthdays/anniversaries? Do we play any sport? So in effect, it does showcase a LOT of who we are. However, it doesn’t determine how kind, accommodating or focused you are. It doesn’t show how judgmental encouraging or liberal you are. It just showcases the parts of you that you want to be showcased.

Can we determine oppression by looking at a person’s FB profile? Oppression means denying anyone the right to live their own life.  Ignoring their talents and forcing them to let go of their individuality. Your dressing sense, faith , pub crawls, or Facebook updates can never determine any of it.

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Reminder to myself: Training Day

24 Jan

I was born a highly disciplined and meticulous student. I automatically KNEW how to study, made elaborate timetables,finished school portions daily, wrote exams with gusto, and was unbeatable in my class. All this, without stressing myself out, or without having any pressure or guidance from my parents . Studying hard, was just part of who I was as a child. Very unfortunately, teenage and my 11th and 12th std, pushed me out of this equation, and I never completely found my way back. I slipped from being a brilliant student, to a bad one, in my pre-degree days and then spend the rest of my student life as an above average student.

 

One of the very many advantages of being an adult is that, we do not have to study, or prepare for routine exams. The very few scenarios in which we do study, are if we are preparing ourselves for an interview, or if you have to get a professional certification. Both of which happens once in a few years, at best. Most of us completely forget how to learn .Taking life as it comes and becoming too comfortable with our steady income, and unchallenging life.

 

However, push did come to shove for me, and I had to STUDY, and with a deadline, when I was asked to conduct a training. I went from never reading more than two pages at a stretch to finishing 12 modules. And after five stressful days, of an (above average) training, I have come up with a method of studying, worth sharing, I believe.

This is as much for myself, as for any one else, who is struggling to learn, get back to studying/teaching, Or was never a good student in the first place, professional or otherwise.

The worst idea that stands between anyone  being a good student is the tag of being called “nerdy” (aka Buji in my mother tongue) . This doesn’t happen a lot in your workplace, but sure does happen in colleges and schools . Being good at studies, automatically means that we don’t have fun  a good dressing sense , let alone good looks. Being good in class, makes us “UNCOOL”. I really have never understood how this propaganda ever evolved. I still hear, some of my friends refer to some extremely successful people who studied with them  as “nerds”, as if it’s a bad thing to study. As if it’s a bad thing to know everything and top your class?

I have always been in awe of class toppers. I love good marks, gold medals and first ranks. All of these achievements never made anyone boring. It just made them extremely dedicated focused disciplined and attractive. And believe me I know some real head turners, who are gold medalists. So if you think studying makes you “uncool”, I think you are just plain stupid.

Before I lose my momentum and go back to my procrastinating ways, let me quickly jot down the many things that I took note of about how I could conduct a training, or study. I hope this helps everyone preparing for an exam and myself next time I have to study.

  1. Method of studying. 

With the advent of Multiple Choice question pattern, it is important to remember all the minute details, and the numbers, and the various options. But this also means we have lost touch with writing 500 word essays about a single topic. The art of writing an essay or a long answer, for a single sentence question, is that we need to remember a lot of characteristics of the particular topic. And we need to elaborate on them, as much as we know. Remember naming conventions. Terminology. Remember the advantages and disadvantages. Remember everything related to a single topic, with no cue.

Preparing for a training, is kind of like preparing to write a whole essay. Remembering all the relevant details, WITHOUT having to look back or read from a book. Cause reading from a book looks foolish when you are conducting a class. So as unfortunate as this is going to sound,  for a training , we need to know what comes next, and anything and everything related to a subtopic, BY HEART. The key word is by heart.

2.Basics

It’s good to start with basics. Basics people might have forgotten. Basics students are ashamed to ask questions about. Basics which will get your understanding of the subject right. And not be ashamed to touch upon basics, everytime you get a chance, no matter how simple or irrelevant it seems. So that people, who might be lost, amidst the training, could get back to what we are actually trying to teach them.

3. The 3-time Rule
I have mentioned in a previous study blog, which I will link to here. The importance of studying the same thing, multiple times. My magic number being three. Because each time you learn something, you will get more insight to it. The idea is to get it into your core being. Cause conducting a training means answering a lot of questions, which could get quite confusing. Unless you REALLY know, what you are talking about. The only way to really know is to learn the same thing multiple times, till you know it like the back of your hand.
4. Relating with the known.
There are concepts we know, and there are concepts we are learning afresh. There is no way we can learn something afresh, without relating it to something we know. This could be similies, comparisons, similar products or technologies we already have an idea about.
5.Create a flow in the training.
Start with something basic, slowly building it up, to form a new idea
6. Prepare timelines. 
If you are expected to take an 8 hour class, you should know how you are going to segregate  the hours for each topic. This is closely related to point no 1. Cause unless you know all the points related to a subtopic, by heart, and unless they are being presented in a flow, you will probably finish of everything you wanted to explain in 20 mins. And not have much to do for the next few hours.
7. Revise always
It always helps to cram up the whole portion the night before, or during breaks. Cause you remain fresh, and you are much more prepared to answer questions, while you are fresh. However, don’t expect to learn a topic anew during the cramming hours. It’s just to revise.
8. Avoid the powerpoint curse
In the beginning of my career, training’s usually consisted of, a person reading from a powerpoint presentation. He wasn’t bothered about if the people were listening, if we slept, snored or smsed.  It was refreshing that he didn’t care about how we behaved. What wasn’t refreshing was that he didn’t care about the training either. This was a norm for professional training.  That’s till my husband told me about his favorite trainer, and how he never used anything but a pen and a board. So if you are ever conducting a training, the only time I would say its ok to use your slides is, when you have a diagram to show, and when you aren’t good at drawing.
Finally try not to lose touch with seeking knowledge continuously. (Big reminder to myself). Maybe next time you will actually enjoy, writing an exam, or attending an interview, or conducting a class. Because you are so perfectly  prepared you just want to show off.

The Windows Phone Vs Android.

8 Jan

I get asked this question very frequently, “How is the Windows mobile phone? “ Especially cause my emails, have the self proclamatory signature which reads “Sent from my Windows Phone”.

Windows is supposed to be the next big thing in the mobile OS market. What with their “Everything at ONCE” ad, (love that song)

And I am NO official mobile phone expert. I  cannot write about the GB and the RAM and the Hz . However, I am, (like most Indians) a very ardent mobile phone user.  So this is my first hand review about my current phone Nokia Lumia , from a very raw user. A user who needs her songs, and her social networking intact.

  1. The whole Windows vs Google competition makes it a horrifying experience for the user. Replacing Google with Bing? Really. Google is irreplaceable guys. It is irreplaceable!!
  2. The Windows Application  marketplace really needs an upgrade. They have NONE of the cool apps I am used to .They don’t have Instagram. They don’t even have a decent version of Google Talk!
  3. Maybe the whole mistake was buying a Nokia Phone. I am back to the caveman ages, where I have to walk around with a data cable! To transfer songs from my laptop.
  4. By point 3, I mean the Bluetooth is  not compatible with any Android Phone or even my laptop.
  5. Not to mention that like all the prior Nokia Phones, you need a “software” (now called Zune, as if a fancy name, will make up for all the hassle), for it to work with your laptop. Guys heard of the term PLUG AND PLAY!

Shouldn’t I say something positive about it?

  1. Microsoft Office. So if you really want to make a ppt on your phone, and go blind, then yes this is the right phone.
  2. Has a good display ? Maybe? But I know a lot of other phones which do too.
  3. It’s a good looking phone. Yes that matters to some .

I miss my Android phone!  So much for being impulsive when it comes to buying phones. But the good thing is, no matter what brand or OS, all mobile phones only have an average life span of a year. So I am hoping to make my next choice more informed.

So tip to Microsoft: if you really wanna be Everything at Once! (like your ad claims), you should shake hands with google.

P.S: For all those people who asked me to WAIT till the Windows 8 OS was here, maybe I should have. But how much are we expecting them to improve, with a change of a digit?

Bold Prayers:

7 Jan

During those rare times, when I slow down and  look around at my current life,  I can see that a large part of some preposterous dreams and wishes I had ,had strangely come true, to an unbelievable degree with God’s grace.

I had these images in my head a few years back, when my life was still good but severely lacked basic amenities. I had images of a gorgeous home, with happy family pictures hanging on the walls (how cliché!). I had images of ample and abundant supply of water and that of  my family visiting me. At the time, I had a job, I immensely enjoyed, however, I did want one with a better pay. (Common dream for all?)

All these seem like normal dreams for any person. Simple dreams. But for me it seemed then that  most of them were just that–dreams. There was nothing, “I” could do, about most of the things I desperately wanted. I seemed helpless and the only thing I could do was WAIT and PRAY.

So now, when few of my cousins and friends tell me about, their present state where they have no hopes of improvement, and where their “dream life” seems like an unachievable target, and while they share their worries and their fears, I have to lamely tell them, the only lesson I have learnt in my experience. And ie to wait. Wait in complete blind hope and faith.

Recently I had emailed two people who were close to me, and who were going through two completely different however similarly disturbing  trials in their lives, and I ended up detailing the steps of how to wait, in sync with God.  I believe the email helped, (Insha Allah, I hope), the people I send it to. So if, you are someone, who is “waiting” for something in your life to happen, and that wait, seems never-ending, and your current circumstances make you feel , that it is just NEVER going to happen, I hope the below helps.Most of my ideals/ideas in life, have been formed by the books that I have read. I have been able to restructure most of my thinking,which I might have caught on due to the society I lived in, or due to the beliefs  previous generations passed onto me.

Built undying “blind” faith in God:

Being in India, I presume, the higher percentage of people, are not atheists, but people who do not necessarily know “how” to trust in the Al-Mighty. Sure, we goto houses of worship, sure we mouth the words. But do we pray? Do we know to pray?We have innumerable religious schools, dedicated to learning prayers, learning morals, learning how to connect with God. But not many of them teach us HOW to pray. And I am not here to teach you that either. Each of us have to find out our very own method of communication with the Lord.

The kind of prayer that gives me peace personally, is praying with CLARITY and Praying BOLDLY.

How to pray boldly in spite of your current circumstance?

Your current circumstance, or what your mind can conjure up as “possible”, has nothing to do with your prayer or dreams. In the equation of prayer, you have someone with you, who is Al-Mighty. That is something we often forget. We do not have to pray, like  we are asking another human for a favour. It doesn’t have to be restricted, or limited. A few examples that might help, in restructuring your prayers

If it’s a job, that you desperately want.

Current circumstance: You have no interviews lined up. No employers have been calling you, or fixing any schedules. You feel like you are of no value in the job market.

Prayer: BOLDTo get that (whatever pay package you are dreaming of), in that super huge dream company you have always dreamt of.

Prayer: CLARITY :Along with this, it would be great to remember that money and a huge company, doesn’t guarantee job satisfaction. Remember to include the rest of  your dreams in, that you enjoy your work, are good at it, have amazing colleagues, and a great encouraging boss etc etc. The point is to be as BOLD at the same time be CRYSTAL CLEAR in your prayers.

Body issues: A very common cause of pain, depression, lack of self-respect, and general peace of mind in today’s world is weight gain. Everyone is either too thin, or too fat. No one I know is happy at the weight they are in. Or they aren’t happy with their fashion choices, they aren’t happy with some part of  their appearance. They fret over it. They are constantly seen cribbing about it. And when they seemingly have the perfect lives, they can’t enjoy it, because they just aren’t their dream weight yet.

I, for one, have never been happy with my weight and appearance, ever in my life. I was unhappy in my teenage years, cause I hated my complexion. I was, now in hindsight, at a great weight then, but I never appreciated it, for sure. Now when I am ok with my complexion, I hate my weight. And then there was a time. I was a great weight and a good complexion, but you know what, I didn’t realize it then either. So the below tip is as much for me as for anyone else.

Current Circumstance: Suppose you hate the body. Hate the hair. Hate that the dresses you like, do not fit, hate the dresses which do fit. Have a diet regime in mind, which God knows when you are planning to follow. And a fitness regime? Right !

Prayer: BOLD Having Mandira Bedi’s (or anyone you adore) figure. This seems preposterous, when you are currently obese,can’t pay for a personal trainer, never had the will power to stay on a diet and have no  training regime in mind. But you have a clear view of your dream body in mind. So are you going to bend on your knees and ask God for another person’s body? How lame is that? Shouldn’t we only ask God for spiritual things? Like your parent’s happiness?

If you ask me, He is the Al-Mighty, so if it’s your weight that is bothering you, and stealing your joy, it means, it’s important enough to pray about it. There is a reason He is God, cause he can solve all your problems.

Praying with clarity for one’s body. It is not enough to say, God make me 48 kilos. You can become 48 kilos and look like a drug addict. So believe me, weight loss doesn’t equate to good looks. It means , God make me (your dream weight, no matter how unachievable) in a “healthy” manner. Make it easy on me.( You can go on a diet, and kill yourself in the gym, and attain your perfect weight , just to keep at it for one month, and get RIGHT back, to being over weight, if you don’t stress on this factor.)

Making it easy for you:-No matter how grueling your fitness regime seems to a third person, if it seems like cake walk for you, you are going to keep at it, and maintain your dream Mrs Bedi like body forever.

Life partner/dream wedding : Another major point of concern, especially in my friend’s circles. Will I ever get a person who I am compatible with? Or will my parents thrust upon me the next best thing they set their eyes on. Will I get fed up seeing too many men/women that finally I “settle”

Prayer:.

BOLD PART:You can pray for that milky white bride, who looks like Gwyneth Paltrow, or for a Bradley Cooper look-alike husband, whom you can show off to your friends.

CLARITY PART:But do not forget to pray for the many other things which are important too. The compatibility, the fun, the similar interests. You dare ask, can I really get a Gwyneth Paltrow who is fun?? You sure can, Chris Martin did, didn’t he? Now this also includes, mentioning things like someone who you can be honest with, comfortable with, and who adores me. Remember to include the minutest details, and remember to pray for each of it with clarity, while praying boldly.

Really, so now I have 15 min long prayers for three things in my life, when do you think I am going to pray for all this?

When to Pray?

Being a Muslim, my prayer life is “very” structured. So the one thing, that I don’t have to sit and write a timetable for, is my prayer, because my religion has already done it for me. Thank god, for that. So if you are a Muslim, you have it sorted out. You have 5 prayers daily. Learn your prayers, (as they are in Arabic, it’s easy to get into the motions, without understanding what we are reciting) We  also have a practice of saying personal prayers in Sujud, so what I tend to do, is use one of my Sujud’s to pray with clarity.

If you are a non muslim, it doesn’t make it any more difficult for you.SCHEDULE YOUR PRAYERS .The best time to pray in my opinion, would be when you commute to work. This is the time, you usually can do nothing. You can’t read, because you feel nauseous. You can’t work, you can hardly sleep. And commutes in large cities, usually last for half hour to one hour. But you sure can pray. This is going to seem a little mundane, but you could divide The Monday Morning To Office-commute, to pray for , your “new dream job “. The Monday From Office-Commute to pray for your “dream partner” etc.

Now if you are currently unemployed. I am guessing you have time to pray, for sure. So schedule it, to do it, at least twice a day.

So while the examples of job, life partner and weight loss, may or may not be applicable to you. I am ending it with one final example from my life, about how prayer can help you deal with shorter smaller goals too.

How do you know if you are praying right?

There is definitely no right or wrong way to pray. Prayer is all-encompassing and everyone has their own personal way to pray. But prayer is supposed to bring us peace. No matter how enraged or angry disappointed or depressed you are, prayer IS supposed to bring you peace and a sense of calm. So are you feeling peaceful after you pray?

Something that does work for me, and brings me sense of peace and calm, is to visualize my dreams coming true while praying. And with as much clarity. So if it means having an amazing apartment to stay, with lot of air, sunlight, water, food etc. that means imagining each detail of it, including happy pictures hanging on the wall, or whatever your idea is. So prayer, immediately translates into a sense of faith. Because you believe that your prayers will come true.Every religion in the world, talks about faith, aka Imaan. So praying your prayers with faith, is the first part of living your life wholesomely in your waiting period.

Whenever I ask people to pray, even the ones who are religious, ask me, so you just want me to pray and not do anything about it? like shouldn’t I  work out to lose weight? Shouldn’t I learn to bake to bake a cake when people come over?

My answer to this, is you don’t. you don’t have to force yourself into doing or learning anything. It will find you. You will easily find your way, to a workout regime that’s simple, yet effective. You will find a supremely easy way to bake, and understand  it wasn’t such a hassle after all.

So while you slowly start your prayer regime, I wish you lots of peace and calm, and insha allah, I will continue my waiting series. With more pointers.

P.S: If you are an atheist, or someone who has lost their faith in God, I am not sure, how I can translate this point into something legible. In short, a life devoid of a belief in a super power, doesn’t currently make sense to me. So for those of you who are in that state, I hope, you find your God soon.

Vacation Reminders

11 Dec

There is this thing about writing. When I know I should do it, and it comes up in my to-do list. But then I think I have to workout, and let everything else go. Now you must be thinking I am a workout junkie. I wish! I am not. At best, I squeeze in 3 days of moderate exercise. But the resolve and mental pressure that goes behind it, makes me feel, if I spend an ounce of my energy anywhere else, I wouldn’t have the energy to workout. I do not enjoy my workouts. I am far from finding an enjoyable way of working out. Something that melts the pounds away, and yet, feels like it’s no work at all. I know, keep on dreaming. Hasn’t  happened to me. So almost all things fall out of the window, cause I need the singular resolve of dragging myself to the gym. Gym wear, warmup, bottle of water et all.

So, hows my weight doing then? I am at that weight in my life, which gets the nod from the older generation. When the daadis and par-daadis tell you, this is the right weight mole(daughter), its time to realize you are overweight. Ok wait, I wasn’t planning to write about weight. Why did I go there AGAIN!

I have just returned from what people call a vacation. I have always gone on leaves, from work. Where I visit my parents or in-laws. This time, I did that but also managed to  wiggled in few days in a resort. So that I could call it a real vacation.

Here I am going to hastily scribble down the variety of things I noticed I should do the NEXT time I go on vacation, before I forget. This includes the ones I did get right this time, and some which I didn’t.

  1. Need to plan my attire. The hassle free, easy look, it seems comes with a lot of hassle
  2. People wear different clothes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They do.
  3. Need to be in the best possible shape before the vacation, to enjoy it. (There with the weight again)
  4. Plan and learn a little bit more about the place you are going to.
  5. Prepare your own itinerary
  6. SAVE before a vacation for *2 of the amount which shows up when you book the package.
  7. Always book an  all meals included package. Guilt free all you can eat buffets should be a part of every vacation
  8. Learn to swim!

 

 

Having said all this. I had an amazing time. Whoever said you can’t have a brilliant vacation just travelling three hours from your birth place was SO WRONG!

I SAY Hail Zuri Kumarakom!!!

The Fear of Eloping

5 Nov

I am currently watching, The conversation with Amanda De cadent, a powerful interview series, which encourages stimulating conversations with women from different facets of life. Most of the women,speak about how they overcame their various identity issues. How they were down in the ditch, as addicts, or as people with eating disorders, with body image issues and about how they grew to overcome it. Or about how they are still struggling , but getting better at handling them.

This being an international program, most of the guests  are  from the western, read developed countries.Most of what they share, makes a lot of sense to me.However I wondered if this series would make any sense for the people in my country/religion, where growing up, in itself is looked down upon.

Recently one of my teenage relatives uploaded a lot of celebrity male pics in her facebook account.Ranging from Surya to Ranbir Kapoor.  By normal teenage standards, it was pretty common. It was her age to adore young guys in popular media. It was her age, to have a celebrity crush. But in my society, this kind of behavior puts her on an *elopement* alert list.  She seems too interested in guys, don’t ya think!!

And what is the elopement alert list. Back in my childhood days, “eloping” was possibly the biggest crime a girl child could do to their family. Falling in love with someone of a different religion, and then chosing their own partner, and running away from home with that man. So what  parents chose to do to save themselves from this disaster was, 

1) Make  the girls promise on the holy book that they WILL NOT fall in love, thereby effectively building a  deep sense of shame for liking  a boy

2) Reduce any kind of temptation, in the first place, by getting the girl married as soon as legally (or even otherwise) possible, to a man of the parent’s choice. Especially if like my said relative, she is openly seen to show an interest in the opposite gender.

I do not have a teenage daughter. So presumably I cannot fathom the concern and worry a teenage daughter’s parent has. However, not long before, I was a teenager myself. Hence maybe I can voice the concerns. Seeing too many young girls suffer. Seeing too many young girls being pressurized to be something they are naturally not inclined to be. Or trying hard to fight off emotions which are just part of being a teenager. Being ostracized for doing something people in their age group are SUPPOSED to be doing.

Can a teenager actually bring disgrace to the family name? Can the mistakes any of us make as teenagers or children, come to define who we are as individuals? Does it define us as good or bad? Does falling in love at 17 mean we are a BAD person, who were bought up by BAD parents?

There are a lot of ideals, we need to overcome as a society. This could include, accepting falling in love as a normal course of events. This could include, being OK with a daughter  texting a lot. This includes not tying a parent’s good name, with how a child is faring  or judging a child/teenager, and inturn judging the parents of a child/teenager, who are  in their growing years .

But mostly the basic attitude that should change, is to let teenagers make mistakes. While praying and believing that these mistakes are not life threatening. The mistakes we make in our growing years are just that, they are mistakes which lead us to growth. Which lead us to who we are. Which probably comes with a lot of pain and hurt. But which also defines how we will behave as adults to avoid the same pain or to avoid making the same mistakes. If this mistake involves falling in love with a guy, so be it. Most times, young people have enough and more to fight about that they will probably go their separate ways, even if the parents do not get involved, –Especially, if the parents do not get involved.

The commonplace solution ,as I have mentioned above, is getting the girl married BEFORE she makes a mistake. Before she defines an identity for herself. Before she  gets opinionated. Does this help?  It might help with eloping. It might help with her NOT falling in love with a man of another religion,( though not necessarily). But what I have increasingly seen happen around me, is her devaluing the relationship, which was thrust on her, which as perfect and fairytale as it seems to a third eye, she doesn’t realize the importance of.

Why would a  woman who is presumably married to a perfect man and have perfect kids, feel like she could do better? Or feels like she didn’t get the chance to live life on her own terms. I am not trying to say that marriage is a stop shop, that there is no growing up once we are hitched. No. We are learning and growing as long as we are alive. However marriage is a life altering decision in a person’s life. A lot of what happens to a person, especially women, depends on when and who they marry. And a lot of life lesson’s are learnt in the process of finding the right man. And while a parent does it for their children, the kids lose out on one of life’s best learning curves.  

When we look back at the generation of our mothers, we see that most of them never had such ideas. They didn’t think of what could have been. This I could say was because, they rarely saw anyone in their surroundings or in popular media, having a “good” life by chosing their own life. And as long as we do not have examples, most of us do not wish for it. Now things have changed. Cable TV, and most importantly few families, which do give girls the freedom to grow up, has caused the other lot to compare. To wonder, if given a chance to make their own mistakes/choices, where would their life have been . What would they have become? Would they have better husbands? Would they have fancier careers.  What if? This causes a general course of discontent. Which from a bird’s eye, seems less disastrous than eloping. But from a personal perspective, if you ask me, its in fact more dangerous.

 Letting a woman grow, letting a girl find out who she really is and what she wants from life. Is it as disastrous as its made out to be? Does this always end up in disgrace? Not really. Its obvious that she will make mistakes, get hurt, get her heartbroken (in mendable) ways, it’s true that she may suck at her first career choice. But eventually once she finds her course, out of her own choice, she will be a wiser, better and more complete human being. At that stage, she may or may not have chosen her own life partner. Chosing a life partner is also not the start/end of her life. She knows its just a part of her whole life. Then when she does eventually settle down, she knows what she wants. Most importantly,she realizes the value of what she’s got. She cherishes her life, and her family. She doesn’t have too many What if’s. Though that part cannot be completely erased off either. (We are always going to have What If’s, as long as we are human).

 So let them grow up, let them have a crush on Prithviraj, let them put up Ranbir Kapoor’s posters. Actually you should be worried, if they don’t.

 P.S: The conversation with Amande De Cadent, is not being featured in India. However, with the blessing of the internet, we all can watch it!

The Working Woman Myth

17 Sep

My cousin recently told me that her neighbor’s house was stinking of dirty laundry, adding that, they are a working couple. Meaning :The wife works.  

 I belong to the second generation of working women, in my country, and strata in society. In spite of having a generation before me, the “working woman” myth still continues well into the 21st century. Most families would rather not prefer a working daughter-in-law. Most people (still) assume that an educated woman does more evil than good and has no respect for the elderly. Most of the working women are automatically assumed to be bad homemakers and bad cooks. Not to mention the biggest myth of all, that working women make  bad mothers, as we are dependant on others to raise our children.

Being a working woman myself, it’s only natural that I heavily dislike the prejudice. I personally have felt that having a job, has helped me, and probably many others, become better homemakers, daughter-in-laws, and even better people.

Below are why I believe working women are  (supposed to be) make better homemakers

Team Work:  From the day go, most jobs, include working closely with people, from varying cultural backgrounds, languages and  religion. We break all the seeming barriers, to make things work every single day. We are trained to work seamlessly with a team. Not to mention how we  cover for a colleague, when he/she is off sick or has an emergency. We understand the various merits of  cooperation, and we “get” team work.

How can that positively translate into a household?  Most often than not, managing a home, is a teamwork, which involves experienced stalwarts(read mothers, grandmothers, mother in-laws), and working with them seamlessly is all it takes.

Ability to adapt to change: One of the biggest challenges,  faced by women in India, post marriage, is to live among people alien to them.  To live in cooperation with people who though may belong to our own cultural/religious background, still manage their homes/kitchens completely differently from how our mothers did.

 “We don’t do it this way in my home” is an attitude that has led to various dysfunctional households.  This is where ,the working women , should have a clear advantage. We have promotions, we keep changing managers, offices, and sometimes even companies. We face varying and completely new scenarios, on a day-to-day basis. So if you are good at your job, change is probably very acceptable to you. So unlearning a recipe, or accepting that adding a new ingredient will not making it non authentic, will immensely help us in a new home. The fact that they don’t do things as they did in your home, might seem, pretty passé , for someone who faces change frequently. The last thing we are, are thick-set.

Ability to LEARN new skills (without letting ego get in the way):  Surviving at work, means continuous learning . Unlearning what you already know, and learning something new, is something we do everyday. We sometimes need to learn from people who may not have as much experience as we do, cause they might have a skill we don’t. Ego, though, might creep in, is always kept in check, because we need to learn to survive. As a newcomer, we are also, always given the time to learn the environment. We are not expected to be the greatest and best on day one.

How does this translate to a household?  The ability to give ourselves a chance to learn, without getting defensive. The ability to forgive ourselves, if we aren’t perfect on the first day. Most importantly, the courage to put ourselves out there, to learn, in an environment, which is completely alien to us and from people, who are not familiar to us.

Most importantly, we as humans, are creative beings, and having a place to unleash our creativity, and to be productive will make us happier, and better people. So then why the myth?

Lose the attitude

I once heard my colleague say  “I am a working woman, why should I work in office and at home”

OUCH! Not to mention that she wasn’t winning any ,Best Employee Awards, at work either. In fact, she played the woman card in office and the working woman card in her house. This attitude is what spells DOOM for the working woman cliché.  

Women’s education is still a cause of wide-spread concern. Even in the 21st century, girl children are pulled out of school earlier, that is, if they are ever sent to schools in the first place. Women’s education even in affluent families are sometimes restricted to “a woman needs enough education to help her kids through school. But not so much as to earn herself a living” All the various programs for self-sufficiency of a woman, the various reservation schemes in place for the fairer gender, none of it will make sense, unless the current working woman population, LOSE the attitude. We could blame the men for being chauvinistic, who oppress their women. We could blame the world for being partial to the male gender. But as we complain, we need to look at ourselves.

Though we always forget, as educated working women, we are the very limited blessed section of the society. We had parents who were willing to educate us and give us equal opportunities. We had employers who were willing to hire women, in spite of the seeming disadvantages. So as the blessed class of the society what are we doing for the rest of the not-so-blessed section of our society? Do we need to go deep down into social work, and rehabilitate widows/girls to help society? Not always. Society is by and large the people we meet on a day-to-day basis. Our biggest contribution to society is to be a good example.

Respect the housewives :I have seen a general disrespect towards the homemakers, from the working women. Forget about men, who don’t respect their housewives enough. Are we, who are the same gender, respect the housewives, just because their jobs don’t have monetary advantages? If they keep their house sparking clean, the answer is always, that’s cause they don’t work. They take care of their toddlers, while taking care of a full-fledged family, the reason is, that’s cause they don’t work. They are amazing cooks, that’s cause they don’t work.

We fail to notice that  it’s because they are exemplary in a job, that needs more respect than ours. Homemaking is probably the toughest job on earth, the one with no weekends, no vacations, and is 24X7, with no backup. So people who have chosen to be homemakers should be revered and respected, by the other lot of women, who chose to work outside their homes. Or I would say, who are blessed to have the opportunity to work outside their homes for a living.

LEARN :  Not everyone is great at culinary skills. Not everyone is a brilliant homemaker. But trying your best to help around, being empathetic and respectful if you do have other women in the home is an attitude all of us can build.  Having an education or a job, doesn’t make it OK for you to be pathetic in any of the departments you are expected to be good at. (Let’s face the gender inequality, for a minute here. Women are expected to know more of these than men are) .However, as mentioned above, having a job makes you equipped to be better at homemaking, than anyone else. So helping around, or learning a new skill, should actually be easier for you. Are we doing enough, or are we using having a job as an excuse  to being a lesser woman?

Most of us are unaware of the impact we have in the people we meet. We , the privileged lot of working women, will determine, how many fathers will decide to educate their girl children.  Our attitude in general would determine , how many men will let their wives work. Not all of us can save girl children, and not all of us can work in homes for women, to better their living conditions. But all of us, can influence our immediate surroundings. . The various facets of learning a job brings to a human being woman or man, is way much more than the money we earn, or the independence we enjoy. A job should not be a time draining exercise in futility which keeps us away from family, it’s a profession, that makes us a well-rounded individual. As a woman who has an opportunity to fulfill our dreams, we should become examples to everyone around us to pursue their dreams, without the fear of being bad at any of our primary duties as women

 

 

 

 A woman who has a lesser education or is unemployed, needn’t automatically be good at everything homely either. More about that later. !