Where is the Love?

Disclaimer: This is a long, detailed, analytical piece about dating, relationships and marriages in India. I am solely responsible for the thoughts within.

Right at the lunchtime, the office bell rings. When the door is opened, you see a handsome dashing guy entering in, with a tiffin in his hands. He hands it over to one of the girls in the office. What follows next is a series of Whispers and giggles. As kids, we used to play this game called ‘Chinese Whispers’ where a phrase was to be told to one person, and a chain of conversation was to be formed with the same phrase. In this case, the phrase that reached me was ‘She found him on TrulyMadly’, giggled the person next to me. The phrase sounded like it was about a product on Flipkart but it was indeed about the guy. TrulyMadly is one of those dating apps. The app offers a number of games like ‘Foodie Funda’, ‘Hocus Pocus’, and vivacious stickers to express things you might or might not be able to ‘describe in words’. TrulyMadly is not alone in the race. Continue reading “Where is the Love?”

Quirky Relationship Questions People Ask On Quora

Quirky Relationship Questions People Ask On Quora

I was a curious child, a little more than usual kids. Having a very patient father, I remember myself (and he reminds me at times) asking him a lot of questions, all the time. Why is the moon travelling with us? Why do we stop seeing the red lights? Why does the dog bark at our car?

Why is the moon travelling with us? Why do we stop seeing the red lights? Why does the dog bark at our car? How come I can’t do a full split? Can you pull this truck with your bare hands like we saw in the tv show yesterday? What do people do after they die?

Never in my earliest of the memories do I remember my father getting angry on me. He would answer all the questions patiently without a word. Then I grew up and like everyone else, resorted to google. Especially Quora, the platform where you can find, ask and answer any question on this earth. Anyone can ask a question and anyone can answer. People also mention if they have a relevant context/experience to answer a particular question. People also give links to other websites/studies. The truth is that I have not yet asked a single question on quora because I’ve not had to. Every question that I have wanted answers for, was always listed on it. But I love answering questions on quora. I’m proudly one of the ‘Most Viewed Writers’ for Ahmedabad on Quora. Another section that I find interesting is Dating Advice. Because people ask really weird questions when it comes to understanding the opposite sex. Here are some of the questions and my answers to it:

I wonder what kind of lingerie can make men crazy?

Are men monkeys or snakes? No, they are not. Hence there is no sure shot way to make them go crazy. There can’t be one brand that beats all or one kind of lingerie that will seduce all men. However if the man loves you, and if you love that man back, anything would work just fine. If he doesn’t love you, LaPerla or whatever Victoria’s Secret wouldn’t work. Continue reading “Quirky Relationship Questions People Ask On Quora”

Startups That Should be Present in Ahmedabad But are Not

Startups That Should be Present in Ahmedabad But are Not

They say Ahmedabad is going rapidly and many startup accessory companies are lining up here but we still don’t have many success stories here. ZoomCar, a startup that rents cars for self-drive, kick-started in Ahmedabad some time last year, which is around 3-4 years late. Even some of the MNCs such as Starbucks haven’t entered in Ahmedabad yet.

From what I have noticed and how I see things today, these are the startups that should be there in Ahmedabad but are missing for one reason or the other:

Continue reading “Startups That Should be Present in Ahmedabad But are Not”

The Other Angle: Indian Media on International Women’s Day

I did not go for my regular walk today. It’s international women’s day. And I wanted to read the newspapers on what supposed congratulatory messages have come up this year. It matters what the media chooses to put in its news. Especially the print and online media.

Live Mint Decides to take a Full U-Turn on International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day Livemint Talks About This
Quotes like these within the article

“68% Women Said That Their Husbands Massage Their Feet In Times of Pain” declared City Bhaskar, as if they interviewed 10,000, even a 1000 women of different strata. They called 100 selected women and chose to put this as a headline. Did you want to prove that Women are happy? Hope you are Happy now. Continue reading “The Other Angle: Indian Media on International Women’s Day”

Caging of Kankaria: The End of an Era of Free Public Spaces

Caging of Kankaria: The End of an Era of Free Public Spaces

Having lived 25 years of my life in Ahmedabad (which is like all my life), especially close to Kankaria– the circular man-made lake- the heart of the East Ahmedabad- I have some fond memories of my childhood attached to the place. The loveliest part of evenings would be going to Kankaria with Papa, Mumma and Uncle, Aunty and Bhaiya. It was so full of life, I loved hopping around being looked at by different sorts of people.

There would be ice-cream shops, balloonwaala, horse rides, small merry-go-round (movable, managed by poor men), men moving with delicious snacks like bhutta-chana zor garam-mamra-sev puri, kulfi and the gola-waalas (I was not allowed to have gola until like college) these were the regulars.

Amongst the more aspirational (costly) ones were places like Bal Vatika (Fun Park for children with some rides, funny mirrors,etc), Aquarium and Nagina Vaadi (a small, linear island at one end of the Kankaria circle- but so small that it could be hardly 600 mtrs of a straight walk). Kankaria was our marine drive. Towards the end, I would cringe when they’d say, ‘Okay, let’s go home now?’

Interestingly, the same Kankaria would turn to be an absolutely different flavour in the morning. People with serious faces, walking like it was a part of their job, some coming just for fun, young men (including my father) touring the Gymkhana- doing some serious exercise- and then have a long (boring) chat over chai ki kitley nearby. This is how I can relate now when I see kids getting cranky around their parents talking infinitely over chai.

The morning Kankaria was not as much fun (from a child’s view) because of the compulsory exercise and running routine but still free, open, huge trees, natural breeze, lots of birds chirping (sometimes so loud that your voice could drown within it), noticing infinite kinds of people who had come to walk or the ones on the road already going to their offices- all strata, all colours, all shapes and sizes!

When Kankaria got Revamped

In 2008, Kankaria was revamped. I was still in school (12th grade) yet I was filled with the excitement of progress and the development it was going to bring. Your part of the city was being beautified; it felt special. When it was opened out to public, something about it was under-whelming. It was concrete, clean, organised (benches, lamp posts, trees at equal distances), people cleaning every now and then (especially in the morning), the fun park was the same, the nagina vadi was the same… What was different?

The cage, sorry, I mean the gates.

kankaria ahmedabad
Everything Beautiful Will Get Caged

Continue reading “Caging of Kankaria: The End of an Era of Free Public Spaces”

The Nagaland Story: The Most Absurd Thing For Which Some Men are Rioting

 

I didn’t want to put up those instigating images of riots but in case you don’t know, there are riots going on in Nagaland since today morning (3rd Feb 2017). According to Quint, “Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang on 2 February rejected the demand for his government’s resignation following the death of two persons in anti-ULB poll agitation in Dimapur and appealed to the people to stop violence and not fall prey to rumour mongers.”

The Problem and the Demand

The protestors are demanding a removal of 33% reservation for women in the ULB (Urban Local Bodies), a body of governance for the state. These protestors include the traditionalist tribal groups such as the Central Naga Tribal Group. Just a month back, the President of the Tribal Group had categorically explained to Firstpost, their problem with the reservation (hold your breath for this),
“In Naga society, a woman is not considered to be equal to men. She is not even allowed to speak in Panchayat until and unless she is summoned by it. Providing 33% reservation to women amounts to giving her the same status as men and it gives men inferiority complex.”
So no sugar-coating, no pseudo talks about how ‘opportunities should be equal for all. Women must not be given added importance’. Point blank answer. In your face.  Maintaining that his organisation has no other problem with the Municipal Act passed by the government of Nagaland except the provision of 33% reservation for women. “In India, men are considered to be superior to women as per customs and that has to be taken very seriously,” he added to the people at FirstPost. Another Tribal Group that is supporting the protest says the law also infringes
 
Generally when riots happen in the mainland and other sensitive areas of the country like Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Assam (Also Nagaland), etc, we try and shut our eyes to it wondering it is a tricky situation that has no solution. In some instances, the Naxalites and the stone pelters seem to be right, and in other instances, the policemen/army men seem to be right. But this one is not one of those cases. This is very much black and white.

What Do Naga Women Say

In effect, Nagaland State Assembly does not have a single woman as its member. The Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) asserts that having an opportunity of an equal say in governance cannot be ‘against the Naga Customary Law’. And this reservation is essential to promote gender equity in the customary law. NMA says that over the years, ‘only men spoke and only men heard’.
It is 2017 and we are still debating whether women need reservations in politics or not. I am not sure if these people are looking at women around them or how are they judging the lack of requirement. In most cases, the point of ‘merit’ is brought out. Like any other reservation, the problem with this idea of ‘merit’ is that the other person needs to be well placed to ‘compete you’. It is years of discrimination and patriarchy such as mentioned above (by the Naga Tribe Men), that a woman will have to break, to even file a nomination.
Everyone opposing reservations should first ensure a discrimination free society. The purpose of law is not equality. It is equity. When two genders are not treated equally, there is no point of equality, in this case, we need equity.
You must have looked at this illustration before. This clearly explains the case of Equality vs Equity.
equality-vs-equity

 

Use a Privilege Calculator Today

This question reminds me of a recent session I attended at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Mrs Mrinal Pande, a television personality, journalist and author, who was awarded a Padma Shri in 2006 said,

“When I go to some of the events on gender equality, I witness this royal divide. There are women who are supremely articulated in English, speaking about women empowerment, women issues and then there are rural women there too. In one of the instances I asked a rural woman, do you know what’s happening here? She said, “It seems like they are talking about us but we don’t know what. “The only difference between them and us is that they smoke cigarettes and we smoke beedis.”

In another session about the Mainland of North East, Teresa Rehman, author and activist, pointed out that,
“Disputes and the political discourse in the North-East have always been too masculine. Women had no voices.”
As far as feminism is concerned, we’ll all have to check our privilege before we talk. Feminism is not just about upper caste, urban women. We will have to look across our troubled states and cities and help women over there too. The worst affected women could be called the Tribal women. Feminism cannot be just about writing their stories and speaking about them. They will have to be given the mic, pen and paper. Their words will have to be translated and brought out.

Once again: Why 33% Reservation for Women is Essential

 Before you say that ‘Women don’t need reservations’, who are these women you are talking about? Are you talking about yourself or your friends? What do you know about the tribals and the other rural and urban poor women who do not come with a silver spoon? We will have to ask some uncomfortable questions to ourselves before we make a judgment.
At times, I find debates on cultures pointless. A debate where the only answer to injustice to a particular gender or community’s human rights is ‘our culture’ is deemed to be pointless.
The Naga Tribal heads can say, ‘women are not equal to men in our culture’ but that just means we need to question that supposed culture now. We need to agree that whether or not a culture/past actions/mythology consider women as equal or not; today we need to move forward.

 

It is 2017 already. When you use statements like ‘women don’t reach that position because they are not capable enough’ as a defence; you are indeed questioning your own system. Women across the world are getting/taking equal representations at various parliaments and political boards. You are saying that your women aren’t good enough. Who’s at fault in that case? Is it something to be proud of?

 

This is obviously not a point of rivalry because of years of seeing men at the forefront. Men who are not patriarchal and who don’t see women as inferior have no worry whatsoever. The problem with all-men panels, committees and boards is that no single gender is adequate enough to address problems, concerns and issues of all genders. We will need adequate representation of all genders to make decision-making bodies that are capable to do good for all. And this in no way can be ‘harmful for the future’.

શું તમને ઊપલા વર્ણના હોવા બદલ ગર્વ છે? Are you a proud upper caste?

 ઉનામાં ગયા મહીને ચાર દલિતોને પોતાની જાતને ગૌરક્ષક ગણાવતા લોકો દ્વારા બેરહેમીથી પીટવામાં આવ્યા. તેનો વીડિઓ વાઇરલ થતાં, દલિતો અને દલિત રાઈટ્સના સમર્થકોનો રોષ ઉછ્ળી આવ્યો. ૫ થી ૧૫ ઓગસ્ટ દરમિયાન ‘આઝાદી કૂચ’ તરીકે ઓળખાતી અમદાવાદથી ઉના સુધીની પદયાત્રા, કન્વીનર જીગ્નેશ મેવાણી તથા ૧૦૦ અન્ય માનવ અધિકાર કાર્યકર્તાઓ દ્વારા યોજાઇ રહી છે. આ એક વિશિષ્ટ પ્રકારની રેલી છે, કેમ કે, તે સંપૂર્ણ બિનરાજકીય, અહિંસક તેમજ હેતુલક્ષી છે. રેલી દરમિયાન સેંકડો દલિતો રોજેરોજ પ્રતિજ્ઞા લઇ રહ્યા છે કે તેઓ હવે પછી મરેલા પશુઓ નહિ ઉપાડે. રેલીનો હેતુ એ પણ છે કે દલિતો મૃત પશુઓ ઉપડવાનું છોડીને સરકાર પાસેથી સરકારી કાયદા અનુસાર જમીન માંગે, જીવનનિર્વાહ માટે ખેતી કરે તથા જો તેમના પર કોઇ પણ અત્યાચાર થતા હોય, તો તેને સહન કરવાને બદલે તેની પોલીસને જાણ કરે.

ભારતમાં દલિત મહિલાઓને ત્રણ ત્રણ રીતે ભેદભાવ વેઠવા પડે છે. તેઓ ગરીબ છે, મહિલા છે, અને દલિત પણ છે. ઉંચી જ્ઞાતિના લોકો દ્વારા ખાસ તેમના માટે અનામત રખાયેલી અધમ પ્રકારની હિંસા આચરવામાં આવે છે. તદ્દન બિભત્સ ગાળાગાળીથી લઇને આખા ગામમાં નગ્ન કરીને ફેરવવાની ફરજ પાડવી, છાતી ખુલ્લી રખાવવી, બળજબરીથી માનવ-મૂત્ર પીવડાવવુ કે મળ ખવડાવવુ; દાંત, નખ કે જીભ ખેંચી કાઢવા અને મેલીવિદ્યા આચરવાનો આરોપ મૂકીને હત્યા કરવા સુધીની હિંસા આપણા દેશની દલિત મહિલાઓએ વેઠવી પડી છે. ૨૦૧૧ની વસતી ગણતરી અનુસાર દલિતો માનવમળનું વહન કરીને તરીકે ગુજરાન ચલાવે એવા સાત લાખથી વધુ કેસ છે, અને તેમાં મોટા ભાગનું કામ મહિલાઓ કરે છે.

Continue reading “શું તમને ઊપલા વર્ણના હોવા બદલ ગર્વ છે? Are you a proud upper caste?”