Sunday, March 31, 2013

Refusing the High Pedestal

“Women can go nude for all they want; it does not give men the right to rub them”.
That was a live tweet posted by someone attending a forum that happened to be discussing the subject of the safety of women in Bangalore, organized by the Times of India.

It does not matter who, it suffices to know that the view is becoming increasingly representative of the thinking of more and more women across the nation.

What is shocking, however, is the fact that it was posted as a counter argument to a point that should have been above and beyond debate, a point that should have been conceded universally, without exception, as a valid one.

The fool making the point, of course, was yours truly...

After all the people gathered in the forum had lashed out angrily at all their offenders – society, men, other women - I stood up in the end and this is what I said.

“I was in a footwear shop a few months ago. I saw this woman before me browsing the store. She was wearing low waist jeans. She was wearing it so carelessly that every time she bent to try some footwear, I could see her underwear and also the cleave of her bottom. I went up to her and said very awkwardly, ‘your pants... everything is to be seen’. To this, she turned and looked rather annoyed at my unsolicited feedback. She nodded and continued browsing the store as before.”

“It’s not just one case, but wherever you go – shopping malls, coffee shops, you see women wearing low waist jeans in a way you can see their underwear and when they bend or sit on a backless stool, you can see the cleave of their bottom.”

“For all our sympathy towards women and their causes, we must concede the most obvious of their faults; we must concede the fact that they are becoming increasingly irresponsible in their dressing. Their freedom and liberation are not accompanied by an equal measure of responsibility”

I was not suggesting that dressing was at the root of it all, but that it was an important factor deserving of mention in the discussion of the problems faced by women, a pint not to be disregarded as irrelevant.

More importantly, I wanted to say this: while we have a right to complain about our woes, campaign, protest, demand things etc., we must admit that we have our faults too. This ‘we are doing all things right, we are perfect and innocent and the whole bad world is out to get us’ claim is ‘too much’ to be acceptable.

Coming back to the forum...
Had I been given a chance, I would have added that it was not just low waist jeans, but any other apparel, even a sari could be worn in a way that was not modest.

But even before I could finish, my voice was drowned in a general murmur of dissent.
The Times of India editorial member dismissed me saying, ‘Today you say low waist jeans is wrong, tomorrow you will say, what I am wearing is wrong...”
Well, knowing that the event was put together by Times of India, a media entity that fills its newspaper with sleaze, titillation, page 3 trash, gossip and loads of provocative pictures, to increase its circulation, I should have known better than to expect half a chance.

And within no time, came up the live tweet projected on the whiteboard ahead - “Women can go nude for all they want; it does not give men the right to rub them”

Whether or not men rub you, I mean, regardless of how men will react to what you do, don’t you have to conduct yourself responsibly for the sake of your own dignity and honour?

I was disappointed to the extent that I have not been in a long while.
Not because I could not complete my point, having come all the way from a long distance... but because the women there were not willing to concede as their failing, even the most glaring of the breaches of decency – they were not willing to concede that perhaps it was not right to walk about in public showing your underwear, perhaps there was something wrong about showing the cleave of your bottom in public. They were not willing to concede ‘even a needle point of ground’.

I was told later that ‘Calvin and Klein’ design their underwear so they can be shown off! Their underwear are meant to be shown.

And of course, we must allow ourselves to be dictated by Calvin and Klein!

The much simpler option of going for some other brand or even something without a brand does not occur to our people.
It takes too much effort to analyse that an American company’s ideas of fashion may not be suited to our culture and values.
It’s a lot more convenient to simply show what they are asking you to. Isn’t it?

Since people seem to strongly resent all arguments for modest dressing that arise from notions of culture, tradition, orthodoxy, society, propriety and such things, let me try to put the matter in a new perspective.

We all agree (thank God for sparing us this last), that we disapprove of the objectification of women in cinema, television, advertisements, etc. Don’t we?

Now, think about this.
When you dress in such a way that you end up drawing attention to your body, your form, your flesh, instead of your mind, your spirit, your heart, you are objectifying yourself.
When you dress in such a way that you evoke people’s interest, not in who you are, but what your body is like, you are objectifying yourself.

I must add that it’s not just low waist jeans, plunging necklines, and skin tight clothes from the west, but the sari or the salwar too, will render you an object, if you call upon them to do so.

Most of the clothes today are designed, not just to make a woman look beautiful, not just with a view to aesthetics, but to highlight a woman’s endowments, isn’t it?

When men ‘check you out’, they are objectifying you.
When you make it easy for them to ‘check you out’, you are objectifying yourself.

And today, it is the only way men and women know to look at each other when they first meet. They ‘check each other out’, the very first thing.
Tits, ass, legs and a hot navel. The necessary and sufficient of a woman.
The essence of a woman simplified.

The question of modest dressing, therefore, is not a question of right and wrong, proper and improper, defined by someone else, to be imposed on you.
It’s a question of whether you, the woman, want to objectify yourself or not. That’s all.

The high culture of this land elevated woman to a high pedestal...
They cultivated the EYE to see only her feet adorned by anklets and above those feet, all light and spirit that the woman was...
One fine day she stepped down from that pedestal, cast off light and spirit, became simply tits and ass, what a pity...
The ONE SEEING EYE split into a pair of ogling eyes, now that she wanted to be seen, not in her wholesomeness but in fragments – tits, ass, legs and navel...
She revels in the ogling and then complains about them, but reveals more nevertheless to keep those eyes from leaving her...

One day,
The ogling reached the feverish pitch of a jabbing metal rod,
But that’s no reason why the revelling will fall...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Everest Calling - Phakding to Lukla

The very last lap of our trek.
It was the trek from Phakding to Lukla and it seemed like a never ending one. Oh boy! It just went on and on, and what more it started raining on and off. We had to take out those raincoats, put them on, and put them back in.

The weather had been so different, so bright and sunny when we had walked down this trail 2 weeks ago. The picture was different, the colours were different, what was revealed to us and what was hidden were different too. Our mood had been different too.
Now we were relieved that it was over; so tough those 2 weeks had been.

It was Ravi I walked the last few hundred meters with.

We were back in Lukla.

We cleaned and bathed. We went to different shops and amused ourselves. We went to starbucks.

The men had found a pub there! Beer, tobacco, polo, disco lights, music and they jumped at it. Our true calling claims us no matter how far and how absolutely we have veered from it.

One group of men, who called themselves ‘Lukla to Lukla’ (or something like that) had brushed 2 weeks ago at the start of the trek and hopefully they had brushed now. Or were they waiting to reach Kathmandu? I should have asked.

Everyone retired for the day quite late, for a change. We used to be urged by our leader and by our guides to ‘go to bed early, we start at 6 tomorrow morning…’

We each gave a little speech at the dinner table – each had different things to say. Generally, we spoke of our experiences, we thanked him or her, etc.

But it was not over yet.
One great excitement still remained for us.
The thrilling flight from Lukla to Kathmandu the next morning!!!
The tiny plane, toy-like, the 100 meter runway, the take off from the tip of a hill, the view of snow peaks to our right on the horizon and the possibility of being able to recognize the tallest of them all, the possibility of seeing the last of Everest!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Is That a Freedom Fighter? No, Its Sanjay Dutt

Sanjay Dutt
A person who shook hands with Dawood Ibrahim, one of India’s most wanted underworld criminals.
Helped him to sneak in weapons to strike at this country, to explode bombs that killed and injured hundreds of innocents.

For months and perhaps years, the police, the CBI and other special forces had to labour away to figure out the who, what, why, when and how of this conspiracy.
According to some of the reports, Sanjay Dutt, seeing the police catching up with him and his partner in crime, set up a forge in his house, had the weapons melted and turned into a ball and plunged it in a well.

The police and other forces hunted him down, for all his cunning, and meted out justice. He evaded the jail for years but the longs arms of laws clutched him at last.

For what joy?

He has come to be seen as some kind of a freedom fighter and the police, villains.
“Bollywood is shocked to hear the verdict and expressed their solidarity on the social media”

Really? Bollywood’s a bloody joker villain.

@PritishNandy (on Twitter)
“I will be very sad to see Sanjay Dutt go back to jail... where I used to meet him years ago. A second term will destroy the man”

The argument goes, even among common people, that he is ‘a transformed man’.
He didn’t have much of a choice left, after getting caught and then onwards, being under constant police vigilance, did he?

Kasab confessed too that he had realized his wrong and that Allah would never forgive him for what he had done.
We should have let him go too. Why did we hang the poor fellow? It totally destroyed him, didn’t it?

What a people we are!

Not only did people make a mockery of the police by continuing to watch Sanjay Dutt’s movies, helping him not just survive but thrive, they also made villains of the police by sympathizing with him when they got him at last, after years of toil.

Why are the police wasting their time and risking their lives for us?

Why don’t they tell us to go to hell when we complain about them not doing their job? Because when they do their job, we completely defeat their purpose.

It is so true, the law of the universe, that, people always get what they deserve.

The crimes too.

Here is the picture of the aftermath of Sanjay Dutt's bomb - found it on FB - haven't verified it - As a 'fact', it may or may not be accurate but it is the 'truth', no doubt.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Everest Calling - Namche to Phakding

The next morning, we started our very last lap of the EBC trek; the trek from Namche to Lukla – the longest one, to be completed in one day.

We stopped a few minutes at this shop in Namche where they were issuing certificates to those who had completed the adventure successfully. And surely, I got one. Will post it later…

Two weeks ago, when we had trekked from Phakding to namche, it had been foggy and rainy, and scenery looked so different from now, when it sunny and the weather, all clear.

Not in a hurry anymore, we found a way to get down to the water in the valley, when we found ourselves just a few feet above the river, at a certain point.

There was plenty of circus, balancing on one feet on top of a rock, jumping high in the air and more…
One can never get enough of water… we were the last ones to leave…

We reached Phakding for lunch!